Ecclesia Dei. A new palinode

Source: FSSPX News


The word palinode (from the Greek palin, again, and ôdê, song) means a retraction or a disavowel of what one has previously said or done, a sudden change of opinion. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has just given us a particularly amusing example, presented to us by its secretary.

Indeed, in Tu es Petrus1 n° 82, a twenty page article attempted to demonstrate the “schism” of the Society of St. Pius X, explaining that any participation at a Mass celebrated by one of their priests is strictly forbidden. In order to back up these arguments, the bulletin counted on the support of Mgr. Perl, secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission who, in five questions and answers dated 15th April 2002, added the weight of his authority.

On 27th September 2002, this same secretary gave a written response to a layman who questioned him on the subject of participation at a “Society of St. Pius X” Mass.This response was published by the Commission on 18th January 2003, following its partial disclosure, in particular via the internet. The reader will be able to judge the palinode for himself by consulting the relevant pieces in the “documents” section.

Here it is affirmed, plainly, without restriction and in direct contradiction to the document from the previous April, that “in a strict sense [a member of the faithful] can satisfy his Sunday obligation by assisting at a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X.” Which amounts to denying the existence of a schism or even any semblance of schism, for, to the best of my knowledge, this is not true for assitance at a Mass celebrated by an Orthodox priest. We thank Mgr. Perl for this confession and we suggest that Tu es Petrus publish this response in their next issue….

Furthermore, in answer to the question “Do I commit a sin by assisting at a Society of St. Pius X Mass?” he replied: “If your prime intention in assisting at such a Mass were to separate yourself from communion with the Sovereign Pontiff and those in communion with him, it would be a sin. If your intention was simply to assist at a Mass celebrated according to the 1962 missal for the sake of devotion, it would not be a sin.” Let us be serious here: who is the faithful assisting at these Masses who comes first and foremost to manifest his refusal to recognise the authority of the Pope? To ask the question is to answer it. We thank Mgr. Perl for absolving these faithful from all fault. This explanation is particularly important and it ought to receive the publicity it deserves: Rome, through the intermediary of her Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, states that all who go to churches of the Society are free from sin in so doing. We already knew it, but it is good to have it on authority.

And to crown it all, the faithful are even permitted to give their contribution to the collection! I thank the person who gained for us this reply stating that financial support to the Society of St. Pius X is praiseworthy, even if no more than a “modest” contribution is granted. The fact remains indisputable: financial support to the SSPX is considered a good deed. We did not ask for so much!

As for the accusation against the Commission that it does not do its job well, I am pleased to recall the reply given by Michael Davies, president of the international federation Una Voce for several years, to the clarification given by Mgr. Perl at the General Meeting of this same federation, on 14th November 1999: “Since Cardinal Mayer retired2, I know of only one case where the Commission has intervened against a bishop.” Has the number of these interventions perhaps increased since that date?

But the fundamental question is this: just what is the purpose of the Ecclesia Dei Commission? Can we recognise Rome, Catholic Rome, in these palinodes? Is the Bride of Christ, the Mother and Mistress of the truth, therein? The Society of St. Pius X has always refused to enter into any discussion with this Commission, on the one hand because the fact that we belong to the Church is not in any doubt, and on the other hand because the Commission has lost its credibility. There is a question here of justice and whether these people are worthy of our trust.

Finally, it seems to me that this should help the members of the Fraternity of St. Peter to reflect on the value of their argumentation, refuted with such ease by the very Commission on whom they depend, and to understand the depth of the crisis into which we are plunged in spite of ourselves. But if they wish to continue to be treated as they are, they are entirely free to do so.