SSPX: Did tough talk win papal concessions?

A fascinating in-house SSPX interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the schismatic right-wing order, shows he was taken by suprise by Benedict’s sudden lifting of the excommunications. Why? As Reuters’ Tom Heneghan has it in this FaithWorld post, Fellay says (translation from the French) that relations with Rome had been “rather cold” for months.
Fellay confirms that he rejected the Vatican’s “ultimatum” (maybe call it a “penultimatum”?) last June, and then he wrote the Vatican in December requesting that the excommunications be lifted. “Since the letter was relatively severe, I didn’t expect a quick response. It was just a way to reestablish contact,” Fellay says.
Then boom, in January Vatican officials said they wanted to discuss something with him urgently, and presto, excommuncations gone. As Heneghan writes:

What is striking in this part of Fellay’s account is the apparently sloppy handling of this even beforehand. Let’s step back and remember that this split was the most important schismatic act since the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican has been dealing with this issue for years. Why such a rush all of a sudden?


That question remains. As does where they go from here. Fellay said negotiations with Rome now would be “not necessarily short, maybe even long.” But he seems to have reason to hold out, and the basis for an eventual deal. Another Reuters story recounts Fellay’s interview this week with Famille Chretienne, a Catholic weekly, in which he seemed to indicate how the SSPX would try to get around accepting parts of the Second Vatican Council they don’t like:

“One cannot approach it in a dogmatic way and say ‘amen’ to everything. This approach is completely wrong. There are different domains, themes and degrees of authority,” he said. “In my opinion, many of the problems we point out can be resolved by distinctions and not by absolute acceptances or rejections.”

Nice deal if you can get it. Maybe he can.

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posted February 13, 2009 at 10:41 am

So let me get this right? He’s going to cherry pick what he’ll accept? How progressive of him.

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posted February 13, 2009 at 10:42 am

This is where Mr. Gibson needs to do a little more homework before he covers a new area for him. The Society of Saint Pius X, according to the Vatican, is neither schismatic nor an order.
Please talk with some traditionalist Catholics instead of relying on the tired “conservative” Catholic intellectuals like George Weigel and Michael Novak to gather information. It’s sad to see these articles written completely isolated from the community they are reporting on!

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posted February 13, 2009 at 11:32 am

If you want to see concretely what kind of an agreement might be established, go back and look at the 1988 protocol signed by Ratzinger and Lefebvre. An agreement had been worked out, including how bishops would be approved and ordained for the SSPX … and then Lefebvre went ahead and did his own thing anyway. Still, that protocol shows what still could be done. And no one is talking about it …

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Tom Heneghan

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:57 am

BC, why should the SSPX agree to that detailed 1988 protocol when it rejected the June 2008 ultimatum that was considerably watered down, and then finally got the excommunications lifted with almost no strings attached? In several recent statements, the SSPX bishops have said they don’t accept some Vatican II reforms and hope to convert Rome to their point of view. Judging from the way the Vatican’s conditions have softened over time, they have good reason to think — as David points out here — that they may be able to get around accepting the reforms they don’t like.

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Dr J. Smythe

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:59 am

Isn’t it great when people speak (write) on matters of Faith but not an ounce of faith shines through their words.
It’s like they have rejected God (and any supernatural) and instead have attempted to reduce things to the mere mundane and earthly.
At least St. Thomas doubted – today people have simply rejected.

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Peter Haddad

posted February 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Card. Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict XVI) 1988 Remarks to the Bishops of Chile
“The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The TRUTH IS that this particular Council DEFINED NO DOGMA AT ALL, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a MERELY PASTORAL council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.
“This idea is made stronger by things that are now happening. That which previously was considered most holy — the form in which the liturgy was handed down — suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the Faith — for instance, the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc. — nobody complains or only does so with the greatest moderation. I myself, when I was a professor, have seen how the very same bishop who, before the Council, had fired a teacher who was really irreproachable, for a certain crudeness of speech, was not prepared, after the Council, to dismiss a professor who openly denied certain fundamental truths of the Faith.
“All this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church of today is really the same as that of yesterday, or if they have changed it for something else without telling people. The one way in which Vatican II can be made plausible is to present it as it is; one part of the unbroken, the unique Tradition of the Church and of her faith.

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posted February 15, 2009 at 11:50 am

Is David Jewish or a liberal Catholic? Give the SSPX people a chance. Obviously they are good willed and trying their best to do what is right, unlike the ugly liberals that David never bashes.

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