One of the things that has puzzled me about the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is their recognition of Pope Benedict XVI as the Pope, but their resistance in obeying him. There are many “resist and recognize” traditionalists out there. One of those used to be Dr. Thomas Droleskey, who became a sedevacantist a while back and has since become friends with Bishops Daniel Dolan, Mark Pivarunas, Donald Sanborn, and Robert McKenna. Yet the “resist and recognize” crowd is much larger than the group of sedevacantists because they are represented by the SSPX.
It seems to me that one of the reasons for recognizing and resisting the Pope is because mistakes were made by the Second Vatican Council. I remember speaking with somebody who attends the SSPX parish over the border in Idaho and I asked her how she could explain her position. She told me about the famous “subsistet in” that is found in the Vatican Council documents and gave some other example such as the Novus Ordo Missae. I was going to ask how the SSPX then could recognize the Pope while disobeying him, but I wasn’t able because I didn’t have any time.
To me, the resist and recognize phenomenon is futile. Either somebody obeys the Pope and follows the Magisterium of the Church or one doesn’t. One cannot sit on the fence and believe one thing (the Pope exists), but do another (ordain priests and celebrate Sacraments without the Pope’s permission). The recent story about reconciliation between the SSPX and Rome was interesting because it brought to light many different ideas about the SSPX to the fore.
One of the main arguments that was posited by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in his letter to the SSPX was that the SSPX should not have a Magisterium that it considers superior to that of Holy Mother Church. This is something that is a sticking point not only for the SSPX, but also for numerous other traditionalist groups such as the CMRI. The fact of the matter is that if one takes away the Magisterium of the Church, something or someone else will have to fill that vacuum. Therefore, we have many self-appointed theologians, priests, and bishops who interpret the rulings of past popes as they see fit rather than as the Church has taught.
One of the things that the SMMC mentioned when they were on EWTN was how much of what they had received from the CMRI was a misinterpretation of the truth. Many of the things that sedevacantists and other traditionalists hold sacred such as the writings of St. Robert Bellarmine in “De Romano Pontificis” have been grossly exaggerated to such a degree that key elements of their ideas have been left out. For example, Bellarmine writes that if a pope were to become a heretic, a large majority of cardinals and other members of the Church are to offer resistance to him for his heresy. Nothing of the sort has happened in the traditional movement as a whole. Rather, only a small group of people has decided that they will resist the Pope.
Yet resistance in many ways is futile. There has to be a moment of reckoning when one does see the light and recognize the Church for who She is and what She stands for. Therefore, the resist and recognize position is futile.
Our Lady of the Most Sacred Heart, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
St. Pius X, pray for us!