Monday, April 16, 2012

SSPX: Rumors are flying

The Catholic blogosphere is buzzing with rumors based on thinly sourced news reports from Europe that a reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X with Rome is near at hand.  Rorate has been covering most of the recent developments (or rumors of developments). For my part, I've seen these sorts of rumors before and am adopting a wait and see attitude. Although I have been an occasional critic of the SSPX, I do hope for their return to full communion with Rome.  If it is handled right it would be a win win situation.  But Rome needs to know what they are doing and they need to make it clear that there are some points on which no compromise will be possible.

If Rome does not require the SSPX to expressly accept Vatican II's declaration repudiating the age old charge of Deicide against the Jews they are going to have serious problems. The Society has an established record of being far too accommodating to clergy and religious who are virulent anti-Semites. That needs to be dealt with very firmly or Rome is going to have a PR disaster on their hands.  They claimed to have been caught off-guard by the Bishop Williamson business. That excuse won't fly again.


Stephen said...

John, so what is the stance of the Orthodox church vis a vis the charge of Deicide?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Dogmatically it has not been addressed. While historically it had some acceptance in the distant past, it is almost universally rejected and considered outsides the bounds of legitimate theologumen within the Church today. I would note however that in the various schismatic Old Calendarist sects anti-Semitism is widespread.


ex_fide said...

The SSPX could be accomodated under some sort of Personal Prelature of the Pontiff, creating yet another group attached to Liturgy and Spirituality that has a pedigree of around 100 years, which owes more to popes than apostles, and which would further entrench huge divisions in the RCC.

What's interesting is the tolerance of the SSPX shown by some RC "Traditionalists", who seem able to overlook Schism and, as you say, Antisemitism simply because the SSPX adhere to the "Latin Mass" and could help bring some "Tradition" to the RCC. The SSPX are quite happy being in schism with Rome, and reunion won't come cheap.

Visibilium said...

I once visited a local SSPX chapel, and with a crappy sense of timing, I unknowingly chose what turned out to be Corpus Christi Sunday. Standing room only. Even the narthex was crowded.

My musical hobbies account for my ability to recite the Latin Mass ordinaries. When I began singing the Gloria along with the choir, the narthex folks all but pushed me into the nave, undoubtedly thinking that I belonged there. As I looked around at the ocean of mantillas, I felt sadness for the devotees of what appeared to be a Lost Cause.

Tawser said...

It seems to me that the crisis in the Roman Church will never come to a meaningful conclusion until the church addresses the root cause, which is the meaning of Tradition. For most "conservative" Catholics, tradition is no more and no less than what the current pope asserts it to be. Even well established doctrine is vulnerable to revision, although of course it is never called revision but "development." Is there anything that the current pope can do that his successor cannot undo? Until that question is addressed, I don't see anything but chronic instability in the future of the Roman Church.

Subdeacon David Gould said...

I assume that you differentiate between the millions of Orthodox believers of the Church of Russiam the Russian Church Abroad, the Serbian Church, the holy monks of Mt Athos, the many parishes and monasteries of the OCA that are on the Church Julian Calendar, and "Old Calendarist schismatics"?

M. Jordan Lichens said...

Subdeacon David, I don't pretend to speak for John, but in the past he's meant the Old Kalendar sects who separated from Orthodoxy such as the HOCNA, Genuine Orthodox church, etc.

Regarding the SSPX business: I know some amazing families who've been lured into it and I've certainly come close. However, I too was turned off by the anti-semitism and the general culture of despair--not to mention the questionable relationship it has with Rome. Most hysterical was when I was talking with one SSPX priest and mentioned that I sometimes join the Orthodox for vespers to which he exclaimed, "Don't you know that the Orthodox are separated from Rome!" Just strange

CredoUtIntelligam said...


Does rejecting antisemitism require embracing dual-covenant theology--the belief that faithfulness to the Old Covenant and Law is salvific for the Jews and that they have no need to convert to Christianity? Dual-covenant theology has become the de facto teaching of the Catholic Church. Part of the labeling of the SSPX as "antisemitic" is the result of their rejection of dual-covenant theology.

This is not to deny that one can find antisemitism in the SSPX. But you should also be aware that many consider the SSPX antisemitic for its rejection of dual-covenant theology.

Anyway, I believe Tawser's comment that the SSPX situation requires the Catholic Church to come to an understanding of Tradition is correct. I truly hope there is some clarity in this regard rather than a political, ambiguously-worded agreement.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Subdeacon David
Of course I was not referring to the Russian or Serbian churches. The term "Old Calendarist" has very specific meaning in Orthodoxy and is not to be confused with being on the old calendar. It refers to schismatic, often self styled "True Orthodox" sects. If nothing else I would have thought the term "schismatic" which I also included in the sentence wold have been a tip off that I was not referring to the Russian Church.


John (Ad Orientem) said...

With respect to Rome coming to terms with Tradition I don't think any Orthodox Christian will dispute that there is an issue there, though we would likely date the problem a bit farther back then the 1960's (probably by about a thousand years). But the SSPX has been in de-facto schism for so long I don't think they will find it easy to return.

A point I should have made in the original post but overlooked is that the current Pope is at least somewhat sympathetic to their complaints. But he is now in his middle eighties and one may reasonably wonder how long he has left before God calls him into retirement. Is there any likely successor who will treat with the SSPX as gently as Benedict XVI? My guess is that these are probably the most favorable circumstances they are likely to see for reconciliation. If I were Bishop Fellay I would think very long and hard before taking any step likely to make their quasi-schism formal and permanent.


Conchúr said...

Is there any likely successor who will treat with the SSPX as gently as Benedict XVI?

Burke and Canizares.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Burke is not papabile as he is an American. But Canizares would be a very interesting Pope.


Tawser said...

I would certainly agree that Rome's problematic attitude towards Tradition predates the Second Vatican Council, but the wise intransigence of the pre-conciliar popes served to obscure the fact. Vat II let the genie out of the bottle, and the full implications of ultramontanism are there for all to see. The question is, can the Holy See put the genie back into the bottle without admitting past errors and mistakes of judgment? Personally, I don't see how that is possible, but it is certainly going to be interesting to watch, and nothing will underline the problem half so well as attempts to regularize the SSPX. I mean, where have they been for the past fifty years, and why?