The SSPX takes the blue pill.

Traditionalists are somewhat naive about technology.  If they don't work in a profession where social media has relevance, they probably are not aware of the fact that Bishop Fellay, like anyone involved in the public media discussion, has to move at the speed of the internet.  Armchair commentators everywhere said, "we wouldn't know for weeks," and that, "Bishop Fellay wouldn't sign."  I even thought we might have to wait some time to hear the "official word."


I had to help celebrate a friend's birthday on Monday night but as soon as I came back I penned the bookend to another piece I had written almost a year ago.  In that piece, I pointed out that negotiations would go nowhere as long as there was a distorted "recognize and resist" ecclesiology (a term made famous by Fr. Anthony Cekada) in the SSPX.  Either accept that the man is Pope...or not.

It seems as though the SSPX has finally become intellectually consistent.  But what shall the man in the pew do?  I suspect, like one of my readers, his sentiments may be thus:

I'm just another traditional Catholic, but if I may say, an agreement in which the Society will become a real part of the structure of the Conciliar church will, I think, end my association with the Society. It cannot be otherwise. I left the Conciliars decades ago because my eyes were opened and I saw who they were -- the enemy. Why should I now want a room in their mansion? So I can wake up one day to find someone smothering me with a sort of spiritual pillow?

And if I may say something else: I remember a time when in traditional chapels the recent Popes were rarely if ever mentioned from the pulpit, they were considered such an embarrassment. A picture may have hung on the wall to show that the chapel wasn't sedevacantist, but that was the extent of it.

Now however I must hear about how the Pope is sincere and that I somehow owe it to the Pope to give him the benefit of the doubt -- this man who mercilessly drove me and other traditionals years ago from our parishes.

Not hardly.

What happens next?  I assure you, no one really knows.  This is even more unknown than the first 40 years of "resistance."  But if the familiar road already well-worn by the FSSP is any guide, this story does not end well.

Stephen Heiner

Stephen founded True Restoration in 2006 and served as its first President until 2023. He now lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.

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16 Responses

  1. Dymphna says:

    Are people going to resist? Yes. Some will give up and become sedevacantists others will just sit at home a read thier missals. I just pray that the SSPX will be welcomed with the same show of enthusiasm as the Anglicans were. That will be a big help.

  2. pclaudel says:

    Dear Mr. Heiner: Perhaps you will consider the following comment irrelevant; perhaps not. The matter of the comment certainly served to color my response to your otherwise thought-provoking blog post.

    I spent something like an hour puzzling (1) why you would refer in the title of this post to Viagra and (2) what in the world Viagra, even viewed metaphorically, had to do with the SSPX. At length realizing that "blue pill" might refer to something else, I ran a search; from it I gleaned that your image was almost certainly drawn, not from the pharmaceutical industry, but from a once popular film called The Matrix.

    Assuming I am correct this time, one of two courses of action needs to be considered if I am to profitably continue reading your blog: either I need to learn more about the excreta of the commercial media cloaca known as popular entertainment, or you need to reconsider using it as a source of analogies.

    Which path do you recommend?

  3. pclaudel

    Firstly: I'm sorry that I "colored" the view of my post and I have to say it was a very funny start to my morning.

    Those who read my personal and True Restoration blog know that I often analogize or find a way to shoehorn in modern references. It is part of my profession (I've taught teenagers for the last decade and they demand current relevance) but it's also part of my worldview. I believe that we have to encounter the modern world instead of conceding everything to it and the devil.

    I wouldn't say that I use "popular entertainment" *frequently* on my religious blog. What I recommend is the latter course: I will try to be more sensitive to "pop" contexts so that I don't lose readers like yourself who perhaps didn't take the time to tell me about an unclear analogy.

    Thanks for letting me know. Management has been informed! 😉

  4. Dymphna says:

    Viagra never crossed my mind. I thought about the Matrix and got what you meant from the get go.

  5. Dymphna

    I know – as I was reviewing comments this morning, I thought I should mention to pclaudel that "blue pill" has no pharmaceutical reference point for me, but that "purple pill" for Nexium, for acid-reflux does.

    In either event, the power of branding and the pharmaceutical/industrial complex is shown 🙁

  6. All of this is jumping the gun.

    We do not know if the Society will be regularized [or canonically recognized] next month or in 10 years, or ever.
    There is nothing, absolutely nothing avaiable to us that states that it is definitely going to happen.
    Only some journalists opinions and the PCED affirming that Bishop Fellay signed an amended Preamble, which may or may not be acceptable to the Holy Father for the doctrinal talks to continue.
    Nothing is written in stone.

  7. Dear Cruise et al:

    You know people write all the time about why they think a thing will happen. It's only "jumping the gun" or "idle speculation" when it's founded on completely specious, silly, ridiculous notions.

    Everything in my piece mentions WHY I think there will be a regularization. I really want discussion to be why I'm right or wrong on those points, not on questioning why I'm bringing them up. Anyone with eyes can see what is going on. Witness the latest account from Rorate:

    Men far more informed and in the know than I am can see what's coming. I'm just making notes from having really deeply observed the SSPX for years.

    This is to say nothing of the fact that for the first time in history, this last month, the SSPX let a Novus Ordo bishop do confirmations in France.

    All jumping the gun? Hardly.

  8. Mr Heiner,
    We shall see.

    I meant no insult to your well thought out piece, but we must verify, verify verify.
    And that can only happen when the deal is done and in the "Acta".

  9. Tradne4163 says:

    I know I'm late to the party, but I wanted to point out that the
    Confirmations in France happened because of the local prior. From what I understand, Bishop Fellay was quite upset when he found out. It's a policy that only SSPX bishops are supposed to confirm at SSPX chapels.

  10. @tradne: Given the way Bishop Fellay controls things, I find that impossible, but an EXCELLENT PR spin! 🙂

  11. pclaudel says:

    I assume that all here present have read the so-called bonus issue of Eleison Comments. One of its couplets was particularly striking:

    SL [soft-liner] But we are strong, with bishops one and three.
    HL [hard-liner] Alas, the three with the one do not agree.

    Does Mr. Heiner or anyone else wonder, as I do, who precisely is who in this one-and-three partition? Specifically, ought one to think that His Excellency is indicating that he himself is the loner, or is he pointing to Bishop Fellay?

    Finally, does anyone else consider this open revelation of division within the SSPX, whatever it may be thought to reveal, somewhere between mildly to extremely shocking on any of several planes?

  12. @pclaudel

    The three/one partition is Bp. Fellay on one side, the other three bishops on another. This would have been shocking 2 years ago, when Bp. Williamson was on the "outs," but for the last 6 months, anyone who has been paying attention has seen the slow division occurring between the bishops.

    I cannot speak for the rest of the commenters, but anyone in who has actively read this blog over the last 2 years has seen the contradictions and internal divisions within the SSPX talked about not just here, but on other informed sites.

    In other words, I am as "shocked, shocked," as Claude Rains might be at Rick's.

    (I thought you'd appreciate some ancien culture, after the pharmaceutical slip 🙂

  13. pclaudel says:

    Dear Mr. Heiner,

    I am grateful for your reply. You are a careful writer and a thoughtful man, one not given to presumptuous generalization (of course, the foregoing would amount to a very small compliment indeed were it locked within the framework of the blogosphere’s standards of intelligence and civility). Had the evidence suggested otherwise, I would never have raised the question I did in the previous comment.

    Yet I am far less sanguine than you seem to be about the number of sites that may fairly be called “informed,” especially in this matter (and even more especially with regard to the crowd that runs a site with initials RC). “Hotbeds of foolish, baseless speculation” is the characterization that springs more readily to theselips. Knowing, as I do, a man who will be ordained at Winona next month—his father and I have been close friends for almost fifty years—my own impression has for some considerable time been that “the contradictions and internal divisions” you mention have been exaggerated, often slanderously so, by people who lack your good sense and, above all, your firsthand contacts with Bishop Williamson and other “insiders,” shall we call them.

    If, as it now sadly seems, the divisions are truly as deep and (just as important) extensive as you believe they have been for some considerable time, I am struck by how much care the three allied bishops have taken to keep these grave differences appropriately cloistered for so long.

    While I fail to see how an acceptable accommodation between conciliar Rome and the SSPX can be reached at the present time—“acceptable” referring to an accommodation that does not harm the True Faith’s prospects of reestablishing itself within the gutted temporal shell that is now misidentified as the Catholic Church—I am not yet quite ready to discard all hope that Bishop Fellay and those around him know more than I do about what might best serve the Faith and are hence not on a course that must issue inevitably in the SSPX’s fragmentation. Many fears and hopes won’t have long to wait for realization or otherwise, however.

    P.S. A fogy I may be, but a crank I am not! You have my blessing to refer to Casablanca all you want. Someday, time and health permitting, perhaps I’ll explain to you why, even by the already pretty low standards of forties’ popular culture, it’s a sorely overrated film.

    P.P.S. Permit me to say long after the fact that your post of about a year ago—the one about the undesirability of “supporting the troops”—showed real insight and no little courage. I say this, incidentally, as a combat veteran of another largely pointless and immoral American war, the one of almost fifty years ago. Compared with the present abominable misadventures, that conflict at least had the very slight saving grace of not being so obviously waged in servile obedience to an international crime syndicate with headquarters in New York and Tel Aviv.

  14. William says:

    Please, Stephen, more commentary. You are appreciated.

  15. trent13 says:

    pclaudel said: "You have my blessing to refer to Casablanca all you want. Someday, time and health permitting, perhaps I’ll explain to you why, even by the already pretty low standards of forties’ popular culture, it’s a sorely overrated film."

    Now that is an explanation I would be very interested in hearing.

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