SSPX update

28 01 2009


As you all know, the whole SSPX controversy is making the rounds with the secular and religious press. Now, Fr. Schmidberger, former Superior General of the SSPX, has come out denouncing Bishop Williamson’s views on Holocaust revisionism. While such things are not indicative of an immediate surrender of the SSPX into the embrace of Rome, I find at least the idea that two important figures in the SSPX coming out and openly denouncing one of the bishops that Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated to be unthinkable when considering my experiences with the SSPX. Before, at least in my perception, these bishops were untouchable, and almost treated as “primes inter pares”. Now, it seems, that is no longer the case. Does this mean some sort of change has occurred within that organization?

To those of us with a history of deep involvement with the SSPX, Williamson’s remarks were far from surprising, and we are almost scratching our heads over the whole hubbub. I entered the scene of the SSPX in the late 1990’s, when the powerful triumvirate of Fr. Peter Scott, Father Ramon Angles, and Bishop Williamson ruled the United States District turning it almost into a far right wing cult. (Stories of such behavior are legendary around the SSPX compound of St. Mary’s, Kansas.) Those were the days when the SSPX was having its crusade against television, women’s pants, and the time that they were saying that even going to any Novus Ordo Mass was a sin. Those days apparently are over, though their imprint still remains, I believe, in the SSPX.

The recent events, then, give me pause. Does this mean that the SSPX is turning around? I have to say that one weird part of me is a little sad to see them “going soft”; even if I don’t like fanatics, I wish the world had more of them, at least at the very margins to remind us that the “normal way” of doing things may not be so normal after all. Nevertheless, I would never want them to have any real power. I guess I’ll wait and see.

SSPX reconciliation?

24 01 2009


As much as I hate to comment on stuff that is too “news worthy”, as one of the only bloggers who has a fairly ambivalent attitude towards the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and who has had some personal history with them, I think it only appropriate to write a few words about the lifting of the excommunications against the four SSPX bishops.

Firstly, I will say that I think Archbishop Lefebvre was not in the wrong for doing what he did back in 1988. Regardless of what I think now of the movement he started, I still feel that his actions were necessary for the preservation of tradition and the well-being of the Church. So as far as I am concerned, any canonical action taken by the present Pontiff is a non-issue.

Secondly, there seems to be some controversy going around regarding Bishop Richard Williamson’s Holocaust denial. I am far from being sympathetic to right-wing quacks, and wouldn’t mind if they locked this guy away in a monastery so that he can bark his conspiracy theories to the walls. He came to La Reja for ordinations the year I left seminary there, and he gave some rather bizarre and apocalyptic spiritual conferences, and I thank God everyday and twice on Sundays that I didn’t have to be a seminarian under him. (He took the reins six months after I left.) Nevertheless, his views do not affect the Holy Father’s canonical decision, as many have pointed out.

Thirdly, I think this really does make the Catholic Church into a case of “here comes everybody”. My own feelings of alienation from the Church often stem from the fact that my experiences of the Catholic Church have been so radically different from the typical American Catholic, liberal or conservative. I was raised in a fairly liberal parish with a heavy dose of Mexican charismaticism and underground folk Catholicism. Intellectually and in terms of piety, I was also heavily formed by the SSPX itself, and the way it and other traditionalists function when compared to “normal” Catholics is basically the difference between night and day. While ideology inevitably turns traditionalists into a sect within a larger Church, at least they still do the same things that were on the books in pre-Vatican II Catholicism. That is worth something, at least in my book.

While Pope Ratzinger cannot help having profound esteem for the Second Vatican Council, it is hoped that some day we will live in a Church where it is but one council among others. While the SSPX may reject most of what has happened in the Church in the past fifty years, let us remember that we dwell in a Church now where large sections of people reject what has happened in the Church in the past 2,000 years. One does not get brownie points for good behavior or “loyal rhetoric” to the hierarchy, but rather for keeping the Faith once delivered to the Apostles that is supposed to be preserved and protected by the aforementioned hierarchy. It is clear that in what was once the homeland of Christendom this is often no longer the case. May the Society of St. Pius X, with all its flaws and nutcases, continue to contribute to the restoration of the Church.

Missing the Low Mass

3 08 2008

Or: Saving 1962 Catholicism from the Cult of the Experts

I once read something on the New Liturgical Movement blog (a blog that I no longer link to because I am trying to get passed the cult of ecclesiastical porn) that really bothered me. [Danger- long footnote: Anti-Staretz once told me the story of an Anglo-Catholic monastery in England back when their church was more tolerant of them. It is said that another Anglo-Catholic went to hang out with the monks, but noticed they didn’t do Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. “Oh Father,” complained the visitor to one of the monks, “if only you did Benediction. It would in my heart make me feel so good.” The monk replied, “Fornication would make you feel even better, but we don’t do that either”.] The phrase was “saving the 1962 Mass from 1962”. I thought to myself at first, “But of course! Who wants to go back to the speed Masses, the St. Jude Novenas, the nuns who could melt you into a puddle with just one cold and rutheless gaze?!”

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Interesting post on the Society of St. Pius X

30 07 2008

A balanced and interesting post by an ex-supporter of the Lefebvrist movement, found here

On the Closing of the Lefebvrist Mind

28 06 2008

Some thoughts about the current situation between the Society of St. Pius X and Rome

The night of the consecration of the church in La Reja, I met up again with a French priest who I had met when I lived in a priory in the United States. I saw him in the open field on the seminary grounds, and I decided to go over to introduce myself again.

“Hello, Fr. X, [I was saying this in English]. I don’t know if you remember me, but we met in [such and such priory]…”

“Oh, yes,” was his reply, but I saw he was more concerned with looking up at the stars at this point. “We are in the Southern Hemisphere. I think I see up there the Southern Cross. Excuse me.”

He wandered eagerly into the darkness of the night with the curiosity and glee of a child. I left him to his stargazing.

When I think of the Society of St. Pius X, the first things that come to mind concern neither theology nor the “crisis in the Church”. They are anecdotes like the one above, or anecdotes about having to carry Bishop Fellay’s rather heavy baggage down a precariously wet metal spiral staircase, or having to drag a boy back to the sacristy after Mass after he had very publicly picked his nose while serving at altar, and so on and so forth. Most people who like to comment on the SSPX are either Catholics who never had or never will have sympathy to their cause and thus treat them like three-headed monsters, or ex-supporters who have a rather personal and petty axe to grind with them. Having left their circle on amicable terms, and having been always fairly treated by them, I can say that I have neither tendency.
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