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Another note from The Desolate City – FSSP once promised a bishop? December 10, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, episcopate, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Latin Mass, priests, religious, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

I’ve written some previous posts covering items of interest from Anne Roche Muggeridge’s book, The Desolate City.  I was reading an article about the talks between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and that jogged my memory to recall another item from the book.  The item was this: Muggeridge claims that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the group of priests who left the SSPX when the episcopal ordinations took place in 1988, and remained in union with Rome, was promised their own bishop in the process.

The background is this: Rome and the SSPX, in the person of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, had been engaged in talks for years regarding the status of the Society.  As the years went by, both Rome and Archbishop Lefebvre began to feel impatient, or at least the press of events and the passage of time, and pressed for a conclusion.  In May 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre signed an accord with Rome “normalizing” the Society’s status in the Church, but soon felt compelled to renege on that accord (some say this was due to careless statements by Cardinal Ratzinger, implying that the SSPX, if normalized, would have to offer the Novus Ordo Mass and incorporate other changes from the Council). In July, Archbishop Lefebvre ordained 4 SSPX priests as bishops, and Rome formally excommunicated all the bishops – existing and newly ordained – who took part in the illicit ordination. At that point, a dozen priests of the Society broke away, choosing to stand up a new society which would enjoy “normal” status in the Church and relations with Rome.

During the course of the negotiations, the SSPX had been promised at least one bishop of their own to govern the Society.  Lefebvre pressed for 3 – he thought 1 bishop insufficient.  Muggeridge claims that the FSSP were also offered a bishop.  I have been trying to dig up data on this, but there isn’t much.  And much of it is filled with unedifying dogfights between supporters of the SSPX and the FSSP.  But what I have found is that there does seem to have been some promise that FSSP would get a bishop very early on in the process of standing up the Fraternity, but that went away fairly quickly as being unnecessary.  Which, I think it is today, but I do know that early in its existence FSSP had to scramble around a lot to find bishops who would ordain their priests. There being many bishops who, for reasons truly unfathomable, developed a tremendous antipathy to the Mass of their youth, and who would have nothing to do with it.  But, apparently, they managed to make due.

I should note that congregations of apostolic life, religious orders, etc., are generally not governed by a bishop, although the superiors of these organizations have many powers of a bishop.  But it was the power to ordain that was the key – Lefebvre was very concerned that the Society would be strangled into oblivion after his death due to an unwillingness of bishops to ordain SSPX priests.  It basically comes down to independence – having their “own bishop” conveys a tremendous increase in independence to any entity in the Church.  Without one, even with the powers of a religious superior, there is always the threat that outside forces could weigh against the group to direct it in some way they don’t want to go, that could even be contrary to their very formation.



1. James Prime - December 10, 2012

Reblogged this on James Prime.

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