As most of you will already have heard, Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX is currently in negotations is currently talking with Ecclesia Dei. He is considering reuniting with the Vatican. As I have said before on this blog, we live in interesting times for the Church.
However, I cannot really comment on the things that are going on in Rome at the present time. Due to the fact that I spent most of time in either independent chapels or the CMRI (Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen), I am not knowledgeable enough to talk about the SSPX. However, I would like to point out something that Cardinal Hoyos wrote to Bishop Fellay concerning unity.
In his letter, Cardinal Hoyos writes that the SSPX shall not make a claim to a Magisterium that is higher than the Holy See. This is something that applies to every traditionalist group from the Dominicans and sede-materialists of Bishop Robert McKenna, the CMRI of Bishop Mark Pivarunas, and the Independents as well as the SSPX.
Clearly, every traditional Catholic bishop and priest has his own Magisterium. Since they are not in union with the Holy See, they can interpret the documents and encyclicals promulgated by previous Popes in whatever light they see fit.
I have seen Pope Leo XIII’s famous encyclical to Cardinal Gibbons on Americanism to be interpreted to mean that Catholics should have nothing whatsoever to do with non-Catholics. Quite frankly, this is a mistake. Nowhere in the encyclical is it clearly and explicitly stated that Catholics will have have nothing to do with non-Catholics. Pope Leo XIII forbids Catholics from attending non-Catholic services. Without the Magisterium in place, however, one can interpret these documents however one wants.
The writings of St. Robert Bellarmine, one of the great Doctors of the Church, have also been interpreted in various ways by traditional Catholics. Bellarmine’s writings in De Romano Pontifice on what happens when a Pope becomes a heretic is only a hypothesis. Yet some sedevacantists have managed to elevate this hypothesis to a dogma of faith. The reasoning goes that if one does not subscribe to the sedevacantist hypothesis, then one cannot attend their Masses, receive their Sacraments, or live out one’s religious vocation in their convents. Such was the situation that was faced by 15 Sisters of the CMRI, 10 of whom professed their final vows on Tuesday evening.
It seems to me that these traditional Catholics are no better and no worse than the Protestants of olden days. Remember that Luther, Calvin, and Tyndale believed that Scripture could be interpreted in almost any way that one saw fit. The reasoning is simple. Since the Pope isn’t in charge of the Church, then every Christian believer can interpret the Bible as he or she sees fit or with the guidance of their pastor. I’m sure that we can all see where this kind of thinking went.
It seems to me as well that the traditional Catholic movement is in constant danger of splitting into smaller and smaller groups. Since they do not obey the Pope and do not have the Magisterium of the Church to guide them, there are always squabbles within the movement over what constitutes what. Take a look at the SSPX and then compare their publications with what has been published by Fr. Kevin Vaillancourt in his publication (www.strc.org). While there are many similarities, there are also many differences that cannot be ignored.
While writing this, I would like to note that the writings that get published on the internet are by no means representative of the entire movement. Remember that there are good people who attend these churches and parishes. I know some of them personally and there are many who do not believe in a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy or that the Roman Catholic Church is “the counterfeit church of conciliarism.” Indeed, it is extremely important to separate the person from the actions.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us!