Wednesday, January 09, 2013

SSPX USA parses Bishop Fellay's statements - and it stinks

Brethren, Peace and Good to all of you. The SSPX's USA District issued the following press release on January 5, 2012:

During a 2-hour conference given in Ontario, Canada on December 28th, 2012, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society St. Pius X, commented on the relations between the Holy See and the SSPX during the last two years.

During the conference Bishop Fellay stated “Who, during that time, was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church. The Jews, the Masons, the Modernists…”

The word "enemies" used here by Bishop Fellay is of course a religious concept and refers to any group or religious sect which opposes the mission of the Catholic Church and her efforts to fulfill it: the salvation of souls.

This religious context is based upon the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Gospels: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:30)

By referring to the Jews, Bishop Fellay's comment was aimed at the leaders of Jewish organizations, and not the Jewish people, as is being implied by journalists.

Accordingly the Society of St. Pius X denounces the repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism or hate speech made in an attempt to silence its message
Commentary. I can see why the SSPX USA's district would be among the first to parse Bishop Fellay's statements, for in the US the first reaction to labeling a group as someone's "enemy" is often frowned, unless evidence and a good argument accompanies the designation. Not that everyone does that, some consider would call someone else an "enemy" at the drop of the hat whereas others are the human equivalent of golden retrievers: they see no enemies, no predators out there.

I'll go even further to meet the SSPX and state I understand their purpose in restricting their "enemy" definition to one of solely religious connotations. I am sure that the Jews for Judaism would consider many Catholics but for sure the SSPX as a "religious enemy." The Children of God being whom they are make these designators inevitable. Within some more objective constraints, I may use the designator "enemy of the Church" myself. Therefore, to a point, I understand the rhetoric's appeal.

Yet, it is because the word "enemy" is so charged that it deserves ample explanation. A prudent Catholic would do well to avoid it except when facing the dictum "love your enemies." Because the One who said "love your enemies" he really meant it and proved it by giving up his life, and we are expected to do the same. We ought to be very careful about who we call an "enemy" for at that moment we are to love this enemy at the cost of our very lives, if needed.

Keep also in mind that nowhere in the literature of the SSPX do we find a desire to imitate our Master in loving our enemies to the extreme of dying for them. Certainly, Bishop Fellay has never volunteered to follow the Master's teaching to its ultimate consequence, that I know of. Nor has anyone else in the SSPX.

Then, there is this explanation that referring to the Jews, Bishop Fellay's comment was aimed at the leaders of Jewish organizations, and not the Jewish people. Well, I guess that the Jews can now breath easier since they are not enemies of the Church "as a people" but their "organizations" are "enemies". The explanation begs the question: which organizations, where, when, and how are they "enemies of the Church"? The SSPX takes pride in the theological precisions of their statements, but here were are left to parse the statement ourselves. This explanation is meant to obscure rather than explain.

The consequence of their weak explanation is easy to see: an SSPX'er is free to conceive of any real or imagined "Jewish organization" fitting the description of "enemy of the Church," from the State of Israel on downward to any particular synagogue, association, or club, as long as the SSPX takes cover behind the figleaf of "enemity as a religious concept."

Though the majority of the SSPX leadership shies away from overt anti-Semitism in their statements, I've seen kindred organizations exhibiting no such qualms. For example, the spiritually-dead Tradition in Action organization or in Spanish, the Argentinian blogger over at Santa Iglesia Militante, against whom I wrote a multi-part special series (also in Spanish) once I discovered that he proudly recommended on his site The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Sion to his readers.

My point is that, despite their qualified denials, and although the SSPX is not an anti-Semitic organization itself, from its Bishop Williamson all the way down to many of its rank-and-file members, are virulent anti-Semites. Through their very "specific" parsing of the "religious concept" of "enemy", the SSPX grants effective refuge, sympathy, and tolerance to these anti-Semites and Judaeophobes.

I don't do policy for the Church buf if I did, I would not reconcile the SSPX until they abjure and do penance for the anti-Semitism festering in their midst, and not before they embrace the declaration Nostra Aetate fully, and without any mental reservations or purpose to evade. Let us pray for this outcome.