SSPX Regularisation In Year of Mercy?

SSPX Regularisation In Year of Mercy?

On April 1 this year, reports emerged that the Superior General of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) was welcomed with open arms at the Vatican by the man some regard as the most liberal pope of all time.  

No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s story; the summit actually took place. Even more remarkably, the meeting was described by traditionalists as “very positive”. There was good reason to be incredulous. The SSPX is a traditionalist group that fiercely oppose the changes brought about following the Second Vatican Council. Their leader Bishop Fellay was so disappointed with the recent apostolic exhortation that he said it made him weep. 

Pope Francis: SSPX is Catholic - that is evident
                   Pope Francis: SSPX is Catholic –             that is evident

Meanwhile, Pope Francis is adored by secular commentators and during his time as Pontiff has fast-tracked the canonisation of the architect of Vatican II, [Pope] John XXIII, with whom he is regularly compared. It is difficult to imagine much common ground between Bishop Fellay and Francis, and yet the Pope has taken constructive steps in order to bring the estranged SSPX back into full communion with the Church. 

Francis’s sympathies existed long before he was elected Pope. When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and members of the SSPX applied for visas to work in the country, he vouched for their Catholicity to the Argentine Government, reportedly saying: “You are Catholic – it is evident.”

But the big gesture of inclusion came when Pope Francis announced that during the Year of Mercy, contrary to former rules, Catholics would be able to receive absolution from SSPX priests. In a letter last year, he wrote: “This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one.”

As Fr John Zuhlsdorf pointed out: “If the Holy Father is willing to go this far with the priests of the SSPX, is it hard to imagine that this merciful concession might not be extended beyond the Year of Mercy? I would like to think so.” He then observed, in an analogy with American history: “If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Pope Francis is the Pope who will reconcile the SSPX.”

Pope Francis encouraged Bishop Fellay to open a seminary in Italy
Pope Francis to Bishop Fellay:  open a seminary in Italy!

Perhaps. After all, Rorate Caeli, a blog that is not usually overflowing with optimism about Francis, was positive about Bishop Fellay and Francis’s meeting last week. It reports that during the meeting “the Pope confirmed that the SSPX was Catholic in his eyes. He confirmed that he never would condemn it, he confided that he wishes to expand the faculties of the SSPX, starting with the authorisation of its priests to validly hear Confession. Finally, during the talks in Rome, Bishop Fellay was encouraged to establish a seminary in Italy.”

The question still remains as to why Francis is so keen to extend the hand of friendship. Paul Vallely, author of Pope Francis: Untying the Knots: The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism, says Francis’s approach is typical of his inclusive character: “He wants everyone inside the Church and inside the conversation … Being welcoming to the SSPX is part of his openness.”

Austen Ivereigh, author of The Great Reformer, agrees: “Like his predecessors, Pope Francis takes very seriously his mission of restoring the unity of the Church. Orthodox, Anglicans, SSPX – wherever there has been a split, he will try to heal it … Extending the SSPX’s faculty of Confessions is one area where he sees they can do something together – and create space for the Holy Spirit to act. That’s how he sees his task as Pope.”

Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, notes that traditionalists and SSPX are on the outskirts of the Church. He said: “Pope Francis has shown a particular interest in this important work of the Petrine Office, in relation not only to the SSPX but also to the ‘Patriotic’ Catholics of China, and the Orthodox …

“There is also a parallel between Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass and others found on the ‘peripheries’ of the Church, since as Pope Benedict remarked they have been treated as ‘lepers’, and suffered real marginalisation. The reasons for the attitude pushing them to the margins is increasingly difficult to understand, and clearly not shared by Pope Francis.”

The fact that so many liberals warm to Francis makes some traditional Catholics uneasy. But if Francis really is today’s pin-up for “progressive” Catholics, he is certainly teaching them a thing or two about how to be genuinely inclusive, and this includes welcoming traditionalists. Click here to read original


We did discuss the possibility – likelihood even  – of a speedy recognition of the Society back in February click here to read that previous post. Despite all the scandals, notably the recent Exhortation, it seems that Pope Francis is still well disposed towards the SSPX.  The key question is… why?  

Comments (69)

  • RCA Victor

    Here is the full text of Bishop Fellay’s April 10th sermon during the pilgrimage to Notre-Dame du Puy-en-Velay:

    Which includes this surprising statement (under “The Meeting with Pope Francis”):

    Well, he [Pope Francis] explained to us that Benedict XVI, at the end of his pontificate, had set a deadline, and that if the Society did not accept the Roman proposal by that date, he had decided that the Society would be excommunicated. And Pope Francis went on to tell us: the Holy Spirit was probably the one who inspired Benedict XVI and told him a few days before his resignation to abandon that plan, because Benedict XVI said: I leave this matter to my successor.

    Well indeed! So much for my theory that Pope Francis’ seemingly inexplicable behavior toward the SSPX is being pushed behind the scenes by Pope Benedict! The plot thickens….

    April 17, 2016 at 6:47 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      RCA Victor,

      That is amazing about Pope Benedict ready to excommunicate the Society. There’s a very good example of the Holy Spirit making Benedict change his mind and even more so that even a liberal pope like Francis didn’t want to excommunicate but wants to reconcile! The Holy Spirit is truly still working to make sure the faith can be saved from the heretics who are doing their best to destroy it.

      April 17, 2016 at 7:08 pm
    • Athanasius

      RCA Victor,

      That’s quite a revelation. And here were we thinking that Pope Benedict had come under pressure from the Curial liberals precisely because of his indulgences to the SSPX. One lives and learns.

      By the way, Pope Francis keeps saying that Benedict “resigned”. He did not resign, he abdicated. This is very clear from the declaration he made at the time. He said “I renounce the Papacy”, not “I resign the Papacy”. This is quite a dangerous myth Pope Francis is spreading around.

      April 18, 2016 at 12:40 am
  • RCA Victor

    As for Joseph Shaw’s statement that “traditionalists and the SSPX are on the outskirts of the Church,” I wonder if he’s ever asked himself how Tradition could possibly be on the outskirts of the Church, which is built on Tradition and which must preserve that foundation until the end of time.

    April 17, 2016 at 6:49 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      RCA Victor,

      I’m very surprised that Joseph Shaw said that about “outskirts” – I thought the LMS were getting closer to the Society, and Shaw is part of the Rorate Caeli blog which seems to be very pro the Society. It’s hard to tell who’s who, these days.

      April 17, 2016 at 7:10 pm
      • jimislander

        Rorate Caeli is the mouthpiece for the ESSP, which supports all of Vat2. I stopped going too their site sometime ago. I am sorry to see the LMS take this stance. I thought better of them. Divide and conquer as usual.

        April 17, 2016 at 7:34 pm
      • Prognosticum

        RCA Victor and Margaret Mary,

        As far as I can see, all Mr Shaw meant is that traditionalists have been treated like outcasts, which they have.

        April 17, 2016 at 9:24 pm
  • Prognosticum


    I see no reason to abandon my ‘big tent’ assessment of Francis’s approach to the FSSPX which I set out in February.

    The key question is what is the FSSPX is going to do with Francis’s olive branch. The ball is now very firmly in their court.

    April 17, 2016 at 9:49 pm
  • Lionel

    “The key question is… why?”
    I suppose that he just does not care!… He wants everybody to be satisfied…

    April 17, 2016 at 10:51 pm
    • editor


      I’m inclined to agree with you – he’s like an Anglican Pope, happy to work to get the several “wings” co-existing with one another. Crazy.

      April 17, 2016 at 11:36 pm
      • Petrus

        I agree, Editor. It’s not at all Catholic.

        April 18, 2016 at 5:55 pm
      • Lionel

        Indeed, it seems to be at the least peculiar (bizarre)!!!

        April 18, 2016 at 9:59 pm
      • Lionel

        A confidant of Paul VI, Jean Guitton, did he not say to Michèle Reboul (Monde & Vie n°734 of 15th July 2004): “the Catholic Church died on the first day of the Council, leaving the place to the ecumenical Church”? Perhaps, but it is not the religion that we chose the day of our Baptism and to which we are committed. There would be, somehow, a “breach of contract” by the Authorities of the Church…
        I think that this policy may lead to relativism, not to evangelization and even less to the Faith!…

        April 18, 2016 at 10:38 pm
  • Athanasius

    I agree with Prognosticum on this; Pope Francis has this ‘Big Tent’ idea of the Church which is not too dissimilar to the Anglican model. The problem with his plan, especially in relation to the Orthodox, Lutherans, etc., is that it is a pursuance of unity in diversity rather than unity in truth. There is a very great difference between the two. Unity in truth is Catholic. Unity in diversity is the Tower of Babel!

    April 18, 2016 at 12:43 am
    • Prognosticum

      I agree wholeheartedly. I may be wrong, but I find Francis to be steeped in Rahnerism. (Ok, you will say, as a Jesuit of his generation, how could not be?)

      Rahner is in may ways the official theologian of the Jesuit order. And in Rahner the bounderies between the Church and the World, between the baptised and the unbaptised, to say nothing of the distinctions between the various Christian ‘confessions’, is blurred to say the least.

      Often when I hear Francis, my mind goes back to an affirmation which I read in Rahner many years ago. I cannot remember the precise quotation (although I am sure that at a push I could find it), but it went something like ‘Every Christian has the right to presume that his or her Church is the true Church.’ To which I say, bollocks! Every Christian has first of all the duty to seek out the truth.

      Francis is Rahnerian poision.

      April 18, 2016 at 8:27 pm
      • Athanasius


        I would say Rahner with no little Teilhard de Chardin for flavouring!

        April 18, 2016 at 9:52 pm
  • Athanasius

    I should have mentioned that it would be ironic indeed if arguably the most radical Modernist to sit on the Chair of Peter to date was the one who finally cast aside all liberal demands of the SSPX, acknowledging it for what it is and thereby establishing the Society as a true bullwark against Modernism with Papal protection. God certainly does move in mysterious ways!

    April 18, 2016 at 12:48 am
    • Prognosticum


      Bishop Fellay is going to have to tread very carefully here.

      Francis will welcome the FSSPX with open arms for two reasons: first, because he will be seen to be compassionate and accommodating towards positions very different from his own (something not to be sniffed at in the wake of the Amoris Laetitia debacle from the point of view of the most media conscious Pope in history); second, because Francis is indifferent to Truth, he thinks that the Church can accommodate every position under the sun, even the most doctrinally disparate.

      The FSSPX are going to have to make it abundantly clear that they are not about to become a pawn in Francis’s attempts at Anglicanising the Catholic Church of Christ. They must be especially clear, in the wake of Amoris Laetitia, that they are not going to be a party to Francis Jesuitical–and frankly laughable–attempt to drive a wedge between doctrine and pastoral practice.

      But I remain optimistic. The FSSPX should play Francis for all they are worth. Their regularization has the potential to be a very great resource in these troubled times.

      April 18, 2016 at 8:16 pm
      • Athanasius


        Yes, I understand that Bishop Fellay said something to this effect recently; that the SSPX would make its position perfectly clear and leave no room for negotiation with Modernism. Much depends on the detail of any reconciliation proposal offered by Rome of course, the devil always being in the detail. However, if after studying a proposal closely for loopholes all was found to appear secure for the SSPX, then it could be a major boost for the Church at this time of utter confusion. I like to think this is what Our Lord has planned.

        April 19, 2016 at 12:35 am
  • RCA Victor

    Quite ironic! Unfortunately, Francis’ “big tent” also includes those in a state of mortal sin, which means that the “big tent” might be better described as a “big pit.” May the Society never fall into it unawares! (I’m sure, in reference to Prognisticum’s “olive branch,” that Bishop Fellay and his assistants will thoroughly disinfect said branch before touching it…)

    I found some interesting statements in Spirago & Clarke that might shed some light on this Francis/SSPX paradox, under “Indestructibility of the Church”:

    1. “It is peculiar to the Church,” says St. Hilary, “to flourish most when persecuted.”
    2. “To the Church as well as to Eve were the words spoken: ‘In sorrow though shalt thou bring forth children.'”
    3. “The time of persecution is usually a period of miracles, attesting the divine origin of the Church.”

    Just to think out loud for a moment, if this present crisis, a comprehensive attack from within, is the greatest persecution and sorrow the Church has ever experienced, then surely her greatest weapon is also her most despised: Tradition, those who have preserved it, and those who are her children, flourishing under her mantle.

    So though it seems that, in a spiritual sense, Francis knoweth not what he doeth, Someone Else obviously does…

    April 18, 2016 at 2:06 am
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      Good point. I paid a quick visit to our February discussion on this and found that you made another good point. Keep up this habit, and I’ll have to seriously consider that long promised pay rise!

      In February, you wrote:

      “I’m having trouble with “Pope Francis’ ‘big tent’ theory.” This doesn’t fit in with either his savage persecution of the FFI, nor with his constant verbal assaults on faithful Catholics – traditionalist as well as Novus Ordo orthodox…”

      And Gabriel Syme followed that up with his view that Papa Francis is happy enough to tolerate groups like the SSPX which he considers to be small in the context of the entire Church, but not if they are a real threat (words to that effect).

      So, the mystery continues… What IS he up to? Is it just that he wants to tick the “job done” box on the list of things to do, and move on, (which, of course, nevertheless, allows God’s will to be achieved) or is there something else at play?

      Me no know, me ask clever people for their contraception perception.

      April 18, 2016 at 10:31 am
      • RCA Victor


        You mean my 6 figure salary might increase to 7? According to my careful prosthesis, I’d be rolling in zeros! BTW, how do you do that crossout thing?

        April 18, 2016 at 3:51 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor

        To cross out a word, you just follow the same rule as for italics and bold, but use “del” instead of the letter i or b

        So, here’s an example. I want to cross out the word nugget in the following sentence and put muppet instead…

        Here’s the sentence: RCA Victor, you are a nugget muppet

        1) In front of the word you want to cross out put backward arrow, then type del then put forward arrow
        2) At end of the word you want to cross out put backward arrow, forward slash, type del then put forward arrow.

        Key-point – leave no spaces at all – that’s very important. Won’t work if you leave spaces.

        Hope this is slightly clearer than mud!

        April 18, 2016 at 8:10 pm
      • Prognosticum

        Interesting. Any place where one can get a complete list of these editing commands?

        April 18, 2016 at 8:37 pm
      • editor

        It seems to be the same principle for everything – if you wish to bold a word or paragraph you use the backward arrow type the letter b followed by forward arrow (then at the end of the word/paragraph) the backward arrow followed by the forward slash, letter b and then forward arrow. Ditto for putting italics, using the letter i (always small case and always without leaving spaces)

        Do the arrows, command letter or letters then close with arrows and forward slash.

        That’s all I know. If you want to check it out for yourself, visit WordPress site and you’re sure to find detailed instructions there.

        April 18, 2016 at 10:24 pm
      • Prognosticum

        Great!. Merci beaucoup.

        April 19, 2016 at 1:43 am
      • RCA Victor

        Thanks, Creditor Editor!

        April 18, 2016 at 8:51 pm
      • Athanasius

        RCA Victor

        Yes, editor pays out in half binary. She gives us the zeros but never the ones!

        April 18, 2016 at 9:56 pm
      • editor


        But what a LOT of zeros! You must admit, I’m very gregarious generous with those…

        April 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm
      • Athanasius


        Yes indeed, you’re a dab hand with the duck eggs!

        April 19, 2016 at 1:06 am
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        I can’t help thinking you’re off your head off topic !

        April 18, 2016 at 10:25 pm
  • GildasWiseman

    There are many reasons why Pope Francis might show favour to the SSPX. The thinking behind the concept could regard his love of the marginalized, those souls living on the peripheral of life’s great stage. It could be that he thinks the traditional movement as being insignificant and no match for his vision and synodal changes of the Church; bring them in and forget about them, they will just fizzle out in time, approach; my revolutionary insights are no match for them. It might be his love of novelty and showmanship. reconcile them, show the world that that I am a true peacemaker. He may think that by bringing them back into the church, he can control them and ultimately silence or destroy them in a surreptitious manner. The bishops of the Society are aware of the dangers involved and quite naturally they are being very cautious. It could be wise for them to stay where they are in the Church. Their position is one of holy resistance to the terrifying novelties that emanate from the Conciliar cult in the Church. They are persecuted by the constant accusation that they are schismatic and out of the Church and by implied threats of excommunication again, by the majority of bishops, priests and laity of the world. As it is said, persecution brings great fruit. Then again, if they are given a canonical recognition with no string attached many bishops, priests and laity fed up to the back teeth with the Novas Ordo “Church” might jump ship and attend SSPX Mass Centres, or support them more openly; who knows? Personally, God Willing, I shall continue to attend SSPX Masses in good conscience as I have done so for a great many years, oblivious to the weekly torture of the N.O “celebrations” I hope to fight the good fight in any way I am able. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us

    April 18, 2016 at 11:02 am
    • RCA Victor


      Well said. I think the “insignificant” and “silence/destroy” are the most likely options, but really I’m in the same boat as Editor (not the one with the holes in it though) – I have no idea what this is really about.

      April 18, 2016 at 3:55 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        At the risk of appearing to be cynical through to uncharitable, a gal might be forgiven for thinking that what this is all about is (drum roll) good publicity for Papa Francis. Si?

        April 18, 2016 at 10:31 pm
      • RCA Victor

        I dunno, Editor – we’re not exactly loved by the world, so I don’t know what kind of (positive) publicity he would get out of a reconciliation. And I”m sure B’nai B’rith would have a well-orchestrated hissy fit, to boot…

        April 18, 2016 at 11:31 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        Publicity along the lines of how wonderful he is to bring in the marginalized schismatically inclined SSPX blah blah.

        But there again, I could be – unlikely as it seems – wrong…not, perhaps, absolutely accurate…

        April 19, 2016 at 12:21 am
  • gabriel syme

    It is shocking to learn of Benedicts plan to excommunicate the members of Society if talks had not been brought to a conclusion by a certain date.

    I suppose (from his point of view) he was trying to use ‘the carrot and the stick’ – but then, how foolish would he have looked, to have rescinded the excommunication of the Bishops only to then re-impose it in short order? It would have looked petulant and given the impression that he could not make his mind up. And how would such a move have been at all credible in the face of widespread heterodoxy and dissent in the wider Church?

    I cant remember the source, but recently I read a comment from Francis saying that one of the first things put on his desk as Pope was the paperwork to excommunicate the society and he was told all he needed to do was sign it, but he refused. I thought that was the liberals, who underminded Benedict, at work again – but it seems not.

    It is ironic that the Society look to be getting a fairer time (if by drastically different criteria) from Francis, than they might have gotten from Benedict, despite the latter having more sympathy with certain aspects of the SSPX outlook.

    Regardless of what shabby state the Church is in, an SSPX regularisation can only be a good thing for everyone. I do not perceive any risk for the Society in such a situation, because they have shown for many years that they will not bow to any nonsense or skullduggery.

    Personally, I think a resolution is a “done deal” and I think things are simply proceeding at a calm pace to make sure everything properly considered and to avoid “frightening the horses”.

    And while this Pontificate leaves a lot to be desired, there are positives:

    One positive is the stirring of many neo-con Catholics to a proper understanding of the crisis in the Church. For example, Steve Skojec (1 Peter 5 blog) used to be very wary of the SSPX, saying the natural allure of traditional Catholicism “felt like a trap”. But increasingly he now talks like the SSPX.

    But the main positive is a lot of things being said regarding the SSPX can now not be taken back by the Roman authorities. For example, Francis has said the Catholicity of the SSPX “is evident” and ++Pozzo has said disagreement around Vatican II are “not an obstacle”.

    These statements can now never be reversed by current or future authorities, unless they wish to strip themselves of all credibility and make themselves look like fools in the process.

    My own feeling is that if the Society can be regularised under this Pontificate and the worthwhile Cardinals can get their act together, as regards electing even a half-decent next Pope, then the Church will be starting to judder back around onto the right path again (turning like a shopping trolley with a gammy wheel).

    A regularised SSPX would act like a beacon to the whole Church and provide a model for the Western Bishops who have largely lost all notion of themselves and what their role is. Many only act as “diplomats” for ecumenical events and general administrators, not shepherds.

    Look at the Scottish Dioceses – it would be hard to imagine more directionless, aimless and moribund structures.

    Yet, a regularised SSPX, free from gossip and sniping, would not doubt cause many Diocesan clergy to ask – Why cant we be like them? Why cant we speak clearly? Why cant we teach? Why cant our liturgy and practices be authentic?

    April 18, 2016 at 11:02 am
  • gabriel syme

    For the record, I do think Francis is genuinely impressed by the SSPX.

    Yes, as a true Son of Vatican II, he has little time for doctrine and liturgy.

    However, there is much more to the SSPX than their admirable fidelity and authenticity in those important spheres.

    The Society is also a powerhouse in terms of charitable work and education. And it is this which impresses Francis, this is the face of the SSPX he saw in Argentina. And this is why he accepts their direct speech and their criticism, because their great Christian credibility means they possess the right to be forthright.

    I marvel at the content of SSPX newsletters from Africa, Asia etc. What good work the Society does.

    Could anyone imagine Archbishop Tartaglia struggling through the mud in a remote village, in a cassock and hard-hat, helping local people carry heavy building materials to construct a Church?

    Could anyone imagine the smug, trouser-suited “nuns” of the Conciliar Church teaching barefoot kids in a ramshackle classroom in the unstable 3rd world?

    Could anyone imagine the overly-comfortable modern Clergy travelling 100s of miles in a single day to bring the sacraments to hungry souls, as our own SSPX priest do?

    Yes, it is their great charity and their zeal for souls which impresses Francis about the SSPX.

    And for comfirmation, we have the knowledge of his enjoyment of reading of the life of ++Lefebvre, not once but twice! He must see the dynamism and zeal of ++Lefebvre living on within his many sons.

    April 18, 2016 at 11:29 am
    • Petrus

      That’s a very good point, Gabriel. He had a favourable view of the Society in Argentina. I also believe he was on good terms with Fr Gruner.

      April 18, 2016 at 5:57 pm
      • editor

        Gabriel Syme, Petrus,

        Well, the Society remains in an irregular situation and Russia remains un-consecrated…

        As RCA Victor and DOTF might say, “go figure…”

        April 18, 2016 at 10:32 pm
  • Christina

    I can’t really hazard a guess as to what Pope Francis is up to here, but one possibility of what is now to be done mentioned by Gildas Wiseman sums up my own thoughts on the matter:

    ‘It could be wise for them (SSPX) to stay where they are in the Church. Their position is one of holy resistance to the terrifying novelties that emanate from the Conciliar cult in the Church.’

    I can’t imagine that any announcement about regularisation would significantly alter the perception in the mainstream about the status of the Society. A hissed ‘Schismatic’ is the usual conditioned reflex to any mention of it, and denials from Rome so far don’t seem to have made much difference.

    Abp. Pozzo said to Bishop Fellay “You have the right to defend your opinion on religious liberty, on ecumenism, on relations with other religions as set forth in Nostra Aetate.” Until comparatively recently that would surely have called for an immediate ‘Te Deum’ at Menzingen, and a regularised Society would carry on, outwardly at least, as usual, outside the ken of a largely modernist priesthood and a theologically-illiterate laity. But the outrageous Exhortation has surely changed things, and an agreement now might imply an acceptance of this by the SSPX – which is made to appear as being apparently concerned only with ‘interpretation’ of 50 year old documents. I am wondering if this is what is in Pope Francis’s mind.

    April 18, 2016 at 10:53 pm
    • editor


      Given that Bishop Fellay has been quite outspoken about the Exhortation, saying it made him weep, I don’t think that even the theologically illiterate could seriously claim that the Society accepts what you rightly describe as “the outrageous Exhortation”.

      On the other hand…. You’re probably right… modernists tend not to let the facts get in the way of their lies 😯

      April 19, 2016 at 12:18 am
      • Christina

        Editor, the theologically illiterste wouldn’t know anything about Bishop Fellay’s tears. In all probability they will never have heard of him! I’m referring to the laity who still go to Mass, were educated in schools that long ago stopped teaching the faith. Where do you think they are going to hear about the Society, or its refusal to accept certain Vat.II constitutions? Would they know anything about Vat.II’s teaching anyway? How would they hear about any regularisation? It won’t be reported in the more accessible news sources, and nor will it be announced from most NO lecterns.These are the sheep, who accepted ‘the new ways’, not understanding why. I’ve talked to some of them in my NO days, and truly they didn’t accept or understand that the Church is in a mess. Even some SSPX Mass attenders show ignorane of the Society’s position. One very close to me is among them. She goes to the Mass, but that is all she is interesred in, and she is far from unintelligent.

        Please don’t misunderstand me. I am referring to a majority, of the laity and only from my own observation and experience. I may be wildly wrong, and the NO pews may be filled with people who read the traditionalist news and blogs, and have read the documents of Vat.II and know all about the SSPX refusal to accept all of them and why, but I don’t think so.

        That is why I don’t be!ieve that regularisation will make very much difference, in tne short term anyway, to the broad and primrose parh of the mainstream.

        If youu like I’ll change my user name and avatar to Cassandra. Exit, wailing and wringing hands.😱

        April 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm
      • Christina

        Path even.

        April 19, 2016 at 1:32 pm
      • editor


        We are at (friendly!) cross purposes.

        I agree that there are very many, if not a majority of laity in the pews who won’t even know about the existence of the SSPX. Interestingly, however, I’ve never met any. I’ve met a lot of diocesan Catholics who do know about the SSPX and know that they are not quite the flavour of the ecclesiastical month, so to speak, but don’t know much more. When they ask which parish I am in, I explain that I don’t attend Mass there but go to the SSPX church in Renfrew Street. Only occasionally, has anyone asked me for details (“Oh, I didn’t know there was a Catholic church in Renfrew Street…**!!??) – most appear to know, and change the subject!

        I was thinking more of the other group of people whom I regularly meet, won’t say where, in case I cause offence, those who are informed but still suffer from varying levels of theological illiteracy.

        Recently, for example, I met someone who seems very clued up about the crisis in the Church, knew all about the history of the new Mass and was shock horrified at it – while continuing to attend because the priest in her parish is very nice/good! There are quite a few in that category in my experience – in fact, I met one only this weekend who actually attended the Society Mass in Glasgow – very pleasant person indeed – who was astonished that the SSPX priest “criticised” Pope Francis over the Exhortation because he (newcomer) thought the Exhortation showed Francis as a compassionate, caring pope!

        So, there is no question about the fact that the laity is, definitely, as a “brand”, theologically illiterate, but my comment referred to those who are aware of the crisis in the Church and do know about the Society, albeit to a certain extent, and are still reticent about supporting/attending SSPX chapels due to the vestiges of propaganda and/or the “irregular” status label.

        Not sure if the above clarifies or confuses matters but it’s the best I can do, as my afternoon tea-break approaches – this gal’s got her priorities right!

        April 19, 2016 at 2:10 pm
  • Prognosticum

    Bishop Fellay is not the only one to have weeped at the Exhortation. When I was in the process of reading it, I had heart palpitations which forced me, literally, to go and lie down. I was overtaken by a sense of anxiousness and helplessness which remained with me for a whole day and which only prayer to Our Lady seemed to banish. I do not know quite why, but I was left with the feeling that the Church is being punished for the sins of her sons and daughters, mine included. I looked back on the years since Vatican II, at the various developments and novelties–many of which I too have justified–and I thought, ‘Here it is. I have been wrong all along. The end game really is heresy, and it consists in accommodating to the Gospel to the World, the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to set us free, to the hedonistic lies of the Father of Lies.’

    The passing of a few days and my own natural tendency to rationality has helped me to begin to see round Amoris Laetitia. But the only way round it is to consider it as not a part of the legitimate Magisterium. It is my view that the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, and her consequent refusal to grant Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried, is an infallible part of the Ordinary Magisterium because it has been taught in the Church always and everywhere. Ergo, no Pope can teach a doctrine to the contrary, and if he does, he must be resisted. However, and I do not know how many Catholics appreciate it, the real danger of this document is that it attempts–not very successfully, in my view–to drive a wedge between doctrine and pastoral practice, which is about a sensical as attempting to drive a wedge between physics and engineering. Sooner or later you are going to design something that is going to blow up in your face.

    This Exhortation has forced me into a radical re-think of my positions in a vast number of areas. At the moment, I cannot purge one of the tenets of the late, great Michael Davies from my mind, namely, that the Reformation in England was brought about not so much by bloody persecution as by the reforming of the liturgical books and, consequently, of the liturgy. This all started with Vatican II and the authorization of a process of ‘reform’ which led to the suppression of the Mass of the Ages. The Devil needed this bastion to be removed before wreaking havoc in doctrine, just as his war on the family began with its biggest and bloodiest battle and which made all subsequent battles seem easy, i.e. the legalization and, consequently, the cultural legitimisation of abortion.

    In the light of all of the foregoing, I consider that the regularisation of the FSSPX would be of great benefit to the Church in the face of the Francis phenomenon which, I fear, is now ready to turn its sights on priestly celibacy. (It is already at work on a dismantling of the Petrine office through a new synodality.). If nothing else, it would give many of us, who feel extremely vulnerable at the present time, a safe haven from which to withstand the onslaught of a modernism which has passsed from theory to action in three short years and which shows not signs of abating.

    April 19, 2016 at 2:19 am
    • editor


      “I do not know how many Catholics appreciate it, the real danger of this document is that it attempts–not very successfully, in my view–to drive a wedge between doctrine and pastoral practice…”

      This is precisely what we have been emphasising throughout this entire controversy.

      As for the status of the Apostolic Exhortation – these have no legislative status. They are a papal expression of whatever, an urge to holiness, sometimes, in this case the reflections, so to speak, of a pope following a synod, but not binding on Catholics. The damage is done though, due to the ignorance of Catholics who are sadly badly educated about the limits of papal authority to the extent that if the pope expresses the view that it will probably rain tomorrow, they would go out and buy an umbrella. Numpties.

      As for the SSPX – no need to wait for “regularisation”. Find that “safe haven” – the nearest Society chapel – and attend Mass there from now on. It’s about the only way to peace of soul, these days. Not perfect (nothing is) but you will, at least, know that you are attending the Mass that nourished the saints, and you will be free of homilies, announcements, and church bulletins packed with modernism.

      April 19, 2016 at 10:12 am
    • Athanasius


      I wouldn’t worry too much about any part you think you may have played in the past re the conciliar reform. Genuine good will is not reprehensible in God’s eyes, only bad intent. You are quite obviously a priest of genuine good will with the humility to question your own actions and correct mistakes if and when you recognise them. Who among us goes through our lives without making mistakes? It always helps in these matters to recall the saints who took opposite sides during the great Avignon exile of the Popes. Imagine how those on the wrong side must have felt when it was given them to see that they were mistaken in their recognition of an anti-pope, yet they picked themselves up, corrected their error and moved on. St. Peter did exactly the same after his denial. I am also reminded of the late Bishop Salvadore Lazo, a Philippino bishop who only recognised the danger of the New Mass in his retirement and immediately switched back to the Mass of his ordination. He admitted that he always felt that something was wrong with the reform but felt obliged to obey the Pope until the limit of Papal authority finally dawned on him.

      It is in fact a particular grace from God, doubtless by Our Lady’s intercession, that the real “end game” of this reform has been made known to you. That is a cause for joy, not rebuke. It is a much bigger deal for a consecrated soul to have his eyes opened than an ordinary layman because of the influence the former can exert on others. Life’s too short to worry about past events that we cannot change. Leave all to Our Lord and accept the grace to move on wiser and stronger. Our Lord is still fully in charge of His Church.

      By the way, I’m sorry if this comes over as patronising, it’s not meant to. I just don’t like to think of good priests punishing themselves for doing what they believed to be right at the time, or demanded of them through obedience to superiors. It’s the obedience thing that has caught out many decent clerics and prelates. The Modernists have sure exploited fidelity to their great benefit.

      Anyway, Pope Francis, as you rightly point out, is trying to drive a wedge between doctrinal truth and pastorality. It’s cleverly done but that is the intention. The message to every liberal prelate and priest is clear, which is that they should mould the doctrine of the Church by their own lights in accordance with cultural and personal circumstances. In other words, it is subjective usurpation of objective truth that will sow moral chaos in the Church. The programme is this: find reasons to excuse and justify sin rather than condmemn it, people are more comfortable with that approach!

      And the real tragedy is that Catholics, even clergy, are now generally so ignorant of the teaching of the Church that they will hail this Exhortation as the pastoral mercy of a great Pope when in fact it is an invitation to Hell from a Jesuit Pontiff whose orthodoxy is greatly suspect.

      April 19, 2016 at 11:07 am
      • gabriel syme


        Interesting you mention the story of Bishop Salvadore Lazo.

        Just this month, retired Bishop René Gracida, (Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas), has stated he now says the latin mass exclusively because of the deficiencies he has come to identify in the novus ordo.

        He made a statement to this effect in the 6th April edition of Michael Voris’ “Vortex” video news bulletin (which I have not seen personally, but read of).

        I have discovered Bishop Gracida has a blog, (see link). I have only skimmed it so far, but he seems to have a very clear view of Pope Francis and the situation in the Church.

        The Bishop is aged 92, but he seems very active in updating his blog which is here:

        April 19, 2016 at 11:40 am
      • Athanasius

        Gabriel Syme

        Thank you for this link, which I shall check out in due course, I have just finished posting comments on the 1p5 thread you linked earlier. You’re keeping me busy!

        April 19, 2016 at 12:53 pm
      • gabriel syme


        You’re keeping me busy!

        Glad to hear it!

        When you are done with those links: we are looking to have some slabs laid in our back garden, if you need something else to keep you going haha! 😉

        April 19, 2016 at 1:09 pm
      • Athanasius

        Gabriel Syme

        Strange you should mention garden slabs. I’m in the process of pressure hosing mine at the moment, together with painting 200 feet of fencing and two garden huts. And that’s just the beginning of my sorrowful lot. There is grass to be cut, trees to be trimmed, plants to be planted and one ton of chipping stones to be lifted and replaced with new ones.

        Sorry, what was that you were saying about a few slabs in your garden, Gabriel??

        Ask Editor, she’ll give your garden a good slabbering!! Sorry ed, couldn’t resist! Smiley faces all in a row!

        April 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm
      • RCA Victor

        Gabriel Syme,

        I’m surprised that Voris didn’t denounce His Excellency for that move! I’m reminded of the response I received years ago from CM’s gatekeeper when I inquired as to why they had failed to expose the Novus Ordo as the harmful work of progressives, when they had already exposed progressivism as harmful to the Church. The reply I received was something like “How dare you criticize Holy Mass!”

        April 20, 2016 at 9:14 pm
      • editor


        I stopped reading your reply to Prognosticum, at this point:

        “You are quite obviously a priest of genuine good will…”

        What makes you think Prognosticum is a priest?

        And – a few minutes later – I take it, this is a rhetorical question, since it is asked in my presence…

        “Who among us goes through our lives without making mistakes?”

        April 19, 2016 at 12:10 pm
      • RCA Victor


        If Prognosticum is a priest, shouldn’t he change his blog name to “Sacerdosticum”?

        (See you later, I’m off to deposit my latest CT paycheck….)

        April 20, 2016 at 9:22 pm
    • Christina

      Prognosticum, thank you for that insightful post. I felt like you – even to the palpitations, and I wanted to be sick. Your conclusions will, I hope, help me to come to less pessimistic ones myself. But can you see that a regularisation will help the poor sheep any time soon?

      April 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm
    • RCA Victor


      Yes, I believe you are correct that the end game has always been heresy, but the Devil managed to disguise his true intent for many years, under various enlightened and compassionate-sounding labels (starting with John XXIII and his false conception of “mercy”), novel Conciliar language, and phony assurances that “no doctrine has been changed.” Now, however, the mask is off, because he thinks he’s already destroyed the Church, and no further need for pretense about it. Pope Francis is the very personification of modernism, and openly at that – though he is quite cunning and deceitful in his attempts to justify what he is doing.

      Here is John Vennari’s latest on this tragic episode:

      April 20, 2016 at 9:30 pm
  • Athanasius


    I don’t really know what makes me think of Prognosticum as a priest. I suppose it has something to do with the content and presentation of his comments. There just seems to be something ecclesiastic about his posts. Have I got that wrong? If so, my apologies to Prognosticum and everyone else.

    And sorry about the second slip up you mention. Again, I took it for granted that everyone knows you are excepted from the general rule when it comes to mistakes. That surely should earn me a few more zeros!

    April 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm
    • editor


      Stop digging.

      You say there is “something ecclesiastic about [Prognosticum’s] posts” but you’ve never said there is something saintly about mine.

      Stop digging!

      April 19, 2016 at 2:12 pm
      • Athanasius


        Can’t you see that I’m trying to preserve your heroic humility? If only I could stop digging. My mother is a cruel woman who has me slogging in the garden right now. Well, immediately after this post! Much more of this and she’ll be on a bus to Nazareth House. Don’t tell her I said that.

        April 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        LOL! That was very funny, especially your poor mother being put on the bus to Nazareth House! LOL!

        April 19, 2016 at 9:01 pm
      • RCA Victor


        May I suggest bringing your gardening to a successful conclusion by spreading some manure around – I’m sure you could obtain an ample supply from Archbishop’s Tartaglia’s office.

        And for that finished look, I recommend shredding a few copies of Amoris Laetitiae to be used as mulch. It will go quite nicely with the manure….

        April 21, 2016 at 12:01 am
  • Helen

    Does Nazareth House still exist?!!!

    April 20, 2016 at 10:24 pm
    • gabriel syme

      There is a care home called Nazareth House on Paisley Road West in Glasgow (I assume that’s the one people are referring to).

      See here:

      April 21, 2016 at 9:15 pm
    • gabriel syme

      Sorry Helen, I meant to address you first as “Helen” in my post about Nazareth House – sorry if that seemed rude not to use your username, was an oversight on my part!

      April 21, 2016 at 9:18 pm
      • editor

        Gabriel Syme,

        Such chivalry. Are you sure you didn’t mean to post on the St George/England thread? 😀

        Not racist! Only kidding!

        April 21, 2016 at 10:33 pm
    • Vianney

      Yes Helen, there’s a Nazareth House in Lasswade, a village just outside Edinburgh.

      April 21, 2016 at 11:48 pm
  • Helen

    Thank you Gabriel and Vianney. I think the one in Aberdeen is closed.

    April 22, 2016 at 10:29 am
  • gabriel syme

    The likelihood of a regularisation must be at least reasonable, as Eponymous Flower reports that articles hostile to the possibility have started to appear in the German media.

    I suspect the German Episcopate at work here. They must have taken a break from selling ‘mercy’ to unrepentant sinners, to goad the press into action.

    May 9, 2016 at 11:17 pm

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