When I was in the United Status last month, two priests both certainly having the Faith and in good faith asked me a classic question: Why does the Society of St. Pius X insist on remaining alienated from the leadership of the official Church when it could accomplish so much more good by bringing that alienation to and end, as it could so easily do?
I do not quote their own words Why do you stay outside the Church when you could do so much more good inside? because of course the SSPX does not accept that it is outside the Church. But nobody can demy its state of alienation from the Rome of Vatican II, conciliar Rome. Then the question is the following: could the SSPX in fact do much more good for the Church if it undertook to be reconciled with the Rome of Vatican II?
To answer the question, let us see what it is achieving in its present state of alienation, and let us compare that with what it could achieve if it were reconciled with conciliar Rome.
What the SSPX is accomplishing by resisting conciliar Rome, as it has done now for 30 years, is the defense of the Catholic Faith of all time, and the keeping alive of the seven sacraments as our Lord instituted them. On the contrary the followers of Vatican II, with the Roman prelates at their head, have done all they can to abolish the Tridentine Mass and the eternal priesthood, and had it depended on them, this rite of Mass and priesthood would have disappeared. A certain number of bishops and a large number of priests outside the SSPX are the first to recognize that without the SSPX, this Mass and priesthood were finished. Yet some of these bishops and priests blame the SSPX for not submitting to Rome. They blame the tree while enjoying its fruits!
In other words, Vatican II and its followers meant to adapt the Catholic religion to the modern world by changing the Faith and transforming the sacraments. Whereas by refusing the conciliar novelties, by cleaving to the Faith of all time and by keeping the sacraments of Our Lord, the SSPX together with its comrades in arms has done no less than save the true Catholic religion from destruction by the Council.
Thus we come to the second part of our question: if the SSPX were to be reconciled with conciliar Rome, could it sustain this great work of keeping the Faith? By way of answer, is it not clear that to be reconciled with conciliar Rome, it would have to accept the Council and the New Mass? This Rome insists on both, and where it grants the Tridentine Mass, it never fails to insist on the Council, because the Council of 1962-1965 led to the New Mass of 1969, and will always lead back to it. This Rome will never give up that Council which makes it what it is. Now, would not the sweetest of reconciliations, by its very sweetness, prevent the SSPX from savaging the Council as it needs to be savaged, if the Church is to survive?
And is it not clear that to end its present alienation from the authorities of Rome, the SSPX would have to submit to them? And if the SSPX were to submit to the promoters of the new religion, how could it stay with the old? And if the SSPX were to abandon the old religion, what other worldwide organization would there be to keep it going?
Now it goes without saying or it goes with saying ! that the SSPX has none of the promises of indefectibility that the Catholic Church has, so the SSPX can fail, yet the Church will survive notwithstanding. But go ask the thousands and thousands of Catholics presently depending worldwide on SSPX priests to keep the Faith, where they would be without them, and from the answers you will gather that despite all the real and imaginary failings of the SSPX, it is playing for the moment a major role worldwide in keeping the Faith going.
Sometimes the laity see more clearly than priests do. My dear friends, say I to the two priests mentioned above, do realize that were the SSPX to submit to conciliar Rome, it would not be a victory but a terrible defeat for the true Faith.
Let us pray for the authorities of Rome to understand as much. Prayer may be all we have, but it is mighty The powerlessness of the All-Powerful, and the supreme power of the powerless, said the Curé of Ars.
+ Richard Williamson