Pope Francis and the SSPX: An Opportunity


I came across this blog post from the NC Register on the possibility of Pope Francis normalizing the standing of the SSPX. What do you think, is there any chance of this happening?

Pope Francis and the SSPX: An Opportunity

"By now, many of you have probably seen the Tony Palmer video last week that was so exciting to many. At a Protestant conference, Tony Palmer, an Anglican priest, brought along an iPhone video of greeting from Pope Francis. The subject of the presentation and of the Pope’s recording was unity of Christians.

In his remarks, Pope Francis made the following statements to our separated brethren regarding the separation: “Separated because, it’s sin that has separated us, all our sins. The misunderstandings throughout history. It has been a long road of sins that we all shared in. Who is to blame? We all share the blame. We have all sinned. There is only one blameless, the Lord.”

It is certainly true. Regardless of the truth of Catholic doctrine, the Church has accepted its share of the blame for the misunderstanding that were allowed to deepen and harden, leading to centuries of separation.

When I heard this, something else written by Pope Francis’ predecessor came immediately to mind. In 2007, along with the issuance of the “motu proprio” Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter explaining his reasoning. In that letter, he made the following statement.
Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.
It strikes me that this may be one of those critical moments in history to which His Holiness refers.

With the breakdown of discussion between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X at the end of the previous pontificate, the public mood during this first year of the current pontificate, and other internal events, traditional Catholics, both inside and outside the Church, have felt increasingly marginalized. Whether fair or true, I say without fear of contradiction that this is a prevailing sentiment.

This perception of marginalization has manifested itself in increasingly strident and frankly disrespectful rhetoric on the part of some traditionalists and their leaders.

I have great concern that without the all the generosity that faith allows by the leaders of the Church, that this separation, this wound on the Church, will become permanent. In fact, without such generosity, I fully expect it. Such permanent separation and feeling of marginalization will likely separate more souls than just those currently associated with the SSPX.

I have also come to believe that Pope Francis’ is exactly the right Pope to do it. In his address to the evangelicals, he makes clear his real concern for unity.

So here is what I am asking. I ask the Pope to apply that wide generosity to the SSPX and to normalize relations and their standing within the Church. I am asking the Pope to do this even without the total agreement on the Second Vatican Council. Whatever their disagreements, surely this can be worked out over time with the SSPX firmly implanted in the Church. I think that the Church needs to be more generous toward unity than to insist upon dogmatic adherence to the interpretation of a non-dogmatic council. The issues are real, but they must be worked out with our brothers at home and not with a locked door.

Further, Pope Francis’ commitment to the aims of the Second Vatican Council is unquestioned. Were he to be generous in such a way, nobody would ever interpret it to be a rejection of the Council. How could it be? This perception may not have been the case in the last pontificate. Pope Francis is uniquely suited to this magnanimous moment.

I believe this generosity is warranted and standard practice in the Church. We do not insist on religious orders that may have strayed even further in the other direction sign a copy of Pascendi Dominici Gregis before they can be called Catholic again. So please let us not insist on the corollary for the SSPX. Must we insist on more for a group that doctrinally would not have raised an eyebrow a mere fifty years ago? I pray not.

Give them canonical status and organizational structure that will protect them. Bring them home, for their sake and the sake of countless other souls. I truly believe that such generosity will be repaid seven-fold. Pope Benedict has done so much of the heavy lifting already, all that is required is just a little more.

Please Holy Father, let us not let this moment pass and this rift grow into a chasm. Make this generous offer and save the Church from further division. Do this so that none of your successors will ever say, “If only we had done more.”

It won’t happen.

Especially not under Francis.

There are still unresolved issues.

That being said, I think Rome cares about how the world thinks about them than they do about the SSPX.

For example, It’s a lot of political correctness for the officials in Rome to adhere to.

If the SSPX become fully regularized, expect people like Abe Foxman and ecumaniacs to call out on Francis.

And this attitude is precisely why many Catholics of good will don’t want to touch the SSPX, its works, or its empty promises with a ten-foot pole.

Seriously. With supporters like this, who needs enemies? :mad:

A insulting, disrespectful post that will not help anyone.

You sure DO believe in miracles, specially of unity. As well in reconciliation and forgiveness, Oh wait…

You seem to forget the time when Summorum Pontificum came out, the Anti-Defamation League, of which Foxman is in charge off, and the American Jewish Committee bashed the release of the document.

Luca Brandolini, a disciple of Bugnini, said he “cried” when the document came out and said that “it was a sad day for those who worked on the Second Vatican Council”

Now, tell me…

Who’s the real “enemy” here? :cool:

I never did say I don’t believe in miracles. :stuck_out_tongue:

By the way,

Hei, mitä kuuluu? :slight_smile:

That doesn’t give us a license to reciprocate, or to make unfounded accusations. Benedict XVI didn’t react the way you are doing. Besides, they were probably responding to the oft-debated “perfidious Jews” prayers, which is a case of getting Lost in Translation.

As for the attitude we ought to have when defending the Church’s teaching: see Colossians 4:6, and these words from our first Pope:

[quote=1 Peter 3: 15-16]But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.
But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

Moreover, given the SSPX’s recent actions at the Kristallnacht memorial service - and their defamation of the Pope as a “Modernist” - they have no right to claim any sort of moral high ground. (You might also want to Google “The Flying Squirrel” for evidence of the sort of nuttiness - pun unintended - that is coming out of the SSPX in our part of the world.)

Luca Brandolini, a disciple of Bugnini, said he “cried” when the document came out and said that “it was a sad day for those who worked on the Second Vatican Council”

That’s the isolated opinion of one man. Brandolini isn’t speaking for the Church or the Pope.

Now, tell me…

Who’s the real “enemy” here? :cool:

Perhaps the one who insists that being a good Catholic means getting one’s digs in at the Jews whenever the opportunity arises.

Excuse me?

Are you insinuating that I get high off “digging” at the Jews?

If so, then you are wrong. Nowhere am I endorsing Anti-Semitism or any kind of negative behavior towards the Jewish people.

I only use the example of Foxman because he seems to believe that to be a Traditional Catholic means to hate Jewish people. Which of course is not true.

Disagree with my assessment of the relationship between Rome and the SSPX, if you want.

But don’t you DARE assume that I “enjoy” bashing the Jewish community.

Your post is written in a good spirit, and has several insights I agree with.

The passage quoted seems to me to highlight the problem though. SSPX will never be “firmly implanted in the Church” while they insist that other Catholics are in error. Even if they (SSPX) were to be implanted in the Church structurally and legally, they would be outside it in spirit, by distancing themselves from the majority of laity and clergy - ie. those who fully accept Vatican II and the Novus Ordo. Their resistance will have simply shifted from outside the Church to inside it.

Still, thanks for posting, and best wishes with your intentions.

Lets stay on topic guys :wink:

Redcaves gave his/her answer, RPRPsych, Cartesian, severus68, do any of you think there’s a chance of Francis normalizing the status of the SSPX?

I still think it could happen, yes. All things are possible with God. :slight_smile:

As far as probability is concerned: it’s certainly more probable than, say, Obama attending an altar call and resigning the presidency (:D), but it’s certainly less probable than, say, Pope Francis writing an encyclical letter about Catholic families. (:thumbsup:)

To my mind, they had a golden opportunity when Pope Benedict XVI offered them the olive branch. It was an offer they shouldn’t have refused. One can do more good working in the Church than outside it.

Unfortunately, they chose to refuse. We’ll never know the exact reasons, but given later events, I suspect internal politics may have been the issue.

It can still happen under Pope Francis, but if it didn’t with Pope Benedict, the odds become that much lower. Still not zero, though. :slight_smile:


As Bob Marley would say, “Whom the cap fits…let him wear it.”

Or the book of Proverbs - “…where no man pursueth.”

I was making an observation about why some of us are wary of embracing the SSPX - the Kristallnacht abomination, Jewish conspiracy theories, and the like.

The fact is that the Pope and the Church do not answer to the ADL. Neither do they answer to “liberal Catholics”. To assume that they make their decisions based on “political correctness” is a grave and unfounded accusation.

If the Church worked on “political correctness”, why does Francis condemn progressives for abortion in Evangelii Gaudium? Why did Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI condemn the culture of death time after time? Why did Pope Paul VI issue Humanae Vitae?

If so, then you are wrong. Nowhere am I endorsing Anti-Semitism or any kind of negative behavior towards the Jewish people.

Well, that’s good news. :rolleyes:

I only use the example of Foxman because he seems to believe that to be a Traditional Catholic means to hate Jewish people. Which of course is not true.

You brought up Foxman, conflated him with “ecumaniacals” (a very charitable usage, I’m sure), and insinuated that the Church was holding off on reunion with the SSPX because of them.

But don’t you DARE assume that I “enjoy” bashing the Jewish community.

My post was directed at those responsible for the Kristallnacht abomination, not you. If you choose to apply it for yourself, well, the psychologists have a word for it, but I’ll refrain. You introduced the Jewish question into this discussion, when it was a tangential issue at best. Let him who has ears listen.

Whoa! So after I posted this, Rorate Caeli made a post praising it:


Then NC Register pulled the article.

Then Rorate Caeli posted their displeasure at NC Register pulling the article.

And now the article is available on Pat Archbold’s blog here:



Yet another example, IMO, of how we were much better of when every Blog, Dick and Harry didn’t weigh in with his two denarii on Church affairs. Seriously. There are good and wise men working on such things. :slight_smile:

As for the NC Register being “intolerant” (pace, Rorate), I find them a very good news source. Wish they’d drop Mark Shea though. :stuck_out_tongue:

I just came on CAF to see if anyone had followed this ongoing situation…I must say I am quite perplexed by what transpired at the Register.

God bless,

It is quite possible that the SSPX could be regularized at any time. This has been true for many years. Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict made this one of his life’s objectives. It would require only that the SSPX bishops and priests subject themselves to the lawful authority of the Church.

Aye, there’s the rub. :thumbsup:

As far as I am concerned, the Holy See has done as much as possible to regularize the SSPX and reconcile them to the Church. The SSPX has responded with disobedience, arrogance, and increasingly erratic behavior.

Far from being reconciled, I believe the SSPX leaders statements about Pope Francis recently constitute the nail in the coffin in this regard.

I pray that they return to the unity of faith and submission to the roman pontiff. But quite honestly, I doubt it will happen under Pope Francis, and quite possibly never will at all. I certainly won’t be holding my breath.

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