The following is a fictionalized dialogue between two men. One represents the Society of old. The other the Society of 2017. No doubt many have heard conversations like this before:

All this talk about “regularization” with Rome has me worried

Why? I think it will help the Society

How so?

Well, for one, they are owed regularization. Lefebvre was treated unjustly. Two, more people would come as a result. Tons of people

Interesting. How many people came when the excommunications were lifted?

Uh. I’m not sure. Probably a lot

And how many came when Pope Francis said people could have their confessions heard by Society priests?

I don’t know

Don’t you agree it’d be important to know these things?

I suppose

Don’t you think it’d be good to know if other groups that went with Rome witnessed tons of people coming over as well?

Well yeah. But it’s probably the case that they had worse deals than what Bishop Fellay is trying to get. He is such a holy man and I trust him

Maybe. But doesn’t scripture say to test all things?

Yeah, so?

Well, do you just trust whatever Bishop Fellay does?

Of course. He’s been around a long time. He knows what the Romans are up to

But being in power for a long time can be dangerous. It can corrupt and the Society’s enemies can learn the weaknesses of the Bishop

Maybe. But Bishop Fellay was chosen by the Archbishop himself

So was Bishop Williamson

Oh. Him? Yeah, what a mistake

Why?

He was always ranting and raving. He believes Jews run everything. And he was not obedient. Lefebvre was always a calm presence, like Bishop Fellay is. Anyway, Williamson was a convert late in life. I don’t think he ever understood what Catholicism is all about.

So what? Augustine was a convert. St. Mary Magdeline was a convert

You are comparing Bishop Williamson to St. Augustine?

No. I am just saying people convert and that your point is irrelevant

Whatever. It is good that he is no longer around.

You know that Archbishop Lefebvre believed Jews “ran everything” as well?

No he didn’t. Fr. Pfluger says conspiracy theorists are crazy

In his book Spiritual Journey he wrote “we must not be afraid to affirm that the current Roman authorities, since John XXIII and Paul VI, have made themselves active collaborators of international Jewish Freemasonry and of world socialism.”

Hmmm…

Have you never read that quote before?

No.

Interesting.

Still. You are judging Bp Fellay, aren’t you? Are you more Catholic than he is? 

No, no, no. I am just saying that blind obedience is un-Catholic. I think we need to understand what Bp. Fellay is saying today in comparison to what he said before.

I agree

Well, in 2003 His Excellency compared the Campos “regularization” to being put into an ecumenical zoo. Around the same time he said that the Society cannot launch into discussions with the Romans unless Rome is intent on returning to Tradition.

That was a long time ago. I just think Bp. Fellay is wiser now. We must continue to move forward and little by little Rome will change

Wiser or a contradiction to his former self?

I believe he is a good Bishop

Well that’s not answering the question. Let me put it this way: Do you think it is possible for the Society to be tempted in the same way the Church was tempted at Vatican II?

What do you mean?

I mean that the Church at Vatican II looked around and said to itself “if we don’t change, we will find ourselves irrelevant, excluded, and ostracized from the world.” Yet now, Society priests like Fr. Schmidberger and others are saying the same thing. “If we don’t get regularized, if we don’t resolve this now, we will find ourselves irrelevant, excluded, and ostracized from the Church.” It’s the same thing, isn’t it? History repeating itself?

I don’t know who Fr. Swissburger is. But I do know that if we are on our own for too long we can become truly schismatic and even sede-vacantist.

But that is not what the Archbishop said. He said he had no worries about going on his own. He knew he was in the truth. It was the Romans who were in schism.

Well maybe he said that then but today I see many people at our chapel who are schismatic.

Really? Who?

Lots. They say they want nothing to do with Rome and that we should stay away.

But doesn’t Scripture tell us to not be in union with those who deny the Catholic Faith? No doubt Pope Francis is a modernist who rejects Tradition. Moreover, in 2011 the Society itself said that to come in contact with Rome would be risking a contamination and that one cannot dialogue with the Conciliar authorities without adopting their errors.

I’ve not heard of that but that was then. This is now. This is a matter justice! 

You’re ignoring what I said.

No I’m not. This is a matter of justice!

Did you hear what I said?

About what? 

No, about what the Archbishop said and about what the Society said in 2011?

What was it again?

They said “stay away.”

Again, that was then this is now. It’s a matter of justice!

Stop shouting. Are you are a relativist?

A what?

A relativist is someone who says things change based on time and place

I am not that. I am a Traditional Catholic. A prudent one!

Traditional Catholics typically don’t use the phrase “that was then this is now”

Are you serious? Just the the other month I was fifteen pound heavier. That was then this is…

Thats not what I mean. Let’s revisit what we were talking about before. Did other groups go with Rome bring in tons of converts?

I bet Fr. has the numbers

Well, I actually asked Fr. about that six months ago. I’ve been studying this for about two years. He said four new people have called the priory asking about mass times in the last year. And when the excommunications were lifted there was about five or six. He also said the Ecclesia Dei groups haven’t really grown either. His prior from a while ago left the SSPX and went to join one of them. He said he regrets going because Rome is always bearing down on them, demanding they implement Vatican II.

Well, that is not good

No, it’s not. The same thing happened to the Good Shepherd Institute, which was essentially forced by Archbishop Pozzo to adopt the Council

Who is Archbishop Pozzo? 

The priest in charge of the talks with the SSPX and Rome. Do you seriously not know him?

No. What is the Good Shepherd?

They were founded by Fr. Paul Aulagnier. Fr. Aulagnier was kicked out of the Society in 2003 because he wanted to be regularized. Fr. Violette, the District Superior of Canada at the time, wrote a letter rebuking his arguments in favor of regularization

Well, again, Fellay won’t allow himself to be “put under Rome” or to have Vatican II imposed on the Society. He said he is not going to compromise. He is prudent. He is wise

You can say anything but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Indeed, the National Catholic Register reported that the Society has “toned down” their articles and essays.

There you go again saying just how bad a leader Bishop Fellay is. My gosh you are judgmental 

I did not say that

You act like it

I don’t know why you want to keep making this about Fellay. Anyway, what do you think of Fr Aulagnier getting kicked out for wanting a deal? Bishop Fellay is essentially using his same arguments to push for a deal today.

What did he say? I am sure it was great!

The same sort of stuff as Fr. Aulagnier. “We run the risk of being schismatic. We will do more good for the Church on the inside. We can help others.”

Well, I trust Bp Fellay. He is prudent.

You put a lot of trust in Bp Fellay. Don’t you think it is important for the Society to take lessons from others who were “regularized” by Rome? All of them have not had the success they imagined. Rome is, as Fellay said in 2003, the bigger player in this, and over time they impose their will. Shouldn’t we learn from these experiences?

Yeah, but

Isn’t it prudent to take lessons from others ?

Yeah, but

Ok, well….?

Look, if the SSPX makes a deal and they are recognized as they are, then probably over time they will grow. I mean Tradition is growing all over

What do you mean Tradition is growing?

More people go to Latin Mass and stuff

That doesn’t mean Tradition is growing. It means more people go to Latin Mass. Just because people go to Latin Mass doesn’t mean the Church is changing.

Well, it is a more reverent mass and those who attend it are more traditional in a sense

But the Archbishop always said the fight was about the faith. Yes, Lex Orandi Lex Credendi. But if these people are not going to the Latin Mass for the right reasons then it doesn’t matter. Reverence is not the issue. The Latin Mass is not the “Extraordinary Form” of the Roman Rite, which attendance at the Indult implies. The Novus Ordo Missae and the Latin Mass are completely opposed to one another. One is a masonic invention made with ecumenical dialogue in mind. The other was a propitiatory sacrifice created by the Holy Spirit. Oddly enough, Bp. Fellay instructed priests of the Society to sing a Te Deum when Benedict wrote Summorum Pontificum, which equates the two.

Look, it is clear that more people are talking about the crisis in the church these days. My teacher at St Mary’s was a priest and he told me Bishop Athanasius Schneider talks about the crisis all the time.

Yes, but the Bishop believes in inter-religious dialogue. If people who talk about the crisis do not have the beliefs the Archbishop had about Vatican II then what does it matter? Bishop Schneider will not save the Church with what he believes

This is all a step in the right direction and the more people go to the the Latin Mass the better! I myself have gone to FSSP masses and the priests are pretty solid

You go to FSSP churches? The only reason they exist is because Lefebvre was excommunicated. By going there you are if not explicitly then implicitly agreeing with, in principle, Ecclesia Dei’s declaration

So you think the only Catholics in the world are the SSPX and that there is no salvation outside the Society? 

I never said that. I only try to live my life according to principles. According to doctrine. As should everyone. Lefebvre said that the SSPX he founded has all four marks of the Church and that it must not compromise with error. Truth is exclusive

Well then you must believe there are a very small number of Catholics left in the world. You think you are part of this elite remnant? You do nothing but cast stones and shut yourself off from others

I see it as me going wherever the truth leads me. Why should I have friendships with people who don’t believe the things I do? Leo XIII said Catholics, if they want to safeguard their faith, should be among other like-minded Catholics. The truth is that other “Traditionalists” need to come over to the SSPX. Did your teacher at St. Mary’s not teach you what the Archbishop believed? Did he not teach you Vatican II is a break with the past, that ecumenism is contrary to the faith, and that these other groups do not have things in common with the Society?

I don’t really remember. Sort of.

So you were not really taught these things in school. What did they teach you then?

Well, we did read Flannery O’Connor and we had Shakespeare plays every year. That was a blast! We went over the Archbishop’s Open Letter to Confused Catholics but that was my junior year and I only read it once.

You can have mine. It is in my car. I carry extra copies so I can hand them out to people. You can also borrow A Bishop Speaks, I Accuse the Council, and They Have Uncrowned Him. I have those at home.

Ok, thanks. I haven’t read those. 

No problem. Anyway, you said earlier that you think more people are going to come to SSPX chapels if they are regularized?

Yes. So many people view us as schismatic. They stay away because of it.

How many people?

Lots

That is not very exact. How many?

Well I know a couple from the local Indult would

A couple?

My friend on the other side of the state says there are like six Indult masses. I’m sure there are some there who would come

Are those masses well attended?

He says so

Well, who actually goes? Do the churches have schools attached to them? Do young families, young men, or people in their 70s attend these masses?

I am not sure. 

So how will the Society ever grow if these Indult communities aren’t even growing? Who will we get to come over?

I know a few people in town and they seem open to listening to what I say

Well, a few isn’t what you said earlier. Furthermore, do you think families that are sort of traditional and who have like four or five little kids who attend the local FSSP school or the Indult school are going to up and drop everything and come over to us where they know no one? If they send their kids to school there they aren’t going to leave

Maybe

Do you think the old people at these masses are just going to just leave? Some of them have been going to those masses for twenty years and were married by the priest who says the mass. They aren’t going to want to start anew.

Maybe

The young people who attend these Latin Masses likely attend Juventutum meetings. Do you think they are going to leave that camaraderie behind? Do you think they are going to leave behind their priest? These are relationships that aren’t just going to be broken off.

Maybe

That’s a lot of maybes. Before you were adamant about saying “tons of people will come.”

We have to keep praying the Rosary Crusades Bishop Fellay tells us to. This isn’t an overnight thing. It needs time. People won’t be able to call us schismatic anymore if a deal happens. That is a good thing.

Why does it matter what others think? We know we have the truth. God knows we are in the truth. The saints rejoiced at being thrown in prison for truth’s sake. Isn’t being excommunicated from this Conciliar Church a mark of honor for you? God sees the truth. Our battle is a spiritual one. Not a marketing gimmick.

Well maybe regularization can put people’s minds at easy

Their minds can be put at ease if they just prayed about it. God tells us “seek and you shall find.” If Catholics wanted to know the truth about the Society and wanted to really know if they should come to Society masses, then they should pray to God to know the truth about the situation. Grace will no doubt move them to come

Well, not everyone is going to do that

Well then they deserve to be where they are at. You are essentially saying that people who don’t understand or believe what the Archbishop said and did should come here

What I am saying is that I want people to be saved. You seem to think that is a bad thing

No, not at all. I pray for others to be saved too. In fact, I try to convince my family and other people all over to come to Society masses

Well that’s good. But they could be saved if they came here

Not necessarily. It may be the case that being exposed to the true sacraments and good preaching can get them on the right path but that doesn’t guarantee salvation. Furthermore, the Society doesn’t even preach about social doctrine and the errors of Rome anymore.

But if we get more people out here we can change the Church!

Not true. The Archbishop said that that would be a dangerous thing. His words: “There are many people who continue with a modern and liberal spirit, but that will come with us because they like to occasionally attend a traditional ceremony and have contact with the traditionalists. But this will be very dangerous for our traditional means. If we are invaded by all these people what will happen with Tradition? Gradually a kind of osmosis will occur, a kind of consensus … Slowly, slowly, we will end up not being able to see the distinction between liberalism and tradition. It’s very dangerous”.

You are backward looking and bitter. And I wonder if the Archbishop might have been as well.

Wow. Ok. Well, I just think we need to be realistic. We need to be aware of human nature, sociology, and psychology here. The SSPX is a lifeboat not a tugboat. If you put too many people who talk too many different languages in the boat it will surely sink.

You seem to want people to not come to mass. That is not Christ-like.

I think God will provide for those who for whatever reason don’t come to Society chapels. The SSPX is like the fat man on the end of a rope in a game of tug-of-war. It is ultimately up to you and me to convert these souls. How did you end up attending this Society chapel anyway?

I was raised in the Society and went to St. Mary’s. Graduated a few years ago. My dad was born in Tradition too. He is in favor of a deal as well. How did you end up here?

I was raised Novus Ordo, turned atheist in my twenties, then came back to the faith in my thirties. After a while I started asking my priest about the Latin Mass. He told me not to go but I felt I needed to. Eventually, I went to FSSP churches and Institute of Christ the King services. Over time, I found them to be lacking. By the grace of God I started attending Society chapels on a regular basis in my 40s. But I have been around long enough to see what the Society used to be and what it has sadly become. I fear for its future. I fear, in other words, you!

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One thought on “The old SSPX and the new SSPX

  1. Such an excellent dialogue. I fear for the FSSPX and I attend diocessan Masses in London. Sometimes I attend FSSPX Masses when I travel to France. I shudder to think what would happen to the FSSPX if they regularised with the apostate Church of Rome. I am a great supporter of Bishop Williamson and have read nothing of his that is anti-Catholic. If all else fails, there is only Our Blessed Lord and His Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother

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