Will A Rejection of the Regularization Initiate a Slip into Sedevacantism?

June 25, 2012

It appears possible that something changed with the response of the Pope to the SSPX and the long meeting that Bishop Fellay had with Cardinal Levada before leaving Rome a few weeks ago. Cardinal Levada will soon be leaving his post. Perhaps he had some off-the-record advice for Bishop Fellay in the event that part of the communication from the Pope contained a new “poison pill”, so to speak. What may be surprising would be the revelation that the new difficulty does not have as much to do with the preamble as it does with the prelature. Indeed, as much as leaks are to be trusted, parts of the preamble have appeared on the internet in the last few days and, truth be told, they seem to favor the perspective of the Society, allowing for a wider berth of criticism of the council and its aftermath.

So, not knowing much more than almost nothing, I would speculate that an unacceptable “something” has been demanded by the Pope (the curia, more likely) and perhaps has found its way into either the prelature, or the “ground rules” for the lack of a better term. What might this something be? Here is my short list.

1) Most, if not all SSPX priests and seminarians will tell you that the New Mass is ‘intrinsically evil’. That is based on the fact that it was created specifically to refocus the Mass from the unbloody sacrifice with Christ as the oblation, to a re-enactment of the Pascal meal. To Protestantize it, as we say. All of the changes, some small and some wholesale were introduced, not to give greater glory to God, but to mimic the Calvin, Lutheran, and Anglican services. Even the smallest addition to the words of sacramental institution “ .. which will be given up for you.” turn the formulaic “Hoc est enim Corpus Meum” into the biblical commemorational narrative favored by Luther. So what if one of the conditions is to publically accept the Novus Ordo on a somewhat equal plane as the Tridentiine Mass?

2) If the diocesan bishop has the power to order an SSPX chapel closed, for any reason, what recourse would the Society have to fight or prevent that from happening?

3) How ironclad can any agreement be? Pope Benedict is 85 years old. Of the ten oldest Popes in history, he is as old as seven of them. Only one lived to be pope past 90 and that was Leo XIII who reigned a few months past his 93rd birthday. It is very likely that there will be a different pope in 5 years and with a different pope, pretty much everything will be on the table once again. While Traditional Catholicism appears to be growing, especially among the young, five years will not be nearly enough time to clean out the malevolence towards it in the curia and the episcopacy. According to an article in La Stampa last week, the bishops who head the Congregation for Evangelization bemoan their own sluggish progress and believe that the church needs to listen to and more adapt to what people want from the church. It is evident that the clueless pilots of that ship are headed straight for the iceberg.

4) It should also be evident by now who the SSPX Superior General’s boss will be. Maybe it will be the new head of the CDF? That could make one nervous.

Bishop Fellay has decided, it would seem, to lay his fortunes before the General Council of District Superiors, Bishops, and elder priests who are invited to the July meeting. He has indicated to Rome that the response will come after that. Perhaps whatever has changed is not bad at all, but rather a concessional change that completely favors the SSPX and might even be begrudging palatable to Bishop Williamson. In that case, Bishop Fellay might feel that he can bring back a goodly amount of support from the meeting.

More likely, the change is something that Bishop Fellay cannot in conscious agree to. He is therefore bringing it to the meeting to demonstrate that most of the priests would not be able to abide by the new condition, whatever that may be. Such an agreement would serve no one.

Another possibility is that the General Council could ask for Bishop Fellay’s resignation as the Superior General in favor, perhaps, of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. If that were the case, I would expect that priests are privately communicating their support to him in advance of the meeting. At that point, the deal would be dead – if it already isn’t. And I am thinking that it already is. If it is, it should become evident that the blame will equally go to those within and without the Society.

And then finally, what will be left? I truly believe that it will break the pope’s heart to declare the SSPX to be in formal schism. If Bishop Tissier takes over, it will happen. The pope will not declare it personally. It will come with certain delight from some Congregation of Declaring Schisms. If and when a formal schism is declared, the SSPX will be on its way to sedevacantism. If perhaps the pope was succeeded by say Cardinal Ranjith, maybe the situation would change. But the bitterness associated with praying for a pope not interested in restoring the faith would soon make the sede position more palatable. And the leisure of not having a hierarchy to report to will become more comfortable. The SSPX will freely consecrate more bishops at that point.

Most of the laity will go along – there is no other readily available choice. The peaceful resolution of sedevacantism will slowly be accepted in at least a material sense.

I pray that it does not happen this way because I have a hard time reconciling the fact that the visible church and the pope has transitioned to the false church and now the invisible church is the remnant. I’m sure I’ll have friends that will try and help me understand that.

Get AQ Email Updates

4 comments on “Will A Rejection of the Regularization Initiate a Slip into Sedevacantism?

  1. This is all speculation, and so worth about as much as a Clinton marital vow, but here are my responses:

    what if one of the conditions is to publically accept the Novus Ordo on a somewhat equal plane as the Tridentiine Mass?

    I can’t see how this would work. The FSSP/IBP/ICKSP don’t, so how on earth could the SSPX be expected to? If the Holy Father could write while head of the CDF that the Ordinary Form is “a fabrication, a banal on- the-spot product”, I don’t see how the SSPX could be silenced on this question. At most I can see them being required to affirm the validity of the Ordinary Form – but this is something that the SSPX, following the lead of Archbishop Lefebvre, already do.

    the diocesan bishop has the power to order an SSPX chapel closed

    I can’t see Pope Benedict allowing this, unless he was determined to sink the regularization of the SSPX. Everything we know suggests he isn’t.

    How ironclad can any agreement be?

    Well, what’s the worst that can happen? If a situation arose in which commands were issued which constituted an immediate danger to the Faith, I’m guessing Society priests would disobey. As it is, surely one has an obligation to trust in Providence and proceed according to Catholic principles? Imagine if Francis, Ignatius, Dominic et al had demanded “ironclad guarantees” for the perseverance of their work down the ages?

    who the SSPX Superior General’s boss will be

    If the Prelature is similar to Opus Dei, then his “boss” will be the Holy Father alone.

    As for your other thoughts: if the Society goes BLEEP!, which I don’t think it will, it’ll experience the same fate as all other such bodies: schism within schism, the blooming of a hundred heresies, and eventual death.

  2. Gordon,

    It is probably worth less than a Clinton vow of any type. But I did enjoy your comments and I hope that I am so far afield on this that I will be laughing at even the thought that any of this would happen a month from today.

  3. Columba on said:

    This was a good article until the last three paragraphs. There is nothing wrong with rejecting a bad deal. In fact, it would be incumbent upon the SSPX leadership to do so.

    God is responsible for His Church overall, but we have the duties of station. That means we must not recklessly endanger those over whom we have charge. When in God’s time the Holy Ghost raises up an orthodox pope, the Church’s preserved, remnant societies will assist in the restoration. Until that pope comes, our primary duty is perseverance. Talk of Sedevacantism is a distraction from that purpose.

  4. Pope Benedict has a fondness for TRADITION he never has been a traditionalist, just read any of his books on Genesis(as Joseph Ratzinger) and his last book with his comments on the Jews. He wanted a reform of the church way back in the 1950s So while he does not like outright modernists , he loves theologians who can in somewhat an orthodox light widen the meaning of truth.

Leave a Reply