“[T]he entirety of Vatican II must be read and interpreted in light of Tradition”

David Bonagura discusses What the SSPX Reconciliation Means – and Doesn’t. Let’s dig in directly with my emphases and comments:

Few things make Catholics forget the precept of charity more than discussion of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the traditionalist group of bishops and priests who, due to their opposition to the Second Vatican Council and the ensuing ecclesial turmoil, remain outside the Church’s canonical structure. [Few subjects more than SSPX make sympathetic writers more willing to engage in verbal gymnastics to avoid saying what all with eyes to see and ears to hear will readily know. “Outside of the Church’s canonical structure”? In schism. SSPX is in schism, and all the denials, pettifogery, and semantic gameplaying in the world won’t change that fact; if SSPX is not in schism, let them forthwith submit to the Roman Pontiff, see 1983 CIC 751.]

Pope Benedict, having played the leading role at the Vatican to restore the SSPX to juridical communion for a quarter century, has made  reconciliation with the group a priority of his pontificate. By all accounts, a formal announcement of official recognition for the SSPX is close at hand. [Mirabile dictu.]

. . . .

On the right, some traditionalist Catholics will jubilantly declare victory: modernist Rome has returned to its senses by endorsing the true remnant of the faith. [This is the conceit of some of those associated with SSPX and similar groups, and it is heresy. It is a claim that the faith of the See of Peter has failed.] On the left, where dinner with Martin Luther is preferable to sharing a Church with SSPX leader Bernard Fellay, some will accuse Benedict of undermining – or undoing – the reforms of Vatican II. Both of these perspectives are false.

Before considering what reconciliation means, it is worth assessing what it does not mean.

First, Benedict is not rolling back Vatican II; his entire pontificate is devoted to advancing it (more on this below). … [He] is beating partisan Catholic progressives at their own game: he is making a concrete gesture toward the reunion of all Christians, just as Vatican II called for in Unitatis Redintegratio…. What is being undone is not the Council, but the ideology of its false “spirit.” [This is a theme that I have hammered repeatedly in these pages: We must distinguish between the Council and the ersatz council, and understand that when “Vatican II” is cited, it is usually the latter. CfStraight Talk on Altar Girls, 1 MPA 60, 62 (2012). We are sifting legitimate conciliar reform from the postconciliar excess that too often gets away with masquerading as “Vatican II.” Cf. Altar bells and keeping faith with tradition, 1 MPA 69, 71-72 (2012).]

Second, more clever commentators may play the gender card: the retrograde Vatican is accepting a group of conservative bishops and priests back into the Church as it simultaneously launches an attack on the defenseless nuns of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). No such dichotomy or misogynistic power play exists: Benedict is working to bring both wayward groups … back into full communion with the Church; their differing statuses simply mean differing approaches to reunion.

Third, the reconciliation of the SSPX does not mean the vindication of Tradition” in the way the Society and its supporters understand it: that traditional worship and piety will be restored as the most legitimate expression of the faith. Traditional Catholic theology and practice has already been enjoying a small but vitalizing renaissance throughout the world in religious communities, parishes, and schools who have remained loyal to the pope. A reconciled SSPX will surely add to this growth and vigor; it will not create it anew or give it a lofty status.

What, then, does reconciliation with the SSPX really mean?

First, the “Doctrinal Preamble,” the still secret statement of doctrinal belief that the SSPX must accept for reconciliation, will likely declare – in the most official and authoritative capacity to date – that the entirety of Vatican II must be read and interpreted in light of Tradition. If this is so, then it will not only shape the Society’s future discourse about Vatican II, but also that of the advocates of the “spirit of Vatican II.”

The practitioners of “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” will not go away quietly, but such a declaration will remove their remaining credibility among their readers and students. [Now that is optimism.]

Second, as mentioned, the SSPX in full communion with the Roman Pontiff will invigorate traditional Catholic practice and worship, which in turn will contribute to rebuilding Catholic identity in places where it has collapsed. By many accounts Mass attendance at the Society’s chapels in France has grown while regular churches have emptied almost completely.

. . . .

SSPX is in schism. A serious argument can be made that they have purchased something valuable with that schism, and that in the end, we will all be better for it, but that does not change the fact that today, they are in schism. It is time for them to recant and return to Holy Mother Church, for their good and the good of all the Holy Church.