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SSPX Close to Reconciliation with Rome – Wonderful, Yes, But Is This the Right Time? January 30, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, different religion, disconcerting, episcopate, Francis, General Catholic, Latin Mass, priests, Restoration, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.

There have been growing pronouncements from both the Vatican and the SSPX leadership that the two camps – if that is the right term – appear close to a formal accord regularizing the SSPX’s canonical situation.  Just today, the Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, said full communion is near:

We are working at this moment in the completion of some aspects of the canonical frame, which will be the Personal Prelature.” Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei commission, charged with dialogue with the Society of Saint Pius X, confirms [SSPX Superior-General Fellay’s words] to Vatican Insider that the stage of full communion with the Lefebvrians is near. The accomplishment of the agreement is now in plain sight, even if some time is still needed

I am of two minds over this: I have prayed for this for years, and there would be tremendous potential for great benefit to the Church by this successful regularization.  However, I am exceedingly troubled that it is occurring during this most perilous of pontificates. Outbreaks of persecution against Tradition seem to be growing around the Church.    More and more regions are implementing Amoris Laetitia, and thus radically changing both public belief and practice, along the lines of Francis’ own interpretation of that document.  This means a crisis over doctrine appears to be inevitable.  While it would be wonderful to have the SSPX back in full, regular canonical status and thus adding a great voice to the defense of the Faith (not that they are not already doing this), I have great trepidation for the future.

I am curious what people affiliated with the Society think about this.  I am an outsider looking in, but I do have a great deal of interest in this matter, as I am convinced that there will be strong impact on the Ecclesia Dei groups no matter how SSPX “reconciliation” turns out.  Is there an element of regularization at any price in this?  Is this the pontificate under which it would really be optimal, even sensical, for regularization to take place?  What happened in Campos?  Was the SSPX-SO critique basically accurate, then?

What will the impact be to the Ecclesia Dei communities?  Once the SSPX is regularized, a major reason for their existence would seem to have been removed.  If Summorum Pontificum is truly under threat, as many feel, is it beyond reason to envision a perfect storm settling not only on  the availability of the TLM but on the entire traditional movement?  After the rape of the Knights of Malta and the crushing of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, is the risk in moving at this time warranted?

The question is not whether this is desirable.  Of course it is.  The question is whether this is wise now, with this pontificate, with this most underhanded and authoritarian of men wielding ultimate power in the Church?  Bishop Fellay and some of his close associates maintain that if there is any kind of double-cross, the SSPX can simply return to their current status.  Perhaps.  But that entire structure required a very unique personality (Archbishop Lefebvre) and a very particular series of events to evolve to the current status quo.  I am not entirely certain the personalities and the potentialities would be prevalent for a repeat.  In fact I tend to think they simply will not –after all, +Lefebvre did not set out to wind up in a canonically irregular status when he founded his seminary for training priests back around 1970.  He wanted to remain within the structure of the Church, but was forced by conscience, circumstance, and frequent bungling, even ill-will, on the part of Church authorities to arrive at the destination arrived in 1988.  That is, my read on this whole history was, none of it was premeditated, the arrival at a canonically irregular position was achieved by circumstance.  But to leave after regularization would mean to premeditatedly return to irregularity (or whatever one wants to call it).

Plus, moral surrenders – if this be one, and I’m not certain that it would be, but it has potential to be one – are (humanly) impossible to recover from.

I am more or less convinced that should this regularization take place, there will be no going back, for good or for ill.  I also badly fear the example of the sons of Bishop Castro-Mayer in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil.  Many feel a near total capitulation to the post-conciliar ethos has transpired in that odd subset of a diocese.

Again, I’m especially interested to learn what people with a close association with the SSPX are thinking, but all comments are welcome on this most complex of topics.



1. The Lord's Blog - January 30, 2017

Reblogged this on Jean'sBistro2010's Blog and commented:
Society of St. Pius X………….

2. The Lord's Blog - January 30, 2017

This will be a wait and see.

3. DM - January 30, 2017

You pretty much summed up the situation exactly, Tantum. I have been praying for this as well but it will all depend on exactly how much autonomy and independence the Society will be permitted within this canonical structure. If it gives Rome any control whatsoever over the assets of the SSPX specifically, then it’s game over. If not, then if Francis does double cross us, which I think fairly likely as well, it will be easier for the Society to return to the status quo and survive.

I can tell you that if something similar happens as to Campos, I doubt it will be Bishop Fellay who will fight to save Tradition, unfortunately. He has silenced or driven out most of the SSPX clergy who are against regularization at this time, so our priests have to speak carefully about this.

However, I can tell you the majority of the laypeople in the Society will not go along with any kind of modernist takeover, a la Franciscans of the Immaculate, and will simply take their support elsewhere to priests who won’t compromise. Bishop de Mallerais, and possibly Bishop de Galarreta would likely assume leadership of the Society if things went this way. De Mallerais is not as intent on a deal at any cost as Fellay.

Of course, I hope it will turn out well and the Society can retain its voice and power from a canonically regular situation. I think it might also embolden more orthodox voices in the Church who are currently staying silent right now out of fear.

4. Richard Malcolm - January 30, 2017

“I also badly fear the example of the sons of Bishop Castro-Mayer in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil.”

Clarify what you mean by this?

Tim - January 30, 2017

Clarification: They sold the Catholics in that diocese down the river to be in the favor of the modernists. Plain and simple.

Tantumblogo - January 30, 2017

Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer (my mistake in the post) was an early ally of Archbishop Lefebvre. Both opposed the conciliar changes. Bishop Castro Mayer was ordinary of the diocese of Campos in Brazil. He refused to implement the conciliar changes, and took part in the consecrations of 1988, I believe. Anyway, after he died, a new bishop was appointed, but some people continued to adhere to the old ways. They existed as a “diocese within a diocese.” They are called the Priestly Society of St. John Vianney. Great pressure was exerted on this subset to regularize. Eventually they did, under his successor Bishop Rangel. That’s been 15 years or so now? Anyway, many traditional Catholics aware of the situation feel this society, especially under current head Bishop Rifan, have surrendered to the post-conciliar zeitgeist. They still offer the TLM and haev many traditional trappings but the Novus Ordo has crept in and the priests take part in concelebrations, something some (many?) traditional priests are extremely opposed to.

Most of these criticisms came from those affiliated with the SSPX. I guess that same faction or group gave rise to the SSPX-SO.

Richard Malcolm - January 30, 2017

Hi Tantum,

I was aware of everything up to the ” surrendered to the post-conciliar zeitgeist.” That was what I was curious about.

I hear little about current doings of Campos, since I don’t read Portuguese, and there’s been almost nothing in the English language Catholic media or blogs about it.

Tantumblogo - January 30, 2017

Those are the claims. Almost all I know comes second hand, through translations or people relating to me things they heard or read themselves. Take it for what you will. I only know the concern exists that this was a precedent and not a good one. We’ll see, I suppose.

Richard Malcolm - January 30, 2017

Thanks, Tantum.

Campos is a fascinating case because de Castro Meyer was the only diocesan bishop (out of over 2,000 ordinaries) to openly oppose Paul VI’s liturgical reform project, and keep his diocese using the 1962 books. The wonder to me, in retrospect, is that he was the only one. And yet because he was the only one, he becomes a more interesting figure.

The thing is that the Society has considered Campos’s deal in 2002 to be a sellout right from the start. I didn’t feel so at the time, but that doesn’t mean that these reports of what has happened in recent years are wrong, either. The other thing is that they also think that *all* of the Ecclesia Dei groups and orders are, in fact, sellouts of some sort, so one has to look at the evidence first hand. Like I say, they might be right. Even from an Ecclesia Dei perspective, such things have happened – consider the liberalizing French priests of the FSSP’s Protocol 1411/99 saga.

Whatever the case, the SSPX today is a different bird, far larger (Campos only had a little over two dozen priests when it regularized, I believe), and with an obviously large zealous core of laity and clergy that would not easily be gaslighted into passivity, even with the Williamson faction gone out the door. I doubt any deal will happen; but time will tell.

Tantumblogo - January 31, 2017

All true. Yes the Campos regularization was opposed from the start. Most tales in the Anglosphere of Campos selling out are second hand at best. The tale bearers often either have an ax to grind or come from a strong point of view. It’s out there, how much it means is up for debate.

And yes you are right regarding the Ecclesia Dei groups. Here I have much more experience, though it may still be narrow. The selling out tends to be much more on a case by case or individual priest basis, in my experience. But yes the FSSP still haven’t got their own bishop,and probably never will, especially if the SSPX come in.

One thing I didn’t say in the post, but it’s worth considering – if the SSPX is regularized, what if anything does that mean for the Ecclesia Dei communities? Will there be eventual pressure for integrating them all into one group/order? That might be a telling sign.

But I’m wandering fairly far into speculation now, so I’ll desist.

5. Woody - January 30, 2017

The time for the SSPX to come back was yesterday. There is no “better time” then as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter what type of pontificate there is or what condition the Church is in. Another traditional order in the Church is always good. It’s like a playground fight. You want all the good guys on your side.

Tim - January 30, 2017

They’ve been in the Church from day one. It speak otherwise is either ignorance or V2 kool-aid.

johnkg73 - January 31, 2017

It already is in the Church. Any deal which involves allowing the Satanic wretches in the Vatican more control over them, would be disastrous, a betrayal of Christ and the work of Archbishop Lefebvre.

6. Tradition and Lace - January 30, 2017

Dear Tantum,
For an “Outsider looking in”, you have really put your knowledgeable finger on the pulse of this terrible dilemma perfectly!
I believe this agreement, signed by Bp Fellay back in 2012, will be the ultimate undoing of the Good ArchBp Lefebvre’s Beloved SSPX.
Which, if folks will recall, allows our
participation in the Pre-Vatican II Latin Rite

7. Camper - January 31, 2017

Ooh, I have an opinion! You knew I was going to say something. Fellay is crazy to reconcile with Rome given the state of things. I get it – it’s tough being out in the cold, but the Council of Trent justifies us, not the approbation of Pope Heretic. Pope Francis really is an ape, and the latest proof is his coup d’etat of the SMOM. He has already packed with College of Cardinals with his dummies from Tonga and Indianapolis, so it is only a matter of time before another ape is elected who owes nothing, as he will see it, to the SSPX and wants to silence dissent. At this point, I’m leaning away from the SSPX. We need divine intervention, because this world as we know it is not for long. Hail Mary…

8. Camper - January 31, 2017

An SSPXer I know says that the reconciliation is NOT going to happen. Reconciliation depends on Rome allowing the SSPX “being as it has always been” in the words of my friend. So chew on that. He says that those who dig deep enough into the recent media reports will discover that Bishop Fellay has added this caveat.

9. Canon212 Update: People in Pews are Patriots, Not FrancisFlunkies – The Stumbling Block - January 31, 2017


10. Ronald Sevenster - January 31, 2017

Archbishop Levebre would not even consider regularization under Pope Francis. He would be horrified by the very idea! And the condition mentioned by Fellay, “that we can stay as we are”, is as soft as butter. If he falls into this trap, the SSPX will be gone. Of course Francis will assure Fellay that they can stay as there are. Of course! And the next day — or on any oppurtune future occasion — he will destroy them, under the pretext that they didn’t stay what they were but have changed. Once the SSPX can be reached by Papal power, that power will be used. How can the Superior General be so stupid as to put his own head on the block? Stay away from Francis the Deceiver! Stay independent! There is a bright future for the SSPX if they really stay what they are and continue to refuse any formal ties with the Vatican. That future is that one day they’ll be able to take over the Church. The Modernist Church is dying and is growing more chaotic every day. Disintegration is everywhere. Within a generation it will be over. The SSPX should just wait until the modernist structure collapses. Then they can step in and bring back order.

11. Chris Whittle - January 31, 2017

The most recent news item states that Bishop Fellay will not accept the deal unless they are allowed to keep everything and operate as business as usual. His term as superior general ends in 2018, and it would be better if Bp. Fellay were appointed to a diocese (well deserved), then the SSPX will have a general chapter and elect new leadership. If the new superior general doesn’t want to deal with Rome then that will be his prerogative. Under Francis any trad. priest is not considered for the episcopacy. Either way at least four more bishops will need to be consecrated within the next five years.


Tantumblogo - January 31, 2017

I did not know Bishop Fellay’s term expired that soon.

I assume sentiments such as yours are being clearly communicated to the SSPX leadership?

12. Dismas - January 31, 2017

I visited Campos within a year after they “regularized.” What astounded me the most was the rapidity with which both clergy and laity did an about face and began leveling the sort of criticisms at their former allies (Lefebvrists) that one typically hears in Ecclesia Dei venues. They seemed to have turned 180 on their former principles.

Simply an observation.

I visited a few years later and at least what I observed then was not encouraging.

There was a small number of priests and faithful that broke with Msgr. Rifan and maintained a relationship with the Benedictines and the SSPX (who previously had no need to be in the area due to the presence of Don Antonio.)

It is not for no reason that the Traditional Benedictine Monastery of Santa Cruz, which is nearby, took a quick and firm position when Msgr. Fellay began to entertain Roman advances. That Monastery became one of the centers for the “Resistance” and is where both Bishop Faure and the Prior of the Monastery were consecrated Bishops in the “Williamson Line”, if you will. Don Tomas de Aquino, the Prior and now a Prelate, is no stranger to watching modernists undermine things. He was at LeBarroux and then experienced the situation at Campos. I do not discount the value of his experience.

Remember too, that Dr. David Allen White, Don Antonio’s biographer, has pretty solidly opposed consideration of a deal with Rome at this time. Worth considering. Few outsiders know Campos and what occurred there like he does.

But like you say, we all have opinions and axes to grind, so I’ll not step out and make some bold declaration. Like you, I care a whole lot about the SSPX and all things equal would like to see doubt removed, but not at the risk of losing the value of the SSPX.

A great opportunity to lay things in God’s hands. Will we arrive at the day when we view the actions taken by the Resistance as prescient as opposed to impulsive? Sure is a very real possibility.

13. Petrus Romanus - February 1, 2017

I attend an SSPX chapel, and have for many, many years. You have a lot to learn, Tantum. We do not want this. Archbishop Lefebvre said the Conciliar Church must return to Tradition before any deal, and the General Chapter of the Society in 2006 even said “no practical deal with un-converted Rome.” But it no longer says this. The Society has become liberal and is growing softer by the day. Few hardline priests remain. My blog here https://psalm129.wordpress.com

Petrus Romanus - February 1, 2017

By the way, if you ask questions about the direction Bishop Fellay is taking the Society to the wrong priest or say something his remarks in public you risk being ostracized or worse disallowed from attending their chapels. In essence, you become a marked man. Many, many priests have been kicked out for preaching their disagreement with a deal. We faithful are scared to make our voices known for fear of retribution. The whole thing is run like a dictatorship, as Fellay’s liberal henchman have no time for dissent. He has much power and wields it effectively to silence anyone who thinks differently.

14. Joseph Val - February 1, 2017
Tantumblogo - February 1, 2017

My French is non-existent, and the stream would not play. But I take it Bishop Fellay denied they are close to an agreement?

15. Dismas - February 1, 2017

“You have a lot to learn, Tantum.”

Well, so do I. You mentioned this above, Tantum, that there are many axes to grind. I understood a whole lot more about all of this twenty years ago than I do now. I have found that for all of my self-supposed “wisdom” in predicting this or that outcome or holding this or that opinion about what should be done here or there, I bat about 500. Great in MLB but otherwise no better than the toss of a coin.

I have noted the tendency in my fellow would-be-Tradcaths as well.

It is as though some people are exempt from the diabolical disorientation spoken of by Sister Lucia.

I am a regular attendee at an SSPX Priory and have been for decades. Over the years it is instructive to take note of the wide range of opinion regarding just about anything in those chapels. And given my experience in other Trad venues I would say that this is not unique simply to the SSPX.

This is not to say that all is opinion or that Truth cannot be known – of course it can. But there are so many of these prudential decisions that most of us just do not have the knowledge or background to be able to accurately predict results. We can look at situations like Campos and make comparisons to the SSPX but in the end, do we really know?

My own opinion is nothing more than that. Same for the rest of my friends.

Humanly speaking the modernists should have not a single worry. Those who would restore Authentic Catholicism, each balkanized into their own little factions, can be relied upon to work against each other to ensure success for the modernists. The solution, when there finally is one, will be supernatural.

Tantumblogo - February 1, 2017

Certainly. And that bears out in this post, where one called me wise and knowledgeable, and another ignorant. I have a point of view. I hope it’s more right than wrong. Whether this “reconciliation” is balloon floating or wishful thinking, I can’t say. I didn’t exactly take a hard stand in the post, I mostly just asked a bunch of pointed questions. Which, I guess, proves my ignorance, since I haven’t got all the answers.

As someone who loves the TLM and hopefully some figment of the traditional practice of the Faith, I do care what happens to the SSPX. I know that if they are somehow broken to modernism, then the other traditional groups will be extremely easy pickins.

That’s part of the brilliance of this diabolical disorientation that you’ve pointed out in the past. Even people who study a lot and are trying hard aren’t entirely sure they’ve found the right way, whatever that means for them. It’s all part of the broader program. Confusion, doubt, distrust……these are all tools of the devil, and they are being used to tremendously destructive effect.

Dismas - February 1, 2017

I agree with you Tantum. My experience is that those people who study all of this but without a particular “axe to grind”, as you say, almost always come to the conclusion that they are pretty confused about the practical side of it.

Dogma and doctrine are pretty easy to paint in black and white. You can spot a modernist by the guy carrying the grey spray paint. To a smaller extent the same can be said for history. Pretty objective. But all of this prudential, political stuff? It should serve to make us pretty humble.

Anyway, back to the SSPX cozying up with Rome, do I really know that Bishop Fellay is preparing to sell-out as many of his detractors claim? Or is he a solid, trustworthy soldier, as the other half claims? Personally I have decided (quite a while back) to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves he is unworthy of that.

Was it not Abp. Lefebvre’s stated intention that the Superior General NOT be one of the Auxiliary Bishops? I’m almost sure I have read that. So there is another ingredient to throw into the soup.

I think it was Our Blessed Mother that mentioned to Sister Lucia that we would be stricken with “diabolical disorientation.” I’m just repeating it. I don’t think she mentioned exceptions. It is not only modernists who are diabolically deceived.

Richard Malcolm - February 1, 2017

“Was it not Abp. Lefebvre’s stated intention that the Superior General NOT be one of the Auxiliary Bishops? I’m almost sure I have read that.”

That’s my understanding.

++Lefebvre’s idea of the four bishops was to be sacrament dispensers, not a new episcopal hierarchy. They seem to have been conceived of a sort of “B team,” while he set aside an A team of priests – notably those like Schmidberger, Aulagnier, etc. – to actually administer the Society going forward. And of course that is how it started out – Schmidberger being the first Superior. I don’t think that was a hard rule in the constitutions, but a kind of unstated policy everyone understood, one which went by the wayside eventually.

Which is not to say the archbishop would categorically disapprove of +Fellay being in charge now. I really have no idea how he would assess the state of things today, honestly. Anyway, some of the A team is no longer around, Aulagnier and Laguérie having gone off (after being expelled by Fellay) to head up the IBP, and so on.

Dismas - February 1, 2017

Mr. Malcolm you bring up a detail that frequently occurs to me. Again, this is all in the realm of opinion – not dogma. But I often see a tendency among some SSPXers to sort of hold any position the Archbishop had as sacrosanct for all time – as though he should be guiding the Society from the grave.

My reading of the Archbishop was of a man of such humility and consciousness of his own frailty that he would have abhorred such a thought. In fact his own prudential decisions famously changed from time to time depending on the circumstances.

Nobody asked me, but I don’t mind telling them that I have canonized the Archbishop in my own mind. This is different from saying that we should be channeling the Archbishop for help with every prudential decision the Society needs to make.

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