I am struck by the contrast between two different stories on the subject of Christian unity that I noted yesterday. The stories are of two groups, ostensibly seeking full union with the Holy See. One is a group that professes to be part of the Church although there exists some degree of mutually imposed separation. With that said, this group professes to be working ardently for the goal of unity This is the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). The other is a group that is clearly outside the church, a splinter group originally part of the Church of England that split from unity hundreds of years ago. They now seek full union with the Holy See. This is the Traditional Anglican Communion.
The first story (as I linked on SummorumPontificum.net) was about the response of the SSPX to the revised prayer for the Jews as promulgated by Pope Benedict just a while ago. Pope Benedict recently made a huge gesture toward the society when he released his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. This was one of the major “conditions” set by the SSPX as a pre-requisite to unity. When the Pope, for his own prudential reasons, decided to amend the prayer for the Jews, many in the traditionalist camps and those not so inclined turned their eyes to the SSPX to see how they would respond. Would they respond to the Pope’s decision with humility, submission, and respect and accept the Pope’s judgment on this matter or not? The answer, while not official, seems to be not. There have been some reported comments by Bishop Fellay seems to indicate that they will not be using the new prayer. This does not mean, as some would suggest, that this proves once and for all that the SSPX is schismatic. It doesn’t. What it does prove is that we have a long way to go to achieve the desired unity.
The other story I wrote about here yesterday. This story is about the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). A break-away group of Anglicans who have come to realize what they have lost when they lost unity with Rome. Now they want it back. To this end, the Bishops of the TAC reportedly all signed a copy of the Catechism and sent a letter to the Holy See seeking full, corporate, and sacramental union with Rome. Since they have made the request, they await a response with promised silence and in what the Primate of the TAC referred to as “a prayer filled quietness.” Acknowledging that the path to unity requires toughness, patience, and above all humility.
As I look at the public disposition of these two groups that seek unity with Rome, I must admit that I have greater hope for the group that is on the outside than the one on the inside. I know that many people can and will defend the various SSPX positions from a moral or legal standpoint. I am no expert and so I will not claim that the SSPX is cutting itself off with such actions and responses. I suspect that many of their “demands” may be legitimate and I definitely have a soft spot for them as I too love the ancient liturgy and despise modernism. But my money, right now, is on the Traditional Anglican Communion. If you care to know why, my answer is very simple. It’s the humility, stupid.