23 September 2016

Bishop Fellay and Mutual Enrichment

I was very moved when I listened to the two videos of His Excellency Bishop Fellay, justifying his hope of leading the Society of S Pius X into a canonically regular situation.

And particularly by the section in which he read long extracts from a letter sent to him by a diocesan bishop. (I suspected that he laid emphasis upon the fact that his correspondent was a diocesan bishop to prevent it being assumed that the writer was Bishop Schneider!) It seemed to me sad that His Excellency felt that he needed to conceal the bishop's identity; such, I suppose, is the result of the atmosphere of fear which pervades Christ's Catholic Church militant here in earth during the current pontificate. (Although no steps appeared to be taken against Reinhardt Marx when he said all that stuff about not being a subsidiary of Rome and not being prepared to 'wait' ... which is confusing. Might there be different standards of punitive retaliation for the differently dissident?)

It is no secret that there is a tendenz within the Society which favours an ecclesiology of remaining dug into a heavily fortified defensive position. I would not myself find this at all easy to justify. It can never be safe to be out of perfect canonical unity with the Successor of S Peter. And such a position can never be free of a suspicion that a schismatic mentality is being generated; a mentality which can only harden over the years. The longer communities exist in separation, the less easy it is to reconcile them. Surely, whatever else History teaches, it teaches this. Every unreconciled year is 365 more days' journey into the land of hardened cultural arteries

It is very much to the Holy Father's credit that, apparently, he has lowered the doctrinal bar for reconciliation, in line with the interesting remarks made by Archbishop Pozzo ... who had (or has a friend who had) clearly been diving into the Conciliar archives and unearthing formal statements made in the aula about the non-binding status of certain documents. And the Pope's statement that he had not spoken infallibly when he performed certain recent canonisations must help reconciliation. Obviously, a formula of canonisation does not fall within the parameters of Pastor aeternus; additionally, there is significance in the changes Pope Francis made in the rites of Canonisation. (The Search Engine would reveal my extensive views on this subject.)

The nameless bishop, in his letter to Bishop Fellay, was in fact echoing the appeal recorded in Acts 16, Come over to Macedonia and help us. But the Society has only some 600 priests. How can it possibly 'help' the so much vaster Universal Church Militant? As the disciples said to the Lord, alla tauta ti estin eis tosoutous? [John 6:9]. 

He answered their very natural apprehension non verbo sed actu. Such is the way with God.

Perhaps the fostering of vocations and seminary training could be areas in which the Societry's long, well tested, and proven experience could be of general usefulness. I gather that one in five of the priests ordained in France this year was ordained in the Extraordinary Form ... Possibly this is what that rather sporting Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had in mind when he observed, I think in 2012, that he would be happy to see the Society running his seminary. Does anybody have any better plan for reviving Wonersh? An Ushaw redivivum might end up full again, just as it was in that splendid old black-and-white video of High Mass on the eve of the Council!!

Incidentally, it could be useful for orthodox presbyters being hounded by unsympathetic diocesans to have a refuge into which they could be incardinated. The Society might end up growing faster than it anticipated!

Indeed, things after the regularisation of the SSPX might be fun. Since the Society's priests are relatively thick upon the ground in France, there would just have to be some entertaining exchanges of opinions as they took a full part in deliberations with the aged liberals in French dioceses and deaneries. And just suppose the Savoyard Bishop Tissier de Mallerais were nominated to sit in ... merely as an observer, you understand ... on the meetings of the CBCEW ... imagine that engagingly dismissive flap of the hand and the laconic verbal grenade blandly lobbed across the table, just when some item on the Agenda seemed to have been safely sewn up ... and, incredible though this must seem, Tissier might just possibly not be overawed even by Vincent Nichols ...


Brian M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cosmos said...


Could you or one of your readers kindly point me to a source regarding "the Pope's statement that he had not spoken infallibly when he performed certain recent canonisations."

Thank you very much!

Brian M said...

I actually found the videos in question, thanks to a friend at Angelus Press: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/09/for-record-bishop-fellay-explains-what.html

JMcCarthy said...

Cosmos - Couldn't find an exact ref, but did see a quote from Pope Francis re the infallibility. This covers the exceptional nature of the recent canonisations http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350746?eng=y&refresh_ce

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Kudos, Father. I loved your point about a certain mentality hardening over the years and that annealing of attitudes could prove to be most difficult to overcome if a deal is struck - and who could be against such a deal?

I wonder if those raised in the schism can agree to reconcile with Franciscus after more than two generations of those who succor the sspx have been schooled that Rome can not be trusted.

O, I know that referring to the sspx as a schism is considered verboten but its praxis meets the Traditional definition of a schism.

Aqua said...

They do not seem to have a "schismatic mentality" to me. Quite the opposite. They are as purely orthodox to Catholic teaching as any living member of the Church today.

They honor the Pope and the Seat of Peter upon which he sits with vigor and will. They exist as they have since their founding, which followed strict canonical process. Nothing has changed since then. Canonical then. Canonical now. Disagreements then. Disagreements now. They accepted Vatican II with reservations then, as now.

That all seems legitimate. I see nothing that compels them to change their valid canonical structure if they choose to remain as they are; a valid engine of Orthodoxy in an unorthodox Modernist world.

The choice should be a free on; on its merits. But not because they are viewed as schismatic. I used to think that, but I think now it is 100% wrong, and the opposite of the truth.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I most certainly do not think that the Society is schismatic. Nor do I even hint at this in my piece.

Indeed, I would be prepared to argue that, because of their increasing divergence from orthodoxy, some parts and personel of the German churches suffer more from a schismatic mentality than do the clergy of the Society.

I hope that is clear!

Aqua said...

Thank you Father, with all due respect to you and your fantastic light-filled blog.

I merely refer to the sentiment contained in this quote: "...The longer communities exist in separation ..."

As I see it, they have not left anything or separated. SSPX does not need to return to anything. They remain in fidelity to Magisterial Truth, as they always have; in union with every Pope in alignment with the Magisterium since Peter

What has been done to them, I see as an injustice, not based on truth or facts. The Modern Church has (essentially) left them to an extent. Therefor, there is no reason to modify who they now are. SSPX has worked well to protect Orthodoxy until now. It will continue to do so in the future.

There may be a reason to accept these proposals, but if so, I think it needs to be asserted they are being accepted on very good individual merits and not because they see themselves as "lost sheep" in need of a return.

They have not moved an inch.

Vincent said...

Indeed, Bishop Fellay has himself addressed this point; one of the reasons he is keen on a reconciliation is because the length of time lends itself towards a "hardening over the years". One might argue however that admitting to the potential for the problem shows a guardedness against it, and an honest appraisal of the dangers of falling off the tightrope they are walking can only Br a good sign!

John Vasc said...

That the SSPX would bring us all a tremendous enrichment of faith and liturgy is beyond doubt.
And I absolutely agree, Father, that the SSPX should be moved by a wish to be in complete union with the Holy Father. On the other hand, the latter's démarche is not very easy to understand. Personally, if I were a member of the SSPX, I would be concerned lest any (hypothetical) abuse of papal infallibility were to be replaced by a banal but even more irksome managerial insistence on simply having one's way in everything, and on re-writing the rule book where necessary. That might give them pause.

mike said...

On your side Father John, there was a Catholic Bishop on the east coast of the US, I believe it was 15 years ago, in Philadelphia who sent his priests to an SSPX seminary for formation. No one corrected him. I have published on my blog a long time ago the opening homily of Vat 2 and the closing homily both stated quite clearly that this council was pastoral in nature and did not change the doctrines and dogma of the Church Cardinal Ratzinger at one time expressed the same view. Rest assured though when the fogs in certain prelates minds are lifted, it will be for those outside the SSPX, the Catholics in this Novus Ordo mess we are in, will be severely warned off. Being English and growing up there I would like to attend the Ordinariate Liturgy but it worries their local priest.

GOR said...

It certainly would be to the benefit of the Church if the SSPX were ‘fully integrated’ into the Universal Church and could act as a leaven to the rest of us. The Pope’s granting them faculties for the Year of Mercy seemed a step in that direction. It is hard to see him withdrawing that at the end of said year.

However, a caveat… Would their status as a Personal Prelature protect them from being treated like the Franciscans of the Immaculate? One would hope so but can’t help fearing “Danaos et dona ferentes…”

Brian M said...

"there was a Catholic Bishop on the east coast of the US, I believe it was 15 years ago, in Philadelphia who sent his priests to an SSPX seminary for formation. No one corrected him."

Mike Hurcum, can you provide any evidence to support this claim? Philadelphia has never, ever been a hotbed of traditionalism, and I can't think of any other bishops in the surrounding states who would have made this remarkable gesture.

Unknown said...

A reconcilation would be wonderful...from your lips to God's ears. The "schismatic mentality" alluded to may be illustrated by the refusal of some SSPX laity, encouraged by many SSPX clergy, to attend non-SSPX Masses even if it meant missing Mass on Sunday. Even if another Extraordinary Form Mass available. Sad.

JMcCarthy said...

Cosmos, the infallibility statement was one he made to Bishop Fellay: finally found the article with video embedded http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/fetzen-fliegen/item/2729-francis-canonizations-are-not-infallible