Russian Orthodoxy and the SSPX

Ross Douthat’s recent New York Times blog post on Pope Francis’s critics contained an unfortunate but all-too-common mischaracterization of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) as “schismatic.” Like many who suggest that charge, Douthat backed it up with neither an argument nor a citation to an official decree. Both Frs. John Zuhlsdorf and John Hunwicke—two canonically regular priests in good standing with the Catholic Church—have explained why the “schismatic” label is improper; so, too, has the Society. The thing is, if the SSPX were truly schismatic, Catholics like Douthat (and countless others) would likely have no problem with Rome playing nice, as evidenced by the adulation and cheers which accompanies the brief, insubstantial, and soon-forgotten meetings between a pope and hierarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Never mind of course that unlike the SSPX, the Orthodox do not accept concrete tenets of the Catholic Faith such as Papal Primacy and appear hostile (though not absolutely so) toward others (e.g., Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, and the Filioque). The Society’s “crimes,” according to its critics, are threefold: rejecting modern liturgical reform; criticizing Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty; and opposing ecumenism. But where does Eastern Orthodoxy come down on these three issues? A brief, but informative, glance at Orthodoxy’s largest canonical body, the Russian Orthodox Church, reveals no measurable deviation from the Society’s positions.

First, the Russian Orthodox Church is undoubtedly the most liturgically impressive Christian body on the planet. Despite some rumblings of change in the early 20th C., the Russian Church by and large rejects using the vernacular in the liturgy and strives for a “maximalist” approach to both the Divine Liturgy and the other hours of the daily office. Even if the Russian Orthodox come to adopt some modifications to their liturgical praxis, they will no doubt be minor and demonstrate nothing close to the radical deviations found throughout the post-Vatican II Roman Rite. Contemporary Catholics who trumpet the “virtues” of the Novus Ordo Missae would quickly find themselves being shown the door if they brought those views into Russian Orthodox circles—and rightly so. The late Patriarch of Moscow, Alexi II, openly praised Summorum Pontificum and the liberation of the Tridentine Mass. It is hard to imagine how the Russian Orthodox liturgical mindset, which is arguably even more conservative than the SSPX’s, could get a free pass from the Society’s critics, many of whom believe that the watering-down of the Roman Rite has been a positive development for the Catholic Church.

Second, as we have seen in post-Soviet Russia (and certainly in pre-Soviet Russia), the Russian Orthodox have little time for religious liberty. Although the Russian state officially tolerates non-Orthodox Christians and other religious minorities, Orthodoxy remains the openly favored confession—and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Moreover, the situation in Ukraine (specifically the Crimea) reveals that the Russian Orthodox Church is not above using military force to drive out other Christians groups such as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This attitude is consistent with historical Russian Orthodox praxis which, inter alia, included violently converting Greek Catholics to Orthodoxy, burning Old Believers alive for making the Sign of the Cross with two fingers, and driving Jews out of the country. Whatever one thinks of the SSPX’s criticisms of religious liberty, specifically the document Dignitatis Humanae, they pale in comparison to the living reality of Russian Orthodoxy on its native soil.

And last, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, the Russian Orthodox Church is rabidly anti-ecumenical. No pope has been allowed to visit Russia or meet with the Patriarch of Moscow, and Rome/Moscow relations have been at a standstill for some time. Some have gone so far as to charge the Russian Church with being disingenuous on ecumenical relations, claiming, on the one hand, that it wants to find practical ways to work with Rome while, on the other, looking for any excuse to halt participation in Catholic/Orthodox rapprochement efforts. As for non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians, the Russian Orthodox Church remains, at best, leery. There is not a single criticism of ecumenism the SSPX holds which, by their lights, the Russian Church could not accept and vice versa. If the Society is backwards, unenlightened, and outmoded in its views on other religions, so is the Russian Orthodox Church—so why does it get a free pass on this and the other aforementioned matters? Answering that question will have to wait for another day.

39 comments

  1. It’s not hard to see why. The SSPX is the largest and arguably the most consistent and cohesive manifestation of all that so many enthusiasts of the reforms of Pope Paul VI wanted to get rid of, and are in deadly fear of gaining traction; whereas the Russian Church represents nowhere near a similar threat.

    The SSPX represents a big “See, I told you so.”, something the Russians have much less claim to. Nobody likes to be told that.

      1. Blood feuds between brothers is much more devastating and intense than with a first cousin. The interesting comparison will be to see the degree to which the SSPX will (or will not), over time, be the equivalent in the Roman Catholic Church as the Old Believers were/are to the greater Russian Orthodox Church. I remember hearing back in the day not a few Roman Catholic clerics (more so than lay) seem mighty willing to light fire to SSPX types, or at least not put it out. Let us hope that we are well past that point, and that it won’t take 300 years or so for a much-needed and healthy rapprochement.

  2. You wrote: Ross Douthat’s recent New York Times blog post on Pope Francis’s critics contained an unfortunate but all-too-common mischaracterization of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) as “schismatic.” Like many who suggest that charge, Douthat backed it up with neither an argument nor a citation to an official decree.

    Unfortunately, “schismatic” is not a mischaracterization at all. Rather, the last two popes have so stated, explicitly, in official church documents.

    >> Pope John Paul II, in the motu proprio Ecclesiae dei promulgated on 02 July 1988 (emphasis in original):

    3. In itself, this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act….

    and again:

    5. Faced with the situation that has arisen I deem it my duty to inform all the Catholic faithful of some aspects which this sad event has highlighted….

    c) In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfil the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law.

    and again:

    6. Taking account of the importance and complexity of the problems referred to in this document, by virtue of my Apostolic Authority I decree the following:

    a) a Commission is instituted whose task it will be to collaborate with the bishops, with the Departments of the Roman Curia and with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Fraternity founded by Mons. Lefebvre, who may wish to remain united to the Successor Peter in the Catholic Church….

    It clearly would not have been necessary to form a commission “for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion” if that full ecclesial communion had not been breached.

    >> Pope Benedict XVI, in the motu proprio Ecclesiae unitatem promulgated on 02 July 2009:

    4. In the same spirit and with the same commitment to encouraging the resolution of all fractures and divisions in the Church and to healing a wound in the ecclesial fabric that was more and more painfully felt, I wished to remit the excommunication of the four Bishops illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. With this decision I intended to remove an impediment that might have jeopardized the opening of a door to dialogue and thereby to invite the Bishops and the “Society of St Pius X” to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church….

    Again, those who are already in full communion have no need “to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church.”

    When the pope says that a body is not in full communion with the church, any pretense that it is not in a state of schism is clearly false.

    Having said that, I agree with your analysis of the Russian Orthodox Church. The real question is whether the Russian Orthodox Church is still part of the Orthodox Communion or whether a state of schism exists there. The answer may come when there’s a reconciliation of the Orthodox Communion with the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is not part of it.

    Norm.

    1. Some make the point that the SSPX actually consists only of clerics. It is possible to say that the “schismatic act” referred to above was in reference only to those clerics involved in the ordinations. Lay people might “adhere” in some way, but do not actually belong to the SSPX; I think that is the basis of the argument that simple attendance at an SSPX chapel does not constitute schism on the part of the faithful.

      ps I disagree that the ROC is as opposed to ecumenism as the SSPX. The ROC has a long tradition of reception of Catholics and Protestants by Chrismation or even, in the case of priests, simple vesting, but not requiring baptism. The ecumenism they are opposed to today is the ecumenism that many Roman Catholics might be opposed to – some of the ‘liturgies’ of the WCC, for example.

      1. Richard,

        Your ecumenism point is a non-issue. The SSPX have never demonstrated any opposition to the normal Catholic procedure of receiving Orthodox into the Church, which is by way of a profession of faith. The Catholic Church has always recognized the validity of Chrismation (Confirmation), and so it does not re-confirm the Orthodox when they convert. Moreover, I have seen no evidence at all the Society rejects the traditional Catholic view that the Orthodox retain Apostolic succession, a valid priesthood, and valid sacraments. So, if anything, the SSPX has a much more “liberal” view than even the Russian Orthodox have with respect to receiving converts, clerical and lay, from Orthodoxy.

        As to your first paragraph, if the SSPX were actually in schism and a faithful Catholic attended their chapels regularly (even exclusively) and received the sacraments from them exclusively, then they, too, should be in schism (or joining the schism). If one followed your logic, then I should not have been considered in schism (or joining in schism) during the seven years I was attending Orthodox parishes and receiving Orthodox sacraments. I guess, according to you, I was still a Catholic; it was just the priests and bishops I happened to adhere to who were schismatics.

      2. Richardson,

        You wrote: Some make the point that the SSPX actually consists only of clerics. It is possible to say that the “schismatic act” referred to above was in reference only to those clerics involved in the ordinations. Lay people might “adhere” in some way, but do not actually belong to the SSPX; I think that is the basis of the argument that simple attendance at an SSPX chapel does not constitute schism on the part of the faithful.

        There’s no doubt that those who are formal members of an organization whose Superior General and bishops are in a state of schism are canonically adhering to the schism.

        You are correct in saying that laity are nor formal members of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and that merely attending mass at an SSPX chapel does not, by itself, constitute “adhering to” the schism — and furthermore, since the SSPX has valid orders and sacraments, a mass at an SSPX chapel does satisfy the canonical obligation to mass on Sundays and holy days. It is even permissible for members of the Catholic Church in good standing to request and receive the sacraments of reconciliation, communion, and anointing of the sick from ministers of the SSPX whenever access to a Catholic minister of the sacraments is physically or morally impossible. Unfortunately, the majority of persons baptized in the Catholic Church who habitually worship and receive the sacraments in the chapels of the SSPX do not meet this condition of lack of access to Catholic ministers and Catholic celebrations of the sacraments.

        That said, there are many laity who go far beyond this — laity who have turned exclusively to the clergy of the SSPX for ministry, and even for religious formation of their children and for celebration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and marriage. The plain truth is that those baptized and confirmed by the clergy of the SSPX were never members of the Catholic Church in the first place. Their state, with respect to the Catholic Church, is identical to that of persons baptized in any of the churches of the Orthodox Communion or in any of the ancient oriental churches, all of which have a valid apostolic succession and thus valid sacraments. Those baptized in the Catholic Church who have abandoned Catholic worship and sacraments in favor of those of the SSPX, however, clearly are adhering to the schism and thus have incurred the excommunication of which Pope John Paul II spoke in No. 5 of Ecclesiae dei, quoted in my previous comment.

        You wrote: The ecumenism they are opposed to today is the ecumenism that many Roman Catholics might be opposed to – some of the ‘liturgies’ of the WCC, for example.

        I’m not sure to which “liturgies” you are referring, but the Vatican is pretty rigorous in ensuring undisputable validity of all liturgical rites approved for use within the Catholic Church. Even the rites of Divine worship, adapted from Anglican liturgy for use by former Anglicans of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (United Kingdom), the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (United States and Canada), the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia), and the personal parishes erected under the so-called “pastoral provision” of 1980 here in the United States shows that there were some, ah, shall we say “adjustments” in the wording to ensure their sacramental validity. When the Vatican erects or authorizes similar personal parishes or ordinariates for various former Protestant groups that wish to preserve their own liturgical traditions and other aspects of their patrimony, you can be sure that their rites will receive similar adjustments to ensure sacramental validity.

        Norm.

    2. All of these block quotes have been addressed before. Feel free to go do your homework, and then we can talk.

      1. The block quotes successfully fooled this Boston-Welsh-Irish Orthodox, so it might be wise to post links, should you wish to widen your audience to anyone who is interested, rather than the small crew who have done their homework.

        1. I already posted one — in the actual post. The SSPX has dealt with this issue for years and I find their explanations satisfactory. The fact that the Vatican has never officially declared the SSPX schismatic, coupled with the fact that Vatican relations with the SSPX are handled through Ecclesia Dei (the office assigned for traditional Catholics) and the CDF (doctrine), and not the office charged with ecumenical relations is telling. Also, Ecclesia Dei has affirmed multiple times that a Catholic can fulfill their Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligations at an SSPX chapel. Roman Catholics are not extended that privilege for any schismatic group. Period. Moreover, in the last year, SSPX priests have been allowed to say Mass at the National Shrine in D.C. and — get this — St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. All three SSPX bishops, the alleged leaders of the “schism,” said Mass this year at Lourdes. Soooo….

          And, finally, if the SSPX was actually in schism, then every Catholic who attended services at their chapels and received their sacraments would be implicated in the schism. That is not the view of the Church — at all. When individual bishops have attempted to excommunicate Catholics for receiving sacraments from the SSPX, such as the infamous case in Hawaii some years back, Rome has overruled the excommunications.

          Nobody seriously treats the SSPX as “schismatic.” It is a charge that is childishly thrown around by those who are desperate not to see the Society back in canonical regularity with the Church or have it influencing any wing of the Church. Admittedly, Rome has not always been clear about how it views the Society, but there are a lot of politics involved. Thankfully, politics cannot override the law of the Church.

          1. Gabriel,

            You wrote: Nobody seriously treats the SSPX as “schismatic.”

            I’m glad to know that you regard Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis as “Nobody.” Since the Econe ordinations, no pope has treated the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) as Catholic.

            Norm.

      2. Gabriel,

        You wrote: All of these block quotes have been addressed before. Feel free to go do your homework, and then we can talk.

        The treatises from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on this subject are in the same category as the treatises from the Anglican Communion purporting to defend the validity of Anglican orders — and there have been many, with Anglican “scholars” and “canons” continuing to publish them even in the present day — in the wake of the apostolic constitution Apostolicae curae promulgated by Pope Leo XIII on 18 September 1896, the following paragraph of which leaves equally little doubt.

        36. Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.

        The plain reality here is that one cannot be more Catholic than the pope because being Catholic means being in full communion with the successor to the see of St. Peter. When the pope says, in an official document, that an organization is not in full communion with him (that is, is in schism), that statement settles the issue until he or his successor states otherwise.

        Norm.

    3. On the basis of what I read (see below *), – in the 10 March 2009 LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH CONCERNING THE REMISSION OF THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF THE FOUR BISHOPS CONSECRATED BY ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE, – it seems to me that there was (or is) a “danger of a schism” because of the SSPX episcopal ordinations in 1988. But because the “interested parties [in the SSPX] had [since] expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council”, the ecclesiastical penalty of excommunication was lifted, and doctrinal talks toward reconciliation initiated. Remember, Code of Canon Law “Can. 751 […] schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” I suppose there was sufficient ‘submission’, from Rome’s point of view.

      To me it appears the language re: schism, used by Pope John Paul II in 1988 “ECCLESIA DEI”, (for example: “In itself, this act [unlawful episcopal ordination] was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter […]. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act.”), was not used by Pope Benedict XVI.

      * “Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects individuals, not institutions. An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope. Consequently the Church must react by employing her most severe punishment – excommunication – with the aim of calling those thus punished to repent and to return to unity. Twenty years after the ordinations, this goal has sadly not yet been attained. The remission of the excommunication has the same aim as that of the punishment: namely, to invite the four Bishops once more to return. This gesture was possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council. Here I return to the distinction between individuals and institutions. The remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”

      http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/letters/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20090310_remissione-scomunica.html

      1. Paul,

        You wrote: To me it appears the language re: schism, used by Pope John Paul II in 1988 “ECCLESIA DEI”, (for example: “In itself, this act [unlawful episcopal ordination] was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter […]. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act.”), was not used by Pope Benedict XVI.

        Pope Benedict XVI neither refuted nor retracted his predecessor’s statement, which thus remains in force.

        You wrote: * “Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects individuals, not institutions.

        What you say about excommunication is true….

        You continued: An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope.

        … but this continuation is rather imprecise at best. Rather, an episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate constitutes a schism because the newly ordained bishops completely lack ecclesial communion (unity) with the Catholic College of Bishops and the pope. Further, in the statement that I quoted from Eccleisae unitatis in a previous comment (above), Pope Benedict XVI left no doubt as to the current status of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). The pope wrote that he “intended to remove an impediment that might have jeopardized the opening of a door to dialogue and thereby to invite the Bishops and the “Society of St Pius X” to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church….” Again, an entity that has is not in a state of schism cannot “rediscover the path to full communion with the Church” as the pope desired. The absence of the word “schism” might make this statement seem oblique, but the statement still leaves no other possibility.

        Norm.

        1. Norm

          There has been a misunderstanding on your part [###]: the text quoted following “You wrote: […]”, and “You continued: […]”, which you attributed to me, is NOT mine, but belongs to Pope Benedict XVI.

          Everything from ‘* “Another mistake, which I deeply regret […]” to “[…] do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”’ was written by Pope Benedict in the 10 March 2009 LETTER [please see the link I supplied].

          If the Vatican’s website translated the 2009 LETTER correctly, there was in my opinion no imprecision on the part of Pope Benedict.

          ==

          [###] <>

          1. [###]

            “You wrote: * “Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects individuals, not institutions.

            […]

            You continued: An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope. ”

            ===

        2. Norm

          You wrote:

          “… but this continuation is rather imprecise at best. Rather, an episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate constitutes a schism because the newly ordained bishops completely lack ecclesial communion (unity) with the Catholic College of Bishops and the pope.”

          My response: I am not an expert, but in my opinion it is not correct to say “an episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate constitutes a schism”. Excommunication and schism are not the same. “ECCLESIA DEI” made reference to the Code of Canon Law, can. 1382:

          “In performing such an act [unlawful episcopal ordination, disobedience], notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June last, Mons. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law.(4)”

          “(4) Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1382.”

          Which says:

          “Can. 1382 A bishop who consecrates some one a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.”

          http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P54.HTM

          Why is it so important, at this moment in history exactly, to bring up ‘schism’ again and again re: the SSPX – is this not mostly water under the bridge? I think Pope Benedict XVI wanted love and unity in truth. It is not too late. There was and is enough blame to go around. Do people want the SSPX to be in ‘schism’?! What would it prove exactly? Will all the problems and scandals in the Church go away?

          1. Paul,

            You wrote: My response: I am not an expert, but in my opinion it is not correct to say “an episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate constitutes a schism”. Excommunication and schism are not the same. “ECCLESIA DEI” made reference to the Code of Canon Law, can. 1382:

            “In performing such an act [unlawful episcopal ordination, disobedience], notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June last, Mons. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law.(4)”

            “(4) Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1382.”

            Which says:

            “Can. 1382 A bishop who consecrates some one a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.”

            That is correct, in so far as it goes.

            But look again at the second quotation from Ecclesiae dei (from No. 5) in my first comment, which concludes with the following sentence (boldface added): “Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law.” Most assuredly the pope would not have referred this explicitly to “the schism” if there were not already a schism to which one might adhere. Sadly, that schism endures.

            You asked: Why is it so important, at this moment in history exactly, to bring up ‘schism’ again and again re: the SSPX – is this not mostly water under the bridge?

            No, this is not “water under the bridge” because the schism persists. It will become “water under the bridge” when the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) returns to the full communion of the Catholic Church. The first step to healing a schism — for which I pray constantly — is to acknowledge it.

            You wrote: I think Pope Benedict XVI wanted love and unity in truth. It is not too late.

            Yes, and that is also what I would like to see. Unfortunately, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) persists in maintaining doctrinal positions that are contrary to the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium promulgated by the Second Vatican Council which, being a dogmatic constitution promulgated by an ecumenical council, is intrinsically infallible and thus undisputable. The “doctrinal preamble” that Pope Benedict XVI asked the SSPX to approve as a necessary condition for reconciliation contained the necessary correctives, but the SSPX rejected it. Until the SSPX abandons these heresies, the schism will endure.

            You asked: Do people want the SSPX to be in ‘schism’?! What would it prove exactly? Will all the problems and scandals in the Church go away?

            I don’t know anybody who wants the SSPX to be in schism.

            And no, all of the problems and scandals in the Church will not go away by the healing of one schism — but one scandal will go away, because every schism is a scandal.

            In a subsequent comment, you asked: Disobedience and schism are not the same. Are they?

            No, but disobedience can create schism in certain situations. Schism, stated simply, is an absence of full ecclesial communion between two ecclesial bodies.

            Norm.

  3. Interesting comments, insofar as they just about swam shore to shore on every administrative issue touching SSPX right up to yesterday and Williamson (very much part of the SSPX discussion, although he is expelled from the order), but what on earth was the point of the post? It’s like comparing men from two different epochs, two different professions, nations, beliefs, just to have two points of reference to lay down a few hundred words. SSPX’s doctrinal differences with Rome matter enormously, its differences from Russian Orthodoxy hardly at all in the present circumstances. Rome’s change in doctrine at the Council regarding the Catholic state, just to name one point of departure with SSPX and Catholic tradition, affect the very lives of every commenter, every reader–our incomes, our family lives, our freedom to worship the true God, abortion, homosexual marriage, these are all consequences (including the economic) of the denial of the role of the Church in civic society, what Vatican II amounted to. There is no sense here that the author understands what all the fuss is about.

    1. My point was simply to highlight the irony that many of the same Catholics who attack the SSPX for the three positions I noted here are favorable toward the Orthodox — a body that holds fast to the same points the Society is denigrated for.

      I think you’re swinging at air here.

      1. Are you the author of the post? I tried to find a name associated with the blog in About and Contact. Anyway, that was my point about the post–why compare these two bodies at all? It’s like comparing a car and an airplane, sort of! Swinging at air….

    2. thewhitelilyblog,

      You wrote: Interesting comments, insofar as they just about swam shore to shore on every administrative issue touching SSPX right up to yesterday and Williamson (very much part of the SSPX discussion, although he is expelled from the order), but what on earth was the point of the post?

      When the discussions between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) seemed to be showing signs of progress during the papacy of Benedict XVI, the Vatican indicated that the anticipated reconciliation would include Bishop Bernard Fellay but that it would deal separately with each of the other three bishops who were then part of the SSPX. At the time, the public disclosures stated that there was agreement on an ecclesial structure for the SSPX within the Catholic Church but that the reconciliation depended upon acceptance of a “doctrinal preamble” intended to resolve the doctrinal differences by the SSPX. Unfortunately, the SSPX rejected that doctrinal preamble so the doctrinal differences remain.

      Norm.

      1. It’s not quite as simple as that. The Doctrinal Preamble was modified during the course of the talks, and after being assured of its acceptance, Fellay was presented at the last moment with a version of the Preamble which had cut out his changes. Also, the last version of the Preamble Rome offered was even more stringent than the 1988 Protocol that had been presented to Lefebvre. Clearly there was an intent to sabotage the negotiations at the last minute. Regardless, the SSPX and Rome continue to remain in contact, only now in a more informal, casual, and — one might argue — friendly manner. Praise be.

        1. Gabriel,

          You wrote: Regardless, the SSPX and Rome continue to remain in contact, only now in a more informal, casual, and — one might argue — friendly manner.

          Yes, I’m well aware of these “less formal” discussions — and I do pray that they will lead to real progress. Of course, the outcome of informal discussions will need to be finalized and ratified through the official procedures of both parties before there can be reconciliation.

          Norm.

  4. And, like Russian Orthodoxy, the SSPX has absolutely no qualms about thuggery, anti-intellectualism, and treating its opponents with a toxic mix of paranoia and contempt, manifesting in alliances with the political far-right.

            1. I assume the takeover is supposed to be an example of “thuggery”?

              Should you help me out with an elaboration, Evagrius, I’d be happier and clearer about where you’re going.

    1. Are you seriously saying that these two groups have a monopoly on all that? I am reminded of Kay Adams in The Godfather telling Michael that elected officials would never have someone killed, as Michael’s father was obviously accused of.

Comments are closed.