The above picture (from the SSPX District of Asia website) is probably not the kind of image most people would conjure up when thinking about the "traditionalist" SSPX (Society of St Pius X). They are normally potrayed as an eccentric bunch of traditionalist priests who will not accept Vatican II.
Sandro Magister (For the Lefebvrists, It's the Last Call to the Sheepfold) asks:
But what exactly is the doctrinal cause of the division? And why is there a fracture between Rome and the Lefebvrists over their rejection of some of the teachings of Vatican Council II, while at the same time other Catholic currents of the opposite nature continue to inhabit the Church undisturbed, in spite of the fact that they too reject essential teachings of the same Council?In other words, there appears not to be a level playing field here.
Not that we would want to excuse rejection of the Sacred Magisterium of the Church on the part of the SSPX. In an essay by Dr John R.T. Lamont, Gifford Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews, UK, entitled A Theologian's Questions written expressly for Magister's www.chiesa.espressonline.it blog, Lamont considers teachings of Vatican II on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), the nature of the Church (Lumen Gentium), the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) and contends that
The vast majority of theologians in Catholic institutions in Europe, North America, and Australasia would reject most or all of these teachings [that Lamont quotes as examples]... The texts above are only a selection from the teachings of Vatican II that are rejected by these groups; they could be extended to many times the number.Lamont points out that
Such teachings however form part of the 95% of Vatican II that the FSSPX accepts. Unlike the 5% of that council rejected by the FSSPX, however, the teachings given above are central to Catholic faith and morals, and include some of the fundamental teachings of Christ himself.
In judging the doctrinal position of the FSSPX, it must be remembered that there is an essential difference between the position of the FSSPX on Vatican II and the position of those elements within the Church who reject the teachings from "Dei Verbum," "Lumen gentium," and "Gaudium et spes" listed above. The latter group simply holds that certain doctrines of the Catholic Church are not true. They reject Catholic teaching, full stop. The FSSPX, on the other hand, does not claim that the teaching of the Catholic Church is false. Instead, it claims that some of the assertions of Vatican II contradict other magisterial teachings that have greater authority, and hence that accepting the doctrines of the Catholic Church requires accepting these more authoritative teachings and rejecting the small proportion of errors in Vatican II. It asserts that the actual teaching of the Catholic Church is to be found in the earlier and more authoritative statements.It should be borne in mind that Vatican II made no explicitly infallible statements whereas previous magisterial teachings were taught in an extremely solemn manner. As Lamont says:
These are all magisterial pronouncements of great authority, and in some cases they include infallible dogmatic definitions – which is not the case with the Second Vatican Council itself.A further question Lamont raises is the matter of secrecy. If the discussions between the SSPX and the Holy See were concerning a precise canonical structure for the Society, it would be well that these would be kept secret for the time being. But...
The nature of the teaching of the Catholic Church on religious freedom, ecumenism, the Church, and collegiality, is of great importance to all Catholics. The questions raised by the discussions between the Holy See and the FSSPX thus concern the whole Church, not merely the parties to the discussion.I for one am praying for the rehabilitation of the Society and to healthy dialogue with its members as equal brothers (and sisters) in the communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.