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If the SSPX Regularizes Under Francis, There Will Be No Going Back February 28, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in different religion, error, Francis, General Catholic, persecution, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

Rorate Caeli, with all the good work they do, continues to hint strongly that an accord regularizing the SSPX is very close to being finalized.  Rorate has also long indicated their unqualified support for this regularization to occur, even, or especially?, under Francis.  The great hope, I believe, is that regularization of the canonical status of the SSPX will introduce a great leaven into the Church, strengthening the cause of Tradition all around and hastening the much longed for restoration of Holy Mother Church.  Of course, most feel there is much to be desired in regularization as an end to itself, as something that is very necessary for the good of the souls within or associated with the Society of St. Pius X.

I have not been so wholeheartedly in favor of this regularization, at least not now, under Francis, because I see the man as having a very clear agenda to wholly remake the Church, and that does not include long “permitting” recalcitrant recusants like the SSPX and others who hold to the great Tradition of our Faith to remain even a minor annoyance.  Many in the Society seem aware of the potential for danger, even what might be called a “betrayal,” in the regularization, for the same penalties and attempts at co-opting made in the 70s and 80s seem to be at least quite possible in the present-day Church environment, but some tend to brush these concerns aside, claiming that if the Society could “escape” the post-conciliar milieu once, they can do it again.  It is this kind of thinking I’d like to address in this post.

But before I do, at what cost will the regularization be granted?  I am supremely doubtful that Francis regularizing the SSPX without any changes in thought, practice, or behavior on their part is simply one of his patented acts of mercy.  Indeed, some believe there already exist hints that the Society IS changing in response to the potential for regularization.  An anonymous priest recently levied the charge that the SSPX has been noticeably quiet in response to many of Francis’ errors and attacks on the Faith. A brief review of the SSPX website covering articles going back a month or so does not reveal any specific criticisms  of the present pontificate, even though there are continuing general explorations of the problems of the post-conciliar Church and even the notion of papal heresy considered generally. Those who follow the SSPX more closely than I do (which is hardly at all) may rebut this particular claim.  Even still, I would find it remarkable if this pontiff would really regularize the SSPX without some kind of quid pro quo.  And let’s consider this, even if there is no quid pro quo demanding SSPX silence on certain matters, is it not human nature to want to play it safe during periods of delicate negotiation and subsequent “re-entry” into the full, regular life of the Church?

I’d also like to note that I am not entirely comfortable with the sense of fear and trepidation I have over regularization now, under Francis, while I certainly desire it as an overall objective to be realized.  Part of me desires to see the SSPX enjoy full canonical recognition/regularity instantly, which would largely simply recognize their reality as being Catholic and part of the Church.  I have a certain measure of guilt over my sense that this accord, if it occurs, will be supremely dangerous to the cause of Tradition and could even set it back decades, erasing all the small gains made in recent years and pushing whatever tiny bit of tradition remains to the extreme fringes of the Church, if not wholly outside it.  But I completely understand the “regularization now is the only acceptable stand” arguments and on many levels wish I could share them.

But regarding regularization and then some kind of betrayal, could the SSPX simply “go back?”  We have to look at the history.  Archbishop Lefebvre did not set out to create a canonically irregular body “separated” from the Roman authority or somehow at odds with it.  He simply wanted to preserve some semblance of the traditional practice of the Faith amidst the insanity of the immediate post-VII years, so he started a seminary to continue training priests in the pre-conciliar ways.  As was inevitable in Church of the 70s, most bishops and powers in Rome were overtly hostile to this new priestly society.  It didn’t take long before charges of disobedience were levied and refusals to abandon the traditional practice of Faith – the Catholic Faith – resulted in a certain ostracization from the “mainstream Church.”  Eventually the issue was forced by various matters, especially the consecrations of 1988, for which Lefebvre, the four consecrated bishops, and others directly involved were excommunicated.  Some of those excommunications were lifted by Pope Benedict XVI, but the canonical irregularity has remained.

The reason I go over this very complex history, admittedly very briefly, is because it is critical to understand that what happened then is radically different to what would have to occur if the SSPX is regularized, finds its situation intolerable, and then tries to revert to its present status.  What occurred very gradually and under very different circumstances then – a gradual process of alienation between the SSPX and the authorities in Rome – would have to occur suddenly, almost violently, should the Society be regularized.  Back in 1974, say, no one knew what would develop 5 or 10 or 15 years later, what the “end point” would be.  But today the situation would be inverted, where all would know exactly what was in the offing and what the final destination would be – more excommunications, loss of canonical status, etc.  This is huge.

Then there is the factor of human nature.  After fighting a long, lonely struggle for decades, and finally achieving fully regular canonical status, would the wherewithal really exist to separate themselves again should things go south?  It took an enormously charismatic, convicted figure in Archbishop Lefebvre to create and hold together the SSPX during its initial, very trying period of formation and then alienation from authority.  Does such a figure exist today?  Again, it is so important to note that everyone now knows where another irreconcilable dispute between Rome and the SSPX will lead to, instantly, this time.  None of that was certain or known when Archbishop Lefebvre was treading these choppy waters decades ago.

From a psychological perspective, for a very long time, the Society maintained that they did not need to “return” to the Church, but that the Church needed to return to herself, and then reconciliation would occur naturally.  Almost, in a sense, “Rome” coming hat in hand to the Society begging forgiveness for having lost its collective mind in the 60s and 70s and asking readmittance to the Church the SSPX had maintained.  Whether that notion was ever realistic or not, the point is, Rome has not changed.  In fact, under Francis, it has gotten far worse than it’s been in decades.  Will a return at this time not entail a certain surrender of the vital, animating focal point of the Society’s existence?

Our experience in recent years with other, admittedly much more secular organizations, is that those who have resisted the secular pagal progressive zeitgeist for years, even decades, and then surrender on some key point – like the Boy Scouts – quickly surrender on all or many points of vital import. Resistance becomes totally untenable.  They become co-opted, as it were, by the process of accommodating whatever it is the powers that be demand of them.

I’m sure people within the SSPX ,or closer to it than I am, have hashed over these matters in far more detail than I can. Indeed, the SSPX-SO split off because they see regularization as tantamount to surrender.  I’m sure they’re aware of the risks.   At least, I hope they are.  Because I fear what is at stake in this process is far more than the canonical status of the SSPX, but possibly the entire traditional practice of the Faith, extending to the Ecclesia Dei communities, tradition-embracing religious orders, and even Summorum Pontificum and the ability of some diocesan priests, under friendlier bishops than we’ve had here in Dallas, to offer the TLM.  All of these latter entities either came into being as a direct result of the SSPX’s existence, and the pressure that existence exerted on the Church. Indeed, many of them were created or allowed to exist both as a form of pressure on the SSPX (keeping people who otherwise might have associated formally with the SSPX from doing so) and as a carrot to lure them “back.”  If the SSPX is regularized and back within the fold, then what purpose do those things serve anymore, from a realpolitik point of view?  None.  How long will the be permitted to continue to exist?

These men in power today in Rome, they do not fool around, and they despise all things traditional to a degree many readers would find unimaginable. Is this a leap of Faith, trusting in God’s Grace to prevail in the end, or a leap into the abyss?   On a cost-benefit ratio, do the benefits come close to equaling the dangers here?

Anyway, those are my concerns.  Some will think this makes me a bad Catholic and short on faith, but I simply see so much danger here, and we have the example of the Franciscans of the Immaculate to guide us.  I’m also less and less sure what real meaning canonical regularity has in a Church where adultery is praised and fornicators are held up as virtuous examples for the rest of us, while being a faithful soul is excoriated as the very worst kind of person to be.  With this kind of rank (and mass) moral inversion ongoing, the finer points of canonical regularity seem like arguing how many angels can dance on the  head of a pin.



1. The Lord's Blog - February 28, 2017

Reblogged this on Jean'sBistro2010's Blog.

Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017


2. Xopher - February 28, 2017

To quote the late Princess Leia: “It’s a trap!”

I’m not a HUGE fan of the SSPX, as the few adherents to the SSPX I encounter tend to be fairly unfriendly to the Church and even the FSSP for being “in union” with “the heretic,” or whatever, but I share your concerns. This has “T-R-A-P” written all over it in giant purple felt banners. I don’t have any sources to quote, but I have a lingering intuition that I’ve read about whispers of threats to Summorum Pontificum, already. If the SSPX regularizes and Pope Francis decides to rescind Summorum Pontificum, then checkmate.

On the other hand, I don’t think the SSPX have a choice, and this is the brilliance of the scheme. The Vatican seems to be offering a fairly well publicized olive branch, and if the SSPX refuses, then the Vatican can say that they have no interest in ever being in union with the pope.

If that happens, what authority does Pope Francis have to excommunicate or otherwise censure or punish the SSPX (and their congregations) for refusing regularization?

Then, whichever way this wind blows, what’s to stop Pope Francis from rolling back Summorum Pontificum and severely limiting access to the Traditional sacraments? As you indicated.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Tim - February 28, 2017

Irregular?….would Pius XII consider the authorities of today to be “regular”? The SSPX has always been in union with Rome up and to the point that they are destroying the Faith. No Pope can ask you with ANY authority to assist in the destruction of the Church and Souls. The Pope’s authority has moral limits. No Pope has the authority to censure a group of Catholics who simply want to be Catholics as opposed to being modernists.
The SSPX holds no heresy, can that be said of the power brokers in Rome today? Read Archbishop Lefebvre’s biography.

pearl87 - March 1, 2017

This “olive branch” does not meet the basic requirements that Abp Lefebvre lay down. In December 1988, he said in an interview:
…supposing Rome calls for a renewed dialogue, then, I will put in conditions. I shall not accept being in the position I was put in during the [last] dialogue. No more.
I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level: “Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura pf Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these popes and their teachings?Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath?Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.”

So, no, I don’t think it is “checkmate”, but it does make Bp Fellay look a bit disingenuous to bring this debate along so far only to renege on his treason. So be it.

3. Tim - February 28, 2017

“fornicators are held up as virtuous examples”

Miss Ann on the 6th Commandment:


4. Richard Malcolm - February 28, 2017

There are really two distinct audiences with these concerns to address here:

1) Laity attached to “Summorum Pontificum” communities or Masses. They attend canonically regular Masses, but favor the idea of the SSPX sitting out there in the wilderness as an independent gravitational force, one beyond the reach of the modernist termites in Rome, helping keep everyone honest by their independent, irregular existence. I admit that I have had a little sympathy for the idea in the past myself.

But what does that say about us, though? We’re unwilling to run the risk of putting our families and ourselves into canonically irregular Society chapels/priories, but happy to see *other* trads doing it? And what does it say about priests, canons, superiors, or friars we *are* entrusting our spiritual care to? Because right now they’re already *in the trap.* They’re canonically subject to Francis *right now.* Do you trust *them* to resist a deeply unjust action which may jeopardize your own spiritual care, as was done to the FFI and the SMOM? Or do you think they can only be trusted to do so if the SSPX is sitting out there as a threat, a bolthole they can run to? If so, that doesn’t say very much for your own clergy, does it? And maybe the criticisms that some in the Society have made of us all along have had some justice to them – we let them take the hits, while we contentedly attend our FSSP, ICRSS, IBP, or diocesan parishes/oratories every week.

2) Laity attached to the Society directly, attending Mass exclusively or nearly so in its Mass locations and priories. They don’t trust Francis any farther than they can throw him. They fear a deal is just a trap, and that Fellay and his confreres will be caught like flies in amber the moment they take it, no matter how favorable the terms appear on paper. They don’t trust any deal unless Rome “returns to tradition” first. I think these attitudes are more understandable. I grok where they’re coming from. They are the ones being asked to do something now.

Yet there’s an inconsistency lurking even for these Catholics, too. If you do not trust +Fellay (let alone +Gallareta or +de Mallerais) to make a deal that concedes nothing you value; if you do not trust them to take a principled and defiant response to a deeply unjust action after regularization; if you do not trust them to operate *now* without their independent status keeping them honest, so to speak…then why do you trust them at all? Is it just because you don’t have any better option within driving distance? Because otherwise, it seems to me that the really principled course of action is to remove yourself to a Resistance or even Sede chapel, posthaste, if there’s one remotely within distance.

I don’t know that “there’s no going back” after regularization. There’s only no going back if you close that door yourself – if +Fellay and his colleagues close that door. The SMOM were crushed only because they allowed themselves to be crushed; they had all the legal and canonical rights in the world (far more than the poor FFI did), and they readily surrendered those rights rather than stand on them. But they at least are mostly aristocrats formed by long years of accommodation to a Rome steadily becoming more modernist. What excuse would the SSPX leaders have in such a pinch? Do any of them really need to be another Lefebvre (a great and holy man, but not actually a tremendously charismatic one, after all) to do the right thing? Or to carry their followers and clergy with them?

Of course, I don’t know what deal is on offer, if it is in fact finalized, so I can’t weigh in on just what they should so. The requirements +Fellay have laid out publicly seem sound to me: “Accept us as we are.” I also know, though, as +Fellay has hinted before, that staying in the wilderness comes with its own price, too. That should not be overlooked.

Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017

“But what does that say about us, though? We’re unwilling to run the risk of putting our families and ourselves into canonically irregular Society chapels/priories, but happy to see *other* trads doing it? ”

Several things – at daily Mass at the local Fraternity parish there are often found many people who assist at the SSPX mostly on Sundays, because that’s all there is around here. From my personal point of view, I’m attached to the community at Mater Dei and it’s been an exceptional one, led by exceptional priests by Fraternity standards. There has been little need to “go SSPX,” because the same things that the SSPX talks about are not infrequently talked about by priests at our local parish. That, and the lack of daily Mass and other things is a huge drawback. I would say, however, that aside from these incidentals that I am not opposed, in principle, to assisting at a Society parish. And I probably will the next time I’m in San Antonio.

I don’t see the moral imperative you draw. My concern is that what you propose – remove to a SSPX-SO or sede community – will be the ONLY choice on offer in a few years. It doesn’t necessarily follow that then the only truly righteous position now is to do the same. There are negatives and costs with each of those items.

I did not go over every variable and caveat in this very pressing matter. The post was pressing on 2000 words even without going into all that detail. From a human standpoint, the risks seem to far outweigh the rewards, both intra- and extra-SSPX. I do think another commenter brought up a great point, however, which is the logic of this situation as it will play out in the world – SSPX may be damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

As I said, even in what I laid out, I’m conflicted. I lean against regularization under Francis but I’ll be happy in several senses if it occurs, while remaining full of trepidation.

Richard Malcolm - February 28, 2017

Hello Tantum,

When I drew my two categories, it was only two categories whose thinking I found perplexing, not the only two categories of traditionalists. Obviously, there are those Summorum Pontificial traditionalists who simply favor the SSPX being regularized (I think this characterizes the bloggers at Rorate, a few of whom I know, as well as quasi-trads like Fr Z), an entirely consistent position to take. Conversely, there are those like you who support and attend both.

But then, as you know, there are those traditionalists at parishes like Mater Dei who refuse to attend a Society chapel on principle, thanks not least to the urgings of FSSP priests (like one who was at Mater Dei not long ago). And yet…among this latter cohort, one can find Catholics who nevertheless speak out against the Society taking any deal. They won’t go there or support them on principle, but they like the idea of them existing out there in canonical limbo, to keep both their own clergy as well as Rome (and its local bishops) honest. It is this attitude I find perplexing.

So in a sense, my concerns were not directed mainly at you, and not just because you were up against word limits.

Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017

Nah, don’t worry about it. I was just trying to clarify a bit. I didn’t take any offense. This is a very hard topic, and many devout souls of very good will have been struggling with it for a lot longer than I have. Probably that was an indication I should just shut up. I don’t think I made my argument on why reversing a regularization would be particularly hard, harder than the first “irregularization” or whatever it was. Mah. Oh well, as I say, my writing is worth what you pay to read it 🙂

John - March 1, 2017

I personally don’t think we’re going to have to worry about “in a another few years” It’s 2017 and I’m not a “millenialist” or fatalist but I suspect our Lady has something in mind for us THIS year.

5. Dismas - February 28, 2017

Very well said, Mr. Malcolm.

6. sixupman - February 28, 2017

There has to be an accord between the Traditional Orders – and should have been years ago. I do not trust Franciscus,therefore a ‘Traditional Block’ would assist in perpetuating that for which we have fought long and hard. De facto schism is already rife within Mother Church, with the likes of the Continental Europe episcopates have already formed there own ‘blocks’.l

Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017

Don’t hold your breath. Unfortunately, there remain great hostilities between elements – individuals and groups of individuals of varying sizes -within the SSPX and the Ecclesia Dei communities. A union between them is less likely than an SSPX union with Rome.

Tim - February 28, 2017
Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017

I should add, there are a good number of Fraternity priests very well disposed towards the SSPX. They’re probably not a majority but a sizeable minority. But there are some who are inveterately hostile, and others who are sort of coolly indifferent to mildly against. Can’t really speak for other groups. There are enough of the hostiles in the FSSP, though, and they are influential enough, that an accord would be extremely divisive and hard to pull off.

michael - March 1, 2017

Do you think more of the younger FSSP priests are better disposed towards the SSPX? In other words, is it a matter of hard feelings (on both sides) from 1986?

Tantumblogo - March 1, 2017

As a general rule, yes, though it varies. Also depends on who’s influence they fall under. There have been some older influential priests, one of which taught at the seminary for some time, that had a big impact on what some priests believe. But he no longer teaches there.

The FSSP’s official stand toward the SSPX is supposed to be that of St. Francis de Sales – to attract with honey not vinegar. Obviously the FSSP tends to pop up wherever the SSPX starts to make the local ordinary uncomfortable. Their mission is to “bring back” people in the SSPX. Given that, it is probably a credit to many associated with the Society that they are as generous in their attitudes towards the Fraternity (and ICK, etc) as they are.

John - March 1, 2017

Personally I only have the option of diocesan or FSSP and the FSSP is an hour drive away. The diocesan is fine but the FSSP does everything way better, confessions BEFORE mass, real blessings on sacramentals and not simple blessings, etc. You know, just Catholic as it’s SUPPOSED to be.
The SSPX is 2.5 hours away so I have never been there but I sure love and respect everything they’ve done and without them, we’ve got nothing, I would be there in a minute were they in my diocese.

Richard Malcolm - March 1, 2017

“The SSPX is 2.5 hours away so I have never been there but I sure love and respect everything they’ve done and without them, we’ve got nothing…”

Whatever else one may think about the SSPX, there really is no disputing the point that the scope and presence of tradition in the Church today would almost certainly be nothing like as great as it is today without the efforts of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society in the first decades after the Asteroid hit. They kept the flame lit when it was snuffed out virtually everywhere.

I do not attend Society Masses, but I remain very grateful for what they did, and what they suffered in doing it.

sixupman - February 28, 2017

That unfortunately is the problem, but “…. divided we fall”?

7. MFG - February 28, 2017

This reminds me of last fall when some of us had concerns about Trump and all the potential problems electing a secular thrice-married culturally liberal businessman from NYC would bring. Thus far those fears are not only unfounded but his acts have surpassed the last 2 Republican presidents and their promises.

Will the SSPX regularization be the same? Hard to tell.

Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017

Nice point! I am by temperament a conservative at heart! This is working! Change will only screw things up! Don’t change!

Camper - February 28, 2017

Trump, for all his moral failings, is a better man than Francis. Trump, at least, knows who pays the bill. Francis, the traitor, does not.

8. Francis Rooker - February 28, 2017

May I opine that in this issue we have a conundrum that is beyond (for most of us, especially me) our state in life.

Reading this analysis I am reminded of Lk 18:31 ff :: “31 Then Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said to them: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of man…34 And they understood none of these things, and this word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said.”

But “understanding not” they followed Jesus to Jerusalem.

All things important to salvation were being gathered in Jerusalem; there would be temporary jubilation and then seeming betrayal and tragedy. It is a faithful teaching that Jesus’ Body must follow its Head. And so now we have a hostile Rome and (as you write) “the entire traditional practice of the Faith…” at risk. Thus, I do not think we are faced with a “cost-benefit” decision. I suspect that we quickly are approaching a time of eternal choice: will I remain True to The Faith of the Ages? ..no matter what; or will I choose not?

Ne permittas me separi a Te ….

Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017

“Thus, I do not think we are faced with a “cost-benefit” decision. ”

You will forgive me for being an engineer.

Francis Rooker - February 28, 2017

Yes, of course … describing a part with words is not always an engineer’s forte … :>) … but I always read you and you do quite well. Thx.

9. Joseph D'Hippolito - February 28, 2017

This is Francis merely trying to co-opt potential opposition, bottom line. If he is successful, most Traditionalists won’t have any alternative but to fall in line. The few who don’t will be regarded as crazy outliers with no credibility. Read that last sentence carefully because that’s Francis’ ultimate goal concerning regularlization.

10. Dismas - February 28, 2017

That this is a trap – it is a trap. I cannot imagine that Fellay and his fellow bishops are not well aware of it. But Mr. Rooker above seems to suggest that there is more of a supernatural element that determines the end here than a natural one. That happens to be my point-of-view.

The person who views this rapprochement casually simply has not been paying much attention. We must be wary. But Our Lord can spring this trap right back on the trappers. That is the best way I can approach all of this.

Naturally speaking, we are sunk. Supernaturally speaking, our victory is guaranteed, one way or another, and not necessarily through this episode.

Tantumblogo - February 28, 2017

I know you’ve thought about this a lot more than I have. The main point was just what the title said, I’ve seen some commenters who associate with the SSPX say there’ll always be an out if regularization occurs, that the Society can just go back to the way things are now. I’m just not convinced that would happen. They would be pilloried as having definitively rejected even the most generous offer and…….well, you know far better than I, I’m sure.

I completely understand the hope you express and pray it comes to pass.

11. Petrus Romanus - February 28, 2017

As a close observer of the SSPX, and an attendee at their chapels, I admit you have hit the nail on the head. Well done. Please visit my blog for my thoughts on the whole “regularization” effort https://psalm129.wordpress.com

c matt - February 28, 2017

Read you linked piece. Seems the ROAR has become a meow.

12. Woody - February 28, 2017

“It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter….” Applicable quote from a funny actor in a funny movie.

Dismas - February 28, 2017

In a very unusual sort of way, Woody, I agree with you. In the long run, I don’t think it matters. God is in charge here.

That is a difficult view to take, though, for a lot of people, because they have an incredible amount invested – spiritually and materially – in the Society of St. Pius X. Many harbor real Catholic love for the Society and do not wish to see any harm befall it.

Then to come full circle, even if the Society is decimated by this move, God is in charge. It may be that we look back on these days with the same yearning with which we currently regard the 1950’s. God is in charge.

I have heard more than one SSPX priest (especially the ones who have been there from the beginning) say that they (collectively) look forward to the day when they are no longer necessary. They see themselves as expendable for the good of the Church.

Mr. Malcolm, in both of his posts above, points out a phenomenon very well worth considering – one that has not been lost on others. Such a contradiction has been predicted. Should the SSPX ever find itself in a precarious position – as it does now – many of those who have spoken derisively of the Society in the past will be the most concerned when they finally realize how important was that “independent gravitational force” (thank you, Mr. Malcolm) to whatever corner of the Authentic Catholic cosmos they inhabit.

SSPX, love ’em or hate ’em, if you are sitting in the authentic liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church today, in some form or fashion the Lefebvrists had something to do with that.

Woody - March 1, 2017

I agree with what you have written.

Richard Malcolm - March 1, 2017

“thank you, Mr. Malcolm”

You’re welcome. 🙂

13. Derry - February 28, 2017

It is bizarre that a person attached to an FSSP parish (regularized status) would suggest that the SSPX remain irregular.

14. c matt - February 28, 2017

SSPX may be damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

It does seem to be an “Is it lawful to pay the temple tax” situation. Hopefully, the SSPX will have the proper answer. Personally, if I ran the SSPX, I would simply let Rome do what it will, and we will simply not change. I would have no agreement – if Rome is serious, it will just regularize the SSPX unilaterally (they gave confession/absolution faculties unilaterally). The SSPX can’t stop Rome from Roming; nor can Rome stop the SSPX from SSPXing. When they send over an “inspector” ala SMOM, simply politely show him the door.

15. johnkg73 - March 1, 2017

Keep close watch on Bp. Tissier de Mallerais…if he defects, Bp.

16. johnkg73 - March 1, 2017

Bp. Fellay has been compromised-poisoned by the scum in the Vatican if Bp.Tissier de Mallerais defects. I hope they have a good plan. I, too, am skeptical. The only thing I can think of, is Francis gave them everything they wanted. He’ll then let all tradional Catholics run over to the Society, then kick the SSPX “out” with an “excommunication,” due to some “violation.” He’ll then be free to finalize the revolution, minus any resistance.

Richard Malcolm - March 1, 2017

In such a situation, at any rate, the SSPX would hardly be in any worse shape than they are now – back in the wilderness, only with reinforcements.

The rest of the Church would not be so lucky, but that may well happen anyway….

17. S. Armaticus - March 1, 2017

It is said that God writes straight with crooked lines.

I would draw everyones attention to an interview that Bishop Schneider and posted on the SSPX’s US District website: http://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/bp-schneider-sspx-vatican-relations

What I find amazing is the following passage from the good Bishop about the situation post recognition:

“It would be on them [the priests] to resist and to preserve their identity….[I]t is a hypothetical case: we cannot preview the future…, [but] in this very extreme situation when in some future or years after the erection of the Prelature, the Holy See would ask to change something against their identity. They [would] have to resist [and say:] ‘This is unjust, it goes against our intention when we accept the Prelature, it would destroy our charism.’…Then they [would] have to say…with all respect to the Holy See, ‘You can take away the Prelature, we do not need it; the most important is to preserve our identity for the benefit of the Church, not of us but of the Church.’ This is a hypothetical case they have to renounce the Prelature and continue as they are. Therefore they have nothing to lose. It is upon them to preserve their identity.”

It would appear as if everyone is approaching this “trap” – which it now doubt is, with their eyes wide open.

Richard Malcolm - March 1, 2017

I think this answer by Bp. Schneider underlines some of what I was saying up above, S.Arm – Good catch.

Perhaps it is a trap. But the Society only gets killed by the trap if it allows itself to be killed. A papal tyrant only exercises unjust power over you to the extent that you allow it. The SMOM allowed it (and it did not have to). Would Bp. Fellay do so, too?

Perhaps, as Tantum fears, it is too much to expect of human nature to assume the Society’s leadership would simply and easily jump back into the wilderness at the first sign of trouble after having gone to all the difficulty of being regularized. But even so: they’d be destroyed in the end only because they accepted destruction.

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19. Matt - March 1, 2017

Without the SSPX most TLM communities would be FFI’d. I hope the agreement is airtight, bulletproof.

Tim - March 2, 2017

Damned straight! The SSPX is the linchpin on which the True Faith clings too…FSSP/ICK while helpful, are secondary and only exist and function as long as the SSPX continues its God given mission. Fr. Hesse says that Archbishop Lefebvre’s Episcopalian Consecrations are the ultimate manifestation of God’s promise that the gaits of Hell shall never prevail. Thank God for Archbishop Lefebvre!!!!

Xopher - March 2, 2017

I have to disagree with this.

First, while I am grateful for the existence of my FSSP parish, the ends never justify the means, but that’s exactly what is being argued here: without the SSPX and Lefebvre’s act of disobedience, there would be no “tradition” in the Church at this time. Thank God there is tradition in the Church, but may God have mercy on Lefebvre, who died excommunicated, and, therefore, without the benefit of the sacraments for many years. In fact, if he did participate in any sacraments, he committed grave error, so I, for one, do not admire this man, nor do I saint him as many seem to.

Secondly, Christ first promised protection from the gates of Hell to Peter. In this episode, it is claimed that the gates of Hell are being held back by an act of disobedience to (the successor of) Peter. This is an inversion–a perversion–of Christ’s promise. By no means do I agree with everything Pope Francis has said or done (I think “hardly ever” sums up the frequency of my agreement), nor did I agree with everything Pope Saint John Paul II said, but disobedience is disobedience, and the ends (no matter how good) never justify evil means.

Tim - March 2, 2017

The Archbishop was obedient to God before men. He was the St. Athanasius of our times, who by the way was also “excommunicated” multiple times. St.Joan of Arc was also “excommunicated”. The “excommunications” were invalid according to JP2’s own modernist Code of Canon Law.
One day you and/or your posterity will be venerating St. Marcel The Great, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church. Please watch Fr. Hesse on YouTube…..the video is Fr.Hesse on the SSPX, FSSP, ICK and sedevacantists. You owe your FSSP parish to Marcel Lefebvre.
Don’t fall into the twin errors of Papalatry and obediolatry.

Richard Malcolm - March 2, 2017

I’m not going to defend the consecrations – it’s a deeply involved topic anyway – but it is worth remembering that initially, in the foundation of the Society, ++Lefebvre *was* acting canonically. The seminary at Econe was erected under diocesan auspices. And in many ways that was the decisive act, that did the most to preserve tradition as a living tradition.

Tim - March 2, 2017

Was….no….is. Pope Paul initial suspension is invalid as are all other subsequent “censures” because the Archbishop filed an appeal as is his right by canon law and he was ignored and never heard, thus nullifying the suspension. Until that is rectified the Society’s canonical status is as what it was before the initial suspension. Pope Paul violated canon law in not hearing Archbishop Lefebvre’s lawful appeal.
Case closed.

Richard Malcolm - March 2, 2017

No question that they failed to follow the law (quite egregiously) by refusing to hear Archbishop Lefebvre’s appeal. But I don’t see that it follows that it makes the termination invalid per se; and even if it did, it would not affect his suspension a divinis (which seems to have been lawfully done, even if unjust), or of course the excommunications for the 1988 consecrations.

20. Xopher - March 2, 2017

1917 Code:

Canon 2345:
Those usurping or detaining, themselves or through others, goods or rights pertaining to the See of Rome are subject to automatic excommunication specially reserved to the Apostolic See; and if they are clerics, they shall be deprived moreover of dignities, benefices, offices, and pensions and declared incapable of them.

1982 Code:

Can. 1382 A bishop who consecrates some one a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

Issues with St. Athanasius and St. Joan of Arc are improper analogies. Lefebvre excommunicated himself by consecrating bishops without the mandate of the pope–that is, by usurping the authority of the See of Rome to consecrate bishops. Declaring a case of “necessity” amounts to stating that the Office of Peter had already fallen to the gates of Hell, and, therefore, no act could save the Church, as that would imply that the Church is void from the beginning, since Christ’s promise would have failed.

Tim - March 2, 2017

Watch Fr. Hesse, he was a Canon Lawyer (as was Archbishop Lefebvre…..he knew what he was doing in this case) and a Doctor of Thomistic Philosophy. He is immeasurably more qualified to explain this than you or I. Your statement that declaring a state of necessity amounts to the gates of Hell already prevailing is absurdity on its face. There have been bad, immoral, heretical and corrupt popes(and antipopes) in the past and the fates of Hell never prevailed because God always provided an instrument to alleviate said situation. The Archbishop is one such instrument. You need spiritual direction to correct your papalatry and obediolatry.

“Faith is greater than obedience ”
—-Words of Our Saviour to Father Albert Drexel on March 5, 1976.

The full quote of Our Savior to Fr. Drexel:

“My faithful son Marcel, who suffers a great deal for the faith, is going on the right path. He is like a light and pillar of truth, which many ordained priests of Mine are betraying. Faith is greater than obedience. Therefore, it is My will that the work for the theological education for priests continues in the spirit and will of My son Marcel, for the salvation and great help of My one and true Church.”

Again, watch Fr. Hesse’s explaination.
Popes are not God.

Richard Malcolm - March 2, 2017

1. If you want to cite Fr. Hesse, you ought to put in a link to which video you have in mind. There are quite a number of them on Youtube right now, and more than one addresses the state of necessity argument.

2. I have an admiration for Fr. Drexel, but his apparition is not, to my knowledge, an approved one; and even if it were, Catholics would not be bound to accept it, revelation having ended with the death of the last Apostle. So it’s not evidence which Zopher is bound to accept.

Tim - March 2, 2017

I’ve tried but my phone won’t do it and I won’t be at my office desk for 3 or 4 days. You’ll just have to Google it. Please don’t get me wrong, I am supportive of the FSSP and ICK as well as the SSPX. We went to an FSSP parish for 15 years until the Archdiocese of Indianapolis betrayed us. Now we take refuge in the local SSPX chapel. And defended the Archbishop well before ever setting foot in an SSPX chapel. I have and will gladly assist at SSPX, FSSP, ICK or diocesan Traditional Masses. I credit the FSSP with saving my family from the Novus Ordo. This debate will never end, I hold no animosity towards those who disagree. However, I am concerned with the tendency of many towards papoaltry and obediolatry.

Richard Malcolm - March 2, 2017

“We went to an FSSP parish for 15 years until the Archdiocese of Indianapolis betrayed us.”


Richard Malcolm - March 2, 2017

Might this be the Fr Hesse video you have in mind?

Tim - March 2, 2017

The Indianapolis modernists ran them out of town for the “crime” of being Catholic.

Richard Malcolm - March 2, 2017

I thought the FSSP *was* in Indianapolis – I see…Sts. Philomena and Cecilia Church (Brookville) on their directory. Was there some other, different FSSP apostolate there? One the bishop shut down?

Tim - March 2, 2017

The original FSSP presence was in Indianapolis itself at Holy Rosary. Ss. Philomena & Cecilia is in Oak Forrest, an hour and a half away. They existed simultaneously from 2005-2013 when the operatives in Indianapolis finally achieved their goal or driving out the FSSP at Holy Rosary. Holy Rosary has degraded into an absolute mess, tragically. Thank be to God that the SSPX came to Greenwood, Indiana.

Tim - March 2, 2017

Yes, that’s the video.

Xopher - March 2, 2017


The first mark of the true Church is described in the Nicene Creed, and consists in unity: My dove is one, my beautiful one is one. So vast a multitude, scattered far and wide, is called one for the reasons mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians: One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Unity In Government

The Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father hath made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair.

-Catechism of Trent.

That is just the first couple of paragraphs. There are several more very powerful paragraphs expanding on this. I’ll heed the Council of Trent before any modern scholar, and especially before any unapproved private revelation that sounds so angry and seems to so promote disunity (I have read more of those revelations than what was quoted here).

Tim - March 2, 2017

It is the modernists who disrupted “one”, not the Archbishop.

Xopher - March 2, 2017

The “modernists” did not obstinately disobey a direct order of the Vicar of Christ, but the Archbishop did. I sense sedevacantism, here, but that leads down another rabbit hole.

“Papolatry” and “obediolatry” or whatever other slurs can be made up, when used as absolutes, lose their value. I do not blindly follow every word of the popes, especially the current one, but there is ALWAYS a need for some level of obedience. Being obedient at times is not “obediolatry”. Preferring to maintain an official and clear relationship with the Chair of Peter is not “papolatry”. These terms are being used as ad hominems, red herrings, and straw men.

Regardless of the clear diversions of modern teachers from the truth, the See of Rome–the Chair of Peter–is what it is. To deny that is to deny the existence of the Church at all. If you remove the foundation, the structure fails.

Tim - March 3, 2017

The modernist do not disobey popes? Give me oxygen! Just refer to the response to Summorum Pontificum. The Archbishop as any Catholic must obey God before men, that is Scriptural. Given the state of necessity with the hierarchy and the Pope destroying the Church (knowingly or unknowingly), the Archbishop was duty bound to obey God over men who abuse the power given to them by God to promote the salvation of souls(which is the Supreme law of the Church, which trumps all), the Archbishop had no choice but to obey God over His vicar. A tragic situation to be in for sure, but we live in tragic times. The modernist crisis is the greatest calamity in the history of the Church.

Tim - March 2, 2017

You will not listen to truth, papolatry and obediolatry are not attacks. They are diagnoses. You will be in my prayers. I am not a sedevacantist and to suggest so is the attack. Please confess that suggestion for the sake of your soul. God bless.

Xopher - March 2, 2017

I’m sorry that struck a cord, Tim. I wasn’t accusing you of being a sedevacantist, but I don’t understand how one can persistently deny the fact of Archbishop Lefebvre’s disobedience unless one claims that St. Pope John Paul II had no authority to order Lefebvre to not conduct the consecrations. As the pope, he most certainly had such authority to deny a bishop the right to consecrate a bishop…unless he was not legitimately the pope.

Otherwise, as noted before, the pope didn’t even need to issue such an order, as the 1983 Code of Canon Law explicitly prohibited consecrations without a mandate from Rome under the penalty of automatic excommunication. The only way to avoid that is to say that the Code has no authority. For the Code to have no authority, the authors of the Code had no authority, meaning that they were illegitimate.

Therefore, I don’t understand how to avoid the fact of the disobedience and excommunication without sedevacantism. We can say that he “had” to do it to avoid the loss of the traditional sacraments, but that’s using the ends to justify the means of disobedience. It doesn’t add up. I will continue to educate myself on the topic, especially after this discussion, which has peaked my interest in the topic, but I cannot bring myself to agree that it was a good and admirable act and that he was a good man for doing so. Therefore, I have a lack of trust of the SSPX and people who attack me for expressing such doubts.

Again, I apologize for not being clear about my statement.

Tim - March 2, 2017

The 1983 code also says that if one acts with true conviction that there is a necessity, whether the are factually correct or not, that no penalty is incurred. The Archbishop spent years praying and agonizing over the consecration decision and even ask the Blessed Virgin for a sign on how to proceed. The 1986 Assissi meeting was that sign. The Vicar of Christ publically violated the 1st Commandment in a most egregious fashion. That coupled with the “games” that Cardinal Ratzinger played with him for a committed date for the consecration of an agreed upon bishop led to his seeing a state of necessity with absolute conviction thus negating the penalty according to Canon Law.

I meant no insult with the use of “papolatry” and “obediolatry”. They are definitely problems in our times. I’m all for TRUE obedience, I am concerned about false obedience.

The greatest form of obedience is resistant to error.

Faith is greater than obedience.

Richard Malcolm - March 2, 2017

Hello Xopher,

“Therefore, I don’t understand how to avoid the fact of the disobedience and excommunication without sedevacantism.”

There’s a helpful alternate ecclesiology here, and it goes by the name of Sedeprivationism – out of a thesis originated by the Dominican Michel Lauriers. It holds that there really *is* a pope, but he is impeded from the full exercise of his powers due to heresy. In short, all the Conciliar popes have been material, but no formal popes. Disobedience, therefore, is harder to establish in such a situation.

It’s a theory held to by Bishop Sanborn, though may suggest that what he holds is really closer to outright sedevacantism; whereas while the SSPX officially holds that Francis and the Conciliar popes are formally popes, what they often hold seems closer at times to sedeprivationism. Lauriers, it should be noted, was a professor at Econe until ’77, when Archbishop Lefebvre removed him for advocating the notion that Paul VI might not be Pope. I think it’s probably less the case that Lauriers’ theory gained wide purchase in the Society due his position at Econe as it was that it wasn’t really all that far off the sensibility, albeit an informal sensibility, of many in the Society’s clergy and laity to begin with.

To me it seems like an untenable halfway house, and not just because there’s no notion of the idea until the late 20th century (if Francis gets a good deal worse, I might reconsider that). But given how much more radical is the idea of sedevacantism, one can understand why some have looked hard for something short of it, something which recognizes the crisis and allows for tradition to operate despite it, without concluding that nearly all of the institutional Church from the top down has simply gone over the cliff. The Holy See, at any rate, at least has talked to the Society off and on since 1976; it does not do so with the Sedes – of either school.

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