Mary Victrix (Kinda, Sorta, Maybe) Responds to Comments on "The Crypto-Lefebvrist Dodge" with "What Happened to the Dialogue between Rome and the SSPX?"


Fr. Greiger has posted an article  partially in response to my email/blog posting pointing out some of the inconsistencies.

At least I think it is a response - he seems to think that my post was was fatuous.  Well, I believe his perspective is skewed by a significant confirmation bias.

Either way Father, thank you for noticing.

Crypto-Lefebvrist Dodge - The Objective of the SSPX during the discussions

First we need to finish off the issue that I had with Father's earlier post. Specifically this assertion:
" ... I have been saying for a long time that Bishop Fellay, the superior of the Society of St. Pius X, has been highly successful at executing his intention for the now failed dialogue with Rome. That intention, which he explicitly stated a number of times, was that the work of the Society should serve to weaken the influence of Vatican II. Roberto de Mattei has labored at this right along the Society of St. Pius X. ..." (Source)
Fr. Greiger's assertion is that the 'goal' of entering into the discussions with Rome was to 'weaken the influence of Vatican II'. His new posting finally offers the desired references in support of his assertion.

The first reference is to Mr. Rocco Palma, who himself was referencing a DICI article from 2006:
"... Whereas we affirm that Council Vatican II when opening up to the spirit of the modern world let principles contrary to the Gospel message enter its bosom. Principles such as religious liberty or ecumenism are responsible for the present situation. We mean something quite different from a superprogressist "false interpretation" of the Council.
It is easy to understand that Roman authorities can think but with difficulty of tracing the cause of the crisis back to Vatican II, because it would be tantamount to question the council to which they remain very much attached. ... we must attempt to resolve the disagreement by trying to make Rome admit the real cause of the crisis. ..."
 The second reference is an article titled: 54 Answers from 2011.
You have to distinguish between Rome’s purpose and ours. Rome indicated that there were doctrinal problems with the Society [of St. Pius X] and that these problems would have to be cleared up before any canonical recognition, problems which obviously would be up to us to resolve, concerning our acceptance of the [Second Vatican] Council. But for us it is about something else: we hope to tell Rome what the Church has always taught and thereby to show the contradictions between this centuries-old teaching and what has been done in the Church since the Council. As we look at it, this is the only goal that we are pursuing.
Given that 'explicit' means "stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt", I fail to see where it is explicitly stated that the 'work of the Society should serve to weaken the influence of Vatican II'.

What is the explicit objective of the SSPX?
"... to tell Rome what the Church has always taught and thereby to show the contradictions between this centuries-old teaching and what has been done in the Church since the Council..."
What are the goals of the SSPX?

That's simple, instead of inferring them and risking error, attached below are their explicit mission / vision / values:
The main goal of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X is to preserve the Catholic faith in its fullness and purity, to teach its truths, and to diffuse its virtues, especially through the Roman Catholic Priesthood. Authentic spiritual life, the sacraments, and the traditional liturgy are its primary means of bringing this life of grace to souls.
The spirit of the SSPX is missionary; it reaches out across the world – through its priests, religious, and a growing number of families, young people, and all its faithful – to establish and maintain true and lasting devotion to the Catholic faith. The SSPX thus desires, prays, and works for the salvation of all, trusting that this is possible with God’s help.
The SSPX firmly believes that the Catholic faith changes individual lives as well as society; that faith promotes order, justice, culture, and peace; that it offers real and lasting happiness. Despite the widespread unbelief rampant throughout the world today, the SSPX, through the priesthood, continues to unfold and distribute the treasures of Catholic Tradition. This courageous and unrestrained gift of self for the glory of God and the good of souls constitutes the core value and motivation of the SSPX. (source)

What are their key concerns?  Again let the SSPX speak for themselves:

The SSPX firmly embraces a traditional, Catholic worldview. It seeks to honor the rights of God and to respect and love all his children.
Sadly, many confusing and erroneous ideas have weakened and continue to weaken our modern understanding of the truth. These false teachings draw souls away from God.
Stirred by pity and compassion, the SSPX seeks to expose the grave dangers such ideas pose to the ultimate happiness both of every individual and of society as a whole.

Who can deny that Catholics in the latter part of the twentieth century are confused? A glance at what has happened in the Church over the past twenty years is enough to convince anyone that this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Only a short time ago the path was clearly marked: either one followed it or one did not. One had the Faith - or perhaps had lost it - or had never had it. But he who had it - who had entered the Church through baptism, who had renewed his baptismal promises around the age of twelve and had received the Holy Ghost on the day of his confirmation - such a person knew what he had to believe and what he had to do...
Many today no longer know.  They hear all sorts of astonishing statements in the churches, they read things contrary to what was always taught, and doubt has crept into their minds.
We naturally ask,  therefore, what brought on this state of things? Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics, chapter 1 (source)

So in reference to the discussions with Rome, what is the objective of the SSPX?

Simply to point out the contradiction between pre-conciliar magisterium and that of the post-conciliar period.  Why? In order to aid Rome in the realization that there is a contradiction of pre-conciliar magiterium in 'four points' and that this constradiction is part, if not the root of, the cause of the enduring crisis of the Catholic Church.

Now if these goals and objectives of the SSPX are obtained, then the 'influence' of those aspects of V2 that are novel and stand in contradiction of pre-V2 magisterium would naturally, as a consequence be lessened.

For some reason Fr. Greiger seems to think this is a bad thing.

For a better understanding of the position of the SSPX, I have uploaded a conference given by Bishop Fellay in Adelaide in the fall of 2012.

 Adelaide Conference

The careful listener will find that Fr. Greiger's opinions of what the SSPX believes concerning the Second Vatican Council and what the SSPX actually believes (right from Bishop Fellay's mouth) are not a perfect match.

A Review of What Happened to the Dialogue between Rome and the SSPX

Now we can review Fr. Greiger's perspective of the 'Dialogue between Rome and the SSPX'.

Firstly, given his penchant for selective understanding of reference materials, I look with askance at this statement:
"... My account is by no means complete, but neither does it omit the pertinent facts ..."
The first problem is that Father's selection of what is 'pertinent' will be a reflection of his perceptual biases.

Also facts rarely speak from themselves and Father's relation of the facts, accompanied by his interpretations of the events provide a 'colour' to the proffered account.

Sadly, Father Greiger missed a golden opportunity to plumb the motivations of the SSPX when he stated:
"... the position of Bishop Fellay is relatively moderate within the SSPX.  In fact, he was greatly criticized by many members for his willingness to consider a doctrinal agreement at all. ..."
When one reviews the referenced letter of Bishop Fellay and the General Council of the SSPX to the other three bishops of the SSPX we find a clue to Bishop Fellay's other motivations:
"... If the pope expresses a legitimate will concerning us which is good and which does not order anything contrary to the commandments of God, have we the right to neglect or to dismiss this will? Otherwise, on what principle do you base your actions? ..."
This, for those who don't recognize it, is a paraphrase of the principle of obedience as described by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica.

This principle is one of the keys to understanding the Rome/SSPX saga:  Obedience.

It may come a shock to some people that the root of this issue is obedience.  Fr. Greiger may even have an issue with this as he had problems with the direction that was taken by the superiors of the FFI and decided to seek an intervention from Rome.  A case reminiscent of the 1999 FSSP chapter coup d'etat.

Moving past Father's incidental criticism of Mons. Brunero Gherardini and Roberto de Mattei, we come to the section titled "Optimism".  A lengthy quotation is given and interestingly the highlights that Fr. Greiger applies don't include this:
"... What has changed is the fact that Rome no longer makes total acceptance of Vatican II a prerequisite for the canonical solution. ..." (source)

The fact that Fr. Greiger treats lightly the 'anonymous sources' is interesting and somewhat naive given the political atmosphere that permeates large organizations such as the Vatican.

The important issue is that Bishop Fellay ascribed to these communications a reflection of the will of the Pope.  To the point that he believed they may constitute a command that met the criteria for obedience.

Obviously, Bishop Fellay acknowledged that Pope Benedict was his superior and that a command that the SSPX accept a canonical regularization was well within the scope of his authority.  The question is whether or not there was a immediate or proximate occasion of sin.  In other words would the SSPX be required to compromise?

If there was no compromise (immediate or proximate), then the criteria for obedience would be fulfilled and Bishop Fellay would have been required to place his trust in God and accept the regularization. To be certain, Bishop Fellay admitted that the June 8, 2102 DICI interview included a test phrase (quoted above!) to ascertain if the unofficial communications reflected reality.

(Note to Fr. Greiger: I am still looking for a recording of the conference in which he made this admission for my own library.)

Well, as we know the compromise was required and Bishop Fellay following his conscience and the principles of the SSPX, could not sign the agreement.

This is the context of the disagreement: Obedience to the pre-conciliar magisterium or the post-conciliar magisterium.

This is the context that is sadly missing and ignored by Fr. Greiger.

Finally, we reach Fr. Greigers 'conclusion':
"... This irrefutably shows that before Pope Benedict uttered a word about his resignation the dialogue with Rome had already been effectively abandoned by the SSPX (1).  And for this, Bishop Fellay held Pope Benedict responsible for not having defended Tradition (2).  It cannot be emphasized enough that the dialogue failed because Bishop Fellay and the SSPX never intended to modify their doctrinal position and remained intransigent in direct opposition to Pope Benedict (3).... "
If we remove the colouring added by Fr. Greiger we get the following:
  1. The dialogue reached an impasse, however neither party to the discussions has acknowledged a schism. Therefore the 'dialogue' is not abandoned. Even the on-going meetings cast a long shadow of doubt over Fr. Greiger's conclusions.
  2. This is clearly not the case, the reason is that it was clear that if the SSPX agreed to the regularization under those conditions, it would have been required to compromise because the Pope was unable (for whatever reason) to provide them the protection necessary.
  3. As noted the SSPX, following the principle of obedience, has concluded that the compromise requested would constitute a sin.  In essence, to whom do they owe their obedience? To the Pope's since the Council or the Pope's who established doctrinal positions prior to the Council.
I wonder what Fr. Greiger would say if Pope said that Black is White or if Pope Francis said that people living in an objective state of mortal sin (concubinage) can lawfully receive the Eucharist.


PS: I find it ironic that in the Church today where an individuals conscience is held inviolate. The SSPX is required to go against its conscience in order to be canonically regular.

PPS: Father makes a point that the SSPX did not deviate from its doctrinal position.  That is probably a good thing since:

  1. The Second Vatican Council did not alter the doctrine of the faith.
  2. The SSPX's doctrinal positions are based upon the pre-conciliar theological development by Church Theologian's.
PPPS: I see Father has made another posting about Ghosts and the like.  Something to look at as time allows.


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