Sunday, May 25, 2014

Clarifications or Trial Balloons? A short commentary on SSPX-Rome Relations

Most of you will not know Luke as he hosts our Polish show with Fr. Rafal Trytek: The New Religion and the Catholic Answer.  I've had a chance to spend quite a bit of time with Luke and his wife since I've been here in Europe and I'm pleased to present him for the very competent English speaker that he is.  -Ed.

The story of relations between the Society of St. Pius X and the modernist organization occupying the Vatican for over half a century now is quite an intriguing one. Despite constant contention the apparent differences arouse, this story should rather be viewed as a mutual attraction rather than repulsion. No matter what one would like to say or think, the bottom line is that the two are linked together by the chief and most glorious form of communion” (by naming a red-nosed clown in the canon).

The attraction has not only been on the Vatican’s side, since it wants to absorb everyone in its one-world pantheon of religions, but also on the SSPX’s. Let it suffice to say, and it is a known fact, that all those who never wanted anything to do with the modernists were always removed from the Society’s ranks or its collaborators, even in Archbishop Lefebvre’s time and even from among Ecône’s most fervent supporters (1977, 1983, 2012)… Abp. Lefebvre and his successors were always intent on receiving approval of “Church authorities (although there are quotes going the other way too).

One of the most peculiar aspects of these fluctuating relations in the most recent past is their almost entirely secret character, where meetings and documents have been kept away even from the knowledge of most of its members (just ask your local SSPX priest how frustrated he was, say, in 2012). Apparently it was not so at the time of Archbishop Lefebvre, if we are to believe the testimony of one of his drivers (Max Barret in “Courrier de Tychique”). Anyway, because the goal of these recent secret contacts was easy to guess but strongly opposed by many, the leaks abounded.

For quite some time, even when I was sharing the ideas of the so called “Resistance” (only until I stumbled upon an article and studied the question further), I was really not quite sure what to think of all these security breaches in the SSPX (letters between SSPX bishops, between bp. Fellay and Benedict XVI, the “doctrinal declaration”, etc.). On the face of it, it is quite astonishing to see how easily top secret facts and documents from this organization were divulged into the world-wide press. But its effects are more surprising yet.

Before going on it is imperative to note that the SSPX is not as uniform and unanimous as most would like it to be. There are some (more and more?) opinionist sedevacantists in its ranks, some plain modernists and the majority that just follow il Duce and his present party line. There are the right wingers (in decreasing numbers since the application of Bp. Fellay’s clean-up policy), the left wingers and the unagitated center.

So, how does that add up to the “surprising” leaks? An important fact or document would be divulged which would be scandalous to the right-wingers. The left-wingers, the only ones authorized by Menzingen to speak publicly on the issue, would defend it by applying the “what-would-abp.-Lefebvre-do” hermeneutics of continuity with the Founder. The majority, as usual, would just keep quiet and maybe warn the faithful against the evils of the Internet. Then it wouldn't really be retracted by the SSPX HQ and afterwards nothing... I started to think that all of these were just trial balloons to “feel out” the internal resistance to an SSPX-Rome agreement and the public opinion. Exactly as is done in our modern-day society. It’s called social engineering, “prophesized” by the likes of Orwell, H.G. Wells and Aldous Huxley.

It is absolutely clear to me that the recent news of the Bergoglio-Fellay meeting should be viewed in the light of these considerations. The pseudotraditionalist blog Rorate Coeli published a note on May 10, 2014 saying that in the past few months the top three of the SSPX met with Bergoglio, adding the next day that they also assisted at his private Novus Ordo service (RC post).

Then Menzingen cleared things up, essentially saying there was no Novus Ordo and that the meeting was a fortuitous encounter in the St. Martha refectory (SSPX communiqué). But there was a somewhat secret Rome visit that did indeed leak out.

This is, however, merely the latest episode of the never ending relationship story. And all of them, interestingly enough, always follow the same pattern. It was only slightly over a year ago that another controversial fact was brought to public notice by Countercardinal Cañizares Llovera, the then Prefect of Counterchurch rites and sacraments. He claimed that Bp. Fellay and others, having been present at a Novus Ordo in Latin and with incense at a Florentine abbey, came to see him in Rome. The SSPX Superior General purportedly stated then: “We just came from an abbey that is near Florence.  If Archbishop (Marcel) Lefebvre had seen how they celebrated there, he would not have taken the step that he did”. (the original coverage in Spanish, CNA Report in English).

Many were extremely upset at this. The so-called Resistance was in utter uproar. The comment gave a whole new spin to the SSPX-Rome narrative. Then, of course, came another clarification which actually did not clarify anything (Bp. Fellay’s communiqué). The fact that they were actually present at a Novus Ordo service was never retracted. And if it was not true, it should have been, since the news came from a top official of the organization the SSPX considers to be the Catholic Church and with which they “negotiate” on doctrine.

Again, keeping strictly to the most recent past and some public actions, such clarifications from Bp. Fellay abound. On October 12, 2013, at the annual Angelus Press Conference, the SSPX Superior General stated that his April 15, 2012 “doctrinal declaration” (again, abhorred by the right and defended by the left) “maybe […] was too subtle”. Two days later he proffered the famous Bergoglio condemnation: “We have in front of us a genuine Modernist!” (source). This was applauded by many, leaving others perplexed at the severity of such a statement.

So one more clarification and a new “strong fact”.

Only a month later in another one of those internal SSPX interviews we could all learn that Bp. Fellay was misinterpreted again. The Swiss bishop elucidated on his strong statement: “I used the word modernist, I believe it was not understood by everyone. Maybe it should be said a modernist in action. Once more, he is not a modernist in the pure, theoretical sense, a man who develops an entire coherent system, there is no such coherence.” (DICI)

Too subtle for everyone again? I honestly do not think so. There is clearly social engineering going on here with calculated goals. As time passes people will get more and more tired of this internal fight against the one perceived as a legitimate superior, be it Bp. Fellay or Bergoglio. They will give up and submit (with some exceptions, of course, keeping to the other interpretation of the “Abp. Lefebvre hermeneutics”).

It would only make sense that the profound logic behind all this mess of incoherence, contradiction and clarification is the irresistible attraction to the person considered the “Pope”. This consistent drive towards a necessary reconciliation (remember that book, For a Necessary Reconciliation by Fr. Lelong?) has been a trademark of the SSPX’s history from the beginning and that will not change, even in the Age of Bergoglio.

I even dare say that since the advent of Mr. Unpredictable it is all the more predictable.

And I am sure that for those who are being conditioned for the reconciliation of toleration simple trial balloons will turn into real cheerful balloons of celebration.