US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The beginning of the end for the SSPX-Vatican detente?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

It's starting to look like the Society of St. Piux X isn't going to budge an inch to restore full ties to the Holy See and the rest of the Catholic Church. Finally fed up, the Vatican has given the SSPX a month to either accept the "doctrinal preamble" that is the first step to full recognition or face the consequences.

If the talks indeed fail--I can't imagine what change of heart among the SSPX might occur--it would be a terrible blow to Pope Benedict. He, after all, made two incredibly unpopular moves to placate the SSPX: the unfettered expansion of the use of the unreformed 1962 liturgy (now the so-called extraordinary form of the Roman rite) and lifted the excommunication of the bishops ordained in 1988 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, one of whom, Richard Williamson, is a notorious denier of the Holocaust.

What has the SSPX offered in return? Intransigence, pure and simple. It's their way or the highway--the other 1 billion of us are wrong about Vatican II, religious freedom, relations with the Jews and other religions, liturgy in the vernacular, and the separation of church and state.

Frankly, the SSPX is a cautionary tale for all the ideological purists out there who think a smaller, "faithful remnant" would better serve the proclamation of the gospel. It would only take a generation or two for the church to look like the SSPX: a throwback, unable to engage the world God loves.