On March 22, Francis sent a letter to the world’s bishops requesting their participation in this past Friday’s act of consecration. In the opening paragraph, he cited “the war in Ukraine” as providing the impetus for the act. In light of these circumstances, he said, “the Church is urgently called to intercede before the Prince of Peace.”
Now, pay close attention to the operative part:
I ask you to join in this Act by inviting the priests, religious and faithful to assemble in their churches and places of prayer on 25 March, so that God’s Holy People may raise a heartfelt and choral plea to Mary our Mother. I am sending you the text of the prayer of consecration, so that all of us can recite it throughout that day, in fraternal union.
While some commentators have zeroed in on the fact that this is a request as opposed to an order, I would suggest that the more noteworthy aspect of the letter lies elsewhere.
Before we get to that, it bears mentioning that the English translation of the letter is somewhat vague as compared to the Italian inasmuch as it appears in the former as if Francis is merely asking the bishops to invite their “priests, religious and faithful” to join in the act, without any specific request that they do likewise. In the Italian, however, it is much more obvious that he is inviting the bishops to join in the act first and foremost.
That clarified, note that Francis is asking the bishops, and others, to recite not just any prayer of consecration, but the text that he has made available.
IMPORTANT: The letter underscores the reason why Francis provided the text of the prayer, namely, “so that all of us can recite it throughout that day, in fraternal union.”
Francis, as a matter of some urgency, has asked the bishops (along with priests, religious and laity) to join him in reciting a specific prayer, and doing so, he makes clear, will serve as a sign of their unity with him and with one another.
Now, if one truly believes that Francis is the Holy Roman Pontiff, would he refuse any aspect of this very simple request?
More to the point, would any self-professed “traditionalist” – a person who, by definition, is more keenly aware than most of the reverent deference owed to the Supreme Pontiff – take it upon himself to reject the pope’s prayer, supplanting it with a text more to his own liking, as if he knows better than the Vicar of Christ how to approach the throne of the King in a time of urgent need?
Of course not.
Even so, that’s exactly what the Society of St. Pius X did, and this after reacting to news of the consecration with a communique stating:
After a long wait, punctuated by fervent crusades and assiduous recitation of rosaries, the Society of Saint Pius X is happy to see the request of Our Lady of Fatima taken into account, which called for a solemn act by the Pope in union with all the bishops.
[NOTE: Those interested in a faithful examination of the Papacy as Relation would do well to read (or reread) the article by John Lane hyperlinked above.]
So, what happened? Why did the SSPX decide that the simple request made by the man they call “Holy Father” was unworthy of being honored?
Well, their defenders will insist, they saw the text of the pope’s prayer and decided that it didn’t take the request of Our Lady of Fatima into account quite enough!
On this note we would stand in agreement, but let’s be clear: Reverent deference to the Holy Roman Pontiff as an expression of unity isn’t contingent upon any such thing.
Either unity with the pope exists or it doesn’t, and if it does, it must be made manifest, especially when the pope invites the bishops to take part in an action ordered toward demonstrating that unity.
So, what really happened?
Well, an SSPX defender might propose, maybe they took note of the Pachamama debate and decided to err on the side of caution!
Nonsense, if the SSPX really believed that it was advisable to refrain from Bergoglio’s prayer due to the possible presence of paganism, they would have (or at least should have) warned all of the faithful to avoid it.
So, what really and truly happened?
The Society’s defenders are out of excuses.
The SSPX, even if only inadvertently, demonstrated their own belief in what a growing number of Catholics have long since understood and sensus Catholicus makes plain:
Jorge Bergoglio is not a Catholic of any rank, much less is he the Holy Roman Pontiff.
Sure, the SSPX says that Bergoglio is pope, but when it comes to making that belief manifest, they waver; in fact, their actions demonstrate the exact opposite.