Cross-posted on Rorate Caeli.
The Superiors General of the Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and a number of other Superiors General of priestly institutes and religious communities attached to the Traditional Mass (including three communities of women), have issued a joint letter in response to Traditionis Custodes. Here it is, on the FSSP website. It is addressed to the Bishops of France, not, as some have assumed, to the Holy See.
As befits such a document, it is carefully worded. In principle, Traditionis Custodes creates an impossible situation for the signatories. They are founded on the charism of the Traditional liturgy, and the Letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes tells us that it is the intention of the document that in the longer term this liturgy should entirely disappear. Furthermore, the justification for this given in the Letter is that the clergy and faithful (who are not distinguished) are detached in some sense from the unity of the Church.
The argument which needs to be made to the Bishops of France at this point is thus a delicate one. Negatively, it should be obvious that to strike a defiant attitude, to threaten disobedience to Traditionis Custodes or the Bishops, or to suggest that they might go over to the Society of Pius X, would serve to confirm the purported justification of Traditionis Custodes. It would be directly counter-productive.
On the other hand, to make a direct argument against Traditionis Custodes, to insist that it should be rescinded, is pointless, because the French Bishops do not have the power to do that. To make such an argument to the Holy See would be pointless in another way, because there is absolutely no chance that an important document such as this would be cancelled, or modified in a significant way, by the very Pope who promulgated it, so soon after its publication.
Instead, the statement approaches the problem in two ways. First, it emphasises the key-hole of concession offered by Traditionis Custodes and the Letter, through which the Traditional Mass can continue to be celebrated: time. Traditionis Custodes gives the French Bishops (like all bishops) the right to permit the Traditional Mass now. It is now that it needs to be permitted if the spiritual life of the Traditional Institutes, and of Traditional laity, is to continue as before. No limit to this time is set by the documents. The first thing to secure, then, is that the Traditional Mass will continue.
The second approach is to draw attention to a very serious problem created by Traditionis Custodes. In confirming the establishment of the Institutes and communities represented by this statement, the Holy See has over the years since 1988 allowed and encouraged men and women to commit themselves by vows to lives of a particular character: as do all priests and religious. A fundamental aspect of this character for these particular religious associations is the Traditional liturgy. If this liturgy is to be abolished, the vows and commitments made to these associations would become impossible to fulfill.
The implications of this fact are not drawn out. It is for the French Bishops to ponder the problem as they apply Traditionis Custodes. They must implement the legislation with regard to the good of souls: as when they apply any aspect of the law of the Church. For those bishops inclined to be sympathetic, this consideration will be a powerful one.
To summarise, what this statement does is to try to create a space in which the French Bishops may, without disobedience, make possible in practice the continuation of the life the of the Priestly Institutes and communities and of lay Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass. The Latin Mass Society did the same thing, in a some different way, when we issued our Canonical Guidance on Traditionis Custodes.
Taylor Marshall, a man I usually ignore, has insulted the signatories of this statement, as lacking the "brave and bold" spirit which, he claims, animated the late Archbishop Lefebvre. He is, in a video far too tedious to link to, claiming that they are cowards.
This is a contemptible accusation, which reveals Marshall to be, as I expressed it on Twitter, an ignorant fool. I stand by that judgement, and I call on Marshall to apologise to these good men and women, who have a fearful responsibility both to their professed members, and also, in most cases, to the lay faithful for whom they have pastoral care.
Marshall appears to imagine that the Superiors General should react to their complex situation with the subtlety of some Hollywood action-hero: an attitude, in fact, completely at odds with the historical reality of Archbishop Lefebvre himself. What, Marshall seems to be asking, would Rambo do? What would be the reaction of some knuckle-headed character played by Mel Gibson? Well, if he wants to base his understanding of ecclesial politics on Braveheart, he should remember the advice given by Argyle (in the 1995 film) to the young William Wallace: "First learn to use this" (pointing to his head), "and then I will teach you to use this" (lifting his sword).
It is an interesting fact about social media that some people who witnessed Marshall's insult of the Superiors General, and my own criticism of Marshall for making this insult, concluded that I was the one to be blamed for dividing Traditional Catholics. This is an attitude completely detached from reality. The restoration of the Church is carried out through the sacraments offered by Traditional priests, and through the lives of prayer and sacrifice represented by the Traditional Institutes and communities, not by monetised social-media clicks. We need to show solidarity, in this moment of crisis, with the Superiors General, not with the man who likes to remind his viewers "I'm just a dad with a webcam".
To the Superiors General, I say: genuine Traditional Catholics have your back. If this separates me from Taylor Marshall and his more deranged fans, so much the better.
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The Communique is an egregious piece of obsequious grovelling, a truly embarassing read. It will accomplish nothing. It will be ignored like the Dubia. When will these Ecclesia Dei communities get it through their heads, that dealing with Modernist Rome is a fool's errand. FSSP et al remove your muzzles and free yuourselves from diocesan bishops. That is decades oberdue.ReplyDelete
If you read the post you'd realise that they were not addressing anyone in Rome.Delete
Does the fact they were grovelling to the French bishops instead of Rome make it any better? This letter comes across like an abused child appealing to his drunken stepfather to stop beating him because he doesn't disapprove of drinking beer and the sport of boxing.Delete
It's always helpful - and seemingly inevitable - to have the SSPX perspective on these things, Brian.Delete
Didn't Jesus say not to call anyone a foolDelete
I would argue this to Brian, who comments above, as well as to Taylor Marshall (whom I happen to admire): the time may come when the FSSP et al will be called to join the SSPX. However, God may not want them to do that...yet. I, too, am weary of people groveling to a FauxPope who despises that Catholic faith, and I believe there is no hope Bergoglio will remain course. However, this letter was, in my opinion, a good one. It creates a paper trail that will endure through history, evidence that they did all they could to deal with this intransigent "Pope". I posit that this letter was a prudent and wise first step.ReplyDelete
It will be a sad, sad day when the likes of the FSSP, ICKSP et al consider joining the SSPX who (let us not forget) are still outside of the Church!!Delete
...let us not forget that Christ calls us to judge with just judgement and not via appearances.Delete
The sad day and fact is that those who have compromised to remain in existence are being called on the carpet now.
What say you about the debacle in Dijon wherein the FSSP refused to concelebrate. That's disobedience. And the fraternity was subsequently kicked out.
Was that an instance of embracing submission? Or was that the fraternity posturing or caving in???
Try to be consistent. It helps calm the mind and quell emotion.
The SSPX is outside the Church ??? That's what the freemason occupants of the Vatican building have spread all along dince 1988. Defending Tradition and the very papacy and the unchangeable doctrine of the Church does not put anyone outside the Church. Destroying the FAITH and jeopardizing the salvation of millions of souls puts one outside the Catholic Church. Welcome to today's ABOMINABLE scenario emanating from, guess where, you got it right, ROME !Delete
Hey Joseph Shaw, a friend of mine PM-ed me with a link to this post, with the comment, "Taylor Marshall blowing smoke again." I love that you call a spade a spade, er, in this case call Taylor Marshall out for his ignorance. It is hard to put into words the extent of the shallowness and self-aggrandizement of Marshall's "reporting." He latches onto some random piece of news that will cause outrage in his readers and without investigating it, blows it up out of all proportion. It dismays me that he has so many followers. On the main topic, I attend TLMs celebrated by ICKSP, and I find the priest Canons to be devout and hard working and exemplary in the way they live their calling. Two Canons recently returned from the General Chapter of their institute in Gricigliano, Italy, looking grey in the face after what must have been long discussions about Traditionis Custodes (which I think of as meaning not Guardians of the Tradition, but Jailers ). I don't want to imagine life in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live without the institute. It is stunning that that prospect of losing them is quite real. Word from the seminary is that "Apostolic Visitation" is being planned, and, as one of the Canon's said, those kinds of visits are often a precursor to suppression. It amazes me that Pope Francis could overthrow the actions of his predecessors to free up the celebration of the TLM, and that he didn't even wait until Pope Benedict's death to do it. I remember it was a profound relief to me to find the traditional Latin Mass again after coming back to the Church in the late 70s (having left in the 60s) and finding the Church I thought I was coming back to was almost unrecognizable. No longer do I see a girl in the pew next to me dressed for the beach, hear unsingable and even heretical hymns instead of the words of the Mass being sung, endure heresy and comedy routines performed from the pulpit, witness the show offs bustling around the altar in what reminds me of an old TV show called the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, or receive Communion from unconsecrated hands. If suppression of the ICKSP and FSSP is actually done, what a terrible act of cruelty that will be, the prospect of going back to the new Mass strikes me with deep grief. Such an unkind and rejecting act against thousands, perhaps millions, of devout Catholics who just want to worship God reverently and in peace, and it comes from such a seemingly kindly and inclusive pope.ReplyDelete
Rosanne, you disparage Dr. Marshall yet your own words indicate that you haven't even seen his critique. I say this for a couple of reasons: first, Dr. Marshall's critique is on video, as is much of his work, yet, you wrongly refer to his "readers"; also, you claim the letter is "a random piece of news" (it's not random, it's actually vitally important news) and that he didn't "investigate" it. In fact, Dr. Marshall was clearly well versed in the contents of the letter prior to making the video wherein he covered the contents of the letter point-by-point. It's also important to note that the Marshall family very actively attends an FSSP parish, he charitably, patiently, and at no charge has provided excellent public video tutorials to teach prayers in Ecclesiastical Latin, including the entire Rosary, sound teaching of theology, apologetics traditional rites, and the TLM. Alone, his charity and freely sharing of the fruits of his extensive education wholly refutes your uncharitable claims of his "ignorance...shallowness...self-aggrandizement."Delete
I am not a Taylor Marshall fan and agree with you wholly in substance; I think it was far too easy for him to say what you should have done in a delicate situation. That said, I also wish your own (justified) criticism of him showed some of the same circumspection of your original document. The spectacle of people who should be allies fighting online is not pleasant to watch.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry but this time I'm with TM.ReplyDelete
Imagine Archbishop Lefebvre not acting as he was in those days ?
With all due respect, Mr. Shaw, I contend that Dr. Taylor Marshall is soundly within his rights as a faithful Catholic equipped with proper Catholic credentials and education to critique the Superiors General response.ReplyDelete
Still, and short of Divine intervention, no pleas - including the begging response of the Superiors General are likely to sway Pope Francis away from his mission to eliminate the TLM.
Dr. Marshall's measured critique in no way warrants your very un-Christian, personal attack against this good and decent man.
Perhaps, in humility, you will realize that in grossly uncharitable fashion, you insult Dr. Marshall just as you gratuitously contend he has "insulted the signatories of this statement..."
I doubt Dr. Shaw has any insight into how he comes across in this post.Delete
It is amazing to me how many Catholics think it is a bad thing for a religious order to try to stay in communion with Rome. If we're going to promote schism, no half measures, it would make more sense to become Orthodox than join the SSPX (and you'd get the pre-1955 Holy Week as part of the deal).ReplyDelete
Communion with Rome is a paramount objective of the SSPX. Communion with the Rome of Pachamama, related idol worship in Saint Pater's, mandated acceptance of heresies old and new, etc., not so much. In any event, Rome considers the SSPX in "irregular canonical status," not schism. In fact, Pope Francis has granted the SSPX faculties and exhibits friendliness toward the order.Delete
Amen! SSPX are bragging during the pandemic about how they had all the sacraments because they magically don't have to obey the hierarchy Christ established, corrupt, weak, malicious, faithless as they may be.Delete
Paul, The SSPX never bragged about fulfilling their sacred obligations and they indeed do follow rightful and just orders of the hierarchy. Now, I ask you if you think the SSPX should worship pachamama, give Holy Eucharist to adulterers, practicing homosexuals, non-Catholics, and so on?Delete
Amazing is that the FSSP gets a pass on their refusal/disobedience in Dijon while this letter gets haled as some shining example of union with Rome.Delete
Does the left hand know or acknowledge what the right hand is doing? Or is it easier to flash one's full communion card and puff out the chest because... I'm so holy.
If anyone is bragging, it would be the FSSP/ICK... and those adherents who have been told there is/was no compromise with modernism when there most certainly was.
Whatever one's position, picking one and sticking to it would be the best way forward...at least for this Catholic. A boxer can only bob and weave so many times.
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You undermine your own criticism of Taylor Marshall by sinking to his level and getting personal. Is there any reason why the LMS is doomed to irrelevance at this rate?ReplyDelete
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The LMS is doomed to irrelevance because it ignores that the Mass is only one (Cult) out of 4 parts of the faith (Creed, Code, Cult and Prayers).Delete
I have to admit, when I read the used of the quote, “Have patience with me!”, it did rather seem to suggest that, with time, traditional liturgy fans would come round to the new order. If they meant otherwise, it wasn’t clear.ReplyDelete
Once more, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for your sanity.ReplyDelete
Well said, My Friend, well said!Delete
It looks as though the turkeys are trying to cancel Christmas!ReplyDelete
Yep. It certainly feels good to be vindicated since the SSPX are off-menu. Herne Bay is going to be much fuller I suspect (need to fix those kneelers at the front) and Groombridge is already rammed every Sunday so not sure what they will do. We could really do with a church in Ashford close to the M20.Delete
I wonder what Bishop Williamson is thinking about the whole thing.
One good thing about Bishop Williamson is that he 'de-toxified' SSPX by taking with him all the alcoholic holocaust deniers. People feel much more welcome now and there is no feeling of sectarianism.Delete
Really, I do not understand the "sanitising" of Abp Lefebvre's actions (I don't know anything nor have I read anything by Taylor Marshall) whether we like it or not Abp Lefebvre organised SSPX in spite of an against a liturgically modernist Pope and Hierarchy. As Michael Davies wrote (and after all he "separated" from AB L.) everyone who has easy access to the Old Rite owes everything to ABL. and his witness and actions.ReplyDelete
I cannot agree not understand those who - above- say that SSPX is schismatic or outside the church. The Pope has authorised, if it was needed, their confessions and marriages. How could that be done if they were outside the church ? Anyway "inside" the church there seem to be many who are not Catholic so where are we ?
Excellent points, Shaun! It is wholly reasonable for us to consider that we may not today have this opportunity to save the TLM if not for Abp. Lefebvre and the SSPX preserving, defending, and promoting the TLM and traditional rites since V2. After all, would Saint JP2 even have authorized the FSSP and other subsequent traditional orders if there were no SSPX? We can't know in certainty, but it seems unlikely. Even Rome's commitment in the late 1980's to grant the FSSP their own bishop was never fulfilled.Delete
That explains why it was by Divine Providence that Abp L. went back on his Roman agreement - would they REALLY have granted a Traditional Bishop ? As you say FSSP still don't have one and one of their priests told me that it was really difficult for them (Indults and Motu proprio notwithstanding) to even find a bishop in France and other countries willing to Confirm in the Old Rite.Delete
I still believe [and I commented this on this blog] that if all the really Traditional priests banded together and acted as one, the Pope and bishops would have very little they could do. Unlike the Reformation Rising in the West - there could be a Rising in North,South and East.ReplyDelete
Sadly, many diocesan priests are very weak and lack determination; I think of those well intentioned, but I believe, misguided priests who offer the Traditional Mass on the First Sunday of the month, or similar and then go back to facing the people, giving Holy Communion on the hand, Extraordinary ministers and all the rest.
It's pretty weird.
I'm sure weakness plays a part in some cases, but even for determined priests, there are considerable co-ordination problems. There are traditionally-minded priests in all sorts of organisations -- the SSPX, FSSP, ICKSP, diocesan priesthood, etc. -- and without any central authority, it's difficult to make everyone work together, even if they're willing to.Delete
Dr. Shaw, I am an American who reads both you and Taylor Marshall. The two of you approach things differently, but the two approaches are complementary. Can't we have some mutual enrichment?ReplyDelete
There is no doubt that the Church is in a dreadful state. But do we suppose that God cannot put things right without man founding a new religion? Lord, whither shall we go? To the "canonically irregular" SSPX, or Bp Williamson, or "The Resistance" or any of the numerous separatist clergy who tread lonely furrows disagreeing with one another? Some of the comments to this article make me wonder whether traditional Catholics actually believe in the power of prayer, or in the Holy Spirit (sorry, Ghost).ReplyDelete