Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sic Semper Insanus?

By Patrick Archbold

From Rorate:
"The Fraternity has no intention to respond to this ultimatum," Father Alain Lorans, spokesman of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, declared to the AFP by telephone from Ecône (Switzerland).

"We do not foresee any practical or canonical agreement before having considered the doctrinal questions which came about after Vatican II," [...].

"Bishop Bernard Fellay [Superior General of the Fraternity] is surprised with the existing gap between the procedure of the ultimatum and the content of this ultimatum, which remains very uncertain," Father Lorans added.

According to Father Lorans, the Superior General of the Fraternity, Bishop Fellay, wrote a letter to Vatican authorities on Thursday.
Apparently a letter written to the Vatican in the wake of the request of the Holy See does not count as a response.

Sic semper insanus?


Anonymous said...

On the closing comments here, this is only a semantic misunderstanding. Fr. Lorans said that Bishop Fellay would not respond to the ultimatum. Well, the ultimatum was not contained in the statement of the five points. It follows that, by responding to the five points, Bishop Fellay is not responding to any ultimatum.

It is clear that Fellay will not sign the statement proffered to him by the Cardinal. Instead, he writes a letter to explain why and/or to explain what he *will* agree to on behalf of the S.S.P.X. For all we know, his statement could have been very respectful of the Holy Father and very diplomatic.

It remains possible that the content of his letter will be found by the Pope to be adequate to have the excommunications lifted. There is still room for hope and still room for prayer.

I think that the Pope wants to lift the 1988 declarations of excommunication because he feels that the Society can help restore what was lost in the 1960s.

Whether His Holiness withdraws the 1988 declarations or not, it would make sense for Rome to erect a worldwide diocese for traditionalists. It is quite clear that many local bishops have been using their influence to limit the applicability of "Summorum Pontificum". And their influence remains considerable.


Patrick Archbold said...

Mr. Perkins,
Seriously? You don't think I understood that? It was a joke. with a double meaning.

Given the vitriol expressed by the Bishops of the SSPX over the past days, regardless of the contents of the letter I were the Pope I wouldn't trust these guys as far as I could kick them with my little red shoes.

Dan Hunter said...

There is a good hope!
From Father Zuhlsdorf:

Bp. Fellay interview by Radio Svizzera: didn’t totally reject the Conditions

On Saturday 28 June 2008, twenty years to the day after his illicit episcopal consecration at Econe, Switzerland which resulted in his excommunication and the split between the SSPX and the Catholic Church, Bp. Bernard Fellay, now Superior General of the SSPX has given an interview to Radio Svizzera, in Italian.

I captured the audio, lest it cycle off of that website and become too hard to dig up.

In the past few days some media outlets have picked up on something that Fellay said in his rambling sermon in Winona, MN on 20 June, as well as hard line comments of two of the other excommunicated bishops, Williamson and Galaretta, and have made the assumption that the SSPX, Fellay in particular, have rejected the Five Conditions offered them by the Holy See as a preamble to continuing fruitful dialogue.

I think the usual media suspects are somewhat misreading the situation. For example, I parsed the report from AFP and from Reuters. The Reuters story is a good example of how some reporters have misread the situation.

When I parsed Bp. Fellay’s sermon in Winona in this PODCAzT I gave my opinion that Bp. Fellay, under tremendous pressure from the hard liners both in the SSPX and from the "benefactors" (read: money), takes a hard line in sermons and public addresses to keep spirits high.

Also, he is prone to ramble a bit in his preaching and, at a certain point, he works himself up and takes a swipe at the Pope and Curia. This is probably well received by some listeners.

Furthermore, Fellay is between a rock and a hard spot.

Also, what he said at Winona, though it sounds very defiant and resolved, didn’t actually go so far as to violate explicitly any of the Conditions Rome offered and which Fellay and the SSPX haven’t still publicly renounced in an official way.

Then we learned yesterday that the Fellay and the SSPX decided they would write a letter to Rome to respond that they weren’t going to respond to the Conditions.

Effectively, I think what this means is that they won’t accept the premise that they are doing anything wrong (big surprise there!) but that they still want dialogue. In the future we will see if in action they change they style of speech about the Pope and their position on reunion in a more positive way.

That is to say, though they are afraid to cause a split in the SSPX were they to sign off on those conditions openly, perhaps they could skirt the issue by saying they wouldn’t accept the premise of the conditions but then begin to modify their style a bit anyway.

This is my speculation, now that it seems that we are not going to hear much more from them.

Now we have this Radio Svizzera interview.

I do not have a transcript of the interview and won’t make one myself. But here are the essential points.

Bp. Bernard Fellay had an interview on the Radio Svizzera:

The interviewer put the first question in terms of the SSPX having rejecting the offer, that on Friday for an ordination, it was announced that the SSPX rejected the ultimatum. But Fellay corrected him saying that that is not quite accurate. Fellay said that it is perhaps false to say that "reject".

"Maybe it is false to say so directly that I reject, that I have made a complete refusal. That’s not true. Rather, I see in this ultimate something very vague and confused.

But isn’t this the last chance to reunite with Rome, during this favorable time with Pope Benedict XVI?

Fellay repeated that this ultimatum makes no sense (non ha senso) because they do, in fact, have a dialogue with Rome,even if it is slow. Rome wants to speed things up.

Fellay claims that they want to continue dialogue. SSPX wants to continue the dialogue. For Fellay dialogue might be "chilly" right now but it is not over.

The interviewer asked if Rome will lose patience, is the the SSPX at risk, will be it more and more marginalized?

Fellay said that more more people are coming to the SSPX. They don’t want to break with the Church. They desire to be accepted into the Church and do good for the Church. They are defenders of tradition.

This interview is in Italian. Maybe someone will make a transcript.

The bottom line:

The leadership of the SSPX are afraid of an internal rupture more than anything else. They can’t explicitly reject the Conditions offered by the Holy See. Therefore they are trying to steer a middle course by rejecting a seconday premise of the conditions which was explicitly state (Don’t speak disrespectfully about the Pope and put on airs about their own "magisterium") without rejecting the true premise underlying them (Who is the Bishop of Rome and who are you without him?).

The code language to listen for in future comments by the leadership of the SSPX will be things like "the conditions don’t make sense – we do have dialogue even though it is slow – what’s the hurry".

Anonymous said...

I agree 90% with Dan Hunter but he needs to go just a bit further. What Fellay rejected was the ultimatum part. But the ultimatum (with date) is not in the statement of the five points. Therefore, by rejecting the ultimatum, he is not rejecting the five points.

However, statements of de Galarreta and others make it clear that he will not sign the five points (that he do so is part of the ultimatum--and by a certain date). Instead, he has responded to the five points by way of a letter.

I suspect that what he was afraid to sign to was the bit about papal generosity, and making a proportional response to it (point one, as I recall). All along, the Cardinal has insisted that the Society accept the juridical structure first and then discuss doctrine. The Society has insisted time and again on the opposite ordering of these two processes. Fellay does not want to sign that he will accept the generosity of the Pope and then find that he must reject the Pope's generous offer of a juridical structure, leading to charges that he has violated his own words.

This is indeed about the speed of a rapprochement. The Pope is 81 and the Cardinal will celebrate his 79th birthday very soon. They want to settle this now. Once the Society is reconciled, the blather over doctrine can continue ad nauseum for decades, and nobody will care. The Society will not co-operate in such a process because it is convinced that the errors of Vatican II are the cause of the problem: if you don't address the cause first, everything else you agree to is tainted and poisoned (the opposite view, that of the Transalpine Redemptorists, is that we can't fix everything or wait for a perfected curia as a condition for working in the Church to save souls).

The question to consider now is the tone and content of Bishop Fellay's letter. While it will not lead to a juridical structure this year or next, I think, it may nevertheless be adequate to secure a lifting of the 1988 declarations of excommunication, plus, I pray, a extension of jurisdiction for the Masses and confessions of the S.S.P.X. We should not have to wait very long to find out. The Pope will want to respond to Fellay's letter by 2nd July--if he feels that to be possible.

I agree with Dan Hunter that this is largely about Bishop Fellay's desire to keep the Society from splitting. Notice, also, the subtle statement of Fellay that more and more people are now entering the Society. I don't believe it! (unless he means by Baptism). He's trying to allay fears that S.P. will hamper growth of the Society. Perhaps it's literally true that more are entering, but does that offset the number who are leaving (and dying)?

Anyway, let's pray that the penalties will be lifted and Rome extends jurisdiction unilaterally. Once that is done, the Cardinal will try, once again, to bring them into a jurisdiction. I am hoping that he will create an international diocese for others and then invite them to join it. They will no doubt refuse to join it and continue to insist on a discussion of doctrine. Why this need to discuss doctrine? Well, it's because one can talk about that for decades and get nowhere. It puts off the inevitable split which will come once the S.S.P.X is regularised. It is certain that at least some in the S.S.P.X will not accept regularisation at any price. Fellay wants to make that number as small as posssible.

Peter Karl T. Perkins
Victoria, Canada