On an Experiment of Tradition

It is being asked, is the present readiness of the Superior General and the General Council–May, 2012–to make a canonical agreement with Rome in the near future in accord with the policies and spirit of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X? It would seem no.

Objection 1. Three of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre have formally expressed opposition for a near-future agreement.

Objection 2. It is recalled how in 1988 the Archbishop strongly rejected an agreement due to the gulf between the Society and Rome on matters of doctrine. An agreement would have meant suicide for the Society.

Objection 3. It is argued that even Pope Benedict cannot be trusted by an agreement because he shows a habit of subjectivism.

Objection 4. Furthermore, The Archbishop opposed the entire Council up until his death characterizing Vatican II as the French Revolution in the Church, and not just admitting of a few doctrinal errors such as religious liberty, ecumenism, or collegiality. A near-future agreement reduces criticism of Vatican II down to an academic critique of a few of its errors.

Objection 5. A near-present agreement whereby the Society is accepted “as is” without compromising to Vatican II, and continuing with full freedom as it has, would still be a “purely practical agreement.”

On the contrary, Bishop Alfonso de Galareta director of the Rome-SSPX Doctrinal Commission recently stated (2009) in a sermon regarding the commission: “Once again, this commission’s objective is not to reach some kind of doctrinal agreement, which would be deleterious. No. We are simply going to bear witness to the faith, defend it, do the good we can, and at any rate we shall defend the honor of God, the honor of Our Lord, and the honor of the Church, which is the main thing, if you have understood what I said at the beginning [of this sermon] on the mediation and function of the priest, and that is what matters.”

And, he concluded by saying “We do know clearly what we are not disposed to accept. If we do not know perfectly how things may evolve, on the other hand we do know very clearly what we have no intention of doing under any circumstance: firstly, to yield on matters of doctrine, and, secondly, to make a purely practical agreement. With these conditions and with the disposition which is theirs to agree for the first time to discuss the Council, for this is indeed the first time they have given us the opportunity to present to them a profound doctrinal critique based on the Church’s perennial magisterium—it’s the first time!”

I answer that, we should go back to the Founder of our Society of St. Pius X, who was St. Athanasius for our times, His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who was chosen by God to be one of the few bishops in the world to faithfully transmit the Tradition of the Church during and after Vatican II. Divine Providence chose him truly as the leader of the Church Remnant. He was the greatest of bishop-saints! This same Archbishop never changed his specific attitude which guided his life, to remain uncompromising on the Faith but ever attached to Rome without having a hardened heart to it. He never entertained formally subscribing to nor imitating the sedevacantist segment of the traditional movement. He remained vigorous in his fight against sedevacantism in its theories and in its spirit, firstly by guarding against it within his own Society he founded. However, it is the same sedevacantist movement outside of the Society and among a minority within the Society that, while disagreeing fundamentally with the Society, has opposed talks between the Society and Rome, especially under the present Superior General and since 2000. They object to the moto proprio, lifting of the decree of excommunications, and intent of the doctrinal talks because they have the sedevacantist spirit. They reject the authority of the Holy Father. The tend to work against all present authority, especially that of institutions. They no longer believe the present Institution is the Catholic Church. Thus, they will naturally oppose a priori a canonical agreement. Theirs is a spirit of independence.

It is the sedevacantist spirit that has tried to divide Society chapels all along and is now trying to do so when Divine Providence seems to have chosen the present time for a holy solution between the Society and the Holy Father, who is true Pope! We all have believed all along that ultimately to bring an end to the apostacy and Crisis the Holy Father, as Vicar of Christ, must do it. For the Society Pope Benedict is Pope. If this Pope is approving of the Society to continue the cause of Tradition as it has and is, without doctrinal compromises, a simple but profound requirement sought by the Society from the beginning, then Divine Providence is choosing the present time to formally begin the work of Tradition from the Pope himself!

Answer to 1) It is evident that one of the three bishops is the author of the letter to the General Council and at least partly behind a public leak of this letter and the letter of the Superior General, which strongly suggests he is the main force behind this letter, rather than the two other bishops who signed the letter. Yet, all three bishops have generally maintained obedience to their Superior General. They are free to express to him their opinion, as long as they do not try to subvert his authority publically. Considering the fact all three have followed Bishop Fellay since 1994 without public opposition, and considering the character and attitudes of the three bishops all of these years, it is unreasonable to think the three will publically resist an agreement if it is made, verses merely privately opposing it at the current moment. Furthermore, the two letters are private letters and in confidence. In order to justify a public leak, one would have to examine the two letters and ask “Are the three bishops stating they will resist an agreement? Are they demonstrating that an agreement clearly is an objective doctrinal compromise betraying the Archbishop and the Society?” Finally, if Bishop Fellay and the General Council has truly and explicitly contradicted the policy and spirit of the Archbishop regarding a canonical solution, and of the district superiors’ chapters these last eighteen years, then why was he chosen by the Archbishop to be a member of the Society’s Council, to be consecrated Bishop, to be elected as Superior General in 1994, and again in 2006? Ultimately, the question is: can it reasonably be demonstrated that it has been the policy of the Society to never sign an agreement until Rome begins to formally correct the doctrinal errors of Vatican II?

Answer to 2) In 1988,as related by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais in his authoritative biography of Archbishop Lefebve, specifically in the chapters covering the Archbishop’s life from 1988 until his death in 1991, the bishop explains in great detail what the Archbishop said and did regarding relations with Rome. On no page whatsoever can it be shown that the Archbishop would not accept an agreement until the Roman authorities began to convert back to Tradition, formally correcting the doctrinal errors of Vatican II. In fact he said during this period that what he had hoped for at least was that the Society be allowed to continue in an “experiment of Tradition” as long as from the beginning there were no compromises to the conciliar errors still held in Rome. For the Archbishop, according to Bishop de Mallerais, the reason he decided to reject an agreement was because he believed the negotiations at that time were disingenuous to the cause of the Society, as is evident in the game played over consecrating bishops. He judged it imprudent to make an agreement during the time of 1988 because it seemed to him that the negotiations were not honest.

Answer to 3) Archbishop Lefebvre maintained relations with the Pope and hope for a canonical solution as long as the Society is not asked to compromise to doctrinal error. He did not expect that the Crisis be resolved before an agreement; rather he hoped that the Crisis be resolved in part by means of an agreement. Traditionalist Catholics must place our trust in: God, the Papacy, the Society’s Superior General and Council, and the Society superiors. We pray for and await a holy canonical agreement. If that agreement, as Bishop Fellay most recently explained to all the Society priests, does not require compromise to the doctrinal errors, the Society is given freedom to continue the work of Tradition as it has and is, and if there are not new demands that require compromise, then the Society is prepared to accept it. The document which establishes such an uncompromised agreement would then come from Our Lord Jesus Christ through his Vicar on Earth and can me mounted on the walls of all our chapels.

Answer to 4) How the Society is allowed to criticize Vatican II will depend on the Holy Father’s decision in a canonical agreement, which will not be accepted by the Superior General, as he says, unless the Society is not required to accept the Council’s errors and may continue to freely work in its criticism of the Council as it always has, which includes characterizing the Council as the French Revolution in the Church. Archbishop laid the groundwork for a response to the Council. He said to use the criterion of Tradition in accepting all in the Council in accord with it, clarifying everything that is ambiguous, and rejecting all that is in contradiction to it.

Answer to 5) Bishop Alfonso de Galereta has been the director of the Rome-SSPX doctrinal commission. The first phase of the commission has come to a close, but the commission has not been permanently closed. The goal of the doctrinal commission has been in part to reach a canonical agreement. The good bishop explained the commission to the faithful in his 2009 sermon. At no time did this bishop say that an agreement must be based on the Vatican starting to formally correct Vatican II in order for that agreement to not be “purely practical.”

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5 comments on “On an Experiment of Tradition

  1. Good and sound thinking. We need more of it !

    • Rome has not changed her position; we must accept Vatican II; it is +Fellay who now states that we (the SSPX & +Lefebvre ) have misunderstood what Dignitatis Humanae taught; That he can now hope that Vatican II forms part of the great tradition of the Church.
      The numerous declarations made by +Fellay that there would be no practial accord without a doctrinal agreement either have: 1. Been totally forgotten or 2. +Fellay is modifying his position vis-a-vis Vatican II.
      To me it appears that #2 is occurring.

  2. Document your claims or retract them.

    The garbage going on over at IA isn’t welcome.

  3. +Fellay 5/2012
    Although he stopped short of endorsing Pope Benedict’s interpretation of Vatican II as essentially in continuity with the Church’s tradition – a position which many in the SSPX have vocally disputed – Bishop Fellay spoke about the idea in strikingly sympathetic terms.

    “I would hope so,” he said, when asked if Vatican II itself belongs to Catholic tradition.

    “The Pope says that … the Council must be put within the great tradition of the Church, must be understood in accordance with it. These are statements we fully agree with, totally, absolutely,” the bishop said. “The problem might be in the application, that is: is what happens really in coherence or in harmony with tradition?”
    Vs +Fellay: stating that the council documents should be changed:
    +Fellay
    Rome, Italy, Oct 30, 2007 / 01:05 pm (CNA).- In an interview with Italian journalist Paolo Luigi Rodari, the author of the blog “Palazzo Apostolico,” Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, said the schismatic movement demands not only a “correct interpretation” of Vatican II, but that the Council documents actually be changed.

    Above we can see two different quotes; one with +Fellay agreeing with the statement of Benedict XVI that Vatican II is part of Catholic tradition; and an earlier statement stating that the documents needed to be modified.

    Next comes the softening of the criticism of Vatican II and notably of “Dignitatis Humanae”
    +Fellay on the “misunderstanding of D.H. :
    CNS Interview 5/12 posted on DICI:
    We, I may say in the discussions, I think we see that many things which we would have condemned as being from the Council are in fact not from the Council. But the common understanding of it.

    Religious Liberty
    The Relgious liberty is used in so many ways and looking closer I really have the impression that not many know what really the Council said about it. The Council is presenting a religious liberty which is in fact a very, very limited one. Very limited. It would mean our talks with Rome, they clearly said that to mean that there would be a right to error or right to choose each religion, is false.

    My comment: The above statement contradicts what +Lefebvre expained on many occasions: The teaching of Dignitatis Humanae on Religious Liberty, where in contradiction with the perennial teaching of the Church; most notably and almost word for word with “Quanta Cura” of Pius IX.
    Question: Must we include +Lefebvre, amongst those who did know what the Council said about religious liberty?

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