Papal shocker: Right-wing schismatics can come home with few strings

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.

Comments read comments(10)
post a comment

posted June 25, 2008 at 11:38 am

The Church needs more Traditionalists, and less Cafeteria-Catholics like Nancy Pelosi and Rudy Guiliani.
And hoping for a person’s conversion isn’t the same thing as being anti-Semetic.

report abuse


posted June 25, 2008 at 11:58 am

The Church needs more Traditionalists, and less Cafeteria-Catholics like Nancy Pelosi, Rudy Guiliania and ….David Gibson

report abuse

Reaganite in NYC

posted June 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm

David Gibson,
Thanks for sharing all this. Have to admit that I don’t know any “RadTrads” (as they are called) and I’m not sure how any of this will affect parish life where I live. Are they really “anti-semitic” as you have suggested? I’ll have to check this out to be sure.
Just one quibble or nitpick to offer. I think it is a bit “over the top” to say: “… 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.”
It’s not about voting for a Democrat or against a GOPer, but about supporting candidates who support the legalization of abortion, including the more extreme pro-abortion measures. It’s true that the party platforms offer signficant contrasts on the abortion issue and that the majority of Democrat office holders are pro-abortion and the majority of GOP office holders take the opposite approach. However there are exceptions.
In Pennsylvania, for example, Republican former Governor Tom Ridge would be more likely to be refused Communion over this issue than Democratic US Senator Bill Casey. The former supports abortion rights and the latter is pro-life.
Likewise, in Massachusetts, the 2006 GOP candidate for Governor (Kerry Murphy) would be more likely to be refused Communion over this issue than Democrat and former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn.
David, I appreciate that maybe you were writing tongue in cheek or attempting some mild provocation. Regardless, I enjoy your blog and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

report abuse

also concerned

posted June 26, 2008 at 1:03 am

David, thanks for the good blog post and your reasoned views. I share your concerns over the reconciliation of the SSPX to Rome. Thanks for calling to mind that many “RadTrads” expouse anti-semitism and other prejudices. These prejudices are quite incompatible with Catholicism, to say the least. To let the SSPX back in without requiring that they lay aside their prejudices effectively endorses their worldview. For this reason alone I hope that the SSPX choose not to accept this offer, and that Rome would cancel any further overtures towards reintegration.
I was hoping that Summorum Pontificum would have brought the old Latin liturgy closer to Vatican II teachings and modern Catholic social justice. Rather, as you suggest an opposite movement might unfold. It should be said that many of those who attend Latin Masses in union with Rome do not share the prejudices of the SSPX, and fully accept Vatican II and the modern liturgy while merely preferring to worship in the ancient style. Nevertheless, I fear that reconciliation with the SSPX would grant their prejudices a wider audience, and jeopardize the integration of Latin Mass adherents into greater Catholic parish life.

report abuse

Sally Rogers

posted June 26, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Well, your post sounds rather contradictory to me – how can it both be true that the Vatican is “offering them everything they want” to come back, but then also that the offer is not good enough and requires them to deny themselves? Obviously if the latter is the case, then they aren’t being offered everything they want.
Furthermore, I think you paint with too broad a brush in your depiction of those who are attracted to these groups. Many are simply those who felt disoriented by the craziness that reigned in the ’60s and 70s and just wanted the traditional mass.
And if we are going to start kicking people out of the Church for their nutty views, get ready for a giant purge of lots and lots of people. The reality is that the Catholic church has an incredibly broad range of views represented in it. For all the talk about rigidity and narrowmindedness, the Catholic church is probably the most diverse institution in the world.

report abuse


posted June 26, 2008 at 4:12 pm

And if we are going to start kicking people out of the Church for their nutty views,
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Lefebvre ordained men without approval of the Holy See.

report abuse

Sally Rogers

posted June 26, 2008 at 9:07 pm

I don’t agree with Lefebvre’s schismatic actions, but that does not seem to be the focus of this post. Instead, it seemed as though the post was suggesting that because traditionalists are wacky and allegedly anti-semitic, they should not be welcomed back into the church.
In other words, even if they stop being schismatic and accept the authority of the pope, they should not be welcomed back into the church unless they also give assurances that they don’t have wacky views about many other topics. I can’t claim to know whether all those in schism from the church also have prejudices or not. I would find it surprising if it were the case. But it has never been the position of the church that one must pass a test regarding whether or not one has wacky views in order to be a part of the Catholic Church. All that is required is that you accept what the church teaches to be true.
The church teaches that anti-semitism is a sin. But sinners are not excluded from the Church. The church teaches that fornication is a sin. Fornicators are not excluded from the church.
Some may argue that it is thus contradictory to exclude from communion those politicans who advocate for abortion as a human right. But this is a wholly different matter. First, those who advocate the exclusion of such public figures from communion are urging the application of canon law regarding public and unrepentant ADVOCACY of the killing of innocent human beings. By doing so, such public officials are leading Catholics into serious sin (homicide), and endangering the lives of defenseless human beings. The exclusion from communion is not the same as excluding such politicians from the Church. They are still Catholics, but their serious sin requires them to be excluded from communion
If there are members of SSPX who engage in similar conduct (for instance if there were SSPX leaders who publicly advocated killing jews) these leaders would be subject to the same canon law excluding them from communion until they repented. But this is not the same as excluding them from the Church.

report abuse

Sally Rogers

posted June 27, 2008 at 12:33 pm

By the way, other blogs are reporting that the condiions required the SSPX’ers to accept the authority of Vatican Council II and the authority of the pope. Your post suggests they don’t have to “explicitly accept” the teaching of the Council. I don’t know what it means to “explicitly accept” the teachings of the Council, but accepting the authoirty of the Council would seem to mean accepting the validity of the documents the Council issued, and all that is contained in them.
I don’t have access to independent information about whether you or the other blogs are correct, but I would find it extremely surprising if it were true that the Pope would say any Catholics can validly reject (even implicitly?) the authority of a Church Council. How could the pope accept that a group of Catholics deny the authority and teaching of an official council of the church? I don’t think the pope has the authority to sanction such a thing.
I think you should find out the correct answer to this conflicting information and post it on your blog so people aren’t mis-informed. Since your final sentence suggests that this “offer” to the SSPX’ers reveals something about Pope Benedict, it would be unfortunate if you were misinforming your reader about the Pope’s supposed self-revelation in this post, as well.
In any case, it is also being reported that the leader of the SSPX has rejected the offer. I guess the Pope didn’t actually offer them everything they wanted, as you say he did.
It’s also absolutely false and a defamation to say that “anyone who votes for the Democrats is excommunicated. More or less.” If you don’t understand the meaning of a loaded term like “excommunicated” you shouldn’t use it. And no one has ever suggested that those who vote for democrats be denied communion or excommunicated (which are two different things). Shame on you. These are important issues and I don’t blame you for having strong feelings about them. But you shouldn’t misinform people about the underlying disputes in order to “win a point.”

report abuse

Jerry Menard

posted July 21, 2008 at 2:24 pm

David, As usual you or the Liberal Press that you are quoting missed the facts by about a mile. First, the “group” as you call us, are not schismatic and Benedict has said so. Only the four Bishops that Arch Bishop LeFevre consecrated 20 years ago are felt to be in trouble. The Faithful that have “not” changed their Catholic Faith are still in good standing with Rome, as are all the priests of the Society. We are still going to the same Mass, saying the same prayers, and doing the same things that our parents did, their parents, their parents parents, etc. The SSPX has not changed one belief of the Faith we inherited from our ancestors which is something that the Post Vatican Church cannot say.
You stated in your blog “while anyone who votes for a Democrat, e.g., may be considered excommunicated. More or less. David, Excommunication is like pregnancy. You either are or your not. You further state, “and to rejoin would mean denying themselves”. Yes it would. As we remain on course, joining the concicular Church would be a giant step backwards for the Catholic Faith. My only suggestion would be for you to read some other material on this matter. The person who was there and actually spoke to Pope Benedict would be a good start. You can read Bishop Fellay’s comments of his meeting with the Pope here;
Keep the Faith,
Jerry Menard

report abuse

Bud Seney

posted December 5, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Well said Mr. Menard

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Pontifications. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Faith, Media and Culture Prayer, Plain and Simple Happy Blogging!!!   ...

posted 2:38:01pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Moving on, and many, many thanks... recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That ...

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored ...

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, ...

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's ...

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.