What People Are Asking
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and
the SSPX Acceptance of Vatican II
To the Editor of TIA website,
Dear Mr. Guimaraes,
As a regular reader of TIA website, I commend you for the orthodoxy of its doctrine and the balance of its positions. I particularly praise TIA's position of resistance: you stay inside the Church admitting the legitimate authority but resisting the novelties that don’t correspond to the previous teachings of the Church. That is, you avoid the compromise of so many of those who recognize the Pope as legitimate, and you also avoid the sede-vacantist position of those who leave the Church, arrogantly placing themselves above the Papacy. Yours is a very Catholic and balanced position. God be praised for that.
This said, I would like to ask your orientation regarding an interview Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos gave recently to L’Osservatore Romano, the official organ of the Holy See. It concerns the merging of some (or all) the SSPX leaders with the progressivist Vatican. I reproduce part of it below. The interview is reported by Gianluca Biccini, and translated by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on Catholic Online Forum, and also on Rorate Coeli website. Since the latter also posts the original in Italian, I guess the translation is faithful.
I have many friends in the SSPX who I would like to help while it is not too late to avoid a trap. These friends also have high consideration for your opinions. So, I would like you to tell us how you view the words of Cardinal Hoyos, and what they mean for the future of the SSPX and the traditionalist movement.
Thank you very much for your answer.
In Christ Jesus,
Interview of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos granted to
L’Osservatore Romano on March 27, 2008
Eight months have passes since the promulgation of the document [Motu Proprio]. Is it true that it has aroused agreement also in other ecclesial entities [than the Society of St. Pius X]?
The Pope offered to the Church a treasure which is spiritual, cultural, religious and Catholic. We received letters of agreement also from prelates of Orthodox churches, from Anglican and Protestant faithful. Also, there are some priests of the Society of St. Pius X who, individually, are seeking regularization of their position. Some of them have already signed a formula of adhesion. We are informed that there are traditionalist lay faithful, close the Society, who have begun to attend Masses in the old rite offered in the churches of their dioceses.
How is return to "full communion" possible for people who are excommunicated?
The excommunication regarded only the four bishops, because they were ordained without the mandate of the Pope and against his will, while the priests are only suspended. The Mass they celebrate is without question valid, but not licit and, therefore, participation is not recommended, at least when on Sunday there are other possibilities. Certainly neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicated. I would like to underscore the importance of a clear understanding of these things to be able to judge them correctly.
Aren’t you worried that the attempt to bring into the Church men and women who don’t recognize the Second Vatican Council might provoke a distancing of the faithful who instead see Vatican II as a compass by which we navigate the barque of Peter, above all in these times of continuous change?
Above all the problem about the Council is not, in my opinion, as grave as it would seem. In fact, the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, with their head Mons. Bernard Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council and Mons. Fellay underscored this in a meeting with John Paul II, and more explicitly in an audience of 29 August 2005 with Benedict XVI. Nor can we forget that Mons. Marcel Lefebvre signed all the documents of the Council.
I think that their criticism of the Council regarding above all the clarity of some texts, in the absence of which the road to interpretations out of accord with traditional doctrine is opened up. The biggest difficulties are of an interpretive nature or they have to do with some gestures on the ecumenical plane, but not with the doctrine of Vatican II. We are dealing with theological discussions, which can have their place within the Church, where in fact there exist different discussions of interpretation of conciliar texts, discussion which can go on also with groups who return to full communion.
The Editor responds:
Thank you for your trust in TIA and for your words of encouragement. Our movement depends upon the moral support of persons like you. We ask Our Lady to help you maintain this good and lucid disposition.
Initially, let me state that I fully understand the importance of your question, as well as the difficult situation that your friends from SSPX are passing through or will be facing soon. It is with respect that I address your request.
Let me set out some of the statements of Card. Hoyos to analyze them in more detail:
1. “There are some priests of the Society of St. Pius X who, individually, are seeking regularization of their position. Some of them have already signed a formula of adhesion.”
2. “We are informed that there are traditionalist lay faithful, close to the Society, who have begun to attend Masses in the old rite offered in the churches of their dioceses.”
3. “In fact, the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, with their head Msgr. Bernard Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council and Msgr. Fellay underscored this in a meeting with John Paul II, and more explicitly in an audience of 29 August 2005 with Benedict XVI.”
4. “I think that their criticism of the Council regarding, above all, the clarity of some texts, in the absence of which the road to interpretations that do not accord with traditional doctrine is opened up. The biggest difficulties are of an interpretive nature or they have to do with some gestures on the ecumenical plane, but not with the doctrine of Vatican II.”
5. “We are dealing with theological discussions, which can have their place within the Church, where in fact there exist different discussions of interpretation of conciliar texts, discussion which can go on also with groups who return to full communion.”
Since there are two sides to almost everything, I will first analyze the consequences of these declarations for the SSPX, and then for Progressivism.
Consequences for SSPX
I do not believe that Card. Hoyos is lying. He would lose his position if he were to start to spread public lies just to impress an audience.
Now then, if he spoke the truth, what would be the consequences of each of these statements?
1. He says that SSPX priests – no specified number – are seeking regularization for their position by “signing the formula of adhesion.” This is an euphemism to mean the formula demanded by Ecclesia Dei. When a priest signs this formula, he accepts the New Mass and Vatican II, and commits to never raise a public polemic regarding them. He also promises to submit to the local authority of the Bishop. The moment a priest signs this formula he is gagged, he is silenced. He is transformed, so to speak, into a priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter, St. John Baptist Vianney or the Good Shepherd. No more public resistance is possible. He has merged with the Conciliar Church.
I believe that the acceptance of Vatican II and the New Mass represents an apostasy for a priest of SSPX. He knows very well that they are wrong.
Hoyos doesn't specify how many priests have done this. He implies that an erosion of priests seeking a compromise has begun, and that the time is running out for the heads to follow suit.
2. Regarding the lay Catholics who are assisting at the Tridentine Masses in their dioceses, I don’t believe that there is any apostasy. I know many persons who attend these Masses and maintain a strong position of resistance. They know that the priests are compromised; they know that the Masses are valid, and they go there to fulfill their obligations and benefit from the Sacraments.
It is also my opinion that, even should the SSPX make the compromise, lay Catholics may continue to attend the SSPX Masses for the sake of the Sacraments, without sharing in the compromise of the Bishops and priests.
3. The more delicate point regards the Bishops. Hoyos says: “the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, with their head Msgr. Bernard Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II.” Hoyos then offers due proof that Bishop Fellay had assured John Paul II and Benedict XVI that he and the other Bishops accept Vatican II.
When he mentions “the Bishops,” he means that are at least two; then he says that these two are following Bishop Fellay. It is the Vatican way to say that at least three of the four Bishops have agreed to compromise or perhaps have already compromised.
It is always nice to suppose that Bishop Richard Williamson will not follow in this path, and will be left behind to lead the discontented faithful.
What are the consequences of this defection?
For many of us it is not a surprise, but it is certainly a tragedy for the SSPX.
This tragedy has two aspects: a doctrinal one and a psychological one.
The doctrinal tragedy is the most important one, but relatively simple to describe and offer advice about. Should they sign the compromise, the Bishops will deny their decades-long fight against Modernism and Progressivism. They will burn incense to the idols, no matter what theological distinctions and subtleties they will make to appease their consciences. It is my definite opinion that a lay Catholic should not follow in this compromise. He has to answer to God for his personal fidelity. He should look at and follow the examples of St. Athanasius and St. Hillary of Poitiers, who refused to sign any compromise in their time.
The psychological tragedy is more complicated and harder to disentangle. Through the years, the SSPX has built a strong network of personal relations based on a disproportionate respect of the faithful for its priests and bishops. Fidelity to the Catholic cause, instead of being based on principles, has often been confused with a non-rational obedience to this or that priest or bishop surmised to be much better than he really is. Also, the closer supporters or donors come to the SSPX, the more entrenched they become with spiritual directors. These directors control almost all their ideas and opinions. Anyone who complains about this excessive control is qualified as anti-clerical and put out. This makes a tight, military-style system that is difficult to remove oneself from.
I know of insiders in the SSPX who are intelligent; notwithstanding, they are completely blind to the most evident fact when it demonstrates that this or that one of their Bishops is compromising. Men take an aggressive position of counter-attack as if one were committing a sacrilege to suspect such a thing; ladies can fall into hysteria should one insist in the argument. Now that they have Hoyos providing solid evidence that probably three of the Bishops have accepted Vatican II, I hope that they will open their eyes.
To break this strong dependence can be very painful. However, this is an action and a sacrifice the faithful Catholic must make if the Bishops actually enter into a compromise and accept Vatican II and the New Mass.
4. Hoyos’ fourth point is to assure his progressivist grassroots that the Vatican can deal with the objections of the SSPX Bishops – on religious liberty, ecumenism, etc – because the most important point of controversy, that is, Vatican II, would already be accepted by the heads.
5. The last statement is also to warn the progressisvist grassroots that the Vatican may continue to discuss these topics with the SSPX Bishops after their official compromise.
Consequences for Progressivism
The interview is not only directed to the Catholic traditionalist public. It also aims to give an account to the Progressivists who are waiting to see the results of Ratzinger’s game. Indeed, when he put out Summorum Pontificum to attract traditionalists, he guaranteed that the progressisivt fear that he would give up Vatican II was unfounded. Now, from the progressivist perspective, he appears to be giving up too many things to attract traditionalists.
Romeo has been making his serenade every day for eight months and Juliet still refuses his marriage proposal. Eight months after Ratzinger’s initiative, no results have appeared on the table: the SSPX Bishops are still playing hard to get. Thus, the powerful progressivist leaders most probably are saying to Pope Ratzinger: “Sorry, Boss, if you don't come up with some results soon, your game is over, and perhaps your time is up as well…” One can understand why Hoyos has to put some heat on the SSPX Bishops…
E.J., these are some considerations that occur to me regarding your question.
I hope and pray that they will be of some assistance.
Posted April 1, 2008
Related Topics of Interest
The Motu Proprio, after the Emotions
Heading to a Hybrid Mass
Bishop Rifan's Betrayal
Rifan, Quo Primum and the New Mass
The Progressivist Orientation of Pope Ratzinger
Regarding the SSPX-Vatican Agreement
New Mass in Latin
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