The FSSP priests and a French Diocese

Here is the article from the National Catholic Register: Why is a French Catholic Archdiocese Expelling the FSSP?. It was a disturbing read. The FSSP priests spoke as if the Bishop had no authority over them. The attitude seems to be that the Bishop is just an annoyance, and why doesn’t he just leave them alone to do their own thing.

Worse was the attitude of the FSSP priests towards the Novus Ordo Mass: “we have reservations on the New Mass” one priest said. Then the FSSP priests refused to concelebrate with other priests from the diocese. They said “we don’t celebrate at the same pace”. They also claimed a right not to be forced to concelebrate.

“Can. 902 Unless the welfare of the Christian faithful requires or suggests otherwise, priests can concelebrate the Eucharist. They are completely free to celebrate the Eucharist individually, however, but not while a concelebration is taking place in the same church or oratory.”

I don’t believe this law established the right of priests to disobey their Bishop. If the Bishop wishes priests to sometimes concelebrate, they should do so. There are other Canons in the Law, such as those giving authority to Bishops over priests.

The Bishop simply wanted FSSP priests and their communities to sometimes join with other priests and other Catholics to celebrate the same Mass together. This is a legitimate and important goal of a Bishop, so that his flock will be one. The Bishop is right to be concerned that the FSSP is developing its own parallel Church, whose priests reject the Novus Ordo Mass, refuse to celebrate the Mass with other priests, and do not wish their own flock to mix with other Catholics.

Someone many legitimately prefer one Order of the Mass over another. Some persons prefer the Novus Ordo Mass; others prefer the Vetus Ordo. But it is wrong to reject the authority of the Pope over the Mass, or the authority of the Bishop over his flock.

Make no mistake about this. A schism is approaching. It is already here. So many Catholics on the right have decided that they are right, and the Church is wrong. The Novus Ordo Mass is supposedly wrong. The Pope and the Bishops are supposedly wrong. Along with these judgments is usually a rejection of Vatican II, and of Pope Francis. And what will happen if Pope Francis restricts the Vetus Ordo Mass? It may initiate the last stages of this schism, the stage in which the schismatics finally admit that they are not part of the true Church, and depart.

The FSSP is in danger of falling away from the Church, and taking the same path as the SSPX. Priests and lay persons do not have the right to decide to reject what the Church decides for the Mass. They do not have the right to reject an Ecumenical Council or a definitive teaching of any Pope or Council. There is no absolute right to Communion on the tongue, or to Mass in Latin, or to refuse concelebration or anything else that is not a dogma, but is a discipline. And even in the case of dogma, it is for the Church to decide what is and is not the correct understanding. Rebelling against the Pope and the body of Bishops, in the name of truth, is ridiculous. It is Protestantism disguised as Catholicism. It is a form of Donatism, where only the very conservative are considered to be pure enough to recognize truth in doctrine and discipline.

I don’t know what Pope Francis is going to do next. I would think it wise to require all priests to say the Novus Ordo Mass, some of the time, to make certain they have not fallen into schism or heresy. The Church has authority over the form of the Mass. One cannot use one’s own judgment and the consensus of a group of persons who are joined together because they have the same view, in order to fend off the authority of Peter. For Peter holds the keys. What he binds on earth is bound even in heaven. So there is no excuse by appealing to tradition or canon law or supposed rights of the faithful to disobey the Roman Pontiff.

St. Augustine used to require his monks to eat meat and drink wine, on Sundays, in order to ascertain that none of them would fall into the heresy that rejected these things (and held that material things are evil). Why not require all FSSP priests and all other priests to say the Novus Ordo Mass once a month, to concelebrate on occasion, and to mix their flocks with other parishes in the diocese? It seems to me that the FSSP is going the way of the SSPX, separating themselves from the one holy catholic and Apostolic Church.

Rejection of Vatican II, or Pope Francis, or the new Mass or any other doctrine or discipline decided upon by the Church should not be permitted.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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