Sunday, 16 January 2022

A Third Way in the SSPX Debate: A Priest Weighs In

Fr Matthew points out that there are some things we can be absolutely certain about and others we can only hold strong opinions about.

From One Peter Five

By Fr Matthew Michael, OSB

OnePeterFive has requested articles on both sides of the SSPX debate. I hate to break the rules, but I want to suggest a third side.

I am not God. But if I were, I probably would not allow hundreds of millions of children to be tortured to death in their mother’s wombs. I probably would not allow kids to be kidnapped and then used to produce horrific videos. I probably would not allow a pope to pretend to change unchangeable truths regarding marriage, the death penalty, the power of God’s grace to keep us from sin, and a slew of other things.

But God allows these things.

If we ask why He does so, I think very few would have the boldness to offer reasons more specific than the very general reason, “to bring about a greater good.” What is this greater good that permits child pornography or mass destruction of the faith by a man who is supposed to defend it? Hard to tell.

His ways are unsearchable and His wisdom is beyond us. We are men. For the most part, we know very little. Very little indeed.

The third side I want to suggest, regarding the SSPX, is this: we can’t really know what to think.

There are things we can know (I use the word “know” here, to mean, “be certain about”). Three persons are one God. Jesus Christ is one person with two natures. He established a Church with an office of Pope. To obey the pope is to obey Christ. The Eucharist is the body of Christ.

These things we can know.

There are things we cannot know. This particular host was consecrated correctly. The correct action when faced with external signs of heresy in the reigning pontiff is to consecrate bishops without his consent in order to keep the faith. This or that man was, or was not, excommunicated. A particular group which claims a man (who habitually displays external signs of heresy) is a valid pope, but refuses to obey him in certain particulars, is, or is not, in schism.

Can you genuflect to a host, even though you cannot be sure that it was consecrated correctly? (The host could have been made from rice flower. The priest may have accidentally skipped an essential word in the consecration, etc.) Yes. You can.

Can you consecrate a bishop against the will of the pope when there are grave reasons to think that it is the only way to safeguard the faith? I think so.

But in either case, does doing so make you any more certain about the uncertain facts upon which your moral action was judged? No. It doesn’t.

If the uncertain reasons which lead a bishop to consecrate another bishop against the will of the pope were actually insufficient, then the act would objectively be schismatic. If a host is not actually consecrated, then genuflecting to it would objectively be idolatry.

But short of certainty, the genuflector and consecrator are neither idolators nor schismatics.

There were saints that defended antipopes. Whoops! But… they were saints. Why?

I think, perhaps, that part of the answer lies in humility. Knowing that we cannot know some things with certainty is an essential part of the intellectual and moral life.

If I die today and face my judge, perhaps He will ask me how many persons are in the Trinity, and perhaps He will ask if a pope can abrogate the old Mass, and perhaps too He will ask what I think about Lefebvre. I would answer “three,” and “I doubt it” and “probably a saint.” And perhaps He will ask me how certain I am about each answer. I would reply: “100%,” and “I’m sure that I doubt” and “fairly sure, but not entirely.”

I think that’s enough to pass the test (at least on those questions). And if another man wanted to answer the second two questions differently, I wouldn’t presume to think him damned. But if a man wanted to be absolutely sure about them, I might worry a little.

But, I’m not sure. I would be interested to hear what the readers think.

My main point however is this: the reasons for or against the SSPX are probable reasons, not certain reasons. And, in the moral life, probability is very often all we can have. It’s sufficient for holiness.

I have followed the arguments for both sides, and I see grades of probability for each. It seems to me however that not enough attention is given to the various levels of certainty. When “things are a mess,” arguments from canon law are not absolutely certain. And reports of reported letters seem not “entirely fallacious,” but perhaps, “of little weight.” The greatest danger in discussing the SSPX (as far as I can see) is to claim certainty where it doesn’t exist.

Would God allow a pope to commit such grave errors that consecrating a bishop against his will would be necessary? And then (!) allow the next pope to canonize the first one while lifting the excommunication resulting from the consecration? That seems a bit weird. If I were God, I would probably not allow that. But I’m not God.

May His wisdom be praised forever and ever.

1 comment:

  1. A few questions for Fr. Matthew Michael.
    1. Our Lady came in 1917 to ask for Russia to be consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart in order to prevent her from spreading her errors throughout the entire world. This was followed up by Our Lord to remind that it hadn't been done & also requesting that the First Saturday of every month be devoted to His Mother by going to Confession, Holy Mass & receiving Holy Communion which NO priests know nothing about & therefore don't instruct the faithful on this very important venerational practice.

    The general answer that PJPII has carried out the consecration is not correct - Fr. Amorth was very close to him when he spoke the words & said it did not comply with Heaven's specific instruction & we know this to be true as Russia is still spreading her evil to every corner of the earth. It was a political tactic by the Vatican who are now the servants of the CCP, NWO et al & are hell-bent on bringing us with them by supporting lethal injections, unwarranted restrictions of every kind & even closing the Church to us. With TC, AL Francis is violating the Deposit of Faith which every Pope must faiuthfully guard.

    2.The Third Secret of Fatima has never been disclosed, even though Our Blessed Mother said it was to be in 1960. This displays terrible disobedience to Heaven but also led, I believe, to the "Bad Council & Bad Mass" (Our Lady) which has perpetrated sacrilege (tabernacles mispacement, confessionals, altar rails, side altars elminated, lay readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (mainly women) altar girls etc. First Friday house visitations to the sick also carried out by women who cannot, of course, hear the recipients confession beforehand. No hospital curates leaving the sick & dying without the sacrament of Extreme Unction & Papal Blessing. No night call-outs, priest now have Unions.

    3.Francis said Atheists can attain Heaven by good deeds thus overthrowing the Ten Commandments, Sacraments, the Liturgy, Holy Communion & has publicly venerated Pachamama & celebrated Mass with another Amazonian idol (bowl of dirt) on the altar. How can it be possible for any Pope & Vicar of Christ inspired by the Holy Ghost to demolish what Christ taught His Apostles & they have handed down over generations to us through their successors? The simple answer must be that Francis is the Destroyer/usurper that St. Francis of Assisi warned his community about before his death, bred by the Modernists of VII. Why should anyone show respect to a man who obviously isn't inspired by the Holy Ghost nor holds the titles Pope & Vicar of Christ (he has denied he does). It is apparent that PBXVI is still the reigning Pope but held captive by the Vatican Modernists who govern the Vatican - Our Lady of La Salette (Rome will lose the faith & become the seat of the Antichrist) which must mean they don't believe in God or the Deity of Christ, founder of the OHCA Church, the only one which guarantees eternal salvation to His followers who adhere to His Word.

    4.Who is going to step out from this infernal mess & ask for an Imperfect Council to denounce this monster & his demonic followers & release PBXVI from his Vatican prison, have the consecration of Russia properly carried out & reveal the Third Secret of Fatima in accordance with Heaven's wishes? Tradition must be restored as a priority as the Novus Ordo does not fulfil the same needs as TLM & only when it is will we have the vocations we desperately need. Priests must also be seen to be worthy of their calling, chaste & willing to give the complete service Christ requires to His People. No false gods,lax liturgy, upbeat music, LGBTQI apparrel, or even a whiff of sodomy can be tolerated. This satanic aftermath of VII was forced upon us but now must cease, if necessary by stating that a schism has taken place (which it has) & a return to order declared.


Comments are subject to deletion if they are not germane. I have no problem with a bit of colourful language, but blasphemy or depraved profanity will not be allowed. Attacks on the Catholic Faith will not be tolerated. Comments will be deleted that are republican (Yanks! Note the lower case 'r'!), attacks on the legitimacy of Pope Francis as the Vicar of Christ (I know he's a material heretic and a Protector of Perverts, and I definitely want him gone yesterday! However, he is Pope, and I pray for him every day.), the legitimacy of the House of Windsor or of the claims of the Elder Line of the House of France, or attacks on the legitimacy of any of the currently ruling Houses of Europe.