Ecclesia Dei is no more. Most conciliar commentators have argued this is “no big deal” and that there’s “no reason to panic,” it’s just a re-shuffling of the Vatican’s bloated bureaucracy.
Since when have things of this magnitude become a matter of just shrugging our shoulders and acting like nothing happened? Francis is a Machiavellian pope who does everything for a very specific reason. My guess is most people on the inside know exactly why this was done and what it means but are trying to keep things relatively quiet.
Psalm 129 believes that one possibility Ecclesia Dei is no more is that Fr. Pagliarani told Cardinal Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, during their November meeting that he’s not interested in pursuing the Fellay approach (i.e. just recognize us as we are!) Rather, the SSPX wants Rome to come back to the true doctrine of the past.
That this is what Fr. Pagliarani told the Cardinal is a total guess, to be sure, but recent interviews Fr. has given indicate he is interested in putting doctrine first ahead of a practical arrangement. See here and here.
It’s also possible that after hearing this from Cardinal Ladaria, Pope Francis threw a temper tantrum and said something along the lines of “They want to talk doctrine? Alright, let’s talk doctrine!”
That Francis is thinking this seems to be confirmed by the announcement that abolished Ecclesia Dei, which said “The aims and questions dealt with by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei are of a predominantly doctrinal order,” and these “aims” should “be made ever more evident to the conscience of the ecclesial communities” in the Church.
In other words, Francis is taking the SSPX up on its offer to discuss doctrine, but he is going to do it in his way, and that means, doing so more publicly. Play time is over, in other words, and Francis is going to dig in his heels and start bomb throwing, just like how he did with the countless other semi-traditional religious orders be has destroyed.
Blogger Louie Verrechio seems to think this is what’s going on as well. He put it this way on this site AKA Catholic:
So, what does this portend? Again, we will have to wait and see, but it very well may mean that the days of behind-the-scenes negotiating sessions between the Roman modernists and the SSPX are over. It could be that Bergoglio wants all to see just how unreasonable, intolerant, rigid, triumphalistic, behind the times, and let us not forget, anti-Semitic, the Society and others who think like them truly are.
To what purpose? To discredit, not just the Society, but tradition itself in the eyes of the world; setting it up for persecution by the leaders of the one-world government that he is so pleased to serve.
Lost in all of the hubbub here is just how much it appears Fr. Pagliarani is diverging from his liberal predecessor.
Indeed, in the SSPX’s official response to Ecclesia Dei’s abolishing, one finds words that reflect how the Archbishop approached the Conciliar Church. Here is the most important part of the SSPX’s statement:
The so-called Ecclesia Dei communities…clearly do not count in this discussion. They can have the Mass, the “spiritual and liturgical traditions”, but not the whole doctrine that goes along with them.
That has always been the Society of St. Pius X’s great reproach against Dom Gérard and all those who thought they should break the unity of Tradition in order to negotiate a purely practical agreement. The crisis of the Church cannot be reduced to a spiritual or liturgical question alone. It is deeper, for it touches the very heart of the Faith and the doctrine of Revelation…
Is this not a complete and utter break with the Trad-ecumenism of Bishop Fellay? Is this not a stark reminder of the real problems with the FSSP, ICKSP, etc. and how they aren’t SSPX friends but traitors? Is not the condemnation of those who sought out a “purely practical agreement” a harkening back to the SSPX of old? Yes, yes, and yes.
Be that as it may, Brian McCall at Catholic Family News is claiming that the SSPX statement “also reaffirms the position of the SSPX that difficulties between the SSPX and the Roman authorities are primarily doctrinal.” Sorry Brian. But under Bishop Fellay, the issue was not “primarily doctrinal.” With Bishop Fellay, it was always about how Rome viewed the SSPX as Catholic and that Francis is truly our friend and that the SSPX has allies everywhere, therefore, we must make a practical deal now and convert the Church later from within.
It will be interesting to see how long the lie of “continuity” between Fellay and Pagliarani goes on for. The liberals in the SSPX must be concerned with the way things are heading. If Fellay was still in control, it isn’t hard to imagine in response to the abolition of Ecclesia Dei, he’d say something like “We thank the Holy Father for streamlining this complex process and trying to bring a resolution to our situation. It is a matter of justice we be seen as Catholic. We appreciate his fatherly affection for us, especially for granting our priests confession.” Nothing, you’d expect, would be said about how the Ecclesia Dei groups are deficient or how the those who sought a “practical agreement” with Rome in the past “broke the unity of Tradition.”
If the first several months of Fr. Pagliarani’s reign were perhaps underwhelming, his strong emphasis on the need for the Pope to return to Tradition and his apparent making of doctrine pre-eminent above a practical arrangement is a possible sign liberalism may be on its way out in the highest levels of the SSPX. It is now up to the Superior General to make sure liberalism is driven out of the SSPX completely. And that is a much taller order. Only time will tell.