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Many people wonder what will happen with the Society of Saint Pius X. With the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite more available (and enjoying Papal support) will the SSPX be brought into full communion with the Catholic Church? It’s not clear. It’s more than a liturgical issue that divides the society from Rome.

The Pope recently appointed His Excellency, Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., as vice president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, which works chiefly to reconcile the SSPX and other separated traditionalists. The National Catholic Register has an informative and theologically rich interview with the Archbishop. He discusses interpretations (good and bad) of the Second Vatican Council, the contributions a reconciled SSPX would make, and what is nonnegotiable theologically. What it all boils down to, as the Archbishop makes clear, is real, living continuity with tradition. “The only thing I’m telling them is: Vatican II is not a departure from Tradition,” DiNoia said.

The Holy Spirit is the real preserver of tradition, he pointed out:

. . . if you cease to believe that the Holy Spirit is preserving the Church from error, you cut your moorings.

The councils cannot — whatever their interpretations may be by the left or right, or whatever the intentions of the authors were of the council documents — be led into error. All of the documents stand. Schism is not the answer. So I’m sympathetic to the society, but the solution is not breaking off from the Church.

In other words, there is only one society that has God’s own guarantee, the society of St. Peter and his successors. However much one might lament certain changes in practice, cutting oneself off from the Pope to preserve tradition is a contradiction in terms.

“Traditionalists have to be converted from seeing the Council as rupture and discontinuity.” Reconciliation will be “an act of grace,” His Excellency said.

Conversion. Grace. That’s the rub. And a good reminder that all of our efforts to do and be good begin and end with the Source of all good.

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