The regularization of the Society of Saint Pius X seems to have been put on hold, at least until the General Chapter of the SSPX next month. From everything I can tell, Bishop Fellay moved as far as he could to the Roman position on the Doctrinal Agreement, without the SSPX completely breaking apart. And then some of the Roman authorities modified the agreement at the last minute to try to pull him further. This has caused the delay in any agreement, or recognition of the Society.
Here is a snippet from the story:
Those Roman interlocutors who have provoked this rebound have probably not really perceived this. It is also likely that they feared the increase of the silent opposition of the German episcopate, who presented their own ultimatums to the Successor of Peter. The extreme reluctance of Bp. Fellay seemed to suggest that they hid themselves behind formulas that created an impasse upon several months of clarifications and discussions, thus risking their own disavowal.
Paradoxically, they have rendered a great service to Bp. Fellay, by allowing him to show that, while doing his utmost for the canonical recognition of the eminently Roman work of Abp. Lefebvre, his firmness remained intact, as is shown by the way by a letter of Father Thouvenot fraudulently released on the internet. The fact remains that only the Pope has the power to bind and loose. Faced with all opposition – the strongest of which being that of those closes to him -, it is to him that belongs, in fine, the right to decide. After twelve years of discussions, at the end of seven years of pontificate, this man, who a few weeks ago said that enough injustices had been committed against the Society, will set in place the endpoint which he alone, as head of the Church, has the right to set in place.
I am not sure what is going on with the German episcopate angle in this story. I do know that the German bishops really do not like the SSPX. But who are the German bishops, or anyone for that matter, that they are able to give “ultimatums” to the Holy Father??
Of course, I am just a layman, and not a member of the SSPX. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that I am not aware of. But it seems to me that there are those officially “inside the Church” who desperately want to keep the Society of Saint Pius X “outside the Church”, who are threatened by the Society.
I suspect a lot of the opposition to the SSPX is that they have maintained the traditional Catholic teaching that “Outside the Church there is no salvation”. This is the perennial teaching of the Church. There are many in the Church that now claim any Christian religion is a path to heaven, or even some that claim all religions, Christian or not, are. If the SSPX is given official recognition, then people who are a little too ecumenical will have to deal with that fact that the traditional teaching, that the ladder to heaven is the Catholic Church, is still here, and here to stay.
The SSPX also maintains that “Religious Liberty” is against the traditional teaching of the Church. I have a post on some of the documents the SSPX has issues with HERE. Jan, in a very informative comment on that post, also gives further resources.
While the Catholic Church in America is fighting the HHS Mandate (requiring contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients) on the basis of religious liberty, it will be very painful with the SSPX, which maintains the opposite view, to be given official recognition in the Church. In Bishop Fellay’s interview that I posted about HERE, he suggested that a much more traditional principle is religious tolerance, not religious liberty.
To the credit of the Catholic Church in America, the bishops have been rooting their arguments for religious liberty in the First Amendment of the Constitution, not the traditional teachings of the Church. Our Bill of Rights does guarantee religious freedom. And we do have, as Americans, the right to practice our faith not just in our homes and churches, but in society at large, in our hospitals and schools and charities.
One final note: The story mentions a leaked letter by Father Thouvenot. The leak is from this week. You will see this letter referenced in stories, but it was supposed to be a confidential letter, and I will not reproduce it here.