Wednesday, March 06, 2013

What the next Papacy will mean for the SSPX

Early contact with the new Pope
The relationship between Church and the SSPX is one of the points that are open after Benedict's resignation, as ever. If, under the new Pope will reintegration - or the final break be completed?

Benedict XVI wanted no longer to take in his last days in office any serious decision. The possible reconciliation with the breakaway in 1988 of followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre is therefore one of the issues that must be addressed by the new Pope.

The SSPX rejects a series of reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Contentious issues are especially liturgy, ecumenism and religious freedom. The founder of the SSPX, the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991) completed the break with Rome by ordaining of bishops against the wishes of the Pope. In an effort to reach an agreement, Benedict XVI in 2007 allowed again the Tridentine Mass, the sole form up to the Council. In 2009, he lifted the excommunication against the four bishops consecrated by Lefebvre. This was followed by a dialogue between experts from the Vatican and the SSPX - so far not resulting in agreement.

"A Pope, who returns the Faith to her primacy in the Church"
Franz Schmidberger, head of the German district and one of the principal leaders of the SSPX, announced that the SSPX would "make contact at a very early stage with the new Pope, and lay out for him their concerns about the 2,000-year tradition of the Church.

Traditionalists wanted "A Pope, who returns the Faith to her primacy in the Church, give further space to the traditional liturgy which expresses this Faith and seeks out of this Faith renewal in Christ." What this means exactly for the progress of the talks remains to be seen. The only certainty is that the SSPX in the coming weeks looks to Rome, waiting for the white smoke. Perhaps the question of dealing with the traditionalists is a standard by which the Cardinals from their midst will choose their new leader.

On the now finished pontificate, the SSPX looks back with mixed feelings: Schmidberger sees on the one hand "real bright spots." Such measures include the teaching documents, in which the traditional liturgy was upgraded. The remission of the excommunication - publicly linked with the scandal surrounding the Holocaust denier Richard Williamson - for Schmidberger was "an important moment in the truth." If the old liturgy was never actually banned, you could not hunt out of the Church those who wanted to hold on to it. And even choice of Papal name by Joseph Ratzinger, according to the German District Superior showed that after two popes, "who saw themselves as the trustees of the Counciliar Popes John XXIII and Paul VI", Benedict XVI has more in mind the heritage of the Christian West.

Schmidberger criticizes the appointment of Archbishop Müller
But Schmidberger also sees "a lot of suffering," that eventually would have had to press down on a "fine-feeling, educated man" like Benedict XVI. And he laments that Ratzinger had represented "no consistent, stringent line". "Lack of understanding" expresses the District Superior over the appointment of Gerhard Ludwig Müller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith. Müller had dealt intensively in his previous office as Bishop of Regensburg with the SSPX - and made little secret of his dislike.

But the beatification of Pope John Paul II and interreligious meeting in Assisi had little to do "with the charge of the dictatorship of relativism in the modern world" which Benedict XVI repeatedly formulated. And finally, the resignation, the Schmidberger criticized openly: in the final analysis Ratzinger "did not receive the Petrine ministry from the hands of the Cardinals, the only hold office, but from God himself, whose representative he is on earth."Consequently, only God himself could dismiss him from office by death. Perhaps for this assessment is supported by the concern that the talks with the future Pope could be more problematic than those with the one who has retired.


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