Father Claude Barthe on the SSPX Situation and “Imperfect Communion”

The Rorate Caeli site has posted the translation of an important analysis by Father Claude Barthe, originally written in French for the website of the Catholic journal, l’Homme Nouveau.

L’abbé Barthe is the main chaplain of the Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome.

Aside from the Reverend Father’s “take” on the nuanced wording of the Holy See’s official communiqué, we note with pleasure a parenthetical comment he makes (our bold emphasis, below), namely, that the idea of “partial communion” is, in his word, “mistaken,” since “communion is not marked by degrees.”

This is something we have been saying for years. One is either in or out of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is coterminous with the Catholic Church. There are no gradations of communion.


One of the wisest clerics in the traditional Catholic world, Father Claude Barthe, wrote a short note for the highly regarded French Catholic periodical L’Homme Nouveau on the Holy See communiqué on the meeting between Cardinal Müller and Bishop Fellay yesterday. He paid attention to the key words, and how they represent a high point in the evolution of relations between the Apostolic See and the Society of Saint Pius X.

. . .

Father Claude Barthe (Rorate’s translation from the French):

The content of today’s [yesterday’s] communiqué picks up, by the way, almost word by word [the contents] of the one of 2005. In 2005, “the meeting took place in an environment of love for the Church, and the desire to reach perfect communion. Though aware of the difficulties, the will was made clear to proceed by degrees, step by step, and in a reasonable time.” Today [yesterday]: “it was decided to proceed gradually and over a reasonable period of time in order to overcome difficulties and with a view to the envisioned full reconciliation.” We remark the difference: the qualification of the theological status of the SSPX is the object of a concept created for the occasion. Reaching “full communion” is not mentioned for it anymore, assimilating it by this fact, more or less, to the separated communities to which is reserved the expression “imperfect communion” (mistaken, by the way, because communion is not marked by degrees). But the communiqué states that the SSPX must find “full reconciliation”. The SSPX, already in full communion, is not yet in full reconciliation.

It’s worth reading the whole (short) thing on the Rorate Caeli site.