“Irony is so dead”

I know that I’m not supposed to be commenting on this papacy, but I figure as long as it’s not polemical, keeping abreast of a few current events is not so bad. After all, how could a good Catholic really ever ignore his spiritual father?

I thought this was very ironic in light the prevailing “neo-Catholic” view that the SSPX is as unsalvageable as it is wicked. When it comes to the SSPX, we are supposed to chant, “ritually unclean”, and move along.

However, lest we forget papal guidance from centuries ago, I thought the following, in light of the above, was worth republicizing:

“In a letter to the world’s bishops, [Pope Benedict XVI] is reported to criticise Catholics who talk about ecumenism but do not wish to see it extended to the Society of St Pius X. Anyone who approaches the Society loses his right to toleration and is treated with ‘hatred’, he says.

“He asks: ‘May we consign to utter indifference a community in which there are 491 priests, 215 seminarians, … 117 brothers, 164 sisters, and thousands of faithful? Should we truly let them drift away from the Church?’ He also criticises Catholics who invoke the spirit of Vatican II without putting it in historical perspective.

As unseemly as it is of me to recall anything prior to the immediate and unrelenting voice of the current occupant of the Petrine See, it just goes to show that one can never be too careful villifying one’s enemies when one’s faith depends entirely on the whims of the current occupant of the Petrine See. Hence, despite my cynicism about this reported audience, I am tickled to think of all the SSPX haters who will have to eat crow if it turns out that the SSPX gets pretty much unqualifiedly embraced by the Church at last. It will prove so many sycophants wrong in one fell swoop. How dare the pope give succor to schismatics! One dare not call it scandal.  

How times flies. Because continuity. Oremus.

Finally, since I’m sure you’re all dying to see at least a little of the usual polemics from myself, I will unburden myself of my own gut reaction to the reported papal audience with Fellay: So, the SSPX signs on to be integrated as they are (because dialogue), become on a par with the likes of the FFI, and then get purified of any crypto-Lefebvrian drift (i.e. brutally suppressed) as officially normalized Catholics? My funny bone is saying, “Calling Admiral Akbar.”

Lastly, here’s a quotation I found this evening:

“It is impossible to conceive of the Catholic Church as anything but continuity, as tradition, as the heir of her past. It is impossible to understand a Catholic Church that breaks with her past, with her tradition, and precisely because of the impossibility of imagining such a thing, I find myself in a rather strange situation: that of a bishop who has been suspended for having founded a seminary in Switzerland, a seminary that was legally, canonically erected, a seminary that welcomes many vocations; and eight years after its foundation we have many houses in the United States, one in Canada, in England, in France, in Switzerland, in Germany, and even in Italy here in Albano.

How can it be that while continuing to do what I myself have done during fifty years of my life, with the congratulations and the encouragement of the popes, and in particular of Pope Pius XII who honored me with his friendship, I should find myself today considered an enemy of the Church? How is this possible, how is it conceivable? I had the opportunity to say this to the pope in the last audience I had on September 11.

“I told him: I cannot understand the reason why, unexpectedly, after having formed seminarians for my whole life the way I am forming them, whereas before the council I had all sorts of honors, excluding only the cardinalate, now, after the council, I find myself suspended a divinis, practically considered a schismatic, practically excommunicated as an enemy of the Church. I do not think such a thing is possible or conceivable. Therefore something in the Church has changed, something that was changed by the men of the Church, in the history of the Church.”

–Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1977 (as quoted in The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story by Roberto de Mattei [Loreto Press (2012), pp. 555-56]).

If only the benighted Archbishop had known that “the Church is not timeless“. That’s the ticket.



About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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15 Responses to “Irony is so dead”

  1. Dear B.C. Nothing that Our Holy Father has done so far is indicative to me that he desires to reconcile with the SSPX as is and nothing that the SSPX has ever done is indicative to me that they desire to be reconciled with this Pope; a deal could not be cut with Pope Benedict XVI and so it will not be cut now.

    Besides, the SSPX is a petit ecclesia with its own doctrines, canon law, and commissions that have, in their ideology, supplanted the universal Jurisdiction and authority of the Pope and so reconciliation is impossible (Just try and imagine what would happen with the collective titanium ego of the sspx and the matter of the individual chapels/churches and their ownership).

    Long ago, the sspx annealed into a permanent schism; but on a bright note, all of its sacraments will soon be licit and valid (just like the so-called orthodox) once the schism is formalised by Cardinal Mueller.

  2. trof4st says:

    ‘Vatican Insider’ has a different take on the encounter: “There was no audience and neither did the two have along (sic) one to one conversation.”

    The thrust of the article is ‘not much to see here, folks’, etc: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/news/detail/articolo/francesco-francis-francisco-fellay-34011/

  3. Steve Fowler says:

    Well, Bornacatholic, the problem is that the SSPX doctrine are not their own, but rather every defined or binding doctrine the Catholic Church has ever taught. That is, their doctrine is Catholic doctrine–and if that is not our doctrine…well…Mission Control, we have a problem…

    Vatican II was a pastoral council, and had no cannons. Therefore, anything that they said that was binding doctrine could have only been from what was always and everywhere taught.

    This notion of “accepting” Vatican II to be in “full communion” is odd. It doesn’t mean obeying Vatican II: for example we can go the the Novus Ordo, although it contradicts Vatican II in some parts. If you reject…say the Divinity of Christ taught by Vatican II…well, maybe nothing will happen at all…or maybe there will be dialogue for decades…but you are likely to die a natural death in “full communion” with Rome. But reject the prudentialness of parts of Vatican II? Heretic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  4. Well, Bornacatholic, the problem is that the SSPX doctrine are not their own, but rather every defined or binding doctrine the Catholic Church has ever taught.

    Were that true, that’d be somewhat of a defense for their schism but that is not true. Their existence is proof of the accuracy of the old axiom – schism is proximate to heresy.

    In opposition to Infallible Dogma, the SSPX teaches that an ecumenical council taught error and they teach the Mass is evil and they teach that one or more Popes have taught error; they teach the Catholic Church teaches error; That is, they are protestants in Fiddlebacks.

    The easiest way to understand this is to observe that not one of the SSPX clerics could take the Oath Against Modernism for all of them believe that the Catholic Church teaches error.

    All of their Sacraments are criminal and sacrilegious.

    I could write much much more – especially including the fact that Mons Lefebvre was no Athanasius – but I think what I have written suffices.

  5. drprice2 says:

    The fact is that they teach–or at a minimum, explicitly encourage the belief–that the 1970 Mass is a spiritual evil. That’s an assault on indefectibility. Full stop.

    I have a crate of problems with the NO, but you simply cannot call it evil and have any belief that the Church is indefectible.

    It’s no accident that the Society turns into a way station to sedevacantism for a lot of people, clerical and lay.

  6. Tony Jokin says:

    As much as I view the SSPX situation negatively I cannot help but ask you the following.

    If the SSPX is usually a way station to sedevecantism (broadly speaking) and it is not an accident, then what would you say about the Novus Ordo which has been a way station and even a focal point around which equally problematic abuse and errors have begun and remain?

    I think the idea SSPX has is that they just find the Novus Ordo to be problematic (which you admit). Then they argue that rather than telling the faithful to try and find the good side of things, it is better to discourage faithful from attending it at all. Is that a good pastoral method? I think we can agree it is not a good pastoral approach because it puts the SSPX faithful at odds with the Church hierarchy.

    However, there is honest question to ask as to what the Church hierarchy is doing insisting upon the Novus Ordo which is most certainly lending itself to abuse and the notion that VII has rejected tradition.

  7. Tony Jokin says:

    Very good points.

    The only reason why I have even some sympathy towards them is because of the really confusing status that exists in the Church today. Someone like the SSPX are faced with a dilemma.

    1) Reject the teachings of past Popes which have repeated mention by many Saints and also the prudential decisions made by past Popes (even when the reasons behind the prudent decisions are still applicable today)
    2) Reject what appears to be teachings of the current Popes that contradict the past

    Now it would seem that the first option is plain modernism and dangerous to the faith. But the second option seems safer. Why? Because the axiom of the faith is that a doctrine may not evolve to contradict the sense it held previously. So as long as one holds to the previous sense, it is only a matter of time till one comes to understand the legitimate development to the new. So far, there has been no definitive clarification on the part of the Church as to how one moves from the doctrinal content in the past to the suppossed ideas held today. Furthermore, there is no definitive interpretation of problematic passages of Vatican II and the Popes who have reigned since then. So to that extent, I sympathize with the SSPX.

    BUT, the SSPX should be INSIDE the Church like the FSSP and not outside doing their own thing. And as for Msgr. Lefebvre, as much as he was probably fine in preserving tradition in the society, his ordination of Bishops was a direct act of disobedience on a matter legitimately belonging to the Pope to make a decision on. For that, I have a negative view toward them and believe that they have missed the plot and are on their way to nowhere land unless they turn back.

  8. drprice2 says:

    Well, I don’t know that it’s a deliberate way station at all. But it’s foreseeable, especially since many prominent sedes are, in fact, ex-SSPX: e.g., Cekada, Sanborn, Daniel Dolan.

    The NO is clearly problematic–as Martin Mosebach points out, it is a colossally damning thing to argue that it can be celebrated reverently. That gives the game away. The NO is fissiparious, even if it no longer makes a hash out of the Latin original (thanks be to God!). The connection to the OT has also been restored by LA, and the Marcionite feel of the NO is diminished–also thanks be to God.

    At the end of the day, though, one’s liturgical patrimony is entirely dependent upon the priest’s whim. In other words, I can count the number of times I have heard the Roman Canon (EP I) without using up all of my toes. I think it can be summed up with the notion that the NO pieced together an alien product with too many options and dropped it into the Catholic bloodstream in a time of hellish and growing chaos (so much for a read of the signs of the times). It acted as a solvent at a time when glue was needed, and caused many to fall away. It suggested that everything was up for change, and the smoke poured in.

    The SSPX is right-ish in noting the effects, but overplays its hand by tacking toward the more hardened side of the Society to keep it mollified. Which ought to, frankly, give the Society bishops at least a hint of sympathy for what the Vatican has to go through to hold things together.

  9. Tony Jokin says:

    Also worth pointing out.

    Most of the liturgical abuses and heresies we face inside the Church today is because of misinterpretations Vatican II. Almost every Pope since Vatican II seems to agree (except Pope Francis perhaps).

    Ironically though, not a single Pope since Vatican II has bothered to call a synod or release a definitive statement on how to interpret problematic content in Vatican II. Maybe they just didn’t know where to start. But they could have started by addressing what the SSPX raised as apparent contradictions. Instead, we are told again and again how we have to implement the council to get the Church running smooth again. Well, how can we implement it when everyone has a different view as to what it means? Should we look at St. JP II’s pontificate as some suggests to discover the authentic interpretation? Well that is problematic because his actions and words are just as unclear or confusing on certain issues.

    It has been 50 years since VII and there has been a decline in faith at least partly attributed to incorrect interpretations of the council. But no one has bothered to release a definitive interpretation of the council passages used by many to bring about this calamity. Meanwhile, there is reiteration of the need to implement the council and the decline continues. I cannot help but think the Church hierarchy for the last 50 years is certainly guilty of not doing their job properly. The solution seems so easy (release a definitive clarification) and yet no one seems to bother.

  10. Joe m says:

    Some sympathy? Really? How can you not, when their essential criticisms are incontestable? I would more easily be able to say I have some sympathy with the Vatican!

  11. Tony Jokin says:

    Well some of their criticism is valid though they are sometimes phrased in a schismatic way.

    For an example, rather than say “the current interpretations of VII are contradictory with the previous ones”, they would simply say something like the VII council should be erased from Church history. As much as I personally hate VII for the language and tone it uses which I think lends to all this misery, I feel that it is wrong to say the council erred. It’s doctrinal truths have certainly become very hard to grasp due to the impediments from tone, language and agendas of various individuals in the Church but that doesn’t mean the council erred.

    So as you can see, the SSPX are also missing out on an opportunity to raise a valid concern (what did VII really teach? or how does that particular VII interpretation match with the traditional doctrinal sense?) by instead often making an absurd claim like there is just no way VII claims can be reconciled with tradition and therefore the council must go!

    In a way, this is an overall weakness of the SSPX as well. They simply take the more hardline positions like “VII council erred”, “mass is evil” motivated from pastoral concerns. I am sure none of the SSPX leaders actually hold that actual meaning. They simply state it that way because they see them as worthless and scandalizing so therefore the faithful should be protected from it. The motivation is solid. But the only thing here is that we are speaking of something sanctioned by the Church like the mass and the council. So we are bound to offer some respect. At the least, we must not condemn what the Church has authoritatively sanctioned or approved for that gives greater scandal to the faithful.

    I believe the SSPX misses that concern and perspective more often.

  12. I don’t think it is evil, just inferior to the proper Mass.

  13. Dear Mr. Price. Amen. I also want to add that Mons Lefebvre and Bishop Fellay have rhetorically locked themselves in a cage whose sole Key of escape is Humility; that is, they must confess their actions and plead for mercy if any reconciliation is to occur and yet even if that unlikely scenario eventuates, their sheep will become wolves if a reconciliation (for which I pray daily) becomes imminent.

    There is no way in hell that those who succor the schism will stand for a reconciliation with Pope Francis.

    As it now stands, the SSPX is in the midst of raising a third generation of children who are being taught that Ecumenical Councils, Popes, and the Catholic Church teach error and that their schism is not a schism and that true obedience (Vatican 1) is disobedience.

    And I also am quick to confess that those children (inclusive of all generations raised within the schism) prolly think their souls are safer in the sspx than being exposed to what me and thee have been exposed to this past one-half century.

    Maintaining the Bonds of Unity in this ecclesiastical epoch is to be spiritually scourged but I deserve it for what I have done in the past

  14. Ironically though, not a single Pope since Vatican II has bothered to call a synod or release a definitive statement on how to interpret problematic content in Vatican II.

    Dear Mr. Jokin. Bishop Athanasius Schneider solicited Pope Benedict XVI for a new syllabus to define just where the bear shit in the buckwheat * when it comes to the necessary distinctions twixt the doctrines and political praxis within the documents of Vatican Two but he refused the request.

    O, and if you want to read a stark analysis of the problems within the Documents, it’d be tough to beat Brunero Gherardini’s, The Ecumenical Vatican Council II A MUCH NEEDED DISCUSSION That great Roman Thomist pulls no punches and I desire the Church take a decision to hold a Synod or issue a Syllabus defining just what is and isn’t binding in V2 because the individual man, no matter how traditional, intelligent, or holy he is, can do such a thing; that can only come from the authority of the Church which speaks in Jesus’ name; Luke 10:16.

    As to how long we must wait for such ineluctable action? Who knows? This continuing testing of our Faith may continue for a long time.

    • Vermont Hill Country idiom.
  15. Steve Fowler says:

    But councils teach error all the time! But what they DON’T do is to unambiguously define error in teachings concerning faith and morals in a way that is binding. Vatican II had no canons, so infallibility doesn’t enter into it.

    By error, I mean prudential error: lots of councils have been prudential failures. Yes, the Holy Spirit was there: but they didn’t listen.

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