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Did Pope Francis Just Vindicate the FSSP, or Wash His Hands like Pontius Pilate?

In 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre told his followers that he was forced to disobey Rome and consecrate bishops. The agreement he had signed (which promised fidelity to the Roman Pontiff and confessed the validity of the Novus Ordo and all its Sacraments) would give him a personal prelature and episcopal power to continue the ancient Roman Rite of our fathers.

The two most important parts we emphasize here is 1.) the Latin Mass and 2.) episcopal power to guard that Mass.

If we believe that the Latin Mass was never abrogated as Benedict said in 2007 (reflecting the canonical determination of John Paul II’s commission), then we know that 1.) was merely a matter of restoring legality to the Church’s liturgical norms and 2.) was the means to guard against any continued and illegal suppression of the same. Further, as we know from Benedict (and Cardinal Sarah) this was not a matter of merely positive liturgical law, but touched upon the very legitimacy of the Church itself. Thus said His Eminence about Traditionis Custodes:

What is at stake is therefore much more serious than a simple question of discipline. If she were to claim a reversal of her faith or of her liturgy, in what name would the Church dare address the world? Her only legitimacy is her consistency in her continuity.

Further, even if we grant the accusation that he made mistakes or excesses or even theological error, no one can deny that Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 had been fighting manfully against the heretical wolves since 1966 and before. (If these accusations are true, one could note Doctor of the Church St. Cyril was certainly guilty of excess in his zeal for orthodoxy.)[1] He had begged Ottaviani and the Holy Father to issue the anathema which alone would deal with the heretical wolves destroying the faith of little children in the Real Presence of Christ. As a shepherd of souls he had fought contra mundum like a new Athanasius just to have the Latin Mass which Benedict would later say “was in principle always permitted.”

Instead, the “Medicine of Mercy” was given, not to Lefebvre and his followers, but to the enemies of Holy Church, who promptly destroyed the faith and the faithful, while Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict all complained about the auto-destruction of the Church. Ratzinger noted that the fight against the Latin Mass was being precipitated by the heretic wolves:

Only against this background of the effective denial of the authority of Trent can one understand the bitterness of the struggle against allowing the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal after the liturgical reform. The possibility of so celebrating constitutes the strongest and thus (for them) the most intolerable contradiction of the opinion of those who believe that the faith in the Eucharist formulated by Trent has lost its validity.[2]

The heretic wolves wanted to overturn Trent and say Luther was right about the Mass not being a Sacrifice. They wanted to destroy the dogma of the Real Presence. They wanted to apologize to the Protestants for Trent.

Because of the Medicine of Mercy, these wolves ran wild and destroyed the Church by the time Marcel Lefebvre was faced with 1988. He chose disobedience because he did not trust Rome to give him episcopal power, as the signed agreement said they would. His sermon at the consecration said that after he signed the agreement with the Vatican, they told him to then publicly renounce his errors without specifying what they were. When he disobeyed and consecrated bishops, the FSSP was immediately erected, bringing over SSPX priests into a new fraternal society in full communion with Rome.

But the FSSP was not given a bishop.

The FSSP was and is at the mercy of the local bishop, unlike the agreement signed by Rome and Lefebvre, which promised episcopal power. Without a bishop of their own, the heretical wolves continued to rule through their mafia in Rome and in every diocese and parish council (especially the heretical “Catholic” universities claiming academic freedom). The bishops of the world were either heretics themselves or effeminate men or hyperüberultramontantists who, against Vatican II, thought they were “vicars of Rome.”[3]

Thus, the FSSP grew slowly with great suffering against the power of the heretics. To his great credit, Pope John Paul II began to clamp down on heresy in the 1990s and Pope Benedict did even better. But it was necessary in 2007 to issue Summorum Pontificum to release the Latin Mass from any control of the bishops because the bishops were terrible at being bishops.

Freed from episcopal control, the Latin Mass flourished until 2021, when His Holiness, Pope Francis abrogated himself and let Grillo and his cronies have their day.

At that time, the FSSP and the other “Ecclesia Dei Communities” issued their statemement which was a desperate plea from faithful sons to an abusive father (and the rest of the episcopal fathers of the Church). This was criticized and defended. In 2021, the FSSP had endured more than thirty years of abuse at the hands of bishops and suffered in order to be united fully with the See of Rome.

Wherever one stands in the SSPX, no one can deny that the FSSP has been a mustard seed growing the Latin Mass in many dioceses throughout the world.

No one can deny that they have served a critical piece of this struggle for the ancient rite of our forefathers for the sake of the faith.

Against the heretic wolves destroying the faith of children.

Now, Pope Francis has formally granted to the FSSP “the faculty to celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass, and to carry out the sacraments and other sacred rites, as well as to fulfill the Divine Office, according to the typical editions of the liturgical books, namely the Missal, the Ritual, the Pontifical and the Roman Breviary, in force in the year 1962.[4]

He further states in his decree that “They may use this faculty in their own churches or oratories; otherwise it may only be used with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, except for the celebration of private Masses.”

This seems to secure all FSSP churches in every diocese throughout the world. One person pointed out that the FSSP do not have parishes per se, but “canonical houses” which afford a little more autonomy from the local bishop (sort of like a non-diocesan Catholic school perhaps?):

(See the 1988 decree and canon 611 referenced above).

I‘m not a canon lawyer, but I know that bishops typically do whatever they want, regardless of the canons.

Nevertheless, is this not a vindication of the FSSP? First, for suffering without a bishop since 1988 and now having an official confirmation of their use of the Latin Mass and all the Sacraments. And is this not a confirmation that they chose the right thing last fall when they pleaded before the world that their abusive father might change his ways?

From the photo opp, it looks like His Holiness was too embarrassed by this plea from abused children to deny them their Latin Mass. Did someone in the Vatican point out to him that if he denied this plea he would look like the abusive father that he is? If there’s one thing that moves Pope Francis to reverse his words and deeds, it’s what people think of him. Remember his apologies when he slapped the woman’s hand or when he ridiculed his critics about imposing a bad bishop in Chile? Henry Sire documents this Peronism in The Dictator Pope. He brings photographers with him when he visits the slums.

Look at that smile from His Holiness! What a photo opp that was granted by the Pope of Mercy! Perhaps the FSSP et al. appeal last fall was not an appeal to His Holiness’ mercy, but to Francis’ pride.

But let’s not psychoanalyze the pope too much. The most reasonable explanation has been given by Mr. Sire, but we still hope and pray for Pope Francis’ salvation, as he is rumoured to be rather sick with cancer. (I wish Mr. Sire was wrong in his analysis, but alas!) If he is indeed near death, may God grant him a good death so that he may not wonder as the evil Pope Urban VIII did at the death of evil Cardinal Richelieu, “If God exists, [he] will have a lot to answer for.”[5]

The Holy See has confirmed the FSSP continued existence. Ordinations for the FSSP can proceed with a written document which is explicit and unambiguous on the critical point of facultates. Yet in the same breath, His Holiness contradicts what he just said about the FSSP:

Without prejudice to what has been said above, the Holy Father suggests that, as far as possible, the provisions of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes be taken into account as well.

If TC and its explicit intention is “taken into account” the FSSP would cease to exist. That’s why that first bishop kicked out the FSSP in France even before TC came out. Remember that? That’s why bishops have made war on the FSSP and the TLM since TC.

Is this decree, then, not the perfect Peronist document?

What it does is allow every bishop to destroy the Latin Mass and the heretic wolves to continue their iconoclastic regime… while Francis can look like a merciful father. Some Catholics might even defend him as a merciful father.

Now don’t get me wrong: of course we should hail this good news. As Cunningham says with his typical sense, let’s enjoy some good news for a change!

But as Dannebohm observes:

Over the last few months, we’ve read reports of bishops (at the direction of Archbishop Roche) enforcing restrictions on the Ecclesia Dei communities: no Latin masses during the Triduum, that the Ordo Missae must be offered at least once a month, etc.

We’ve also read reports that Pope Francis has gradually been “de-centralizing” Church authority, creating “collegiality” on certain matters, thus giving the bishops more authority in certain matters.

Like today’s decree, all these moves have been very deliberate, most of them have been moves taken from socialist playbooks, and each one of them is part of the big gaslight from Jorge Bergoglio.

Lest we forget, the Ecclesia Dei communities now fall under Archbishop Roche’s authority. Thus, it’s incredibly likely that bishops will still follow Roche’s directives and traditional communities will still be forced to offer the New Mass at least once a month…

Indeed, manure rolls downhill, and this decree definitely stinks of something. It is the latest example of a sociopathic gaslighter who is committed to leading the sheep to slaughter by any means necessary.

With today’s decree, Jorge Bergoglio has given himself the ability to wash his hands of the situation and lay the blame for traditional oppression almost exclusively at the feet of the bishops.

In essence, he poured the fuel, lit the match, and walked away.

Yes, this decree is good news. Yes, we should celebrate it. But the deeper question is, why on earth did Pope Francis do it?

Pontius Pilate scourged Jesus Christ in order to move the crowd to compassion to stop their mob hatred. When that did not work, he washed his hands and condemned Our Lord to His Cross. Perhaps this decree is Pope Francis washing his hands. Perhaps it was due to his pride – he knew what his talk of “mercy” looked like after the FSSP et al. plea last fall. This decree allows him to play the role of the merciful father yet allow the destruction to continue.

Or perhaps (like Pontius Pilate?) he had twinge of conscience and felt he couldn’t go all the way with Grillo and his heretic wolves.

We can only hope and pray for the Holy Father, that it’s the latter.

Meanwhile, let’s embrace Trad Lent and take on penance for our own sins and the sins of our brother, and our hierarchy.

As our eastern brethren say at Forgiveness Vespers before Lent: forgive me, a sinner.

And I say to all sinners whether pope, bishop, priest, or faithful: God forgives and I forgive. Let us begin this Lent with the exhortation given by the Blessed Apostle in the epistle for Quinquagesima Sunday and say with all our hearts the act of charity:

O God I love Thee above all things because Thou art good and deserving of all my love.

I love my neighbor as myself for love of Thee.

I forgive all who have wronged me, and ask forgiveness from all whom I have wronged.

In this charity I intend to live and die.

T. S. Flanders
Feria Secunda infra Hebd. Sexagesima


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[1] St. Cyril bribed the officials at the Council of Ephesus, and his monks imposed the truth by voluntarism—violence, sedition and murder. Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church, (Penguin, 1993), 34.

[2] Joseph Ratzinger, Complete Works: Theology of the Liturgy (Ignatius, 2008), 544.

[3] Lumen Gentium 27: “The pastoral office or the habitual and daily care of their sheep is entrusted to them completely; nor are they to be regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs, for they exercise an authority that is proper to them, and are quite correctly called ‘prelates,’ heads of the people whom they govern. Their power, therefore, is not destroyed by the supreme and universal power, but on the contrary it is affirmed, strengthened and vindicated by it, since the Holy Spirit unfailingly preserves the form of government established by Christ the Lord in His Church.”

[4] Facultatem concedit celebrandi sacrificium Missae, sacramentorum necnon alios sacros ritus, sicut et persolvendi Officium divinum, iuxta editiones typicas librorum liturgicorum, scilicet Missalis, Ritualis, Pontificalis et Breviarii, anno 1962 vigentium.

[5] Henry Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes (Angelico: 2015), 91.

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