SSPX and Pope Benedict

Some people question the Holy Father's judgement regarding the Society of St Pius X. A letter in this week's Tablet opines that:
"[...] the new arrangements (to come into force from 14 September) will not bring the Lefebvrists ‘into the fold’ – their problem has never been liturgy but ecclesiology – they just do not believe in the same Church."
Pope Benedict is a little more intelligent than that. As he said himself:
"We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level."
I wouldn't be so sure that Pope Benedict will fail with the SSPX. Within the Society, there is some recognition that the present situation cannot go on for ever and Bishop Fellay has spoken generously about Summorum Pontificum. It is true that the "hermeneutic of continuity" idea has been criticised by the SSPX but Pope Benedict is using it to emphasise that we do believe that post-conciliar Catholic Church is the same as the pre-conciliar Catholic Church and that Vatican II did not introduce a "new constitution". The SSPX speak of "Conciliar Rome" and "Eternal Rome." Pope Benedict's "hermeneutic of continuity" could be seen as an effort to meet this criticism.

Hot on the heels of Summorum Pontificum came the "subsistit" document which addresses one of their key criticisms of the SSPX about the ambiguity of the language of Vatican II. I was recently reading Fr Schmidberger's "Time Bombs of the Second Vatican Council" and this is indeed one of the points he raises.

With two of the concerns of the SSPX unambiguously addressed inside of a week, a full regularisation may not be as far-fetched as it was only a month ago. (Notice please that I am trying in Tridentine Council style to avoid taking one side or another in a dispute between orthodox Catholics on the "are they in schism" question. Can I say "regularisation" without offending anyone?)

Rather than settling down with the idea that Summorum Pontificum won't change anything because there are plenty of old rite Masses already, it might be worth engaging in the thought experiment of imagining one's diocese, some time in the not too distant future, encompassing one or more SSPX Mass centres to which the faithful can have recourse without scruple. It might make Deanery meetings more lively too.

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