Fr. Michel Simoulin: “Avoiding a false spirit of resistance”

This essay is notable for a couple of things. First, it discloses the only real obstacle that is holding up the regularization of the SSPX:

“And what can we reasonably expect and demand at present as far as a doctrinal agreement goes? The only thing that we can hope for and ask for, it seems, is the freedom to discuss Vatican II. Let them stop trying to impose upon us an unconditional acceptance of Vatican II as a condition. Let them admit that this council was and still is ‘pastoral’ and not dogmatic, and that it can therefore legitimately be disputed. By ceasing to impose upon us a complete acceptance of Vatican II, and by granting us this liberty, they would already be making an important step, for they would be implicitly recognizing that our arguments are not worthless. An authority that consents to this would already be an authority that is not hostile to Tradition, and maybe even desirous of reestablishing it in the Church, and that would already be a true conversion for Rome. We are not there yet, and that is why nothing has been done. But if Rome accepted to no longer make of Vatican II a super-dogma, it would already be a great victory of grace, and could allow us to imagine reestablishing a certain canonical connection. When will this day dawn? No one knows, but we await it with confidence.”

That is all the Society is asking for: freedom to openly publicly – discuss the merits of the Second Vatican Council (and by extension, the Novus Ordo Missae) in light of tradition. This is absolutely reasonable given the refuge this Council so commonly provides for dissent from the perennial Magisterium. As to the requirement of “avoiding all polemics”, to which the Ecclesia Dei institutes have already agreed, anyone who has been observing the SSPX for a few years will find that, since the breakdown of the doctrinal talks in February of 2012, substantial progress has been made in presenting their case with a minimum of polemical fireworks. In fact, I often find the Society’s statements to be more restrained and respectful than I would naturally be myself – setting a good example of Catholic prudence and charity for the rest of us. A determined effort is obviously being made by the SSPX leadership, and I would hope that Rome and other critics are taking notice.

Second, the following paragraph is a goldmine of Christian wisdom, illustrating the delicate but important balance the SSPX is striving to maintain:

“And now we must open our eyes to another danger, that is not hypothetical, but very real: that of no longer wishing to return to our legitimate place among the societies recognized by Rome, of losing the desire for the Church and for Rome. No longer desiring a normal relation with Rome and the Church is a shadow of the schismatic spirit. We have been living in independence from the Pope and the Bishops for a very long time, as if that were normal. We pretend to defend the doctrine, but we all run the risk of establishing a chosen doctrine, abandoning certain dogmas, those that bother us, especially those concerning the primacy of Peter. We all run the risk of becoming accustomed to the abnormal, of living in a comfortable situation, as if it were right and in conformity with the spirit of the Church. The Pope and the bishops are little by little confined to the realm of the beings ‘of reason’, with no influence on concrete life; Rome is no more that a pilgrimage site, and the Church is a Mystical Body with Jesus Christ for a head, the Holy Ghost for a soul, and the ‘Trads’ for members. Our priests can quickly become gurus. Everyone could be a Pope with his Denzinger in hand, and every father of every family could be the Pope of his family. In these conditions, our children would no longer have any idea of what the real Church is in its full incarnation, from head to members, in all the realities of daily life.

As for authority… recognized in principle but not admitted in fact as far as the Pope is concerned, it risks no longer being recognized at any degree whatsoever. Every superior runs the risk of being challenged, criticized even publicly… and even families will fall apart. Why obey a father who does not obey the Pope, the bishop, the priest?

A summit implies danger on both sides. That of an unsafe recognition is one; the internal danger we have just described is another. While the former remains very hypothetical, the latter is not imminent; it is not even knocking at the door… It has already entered into our city and our families!”

Well, then. I daresay this has implications even for many Catholics who enjoy “full communion”. Perilous times, but we can be thankful for this kind of leadership.


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