News out of Rome is that the Vatican has made a papal-approved offer to the right-wing Traditionalist schismatics of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the progeny of the late Vatican II-hating Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
When I heard of this yesterday from a Roman friend, I wondered if it were true. But it turns out the SSPX folks confirmed the proposal, and they have until Friday to respond. It is an offer they can refuse, I think, because as generous as it is, they are at this point defined by their division, their schism, and to rejoin would mean denying themselves. And I agree, as has been pointed out on the Commonweal blog discussion of the topic, that this is part of Benedict’s strategy to try to peel off Traditionalists by offering them basically anything they want, if they’ll only agree to behave.
But if they do accept–which again seems doubtful–then it’ll be a huge blow to the rest of the church, in that the anti-conciliar, anti-semitic, anti-everything folks of the RadTrad set will have been given a free pass while anyone who votes for a Democrat, e.g., may be considered excommunicated. More or less.
According to Il Giornale’s Andrea Tornielli, who first broke the story, the SSPX folks do not have to explicitly accept the teachings of Vatican II or the new mass but must fulfill five other conditions. They principally have to assure the Vatican they will not criticize Pope Benedict XVI publicly not will they presume to promote a magisterium they consider more valid than that which the pope teaches. And they will pledge to act charitably and with respect to the Vicar of Christ. The final condition is that they will respond by June 28.
Even if this bargain isn’t struck, it is a startling (for some) revelation of Benedict’s agenda.