Today is April 17th in Europe, where the future of the SSPX has already been decided. Despite it being the age of email, there still has to be the formal exchange of letters and the waiting which diplomatic protocol has necessitated for centuries.
For those of us whose sacramental and daily Catholic lives will not be affected by an SSPX "reunification," the fascination is still intense, as the drama of "Rome and Econe," as the Archbishop so often put it, has now spanned over four decades. Its time is now drawing to an end.
Before I explain why I think there will finally be a deal, I want to point this out to those who consider themselves "true blue" SSPX: this is the logical consequence of recognizing this man as Pope. At some point, you will stop "negotiating" with the man you consider the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth and you will actually start doing what Catholics are supposed to do: obey him.
Because the SSPX has been nebulous for years on the true status of Vatican II and the New Mass (Fr. Schmidberger publishes a pamphlet condemning its errors, then Bishop Fellay says the SSPX accepts 95% of the Council; the Archbishop calls the Novus Ordo the Mass of Luther, but the SSPX authors a poorly-done anonymous pamphlet which merely deplores a rupture in liturgical tradition, neatly sidestepping an attack on what is best termed, in Hamlet's words, "maimed rites."), the faithful really don't know what to think or say. Some faithful think there should ultimately be a union, others, true to their revolutionary Puritan American roots, prefer endless "resistance" to the "established Church."
SSPXers should be happy. They are finally "coming home." And they are coming home into the arms of the only man who would likely have them. The man stuck in the cognitive dissonance that is Vatican II. Indeed, he helped write that Schoenberg-like noise. Latin should have pride of place, BUT where needed the vernacular should be used, etc. etc. etc.
Here are the reasons that there will finally be a reconciliation. They are listed in order of importance and relevance:
1. Bishop Fellay has run his organization with an iron fist over the last decade. He has appointed all the District Superiors and has forced changes in the rules of the SSPX that disallow anyone, including the 3 other bishops, to speak "on behalf of the SSPX." No priests may write blogs or give interviews or write sermons that deviate from "the party line." This is a novelty in the Church. There is no "Franciscan" or "Jesuit" position on anything. He is in a situation - right before an upcoming Chapter of the SSPX - to make a decision with little to no veto from the mostly powerless superiors. He has stripped them, through maneuvers, of any effective ability to countermand his decisions. It is said that Bishop Williamson and the other 2 bishops are opposed to a deal, but we shall see what will ultimately happen.
2. The faithful do not own the chapels. They have zero leverage. The SSPX owns everything. Even if faithful do wish to leave, whither will they go? Is it likely after years of having daily and Sunday Mass, a local school, and a parish life that they will return to garage Masses? Not likely. What will be interesting will be to watch the chemistry of parish life change as the "fraidy cats" - those who were afraid of "excommunication" for attending SSPX Masses come in and bring their modern and modernist ideas into the SSPX chapels.
3. The time has finally come. The dance can only go on so long. La Croix presciently stated that if the SSPX does not sign now, it will never sign. What's the point of saying over and over that there are "problems with the Council" when the SSPX has never been willing to go all the way and say there are outright heresies in Vatican II and that this fact alone calls everything into question. If you have "difficulties," at some point they will have to be resolved. If you find "heresies," and the man you consider Pope helps promulgate them, then you have no solution. It's its own twisted version of a self-defeating practical sedevacantism called "recognize and resist."
4. The clergy do not possess the will to oppose Bishop Fellay. The men who are true characters - men with real vim and vigor because they are willing to use their MINDS that were given to them by God - have been banished to Europe, Asia, or Australia. The vast majority of the rest of the clergy, with clear exceptions here and there, will fall in line. In some ways, this is good and Catholic - you should obey. But because the SSPX has never been sure of what exactly it feels about the Council and the Mass, there is, of course, confusion.
5. Leftward drift of the official publications of the SSPX, viz. DICI, the Angelus, SSPX.org in the United States, and the Letters of the Superior General and the various District Superiors. Routinely now we are told stories of Novus Ordo Bishops and there are defenses of various Novus Ordo actions and publications. The tone of many of the publications is now accommodationist. The change has been slow and subtle, over several years, but it has been obvious to those of us who actually read what the SSPX publishes.
6. Anecdotal accounts from around the US and other parts of the world of strange-sounding sermons - of a sort of preparing the way for faithful to accept the Novus Ordo structure. Part of this has been fueled by the use in the United States of priests ordained in the New Ordinal, which falls under a rite of episcopal consecration that Bishop Tissier de Mallerais has publicly doubted, and which the Archbishop himself doubted.
I would urge those who are themselves confused about the situation to pray, as Bishop Fellay said, for guidance. For those who have claimed to recognize JPI, JPII, and BXVI as true popes, welcome home. For those of you who cannot see how you can reconcile yourselves to Vatican II and the New Mass coexisting within your Catholic universe, perhaps it might be time to call some things Catholic and some things what they are: not Catholic.
Then follow the consequences, wherever they lead you, no matter how frightening they be, asking Our Lord for guidance and Our Lady for strength.
Sancte Pie Decime, ora pro nobis.