[NB: There remains some confusion as to whether the Vatican’s new pastoral guidelines are mandatory for all SSPX marriages, or, whether they are merely an option for the scrupulous. The SSPX’s brief communique does nothing to clarify the ambiguity. However, an intelligent poster on the French Resistance Forum (“Gillou47”) has this to say, which seems reasonable to us:
“It is this first sense which reflects the spirit of the letter, it is all [marriages…]
To the extent possible, the delegation of the Ordinary to attend the marriage will be given to a priest of the diocese (or at least to a fully-fledged priest) to receive the consent of the parties in the rite of the Sacrament which, The liturgy of the Vetus ordo, takes place at the beginning of the Holy Mass; Will follow the celebration of the Holy Mass by a priest of the Fraternity.
In case of impossibility or if there is no priest in the diocese who can receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties directly to the priest of the Fraternity who will also celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him that He has the duty to send to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible the documentation which attests the celebration of the Sacrament.” http://resistance.vraiforum.com/t174-Le-pape-autorise-la-FSSPX-c-l-brer-des-mariages-licites-et.htm
Given this interpretation of Cardinal Muller’s pastoral guidelines, we offer the following commentary. If subsequent clarifications should show this interpretation to have been wrong, we reserve the right to amend our conclusions. -SP]
Today, the Rorate Coeli blog published a letter by Cardinal Muller (approved by Pope Francis) which announced the issuance of “pastoral guidelines” for the performance of diocesan marriages in SSPX chapels, and in response, the earth has wobbled on its axis.
The implications arising from this latest Roman maneuver are so staggering as to alarm all but the most hardcore “accordistas,” and with the benefit of a few hours’ reflection, these seem the most significant consequences:
Subjection to, and Entanglement in, the Dioceses:
According to Cardinal Muller, the preposterous and unimaginable has become the new normal in SSPX chapels: Diocesan clergy will show up to witness/preside over your marriages, and then step aside while the SSPX priest performs the nuptial Mass:
“the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.”
Note that there is no “opt-out” provision here: If you attend an SSPX chapel, you will be married by a conciliar cleric (presuming one is available).
Questions which arise from these pastoral guidelines:
- Will this conciliar cleric even be a validly ordained priest? If the alleged purpose of issuing these guidelines was to alleviate the doubt of the faithful regarding the validity of their SSPX marriages, doesn’t the introduction of this new uncertainty run contrary to the stated motive?
- Regarding the validity of ordination for these conciliar clerics, presuming they were not validly ordained, does the Church have the authority to send laymen to witness marriages (and even if they did, would not such SSPX marriages be even more liberal than the craziest Novus Ordo mariage?)?
- The faithful are now directly subjected to the diocesan clergy for the reception of their sacraments. True, in marriage, it is the couple who actually performs the sacrament, with the priest merely witnessing for validity. But they are now dependent upon the good graces of the local bishop to permit it.
- The SSPX clergy are directly subjected to the diocesan authority in the administration of the sacrament of marriage: They must appeal to the local ordinary to request a conciliar delegate in every instance.
- Note the humiliation the SSPX clergy are subjected to in these pastoral guidelines: They are made to admit (at least implicitly) by their very actions, that they have not the ability to validly witness marriages in being made to call for the local modernist to assist in this capacity, regardless of any interior/exterior protestations to the contrary.
- Suppose an SSPX cleric, resenting this imposture, refuses to appeal to the local bishop. Shall he be disciplined by the Society?
- Suppose the faithful rightly resent this imposture, and refuse to permit a conciliar priest to witness their marriage: Shall they be compelled to participate in the SSPX’s capitulation, or be told to go elsewhere to receive the sacrament?
- How long until the dioceses make their approval/permission dependent upon what they consider acceptable (i.e., outrageous) marriage preparation classes?
Barring the swift and unambiguous repudiation by Menzingen of Cardinal Muller’s pastoral guidelines for marriages in SSPX chapels, the entanglement of the SSPX in the conciliar Church is now official, even if incomplete: The dioceses are now directly involved in the administration of sacraments at SSPX chapels.
For a traditional Catholic priest or layman to consent to such a requirement is absolutely unenforceable and unacceptable, and no Catholic can be compelled to obey such guidelines. So long as this new abomination remains the official policy in SSPX chapels (which, in the absence of a clear repudiation, is the necessary presumption), we no longer recommend the reception of the sacrament of matrimony at SSPX chapels so long as this policy remains in place.
The psychological damage, and deleterious consequences for the quality of the faith for those who would subject themselves to such conditions is simply too much; the spirit will be broken, and the second offense/compromise will be much easier. Such persons will have prepared themselves for subsequent falls.
We are obliged to say Non Possumus!
Reading Between the Lines:
The ostensible motive given for these new pastoral guidelines is to alleviate the alleged qualms of conscience said to be roiling within the bowels of SSPX clergy and faithful over their doubts about the validity of the marriages they are witnessing or receiving.
Who are these doubting clergy and laymen?
How does Rome know anything about them?
The only knowledge Rome has about the mindset of Society laymen comes from 20 years of “discreet but not secret” conversations with Menzingen. If, therefore, Rome has concluded that SSPXers are writhing in doubts about the validity of their sacraments, I would say those doubts were entertained and conveyed more by Menzingen and SSPX superiors, than by the average layman. The writings of Fathers Pfluger, Simoulin, Schmidberger, and others corroborate that thought: It is the SSPX hierarchy who is torn by doubts, not the average layman in the pews.
We wonder whether this assignment of doubt to the laity over the validity of SSPX marriages is really their own psychological projection, though they dare not admit it. Have 20 years of gravely imprudent contacts convinced them of their own defectiveness, and of a conviction that their symptoms (i.e., doubt) can only be cured by a practical accord ,even if it means coming under the thumb of heretical bishops, cardinals, and pope?
We think so.
But note what is not addressed in the pastoral guidelines: The validity of past SSPX marriages. In fact, you are meant to notice the guidelines’ omission to deal with that issue. Why? Because if you are not yet doubting the validity of your marriage, they want you to start doubting it.
In other words, Rome is saying to the world: “SSPX marriages are invalid. We have not sanated [made sound/valid] their past marriages, nor will we. In fact, we have granted annulments whenever faced with one at a tribunal on that ground alone. And even going forward, you will still need one of our conciliar clowns for the sacrament to be valid.”
Menzingen’s lack of repudiation quietly (but clearly) responds: “Yes, we are worried that this is all true.”
The strategy here is to inculcate doubt, so as to facilitate a willingness to support the practical accord.
But there is another stratagem subsisting within the first: The guidelines seem designed to weed out all remaining SSPX hardliners (clergy and lay) as part of what Fr. Pfluger once referred to as the “purification” of the SSPX. Unlike Bishop Fellay (whom Pope Francis said is “a man he can work with”), those who cannot be worked with (i.e., those who will not permit themselves to be conditioned) will be made to seek options elsewhere, little by little, one sacrament at a time. Not by force, as in 2012-2014, but by choice: The new SSPX is being made to be less appealing to those still grounded in doctrine, and not affected by appeals to legalism.
“If the salt lose its savor…”
Finally, and it cannot be emphasized enough, what must be retained is that by not opposing these pastoral guidelines, and submitting to them, Menzingen is implicitly acknowledging the invalidity of its own marriages (and this in turn helps facilitate the conciliar motive of inculcating doubt about the validity of the sacrament in the clergy and laity, as a means of garnering support for the canonical agreement).
Why else would Menzingen submit to such guidelines, unless it doubted the validity of its sacrament?
Menzingen’s acceptance of the pastoral guidelines announced by Rome today represent its most serious compromise to date: The expulsion of Bishop Williamson to facilitate the practical accord; the Letter of the Three Bishops which announced the plans of Menzingen; the scandalous response of the Letter of the General Counsel; the signing of the infamous April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration: None of these represent as serious a threat to the quality of faith of the SSPX clergy and laity as the pastoral guidelines released today:
Where those other instances pertained to Menzingen, or the SSPX generally, they did not impact the rank and file clergy and laity so directly, immediately, and concretely as do these pastoral guidelines. These guidelines, however, make those who will continue to avail themselves of marriages at SSPX chapels under such conditions directly complicit in the compromise of the Society, and in their own personal lives.
For this reason, we can no longer support marriages at SSPX chapels so long as these guidelines remain unrepudiated, except in the case of grave spiritual necessity (which dispenses from all legal considerations……but which also requires no conciliar witness for validity). Outside of this, we are obliged to exclaim: