[Please See update at the conclusion of this article -SP]
An obscure SSPX mission in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu recently received the papal blessing of Pope Francis.
It is a bad sign, when your enemies start to love you (or put differently, when your enemies begin to perceive you as friends, and vice-versa).
We saw that phenomena after Vatican II, when the traditional enemies of the Church praised the “reforms” ushered in by the Council, and now we see the same phenomena in the SSPX, with modernist Pope Francis offering his papal blessing to an SSPX mission (illustrating once again Bishop Williamson’s prescient observation that “the crisis in the SSPX resembles in all aspects the crisis in the Church after Vatican II.”).
Some intelligent commentators are sweeping this papal blessing under the carpet as of little to no significance: “Papal parchment blessings can be obtained simply by completing a form for a whole host of reasons,” and/or following from this, “The Pope probably never had anything to do with this rubber-stamped blessing, which was most likely completed on his behalf by an administrative nun working in this department of the Vatican.”
But I am persuaded otherwise.
According to the Vatican website which executes the papal parchment blessings, there are only 9 reasons/occasions which qualify for the reception of same:
“The Apostolic Blessing is granted for the following occasions:
1. Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation
3. Priestly Ordination
4. Religious Profession
5. Secular Consecration
6. Ordinations of Permanent Deacons
7. Marriage Anniversaries (10, 25, 40, 50 , 60 years)*, Priestly Ordination, Religious Profession
8. Birthdays (18, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100)*
9. Catholic individuals* or families* (with name and surname of the spouses united in a religious marriage).”
Obviously, none of these 9 reasons apply to the blessing of the mission in Vanuatu, and consequently, on this analysis alone, we could surmise that the papal blessing was not of this papal parchment (i.e., rubber stamp) variety.
In fact, the same SSPX announcement explicitly states the contrary:
“Through the mediation of our Bishop Fellay’s Second Assistant, Fr. Nely, our mission received a Papal blessing from Pope Francis in person.”
The blessing, therefore, is significant.
It clearly (however disingenuously) signifies Roman approval of the mission.
And amidst the ralliement, Bishop Fellay might like this blessing to be interpreted as evidence of Rome’s “changed attitude toward Tradition.” But as Bishop Williamson observed in his latest Eleison Comments, approving the SSPX “as they are” would be one thing in 1987, but quite another in 2017!
The blessing retains, therefore, its significance for all the wrong reasons:
Bishop Fellay speaks often about his “friends in Rome,” which means they are no longer viewed as the enemy. And now these same new friends are reciprocating, and pretending to treat the SSPX as a real friend. And of course, in whatever measure the SSPX slides toward conciliar conservatism, in exactly the same measure, Rome’s overtures will truly be sincere.
What must not be missed is that Rome’s genuine fraternal/paternal affections are only given in such measure as the SSPX leaves the mindset and positions of Archbishop Lefebvre behind.
Consequently, this papal blessing retains significance as yet more evidence of this sad state of affairs.
Is it that Rome is becoming more open to Tradition?
Or is it that the SSPX is becoming more open to conciliarism?
[NB: Subsequent to the publication of this article, I was notified that someone had mentioned that the vestibule of the SSPX chapel in St. Mary’s also contains a papal blessing (obtained sometime in the 1990s by Fr. Angles, who allegedly stated that he had obtained it through “connections” in Rome).
Meanwhile, we leave it to you to decide whether this blog’s perspective (i.e., That the papal blessing in Vanuatu carries a greater significance, placed within the historical context of occurring amidst the final stages of the ralliement) is meritorious, or much ado about nothing.]