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Thursday, June 22, 2017

A MAJOR SSPX CLARIFICATION: Towards a Doctrinal Agreement? Featured

Written by  Father Jean-Michel Gleize
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“You do not enter into a structure, and under superiors, saying that you are going to shake everything up once you are on the inside, whereas they have everything in hand to stamp us out ! They have all the authority." -
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

Remnant Translator's Note
- Father Gleize has been Professor in Écône since 1996. He was one of the four theologians chosen by the SSPX to represent it during the doctrinal discussions with Rome between 2009 and 2011, and therefore has first-hand knowledge of the Roman theologians in general, and Archbishop Guido Pozzo in particular. This article appeared in the May 2017 edition of the COURRIER DE ROME, a monthly French-language newsletter which was first published in 1964 and which aims to
unite Catholics around the Doctrine of the Church... [It] offers its readers a refutation of the principal errors of the day and shows them the path and light of the Truth(
). This article was published on the SSPX's French District website, HERE. The subtitles have been added by the Remnant translator, who would appreciate your prayers for him and his family.

A “doctrinal agreement” – Two possible meanings.

In a recent interview, Archbishop Guido Pozzo declared that “reconciliation will happen when Bishop Fellay formally adheres to the doctrinal declaration which the Holy See has presented to him. It is also the necessary condition for proceeding to institutional regularization, with the creation of a Personal Prelature”. And in a press-conference given in the airplane during the return journey from his recent pilgrimage to Fatima (May 12-13), Pope Francis alluded to this document, finalized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at its last sitting on Wednesday May 10. From Rome’s point-of-view, therefore, it would appear to be a question of a doctrinal agreement. The expression [“doctrinal agreement”] is, however, ambiguous and can be understood in two ways.


In the first possible meaning of this expression, the goal pursued would be for Tradition to recover all of its rights in Rome, and, consequently, for the Holy See to carry out a serious correction of the doctrinal errors which are at the source of the unprecedented crisis which still rages in the Church. This correction is the goal which is sought after, goal in itself and final cause, principle of all subsequent action in the context of relations with Rome. This goal is none other than the common good of the entire Church. In this sense, “doctrinal agreement” means that Rome must agree, not with the Society of Saint Pius X, but with the doctrine of all time, and return from its errors.

In a second sense, “doctrinal agreement” could refer to the case of Rome agreeing with the Society of Saint Pius X in view of a canonical recognition. This recognition would be the goal in itself, principle of all subsequent action. This goal would be none other than the apparent particular good of a society such as the Society of Saint Pius X. The formulation of a common doctrinal position which would be sufficiently acceptable to both parties would only be the means for obtaining this goal. And it would suffice for this means to be proportionate to the goal - in other words, it would not be necessary for Rome to correct all the errors of the Council; it would be enough for Rome not to impose the profession of these errors. In this sense, “doctrinal agreement” means that the Society agrees with Rome on a certain number of doctrinal affirmations which are exempt from error.

Rome evidently understands “doctrinal agreement” in the second sense.

It is to be feared - indeed it is even evident - that Rome understands “doctrinal agreement” in the second sense, and envisages, at best, a regime of tolerance with regard to the Society, but in no way foresees a correction of the errors of the Council. Up until now, Archbishop Lefebvre's successors made a point of envisaging things from the perspective of the first meaning. Therefore, it is clear that such a “basis of agreement” will always be insufficient so long as Rome has not inserted a correction of the Council's errors.

In effect, the adage holds true here : “ bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu”[1]. The adage must, of course, be understood in the moral sense, and in relation to human acts. If we take Vatican II as a collection of texts, of course we can always separate truth, ambiguity and error, and we can take each passage concerned in isolation. This separation can take place in the context of a dialogue between experts or a commission of revision. However, the Church's practice is not to consider texts as such, but rather from a moral perspective, that is to say, insofar as they are as a whole the object of adhesion on the part of the Church and Its faithful (therefore of a human act considered morally) and risk causing them scandal because of their errors or ambiguities. From this point of view, it is not enough to sign a text which only expresses part of the truth ; it is necessary for Rome to profess the entirety of the whole truth and, ipso facto, condemn the errors which completely vitiate all those partial truths which can be found in the Conciliar and Post-Conciliar magisterium.

[At this point in the original French article, Father Gleize interrupts his reasoning and carries out a long and detailed analysis of the main litigious points of Vatican II – religious liberty, collegiality, ecumenism – as well as the Conciliar and Post-Conciliar magisterium, the Novus Ordo Missae and the New Code of Canon Law. He then resumes:]

As we have already explained, our goal is for Tradition to recover all of its rights in Rome. This goal is first in our intention and will be (as always) last in execution[2]. What does “last ” mean ? Does it mean that the end of the crisis in the Church will take place at the very end (and therefore after an agreement of the Society with Rome)? Or does it mean that the end of the crisis will coincide with this agreement ?

Accepting a canonical recognition – a morally indifferent act...with a double effect.

Our accepting a canonical recognition in the current circumstances corresponds to a morally indifferent act, but which has a double effect – a good essential effect and a bad accidental one. The good effect is to place ourselves in juridical normality in relation to Rome (and even, for some, to [possibly] benefit from an expanded field of apostolate, which remains to be proven). The bad effect is itself double : firstly, the risk of relatavizing Tradition, which would thenceforward only appear as the particular good and the personal theological preference of the Society of Saint Pius X ; secondly the risk of betraying and abandoning this particular good because of the ambient favens haeresim which caracterizes the Conciliar Church per se.

The solution depends first of all on the proportion to be established between the good effect and the bad effect. It is clear that in the intention of our Founder [i.e. Archbishop Lefebvre], it is more important to avoid the bad double effect than to obtain the good effect. The good effect [juridical normality] is here less good than the better good [public profession of the Faith] which the worse double effect [risk of relativization and abandoning of Tradition] opposes. The public profession of the Faith is more important than canonical normality. “ What interests us first of all is to maintain the Catholic Faith. That is our combat. So the canonical question, which is purely exterior and public in the Church, is secondary. What is important is to remain in the Church... in the Church, that is to say in the Catholic Faith of all time and in the true priesthood, and in the true Mass, and in the true sacraments, in the Catechism of all time, with the Bible of all time. That is what interests us. That is what the Church is. To be recognized publicly, that is secondary. So, we mustn't seek secondary things by losing what is fundamental, what is the primary object of our combat [3]”.

Next, the solution depends on the evaluation of the circumstances. Are they such that one can reasonably hope to avoid the bad double effect, that is to say the double risk? Because it is only a risk, no more, no less. The question can be summed up by asking if it is prudent to place oneself under the authority of the members of the Hierarchy of the Church such as they are in the present situation, that is to say (for the most part) still imbued with false principles which are contrary to the Catholic Faith. Some exceptions could undoubtedly be identified; but they prove absolutely nothing against the the general mindset which, taken as a whole, is only too evident. We are here obliged to apply the rule according to which things are designated by their dominant element, and to conclude that the members of the Hierarchy of the Church are currently Modernists. Having said that, two things will help us answer our question: firstly, our own experience, since we have been able to observe that (up to now) none of those who have accepted a canonical recognition from Rome have really been able to avoid the bad double effect; secondly, the experience of our Founder: “You do not enter into a structure, and under superiors, saying that you are going to shake everything up once you are on the inside, whereas they have everything in hand to stamp us out ! They have all the authority[4]”.

Pope Francis and Archbishop Pozzo: unity in diversity.

In the airborne press conference of May 13, the Pope told Nicolas Senèze of the French newspaper La Croix that he wanted to take his time: “A me non piace affrettare le cose. Camminare, camminare, camminare, e poi si vedrà.”  Francis does not want to rush things; for the moment, we must walk and walk again along the path... We must, he said, “walk together in search of the formula which will allow us to go forward”. This sheds an interesting light on the issue which we evoked at the beginning of our reflection: in the Pope's mind, doctrinal formulation is only a means. Doctrine, with the unity of Faith which it guarantees, is not the goal of the procedure. The goal would rather seem to be to go forward together towards full communion in a ceaseless dialogue, a dialogue which should (moreover) continue even after a canonical structure has been granted. And full communion (Archbishop Pozzo tells us in the already quoted interview) is mutual enrichment, beyond doctrinal divergences: “The different points-of-view or opinions which we have on certain questions should not necessarily lead to division, but to a mutual enrichment”. So, would that mean the cohabitation of truth and error in exchange for the price of a common declaration?

Unfortunately, these different points-of-view do not concern merely equally possible opinions. The questions to which they correspond are not “open”  questions about which each and everyone may maintain freedom of thought. These questions have been for the most part definitively resolved by the Magisterium of the Church, well before Vatican II. The religious liberty of Dignitatis Humanae and the positive secularism of Gaudium et Spes are condemned by Quanta Cura of Pius IX. The new ecumenical ecclesiology of Lumen Gentium is condemned by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis and Humani Generis because of the absolutely false principle which would like to establish a real distinction between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church. The ecumenism of Unitatis Redintegratio is condemned by Pius XI in Mortalium Animos. The collegiality of Lumen Gentium, in that it denies the unicity of the subject of the Primacy, falls under the condemnation of Vatican I.

However-much things change, they always stay the same.

In definitive, this “formula which would allow us to go forward” brings us back once more more to the founding text of the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission, the Motu Proprio of July 2, 1988: in it, John-Paul II affirms that Tradition is living. Benedict XVI's 2005 discourse is its echo and direct interpreter: this life of Tradition is “renewal in continuity”: an evolutionist and Modernist renewal, which means to overcome contradiction via an impossible hermeneutic.

What should our conclusion be? We would simply say that the “Society of Saint Pius X does not have to negotiate a charitable recognition which would save it from a supposed schism. It has the immense honor, after forty years of exclusion, to be able to witness in favor of the Catholic Faith in the Vatican [5]”  ...while we wait for Rome to finally decide to expel the perfidious Conciliar errors from the midst of the faithful [6].

[1] Scholastic axiom, which The Catholic Encyclopedia translates as in its article on “Good”: “An action is good when good in every respect; it is wrong when wrong in any respect” (Translator's note).
[2] Saint Thomas Aquinas says in Summa Theologica, Ia IIae, Question 1, Article 1, Ad primum that “although the end be the last in the order of execution, yet it is the first in the order of the agent's intention” (Translator's note).
[3] Archbishop Lefebvre, spiritual conference to seminarians, Écône, Switzerland, December 21, 1984.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Father Gleize is here quoting from René Berthod, Swiss Catholic layman, who died in April 2017 (Translator's note).
[6] Father Gleize is here paraphrasing the sixth verse of the Hymn for Vespers of All Saints, Placare, Christe, servulis.., which begins: “The race perfidious expel from regions where the faithful dwell...” (Translator's note).


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Last modified on Thursday, June 22, 2017