of St. Pius X “Regularization”
Not as Easy as You Think
By John Vennari
The September 14 letter from the
Though the contents of the
“doctrinal preamble” sent by the
The proposed recognition for the SSPX appears to be that of a personal prelature along the lines of Opus Dei.
When Bishop Fellay requests at the end of his interview that we increase our Rosaries and prayers for the SSPX for “the graces of light and strength that we need more than ever”, he is not uttering a mere pious platitude. In the court of public opinion, the pressure on the Bishop Fellay and the SSPX is colossal.
From all sides, we hear calls for Bishop Fellay to take this “deal” and run with it, on the false premise that it is now-or-never for the SSPX, as conditions may never be so favorable again in the foreseeable future for “regularization”.
Those who urge this hasty approach have not thought the matter through. The last thing Bishop Fellay and the SSPX will sign is an Obamacare-styled “we have to pass the bill so we can see what’s in it” agreement. No, the steps towards proposed regularization have to be approached with great caution – a caution that will necessary take more than a couple of months of deliberating.
The SSPX will have to make sure it has examined the matter thoroughly, scrutinized all the implications of regularization, and be prepared to say ‘no’ – against tremendous pressure – if all details are not sorted out in advance.
We should not be surprised if Bishop Fellay approaches any type of canonical proposal with caution and reserve. I speak as one who has been directly involved with the traditional movement for over 30 years, and who has seen a number of regularization agreements turn sour. Though Catholic Family News does not represent the Society of St. Pius X in any way, we fully support Bishop Fellay in this cautious approach.
Here are just some of the 1,001 questions that need to be answered before any canonical agreement is reached:
• How will diocesan bishops react in the long term to SSPX bishops regularly stepping into their dioceses to perform the sacrament of Confirmation, especially when the bishops knows the congregation wants the SSPX prelate because it trusts neither the new rite of Confirmation nor the diocesan bishop himself?
• What about
opening new Chapels and Mass centers? New schools? New seminaries, as the
seminary soon to be constructed in
• How will a
• What about the independent chapels the SSPX are now friendly with, and for whom the SSPX performs Confirmations?
• Will Rome
expect the SSPX to cease performing Confirmations in these independent chapels?
• How will autonomy of education in SSPX schools be absolutely guaranteed?
• How will autonomy of the counter-revolutionary formation in SSPX seminaries be absolutely guaranteed?
• What are the exact provisions for Consecration of future SSPX bishops?
• What about the religious orders connected with the Society of St. Pius X? What about the SSPX’s relations with the traditional Benedictines? The traditional Dominicans? The traditional Capuchins? The traditional Carmelites?
• Under the proposed “personal prelature”, will the SSPX still be able to support and ordain men for these groups?
• Will these
SSPX-affiliated Orders have to change their names and cease calling themselves
Dominicans, Benedictines, Carmelites under such an agreement? (When the
traditional Transalpine Redemptorists accepted regularization three years ago,
the first thing they were forced to do was change their name to “The Sons of
the Most Redeemer”, since the Novus Ordo Redemporists would not allow them to
use the name “Redemptorists”.
• What about the
Dominican Sisters who teach at SSPX-affiliated schools, two of which are in the
• Do not the same
questions apply to the SSPX’s affiliation with the Franciscan Sisters in
• Does not the
SSPX’s affiliation with the traditional religious orders also entail getting
• What about
possible insurrection in the ranks if many believe the
• Do we really
believe that any sort of discussion about the legitimacy of the Vatican II will
continue after the SSPX is regularized, when the
• In any election of a new Prelate for Opus Dei, the Pope must confirm the appointment. If an SSPX prelature is modeled along the lines of Opus Dei personal prelature, will a pro-Vatican II Pope approve a new SSPX leader that most resembles Archbishop Lefebvre, or rather hold out for a leader after his own heart?
• Will a “regularized” SSPX be expected to obtain an Imprimatur for any books it publishes? How will an Imprimatur be obtained for books such as John Paul II – Doubts About a Beatification which questions the beatification of Pope John Paul II; Father Dominique Bourmaud’s superb 100 Years of Modernism; or even yet-unpublished writings of Archbishop Lefebvre that sharply criticize Vatican II and the progressivism of the post-Conciliar hierarchy?
• Archbishop Lefebvre said, “If Rome wishes
to give us a true autonomy, the one we have now, but with submission, we would
want it.” What happens when the SSPX’s understanding of “true autonomy” conflicts with the
• Is there a danger of the SSPX ending up as just another Ecclesia Dei group that is directly or indirectly coerced into just keeping to the Old Mass and shying away from publicly defending the Catholic Faith “whole and entire” against the present modernist onslaught unleashed within the Church for the past 50 years?
• Can Tradition fully operate under a Novus Ordo hierarchy?
These and countless other questions will have to addressed by Bishop Fellay and the SSPX before any sort of realistic canonical agreement can be reached.
The Society of St. Pius X has never taken a pragmatic approach, but has always argued from doctrine, which means it argues from a position of strength. I believe the SSPX will continue its discussions along this strong, doctrinal line.
Bishop Fellay knows the charism of the SSPX is that of its founder: to defend the Faith “whole and entire” without compromise, especially regarding the current errors of the day. He knows the duty of the priest requires nothing less.
It is primarily the priest’s obligation to lead us in the battle to defend the Faith. Saint Thomas Aquinas did not leave it to the laity to combat the Manichees. St. Francis de Sales did not leave it the laity to combat Protestantism. We laity have our part, but it belongs to the nature of the priesthood to publicly defend the Faith.
This is why we loved Archbishop Lefebvre. He led us in the battle.
Of course, every sermon does not have be an assault on Vatican II and the New Mass, but it is the priest’s responsibility to warn his flock against prevalent errors that undermine the Faith and destroy souls. And tragically, the greatest assault on the Catholic Faith in our day comes from Vatican II, the contemporary hierarchy, and the revolutionary Polish Pope whom Benedict just beatified.
How will a “regularized” SSPX be guaranteed the ability to fight this counter-revolutionary battle unimpeded?
This myriad of questions now weighs on Bishop Fellay and on the Society of St. Pius X. A consideration of these questions helps us better understand why Bishop Fellay closed his interview requesting increased prayers and Rosaries for the SSPX for “the graces of light and strength that we need more than ever.”
Benedict to Pray with Protestants in Germany
Interview with Bishop Felly After His Meeting with Cardinal Levada
Renewing the Assisi Scandal by Father Regis de Cacqueray, SSPX
September 19, 2011
Catholic Family News
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