On July 16th, DICI published a Communiqué from Bishop Bernard Fellay intended for “All Members of the Society of Saint Pius X” (i.e., the priests of the SSPX) that not only echoes the previously issued statement, but also seems to offer a bit more clarity.
I invite you to read it in its fullness via the hyperlink above, but following is my take on the most salient points.
The Communiqué repeats what was said previously; “the Society of Saint Pius X does not seek above all a canonical recognition, to which it has a right because it is Catholic.”
The operative phrase here is above all.
As I wrote in response to the last Communiqué, this would seem to suggest that the SSPX, while not making of canonical recognition a priority, is not ruling it out (as some have alleged).
In the present case, Bishop Fellay seems to expand on this point; making it rather plain (to me anyway) that the Society considers its canonical status a matter of some importance. At the same time, he is at pains to ensure that it is viewed in its proper context.
“The solution” to “the present grave state of necessity in the Church,” he wrote, “is not simply juridical.”
Again, one gets the impression that His Excellency is leaving the door open for a possible juridical remedy to their irregular canonical status, but with the caveat that this alone will not solve the present crisis.
So, what will?
According to Bishop Fellay, “It depends on a doctrinal position that it is imperative to express.”
The Communiqué suggests that the crux of the crisis in the Church today concerns an exaggerated focus on “human dignity, man’s conscience and freedom,” which amounts to the virtual dethronement of Christ.
In response, according to Bishop Fellay, “the Good Lord raised up” Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Founder of the Society of St. Pius X – “the principle and end of which are just the antidote to this universal disorder: The Sacrament of Holy Orders.”
By the will of God, therefore, this is the Society’s contribution to the Church in her passion:
The formation of holy priests who are “determined to keep doctrinal, theological and social rectitude, founded on the Cross of Jesus Christ, on His Kingship, on His sacrifice, and on His priesthood, the principle of all order and of all grace.”
The Communiqué suggests that this crucial work will necessarily be part of the solution to the present crisis.
“It is incumbent on us at the present hour to redouble our efforts and to intensify the same fight on the same principles,” Bishop Fellay wrote.
The most important, and most telling, part of the Communiqué (in this writer’s opinion) is the final paragraph:
“Is this truly the moment for the general restoration of the Church? Divine Providence does not abandon its Church, the head of which is the Pope, the Vicar of Jesus Christ. This is why an indisputable sign of this restoration will be the express desire will of the Supreme Pontiff to grant the means with which to reestablish the order of the priesthood, of the faith, and of Tradition, sign which will moreover be the guarantee of the necessary unity of the family of Tradition.”
I have no idea how other Catholic commentators are reading the Communiqué in question (I am traveling at present and have limited internet access), but it certainly seems to me that Bishop Fellay is preparing his priests for the possibility (perhaps even eventuality) that the Society’s juridical status will be regularized by some papal act in the foreseeable future.
Yes, at the hands of a pope that the previously issued Communiqué blamed for contributing to the “great and painful confusion that currently reigns in the Church.” (For the present, let’s set aside all reasonable concerns over the validity of conclave 2013.)
Taken together, both Communiqués appear to be saying to all concerned, among other things, that we can be certain that the solution to the present crisis will involve the following:
- The support of the Supreme Pontiff
- The formation of good and holy priests
- The assertion once more of the Sovereign Rights of Christ the King (which likewise entails the denunciation of the common errors of today; especially those concerning a hyper-inflated sense of human dignity)
- The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the requirements of which were given to us by Our Lady at Fatima
It seems to me that the Society’s position is that a papal act granting regular canonical status to the SSPX (even if it comes from the hands of the blasphemer, Francis) should not only be accepted, but perhaps even considered as possibly marking the beginning of the process of restoration roughly outlined above.
NB: Recalling that the last Communiqué specifically mentioned the approaching centennial of the apparitions in Fatima, I would caution those who might believe that the Society is naïvely disregarding the role that chastisement will play in the Church’s recovery.
These are my thoughts, for what they are worth. What are yours?
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