Wednesday, September 13, 2006


What constitutes loyalty to Rome, the Chair and its occupant, the Holy Father? Obedience and loyalty are the hallmark of the saint. Has a false sense of loyalty misled people? Has the mantra of "obedience" been the brickbat we have allowed ourselves to be bludgeoned with in some cases?

When I first read about the newly erected Institute of the Good Shepherd, yet another Traditional Latin Mass order of priests, I wondered what is wrong with the Fraternity of St. Peter or even Institute of Christ the King? Why were the priests and seminarians who have been kicked out of the SSPX been given an entirely new Institute rather than be assigned to an established order?

And how can anyone forget the disastrous results of the establishement of the Society of St. John.

On one hand you could say that Rome is intent on producing numerous Latin Mass orders and as the numbers of parishoners and vocations increases there will be less a question of Tridentine or Novus Ordo but of which Church has a priest who says Mass rather than a Communion service led by a Pastoral Associate. Some see this is an indication of a sign to the SSPX that Rome is waiting with arms outstretched. The cynical amongst us says it is a simple strategy of divide and conquer.

In 1988, a group of former SSPX priests approached Rome and received permission to form the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, choosing the name to demonstrate their loyalty to Rome and Tradition. After the Protocol 1411, their fortunes appear to have suffered and the bloom is off the rose. In a public relations sense I don't think they have recovered from it. Doubted by Traditionalists as having been forced to compromise and suspected by liberals for their "schismatic tendencies" they were dealt a blow.

On September 1, 1990, the Institute of Christ the King was erected canonically. Currently, they seem to be the golden boy of the Traditionalist movement. They have 35 houses in 10 countries and 60 seminarians. They seem to avoid controversy. Maybe it is their commitment to charity that has aided them.

On September 8, 2004 Bishop Rifan of Campos, Brazil is accused of having concelebrated the Novus Ordo. A claim the Bishop denies saying he was present at the Mass in a show of unity. Lambasted by intractable conservatives and the SSPX alike he seems to have lost some of his sheen. Critics say he compromised and betrayed the movement.

Just 2 years later on September 8, 2006- which seems like an interesting coincidence the Institute of the Good Shepherd is announced and its priests will say the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. They are based in Bordeaux, France and consist of 5 priests and a number of seminarians who will be ordained by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.

It's almost like deja vu all over again. The Fraternity began as an Order who wished to say the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. Their aspirations were checked. Will the Institute of the Good Shepherd fare in the same way?

One interesting note- the Fraternity priests who formed the FSSP left the SSPX on their own initiative. The Society of St. John priests (now disbanded) were kicked out. The priests and seminarians of the Institute of the Good Shepherd were also kicked out. I'm not drawing any comparisons- please God there won't be any- but it is interesting to note.

One ancillary point, when 2 of the priests of the SSPX were removed and expelled they appealed to the local diocese for reinstatement. The Diocese ruled that they did have jurisdiction. They ruled (though to no avail) that the priests should be reinstated. For those who say the SSPX has absolutely no status and are effectively a protestant church, this obviously invalidates that point.


Petrus said...

Really interesting post - and really interesting picture. I noticed that the altar in St. Peter's must be the pre-Vatican II altar - since it looks entirely different now - and the new altar is moved away from the back wall. Very cool.

S.H. said...


I completely agree with your analysis here. I have been preparing a post for next week along some of the same lines with a few other digressions.

In the meantime, my readers will have the benefit of this article being linked on StephensReplies.

Caeremoniale said...


That altar was the altar that Pius XI had erected under St. Peter's Chair; it is now gone, having been dismantled and carted away under the reign of John Paul II (I believe in 1995).

The original altar is the one under the "baldacino" and it is free-standing, which is the more proper form of the altar (not so that the priest can face the people, which historically was never done, not even in St. Peter's, but so that the bishop could annoint the backside of the altar during its consecration and so that the priest could walk around the altar when incensing it; there other architectural-liturgical-historical reasons too); cf. The Liturgical Altar by Geoffrey Webb.

Also, I believe that the analysis of the I.G.S. is on target: it's just another ornament on the Christmas Tree of the Indult.

Dust I Am said...

Bishop Rifan notwithstanding, a final observation could be that none of the several Latin Mass orders of priests have been given a Bishop from their own ranks.

Anonymous said...

The Society of Saint John is not disbanded. They were suppressed by the bishop of Scranton Pa but were approved by another Roman Catholic bishop in South America. Check out their website. I think the Institute of the Good Sheperd is great. I hope they will eventually become the biggest traditionalist presence in the Church.

Tradcatholic said...

Anonymous said of the SGS,"I hope they...become the biggest trad presence in the Church" Well, hope is good. But in this context, it is like saying "I HOPE I win the lottery" , or "I hope it doesn't rain". There is little chance this community will get too far, I am afraid. You see, they will still be dependent on the gaggle of bishops round about, and may be snuffed out at the git-go! If they have their own bishop, then things may turn out differently. I have serious doubts, however. If Rome were really on the up and up, they would have regularized the SSPX and freed the TLM for every priest regardless of the bishops' whims. The we would rejoice in fact. We may yet rejoice re: the SGS if we live long enough.

Anonymous said...

Praise God for the Good Shepherd Institute. May all SSPx members find their way back to the Church.