The Remnant is announcing with great fanfare the approach of another “Catholic Identity Conference,” in which, supposedly,
“For the first time in history, a number of bishops as well as representatives of every major traditionalist priestly fraternity in the world (including the SSPX and FSSP), as well as journalists from both sides of the Atlantic, will come together for a weekend conference to discuss united and principled defense of Holy Mother Church. This is NOT a traditionalist version of false ecumenism. There are serious issues which still come between the participants in this conference. However, this is a gathering of serious Catholics who realize the Church is suffering her worst assault in history, and thus requires all of her sons and daughters to stand in her defense.” (Here)
This statement raises a number of questions, and carries within itself an internal contradiction, which its author seems to miss, or overlook: If these groups (allegedly) still harbor “serious issues” which “come between them,” then how is it possible to come together to “discuss a united and principled defense” of Holy Mother Church?
Principled, while holding different principles?
Isn’t the truth that, in agreeing to come together for this event, the subject matter will be as “neutral” as the recent sermons the SSPX gave in Rome (See Here)? Will not both sides agree to “put away their differences” (i.e., principles!) for the sake of unity? If so, how is this ecumenism any different than any other ecumenism?
Only the factions involved are different.
If this event was truly not “tradcumenical,” and the discussion was going to be “principled,” then we would expect to hear Fr. Jonathan Loop (SSPX representative/speaker) explain to the gathering why not only will he not be celebrating Mass with indult and diocesan clergy, but that he will leave the room while they do so, for as the SSPX has always taught, attending the indult Mass is:
- “accepting the compromise on which [these communities] are based,
- accepting the direction taken by the Conciliar Church and the consequent destruction of the Catholic Faith and practices, and
- accepting, in particular, the lawfulness and doctrinal soundness of the Novus Ordo Missae and Vatican II.
That is why a Catholic ought not to attend their Masses.” (SSPX.org)
That’s right from the SSPX, folks (and the same page elaborates on each of the three bullet points above).
Now that regards attending an indult Mass. How much more deviant and hypocritical for the SSPX to actually celebrate Mass with indult clergy (as was reported at a previous Catholic Identity Conference)? We were told for 20 years to stay home and pray the Rosary rather than attend an indult Mass. But somehow today, magically, it becomes OK not only to attend one, but to celebrate the sacraments with indultarians (of doubtful ordinations, by the way).
Can someone explain that to me?
Is this kind of “principled” tradcumenism (a contradiction in terms!) consistent with Archbishop Lefebvre’s thoughts regarding the indult communities? Fortunately for us, we need not offer conjecture on the point, as he addresses the very topic himself two years after the consecrations in 1990:
“A false charity
And we must not waver for one moment either in not being with those who are in the process of betraying us. Some people are always admiring the grass in the neighbor’s field. Instead of looking to their friends, to the Church’s defenders, to those fighting on the battlefield, they look to our enemies on the other side. “After all, we must be charitable, we must be kind, we must not be divisive, after all, they are celebrating the Tridentine Mass, they are not as bad as everyone says” – but THEY ARE BETRAYING US – betraying us! They are shaking hands with the Church’s destroyers. They are shaking hands with people holding modernist and liberal ideas condemned by the Church. So they are doing the devil’s work.
Thus those who were with us and were working with us for the rights of Our Lord, for the salvation of souls, are now saying, “So long as they grant us the old Mass, we can shake hands with Rome, no problem.” But we are seeing how it works out. They are in an impossible situation. Impossible. One cannot both shake hands with modernists and keep following Tradition. Not possible. Not possible. Now, stay in touch with them to bring them back, to convert them to Tradition, yes, if you like, that’s the right kind of ecumenism! But give the impression that after all one almost regrets any break, that one likes talking to them? No way! These are people who call us corpse-like Traditionalists, they are saying that we are as rigid as corpses, ours is not a living Tradition, we are glum-faced, ours is a glum Tradition! Unbelievable! Unimaginable! What kind of relations can you have with people like that?
This is what causes us a problem with certain layfolk, who are very nice, very good people, all for the Society, who accepted the Consecrations, but who have a kind of deep-down regret that they are no longer with the people they used to be with, people who did not accept the Consecrations and who are now against us. “It’s a pity we are divided”, they say, “why not meet up with them? Let’s go and have a drink together, reach out a hand to them” – that’s a betrayal! Those saying this give the impression that at the drop of a hat they would cross over and join those who left us. They must make up their minds.
We cannot compromise
That is what killed Christendom, in all of Europe, not just the Church in France, but the Church in Germany, in Switzerland – that is what enabled the Revolution to get established. It was the Liberals, it was those who reached out a hand to people who did not share their Catholic principles. We must make up our minds if we too want to collaborate in the destruction of the Church and in the ruin of the Social Kingship of Christ the King, or are we resolved to continue working for the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ? All those who wish to join us, and work with us, Deo Gratias, we welcome them, wherever they come from, that’s not a problem, but let them come with us, let them not say they are going a different way in order to keep company with the liberals that left us and in order to work with them. Not possible.” (ABL Condemns Tradcumenism)
But let’s not hold Michael Matt’s feet too close to the fire: He is an honest man. He has always (mistakenly) believed that he was “fighting from within” while the SSPX was “fighting from without” (though he says he doesn’t really believe they are outside the Church…but he fears it). But he has never been able to shake the remembrance of compromise, even as he fails to recognize the compromises upon which the PCED communities are based. And that is exactly why he is so interested in promoting this event:
If he (and the other compromised communities) can walk arm in arm with the SSPX, it gives him an aire of REAL traditionalism, as if to say, “Look, I’m of all the same beliefs as these guys. And their presence here proves it. Obviously, if even the SSPX has no problem with meeting with us, then clearly we have not compromised.”
Consequently, the SSPX by its poor example is guilty of the sin of scandal: Their tradcumenism leads these poor indultarians to sink further into their conciliarism, covered by aesthetic veneers of tradition, and the tacit approval of their compromised positions which the SSPX’s participation implies.
The flip side of the coin applies equally to the SSPX: They have been taught to feel the sting of their “irregular situation,” and the subsequent desire to “heal” it overpowers their old principles. Attending a tradcumenical venue of conciliarists makes them feel like part of the company; it alleviates feelings of “fringe abnormality;” it gets their clergy used to working with their modernist brothers; it smooths out old resentments between former enemies; it gets them closer to where they want to be.
Clearly the goal of bringing these groups together is unity (first legal, then doctrinal, but always conciliar).
And what is done openly in America is done behind closed doors in France, where the branding and “preparation of minds” has been less successful in a country where there is a greater comprehension of the game that is being played.
Can you imagine FSSP priests attending in 1990 a conference of Archbishop Lefebvre, Avrille, Morgon, Bishop Williamson and Fr. Scott, et al?
But by inversion, this is exactly what the SSPX is doing in volunteering to participate at this conciliar event, and it is every bit as preposterous to those who have resisted the “conditioning of minds” the SSPX has embarked upon since 2012 in order to sell the deal.
SSPX tradcumenism was inconceivable even 7 years ago, but passes today with nary a whimper from the pews. Minds are not being conditioned. They have already been conditioned. They are ready to enter the great pluralistic conciliar pantheon, and events like this help smooth the passage, and prepare the way.
But there is one way in which I could have it all wrong:
If all the players (SSPX included) are really now on the same team, then there is no tradcumenism; the event would then not represent a setting aside of differences for the sake of unity, because having no differences, they would already be united (you know, conciliar).
In that case there would be no tradcumenism at all: There would be unity in conciliarism on all sides.
So which one is it:
Either SSPX attendance at this venue represents a flagrant contradiction of its former condemnation of tradcumenism (and they are hypocrites en route to conciliarism),
It is not an exercise in tradcumenism, because the SSPX is already conciliar.
Is the latter any better than the former?
Meanwhile, almost all of the clergy and faithful quietly go along, and we know how it will all end: We have 52 years of experience since the Council to guide our forecast.