The Church and the SSPX - is the SSPX right?


Some time ago I was challenged with the above statement.
You have to be right otherwise ...
The person at the time was trying to make the point that I was subject to a confirmation bias.

These words have replayed in my mind over the last two years since they were uttered, but not exactly with the result intended.

Is the SSPX right?  Are Traditional Catholics right?

The question behind these question is: Right about what?

I think that the subject comes down to three things:

  1. Doctrine: For the SSPX it is the Four Points that it holds are in contradiction with prior magisterium.
    1. "The doctrine on religious liberty, as it is expressed in no. 2 of the Declaration 'Dignitatis humanae,' contradicts the teachings of Gregory XVI in 'Mirari vos' and of Pius IX in 'Quanta cura' as well as those of Pope Leo XIII in 'Immortale Dei' and those of Pope Pius XI in 'Quas primas.'
    2. "The doctrine on the Church, as it is expressed in no. 8 of the Constitution 'Lumen gentium,' contradicts the teachings of Pope Pius XII in 'Mystici corporis' and 'Humani generis.'
    3. "The doctrine on ecumenism, as it is expressed in no. 8 of 'Lumen gentium' and no. 3 of the Decree 'Unitatis redintegratio,' contradicts the teachings of Pope Pius IX in propositions 16 and 17 of the 'Syllabus,' those of Leo XIII in 'Satis cognitum,' and those of Pope Pius XI in 'Mortalium animos.'
    4. "The doctrine on collegiality, as it is expressed in no. 22 of the Constitution 'Lumen gentium,' including no. 3 of the 'Nota praevia' [Explanatory Note], contradicts the teachings of the First Vatican Council on the uniqueness of the subject of supreme power in the Church, in the Constitution 'Pastor aeternus'."
  2. The reforms that proceeded from the teachings of the Second Vatican Council
    1. New Liturgy (primarily the New Mass)
    2. New Catechism
    3. New Canon Law
  3. The response to the crisis in the Church
Point one is simple, since the SSPX bases their theological position on prior teachings and the Second Vatican Council limited itself to pastoral applications of doctrine - then logically proving the SSPX wrong is a simple matter of demonstrating continuity between the pre and post conciliar teaching.

Likewise, as the SSPX is adhering to the pre-conciliar teaching that was clear, versus that conciliar (V2) teaching that is riddled with compromise expressions (see Cardinal Kasper's admission) then the SSPX should not be held as a theological pariah.

Point two is a little more problematic and it is important to understand what exactly is the SSPX position vis-a-vis the 'reformed' liturgy. 

Basically they say it is evil - in that it is the absence of a due good. The liturgy is supposed to be a clear expression of the Catholic Faith.  

Objectively, comparing liturgy of 1962 to that of 1969, we find a significantly stripped down liturgy.  I am of course speaking of the liturgy as promulgated, not that which is put into action.  

As the Catechism and Canon Law are the embodiments of the Second Vatican Council (particularly the above four points), it flows that again if the doctrine was not changed - then in these points the SSPX should be not be at variance for hold prior magisterial teachings.

Lastly, we reach the main issue: The response of the SSPX.

The first thing that most critics mention is the consecrations.

This however will never do since there is a number of years and many events that led upto the consecrations of 1988.  There are also many events that have occurred to support the conclusion that it was a necessary action.

I think that while critics of the SSPX's response need to answer a question or two on their own:

Given all the history and events leading upto the consecrations: What would they have done?

Given all the history and events that have transpired since the consecrations: Was there no justification for the action?

All this comes down to context.  Without a sufficient context people are prone to falling into confirmation biases.

Comparing the actions with principles is a short-cut.  If the principles are good and are followed faithfully, then the actions should likewise be good.

What are the principles that the SSPX follows?  Are they good?  Where in their principles of they left the path of the Church?

Questions worth pondering as the October Synod may set the Church of Christ lurching in another direction on another path.



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