Bergoglio a Modernist? Uh, didn’t mean it…
by Rev. Anthony Cekada
SINCE THE DEATH of SSPX founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, one of the popular pastimes in certain traditionalist circles when faced with the latest Novus Ordo outrage is the game of WWLD — What Would Lefebvre Do? So during the whole opera of the SSPX-Vatican negotiations that played out in 2012, both sides — those who favored a deal and those opposed — tried to wrap themselves in what they thought Abp. Lefebvre “would have” done. Either side, of course, could just as well have had the right answer during the negotiations fiasco, an issue we explored on Restoration Radio in two shows in April and May, 2012.
But when it comes to the antics of Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”), I don’t think there could be any doubt about what Abp. Lefebvre would have done. Bergoglio’s statements about no Catholic God, proselytism as nonsense, the role of conscience, etc. would have infuriated Lefebvre, and he would have gone from one end of the world to another denouncing Bergoglio as a modernist and as a threat to the Catholic faith.
Hence, it was somewhat of a surprise that Bergoglio engaged in one outrage after another month after month while one heard not so much as a peep from SSPX’s leadership or its publications. Nothing. On the question of Bergoglio, SSPX-ers had turned into Trappists.
“A Genuine Modernist!”
Six months into the Bergoglio “pontificate,” one at last started to hear rumblings from SSPX in the form of opaque and diplomatically worded “critiques” from its publications in Europe.
Finally, in an October 11, 2013 press conference, SSPX Superior General Bp. Bernard Fellay said of Francis, “We now have in front of us a genuine modernist!”
Despite this declaration, though, subsequent SSPX critiques have tended to be muted. A diocesan priest in Germany recently told us that his conservative colleagues there who offer officially approved traditional Latin Masses are far more critical of Bergoglio that the local SSPX clergy.
But perhaps the SSPX clergy are simply aware how easy it is for their organization’s party line to change, and for them to be left on the wrong side of a new “official position.”
And sure enough, there was another shift.
Well, What I Really Meant Was…
This came in an extensive interview published December 4, 2013 — two months after his “genuine modernist” statement — when Bp. Fellay said of his earlier remark:
“I didn’t mean to say the Pope is a Modernist in theology, but in action.”
Why the 180?
Because modernism is a heresy, and Fellay is afraid that someone in SSPX might remember the principle that a heretic cannot be a true pope — a principle that even Abp. Lefebvre himself acknowledged from time to time. (See here.) A discussion of this possibility would cause conflict between various factions within SSPX.
Since loyalty to the Society and the preservation of its own existence — rather than adherence to objective and coherent theological principles — is the Prime Directive for all members of SSPX, such internal division must be avoided at all costs.
It’s Waffle Time!
So, Bp. Fellay serves up a giant plate of chicken waffles. The whole interview is incoherent and rambling, and Bp. Fellay treats us to ideas and observations like:
- Maximillian Kolbe’s ideas on the Masons and Immaculata.
- A bland discussion of the internal disputes within the Franciscans of the Immaculata.
- Fellay’s “shock” over the application of the B16 Motu Proprio.
- The “attitudes” of Benedict and Francis are different.
- There is “confusion” over Bergoglio’s statements — Who am I to judge? Doctrinal certitude is impossible.
- Bergogio is “a less credible pope,” whose statements are “unfortunate.”
- Bergoglio “talks too much.”
- Reflections from an Argentine about Bergoglio as a “man of action.”
- My use of the term “modernist” “was not understood by everybody.”
- The media’s use of Bergoglio’s words is “dangerous,” it “creates an atmosphere.”
- There is “nihilism” in popular culture.
- Nothing is being done “to heal the Church.”
- We have to talk about La Salette, Leo XIII’s exorcism, Satan setting up his throne in Rome.
- The laity must be firm in the faith, charitable, and follow their state of life.
- SSPX’s main role is “restoring the Church through the Mass.”
- One must “rediscover the Christian spirit.”
- In the end the Immaculate Heart will triumph.
You can churn out stuff like this with your brain on auto-pilot. It frees you from the need to make a coherent argument for a clear position that is based on real theology.
Thus, like a mama bird who gobbles up all sorts of junk and regurgitates it in a bland pap for her chicks, Bp. Fellay covers up his creation with trad clichés and bromides, in hopes of appealing to everyone in his organization — instead of simply appealing to the truth.
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