Resistance Schism & Heresy - Sad but True
I've been informed by a friend that Fr. Pfeiffer is touring Canada and today is supposed to be in Manitoba.
Therefore it is apropos that I discuss my conclusions about 'the resistance'.
First of all, I saw the following pattern of behaviour about a decade ago.
- recently ordained, is transferred about with greater frequency than the normal 3 years per 'posting',
- has problems with obeying his present superior,
- attempts to assert control in areas the superior had reserved for himself,
- openly mocks his former superior,
- seeks to ingratiate himself with various people at the SSPX Mass centre,
- refuses a transfer on various grounds,
- attempts to evoke pity of his support group by casting himself as subject to persecution,
- attempts to take over the Mass centre and if unsuccessful,
- entices or convinces people to 'split off' from the SSPX to start his own group,
- eventually the character flaws dominate and the priest abandons his 'new' flock to the wolves.
The 'resistance' priests have, so far, faithfully followed this pattern and are now at the 9th step. Some are even now setting their toes upon the threshold of the 10th step; with the sede-vacantists now showing their true colours in Europe and Quebec.
At this point the Quebec 'resistance' is, I have been informed, split into a couple of groups and a number of people have returned to the SSPX as they discovered that their co-resistors were sede-vacantists. However, what will happen now to those sede-vacantists who have left? With Fr. Pfeiffer and his loose association continue to provide them the Sacraments? Will he attempt to convince them of their error ... all the while persisting in his own?
Personally, I have my doubts. Why? Because his error is contained within that of the greater error of the Sede-vacantists. In short, he is so scandalized by the actions of the hierarchy of the Church that based on his faulty understanding of Church doctrine he does not believe that the Visible Church is the Church of Christ (for a true understanding of visible see link). Here is the commonality that Fr. Pfeiffer holds with the Sede-vacantists.
In both cases it is based on error - will it blossom into full grown heresy (denial of a defide teaching) I don't know ... but looking at Fr. Pfeiffer's exposé of the Four Marks he has a very good start. Even better than Bishop Williamson who is apparently, even now, pulling back from that path.
Looking at the progress that the 'resistance' has made over the last two years. Of course I'm not talking about numbers. Their behavior is practically identical to that of the FSSP shortly after 1988, namely to draw away as many supporters of the SSPX as possible. This is not a 'proof' of the validity of their reasons (then and now) for leaving the SSPX.
No, what do we see after two years of existence: the resistance is splintering and bickering amongst themselves.
First there is the conflict between Bishop Williamson and Fr. Pfeiffer, unsurprising given Fr. Pfeiffer's apparent episcopal ambitions.
There is the Una Cum controversy in Europe (ie surprise a number of the priests in France turned out to be Sede-Vacantists). This obviously is parallel with the events in Quebec.
Fr. Girouard seems to have dropped off the internet as his last posting was in April of this year. The only links younger than April that show up in a google search are those for sending donations.
Even now some internet denizens are calling for Fr. Pfeiffer to be deposed along with his arch supporter 'Pablo the Mexican'.
This is what comes of disobedience: dissension and dissolution.
Eventually the final breakup will occur because the 'resistance' priests won't be able to agree on anything of true importance as each wants to be his own superior. So instead of having one congregation of 25 priests, they will 'have' 25 congregations with a single member.
One danger to which the 'resistor' faithful seem oblivious is the danger of schism.
There is also an old adage that a schism doesn't go very far before it trumps up a heresy to justify itself. In the case of the resistance the 'heresy' appears to revolve around the nature of the Church.
Granted that at this point Bishop Williamson seems to have realized his error, the question remains whether Fr. Pfeiffer will follow suit.
So what is the schism?
The Catholic Encyclopedia contains the following definition of schism:
Schism (from the Greek schisma, rent, division) is, in the language of theology and canon law, the rupture of ecclesiastical union and unity, i.e. either the act by which one of the faithful severs as far as in him lies the ties which bind him to the social organization of the Church and make him a member of the mystical body of Christ, or the state of dissociation or separation which is the result of that act.The code of canon law (yes 1983 - if a person denies that this is the active law of the Church there's a deeper issue) although it is has the following:
Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.Now Fr. Pfeiffer is recommending that his followers do not attend Mass offered by the SSPX. His claim is that it represents a danger to the Faith. Objectively speaking that is little better than a conspiracy theory and for this he is pushing people to become 'home aloners'.
The emotional appeal that it has happened before is exceptionally weak. In the early days Traditionalists were either driven out or left to seek a Tridentine Mass because of a real manifest danger to their Faith, not a rumoured or theorized one proposed by the likes of Fr. Pfeiffer.
When Traditional Catholics take Fr. Pfeiffer's advice what is happening: They are shunning Catholics.
Welcome to the threshold of schism.
Fr. Pfeiffer has abandoned the Archbishop's understanding of Church doctrine and principles (one example: 'conciliar Church'), as well as the path set out by the Archbishop and the Society he founded.
That he insists that 'his' organization is carrying on the work of Archbishop Lefebvre is an absurdity.
Archbishop Lefebvre guided his actions by Catholic Principles. Fr. Pfeiffer, sadly for those who follow him, does not.
Much to pray for as this crisis continues, sadly friendships will be sundered.
PS. Apologies for a post made in haste.