SSPX Says Negotiations with Vatican at End

Oh brother.  Hard not to bite your tongue when reading this.  Apparently, Vatican II is important at the Vatican. 

Traditionalist bishop cites lack of progress in talks with Vatican

By John Thavis Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The head of a group of traditionalist Catholics said reconciliation talks with the Vatican would soon be coming to an end, with little change in the views of either side. In addition to disputes over the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council, new problems have been created by plans for the beatification of Pope John Paul II and for an interreligious prayer meeting in Assisi, Italy, Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, said in an interview published Feb. 21 on the society's website.

The talks were launched in late 2009 in an effort by Pope Benedict XVI to repair a 21-year break with the society. The pope said that full communion for the group's members would depend on "true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council."

But Bishop Fellay said his society went into the talks with a different purpose: to show the contradictions between the church's traditional teachings and its practices since Vatican II. That is "the only goal that we are pursuing," he said, and the dialogue with the Vatican is not a search for compromise but "a question of faith."  "Is Vatican II really a stumbling block? For us, no doubt whatsoever, yes!" he said. "Until now Vatican II was always considered as a taboo, which makes the cure of this sickness, which is the crisis in the church, almost impossible."

Bishop Fellay said the society has presented its doctrinal arguments in writing to the Vatican, followed up by theological discussion. "It is really a matter of making the Catholic faith understood in Rome," he said. Asked whether the Vatican participants in the talks have changed their thinking in light of the talks, Bishop Fellay answered: "I don't think that you can say that." He added that recent events at the Vatican have, in fact, dispelled any "illusions" of progress. "I am thinking about the announcement of the beatification of John Paul II or the announcement of a new Assisi event along the lines of the interreligious gatherings in 1986 and 2002," he said.

Bishop Fellay said the scheduled beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1 poses "a serious problem, the problem of a pontificate that caused things to proceed by leaps and bounds in the wrong direction, along 'progressive' lines, toward everything that they call 'the spirit of Vatican II.'" He said it was a "mystery" to him how Pope Benedict could convene another interreligious gathering next October in Assisi. The society was highly critical of the first such encounter 25 years ago. "To ask people to perform religious acts during that gathering is absurd, because there is a radical lack of understanding among the various religions," Bishop Fellay said.

He said Pope Benedict seems to understand that it is "impossible" for followers of diverse religions to pray together, but he added: "I find that he splits hairs. He tries to justify Assisi." Bishop Fellay said the pope may be acting under pressure, or because he is alarmed at recent anti-Christian violence. Asked what Catholics should do regarding the pope's announcement of the Assisi meeting, he said: "Pray that the good Lord intervenes in one way or another so that it doesn't take place, and in any case start making reparation now!"

Bishop Fellay praised Pope Benedict for his 2007 document that eased restrictions on use of the 1962 Roman Missal, the so-called Tridentine rite, which governed the liturgy before 1970. But Bishop Fellay said that so far the move has had practically no effect on the church's liturgical life because of "massive opposition by the bishops."

Pope Benedict cleared the way for reconciliation talks with the Society of St. Pius X in early 2009 when he lifted the excommunications of four society bishops ordained against papal orders in 1988. The Vatican said the dialogue was designed to restore "full communion" with members of the society, which was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The Vatican said the talks were to focus on the concept of tradition, liturgical reform, interpretation of the Second Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal tradition, church unity, ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bill Mazzella
7 years ago

The issue of the SSPX involves concepts that both liberals and conservatives oppose in that group. The SSPX hatred of the Jews and its inflexibility with the liturgy is outside both mainstreams. To attempt to juxtapose those who criticize Rome with the SSPX is stirring fires where they need not be set aflame. Paul corrected Peter but he worked with them. Ecclesia semper reformanda. The church must always reform itself. We have to work out our salvation toghether with fear and trembling. We must guard against irresponsible authority as well as outright rebellion.  
7 years ago
No Bill,

The issue as the Pope says is:  'true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council.'

Yes Maria, humility and obedience is a challenge but the reward is great!
7 years ago
It is indeed sad that the SSPX and the Vatican will no longer be in dialogue.  The alienation (self-generated or not) of the SSPX deprives the Catholic Church of a component of a far-right wing that potentially could move right-of-center Catholics closer to the center. On the other hand, the breakdown of dialogue may be helpful to right-wing Catholics to show how rejection of Vatican II can end in being outside the Church. Historically, ultra-right wing parties have lost their places in the Church from the Ebionites to the present day.

In any case, the alienation of the SSPX does nothing for Christian unity and the lack of unity among Christians is scandalous to those outside and inside the Church.

7 years ago
What hubris - the socieity's purpose " show the contradeictions between the church's traditional teachings and its praciticees since VII"  and the scheduled beatification of Pope JPII
"poses a serious problem of a pontifiicate...."  et.seq.

Has the society not placed itself ouside of the teachings of the Magisterium"  and, if so has in
effect excommunicated itself? 

Frank R. Siroky
p.s. Fr Jim,  do not ever consider "biting your tongue" as I did once while playing football, and many years later those 3 stitches to mend it are still one of my most painful memories

Jim McCrea
7 years ago
As my sainted grandmother used to say:  Good riddance to bad rubbish.  Don't let the sacristy door hit you in the butt when you leave for good, Felay et al.

SSPX reminds me of so many ex-Catholics who just can't let go.  Have the strength of your convictions, dust your feet off, and don't darken our doors again, please!
7 years ago
Pesky Papal primacy. Sufficiently brief ?
7 years ago
Good riddance. I hope we re-impose the excommunication.
7 years ago
This comment is key:  The pope said that full communion for the group's members would depend on ''true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council.''

The SSPX has issues with the aurthority of the Pope and Magisterium just like many of the readers (and dare I say editors) of this website.  Fortunately the Pope and the Magisterium won't cave to the SSPX or you know who.

7 years ago
I know I should exercise prudence and work toward reticence, but Joe , you are cool water in these parts. Can't help myself. Like I keep saying, humility and  obedience. We just can't get around 'em. We meet the demand for both, everywhere we go.
Stephen SCHEWE
7 years ago
Yes Bill,

Surely you knew that obedience is the highest value for real Catholics?  The SSPX and those damn liberals may sit on opposite sides of the room, but they use the same cafeteria!  ;-)
7 years ago

Obedience to Jesus Christ (his head and body) is certainly the highest value for ''real'' Catholics.  The SSPX fail to understand this and thus remain separated from the body.  That is very sad and they are in my prayers.
Bill Mazzella
7 years ago
Ok. Let's take your obedience to the facts. 

1. You would agree with the magisterium on the inquisition.
2. On the crusades.
3. On mollifiying Hitler. Certainly keeping quiet about him. Especially the German bishops.
4. On no salvation outside the church. Augustine had the Donatists killed who did not enter.
5. On using the government to persecute and kill other Christians.
6. On destroying local customs and preventing Chinese and Japanese from entering the faith. The rites controversy.
7. On making celibacy mandatory to protect church property.
8. On not recognizing the call from married men and women to preside over the liturgy.
9. The magisterium apologized to Christians that they had put to death. Do you say it was ok for the magisterium to do it because it is the authority. So authority is more important than Jesus who commanded us to love our enemies. Forget about killing fellow Christians. 
10. Relate to the example of Paul which I gave you. Not repeat platitudes. 
11. Rome had absolutely nothing to do with Nicea as well as other Councils.

I am sure I missed a few. Please relate to specific points with facts not generalizations.
Stephen SCHEWE
7 years ago
Where's Abe Rosensweig when we really need him?
Michael Cremin
7 years ago
I'm no expert on theology, but aren't Christians who break away from Rome called Protestants? Just wondering.
7 years ago

Sounds like you have a problem with Catholicism.  You are in my prayers.  I hope you find the Way, the Truth and the Life.

7 years ago
Oh dear!  What do we (all Cstholics) do now? 
But if we are indeed members of the Mystical Body of Jesus
Christ then we too should experience His suffering at
His crucifixion.   I suppose all the problems we have in
the Catholic Church today can be called "crucifixion".  And we are
all affected.  However, let's not forget the Resurrection.  Come Holy
Spirit help us keep our faith and hope in Almighty God that our present
cross will pass.  And it will. 
Craig McKee
7 years ago
These recent pronouncements by Monsieur Fellay on the SSPX website are merely a save face tactic in light of the fact that even he now realizes there will be no further efforts made by Rome to deal with his group. The Vatican's grave error was originally made by attempting to enlist this schismatic group's aid in its own restorationist agenda and ''reform of the reform.'' What the ''higher-archs'' are continuing to discover is that the philosophical and ethical differences lurking behind the Tridentine liturgical trappings of the SSPX are simply too virulent for any further hope of rapprochement and full reconciliation.
In France, for example, the religio-political equation has always been: INTEGRISTE = MONARCHISTE = LE PENNISTE! One need look no further than Cardinal Ratzinger's public announcement and endorsement of the so-called ''New Liturgical Movement'' at the Journees Liturgiques de FONTGOMBAULT in 2001. Prior to this event, the OSB Abbey of Fontgombault had already acquired a reputation for pre-Vatican II reactionary liturgies, as well as a certain notoriety in the French media for harboring convicted Nazi collaborator and war criminal, Paul Touvier. One hesitates to speculate on the actual reasons behind Cardinal Ratzinger's choice of such a venue to throw down his liturgical gauntlet...
Bill Mazzella
7 years ago

I understand. When you will not relate to the facts, utter banalities and platitudes. 
7 years ago
Bill: The flaw with your argument is that you leave no room for the Holy Spirit. A wise person once told me that for reasons we do not understand the Church is made to look bad. Christ does not come down to "fix" the Church. She is righted through other means. It is not all up to us, Bill. The Holy Spirit does not forasake Her.
Bill Mazzella
7 years ago

I appreciate your comments. I grant that we are all sinners. You may be surprised to know that I believe in the Holy Spirit in the church. The Holy Spirit is with the people in the church. Wouldn't you say that we insult God's Spirit when we say that the Holy Spirit  guides leaders who do and say the most terrible things? The Spirit also operates in those who strive to make her better by  calling on the leaders to be more Christ-like. I firmly believe that we serve God better when we insist that the leaders lead by humility not domination. 

The second point is Jesus warned us against false prophets. Those false prophets have existed in the leadership of the church. They have persecuted the real prophets in many cases. That is the reason that John Paul II has apologized to those people in the church who were tortured and killed by the magisterium.

In all of his Epistles, Paul talks about building up the church and looking out for one another. We need much more of that. We also need to correct those who err so that the church can be built up.  
7 years ago

1. You would agree with the magisterium on the inquisition.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING THE INQUISITION.


3. On mollifiying Hitler. Certainly keeping quiet about him. Especially the German bishops.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING NAZIISM

4. On no salvation outside the church. Augustine had the Donatists killed who did not enter.    I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING SALVATION.

5. On using the government to persecute and kill other Christians.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING THE USE OF GOVERNMENT.

6. On destroying local customs and preventing Chinese and Japanese from entering the faith. The rites controversy.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING LOCAL CUSTUMS AND CONVERTS.

7. On making celibacy mandatory to protect church property.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING CELIBACY.

8. On not recognizing the call from married men and women to preside over the liturgy.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING MARRIAGE AND THE LITRUGY.

9. The magisterium apologized to Christians that they had put to death. Do you say it was ok for the magisterium to do it because it is the authority. So authority is more important than Jesus who commanded us to love our enemies. Forget about killing fellow Christians.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.

10. Relate to the example of Paul which I gave you. Not repeat platitudes. I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM CONCERNING PAUL.

11. Rome had absolutely nothing to do with Nicea as well as other Councils.  I AGREE WITH THE MAGISTERIUM'S TEACHING CONCERNING NICEA AND OTHER COUNCILS.
7 years ago

Wouldn't you say that we insult God's Spirit when we say that the Holy Spirit  guides leaders who do and say the most terrible things?

The Holy Spirit, cannot, by definition, misguide anyone. The Church is a very. very, human institution. While it is true that we can, and should, attempt to build up the Church and each other. we are also called upon to exercise humility and obedience, irrespective of what others may. or may not, do. The failings in Church leaders, if one perceives such, does not obviate the need for prayer. I pray for priests, for Bishops, for Pope Benedict, (I implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary on behalf of the Jesuits, lol) because they desperately need our prayers. I am sorry that you see the Church as an oppresor. Paul also reminds us that where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.

On a matter unrelated to the SSPX,  I was thinking today at Mass about the suffering the Church is experiencing as the result of the sexual abuse scandal. This suffering is something for which we should be grateful. It allows us the purification the Church needs to epiate the egregious sins committed. We are told to not only take up our Cross. We are told to embrace our Cross. Only in doing so can we make reparation for these sins and thereby gain forgiveness. The Church is in such a bad way for many reasons, not least of which is an inability to obey Church teaching. Not "thy will be done" but "my will be done"! Christ was obedient to death. Are we greater than the master?
Crystal Watson
7 years ago
Jesuit Tom Reese wrote an interesting past article that gives some background article  - ‘Archbishop Lefebvre: Moving Towards Schism?’, America, 4 June 1988  .....

"Marcel Lefebvre was raised in a conservative French family by an industrialist father who longed for the return of the monarchy. Both father and son believed all of France's problems (liberalism, modernism, socialism and Communism) originated in the French Revolution. In the Archbishop's mind, the council presided over the marriage of the church and the revolution. "The union of Church and Revolution is adulterous. And from such an adulterous union, nothing but bastards can come forth. And who or what are the bastards? Our rites. The rite of the Mass is a bastard rite!"

Archbishop Lefebvre is known most widely for his support of the Tridentine liturgy and his attacks on the liturgical changes initiated by Vatican II. But his complaints against Vatican II go far beyond liturgical reforms. He also rejects conciliar developments in collegiality, religious liberty and ecumenism. These are seen by him as corresponding to the Revolution's égalité, liberté and fraternité.

At the Vatican Council, he even refused to sign the final versions of "The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church," "The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World" and "The Declaration on Religious Liberty." In his view, "The council has allowed those professing errors and tendencies condemned by the believe in good faith that their teachings are now approved.""

7 years ago
One has to go back to the 14th C. and Catherine of Sienna to understand the animosity that the French have historically had toward Rome! LOL.
7 years ago
May I suggest that both Bill and Joe have a somewhat distorted understanding of "magisterium"?  First of all, the use of the word "magisterium" with respect to historical events (or interpretations of historical events) is a bit like using a paint gun on a penny.  "Magisterium" has a distinct theological understanding in the Church, and I don't think its being used in that proper sense when, for example, the statement is made "You would agree with the Magisterium on the Inquisition."  That sentence is literally meaningless if you understand the technical theological meaning of the word "magisterium".  Secondly, even in its properly understood meaning, individual Catholics owe varying levels of assent and, yes, obedience to the teachings of the Magisterium.  One has to examine, among other things, the source of teaching (papal, individual bishop, Vatican office, etc.) as well as the subject of the teaching in order to determine one's own response.  There is a long tradition in the Church (somewhat lost I fear in this age of global communication) of distinguishing between when the Pope speaks as Peter and when he speaks as an individual.  Thus, for example, the Pope telling a bunch of children "You should brush your teeth before you go to bed" has a different weight than a matter declare "ex cathedra".

Before we engage in these scorched earth debates, perhaps a more nuanced understanding of some things would help.

I applauded the Pope's (rather naive, in my opinion) effort to sway the SSPX back into communion; we know see their true colors and I pray the Pope takes his second black eye from these people (the first being the anti-Semite bishop) as a learning lesson.
7 years ago

I was being vague on purpose.  Certainly I trust the Pope and Magisterium when they speak about the morality of these issues and questions concerning faith about these issues.  As to the historical issues, I will leave that to Bill.
7 years ago

I have actually found the subject of the magisterium vs the pope speaking ex cathedra rather more complicated. In attempting to clarify these terms I did some reading. I don't know if others would find this useful, but I came a across an article by Thomas Storck entitled " What is the Magisterium"?, which I found most useful. I will cite a few excerpts:   

ex cathedra, that is, when acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church. 
the Latin word magisterium originally meant the duty or office of a teacher, tutor, master, etc. And in the case of the Church it means simply the teaching authority or office of the Church. The Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church, accomplished by the Holy Father and the bishops teaching in union with him. 
The solemn or extraordinary Magisterium-solemn definition, e.g., the Assumption. 
The ordinary and universal Magisterium. Ordinary" means that it is accomplished via the ordinary means of teaching that the Church uses, but "universal" means that it is taught by the entire body of bishops, and usually over a period of time. For generally when a doctrine has been taught as authoritative over time and by many popes and bishops, this indicates that it is a teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium and must be received and believed as faithfully as teaching that is solemnly defined by pope or council. [3] lumen gentium. E.,g., abortion. 
The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for" (CCC 2034).  
There is no right of dissent from Catholic doctrine, including the teaching of the ordinary Magisterium. [9]Apostolic Letter, Ad Tuendam Fidem, of Pope John Paul II (May 28, 1998) and the Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the 'Professio Fidei' issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (June 29, 1998).  
It is only because of the Magisterium, the teaching office and authority of the Church, that Catholics can know what they must believe and do, and thus live a life pleasing to Almighty God, in order to obtain eternal salvation.

Certainly more nuanced, as you suggest...

7 years ago
The best source for this is the book "Magisterium", by Francis Sullivan, sj.  He's a former professor at the Gregorian.  It should be required reading for all CAtholics.
7 years ago
Thank you so much, Jeff! I appreciate the reference. There is
so much to learn about the Faith...
Juan Lino
7 years ago
Jeff - I think that Cardinal Dulles' book -  Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith - is actually a better book and I have read both.
7 years ago
Thanks so much to Jeff, Juan and David! I fear that if I lived two lifetimes I would not be able to learn all there is to know about our great gift of Faith..And, I bet if we are all honest, we don't know one thimbleful of what we should know. Idea for the Editors: Why not select, each week, a tenent of the Faith, for exploration, so that we might learn from one another. What do others think?
Bill Mazzella
7 years ago

I do appreciate your efforts in relating to the questions I raise. You will grant that there is such a thing as false humility. Jesus did not blindly follow when the Scribes and Pharisees hypocritically paraded as virtuous people. They were the leaders of his day, cpmparable to the pope and bishops. You are right that it is a contradiction to say that the Holy Spirit misquides people. What I wrote is that too often people blame the Holy Spirit for thier own reprehensible actions.

Joe K,

It looks like you would rather revert to ridicule than dialogue. So much for communication.  
7 years ago

I don't mean to ridicule.  I do respect your protestant faith.


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