Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Topsy-Turvy Talking

Fr Davide Pagliarini, the SSPX district superior of Italy, has given an interview, reported by Rorate Caeli, in which he says the following:

"I can only repeat that which has been clearly and always explained by my superiors: the canonical situation in which the Fraternity is currently places is a consequence of its resistance to the errors that infest the Church; consequently, the possibility for the Fraternity to reach a regular canonical situation does not depend on us, but on the acceptance by the hierarchy of the contribution that Tradition can give for the restoration of the Church.

I like Fr Pagliarini; we rubbed elbows in the kitchen sinks of Econe lo those many years ago. But at best this is topsy-turvy talk. I've upset everyone else this week from Westminster Archdiocese to the advocates of queering the Church, so I might as well offer an opinion on the SSPX too.

1. The current canonical situation of the SSPX is not simply the result of their resistance to the errors in the Church; it is the result of the way in which they think those errors must be fought. Fr Pagliarini's argument is a bit like saying that a man who gets a ticket for speeding has been punished for driving fast (whereas he has been punished for driving TOO fast).

2. 'The acceptance by the hierarchy of the contribution that Tradition can make to the restoration of the Church' - this is code for 'we'll be good if our theses are accepted'.

Really, it makes one wonder who exactly is going to bring the Church to the point of being ready to SSPXify itself. How exactly is the Church ever going to improve her internal life if good people hold themselves to one side under the illusion that self preservation can be assured in no other way? The SSPX holds to this logic with all the unshakeable confidence of the man on the roof in a flood who has prayed for divine assistance and refuses all human help that comes along.

In addition to the mark of unity, which is one of the signs of the Church's divine origins, there is also a habit of unity. The habit of unity is what makes it possible for us to know how to live under the same roof with others who are effectively our estranged brothers. It is a risky business, let nobody deny it. My blog posts of last week are a response precisely to one of the risks that it entails. But if one believes in the power of the Holy Ghost in the Church, and in our conformity to Christ through a VISIBLE institution - and that's what I mean by the Church; the Church is not a theory or a treatise of theology - , then there is no plausible alternative.

In other words, there is no other providentially assigned way for the Church to operate than through its divine constitution. That is why the Church has known periods of Borgias and periods of saints. It has never known a period in which the Holy See is rightly treated for all practical purposes as a defected bishopric.

It's hot in the kitchen, Davide, but it's where you have to be!


GOR said...

Throughout her history the Church has had differences of opinion, starting with the Apostles themselves - which St. Paul recounted in some detail. Saints differed, theologians differed, Popes differed. At times these were more than mere differences of opinion, leading to bloodshed - all in the name of God and the Church. Inevitably, the differences - if not completely resolved - at least faded into the background as the Church sought refuge in Her one center of unity - the Vicar of Christ, the visible head of the Church on earth, the Pope.

I sometimes wonder how people fared at the time of the Great Schism when there was a multiplicity of papal contenders. How did the ordinary faithful know who was who? I suspect it didn't bother them much - given a lack of mass media at the time, not to mention the internet. If they were aware of it at all, I imagine them thinking: "We're with the Pope, whichever the real one is!" I believe that the current 'differences of opinion' will be similarly resolved - whether it be the SSPX, the German, Austrian, American or Irish dissenting priests or whatever the dissent du jour happens to be in the future.

Sooner or later all must come back to Peter - either in this world or in the next.

W.C. Hoag said...


Do you think that the FSSPX will ever regularise its situation?

I do not, at least not as the FSSPX that we have known these last several decades. The Fraternity will have to change. This is something that I cannot envision as its positions are too obstinate. Further, gone is the generation that I knew among the Fraternity supporters, those from the early years who understood what it means to be Catholic and truly pained at being in an irregular ecclesial situation.

I do not present here developed thoughts but simple observations that reflect my own experience with that Fraternity that I once loved...and still do.

Ches said...

Frankly, WCH, no. I can see Rome possibly clarifying certain matters, and shifting away from certain practices (like the unbridled ecumenical optimism of the 1970s and 1980s which has now been largely abandoned) but certainly not embracing the theses of the SSPX on the New Mass or on religious liberty. The SPPX for its part sees only a logical difference between Catholic teaching on these points and their own positions which are bound to Catholic teaching - they think - by ineluctable deduction.