As a beneficiary of blessed Benedict XVI's ecumenical goodwill, an Ordinariate Catholic naturally prays that the SSPX communities, to whom Benedict also reached out, might also receive the same joys and the same benefits as we received. I hope that the SSPX will soon have a canonical status which will protect its distinctive charism as an authentic part of the Latin Church. I write this on the Feast of S Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, a day this year made that bit less joyful by Bishop Williamson's sad if characteristic decision to create a new schism and himself to become a non-Catholic by incurring excommunication latae sententiae and conferring that same excommunication, with his own two hands, upon his consecrand. But let us today consider the SSPX itself, which so wisely dissociated itself from this Wyccamical eccentric.
Nothing is gained by the present situation between the SSPX and the 'mainstream' Church. Absolutions are given and Marriages solemnised which are of doubtful (or if you prefer it, doubted) validity. Who gains from maintaining that situation? If some piece of canonical ingenuity, without necessarilly granting full faculties to SSPX clergy, were at least to eliminate this particular pastoral anomaly, who would be the loser? Would a shepherd who achieved this end not smell of his sheep? Would this not be Merciful? Is the SSPX not a Periphery as deserving to be reached as any other?
The SSPX can currently set up a Mission in an area where the local bishop may have well-founded reasons for prefering this not to happen. But because of the present situation, there is nothing he can do to prevent it. Paradoxically, the Society, because it is deemed to be canonically non-existent, actually has complete freedom of action! So how does the bishop gain from this situation? Similarly, I know a town, not within these Three Kingdoms, with a well-established SSPX presence where, after Summorum Pontificum, the local bishop started up an EF Mass at exactly the same time as the SSPX Mass, thereby denying traditionally inclined laity the pastoral flexibility of two different Mass-times. The SSPX has no redress against such obvious, and childish, 'spoiling' tactics clearly designed to hamper, wound, and divide its pastoral mission.
Nobody apart from the Evil One gains from the present stand-off. If I'm wrong, tell me who does.
The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus has a number of provisions to the effect that an Ordinary of an Ordinariate can do X or Y or Z "after consulting with the territorial bishop"; or "after hearing the views of the Episcopal Conference". This gives an Ordinary the right to do these things without consent, but gives him a powerful incentive to act collaboratively. Likewise, the bishop or the conference may be the more likely to act reasonably because they know that their failure to do so could lead to unilateral action by the Ordinary.
Isn't this exactly the sort of arrangement which would enable the SSPX and the 'mainstream' Church to grow in trust? To move gently, perhaps through some intermediate stages, to full integration? Wouldn't this make it easier for the SSPX to move gradually and consensually without abrupt moments which might precipitate schism among those of its members who, because of past wounds, find trust the more difficult?
Who would lose?
In the present situation, the SSPX has no input into Episcopal Conferences, or the Synods in Rome ... so who, except 'liberals', gains from this muting of the witness of the SSPX? Certainly not the 'traditionalist cause' in the Church.
If it ceased to be irregular for a would-be seminarian to choose a SSPX seminary, might not 'mainstream' seminaries be incentivised to bring the Formation they offer more into line with what Canon Law and Veterum Sapientia require? Market forces! Might the more bullying of the staff in 'liberal' seminaries be less inclined to 'sack' a seminarian with traditional instincts if they knew he could knock on another door, and be welcomed?
Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican seminaries have traditionally done 'exchanges'. Who loses if SSPX seminaries join in? Which part of Unitatis redintegratio encourages the warmest sentiments between Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox but demands that Western Catholic groups which have slipped into a canonically anomalous state have got to be kept at arm's length and treated like naughty schoolboys who deserve only relentless discipline until they abase themselves sufficiently low?
In France and England, there are hundreds of little used churches and empty presbyteries. Who would lose if the SSPX had a free hand to hoover the cobwebs out of some of them?