Chaos Frank permits FSSP to keep Old Mass…
What Game is Francis playing with the Fraternity of Saint Peter?
He knows how to move pieces: The Argentinian apostate Jorge Bergoglio, S.J.
Predicting what Jorge Bergoglio will do is a dangerous and forlorn task. The man otherwise known as “Pope Francis” is a master manipulator, a cunning schemer, and a malicious deceiver. To “expect the unexpected” is probably the best advice one can give when it comes to the apostate Jesuit from Buenos Aires.
Francis reassures FSSP
This past Monday, Feb. 21, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) issued the following press release:
On Friday, February 4, 2022, two members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Fr. Benoît Paul-Joseph, Superior of the District of France, and Fr. Vincent Ribeton, Rector of St. Peter’s Seminary in Wigratzbad, were received in private audience by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for nearly an hour.
During the very cordial meeting, they recalled the origins of the Fraternity in 1988, the Pope expressed that he was very impressed by the approach taken by its founders, their desire to remain faithful to the Roman Pontiff and their trust in the Church. He said that this gesture should be “preserved, protected and encouraged”.
In the course of the audience, the Pope made it clear that institutes such as the Fraternity of St. Peter are not affected by the general provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, since the use of the ancient liturgical books was at the origin of their existence and is provided for in their constitutions.
The Holy Father subsequently sent a decree signed by him and dated February 11, the day the Fraternity was solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, confirming for the members of the Fraternity the right to use the liturgical books in force in 1962, namely: the Missal, the Ritual, the Pontifical and the Roman Breviary.
Grateful to the Holy Father, the members of the Fraternity of St. Peter are in thanksgiving for this confirmation of their mission. They invite all the faithful who feel close to them as a spiritual family to attend or join them in prayer at the Mass tomorrow, on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and to pray for the Supreme Pontiff.
Source : www.fssp.org
On a separate page, the FSSP published the decree they received from the “Pope”:
The Holy Father Francis, grants to each and every member of the Society of Apostolic Life “Fraternity of Saint Peter”, founded on July 18, 1988 and declared of “Pontifical Right” by the Holy See, 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.
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.
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.
Given in Rome, near St. Peter’s, on February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, in the year 2022, the ninth year of my Pontificate.
Before we comment on this, let’s first recall some background.
Background: Origins of the FSSP
The Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) is a spin-off of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). When Abp. Marcel Lefebvre decided to act contrary to the Vatican’s explicit canonical warning not to consecrate bishops without papal mandate, preferring instead to incur automatic excommunication under Novus Ordo church law, “Pope” John Paul II issued a motu proprio letter two days after the forbidden episcopal consecrations. That “Apostolic Letter” was entitled Ecclesia Dei and was issued on July 2, 1988. It states in part:
3. In itself, this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act. In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June last, Mons. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law.
c) In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfil the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law.
To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the Church.
(Antipope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei, nn. 3, 5; italics given; underlining added.)
The Fraternity of St. Peter was founded on July 18, 1988, as a kind of collecting basin for those clergy and seminarians who wanted to continue with the “Traditional Latin Mass only” project of Abp. Lefebvre but were not willing to follow him into schism. The FSSP’s current Superior General is “Fr.” Andrzej Komorowski.
Ever since Francis issued his two-pronged crackdown on the Traditional Latin Mass (the Roman Missal of 1962, to be precise) with Traditionis Custodes and the Responsa ad Dubia last year, the FSSP and other Ecclesia Dei-based groups have been anxious about what this might mean for their future.
Until yesterday, rumor had it that the Vatican was preparing a decree to either suppress or otherwise severely limit the FSSP and similar Traditional Latin Mass societies:
This was not mere speculation but founded on credible sources:
The news coming from the FSSP that Francis has explicitly granted them continued use of the 1962 Missal and other pre-Vatican II liturgical books is highly surprising, therefore, and does not fit into the developments since the release of Traditionis Custodes, including the continued “papal” fulminations against “rigidity”, clinging to the past, and the Traditional Mass in general.
The question that obviously presents itself now is what to make of this latest “surprise move” by the man we call “Chaos Frank” for a reason.
What is Francis up to?
It would be unwise to jump to conclusions. What we can do, however, is gather the known facts and thus equip each reader to form his own opinion about what the Frankster may be up to behind the scenes.
First, we have to keep in mind that we are talking about a man who is known to be extremely two-faced:
- Omar Bello: Francis Plays Both Sides
- “Abp.” Bruno Forte spills the beans about how Francis operates
- “Cardinals” slam Francis: “Cold-Blooded, Cunning Machiavellian [who] Lies”, Heretic
- Francis on Amazon Synod: “I want the Confusion” (Church Militant)
It would be silly to think that Francis has somehow found his love for the Traditional Catholic Mass, or that he is suddenly ambivalent about Traditionis Custodes or the liturgical ideas of the man he just recently appointed head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Arthur Roche.
It is much more reasonable to believe that Francis is acting this way towards the FSSP because he believes it will ultimately be to his advantage in some way, that is, to the advantage of his overall anti-Catholic agenda.
We need but recall that whereas Bergoglio always bent over backwards to be kind and generous toward the Lefebvrist Society of St. Pius X, over whom he has no control (and whom he must therefore woo), he mercilessly fought the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate like a cruel tyrant for an alleged “crypto-Lefebvrism”:
- Francis grants SSPX Faculties for Confessions & Marriage indefinitely
- The real Reason why Francis punished the Franciscans of the Immaculate
- Radio Discussion: Francis forbids 1962 Missal for Franciscan Friars
At this point, some initial commentary about Francis’ suspicious move in favor of the FSSP has begun to pour in. Here is a selection:
- “Pope Francis Confirms Traditiones Custodes does not apply to FSSP!” (De Omnibus Dubitandum Est)
- “Pope says TC won’t bind FSSP” (The Pillar)
- “Did Pope Francis Just Vindicate the FSSP, or Wash His Hands like Pontius Pilate?” (One Peter Five)
- “Pope Francis confirms FSSP ‘not affected’ by his ‘general’ restrictions on Latin Mass” (Life Site)
- Comments by Matt Gaspers of Catholic Family News (Twitter)
- “‘It’ rolls downhill” (Memorare)
- “Pope Francis’ Strategic Withdrawal on the 1962 Liturgical Books” (Common Sense Catholicism)
- “FSSP Meets with Bergoglio. Okie Trad Opines.” (The Okie Traditionalist)
- “What is Pope Francis’ plan for traditionalist groups?” (Catholic News Agency)
- “Ex-Lefebvrists get exemption from Old Mass restrictions” (La Croix International)
- “The FSSP and Pope Francis’ Roller-Coaster” (One Peter Five)
In addition, the blog Rorate Caeli today posted an English translation of an interview (original in French) with the Rev. Benoit Paul-Joseph, one of the two FSSP prelates who had the encounter with Francis. In it, further clarifications emerge:
- “On the Meeting with the Pope” (Rorate Caeli)
Overall, it seems semi-trads are not exactly gung-ho about this development, however. They have learned, like everyone else, to be wary of this “Pope.”
For example, a certain J. Basil Dannebohm advises: “Don’t pop the champagne corks just yet”, and he goes on to explain why he believes the concession to the FSSP “is the latest example of a sociopathic gaslighter who is committed to leading the sheep to slaughter by any means necessary”.
The “Okie Trad”, Joseph Ostermeir, doesn’t quite buy Francis’ “merciful” gesture either: “That don’t pass the smell test…”, he says. And a Rev. John Stone comments on Twitter: “Corral and contain! Predicably Peronist!”
Timothy Flanders, the editor of One Peter Five, also sees Bergoglio the Peronist at work:
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. …
… This decree allows him to play the role of the merciful father yet allow the destruction to continue.
(T.S. Flanders, “Did Pope Francis Just Vindicate the FSSP, or Wash His Hands like Pontius Pilate?”, One Peter Five, Feb. 21, 2022; italics given.)
Ah yes, the old tactic of two steps forward, one step back still nets one step forward — as one looks conservative while actually supporting the progressivist cause.
A rather curious interpretation of Francis’ move is provided by Novus Ordo blogger Kevin Tierney, who thinks Francis is using a kind of reverse psychology on his people: “The Pope is hoping that by showing that he is no longer seeking to eradicate the TLM, Bishops will be more likely to apply the restrictions.”
Then there is Dr. Joseph Shaw, the chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. He published an insightful commentary on One Peter Five, in which his exasperation is palpable. He observes astutely:
I believe, in fact, that we must stop trying to make sense of Pope Francis’ policy towards the Traditional Mass. That is to say, we should stop trying to force the logical implications of all the things he had said and done about it over the last two years into a simple theological position or a single approach to Church politics. To return to the question of pattern, the sense that is to be made of his words and actions is not in terms of the cumulative effect of a consistent theology or politics, but the cumulative effect of a series of apparent reversals of policy.
What is this effect? Well, look around you. The Church, or the corner of it most familiar to OnePeterFive readers, is in constant uproar. I have never seen so much internecine strife on social media among people apparently on the same side of the major debates. No-one knows what is going to happen next. Planning, coalition-building, working out a response to Pope Francis, doing work on the ground or intellectually to make the most of the opportunities and to guard against threats, are all well-nigh impossible.
Pope Francis has got his opponents exactly where he wants them: tied up in knots, not knowing which way to turn. Many of his supporters are in a similar position, but that is collateral damage.
(Joseph Shaw, “The FSSP and Pope Francis’ Roller-Coaster”, One Peter Five, Feb. 22, 2022; italics given.)
Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci also contributes an interesting piece to the puzzle when he writes:
It is worth remembering that in July 2021, an FSSP group was expelled from the Archdiocese of Dijon, eastern France, where it had been for 23 years, precisely because some of its priests refused to concelebrate in the Novus Ordo.
Pope Francis instead confirmed the FSSP’s particularity. Is this a decision that is part of Pope Francis’ strategy to absorb, step by step, the traditionalist world?
Time will tell if the pope wants to absorb the traditionalists’ realities in the Catholic Church or keep good relations with those who already enjoy their prerogatives, waiting for the moment to absorb them too — or finally marginalize them.
(Andrea Gagliarducci, “What is Pope Francis’ plan for traditionalist groups?”, Catholic World Report, Feb. 22, 2022)
It must be pointed out that if the main objective behind issuing Traditionis Custodes was indeed what Bergoglio claims, then to exempt the FSSP and similar groups simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
We have to remember that the motu proprio speaks of the “liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II … [being] the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite” (Traditionis Custodes, Art. 1; underlining added).
Furthermore, in the “Letter to Bishops” he wrote as an accompanying explanatory supplement to Traditionis Custodes, Francis instructs his underlings: “It is up to you to proceed in such a way as to return to a unitary form of celebration…”; and he speaks of a “need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II…”.
Lastly, Francis has stated on several occasions, even “with magisterial authority”, that the 50-year-old post-Vatican II liturgical reform is “irreversible” — unlike the ancient Traditional Mass, apparently!
Another highly insightful commentary on Francis’ apparent concession to the FSSP comes from the German Vaticanist Giuseppe Nardi. The extremely well-informed journalist points to the way Traditionis Custodes is being applied in the very diocese of Rome as the key to understanding Bergoglio’s mind with regard to the Fraternity of St. Peter.
The decree for the diocese of Rome, issued by Vicar General “Cardinal” Angelo de Donatis, forbids all sacraments in the traditional rite except for Holy Mass:
- Full English Text of Decree (Rorate Caeli)
- “Traditionis custodes: Rome diocese bans Traditional Latin Mass for Easter Triduum” (Catholic News Agency)
Although the FSSP is permitted to use the 1962 Missal daily at one particular diocesan Roman church, this use is explicitly forbidden for the Easter Triduum, the liturgical high point of the entire year. Nardi notes that it is inconceivable that de Donatis would have decreed this except at Francis’ specific direction, or at least with his explicit approval. In other words, it is precisely “Pope” Francis who has withdrawn from the FSSP his permission for the use of the traditional liturgy on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday at the only church in the diocese of Rome they are allowed to use (it belongs to the diocese; it is not their own). Soon we will be able to see how this plays out — the Easer Triduum falls on Apr. 14-16 this year.
Further, with regard to the report that at his meeting with the two FSSP prelates, Francis showed himself “very impressed by the approach taken by [the Fraternity’s] founders, their desire to remain faithful to the Roman Pontiff and their trust in the Church”, Nardi comments that it is “not credible … that Francis would first issue Traditionis Custodes and only afterwards inform himself about the founding of the Fraternity of St. Peter so as to show himself ‘impressed’ by it, when he had nine years do to that” (our translation). It’s hard to argue with that.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of what Francis is scheming, however, on the face of it his concession to the FSSP has the following immediate effects:
- it helps to de-escalate a little the highly-charged conflict over Traditionis Custodes
- it keeps some people from flirting with the SSPX or sedevacantism
- it gives a sense of hope — or “cautious optimism” — to his trads that not all is lost
- it makes the FSSP highly indebted to Francis
- it makes Francis look merciful towards his traditionalists
- it makes Francis look unpredictable or misunderstood
- de facto, it puts a question mark on Traditionis Custodes and the Responsa ad Dubia
Regardless of what the consequences will end up being, in principle nothing has changed. What Francis decrees today, he can revoke tomorrow. The same principle behind Summorum Pontificum and Traditionis Custodes is still at work here: If you put yourself at the mercy of Modernists, at their mercy you will be.
As the Bergoglio-friendly Italian blog Il Sismografo points out, there is one peculiar circumstance of potentially great significance that everyone has pretty much glossed over: The Vatican has not confirmed the existence of the decree Francis has allegedly presented to the FSSP, nor has a scan or picture of the document been published anywhere. In other words, so far, all we have to go on is the testimony of the Fraternity of St. Peter:
The Vatican Press Office did not report it. Neither Vatican News nor L’Osservatore Romano mentioned it. No one has spoken out. Everyone is silent. The fact is that the Decree with which the Pope has exonerated the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter from the obligation to apply and respect the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes is news that has been spread only by the Fraternity. We think that this is a community of very serious and responsible people and therefore we take as valid the announcement of the existence, complete with signature and papal seal, of this decree, which is so confidential as to appear almost “clandestine”. We have only the transcription of the original text in Latin and some working translations in other languages.
So far, however, no one has been able to view even an authorized copy of the document.
(“Vaticano Il mistero del Decreto che esonera dall’obbligo di rispettare la Traditionis custodes“, Il Sismografo, Feb. 22, 2022; italics given; translated using DeepL.com for the basic text.)
No, of course we’re not suggesting that the FSSP clergy may be lying about this. Not only is there no reason to suspect it, it would also not at all be in their interest to do so.
On the other hand, however, there is two-faced Francis, who hates that which the FSSP is regarded to represent: traditional Roman Catholicism.
Could anyone, at this point, really exclude as a possibility that the old Modernist Bergoglio is misleading the traditionalists he despises so much by issuing them a pseudo-decree, or by handing them a decree he will revoke in a few weeks’ time? (He is, after all, rather fond of the “god of surprises”.)
Trust him at your own risk…
In fine, we do not profess to know what game Francis is playing with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
We just know that he’s cheating.
Image sources: composite with elements from shutterstock.com and fssp.org / fssp.org (cropped)
Licenses: paid and fair use / fair use