Monday, February 06, 2006

SSPX Head: The Cafeteria Is Open

A week from today, Benedict XVI will meet with his cardinal-chieftains to determine possible ways and means to rehabilitate the schismatic Society of St. Pius X, moving on his great desire to lift the excommunications levied upon its leaders after their illegal ordination as bishops by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.

In the run-up to the papal cabinet meeting, I'm told a bilateral conference will be held involving the superiors of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Clergy, at which the SSPX is the agenda. (Of course, the head of the latter, Cardinal Dario Castrillion Hoyos, is the Holy See's liaison to the Society as president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.)

Of course, any and all progress on the question rests on how much the Tridentines can swallow their pride.

The latest from the SSPX's Superior General, Bernard Fellay, seems to indicate that, unsurprisingly, such a miracle doesn't look so likely. In recent remarks, it's safe to say that the Society sees reports of its return to the Catholic church as cause for vehement denial -- both of the reports themselves and the tragic schism which got the Tridentine splinter-group into the canonical and doctrinal ditch in which it has found itself for 18 long years.

Over the weekend, I was sent an English translation of notes made by an SSPX priest as he listened to Fellay's homily last Thursday at Flavigny, during which its new class of seminarians were invested with their habits. This came the day after the convocation of all the Lefebvrist groups, the event which sparked widespread reports (broken here) of a possible restoration of their communion with the church of Rome.

Some snips from the note-taking:
We would like to briefly explain the situation where we are. There is nothing special planned, nothing new. Certainly, the devil, as is his normal manner of acting, is spreading rumors, mistrust, speaking of a "secret accord" or that the Society would become an Apostolic Administration, something that is supposedly to be signed around Easter time. This is completely false, nothing but empty air.

What is true, is that there was a meeting with Cardinal Hoyos on the 15th of November, where we had explained again our reserves, and what we wait for from Rome before we do anything. We explained to him that the Catholic life, the normal Catholic life, is not possible in the Church today. Since the Council, this life has been rendered impossible.
I just love it when ex-Catholics tell the church what it can and cannot do, don't you?
But we are not in agreement on the causes of this crisis. The hierarchy would like to
attribute this crisis to the situation in the world -- the world, according to them, is to blame for this crisis....

Mgr. Fellay then said [to Castrillion] that before "solving the problem of the Society," one must begin by solving the problem in the Church. Once the problems in the Church are resolved, the "problem of the Society" will be solved by itself.
OK, so Rome would get back the SSPX, in exchange for "solving the problems" (i.e. the obliteration of) the church's post-conciliar commitments to religious liberty, calling Jews "brothers" instead of "God-killers," and existing as a servant of communion in the modern world.

If that's not price-gouging on the Society's part, I don't know what is.

Cardinal Castrillion, having been charged with the mandate to, if necessary, move heaven and earth to get the schismatics to recant (even in murmured voices), made his best offer, telling Fellay:
"What you have just said to me does not put you outside the Church; you are thus in the Church."

The Cardinal continued: "I would like you [i.e. Fellay] to write to the Pope to ask him to remove the excommunication."
Here come the schismatic colors:
And since then, we have done nothing, because evidently we do not ask for something which we have never recognized. We don't ask to remove something which doesn't exist. We have always refused to recognize the validity of these excommunications, and thus we will not ask to take away something which doesn't exist.
And then, embodying the SSPX's unique brand of docility, Fellay re-dictates his terms:
Why the new tactic of Rome, to what end? Certainly the Pope would like to regulate the "problem of the Society" quickly, but in their own perspective. On our side, we have always insisted: before any practical solution, one must eliminate the principles which 1/ are the causes of this crisis and 2/ would kill the Society if we were to accept them. We cannot therefore accept a practical solution.
And therefore you will remain excommunicated and in schism.
The discussions thus remain at this level. We demand the examination of these deadly principles which have entered the Church, to eliminate them, to reject them. This liberalism, modernism, has entered the Church and kills the Christian life, and is manifested by ecumenism, religious liberty, the laicized state, these same principles which are repeated by the Pope even now.
As if that wasn't enough for you, the Schismatic-in-Chief starts chiding Rome explicitly (emphases unique)
Thus, evidently, we must have relations with Rome in order to accomplish this. It is an error to think that we cannot speak to them. We cannot wait for the day where they will wake up and be Catholic. How will they convert if they do not hear the Word of God.... Let us pray then that these authorities receive the light. Let us have the heart of an Apostle. Do not put the light that we have received under the bushel, but let us desire to convert souls. If God has given us the grace to see clearly, it would be a sin to keep this light only for ourselves.
As you can see, Denial isn't just a river in Egypt -- it also runs straight through Econe.