Who are the Guardians of Catholic Tradition today? The SSPX? The FSSP? The Diocesan priests saying a motu proprio Latin Mass? Where is the ideal? What is the most sane, practical, fruitful approach to preserving Tradition? Which Mass location and approach is the best to support, that is doctrinal, spiritually fruitful, and most effective?
I am sure there are different positions people take on this, or many are unsure and just go where its the best fit for the personal needs of their family. In the end, the primary considerations are the Mass, sacraments, and preserving the Faith.
And the Guardian in the Church of Tradition certainly is not Pope Francis, nor the majority of Bishops who have either forbidden the Latin Mass, relegated it off to an FSSP parish, or thwarted the canonical authority of the Motu Proprio.
In my view, it is the Society, but on a practical level, based on the necessity of a true, orthodox Mass, it is also to support the Motu Proprio. The FSSP tends to think the Society is schismatic on some level, at least in some of its views, and often does not actively support diocesan priests wanting to say the Traditional Mass, which is unfortunate.
Which comes across like the FSSP holds itself out as the Guardian of Tradition, except not to restore it to the mainstream in the least, but to keep it quarantined off in their parishes, often tucked away on the outskirts of the city.
Often the Society holds itself as the main guardian, but not the only one. It is largely responsible for the whole preservation of the Traditional Mass across the Universal Church these last five decades. It emphatically states as a profession of faith that this Tradition is not a private preference, but a public obligation. Therefore, it always supported in principle the previous Tridentine indults at the local level for individual diocesan priests turning back to Tradition. And the Society and Pope Benedict are the ones responsible for Summorum Pontificum, clarifying the Ancient and Venerable Roman Rite is a Catholic right for all Roman rite priests and laity, everywhere, always. Period. Not only for priestly societies like the FSSP.
But the FSSP is historically and commonly opposed to the Society on many fundamental levels, both in the abstract and on a personal level. Yet, the FSSP also appears to have largely been quiet and unsupportive of the Motu Proprio movement, but why?
What I would ask is, is the FSSP holding itself out to be, with the few other main Ecclesia Dei traditionalist societies, an Enclave outside the diocesan mainstream? But at the same time being okay with the Novus Ordo deepening its hold on the diocese, and cooperating with the Novus Ordo-loving bishops to quarantine Tradition under their private control?
The answer is not clear to me, though I observe patterns and attitudes. At The Hirsch Files blog, there is an excellent article detailing the historical divide between the FSSP and SSPX, which demonstrates very clearly that the FSSP was established to oppose the Society and “reconcile” traditionalists to the Vatican structure. I am sure a minority will tolerate or sympathize with the work of Archbishop Lefebvre, which paved the road for the Fraternity/Ecclesia Dei movement in the first place, but most view the FSSP as The Place Catholics should go.
Not the SSPX. And Not the Motu Proprio. But the FSSP.
What concerns me most is how the structure of the FSSP and other Ecclesia Dei societies has been manipulated by the Vatican and anti-Tradition bishops to make them, as Archbishop Lefebvre often explained, a Bridge.
When asked about the FSSP, the Archbishop used that fitting analogy. The Vatican erected the FSSP as a Bridge to bring the SSPX, and similar traditioalists, back “into the Church.” But evidence points to a larger agenda, that unfortunately the FSSP ends up being party to, i.e. using this Bridge to eventually, over decades, gradually bring the Traditional Catholic into full conformity with the reforms of Vatican II and especially the post-concilar Liturgy.
At the very least, the FSSP does at least officially support priests to learn the Latin Mass. Here is a link to their workshops.
Closing thoughts. To me personally, we are all in a darkened desert trying to follow the surest path for our salvation. The “Conciliar Church” has rejected us. Too often we reject eachother too. Schism upon schism upon schism.
So what to do? Keep praying, working, studying, doing good works, going to Sunday Mass, the sacraments, and the best we can support the cause of preserving Catholic Tradition.