Pat Archbold’s piece at Creative Minority Report on Church unity specifically as regards the SSPX has been making the rounds, and interestingly was dropped or not run at The National Catholic Register.
I have great concern that without the all the generosity that faith allows by the leaders of the Church, that this separation, this wound on the Church, will become permanent. [He is right to be concerned about the SSPX. I think that a lot of the priests would welcome greater manifest unity (and faculties). But now there are children of SSPX followers growing up who have never known clear union with their local churches.] In fact, without such generosity, I fully expect it. Such permanent separation and feeling of marginalization will likely separate more souls than just those currently associated with the SSPX. I have also come to believe that Pope Francis’ is exactly the right Pope to do it. In his address to the evangelicals, he makes clear his real concern for unity. So here is what I am asking. I ask the Pope to apply that wide generosity to the SSPX and to normalize relations and their standing within the Church. [Is that what got Archbold’s post removed?] I am asking the Pope to do this even without the total agreement on the Second Vatican Council. [Right! If the Fr. Feeney and followers could be reconciled, why not the SSPXers?] Whatever their disagreements, surely this can be worked out over time with the SSPX firmly implanted in the Church. I think that the Church needs to be more generous toward unity than to insist upon dogmatic adherence to the interpretation of a non-dogmatic council. [Is that what got Archbold’s post removed?] The issues are real, but they must be worked out with our brothers at home and not with a locked door. Further, Pope Francis’ commitment to the aims of the Second Vatican Council is unquestioned. Were he to be generous in such a way, nobody would ever interpret it to be a rejection of the Council. How could it be? This perception may not have been the case in the last pontificate. Pope Francis is uniquely suited to this magnanimous moment.
And Father Hunwicke tells why he’s a little miffed his pieces on the same matter did not get picked up when he was the first to make a number of these points and more.
But I feel more miffed that nobody much seemed to take much account of two pieces I wrote a month ago about the reconciliation of the SSPX … arguing that it should be seen as an ecumenical matter and followed with the same charity, urgency, and flexibility as the Holy See employs when dealing with other ‘partners in dialogue’. Uncannily, this is now a headline issue because of the ecumenical outreach of the Holy Father to a Protestant group … followed by an article (Archbold) in an American journal (NCR) arguing precisely the case I argued … followed by the odd removal of that article by the proprietors of the journal concerned.
One rather wonders about that removal. Who leaned on whom? Or who thought that they might be leaned on by whom if they didn’t delete the article first? Of course, there is a real difference between cosying up to evangelical Protestants and considering unity with fellow Catholics, as Anglican Catholics discovered when Benedict XVI had the courage to brave the storms of malevolence and erect the Ordinariates. I suppose there is even more toxicity surrounding the matter of the SSPX. In media and PR terms, suggesting unity with evangelical Protestants is like cuddling a bunny rabbit with soft, silky fur, while advocating overtures towards the SSPX more closely resembles fondling broken glass. This is at least partly because ecumenism is really the pursuit of internal Church politics by other means. Another thing that I explained quite recently.