By Louie Verrecchio
*April 11, 2012 *
See the FULL article at renewamerica.com/columns/verrecchio/120411
The doctrinal discussions between the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the Holy See — which commenced in 2009 to study such matters as the concept of Tradition, the interpretation of Vatican II and the Council's treatment of religious freedom — have arrived at what both parties agree is a critical juncture.
On March 16th, the Vatican Press Office issued a communique stating, "The response of the Society of St. Pius X to the aforesaid Doctrinal Preamble [up to this point]... is not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems which lie at the foundation of the rift between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X. [Yet] moved by concern to avoid an ecclesial rupture of painful and incalculable consequences, the Superior General of the Society was invited to clarify his position in order to be able to heal the existing rift, as is the desire of Pope Benedict XVI."
Recent signs may very well be pointing to an imminent family reunion of no less moment than the one described in the parable of the Prodigal Son. In any event, there are a number of reasons for optimism. Fr. Franz Schmidberger, District Superior of the German District of the SSPX penned a statement to be read in the Society chapels under his care on Sunday, March 25th, which stated in part: We have thus arrived at a crucial point. Even if the letter [of the Preamble] strikes an unpleasant sound, there are legitimate hopes for a satisfactory solution. If this solution would be reached it would considerably strengthen all the orthodox forces in the Church..
It appears to me that the Society is preparing its faithful for reconciliation under terms that may be less than perfect, but that nonetheless represent a pathway to healing for the Church as a whole. Please note: While one may be tempted to believe that the Society alone is doing all of the clarifying, rewording and conceding in this process, one of the benefits of having kept the Preamble's text secret is that it has afforded the Holy See an opportunity to contribute in like manner without any concern for the perceptions of others.
No, the pope doesn't need anyone to have his back in order to so rule, but for whatever reason it is clear that the Holy Father has exercised much restraint over the years. Could it be that (please, God!) he is preparing to take the gloves off?
As the effects of old age are increasingly making themselves known to Pope Benedict, so too are the evil intentions of his enemies who grow bolder by the day. Maybe the pope has decided that now is the time to engage Satan's minions full force with a bold program of restoration; one that will lead to the smaller more faithful Church he once envisioned.
My suspicions were only strengthened when Pope Benedict chose the occasion of his Chrism Mass homily to chastise a group of dissenting clerics purportedly consisting of over 300 Austrian priests who, among other things, are calling for female ordination and an end to priestly celibacy.
One should take note that the Holy Father did not say that "drastic measures" are not needed in order to overcome the present condition of the Church; rather, he pointed to zeal for the doctrine of the Faith as proposed by the teaching office of the Church as the real keys to renewal. In other words, one might reasonably believe that the Holy Father is telling us to prepare for the drastic measures that are in fact coming.
It may just be hopefulness on my part, but on Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict may have hinted at what the aforementioned program of restoration might include when he spoke so eloquently about the importance of kneeling.
"When menaced by the power of evil, as [Christians] kneel, they are upright before the world, while as sons and daughters, they kneel before the Father. Before God's glory we Christians kneel and acknowledge his divinity; by that posture we also express our confidence that he will prevail," he said invoking an imagery of battle.
Could it be that the Holy Father is signaling a universal mandate requiring the reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, something the SSPX and many others in the Church would surely welcome?
If this were not intriguing enough to the traditional mind, the pope's Easter Vigil homily offered more images of warfare as he stressed the tremendous value of knowing the doctrine of the faith.
"Light makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible. And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible. Evil hides. Light, then, is also an expression of the good that both is and creates brightness," the Holy Father continued. "It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act. To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love."
In juxtaposing knowledge, goodness and light with ignorance, evil and darkness, is it possible that the Holy Father is hinting at the dawn of a new day in the Church wherein heresy will once again be slayed as heretics are condemned and called to account with real consequences for sowing their evil seeds?
There is much we still don't know in this situation (not the least of which is the content of the Preamble), but of two things we can be absolutely certain: if and when the SSPX is regularized and the ministry of their priests and bishops is made licit, it will be a great blessing for the entire Church, and secondly, Her enemies will make themselves known with unbridled ferocity.
© Louie Verrecchio