While offering an odd theology of his own…
‘Most accomplished Example of Modernism’:
SSPX Superior deconstructs Bergoglio’s Synod Theology
On May 12, 2023, the official news site of the Lefebvrist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) published an insightful interview with Fr. Davide Pagliarani, the Society’s Superior General:
Back in March, ‘Pope’ Francis (Jorge Bergoglio) celebrated his 10-year anniversary of usurping the Chair of St. Peter. Father Pagliarani, who as a Lefebvrist acknowledges Francis to be a true Pope (Vicar of Christ) but refuses him submission as he deems appropriate, was asked to identify what in his estimation is “is the most significant point of these last few years”, and his response was: synodality. Fr. Pagliarani spent most of the interview elaborating on this answer. He gave an exposition of what underlies the synodalist theology, which he exposed as “a mature and perfected modernism”.
The analysis the SSPX Superior provides is candid, skillful, and compelling. We will now look at some excerpts from the conversation.
The synodal process, the leader of the Lefebvrists explains,
is a determined desire to turn the Church upside-down. The teaching-Church no longer sees itself as the custodian of a Revelation coming from God, and of which it is the guardian, but as a group of bishops associated with the Pope, who listen to the faithful, and in particular to all the peripheries, i.e. with particular attention paid to anything that the most alienated souls might suggest. It is a Church where the shepherds become the sheep and the sheep become the shepherds.
This is a great point, and important to understand; yet, it seems that the SSPX itself dabbles in this error, inasmuch as it considers itself to be the custodian of the Faith while Rome has abandoned it, and thus the sheep must teach the shepherds until such time as the sheep decide the shepherds are Catholic enough again to be followed. It is an odd ecclesiology, and we cannot but help notice this resemblance between the SSPX’s position vis-à-vis the Vatican, on the one hand, and the theological position the Society criticizes, on the other.
Certainly, one may say that the Lefebvrist position is born out of a certain desperation in response to an unprecedented situation. That is fair enough, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the SSPX seems to be content fighting fire with fire. It promises to be as successful as trying to borrow one’s way out of debt.
An approach to theology that is inductive — meaning it begins with concrete experience and then tries to formulate doctrinal principles from that (see infographic below) — is thoroughly Modernist, yet it is precisely what synodalism is selling, Fr. Pagliarani argues:
The underlying idea is that God does not reveal Himself through the traditional channels of Holy Scripture and Tradition, which are safeguarded by the hierarchy, but through the “experience of the people of God”. This is why the synodal process began with a consultation of the faithful in all the dioceses throughout the world. On the basis of this data, summaries were drawn up, at the level of the bishops’ conferences, leading to a first Roman synthesis published a few months ago.
…If, instead of referring to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, faith is reduced to an experience – individual at first, then communal when shared – then the content of the faith, and consequently the constitution of the Church, is open to all sorts of possible evolutions. By definition, an experience is linked to a moment or to a period in time. It is a reality that occurs in time and in history, and which is therefore, by essence, evolutionary. In the same way, the life of each of us contains a movement, and therefore evolves.
Such a faith-experience, necessarily destined to evolve according to the awareness and the needs of the different moments in history, is constantly “enriched” with new contents, and at the same time leaves aside that which is no longer current. In this way, faith becomes a rather human reality, linked like the history of humanity to ever new and changing contingencies. In the long term, there is not much left of the eternal, the transcendent or the immutable. If we still speak of God and the Catholic Church, these two realities end up being the projection of what an experience can feel hic et nunc [here and now]. These two terms, along with all the other dogmatic elements of our faith, are irretrievably altered in their true meaning and scope. They are gradually reabsorbed into the blur of what is merely worldly and changeable. Their meaning evolves with humanity and with its experience of God. This idea is not new, but the synodal process represents a new culmination of its breadth and depth.
With regard to the Roman synthesis document he mentioned — “Enlarge the Space of Your Tent” –, Father points out it contains
the desire to change the very essence of the Catholic Church, through the synodal process. First of all, in relation to authority, there is an explicit desire to recognise a Church that functions in reverse, and in which the teaching-Church no longer has anything to teach: “It is important to build a synodal institutional model as an ecclesial paradigm of deconstructing pyramidal power that privileges unipersonal managements. The only legitimate authority in the Church must be that of love and service, following the example of the Lord” [n. 57].
Now, changing the essence of the Church means making her into something else, such that it is no longer the Catholic Church. Fr. Pagliarani is right to be blasting this heretical attempt in the Roman synthesis document, but let’s also not forget what the SSPX has said in the past about a ‘New Church’ that emerged from Vatican II.
For example, the Lefebvrists have acknowledged that the Catholic Church “is not the Church conceived by Vatican II, which defined itself as the Church ‘of Christ,’ the ‘ecumenical’ or ‘conciliar’ Church, and reduced to the minimum the use of the adjective ‘Catholic'” (Si Si No No, Jan. 2004; emphasis given). Shortly after the Vatican declared the excommunication of the SSPX bishops in the summer of 1988, the then-Superior General Fr. Franz Schmidberger wrote in a feisty letter, co-signed by numerous district and other superiors, that they were happy to be out of communion with “a counterfeit church” (“Letter to Cardinal Gantin”, July 6, 1988).
That the Church of Vatican II is not the Catholic Church had already been acknowledged rather candidly by ‘Cardinal’ Karol Wojtyla, the future ‘Pope’ John Paul II, in a book first published in 1977: “The Church . . . succeeded, during the second Vatican Council, in re-defining her own nature” (Sign of Contradiction [New York, NY: The Seabury Press, 1979], p. 17; see a scan of the page where this quote appears HERE).
When a thing’s nature changes, there is an essential change — what something is changes into something else. It was Giovanni Battista Montini, as ‘Pope’ Paul VI, who first used the term ‘Conciliar Church’ in 1966. But all this just as a side note, meant as a test of Fr. Pagliarani’s theological consistency.
Further on in the interview, the SSPX Superior General also points out another heresy in the ‘big tent’ synodal synthesis document:
There is this second passage that seems to me to sum up the spirit of the whole text, and at the same time, the real feeling of these last few years of Pope Francis’ pontificate: “The world needs a ‘Church that goes forth’, that rejects the division between believers and non-believers, that looks at humanity and offers it more than a doctrine or a strategy, an experience of salvation, a ‘coup of gift’ that responds to the cry of humanity and nature” [“Enlarge the Space of Your Tent”, n. 42]. I am convinced that this short passage contains a much deeper meaning and significance than might at first appear.
To reject the distinction between believers and non-believers is certainly crazy, albeit logical in the present context. If faith is no longer an authentically supernatural reality, the Church itself, which is supposed to preserve and preach it, alters its raison d’être and its mission among men. Indeed, if faith is only one experience among others, how can it be portrayed as being better, and why should it be imposed universally? Quite simply, a feeling-experience cannot correspond to an absolute truth – its value is that of a particular opinion, which can no longer be the truth in the traditional sense of the word. This leads logically to the refusal of the distinction between believers and non-believers. The only thing that remains is humanity, with its expectations, opinions and cries, and which, as such, do not claim anything supernatural.
Fr. Pagliarani is spot-on with his criticism here. Francis’ Naturalist fraternity and his “non-Catholic god” and “god of surprises” are no accidents. They are part and parcel of a whole program of apostasy that is content to retain an outer shell of Catholicism while have completely sucked out the substance that was inside.
Wrapping up his discussion of the Modernism of synodality, the SSPX superior states: “This is a brief description of the mechanism triggered by the synodality, and this is why we find ourselves faced with the most accomplished example of modernism.” Indeed we are!
So, the head of the Society of St. Pius X just provided a scathing critique of the apostasy in the Vatican II Church, an apostasy not just tolerated but approved of and continually fueled by Jorge Bergoglio. The inevitable question that comes to mind is: Why in the world does the SSPX want any part with this club? Why would they want to give even a semblance of unity with this cesspool of heresy? Why do they recognize it as the Catholic Church? Why do they recognize the apostate-in-chief as the Pope? Why do they seek to be regularized by such antichrists? Why do they rejoice when they are told they are Catholic by such a “Pope”?
As St. Paul said: “Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them” (Rom 16:17). And in another place: “Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God saith: I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor 6:14-17).
At the end of the interview, Fr. Pagliarani was asked about the role he sees the SSPX playing in the future. His remarks are quite telling:
For the good of the Catholic Church, the Society must maintain and guarantee to its priests and the faithful the full freedom to celebrate the traditional liturgy. At the same time, the Society must continue to ensure the preservation of the traditional Catholic theology that accompanies and sustains this same liturgy. A Catholic who is still lucid cannot renounce this doctrine. To paraphrase Cardinal Roche, the change in doctrine, done through the Council, is indeed what has inspired the New Mass! It is our duty to maintain both the Mass and Catholic doctrine, retaining the full freedom to challenge the errors and those who teach them. After all, if the liturgy is by definition public, so is the profession of faith associated with it.
Today more than ever, we must be aware that the traditional liturgy in the Catholic Church also corresponds to a morality that we have no right to alter in its principles. At the centre of our religion, Almighty God has planted the Cross and the True Sacrifice. No one can be saved without the Cross and without this Sacrifice. No one can be saved by accepting, in the name of a false love and a false sense of mercy, all kinds of abominations. There is only one kind of love that saves – because there is only one true love that purifies: it is the love of the Cross, the love of Divine Redemption, the love that Our Blessed Lord has shown us and that He communicates to us, and that He called “charity”. However, this love cannot exist without faith, nor without those who teach it.
Leaving out of account the subjective dispositions of the SSPX superior, one must say quite objectively that these words reveal that the Society of St. Pius X considers itself the guardian of Faith and morals in the face of an apostate papal throne.
Quite frankly, and though they may deny it in words, it is clear that they believe the Holy See has defected. But that would mean the Catholic Church has defected because “no particular part of the Church is indefectibly Apostolic, save the see of Peter” — and Apostolic not only in origin or in succession but also “in doctrine, because it teaches the selfsame truths that Christ committed to its custody in the persons of the Apostles” (Fr. E. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise [St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1927], p. 139; italics given).
The SSPX acknowledges — and it is clearly true — that the Novus Ordo Vatican teaches a false faith and universally mandates the use of a false liturgy. What is this if not defection?
Here it won’t help to point out that “[a]t the centre of our religion, Almighty God has planted the Cross and the True Sacrifice. No one can be saved without the Cross and without this Sacrifice”. That is undoubtedly true, but then Father forgot that no one can be saved without submission to the Pope, either: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam). That is why Pope Pius XI taught that “in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors” (Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 11; underlining added).
The colossal doctrinal and liturgical chaos, the immense loss of Faith, and the incessant dissemination of heresy, error, impiety, blasphemy, false saints, and evil laws can only be explained by the absence of a true Pope.
The supposition that Francis is a true Pope who is merely in need of correction by inferiors who disobey him, makes an intolerable mockery of the Papacy, nay denies what the Papacy is divinely guaranteed to be and do.
Many sincere people who seek to be good traditional Catholics think they must at all costs affirm that Bergoglio is a legitimate Pope, else the Church has defected. But the opposite is true: By claiming that the Great Apostasy is being spearheaded by a true Vicar of Christ, they unwittingly assist in the destruction of the Papacy, and thus the Church, even further.
It is not if Francis isn’t the Pope that the gates of hell have prevailed against the Catholic Church, but if he is.
Tragically, the SSPX provides a fatefully false solution to a very real problem.
Image source: YouTube (screenshot)
License: fair use