In June of last year a colleague in France put together a good article on whether the Society of St Pius X should or should not obtain from the Church authorities in Rome a canonical status that would protect the Society’s interests. Obviously Society Headquarters in Menzingen, Switzerland believe in obtaining such a status, and if the present Superior General is re-elected for a third term in July, that is the goal which the Society will continue to pursue. However, it is rather less obvious that such a goal should be pursued. An argument of eight full pages from Ocampo # 127 of June 2017, is compressed below into one single page.
The article’s position is that the Society can in no way put itself under all-powerful Church authorities imbued with the principles of the French Revolution as embodied inVatican II, because it is the Superiors who mould the subjects, and not the other way round. Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Society to resist the betrayal of the Catholic Faith by Vatican II. By submitting to the Conciliarists, the Society would be joining the traitors to the Faith.
Church authorities are the diocesan bishops and the Pope. As for the bishops, those downright hostile to the Society might be less dangerous than those who may be friendly but have not understood the absolute demands of Catholic Tradition, which are not just the demands of the Society of St Pius X. As for the Pope, if his words and deeds show him to be working against that Catholic Tradition which it is his duty to uphold, then Catholics have the right and duty to protect themselves both against the way in which he is misusing his authority, and against their own in-born need to follow and obey Catholic authority. Now in theory a Conciliar Pope can promise a special protection for the Society’s Tradition, but in practice he must by his own convictions be striving for the Society to recognise the Council and abandon Tradition. Given then his great authority as Pope to impose his will, the Society must stay out of his way.
Experience shows that Traditionalists who rejoin Conciliar Rome may begin by being merely silent as to the Council’s errors, but they usually finish by accepting those errors. Their initial agreement to keep quiet is in the end deadly for their professing of the Faith. And by the natural downhill slide from one compromise to another, they can even finish by losing the Faith. It is the Faith that made Archbishop Lefebvre say that unless the Conciliar Romans return to the doctrine of the great anti-liberal Papal Encyclicals – which they have not done since his time and are not about to do – further dialogue between the Romans and Traditionalists is useless, and – he could have added – positively dangerous for the Faith.
The article also lists eight objections to this position, given here in italics with the briefest of answers:
1 With the Personal Prelature Rome offers the Society a special protection. Protection from the diocesan bishops, maybe, but not from the Pope’s own supreme authority in the Church. 2 Rome’s demands for the agreement have been diminishing. Only because concessions towards practical co-operation are more effective to obtain Catholics’ submission, as Communists well know. 3 The Society is insisting on being accepted by Rome “as we are,” i.e. Traditional. For the Romans that means “As you will be, once practical co-operation has made you see how nice we are.” 4 So the Society will continue to attack the Council’s errors. Nothing will change. Rome can take its time to insist on ever greater changes. 5 But Pope Francis likes the Society! As the Big Bad Wolf liked Little Red Riding Hood! 6 The Society is too virtuous to be fooled by Rome. Foolish illusion! The Archbishop himself was at first fooled by the Protocol of May 5, 1988. 7 Several Traditional communities have rejoined Rome without losing the true Mass. But several of them have gone over to defending major errors of the Council. 8 Pope Francis as a person is in error, but his function is sacred. To recognise the sacredness of his function cannot oblige me to follow his personal errors, i.e. the misuse of his function. The true Faith is above the Pope.