#98: Contradiction (Who Can Approve a Deal with Rome?):
The old SSPX taught us that all revolution inevitable consumes itself, with the initial generation of revolutionaries laying down new principles, and subsequent generations taking those new principles to their logical conclusion, thereby going further than even the original revolutionaries desired or foresaw. The classic example of this was the battle between the Girondists and Jacobins of the French Revolution (the Girondists appearing "moderate" in comparison to the Jacobins, who grabbed from them the revolutionary principles and developed them to their terrible but inevitable conclusion). In the ecclesiastical realm of the post-conciliar Church, we see the same dynamic between the liberals (Kung, Congar, von Balthasar, Paul VI, Bugnini, et al) and conservatives (Ratzinger, Burke, Schneider, Brandmuller, Mueller, et al), with the latter moving in the same direction as the former, but at a slower pace, and trying to paint the revolution with a Catholic veneer, but gutting the religion of its former self all the same.
If, then, the SSPX has embraced the conciliar revolution, we would expect to see the same phenomena transpiring within the Society, and following the model above, it would do so at an increasingly accelerated pace: From "discreet but not secret" beginnings, quietly contradicting Archbishop Lefebvre behind closed doors while preaching tough sermons to maintain appearances in the years from 1997 - 2006, to achieving practical steps toward the accomplishment of a cohabitation with modernist Rome from 2006 - 2012, to open divergence with the Founder from 2012 to the present.
And of course, the evidence of the revolution lies in the casualties along the way: the expulsion or resignation of 70 +/- priests; the rupture of relations with formerly allied religious communities; the suppression of any questioning of the reorientation of the Society reminiscent of Holocaust denial laws in Germany; the 100+ documented changes, contradictions, and compromises which comprise this thread.
In this post, we focus on a very specific manifestation of the SSPX revolution overtaking itself: A new mindset (de facto
and unofficial, but seemingly operative) prevailing in the minds of the superiors and capitulants convened at the 2018 General Chapter, explicated by certain assertions made by the Secretary General and 1st Assistant to the Superior General, by which the General Chapter seems to have lost or relinquished its authority to hold deliberative power to decide on an accord with Rome (as declared at the 2012 general Chapter), and had this authority transferred to the Superior General.
But we must first go back in time a bit to track the progression of the SSPX revolution, and make it more visible:
In 2006, the SSPX General Chapter Declaration announced:
"Likewise, the contacts made from time to time with the authorities in Rome have no other purpose than to help them embrace once again that Tradition which the Church cannot repudiate without losing her identity. The purpose is not just to benefit the Society, nor to arrive at some merely practical impossible agreement. When Tradition comes back into its own, "reconciliation will no longer be a problem, and the Church will spring back to life". http://archives.sspx.org/superior_generals_news/2006_general_chapter/declaration_of_2006_general_chapter.htm
That statement reflected the post-consecration position of Archbishop Lefebvre that a practical agreement with unconverted Rome:
"That is why, convinced that I am only carrying out the holy will of Our Lord, I am writing this letter to ask you to agree to receive the grace of the Catholic episcopacy, just as I have already conferred it on other priests in other circumstances. I will bestow this grace upon you, confident that without too long a delay the See of Peter will be occupied by a successor of Peter who is perfectly Catholic, and into whose hands you will be able to put back the grace of your episcopacy so that he may confirm it."https://fsspx.org/en/letter-future-bishops
But shortly thereafter, Rome and the SSPX began implementing the agreement to "proceed by stages" toward a practical accord agreed upon in 2000. With the reign of Bishop Fellay freshly secured for another 12 years, it was time pretend Rome was moving toward Tradition by complying with the SSPX's preconditions. But it appears nobody ever considered either that Rome could grant the two conditions as a maneuver, while still remaining hostile to Tradition, or, as was in fact the case, that Rome could pretend
to grant the two conditions, with the SSPX pretending along with them, as though checking tasks to be accomplished off a "to do" list, and after having gone through the motions, propose these maneuvers demonstrated a change in Rome which demanded a new response from the SSPX in kind.
So, by the time the 2012 General Chapter had rolled around, the SSPX had convinced most of its clergy and faithful that Rome had granted the two preconditions, engaged in doctrinal discussions, and was now ready to grant the SSPX everything it wanted...but without Rome moving one inch in the direction of Tradition.
It was based upon this pretext that the 2012 General Chapter overturned the operative principle of 2006 with regard to a "reconciliation" with conciliar Rome, and declared: "We have determined and approved the necessary conditions for an eventual canonical normalization. We have decided that, in that case, an extraordinary Chapter with deliberative vote will be convened beforehand."http://archives.sspx.org/superior_generals_news/2012_general_chapter/2012_general_chapter_statement_7-19-2012.htm
The pertinent point of the Declaration quoted, for the purposes of this post, is not so much that in laying down conditions for a practical accord with unconverted Rome, the 2012 Chapter had directly contradicted that of 2006 (revolutionary in its own right), but that it had determined that in the event of such a sellout, it would be the affirmative vote of the General Chapter which would authorize it.
This was also explained by the Society shortly before the 2012 General Chapter:
"The General Chapter is the supreme and extraordinary
authority of the Society of St. Pius X. The ordinary
authority is the Superior General assisted by his council. The General Chapter is the only entity able to amend the Statutes. The “ordinary” General Chapter meets every 12 years. Additionally, the Superior General is allowed to convene an “extraordinary” Chapter for exceptional reasons. After his re-election at the head of the Society in 2006, the Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay announced that he will convene an “half-mandate” Chapter to review the current affairs in 2012...The present relationships with Rome will occupy also the deliberations of the Chapter. In the today’ situation, the resolutions or recommendations of the Chapter will be especially important.
But with the former principle of no practical agreement before the conversion of Rome overturned, the revolution accelerated (as so many examples of contradiction, change, and compromise in this thread amply demonstrate), and by the time the 2018 General Chapter had arrived, even the requirement and authority of the General Chapter to authorize the betrayal had fallen to the revolution, with the Superior General now arrogating to himself sole decision making authority to hand the keys to the castle over to unconverted Rome, with the groundwork for this transition of authority being laid just one month before the 2018 General Chapter by Fr. Christian Thouvenot (Secretary General) in an interview with Mitteilungsblatt
"To answer your question, it is certainly possible that the issue of the status of a personal prelature should come up during the Chapter. But it is the Superior General alone who leads the Society and who is responsible for relations between the Holy See and Tradition.
Archbishop Lefebvre, in 1988, was careful to insist on this."https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/what-will-happen-general-chapter-sspx-38474
And at roughly the same time, Fr. Niklaus Pfluger (then 1st Assistant to Bishop Fellay) was explaining to Catholic Family News that:
"It is not exceptional or unusual for the Superior of any Institute in the Catholic Church to be responsible for the legal process of formal recognition by the authorities of the Church. Neither the people, nor the Chapter, nor the majority should deal with the Roman authorities. That’s only the duty of the proper Superior
, because the Catholic Church is not a democracy."https://www.catholicfamilynews.org/blog/2018/6/16/interview-with-father-niklaus-pfluger-sspx
Bishop Williamson was quick to react to the suggestion that the Superior General along possessed deliberative power regarding a deal with Rome:
"Firstly, it is not the Superior General who is alone at the head of the Society.
By the Statutes of the Society established by Archbishop Lefebvre, it is true that once the Superior General is elected, he has remarkable powers at his disposal and for no less than a 12-year term, because the Archbishop wanted the Superior General to have time and power to achieve something, without being hindered as he himself had been in the Holy Ghost Fathers. But the General Chapter meeting every six or twelve years is above the Superior General, and he must follow the policies decided by it
. Now in theory the General Chapter of 2012 decided that any “canonical normalisation” of the Society would require a majority vote of the full General Chapter, but in practice Bishop Fellay has already proceeded to “normalise” with Rome the Society’s confessions, ordinations and marriages. And now his General Secretary is talking as though the General Chapter has nothing further to say, as though Bishop Fellay alone can “normalise” the rest.
Are all the forty future Capitulants of July aware of how Menzingen is talking? Do they agree?"https://stmarcelinitiative.com/liberals-prepare/
But nobody seemed to challenge this new suggestion, and it appears never to have occurred to any who have since accepted this de facto
transition of authority that, if Frs. Thouvenot and Pfluger were correct, then the 2012 general Chapter was itself guilty of violating a principle attributed to Archbishop Lefebvre, in illegitimately delegating this decision making authority to the deliberative vote of the General Chapter!
If one reads the various SSPX communiques during and after the 2018 General Chapter (e.g., announcements regarding election results, or what passes for a general Chapter Declaration), no official or de jure
announcement of such a transition of authority is mentioned. It seems instead to have been a passively accepted "spirit" (just like at Vatican II), insofar as the statements immediately before the Chapter by the Secretary General and 1st Assistant to the Superior General are nowhere contradicted by any of the capitulants.
Consequently, the revolution has progressed nicely, and the General Chapter -de facto
- now has the appearance, at least with regard to relations with Rome, of being nothing more than an executive body convened to rubber stamp the will of the Superior general:
In 2006, no practical accord was possible. In 2012, it become possible, but any decision to come to a canonical agreement were the business of a General Chapter(*)
, and authorized only by an affirmative deliberative vote. By 2018, according to the suggestions of Frs. Pfluger and Thouvenot, it seems to have become the sole business of the Superior General to decide on a deal with Rome.
When the time comes for the SSPX to sign the definitive accord (Something Fr. Pagliarani has announced his desire to achieve in reopening negotiations/discussions with Rome), can anyone imagine a General Chapter, which gives every appearance of having acquiesced in these suggestions, opposing the will of the Superior general?
Consequently, the door is open for the revolution to continue on its merry way, and right in to the conciliar church.(*):
Note that some have observed that, by the signing of the 2012 April 15 Doctrinal Declaration (the day after rejecting the appeal of the three other SSPX bishops not to), Bishop Fellay had already violated, circumvented, and pre-empted the General Chapter's authority to call for a deliberative vote prior to an accord with Rome, which did not convene for another three months.