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SSPX still committed to negotiation.

8 August, 2012 0 Comments

Benedict badly in need of men about him whom he can trust

By ‘Ennemond’ | Fecit | July 23, 2012

The following article originated as a post by ‘Ennemond’, one of the moderators of the French SSPX forum “Fecit“. ‘Ennemond’ is a French layman who is used by the SSPX as an informal spokesman and floater of ideas. What he says is not the official SSPX line, but one can be fairly confident that it is always at least a position that the SSPX would be comfortable with. He reaches a wide audience as a result. A writer of high intelligence, his point of view is always worth considering. In this article, translated by John Lamont, ‘Ennemond’ gives a positive slant on the recent personnel changes in the Vatican.

Archbishop Müller is a former student of the Pope’s. As well as having attended the courses of Prof. Ratzinger, he is the theologian who has published the collected works of Joseph Ratzinger. The bond between the two men is a very substantial one, and the parallel between the two is not without foundation. Both of them hold theological views that are really problematic – Joseph Ratzinger was behind the highly contested formulation “subsistit in” [1]– although both are considered to be conservatives in their home country, Germany.

Those who betted on CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] prefects Ratzinger and Levada being good loyal traditionalists were mistaken, and lost their money. However one of the big differences between the two is that Cardinal Ratzinger showed himself to be interested in the traditionalist cause, whereas the bishop of Regensburg appeared irritable and irrational on the traditionalist question, and used expressions that were particularly mean and petty.

Müller nomination

No doubt the Pope was aware of the problems that the nomination of Müller would cause, and it was put off for a time … until the terrible affair of the Pope’s butler, after which Benedict XVI decided that he could only place his confidence in men to whom he was very close. Accordingly, he decided to choose Müller.

A week before appointing [the then] Bishop Müller to the CDF, the Pope named a quasi-head of a dicastery, Archbishop DiNoia, as vice president of Ecclesia Dei, as if to give a degree of independent status to the traditionalist project, so that it might again be removed from the CDF if a regularisation of the SSPX was arranged.

Archbishop DiNoia can be considered as a quasi-head of a dicastery because, as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, he was eligible to be promoted to the headship of a congregation, and had already been suggested for several. The Pope has given to this close associate [who worked with him at the CDF] a mission that is close to his heart, one that has been a theme of his entire pontificate. That is the reason DiNoia was designated a vice-president, rather than a secretary, as could have been expected.

It is clear that if we look at this nomination from the viewpoint of many traditionalists, the attitude of the Pope is incomprehensible. A pope who has staked a great part of his pontificate on regularisation of the SSPX – to the point of becoming the enemy of the media, and enduring the enmity of several episcopates – would be placing the affair into the hands of an enemy of this regularisation.

This would be pure folly.

Benedict on course

I do not think that the Pope, who is literally haunted by the question of the SSPX, has abandoned his plan. Otherwise he would not have named DiNoia Archbishop within 48 hours of DiNoia’s appointment, thereby politely sidelining Mgr. Pozzo in the process. [Had the pontiff wished to give up on the SSPX], he would have left Pozzo in place, and allowed the affair to die a natural death.

The simultaneous nomination of these two very different personages (DiNoia and Müller) is the key to understanding the issue. Archbishop DiNoia, as an archbishop and a vice-president, has infinitely more influence, status and connections than Mgr. Pozzo, a simple secretary and priest, even though the latter has been honoured with the title of ‘Monsignor’.

Thus the line-up of ‘Levada backed by Pozzo’ has been replaced not by Müller backed by DiNoia’, but by ‘DiNoia in spite of Müller’.


[1] “subsists in”, a phrase that appears in the eighth paragraph of Lumen Gentium, in relation to the Nature of the Church: This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. (emphasis added.) This is considered by some traditionalists to be a weaker formulation than “this Church…is the Catholic Church”, leaving open the possibility for other bodies to be considered “churches”, whether or not in the full sense.

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