Fr Thomas Onoda, SSPX (Photo by David Viehland)
For Father Thomas Onoda, membership in the splinter group Society of St Pius X (SSPX) is “service to the Church,” and not a “revolt” against Rome and the pope, as others call it. In fact, “modernism” has placed the Church in trouble, and “we must help her,” the SSPX Philippines head told ucanews.com. The Japanese priest from Fujieda City said, “We aren’t pretending to change tradition. We are here at the service of the Church and faithful, but we should not change or compromise Catholic tradition that dates back before Vatican II more than 2,000 years ago.” He had just finished saying traditional Latin Mass for about 30 people at Our Lady of Victories church in Quezon City last week, where “normal” SSPX activities proceeded while Vatican doctrinal officials and the group’s head
Bishop Bernard Fellay met in Rome to discuss possible reconciliation. SSPX founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre defied Rome in 1988 by consecrating four bishops, drawing excommunication from the Holy See. Pope Benedict XVI remitted the bans in 2009 and promoted the use of Latin Mass the SSPX recognizes as a step to full communion. However, the group continues to reject the teachings of Vatican II, the ecumenical council conducted from October 11,1962 through December 8, 1965, which sought to achieve Church renewal. Father Onoda says he is prepared for a long dialogue between his group and the Vatican because there are deep and contentious issues to be settled. “The matter of Assisi must be settled first,” the priest said. Blessed John Paul, while pope, convened a World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi
, Italy in 1986, convinced that people of various faiths praying together could help bring peace in the world. Father Onoda said John Paul II’s “invention” to “pray with people who reject the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary and the primacy of the pope goes against Catholic teaching and is unacceptable to SSPX.” He said the late pope’s action “made non-believers’ prayers seem important.” Meanwhile, the group in the Philippines will continue offering Latin Masses, conducting social services, such as medical clinics, and activities in “defense of the faith.” Its churchgoers, for example, joined protests against a “sacrilegious” art exhibit last month. Fr Onoda acknowledges without reconciliation, it will be a struggle for the group. “We keep our churches open and anyone who wants to come for Mass and to pray is welcome,” the priest said. Since starting in 1993, the SSPX Philippines mission has ordained 10 Filipino priests in the country and abroad, Fr Onoda said. It has about a dozen religious brothers and at least 15 traditionalist sisters of various congregations as partners.