Response to Fr. Paul Robinson
The SSPX and “Pope” Francis:
Theological Absurdistan on Full Display
The absurd theology of the Society of Saint Pius X is currently on full display again.
On June 8, 2017 there appeared an article entitled, “Unity of Faith with Pope Francis & Canonical Recognition of the SSPX” on the web site of the SSPX’s Asian District. The essay was written by Fr. Paul Robinson, a professor of dogmatic theology at the Lefebvrian Holy Cross Seminary in Lake Bathurst, Australia. As the article points out in an introductory comment, it is “published with permission of the SSPX’s General House in Menzingen”, which means it comes with the highest possible Lefebvrian approval, that of Superior General Bp. Bernard Fellay himself, who resides at his order’s headquarters in Menzingen, Switzerland.
Fr. Robinson’s essay is a sterling example of the absurd ecclesiology the SSPX ends up with as a result of forcing the square peg of Jorge Bergoglio into the round hole of the Roman Pontificate. In what follows, we will quote Fr. Robinson’s article in full, interspersed with our comments for a much-needed reality check. Get ready for some fireworks!
In the debate as to whether the SSPX should accept a personal prelature from a Pope Francis pontificate, some have opined that the SSPX should not be considering whether canonical recognition is opportune or prudent. Rather, the real question to be asked is whether the SSPX and Pope Francis share the same goal and have the same faith. If not, then it is wrong in principle even to consider accepting canonical recognition. If so, then and only then could it be right in principle, allowing one to move to discern whether it is also prudent.
The implied position of those who express this opinion is that Pope Francis does not have the same faith or the same goal as the SSPX, and so it would be in principle wrong to accept canonical recognition under a Pope Francis pontificate. Not only that, it would be illogical, for “to establish legal unity without real unity would … be contradictory.”
This article will seek to show that it is not, in principle, wrong to accept canonical recognition from a Modernist Pope, and also attempt to determine a criterion by which one can determine the degree to which collaboration with a Modernist Pope is acceptable. This article will not consider whether it is prudent, in the current circumstances, for the SSPX to accept a personal prelature from Pope Francis.
From the very beginning, Fr. Robinson offers inconsistent ideas. He insinuates that Francis does have the same faith of the SSPX but then goes on to speak of Jorge Bergoglio as a “Modernist Pope”. That a Modernist, by definition, is not a Catholic but a heretic/apostate, does not seem to occur to or bother the author. We would like to encourage our readers to substitute the word “Lutheran” or “Mormon” for “Modernist” and see how much sense Fr. Robinson makes then.
The first fact to be noted about the position above is that it runs contrary to the spirit informing the entire history of the SSPX. Let us take a brief review of that history to see that such is the case.
It would not seem too difficult to establish that Pope Paul VI had strong Modernist tendencies. Yet the SSPX was canonically erected under the pontificate of Paul VI and was recognized as a pious union from 1970-75. Thus, at least in the mind of the Archbishop, it cannot be wrong, under all circumstances, to collaborate with a Modernist Pope to the extent of having a canonical structure under him.
The events leading up to 1988 are perhaps even more instructive on this score. When one understands that Archbishop Lefebvre was waiting for signs that he should consecrate bishops and that after receiving two such signs, in the form of Modernist scandals on the part of Rome, he then went to Rome seeking canonical recognition, one should draw the general principle: Modernist scandals, of themselves, are not an obstacle to receiving canonical recognition at the hands of those who have perpetrated those scandals.
At the same time, the Archbishop withdrew his signature to the protocol that was to provide a canonical structure, because he lost trust in those with whom he was negotiating. After the trying ordeal was over, he acknowledged that a greater traditionalism on the part of the Romans—in their doctrine—would provide solid grounds for trust. Thus, for him, evaluating the faith of the Pope was grounds for evaluating the acceptance of canonical recognition—not as to whether it is possible, but rather whether it is prudent. If the Pope can be trusted to allow the SSPX to remain “as is” and exercise its ministry—the “experiment of Tradition”—with sufficient autonomy, then canonical recognition is a good for the Church and should be accepted.
The SSPX, lacking support from the very traditional Catholic doctrine they claim to safeguard and uphold, likes to appeal to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as the standard to be followed. For the SSPX, he — not the Pope — is the ultimate standard for Tradition, at least de facto. This is why SSPX adherents constantly appeal to what the French archbishop did or would have done.
But whatever Abp. Lefebvre may have done right or wrong, or who thinks what about it, is not the issue. Roman Catholics do not get to pick someone they look up to as their personal hero and then follow him instead of the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church.
Why is it that so many stopped following the “Pope” and followed the French archbishop instead? Quite simply, because it was evident that the “Pope” was no longer a Catholic, and Abp. Lefebvre appeared to continue the Church as before Vatican II. However, the rub is that traditional Catholic doctrine holds that the Pope is the principle of unity and guarantor of orthodoxy in the Church. It is not an option to ignore the Pope and follow some other cleric instead. Hence, the issue of whether the Vatican II claimants to the papacy have been real Catholic popes or anti-Catholic impostors, is of prime importance.
In short: Right or wrong, it simply doesn’t matter what Abp. Lefebvre did or thought. It does not determine anything for anyone in the Catholic Church.
Fr. Robinson mentions “a greater traditionalism on the part of the Romans — in their doctrine….” Notice the phraseology, which is deliberately vague and euphemistic. Just what constitutes “doctrinal traditionalism”? Are we simply talking about orthodoxy? If so, why not use that term instead? How much sense does it make to demand “greater orthodoxy” on the part of the Vatican authorities? Orthodoxy cannot exist in degrees. One is either a Catholic or not. On the other hand, if by “traditionalism” is not meant “orthodoxy”, then what are we talking about?
As a seminary professor teaching dogmatic theology, Fr. Robinson knows that defining one’s terms in a precise manner is absolutely essential for doing theology correctly and to ensure one remains within the bounds of orthodoxy. Vagueness and equivocation, on the other hand, favor theological error and often cause readers to be misled.
The author also speaks of “evaluating the faith of the Pope”. If by this he means that we must consider whether the man who claims to be Pope is even a Catholic, then no objection can be raised. But of course this is not what he means, for in his mind, a “Modernist Pope” is entirely possible.
The remedy for such an anti-Catholic Pope, Fr. Robinson believes, is to grant the Lefebvrian Society “sufficient autonomy”. The definition of “autonomy” is “self-government.” What the author is advocating here is that the SSPX be allowed to govern itself “sufficiently”, and by this he means to such an extent that it can do whatever it deems necessary for the good of the Church. Since the “Pope” is a Modernist, this means that the government of the SSPX must be separate in principle from the “papal” government of the Church. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of schism. Any “union” the SSPX may have with Francis or any other “Pope”, is thus entirely accidental and not the result of the Pope (whether a true one or one they falsely believe to be a true one) binding wills and informing intellects. The governing principle here is the SSPX, not the Pope.
This same line has been followed by the SSPX in its 21st century dealings with the Roman hierarchy. The SSPX has never gone to Rome, asking that the Pope and the hierarchy convert to traditionalism before the possibility of canonical recognition even be considered. It has never demanded a profession of faith by the Pope, a recantation of heresy, a syllabus of errors, or any such. To do so would imply that the SSPX was the superior and the Pope the inferior, that it was a question of the Pope receiving legal recognition from the SSPX rather than the other way around. In short, it would imply a schismatic spirit.
The SSPX has rather only made demands that correspond to its proper position, especially the demand to be left “as is”. It attempted to lay down in the General Chapter of 2012 six conditions—none of which concerned the Pope’s faith—to make sure that it would remain intact and sufficiently autonomous under a hypothetical canonical recognition.
This is not to say that members of the SSPX, even very high up, have not been at times tempted to hold that the true spirit of the Archbishop and so of the SSPX demands that the Pope profess doctrinal traditionalism before there can be any practical recognition. That is, after all, the stance of that loose conglomeration of ex-SSPX priests that goes under the name of “The Resistance” and which has a former SSPX bishop as one of its members.
What is being affirmed here is that the “strict unity of faith before canonical recognition” position has never, at any time, been the official position of the SSPX, neither in the time of the Archbishop nor since his death.
Fr. Robinson uses the phrase “converting to traditionalism”. Since he doesn’t define “traditionalism”, people are left to supply their own definition. We must ask: Is “traditionalism” Catholicism or not? If it is, why wouldn’t the SSPX demand a “papal” conversion to the only true religion of Jesus Christ, before accepting to be recognized canonically? Do they really want to be recognized by a non-Catholic? But if it is not Catholicism, what is it? Is it an optional “add-on” that is nice to have but ultimately unnecessary? These are questions of fundamental importance that Fr. Robinson leaves conveniently unaddressed.
The Lefebvrist writer then assures his readers that the Society “has never demanded a profession of faith by the Pope, a recantation of heresy, a syllabus of errors, or any such” since this “would imply that the SSPX was the superior and the Pope the inferior, that it was a question of the Pope receiving legal recognition from the SSPX rather than the other way around”; which, of course, “would imply a schismatic spirit.” He is quite right that this would be a very obviously schismatic and anti-Catholic thing to do. It is ironic, however, that he should say this right after speaking about “evaluating the faith of the [Modernist] Pope” and calling for “sufficient autonomy.”
Despite verbal protestations to the contrary, we all know that at least in practice the SSPX believes itself to be the guardian of the deposit of faith and Rome to have apostatized, for which reason it is now the SSPX’s task to convert Rome to Catholicism once again. That is ultimately what drives all of Lefebvrian theology.
Fr. Robinson proceeds to insinuate that because the “Pope” does not profess this “doctrinal traditionalism”, whatever it is (is it the doctrine of the Church or not?), there is no “strict unity of faith” between the Lefebvrists and Francis. Yet this difference in faith does not appear to bother the Australian seminary professor much, despite the fact that the Catholic Church, by definition, possesses unity in faith, which is evident from Sacred Scripture (“One Lord, one faith, one baptism” [Eph 4:5]), from Sacred Tradition (“I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” [Nicene Creed]), and from the magisterial documents of the Church, such as the following:
The vigilance and the pastoral solicitude of the Roman Pontiff … according to the duties of his office, are principally and above all manifested in maintaining and conserving the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God. They strive also to the end that the faithful of Christ, not being like irresolute children, or carried about by every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men [Eph 4:14], may all come to the unity of faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God to form the perfect man, that they may not harm one another or offend against one another in the community and the society of this present life, but that rather, united in the bond of charity like members of a single body having Christ for head, and under the authority of his Vicar on earth, the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Blessed Peter, from whom is derived the unity of the entire Church, they may increase in number for the edification of the body, and with the assistance of divine grace, they may so enjoy tranquility in this life as to enjoy future beatitude.
(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Pastoralis Romani Pontificis; in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 1; underlining added.)
When the Divine founder decreed that the Church should be one in faith, in government, and in communion, He chose Peter and his successors as the principle and centre, as it were, of this unity. Wherefore St. Cyprian says: “The following is a short and easy proof of the faith. The Lord saith to Peter: ‘I say to thee thou art Peter’; on him alone He buildeth His Church; and although after His Resurrection He gives a similar power to all the Apostles and says: ‘As the Father hath sent me,’ &c., still in order to make the necessary unity clear, by His own authority He laid down the source of that unity as beginning from one” (De Unit. Eccl., n. 4). And Optatus of Milevis says: “You cannot deny that you know that in the city of Rome the Episcopal chair was first conferred on Peter. In this Peter, the head of all the Apostles (hence his name Cephas), has sat; in which chair alone unity was to be preserved for all, lest any of the other apostles should claim anything as exclusively his own. So much so, that he who would place another chair against that one chair, would be a schismatic and a sinner” (De Schism. Donat., lib. ii). Hence the teaching of Cyprian, that heresy and schism arise and are begotten from the fact that due obedience is refused to the supreme authority. “Heresies and schisms have no other origin than that obedience is refused to the priest of God, and that men lose sight of the fact that there is one judge in the place of Christ in this world” (Epist. xii. ad Cornelium, n. 5). No one, therefore, unless in communion with Peter can share in his authority, since it is absurd to imagine that he who is outside can command in the Church. Wherefore Optatus of Milevis blamed the Donatists for this reason: “Against which ages (of hell) we read that Peter received the saving keys, that is to say, our prince, to whom it was said by Christ: ‘To thee will I give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the gates of hell shall not conquer them.’ Whence is it therefore that you strive to obtain for yourselves the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven – you who fight against the chair of Peter?” (Lib. ii., n. 4-5).
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 15; underlining added.)
We invite Fr. Robinson also to remember the teaching of Pope Pius IX, according to which “[t]his Chair [of St. Peter] is the center of Catholic truth and unity, that is, the head, mother, and teacher of all the Churches to which all honor and obedience must be offered. Every church must agree with it because of its greater preeminence…” (Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 1). And we must point to Pope Leo XII’s teaching that “the Sovereign Pontiff [is he] in whom God has placed the source of unity” (Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Aeterni; in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 149).
In light of all this, how can the SSPX maintain that they do not have “strict unity of faith” with the man they claim is the Vicar of Christ? What does this say about them? Alternatively, what does this say about Jorge Bergoglio? And, lastly, one must ask: How is “strict” unity of faith distinguished from “loose” unity of faith? Or is this the SSPX’s less-Modernist-sounding version of the Novus Ordo doctrine of “imperfect communion”?
Let’s continue with Fr. Robinson’s propaganda piece:
In principle, then, it must be possible to collaborate in some way with a Modernist Pope. Let us just zoom out a bit from the SSPX-Rome talks, so as to understand a fact that is absolutely fundamental for this discussion: the SSPX has always collaborated to some degree with the post-Conciliar Popes. Three principles will help clarify that such is specifically the case with Pope Francis.
The first principle is that the SSPX accepts Pope Francis as being Pope. Archbishop Lefebvre, while showing a certain tolerance for individual sedevacantists, always refused sedevacantism at the level of his priestly fraternity. To this day, candidates to major orders in the SSPX must affirm before the Blessed Sacrament the night before their ordination that the Pope is the Pope.
The second principle is that Pope Francis is Pope of the Catholic Church. What this means is that he holds the highest office in an institution established by Our Lord Jesus Christ. As such, he has not decided and cannot decide the finality of that institution. The Church is the Church regardless of his personal feeling about it. This is perhaps a rare instance when it would be proper for him to say, “Who am I to judge?”
This is to be kept in mind when we consider certain directions in which Pope Francis has apparently tried to steer the Church. He seems, for instance, to want the Church to be an agent of ecological ideology, in its modern anti-human form, as embodied by such persons as Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Ehrlich. Needless to say, it is not part of the Church’s mission to foster ‘sustainability goals’, especially when they involve drastic reductions of the world’s population. This is true regardless of whether Pope Francis believes or wants it to be part of the Church’s mission.
Thirdly and finally, the members of the SSPX as well as its faithful are already members of the real society of the Catholic Church over which Pope Francis is the visible head. In other words, they have a real unity with Pope Francis—not with Pope Francis in his ‘personal magisterium’, but with Pope Francis as Pope. They acknowledge him to be the governing head of the Church, they put his picture in their chapels, they mention him by name at Mass and Benediction. These acts are neither hypocritical posturings nor vain symbols; they indicate the real unity that exists between the SSPX and the Pope. They indicate that the SSPX is collaborating, at least to some degree, with Pope Francis for the interests of Holy Mother Church.
Ah yes, “the Pope is the Pope.” A more tautologous statement has never been uttered. If this is what SSPX seminarians have to affirm the night before their ordination to major orders, they might as well swear that their cat is their cat and that a circle is a circle.
Fr. Robinson proceeds to assure his readers that as the Pope of the Catholic Church, Francis “cannot decide the finality” of the institution, meaning he cannot alter the purpose for which Christ established the Church (chiefly, the salvation of souls), even if he tries to. In other words, Francis is Pope in spite of himself. Apparently there is just nothing the poor fellow can do to not be Pope.
But here the dogmatic theology professor misses the point. Of course no power on earth can alter the divine constitution of the Church — but that’s simply not the issue. The issue is whether it is possible that a true Pope could even attempt it, and what conclusions we have to draw about someone who claims to be Pope but does not believe the Catholic Church exists chiefly for the salvation of souls but to see to it that school children are not bullied and that Muslims can safely overrun Europe. That is the issue.
Next, Fr. Robinson assures us that Lefebvrists worldwide already “have a real unity with Pope Francis—not with Pope Francis in his ‘personal magisterium’, but with Pope Francis as Pope.” Now it gets even more bizarre. Although he already conceded that the SSPX does not have unity of faith with Francis (“strictly” speaking!), he maintains that adherents of the Society nevertheless have a unity that is quite “real” with Francis, but it is the Francis who is Pope — yet they have no unity with that Pope’s pesky “personal magisterium”! Got it? Once again, Fr. Robinson fails to tell us what this “personal magisterium” is (as distinguished from the impersonal magisterium?). Although we could certainly grant that a Pope can act as a private theologian at times, even there he has to be a Catholic.
At the same time, the point is almost irrelevant in the case of Francis, because Bergoglio commits all of his heresies and other spiritual crimes in his capacity as “Pope”. Consider, for example, the documents Laudato Si’, Evangelii Gaudium, and Amoris Laetitia, which are all “encyclicals” or “apostolic exhortations” and thus part of the Novus Ordo magisterium — they are not simply a few personal notes made on a napkin over a bottle of wine at the local trattoria. Besides, Francis himself has stated that he exercises his magisterium in his homilies and even when he gives interviews. The distinction between “personal magisterium” — in which the “Pope” apparently does not have to be a Catholic — and some other magisterium, was made up by the SSPX in order to defend their concept of maintaining unity with a heretical Pope without being tainted by his heresies.
In his inaugural encyclical issued shortly after assuming the Supreme Pontificate, Pope Benedict XV exhorted the faithful:
…[W]henever legitimate authority has once given a clear command, let no one transgress that command, because it does not happen to commend itself to him; but let each one subject his own opinion to the authority of him who is his superior, and obey him as a matter of conscience. Again, let no private individual, whether in books or in the press, or in public speeches, take upon himself the position of an authoritative teacher in the Church. All know to whom the teaching authority of the Church has been given by God: he, then, possesses a perfect right to speak as he wishes and when he thinks it opportune. The duty of others is to hearken to him reverently when he speaks and to carry out what he says.
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 22; underlining added.)
So, it looks like that “personal magisterium” is a bit harder to dismiss than some theology professors down under think. The real question is: Does the SSPX “hearken to [Francis] reverently when he speaks” and then “carry out what he says”? Let’s not be silly. They don’t insist on “sufficient autonomy” for nothing.
No, it will not do to point to some undefined “human element” of the Papacy that we can blame everything on; for, as Pope Leo XIII once reminded his cardinals:
…[T]he Church has received from on high a promise which guarantees her against every human weakness. What does it matter that the helm of the symbolic barque has been entrusted to feeble hands, when the Divine Pilot stands on the bridge, where, though invisible, He is watching and ruling? Blessed be the strength of his arm and the multitude of his mercies!
(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution to Cardinals, March 20, 1900; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 349.)
Fr. Robinson then lists some examples that supposedly prove that the Society of St. Pius X is truly united with Francis: “They acknowledge him to be the governing head of the Church, they put his picture in their chapels, they mention him by name at Mass and Benediction.”
No doubt, all this is very nice, but it wouldn’t impress Pope Pius IX, who pointed out that actions speak louder than words:
What good is it to proclaim aloud the dogma of the supremacy of St. Peter and his successors? What good is it to repeat over and over declarations of faith in the Catholic Church and of obedience to the Apostolic See when actions give the lie to these fine words? Moreover, is not rebellion rendered all the more inexcusable by the fact that obedience is recognized as a duty? Again, does not the authority of the Holy See extend, as a sanction, to the measures which We have been obliged to take, or is it enough to be in communion of faith with this See without adding the submission of obedience, — a thing which cannot be maintained without damaging the Catholic Faith?
…In fact, Venerable Brothers and beloved Sons, it is a question of recognizing the power (of this See), even over your churches, not merely in what pertains to faith, but also in what concerns discipline. He who would deny this is a heretic; he who recognizes this and obstinately refuses to obey is worthy of anathema.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quae in Patriarchatu [Sept. 1, 1876], nn. 23-24; in Acta Sanctae Sedis X , pp. 3-37; English taken from Papal Teachings: The Church, nn. 433-434.)
In light of this, it is difficult to see how Fr. Robinson’s confident contention that Lefebvrists “have a real unity with Pope Francis” on the grounds that they call him Pope, put up his picture in their chapels, and mention him in the liturgy, can be upheld.
Canonical Recognition not a Joining
The fact of SSPX’s already existing real unity with Pope Francis brings home a second key fact often missed by personal prelature refusalists: canonical recognition of the SSPX by Pope Francis is not about the SSPX joining something. It is rather about the SSPX being given legal standing in a body to which it is already really united.
Let’s stop Fr. Robinson right here and ask the question: Just what body is it in which the SSPX is about to be given legal standing again? Wouldn’t it be the body from which it was once expelled or at least “unrecognized”, back in 1988? Let’s see what body that was, according to the SSPX Superior General, Fr. Franz Schmidberger, and all district superiors at the time:
As for us, we are in full communion with all the Popes and Bishops before the Second Vatican Council, celebrating precisely the Mass which they codified and celebrated, teaching the Catechism which they drew up, standing up against the errors which they have many times condemned in their encyclicals and pastoral letters….
On the other hand, we have never wished to belong to this system which calls itself the Conciliar Church, and defines itself with the Novus Ordo Missæ, an ecumenism which leads to indifferentism and the laicization of all society. Yes, we have no part, nullam partem habemus, with the pantheon of the religions of Assisi; our own excommunication by a decree of Your Eminence or of another Roman Congregation would only be the irrefutable proof of this. We ask for nothing better than to be declared out of communion with this adulterous spirit which has been blowing in the Church for the last 25 years; we ask for nothing better than to be declared outside of this impious communion of the ungodly. We believe in the One God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and we will always remain faithful to His unique Spouse, the One Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church.
To be publicly associated with this sanction [of excommunication] which is inflicted upon the six Catholic Bishops, Defenders of the Faith in its integrity and wholeness, would be for us a mark of honor and a sign of orthodoxy before the faithful. They have indeed a strict right to know that the priests who serve them are not in communion with a counterfeit church, promoting evolution, pentecostalism and syncretism….
Here we see that back when the pseudo-excommunications of the Modernist Vatican were declared to have been incurred by the SSPX bishops and the co-consecrator, Bp. Antonio de Castro Mayer of Campos, Brazil, the Lefebvrians insisted that they were in “full communion” with the Roman Catholic Church and out of communion with the “counterfeit church” of Vatican II. So, if Fr. Robinson now talks about being given “legal standing”, then it can only be legal standing in that counterfeit church with which they once said they have no part.
Certainly, a defender of the SSPX could now assert, quite gratuitously, that despite the fact that they’ve always been in full communion with the Catholic Church, nevertheless their legal standing in it could still validly be taken away by the authorities of that conciliar counterfeit church. However, at that point, all serious theological discourse would be out the window, because then they would just be making it up as they go along, claiming whatever they please without any evidence. Besides, it would squarely contradict Fr. Robinson’s later statement, quoted below, that “the Pope’s juridical acts have authority and force only insofar as they serve the interests of Jesus Christ”.
They just cannot have it both ways. If the SSPX is seeking legal recognition today, then, given its own position, it is necessarily seeking recognition from the counterfeit Conciliar Church, and not from the Catholic Church with which, so they say, they are already united under the “Pope”. In any case, it is abundantly clear that the SSPX is seeking canonical recognition from a church that approves of the Focolare movement, Communion and Liberation, the Neo-Catechumenal Way, the Charismatic Renewal, and similar groups — and that worships the same god as the Moslems. This is the theological quagmire you end up with when you insist that an apostate establishment can still somehow be the indefectible Roman Catholic Church and its chief apostate the Vicar of Christ.
Too often, refusalists frame the discussion of SSPX-Rome relations as if there is question of the SSPX getting membership in the ‘Church of Francis’, when in fact there is nothing for the SSPX to join to which it does not already belong. The SSPX would be joining an organization only if:
the SSPX were currently schismatic and so outside the Church—something we vehemently deny
the Roman authorities constituted a non-Catholic church in the strict organizational sense of the term—something we also deny.
They can affirm or deny whatever they like — the reality is the reality. And in any case, it is for the Pope, and no one else, to render the final decision on whether someone is a schismatic: “…whoever the Roman Pontiff judges to be a schismatic for not expressly admitting and reverencing his power must stop calling himself Catholic” (Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quartus Supra, n. 9). Besides, the “Roman authorites” (notice the convenient euphemism again) cannot constitute a “non-Catholic Church” in any sense of the term!
Many of us in the SSPX have had conversations with Novus Ordo relatives or friends in which they, judging by superficial appearances, have accused us of being ‘outside the Church’ because our parishes are not approved by the diocese. And we have, no doubt, explained to them that the separation is only apparent since we fully accept the authority of the Pope and bishops. But just as the ‘separation’ from Church authorities caused by the lack of a canonical structure is only apparent, so too the ‘joining’ of something by accepting a canonical structure is only apparent. If the Pope gave the SSPX a personal prelature, it would appear to some that thereby the SSPX would enter into communion with the Church (‘full communion’ in their terminology!). In reality, nothing would have changed in the SSPX’s communion with the Church. That communion would have existed integrally both before and after the conferral of a canonical structure.
As we already saw above, it does not suffice to “accept the authority of the Pope and the bishops”, one must also actually submit to and obey them. Sorry, but “we ask for nothing better than to be declared outside of this impious communion of the ungodly” does not sound like sincere submission.
One can only shake one’s head at Fr. Robinson’s declaration that “communion would have existed integrally both before and after the conferral of a canonical structure”. Is he claiming that the SSPX is now in “full communion” with the Modernist Vatican, or that this full communion is a precondition to them receiving a personal prelature? If the latter, then to point out, as he does, that “canonical recognition [is] not a joining” would be to mislead the reader, since such canonical recognition still could not come about without first joining the Modernist Church in “full communion.”
The absurdity of Lefebvrian ecclesiology continues:
This point is an important one in light of those who hold that canonical recognition is wrong in any situation where the Pope does not have the same faith in the Catholic Church as traditionalists do, because traditionalists would then be seeking to unite their efforts with someone who does not share the same goal. The fact is that traditionalists must necessarily unite their efforts to some degree with Pope Francis, simply by acknowledging him as Pope and trying to promote the interests of the institution of which he is the visible head. Pope Francis’s Modernist faith cannot, then, be a complete obstacle to collaboration.
If we agree that a total unity of faith with the Sovereign Pontiff is not, of itself, necessary for collaboration, the question then becomes: is canonical recognition of the SSPX one of those areas wherein collaboration with a Modernist Pope is possible? Or does Modernism positively exclude such a possibility, since the collaboration is at the level of a canonical structure?
With great interest we note that Fr. Robinson has admitted that “the Pope does not have the same faith in the Catholic Church as traditionalists do.” Unfortunately for the SSPX, if Francis does not have the same faith in the Catholic Church, then he does not have the Catholic Faith — although, admittedly, at this point it is pretty clear that the “traditionalists” Fr. Robinson has in mind here, including himself, do not have the Catholic Faith either.
Fr. Robinson speaks of “Pope Francis’s Modernist faith” without batting an eye, adding that “a total unity of faith with the Sovereign Pontiff is not, of itself, necessary for collaboration”. Indeed it might not be necessary for collaboration, but for salvation it definitely is: “…it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam).
Submission to the Roman Pontiff is not the same thing as collaboration with the Roman Pontiff, but this distinction does not appear to be taught in Lefebvrian seminaries. On the other hand, what is apparently taught there is the idea that unity in faith admits of degrees or parts, much like the Vatican II doctrine of ecclesial elements.
Levels of collaboration
If we were to attempt to lay down a general principle as to the circumstances when collaboration with a legitimate Pope of doubtful faith is good and when it is not, it would be this: collaboration with such a Pope is good when it is morally certain that he is working for the good of the Church and bad when it is morally certain that he is not.
This seems to be the principle under which the Archbishop was operating. In his anti-sedevacantist 1982 ordination sermon, he stated,
“In spite of the wounds in the Church, in spite of the difficulties, the persecution we are enduring, even from those in authority in the Church, let us not abandon the Church, let us love the Holy Church our mother, let us serve her always—in spite of the authorities, if necessary … we want to support the Holy Roman Catholic Church.” [Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre, vol. III, pp. 415-416]
When he says “in spite of the authorities, if necessary”, he is implicitly saying “with the authorities, if possible”. Whatever comes, the SSPX must serve the Church, not churchmen as such. When churchmen act against the Church—and clearly so—the SSPX must not cooperate. In the case of the consecrations of 1988, the SSPX must even go so far as to act in opposition to Church authority in order to serve the Church. When churchmen act for the good of the Church, on the other hand, then of course the SSPX must cooperate. To do the contrary would be to work against the Church. This is true whether or not the churchmen acting for the good of the Church are Modernists or not, whether their faith aligns exactly with that of Traditional Catholics or not.
In regard to a personal prelature, Pope Francis’s personal magisterium, of itself, is not necessarily an obstacle to the SSPX using such a prelature for the good of the Church. The Pope does not have to be a staunch proponent of Pascendi for his hypothetical recognition of the SSPX to bear fruit. All he has to do is adhere to the terms of the prelature.
Here we see once again that Abp. Lefebvre is presented as the standard to follow, as though a Catholic were obliged to submit to Abp. Lefebvre instead of the Roman Pontiff.
But what’s no less troubling is that Fr. Robinson makes up another novelty: “a legitimate Pope of doubtful faith.” Granted, it sounds a lot smoother than to say “a genuine Vicar of Christ who is also a blaspheming apostate”, but that probably wouldn’t have gotten past the censor librorum in Menzingen.
The author again uses euphemistic vocabulary to disguise and downplay an inconvenient truth (in this case, the apostasy of Modernism): He says, “…whether their faith aligns exactly with that of Traditional Catholics or not.” To say that the beliefs of Jorge Bergoglio don’t “align exactly” with the Catholic Faith is a bit of an understatement. The truth is that the SSPX would refuse to administer the sacrament of confirmation to anyone who believes the things Francis believes. The fact that they are working so hard to be united under someone as the supposed head of the Church whom they wouldn’t even so much as confirm or ordain, says a lot about the theological mess the SSPX has cooked up over the years.
Still, the greater problem is what is implied by Fr. Robinson’s words, namely, that the Catholic Faith admits of parts or degrees, which it certainly does not:
It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as “profane novelties of words,” out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim “Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,” only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 24; underlining added.)
A man who professes all Catholic dogmas except one, is no more of a Catholic than a man who professes only a handful of dogmas. The reason for this lies in the nature of heresy, which substitutes one’s self for the authority of God revealing. Hence it does not matter how many dogmas one accepts if one rejects even one, for then all accepted dogmas are accepted for the wrong reason, namely, that one finds them acceptable. They must, however, be accepted because God has revealed them, which is why we pray in the Act of Faith: “…I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived”.
On this matter, Pope Leo XIII instructed the faithful as follows:
The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing with greater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. The Arians, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Quartodecimans, the Eutychians, did not certainly reject all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a certain portion of it. Still who does not know that they were declared heretics and banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent ages. “There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition” (Auctor Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).
The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9)
To reject even one dogma is to reject them all, because the God who has revealed one dogma has also revealed all others. Hence it is an all-or-nothing deal.
So much, then, for Fr. Robinson’s idea that Faith need not “align exactly”. He is basically advancing a Lefebvrian version of the ecumenical error that “what unites us is so much greater than what divides us”, a sophism condemned by the Holy Office in its 1949 instruction Ecclesia Catholica (see n. II).
Alas, the Australian seminary professor uses gross understatement yet another time, saying: “The Pope does not have to be a staunch proponent of [Pope St. Pius X’s anti-Modernist encyclical] Pascendi for his hypothetical recognition of the SSPX to bear fruit.” Once again Fr. Robinson distorts the issue by his choice of words. The truth is that Francis is not simply not a staunch proponent of the encyclical Pascendi, he falls under its very condemnations. Would Fr. Robinson say that Martin Luther was “not a staunch proponent” of Pope Leo X’s bull Exsurge Domine? Would he say that the American abortionist George Tiller was “not a staunch Pro-Lifer”? Would he refer to the world’s most dangerous arsonist as someone who “isn’t an enthusiastic supporter of the fire department”? Surely not, and no one would take him seriously if he did.
The question thus presents itself: Why? Why this obfuscation, this distortion, this downplaying?
One answer that seems obvious is that it is needed in order to make the false theology seem acceptable. Replace the word “faith” with “religion” where Fr. Robinson talks about the faith not having to align exactly between traditional Catholics and Modernists, and see how absurd the claim immediately becomes. Since the SSPX, however, has to sell the impending canonical recognition by Rome to its adherents, and as there is already trouble brewing in France because of it, Fr. Robinson’s task is to give people an apparent theological justification, and for this a certain amount of equivocation, vagueness, and bending of concepts and facts is simply necessary.
However, Holy Mother Church has warned us against such tricks: “…[D]iabolical error, when it has artfully colored its lies, easily clothes itself in the likeness of truth while very brief additions or changes corrupt the meaning of expressions; and confession, which usually works salvation, sometimes, with a slight change, inches toward death” (Pope Clement XIII, Encyclical In Dominico Agro, n. 2). In other words: Follow the SSPX at your own risk.
Example to illustrate
To see why it would not be wrong to collaborate with a Modernist Pope if he was performing an act on behalf of the Church’s true interests, consider the following example. Suppose there was an organization called ‘The Society of Savers’ in France, under the former socialist regime of François Hollande. It is a group of women who try to save expectant mothers and their unborn children from abortion. The Society is already working in France doing positive things for the common good of the people. However, they would do even more good if they were registered as a corporation by the government, that is, if they had legal status in the country. Now, assuming that Hollande’s government is legitimate, Hollande has received his authority from God and has received it for the purpose of fostering the common good. If Hollande himself hears of the request of The Society of Savers, knows what they are about, and chooses to incorporate as a legal body the society of those excellent women, he will be fostering the common good in deed and, in this instance at least, the women will be collaborating with the government for the good of the country.
Should the women scruple at receiving such a legal recognition from such a government, saying to themselves, “Hollande does not have the same idea of the common good that we have, and so we cannot work with him for the common good?” Clearly not, because Hollande, in this instance, is objectively working for the common good. Moreover, Hollande holds an authority that does not end with him, but rather ultimately rests in God. And God has determined the purpose of all societies and has conferred power on heads of state for the furtherance of that purpose. When, then, the Society of Savers is collaborating with Hollande for the common good of France, it is ultimately collaborating with God.
Of course, it would be important for the women to assure themselves that Hollande is not providing them with legal status as a trap by which he will later destroy them. But this question is one of prudence—a question outside of the discussion of this article—not one of principle. In principle, there is no problem with The Society of Savers, in this situation, accepting legal status from a socialist government.
This example is not meant to imply that the Church is equivalent to a civil government in every respect; it is rather only analogically similar. One major difference between the two, for instance, is that the Church can never fail as an institution. Our Lord has promised to be with it until the end of days, something He has not promised to any secular government. Thus, there could never be a situation when a Catholic would be justified in rejecting the governing authority of the Church, as such.
On the other hand, Catholics have been entitled to reject the governing authority of civil governments in some cases. Pope St. Pius V, for instance, advised English Catholics not to recognize the authority of Queen Elizabeth I during her nefarious reign.
Such a scenario is not possible for the Church, given that She, in her visible structure and the carrying out of her end, cannot fail. Thus, there cannot be any expectation on the part of Catholics—at least those who believe in her indefectibility—that they need to discern when and where to write off the governing body of the Church.
Not much comment is required here. This is a common tactic used by SSPX apologists: When you have no theology to back up your position, appeal to an analogy from ordinary life instead. This is what we see above.
Don’t misunderstand: It is entirely fine to use suitable analogies to illustrate or explain Church teaching — but what the SSPX habitually does is use analogies to replace Church teaching (prime example: “A bad father is still a father” to justify an apostate as a legitimate occupant of the throne of St. Peter).
Since the Society of St. Pius X’s ecclesiology is not the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church, they cannot use traditional dogmatic manuals to teach it. Hence, they must continually come up with their own ideas, which they attempt to justify by using arguments based on analogies from ordinary life. To this we say: Show us the theology first, then we can talk about the analogies.
We mentioned above that the Pope has no power to change the purpose of the Church; his office is not something of his own creation, but comes from Our Lord Jesus Christ. The office was designed by Him for the furtherance of the Church’s goal, which is the salvation of souls, the reason for which Jesus Christ founded her. As such, the Pope, by his very office, is an instrument of Jesus Christ and works for the end of Jesus Christ, whenever he is not abusing his office. In fact, the Pope’s juridical acts have authority and force only insofar as they serve the interests of Jesus Christ.
This is the passage we referred to earlier, which contradicts their contention that they are currently lacking legal recognition from Rome and therefore this recognition is something to be desired and attained.
Perhaps Fr. Robinson thinks it stands to reason, but it does not: If he wishes to argue that papal acts are valid and authoritative only when they are prudent and not harmful, even accidentally, then let him show the theology that supports this.
What may seem reasonable at first will quickly reveal itself to cause insurmountable problems. This doctrine which restricts papal authority and the very validity of papal acts to only what is good for the Church, how is it to work in practice? Will each individual Catholic now be obliged to determine what is good for the Church, what is prudent, what is harmful, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done? Does the very validity of a papal act now depend upon its recognition by each of the faithful, by certain groups of the faithful, or by a Lefebvrian bishop? What is to be done if the faithful are not in agreement on what serves the interests of Christ’s Church?
Keep in mind: These are the people who claim that they do not “judge the Pope”, unlike us evil sedevacantists (reality check here). And yet here they are, in the voice of Fr. Paul Robinson, declaring that papal acts are only valid insofar as they serve the Church, which, in practice at least, is, of course, determined by them, or, in any case, by someone other than the Pope. By contrast, Pope Pius IX reminded the schismatics of his day that “this [Apostolic] See possesses the right of judging the whole Church, and no one may judge its judgment” (Encyclical Quartus Supra, n. 10).
The fact is that what Fr. Robinson presents here is not Catholic teaching but typical Lefebvrist “The Pope speaks, you decide” theology, which has been powerfully refuted by John S. Daly in his phenomenal work Michael Davies – An Evaluation and also by former SSPX priest Fr. Anthony Cekada:
- Faith and Authority: When is Disobedience Legitimate?
- False Resistance Theology: The Pope Speaks, You Decide!
In a nutshell, the true teaching is that the only time one may and must disobey one’s lawful ecclesiastical superior is when he gives a command that requires the subject to whom the command is given to sin. Obedience may not be refused if the subject believes the command is not a good idea, not in the Church’s interest, could have undesirable consequences, or is a sin for the superior to give. If it were otherwise, the Church could not function, as commands would constantly be refused.
Pope Pius VI pointed out that “the solemn promise of canonical obedience … alone can maintain unity in the Church and avoid schisms in this mystical body founded by Christ our Lord” (Apostolic Letter Quod Aliquantum; English in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 73); and Pope Pius IX reminded the faithful to practice “an absolute obedience and a joyous and constant adherence to this Chair of Peter (Apostolic Letter Per Tristissima; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 419).
Let the SSPX put their money where their mouth is, then: If they are so certain that Francis is a valid Pope, they can prove it by rendering him the “absolute obedience and joyous and constant adherence” which Catholic doctrine requires. How about it?
Thus, when Pope Francis performs acts that serve the interests of the Church, the SSPX also serves the Church by collaborating with those acts. Surely, that is what is taking place when the SSPX gratefully accepts from the hands of Pope Francis ordinary jurisdiction for the performance of confessions and marriages.
The same general principle applies to the question of canonical recognition: if it serves the interests of the Church, the SSPX should collaborate; if it does not, the SSPX should not collaborate. For the Archbishop, the answer to this question was the same as the answer to the following: Will the SSPX be able to remain as it is and continue its work in freedom? Or will it be destroyed by a canonical recognition?
Those who see that question as being solely “What is the faith of the Pope?” seem to mistake the Pope for the Church, falling into a certain species of papalotry. They would seem to think that the good of the Church can only be identified with the good of the Pope’s personal magisterium. When that magisterium is correct, then canonical recognition fosters the good of the Church. When that magisterium is false in some respects, then the good of the Church cannot be fostered by a canonical recognition. Either the Pope lines up perfectly with his office or God-fearing Catholics cannot collaborate with him.
Once again Fr. Robinson stoops to distorting the issue. The matter is not whether “the Pope lines up perfectly with his office” but whether Francis is even a Catholic. One can be a Catholic and a Pope without exercising the office “perfectly”. This is not about perfection; this is about the minimum required to be a member of the Church. Aside from that, the author is once again deliberately vague by using the expression “lining up with”. What does it mean for a Pope to line up with his office? It could mean any number of things — and that’s the problem.
By the way, to ask the question, “What is the faith of the Pope?”, is not an indicator of “papalotry” or of confusing the Church with the Pope, it is simply recognizing that since the Church is one in faith and the Pope is the principle of unity, then the head of the Church must have the same faith as the rest of the Church. This is not only elementary ecclesiology, it is also common sense.
Speaking of Church and Pope, let’s recall the words of the unforgettable 19th-century priest Fr. Frederick Faber. If you cannot recognize Lefebvrist theology in this quote, remember that there’s a good reason for that:
But we may forget, and sometimes do forget, that it is not only not enough to love the Church, but that it is not possible to love the Church rightly, unless we also fear and reverence it. Our forgetfulness of this arises from our not having laid sufficiently deeply in our minds the conviction of the divine character of the Church… The very amount of human grandeur which there is round the Church causes us to forget occasionally that it is not a human institution.
Hence comes that wrong kind of criticism which is forgetful or regardless of the divine character of the Church. Hence comes our setting up our own minds and our own views as criteria of truth, as standards for the Church’s conduct. Hence comes sitting in judgment on the government and policy of Popes. Hence comes that unfilial and unsage carefulness to separate in all matters of the Church and Papacy what we consider to be divine from what we claim to be human. Hence comes the disrespectful fretfulness to distinguish between what we must concede to the Church and what we need not concede to the Church. Hence comes that irritable anxiety to see that the supernatural is kept well subordinated to the natural, as if we really believed we ought just now to strain every nerve lest a too credulous world should be falling a victim to excessive priestcraft and ultramontanism [“papolatry”?].
…Only let us once really master the truth that the Church is a divine institution, and then we shall see that such criticism is not simply a baseness and a disloyalty, but an impertinence and a sin.
(Rev. Frederick W. Faber, Devotion to the Church [London: Richardson & Son, 1861], pp. 23-24; italics in original; pragraph breaks added.)
So, who believes in the Church and the Pope here? The Lefebvrist or the Sedevacantist?
Now back to Fr. Robinson. We are almost done:
On the contrary, one can imagine many situations in which a canonical recognition of the SSPX would indeed foster the good of the Church, regardless of the personal faith of the Pope, and so should be accepted, if one truly wants to serve the Church. Whether such is the situation right now is not in the power of this article to judge. But that such a situation could exist should be evident to all. By the fact that it could exist, the position that the acceptance of a canonical recognition should be judged only on the basis of one’s unity with the Pope’s faith is found to be false.
We understand that things are a bit tough when “the personal faith of the Pope” isn’t the Catholic faith. Again, to illustrate the sheer lunacy of such a statement, replace the word “faith” with “religion”: “… one can imagine many situations in which a canonical recognition of the SSPX would indeed foster the good of the Church, regardless of the personal religion of the Pope, and so should be accepted, if one truly wants to serve the Church…. the position that the acceptance of a canonical recognition should be judged only on the basis of one’s unity with the Pope’s religion is found to be false.”
No further comments needed.
Finally, we come to the end:
Collaboration only when there is complete unity of faith with the Pope has never been the position of SSPX leadership, neither in the time of the Archbishop nor afterwards. As such, there has always been, to some degree, collaboration between the SSPX and the Pope, and some measure of collaboration exists at this moment. Generally speaking, collaboration must be refused when it is contrary to the Church’s interests and accepted when it is for the Church’s interests. Specifically, then, canonical recognition should be accepted if it is good for the Church and rejected if it is not, regardless of the Pope’s faith.
And there we go again, messing around with “complete” vs. “partial” unity in
religion “faith” with that “Modernist Pope”, who is, however, the “Pope of the Catholic Church“, and therefore can’t do anything that isn’t possible within the Catholic Church. And if he does anyway, then it doesn’t count, because then we, who are “sufficiently autonomous” and not “papaloters”, hold that it was an invalid act because it doesn’t serve the “interests of Jesus Christ”. And in the end, we congratulate ourselves for having kept the Faith, if not in its “totality”, at least a hefty portion of it, which should be good enough, because it doesn’t have to “align perfectly” with the faith of other Catholics anyway.
What is this if not complete madness?
What Fr. Robinson has presented here is Lefebvrist sophistry dressed up as Catholic theology, in order to facilitate SSPX adherents’ acceptance of the upcoming canonical recognition by the Vatican, which many are surely uneasy about. Whether his article succeeds or fails in its goal we will know in due time, but what is certain right now is that it has perfectly demonstrated that the ecclesiology of the Society of St. Pius X is theological absurdistan.
The absurdity of the SSPX position has its root in the utter impossibility of the paradoxical notion of a heretical Pope. There is no such thing, anymore than one could have a Protestant Catholic, a Hindu Moslem, or an atheistic Mormon. But, alas, the SSPX holds as an unshakable principle that a public non-Catholic can be the Vicar of Christ and the head of the Catholic Church, and that an establishment that disseminates heresy or apostasy and brings about the ruin of Christendom can nevertheless be the Roman Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation.
That is the problem.
Notice how, despite the fact that Fr. Robinson’s article focuses on unity of faith, not once does the author raise the rather obvious question: Is Francis a Catholic? One would think that the question should have occurred to him or at least to someone in the SSPX world headquarters in Menzingen.
Why does Fr. Robinson avoid this direct question? Presumably because he does not want to answer it. He does not want to answer it because the nature of the question forces him to answer either yes or no, and either of these answers presents insurmountable problems for the SSPX position. For example: If the answer is yes, why then does the SSPX call Francis a Modernist? And if the answer is no, then why is the SSPX trying to be recognized by him?
On this web site, we have a lot of material refuting the false position of the Society of St. Pius X. We would like to draw special attention to the following items:
- Twelve Inconvenient Questions for the SSPX
- Pope Pius IX condemns Bishop Fellay
- Bp. Sanborn destroys the SSPX
- Epic Fail: The Bp. Fellay Interview the SSPX did not tell you about
The errors of the Lefebvrists are glaring. Unfortunately, so many good-willed and pious people imbibe and disseminate them because they have persuaded themselves that Sedevacantism must be false. They think, wrongly, that Sedevacantism is a rejection of the Papacy, when the truth is that the SSPX position rejects the Papacy according to its true Catholic understanding, and we sedevacantists merely reject a false claimant to the papal office, a usurper who “entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way [and is therefore] a thief and a robber” (Jn 10:1).
People need to understand that the gates of hell have prevailed, not if the Vatican II claimants to the papacy aren’t Popes, but if they are:
Sedevacantism alone can explain what has happened to the Catholic Church without contradicting or denying Catholic teaching on the Papacy, the Magisterium, or the Church.
As for the Society of St. Pius X, there is no betterment in sight. The fact that it is people like Fr. Paul Robinson who teach “dogmatic theology” to future SSPX priests, means that the Lefebvrists will continue to be mired in their absurd ecclesiology for generations to come.