Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CNS Video Interview with Bishop Fellay; US District Superior of SSPX denounces communications leaks

If you do not know about the SSPX, you will want to brief yourself with some background. I usually don't link to Wikipedia entries, but hopefully this will give those who are not familiar, some background.

News of an interview done by Catholic News Service (CNS), the reporting arm of the USCCB, of Bishop Fellay, the head of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has been making the rounds. Above you will find video of that interview.  I like how, near the beginning, he acknowledges that some of the things done in the name of Vatican II were never in the documents of Vatican II and the Church is trying to correct that.

I was quite impressed with much of this interview of Bishop Fellay. He came across to me as a humble man of good faith.  I hope and pray that the SSPX can be brought home and continue the discussions from within. Pearls are created from friction. Further, concerns I have are probably on the mind of the Holy Father, as well as Bishop Fellay. The four bishops are not getting any younger. There is no guarantee for any of us to reach old age. Once these bishops have gone to meet the Just Judge, there will be no one to ordain priests.  Right now the ordinations are valid, but illicit.   Fast forward 50 years from now, then 100 years from now.  If this attempt to bring them fully home fails, what will happen to the many followers in the decades ahead?  Who will Confirm their young? How will they handle an ever growing priest shortage with no further ordinations after these bishops are gone?  These are serious, rational questions and certainly on the radar screen of anyone who looks past the difficulties of today, for the practical challenges of tomorrow.

Will the SSPX Split?

News also spread after a letter from the other three SSPX bishops to Bishop Fellay leaked out to the public revealing internal discord.  It led many, myself included, to believe a serious split was forthcoming.  I was pleased to see a rational letter by the U.S. District Superior of the SSPX, admonishing those responsible on another aspect of morality, as it pertains to private communications.

Fr. Arnaud Rostand writes (my emphasis in bold; comments bracketed in red):

Recently, private letters between the three bishops of the Society and the General Council were leaked [obviously by someone within the SSPX itself, or office staff]. As these documents are now public, I wish to make a few comments.

First of all, I want to denounce the immorality [it's about time someone called this activity out for what it is], as well as the revolutionary nature, of publishing such private documents [not sure what he means by revolutionary, but I take this to mean that it is really not the way Catholics have traditionally treated such things, and is more of a contemporary behavior often involving an effort to put pressure on one party or another]. If it can be grave matter to read private letters, as moral theology teaches, it is even more serious to publish or distribute them without the permission of the authors. [I recall Fr. Perrone teaching this in his popular catechism class.] Furthermore, it is subversive to publish private discussions between superiors because it puts undue pressure on them [There it is - a decision must be made between the General Superior, and his fellow bishops united with him, and the Holy Father;  people using a document, in the absence of other information that might put it in a different context, want to force one outcome or another through popular opinion once leaked]. A superior must be able to make a decision in view of the common good and not because of any pressures [True.  Part of that common good may be the considerations I mentioned, looking forward 100 years from now. The Holy Spirit does not work through such public pressure and it can actually sabotage the workings of the Holy Spirit, which are often delicate]

Usually the defense of the Faith is invoked to justify such actions. It is, indeed, clear that the theological virtue of Faith is above the moral virtues but it cannot justify acting against them. [The ends do not justify the means. You can never engage in evil for a good cause (Veritatis Splendor 75).]

It is essential to remember that letters of this kind are normal ways of communicating between members of the Society on a very important matter. It is normal and good that bishops or even priests of the Society should be able to express their personal opinions in a respectful way and in a spirit of charity. [Agreed. Even if there is internal discord, it is not practical for all of these bishops to be in one room at the same time where this can be expressed privately, so it flows in letters.  There should be opportunities for them to say what is on their mind without the world butting in.  What the faithful should look for, is the end result.  If the faithful should do anything, it is to pray that all parties act on the graces coming to them].

Once again it is their publication without the consent of both parties, which is unacceptable.[!!!]

What are the principles that must guide us today? First of all, we must ask ourselves who has the authority to make such a decision. It is clear that the Superior General has the responsibility of the Society of St. Pius X and will render an account to Almighty God....
You know the old saying that just because everyone else does something, it doesn't make it right.  That applies here.  I've long been concerned with leaks from the Holy See and from other sources because of the potential for such things to derail delicate negotiations.  I don't see the point of it.

After going on at some length to explain to his readers the authority held by the SSPX Superior General, Bishop Fellay, he closes with this:

The second notion that we must keep in mind is our attachment to Eternal Rome. We have always professed this attachment while refusing to follow the neo-Modernist tendencies of our times. As the Catholic Church is at the same time both human and divine, it is necessary to have a supernatural approach to the actual problems within the Catholic Church. This is why we reaffirm our Faith in Eternal Rome, with Pope Benedict XVI as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and visible head of His Church, while recognizing the dramatic situation of the Church today and the difficult but necessary task of keeping these two in balance. [And, many of us are also concerned with certain problems that are manifest and the best way to resolve them is to continue discussions, from within]

The last point, and not the least, is the indispensable defense of the Faith in times of crisis. There must be no doubt that the fight for the Faith, the denouncing of errors, and the spread of Tradition would continue even within a “new canonical structure,” as His Excellency Bishop Fellay has repeatedly affirmed. Our Superior General; and his assistants have expressed their conviction that the possibility of a personal prelature is not a trap. This is a prudential question and different opinions are possible, but the final decision belongs only to the Superior General. [Prudential judgments are often complained about as if they were doctrinal matters.  This is where humility plays a role in recognizing the prudential versus the doctrinal or dogmatic]

I have been regularly and recently in contact with His Excellency Bishop Fellay and other superiors of the Society. Further, I can assure you of the unity which exists in our District, following the line of Archbishop Lefebvre, which continues to be manifested today. Do not be disturbed by media reports, which may prematurely, and without sufficient information, prophesy many things.

At this hour, we do not know what will be the outcome of this situation. Will the Society of St. Pius X be “recognized” or will we have to stay in the same situation for some more time? We trust and hope that whatever circumstances Providence determines will lead to a restoration of Tradition. Let us therefore keep in our prayers both the Holy Father and Bishop Fellay, that the Holy Ghost may guide them under such difficult circumstances, in addition to the whole Society and her priests. Be assured of my prayers and may the Immaculate Heart of Mary protect the Society of St. Pius X.
Read the full text at the SSPX site.

The Rorate Caeli blog has been all over this, so you might want to check there daily for updates.  The best thing we can all do, in charity, is to pray for all involved.  May the Holy Spirit triumph in spite of the obstacles brought on as people act on human lower nature, rather than by grace.

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