Friday, October 06, 2006

We'll know what to make of it very soon....

A few weeks ago, the Holy Father established a new traditionalist society, the Institute of the Good Shepherd. It's a smallish institute for priests and seminarians who, for various reasons, became disassociated with the Society of St. Pius X. There was minor blog buzz on this development back then, and it basically fell into two currents:
  • The first current of thought was that the Pope was taking another step towards restoring a place for traditional Catholicism, in the meantime accommodating priests who needed a "place to land," and setting things up for a broader, bigger arrangement that would do justice for the old Mass and for traditional Catholics. These former SSPX guys were just the advance party for the great restoration that was to come.
  • The other current of thought was that the Pope, being dissatisfied with the lack of progress in SSPX negotiations, was going to try to drive a wedge into the SSPX--to lure and divide the irregular traddies into smaller groups, grind them to powder, and remold them as rather-more-staid-than-usual, altar-girls-optional newfangled Catholics.
Of course, the latter current of thought was floated by everyone from whacked-out sedevacantists, to wary traditionalists, to self-righteous neo-Caths of the "the-Pope-is-infallible-even-when-kissing-the-Koran-or-Roger-Mahony" stripe. I'm proud to say that I never took any position at all on the matter. I just didn't seem inclined to speculate at the time, was more focused on other things, and dismissed the event as merely a local accommodation for some clerics that needed a hand up, and not a portent of something more. If this were some great foreshadowing of the restoration to come, I didn't see evidence of it from this distance. If this were a devious plan, I didn't see evidence of that either.

But here we are, just a few weeks later, and it seems we'll soon know the answer. Unlike the Fraternity of St. Peter, who didn't fully appreciate the short length of the leash held by the modernists until 12 years after the fact (the 2000 General Chapter interventions and Protocol 1411), the Institute is likely to know the cost of their accommodations right away.

Just a few weeks ago, via the Cornell Catholic Circle, we heard from the suit-n-tie wearing Vicar General of Bordeaux, Pere Jean Rouet, that the whole report was a "disinformation" that was not consented to by the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard.

Now yesterday, we heard from the Cardinal himself, via a Catholic World News report:

By entering into full communion, the cardinal said, the traditionalist priests are accepting "the actual magisterium of the Pope and the bishops." More pointedly, he added that the Good Shepherd institute should show "a clear position regarding the magisterial act that was the Second Vatican Council, and the promulgation of its documents." The generous offer extended to the traditionalists, he insisted, must not "reopen questions about the path the Lord has chosen for the Church during the last 40 years."

...However, the group can only be active in a diocese with the permission of the local bishop. The traditionalist clerics, he added, would need "a very good reason to have pastoral care for the faithful."

In Bordeaux, Cardinal Ricard said, the Good Shepherd institute could only begin pastoral activites after signing an agreement with the archdiocese. With that agreement in place, he said, a parish church could be put at the disposal of the traditionalist clerics "for a fixed period of time."

Quite eager, Cardinal Ricard is, to put those embarrassing traditionalists under his yoke, eh? Let's see....a "very good reason to have pastoral care for the faithful"? What might that be? How about this: They will actually have people assisting at their Mass and going to their confessionals, unlike your own secularized, newfangled Froggie priests singing their french "Kumaya, mon Dieu" music in empty churches! And as for the fear they might "reopen questions about the path the Lord has chosen for the Church during the last 40 years," um, well, yer Eminence, I doubt you really want to consider that question closed, because at the moment, there's only one honest answer that can be given to it, Cardinal Froggie.

Of course, you know, Cardinal Ricard sits on the Ecclesia Dei commission, which gives one insight into the makeup and object of that commission. And of course, you know, Ricard personally has no reason to defer to the Holy Father, who has already designated a church in Bordeaux for them. Cardinal Ricard, I suppose, is going to send the gendarmes to the church to make sure no laymen get in to assist at Mass, against the intentions of Rome? Or perhaps he's going to forbid the new Institute the use of it notwithstanding papal decree? Then we'll know who's really "schismatic," to use Catholic World News' favorite adjective, won't we!

Frankly, I'm glad all this is happening so fast! Ricard and his minions' lashing out at the new institute will flesh out the situation much more quickly. If Rome puts the Frenchie bishops back in line, we'll see hope on the horizon for a restoration. If Rome stands aside and lets the frogs drive the new institute into the ground like they have their own dioceses, then we'll know the time for restoration has not yet come. Had Ricard and his VC shown a little more restraint in talking to the media, the institute might have been lulled into a more vulnerable position. But they didn't, and now everyone's watching. We should know what all this means very soon.


Jovan-Marya Weismiller, T.O.Carm. said...

Unfortunately, the Holy Father's "designat(ing) a church in Bordeaux for (the Institute)" is of no effect in French law, since all Churches are the property of the State. And guess whose side the red Republic will take?

Dust I Am said...

I wonder whether Benedict XVI is playing a good game of chess. He doesn't have a lot of pawns, bishops, etc. so he makes moves that pull opponents offsides and into somewhat weakened positions. Or is this wishful thinking on my part?

Anonymous said...

Could Rome be doing both? If I were in B16's shoes, I would. It jumpstarts negotiations if SSPX really is interested. And it puts a new card on the table to show that Rome may not always wait.

Also, it does a pastoral spin by building a new home where disaffected (and tossed out) SSPXers can go lick their wounds.

Dr. Bombay said...

These "approved" Traditionalist societies need to realize that when they make a deal with the devil, they will get burned.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

The SSPX would be fools to come to any type of accomodation with the current zeitgeist so prevalent in the Church. And they don't strike me as being fools. Quite level headed for the most part, in fact.

M. Alexander said...

Excellent commentary.

Curmudgeon said...

Although, while I'm inviting conclusions to be drawn, and I rarely find myself in disagreement with Dr. Bombay, I do find myself there now.

I admit that the SSPX "intransigence," for those who would call it that, is the reason the rest of us enjoy what we have. But if the SSPX can come to some accommodation, even within the current zeitgeist of the Church, and they can do so while preserving their canonical structure and control of their material goods, they are strong enough to avoid--or thumb their noses at--the Cardinal Ricards of the world, even within the regular structure of the Church. If they come back in on the right terms, they can not only avoid, but help change that Zeitgeist.

Anonymous said...

The intransigence of the LeFebvre & LeDuc crowd is matched by that of the Jesuits and ultra liberals. And the Lord gets crucified by both, playing "ours is the ONLY way" and snarling at those who aren't in lock step with their faction.
These priests (I used to know one of them in St. Mary's KS during my short stay there) are fine well-trained priests who have undoubtedly come to realize that their dream of keeping alive healthy pre-Vatican II liturgy cannot be realized in a group that has taken to vilifying the rest of the church, cult style. Those in the main church who use ridicule of them are using pride, exposing their own lack of virtue.
That said, I too shake my head at the confusion between virtue and anger of the traditional crowd -- blind guides have led them into a pit. Some have escaped. I hope these priests are part. The Tridenine Liturgy deserves to survive and thrive. THe Catholic Church as 22 Rites; we have room for another at the table.

I expect good things from them.

Anonymous said...

Many of the main stream priests are "blind guides" too. I was refused absolution yesterday by one of these modern guys because "you only confessed venial sins, Confession is for grave sins". Duh? All the saints, Popes, Bishops, who recommend frequent confession for an increase in virtue are nuts?
At least the traditional priests are well-trained confessors and don't make such incredible stupid errors as refusing absolution for venial sins, having their people stand throughout Mass because there are no kneelers (after decades, maybe they don't want kneelers?), etc. Christ is in agony and is happy for faithful priests whereever He finds them.

Dr. Bombay said...


I don't think the PXers will get the "right" terms to come back, because I don't believe the powers that be would ever give them those terms. Can you imagine an independent SSPX, with 4 of its own bishops and millions of dollars of their own property operating inside the Church? That's a modernist's worst nightmare.

And I, at this point, don't doubt the good intentions of the Holy Father. But he, being a post-Conciliar man, is rather limited in what he can do on his own. It's the old bugaboo of "collegiality" that has paralyzed the Holy See for almost 4 decades now. He can't do what he'd like, and he won't do what they'd (the modernists) like. So.....impasse.

It won't be too long before the SSPX is going to need to ordain some more bishops. Backed into a corner like that, the Holy See might become a little more accomodating. Or more intransigent. Who knows?

Dotte said...

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