05 June 2008

Adieu, SSPX!

"Good liturgy is good. But at this point in time, I frankly don't want the SSPX back. They may be nice people, but they don't act like it. They may be Catholic, but they don't act like it. Not that it matters--they won't ever want to come back, anyway. And it's better for both of us that way."

This is from a comment on Rorate Caeli about Bishop Fellay's latest comments about the Pope and his trip to America. And freemasonry. And liberalism. The Yawn! quotient is high.

The SSPX has become irrelevant in a way that it wasn't a relatively short while ago.


Moretben said...

The SSPX has become irrelevant in a way that it wasn't a relatively short while ago.
The trouble is - I wish I'd a quid for every time I've heard that. It was said often following the consecrations in '88; all through the '90s, whenever some allegation of sectarian malfeasance emerged (Fr Rizzo, goings-on at St Mary's etc.) following the Campos agreement, the IBP, the election of Benedict and so on...

John said...

I have been thinking along the lines quoted above, for some time now. I think that Bishop Fellay's recent words have nothing to help.


FrGregACCA said...

Moretben, what is your take on the SSPX, and traditionalist Roman Catholicism in general, from your new perspective?

Ttony said...

The difference is that at the times you quote, the SSPX was the only home for those for whom the traditional form of the Mass was the only spiritual food they could endure. Between Campos, the FSSP, the IBP and just the general attitude of Churchmen such as Cardinal Castrillon, for the first time in a couple of generations, "trad" is a small but mainstream part of the life of the Church.

Fr Greg's is an interesting question.

Moretben said...


Be that as it may, for most people, in most dioceses, absolutely nothing has changed at the practical level; and the unanswered questions over the Council's contradictions and reversals of previous teaching remain unanswered, "hermeneutics of continuity" notwithstanding. The SSPX will continue to worry away at that particular bone, and quite right too (though they're incapable of drawing the necessary conclusions). Nobody else cares. Everybody wants a "nice, reverent Mass" that's all, whether the magisterium has deconstructed itself or not. The ludicrous, disgraceful debacle surrounding the good Friday prayers goes to the heart of the problem. And then there's what happens in the next pontificate...

Fr Greg

I don't think my view of the SSPX and the wider Traditionalist movement has really changed all that much since I wrote the following, last May (other than a certain amplification, and the fear of turning into a pillar of salt):

I am grateful to the SSPX on whom I have depended, on and off (and never exclusively) for twenty-five years, [but] they remain committed, apparently, to a mere restoration of the status quo ante. I understand the reasons for their dogged immobility, and admire how they've managed to sustain it post-Lefebvre and in spite of the confident prognostications of their enemies of an inevitable slide into schism and heresy - but are they the future? I must confess my heart does not leap at the prospect. I think of them as being a bit like a seed, which gets through the winter - the frosts, the floods, the passage through the guts of animals - by being small, hard and not very attractive; but a seed must subsequently break out of its protective shell or it will die in the ground.


The SSPX exist in world of hopeless contraditions, which their fundamental ultramontanism makes it impossible to resolve. This was poor Archbishop Lefebvre's tragedy - mugged by his own ultramontanism; that's why his statements and actions were often so fluctuating mercurial and inconsistant (see that heartbreaking sermon delivered at Econe on the occasion of the '76 ordinations - the action that got him suspended a divinis)

On Tradworld generally, about the same time I wrote as follows:

I am of course, a denizen of the pit, acclimatised to its acrid, sulphurous bowels, having spent most of my adult life there. I'm a Trad: one of those whom the abnormality of the times has compelled into a variety of absurd and unnatural postures; one of the mad, driven in my leisure hours to the digestion of turgid encyclicals in order to defend what ought to be self-evident; to contrive some kind of "systematic statement of the obvious" in the face of universal denial and purblind stupidity. Has it done me any good? Well has it?

Of course I have since come to understand that "traditionalism" is something that happens when living Tradition has ceased. I might hesitate to go as far as Jaroslav Pelikan in identifying it as the "dead faith of the living, rather than the living faith of the dead", but I realised even as a Catholic that most of TradWorld meant and intended something quite different from me in their vision of the movement. I hoped for a more "Orthodox" Catholicism and that's why I was quite prepared to see in certain of the Conciliar statements and orientations hints of movement in that direction - collegiality, for example, or the willingness in theology to ameliorate somewhat the eclipse of the larger patristic tradition by Augustine and especially Anselm. In TradWorld that's indistinguishable from modernism and liberalism, because TradWorld is essentially concerned with no more than absolutising the 19th Century and the anthill ecclesiology of Trent. It's therefore not really "Traditionalist" at all - merely ultramontanist under the "wrong" Popes (witness the almost total lack of interest in the liturgy among the SSPX).

I could go on, but Lot's wife and all that...;O)

FrGregACCA said...

'Ben, don't want to put you in a Lot's wife situation, but thanks for replying. IMHO, ultramontanism, triumphant at Vatican I, is at the core of the problem.

"Peter, when you are converted, strengthen your brethren." - Jesus

Moretben said...

One further point - perhaps the most important of all (and definitely Orthodox):

There can and will be no "reconciliation at the heart" of the Catholic church, and no permanent, abiding fruits from Summorum Pontificum in the absence of the basic condition of repentance and metanoia. What the ecclesiastical authorities did to their own faithful and to their objective Catholic patrimony in the twentieth century is absolutlely appalling, and perhaps without precedent apart from the Iconoclast persecutions of the eighth century. Pope Benedict, whom God preserve, has at great personal cost (I believe), repealed to some extent the damnatio memoriae; but so far there is no real evidence in the Church of change of heart, or sorrow for what was done - the harm done to souls as well as to the objective Tradtition. Priority seems to remain protecting the "legacy" and the reputation of those involved.

Jeffrey Smith said...

Shot themselves in the foot, badly. The good part is that the people they led astray are starting to submit to God's authority fast, rather than following such wolves.

Moretben said...

There are wolves in the SSPX, certainly. There are wolves in episcopal residences, all over the world. There are wolves in the Roman Curia. Paul VI was perhaps the worst of them.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you mean "irrelevant"? I do not think so. I have criticized a couple of recent sermons by Bishop Fellay, but you cannot blame the whole SSPX for it.
I do not agree because (1) the Tradition owns inmensely to the SSPX and (2) Bishop Fellay's mistakes cannot be attributed to the SSPX. They are his.

Rafael Castela Santos

FrGregACCA said...

Maybe not so fast...

Vatican proposal to SSPX (updated)

My prediction: if this goes through, SSPX will split, one part, probably led by a bishop, will not reconcile with Rome and could well become outright sede vacantist. (Am I correct, Bishop Williamson?)