First the TAC, then the SSPX

Update from 2nd July 2012 – The choice of the Pope is Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller for the CDF. It’s now official.

* * *

I had a look at a traditionalist RC site this morning that said in effect that Cardinal Levada’s successor at the head of the CDF was going to carve up the Society of St Pius X. Given the source, I concluded that the man writing the site was off his rocker and had no credibility. All the same, I copied some key words into Google, and found more “respectable” sites and blogs saying the same thing.

Regensburg Bishop- All four SSPX bishops should resign and the SSPX seminary should close

Personally, I have no sympathy for the Society of St Pius X, even though I had a great deal of admiration for Archbishop Lefebvre and his stand against the whims and arbitrariness of Paul VI. It has hit me in the face that even Bishop Fellay, the one who has been negotiating the deal with Rome, would get the chop like Archbishop Hepworth. Admittedly, the bishops would be allowed to function as priests. How kind!

The TAC had a problem with canonically irregular clergy, and the SSPX has a problem with  – – – anti-Semitic clergy, notably Bishop Williamson. Another question the Bishop of Regensburg asks is whether the priests even meet the requirements, which the Catholic Church places on its priests.

Jaw drop!

Bishop Müller also recommends that the SSPX seminary in Germany should close and the students should go to seminaries in their home countries – if they are suitable for this purpose.

Even the Constitution of the SSPX should be critically considered by canon lawyers.

He is not wrong when he says that the SSPX should disassociate itself from extreme right-wing political movements (one reason for my own distance from this movement).

It could be that, unless the SSPX withdraws from the dialogue with Rome and constitutes itself as an Old Catholic Church, Rome would cherry-pick the clergy, put the bishops out to grass, collect the assets and real estate – and tie up the loose ends much as Paul VI wanted to do in the 1970’s.

My own view of the SSPX is that it has many of the characteristics of a cult or sect in the meaning given by the legislation of most European countries. This situation isn’t all Rome’s fault, as the SSPX seems to move the goalposts every time there is a dialogue, but the slitheriness is not all one-sided. I don’t see what Rome can do as an alternative to proceeding as for the TAC – get rid of the bad eggs and buy the car for parts. Such pragmatism is seen only in the Vatican and the City of London!

Rome keeps squeaky clean – or more or less so – with the world of diplomacy. For how long until some secular authority decides to have the Church for breakfast and buy the Vatican for a derisory price – for parts?

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17 Responses to First the TAC, then the SSPX

  1. Another totalitarian invasion-of-Hungary moment.

  2. Conchúr says:

    Muller will not be the new head of the CDF and the German bishops will have no say in the regularisation or otherwise of the SSPX. You draw parallels where there are none to reasonably be drawn.

  3. Neil S Hailstone says:

    Well for once words almost fail me but apparently not quite because I am posting here. I would find SSPX personally not my own cup of tea or glass of Chablis . Anti-Semitism is sinful obviously and denying the Holocaust as appears to have happened with one prominent member contrary to all historically verifiable fact. However, I am concerned about this latest attack on traditional believers. Me, hard to put a label upon my ageing person. I use the term Anglican Catholic or Anglican Orthodox if I have to describe myself. I suppose one has to do this to differentiate from the type of liberal extremist who more or less only believes in their right to clerical clothing and a generous stipend and little else apart from contemporary secular belief. I believe in the same basic doctrines held by traditional orthodox Catholics across many jurisdictions. I’ve said it before and now again that I believe we should not break fellowship over secondary matters of doctrine. I’m a broad sweep of the board person in that area.

    But this attack on the mainstream members of SSPX ,how can I put this, is typical Curia violin case stuff. Think contraception in loving lifelong marriage after Paul VI had decided in favour.

    If SSPX want traditional Faith in their terms – Why not? I want traditional faith in my own area of Anglican Catholic and Orthodox Faith. There are developments in the pipeline. Final comment. More live and let live needed I think. We can’t all stuff each other into little boxes and there are concepts, expanded in depth by Fr. C elsewhere, which transcend all of our earthbound understandings.


  4. Neil S Hailstone says:

    Before anyone pounces I did of course mean Paul 6th.

  5. edmond says:

    Maybe traditionalists should join up with SNAP. There got to be something to dig up on the this German cardinal. Forget negotiation. This maybe time to collect some scalps. And people wonder why I despise the hierarchy so much. Well that Philly monseigneur was convicted. Maybe we can get some bishops convicted and imprisoned next. Where is our Fauquier de Tinville?

  6. ed pacht says:

    So, traditionalists are, by definition, innocent of these scandals, and it is to be presumed that liberals have dirt to be dug up merely because they are liberals? Since child sex abuse is recorded since the Middle Ages, I doubt very much that there is a discernible difference here. This kind of sin is prevalent in all denominations, and in all ‘parties’ within each denomination. I know of many such cases, and am sure there are more. Child abusers are wrong because they abuse children. Liberals are wrong because their theology is in error. To search for other causes than that to hang them on while not searching others out to the same degree looks to me like a perversion of justice. I can just hear some of the liberal bishops searching for traditionalist priests to arrest and jail. There certainly are a number of them. That way lies chaos. Firmness, yes; rage, no.

    • edmond says:

      No. Did you read my comment, actually read it. I did not say that traditionalists are free from sex abuse scandals or a bishop has them because he is liberal. Where did I say either? I merely pointed out they started getting higher level officials and now its time to get some bishops. That official from Philly was no liberal. When one side works by one set of rules and the other by a different set, it does not work. Hanging bishops we don’t like for sex abuse is one power we have. Don’t worry. Liberals will take care of the conservatives. That is why liberal bishops hang conservative clergy for the slightest excuse but liberal onea do no harm.

      • edmond says:

        Perversion of justice? This is not a game of cricket. We are talking about officials who have no sense of justice. And if they are guilty, how is it a perversion of justice? Let the liberals take care of their enemies. They already do. That does not concern me.

  7. edmond says:

    And there is no rage about it. It is being firm and standing up in a realistic way. Ridicule is a tool, too, to be used. Ecclesiatical politics is still politics. The Axelrods and Rahmbos are there for a reason, and succeed for the same. Ecclesiastical googoos are just as much in a dream world as their civil counterparts.

  8. Stephen K says:

    What I’d like to comment on is Father Chadwick’s reference to the Vatican “carving up the SSPX”. It makes me think of nothing so much as a praying mantis devouring its prey (no puns intended!) Yet another example of what Father Chadwick alluded to in the earlier post on “eradicating” the opposition. I don’t suggest it is all one sided, but the point is that curiously, size and majority always seem to feed the Moloch of greed and control, rather than a spirit of generosity. It’s the same in economic terms, and why monopolies are generally invidious and ultimately oppressive. I don’t see why Rome and the SSPX have to “reconcile”, for ultimately it will not be an exercise in reconciliation but absorption and the disappearance of the latter. Isn’t there a saying about having awkward people in the tent facing outwards rather than outside it facing inwards? The people who have for four decades placed their trust in the SSPX with all its limitations may be dealt a severe spiritual trauma in the short term if the SSPX is dismembered beyond recognition, like every other group of people who have over the centuries been, in one way or another, the victims of the politics of ecclesial dominion.

    I long ago came to the conclusion that Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX were just another manifestation of a protestant spirit, for what the SSPX saga demonstrates, for me, is that Romanism does not equal this elusive thing going under the name of “Catholicism” but merely, or principally, religious imperialism. In saying this, I don’t condemn Protestantism as such: every Goliath needs a David to keep honest. My concern is that the Vatican-SSPX horse-trading will not necessarily bring about unqualified spiritual good for all well-meaning people on the church floor.

    • Many of us are used to perceiving Protestantism as something beneath all dignity, iconoclastic, a force for reducing the Christian Gospel to very little more than a kind of “western Islam”. I suppose that many Protestants are like that, especially the Fundamentalists.

      There is also a high-church movement, or has been, in most reformed traditions like the Nordic Lutherans, Anglicans and even – surprisingly – among some of the Swiss Calvinists. Wesleyan Methodism is not very liturgical, but its theology and poetic expression in its hymns is very high-church.

      I define high-church not in terms of liturgy and other externals, but a conception of faith as something coming from God to man rather than what man “allows” for God. I have already written articles on high-church Lutheranism, and we do need to think about our own religious identity.

      Roman Catholic apologists since the Counter-Reformation times consider Protestantism as a diseased form of religion, a heresy, to be eradicated. I see it as a legitimate cry for religious freedom and human dignity in the context of the Renaissance, a reaction against the great Moloch. Like all human reactions, some of the Reformers were excessive. Many were iconoclasts or wanted a kind of “western Islam”. Others wanted to keep the essentials of Catholicism without the tyranny of the Pope, the bishops, the religious orders, lords and princes.

      Like beauty, Protestantism is in the eye of the beholder. It all depends what that word means.

      • edmond says:

        The problem is when everyone is using a different definition of “protestant” in the same setting. I’ve seen RCs, including converts, use it to mean a bad guy, an apostate/heretic. Hence the National Review’s one joke that pro-choice Catholics should go off and fight gambling because they are now Protestants. And if you define it by the 16th century disputes you either take sides in disputes amongst the reformers or you end up with a term that includes everyone from high church Swedes to the Scottish minister who said that tsunami was a punishment for pleasure seeking on the sabbath. If the latter, a sort of useless term. Most do the former and side with the calvinist type who claim they are more purely Protestant than the others. My relatives held a common view. It had to do with your definition and idea of worship. If your eucharistic liturgy is the heart if your Sunday worship your Catholic. If preaching is, your Protestant. From that perspective some of the continental Lutherans are Catholic of a non-Roman variety. Unfortunately, that leaves plenty of Catholic calvinists-people who combine the worst of pre-Vatican II liturgy with christian taliban morality in the Catholic category. Still it does leave a clear definition and not one on personal likes/dislikes as I just demonstrated. It needs to be objective and understandable.

      • The problem is that we could shuffle words around until kingdom come and get nowhere.

        One notion I can offer is that no one claims a monopoly of the term Protestant. But Roman Catholics claim the exclusive use of Catholic. Then Catholics who are not Roman Catholic are accused of being frauds.

      • Stephen K says:

        Yes, Father, I think you’re right. The term “protestant” can signify something very important and necessary, for it suggests and implies something essentially human at its best, the refusal to accept tyranny – of whatever kind – supinely. The protesting spirit sees people rise up against oppression in all its forms, and it is arguable that the first Christian martyrs were protestants in the true and best sense.

        I think one possible solution to the conceptual conundrum is perhaps, upon recognising that we have all failed, to some degree (or are all identified in one way or another with a failure) to exemplify or live in the spirit of universalism that at its heart and best the term “Catholicism” embraces, we ought to deny anyone the term and identity “Catholic”. Like the notion of the perfect communist state being attained through a dialectic of the destruction of capitalism and the class system, it is a quality or state to be aimed for that can only be attained through the purgation of idolatrous forms. One way to begin this, which would mitigate some of the spiritual tangles that cause many people much distress and anxiety, would be to revert to calling the RC church as simply the ‘Roman church’, a much more accurate description. We may have to do the same for the Eastern churches, and eschew the label ‘Orthodox’ in discourse about them. If the Gospel is to be believed, there is but one Christ.

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