“Return to past” is SSPX motto for doctrinal talks with Vatican
As planned negotiations between the Vatican and the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) near, the group’s Swiss leader, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has spelled out his view of what the Roman Catholic Church must do to resolve the crisis he believes it is in. “The solution to the crisis is a return to the past,” he has told a magazine published by the SSPX in South Africa.
(Photo: Bishop Fellay in Ecône, Switzerland, 29 June 2009/Denis Balibouse)
Fellay said Pope Benedict agrees with the SSPX on the need to maintain the Church’s links to the past, but still wants to keep some reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). “This is one of the most sensitive problems,” he said. “We hope the discussions will allow us to dispel the grave ambiguities that have spread through the Catholic Church since (the Council), as John Paul II himself recognised.”
Benedict has, in fact, listed SSPX acceptance of Vatican II reforms was a Vatican conditions in the talks.
In the same interview with the magazine Tradition, he also indicated the SSPX was ready to add several new issues to the agenda of the talks that could drag on the sessions for years. The talks are due to start later this month.
Fellay, who was readmitted into the Roman Catholic Church in January with three other bishops after two decades of excommunication, said the Church was in such a crisis that it would take more than one generation of “constant efforts in the right direction” and possibly as long as a century to overcome it.
He said he had no idea how long the SSPX’s doctrinal discussions with the Vatican would take. “This will certainly also depend on what Rome expects. They could take quite a long time.”
Fellay then indicated the SSPX could also contribute to dragging out these talks as much as possible. “The issues are vast,” he told the magazine. “Our principle objections to the Council, such as religious liberty, ecumenism and collegiality are well known. But other objections could be posed, such as the influence of modern philosophy, the liturgical novelties, the spirit of the world and its influence on the modern thought that holds sway in the Church.”
(Photo: St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, 24 Dec. 2007/Max Rossi)
Vast is certainly the way to describe that agenda. The questions are so broad they could take years of debate before agreement is reached, if at all. And the SSPX would presumably want to have these issues discussed and agreed on before negotiations about the Vatican II reforms could start. Does this amount to what is known in their beloved Latin as putting off something ad kalendas graecas (to the Greek calends), i.e. forever?