Traditional Anglo-Papist

01 August 2006

Some random thoughts on the Church and SSPX

I often read and ponder the items that are periodically published by the Society of Saint Pius X. Let me preface the random thoughts below by saying that I have the greatest of sympathy for the Society’s fight for a place for the traditional rite within the western Latin Church but I instinctively feel they are heading in the wrong direction.

After the recent Chapter, SSPX issued a Declaration from the General Chapter on its relationship with the Holy See. In this Declaration are these words from Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre:
We adhere with all our heart and all our soul to Catholic Rome, guardian of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary for the maintaining of that Faith, to eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and of truth. On the contrary, we refuse, and we have always refused, to follow the Rome of neo-modernist and neo-protestant tendencies, which showed itself clearly in the Second Vatican Council and in the reforms that issued from it.

At first these words struck me as powerful words that call for action! I am not a great fan of the reforms that issued from Vatican II, especially in the area of liturgy. However I do belief that God has worked through Vatican II. On further reflection I wonder if these words do not, in some way, deny the living reality of the Church. Does the Holy Spirit guard the deposit of faith and guide the magisterium of the Church?

A quote from Adrian Fortescue, The Early Papacy, came to mind:
The position is this: There are two kinds of proof for any dogma. The main proof, the most efficient in every way, the proof which is the real motive for every Catholic, is simply that this dogma is taught now by the Church of Christ, that Christ has given to his Church his own authority, so that we can trust the Church as we trust Christ himself.

The issue is quite simple whether Christ today speaks with a living voice to the people whom he has gathered into his Body. I think that the problem lies not with Vatican II but with the reforms that issued from it. We need to be aware that the problems on the left are mirrored on the right. The call to replace the voice of the Spirit with the social norms of the 21st century is mirrored in the endeavour to place empty traditionalism at the heart of the Church. At no cost should we, in our haste to reclaim the living tradition of western Catholicism, forget that the Church that is founded by Our Lord is a living reality today: a Body with a living voice that requires of me absolute obedience.

Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis.


  • Good points, Father, and I think I largely agree but 'it's not the council; it's the implementation' or 'the problem is V2 hasn't really been implemented yet' are what conservative Novus Ordo folk say. How can we better distinguish the traditional Anglo-Papalist position from both the SSPX's and theirs?

    By Blogger The young fogey, at Wednesday, August 02, 2006 1:34:00 AM  

  • The Society is creeping toward sedevacantism, little by little. The good news is that, if the Holy See acts to make a place for the traditionalists, they are likely to pick up many of the Society's adherents.

    And I agree that the Society tends to reject the living Church and the magisterium. I accept what the Second Vatican Council taught, even if I do believe that its implementation was bollixed almost beyond belief.

    By Blogger Paul Goings, at Wednesday, August 02, 2006 11:43:00 AM  

  • Having now seen the first comment, I would argue that what separates the Society (in its better moments) and Anglo-Papalists from the Neo-Cons, is that the latter are generally prepared to accept most of fruits of the Council, even if they would argue for a more aesthetically pleasing version of them.

    By Blogger Paul Goings, at Wednesday, August 02, 2006 11:46:00 AM  

  • I can agree with both of Paul's comments even though 1) just about everything good in V2 already has been said in older church documents, 2) the few real changes, nothing to do with doctrine, could have been done less disruptively with a few papal documents, doing no damage (meaning: I accept religious liberty and ecumenism rightly understood, which the SSPX rejects) and 3) the deliberate ambiguity (reminiscent of Anglicanism) of some of the council documents such as on the liturgy (V2's MO: falsely praise a practice, then undermine it a few passages down by making it optional) made it prudentially a mistake.

    By Blogger The young fogey, at Thursday, August 03, 2006 12:26:00 AM  

  • I agree with all three points, especially the third. Bl. John, IMO, was correct in thinking that the Church needed to strategize about how the issues of the twentieth century and beyond should be addressed. However, almost everything that could have gone wrong with his Council, did. The Holy Father's health began to decline, and this made it possible for the pereti (many of whom were dissidents) to hijack the Council. First, the schemas which had been drawn up by the bishops were discarded; then the debates were highly stage-managed; and finally, the documents produced by the council were presented as a fait-accompli to the bishops, who felt pressured into voting for them. (The bishops, as has been well-documented, went home from the Council expecting something rather like the English Missal, and they were most of them shocked by what they received in 1969!)

    However, let us not think that there was anything particularly unique about this disaster. The Church has survived bad prudential judgements in the past, and she will survive this one. For a time things will look very unsettled, and some of us might not be formally reconciled with the Holy See in this life. Still, there is no cause for despair. The Holy Father spoke correctly at his coronation: "The Church is alive! The Church is young!"

    By Blogger Paul Goings, at Thursday, August 03, 2006 2:16:00 AM  

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