SSPX on the Brink

No joy for the SSPX.  They did not sign and the Holy Father has not backed down.  It seems, as I have said, that the Holy Father does not favor the position of Gherardini and De Mattei.

The doctrinal preamble is non-negotiable.  The existence of a hermeneutic of continuity, as such, is not a matter for debate.

Here is a section from the Final Report for the Synod of Bishops of 1985. It seems to be one of the first, if not the first reference to conciliar continuity, and may have been influenced by Joseph Ratzinger.  It is highly unlikely, to my mind, that is was not:

The theological interpretation of the conciliar doctrine must show attention to all the documents, in themselves and in their close inter-relationship, in such a way that the integral meaning of the Council’s affirmations–often very complex–might be understood and expressed. Special attention must be paid to the four major Constitutions of the Council, which contain the interpretative key for the other Decrees and Declarations. It is not licit to separate the pastoral character from the doctrinal vigor of the documents. In the same way, it is not legitimate to separate the spirit and the letter of the Council. Moreover, the Council must be understood in continuity with the great tradition of the Church, and at the same time we must receive light from the Council’s own doctrine for today’s Church and the men of our time. The Church is one and the same throughout all the councils.

Basically, the doctrinal preamble states that “[i]t is not licit to separate the pastoral character from the doctrinal vigor of the documents. In the same way, it is not legitimate to separate the spirit and the letter of the Council.”  This has been the essential point all along and Joseph Ratzinger, now the Vicar of Christ, will not budge.

I know many have a problem with this statement, but at some point those who love the Church will have to concede to Peter.  This brings to mind the response of Cardinal Ottaviani to the new Mass and his eventual acceptance of the liturgical changes. [see comment below  The following quote was made by Cardinal Ottaviani before the intervention.  The comment linked to shows other evidence of his acceptance of the liturgical changes, though this one indicates his disposition of obedience]:

The words of Christ “feed my sheep” are words which have been addressed only to His Vicar, and it follows that whoever would wish to be counted among the Flock of Christ must submit to the Universal Pastor appointed by Christ.  No one can be an exception to this rule, not even bishops.

There is no way around this point except to fall into sectarianism.

I find this report concerning Bishop Fellay’s reaction to the decision of the CDF interesting:

During this morning’s meeting, however, he appeared more conciliatory, and in a private conversation that took place in the palace of the former Holy Office, he said he had “no difficulty in accepting the profession of faith,” and also claimed to have no difficulties with the principles expressed in the preamble: the problem, Fellay said, was not the principles, but their application – namely, the fact that the Church today lacks fidelity to the Magisterium.

But this not what he was saying six weeks ago, when it was clear that he would not sign and he was giving his reasons why:

And I may say, what is presented today, which is already different from what was presented on the 14th of September, we can consider it as all right, good. They fulfilled all our requirements, I may say, on the practical level. So there is not much problem there. The problem remains at the other level – at the level of the doctrine. But even there it goes very far – very far, my dear brethren. The key is a principle. Which they say, “this you must accept; you must accept that for the points that make difficulty in the Council – points which are ambiguous, where there is a fight – these points, like ecumenism, like religious liberty, these points must be understood in coherence with the perpetual teaching of the Church.” “So if there is something ambiguous in the Council, you must understand it as the Church has always taught throughout the ages.”

This is problematic to say the least.  Heads up and pray for Bishop Fellay and the members of the SSPX.  This is their last chance.

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12 thoughts on “SSPX on the Brink

  1. I’m not certain that it is correct to say that Cardinal Ottaviani accepted the liturgical changes. He was blind and near death when he, we are told, signed letters changing his position. After such a monumental and passionate “Intervention,” I personally can’t believe that he would suddenly change his mind and accept the cataclismic changes in the new form of Mass as being good.

    Of course, neither he nor the SSPX ever questioned the validity of the New Mass – they just don’t accept the liturgical changes as being organic. Neither do Alcuin Reid or Cardinal Ratzinger or many other concerned liturgists for that matter.

  2. Jack B.,

    Cardinal Ottaviani never denied authorship of the letter.

    I must clarify and modify the post.

    The words I quoted above are not from a private letter but from a public address delivered in 1963. The intervention is dated 1969.

    The letter you refer to is from 1970 and the pertinent part is as follows:

    I have rejoiced profoundly to read the Discourse by the Holy Father on the question of the new Ordo Missae, and especially the doctrinal precisions contained in his Discourses at the pubic Audiences of November 19 and 26, after which I believe, no one can any longer be genuinely scandalized.

    But beyond this there is another statement of 1970 that is a matter of public record:

    The beauty of the Church is equally resplendent in the variety of the liturgical rites which enrich her divine cult–when they are legitimate and conform to the faith. Precisely the legitimacy of their origin protects and guards them agains the infiltration of errors . . . The purity and unity of the faith is in this manner also upheld by the supreme Magisterium of the pope through the liturgical laws.

  3. Jack B.,

    Read my previous post. What you claim about Cardinal Ratzinger does not represent his position clearly and leaves it open to misinterpretation. You imply that Joseph Ratzinger holds that the Novus Ordo is valid but otherwise defective. That is not his position.

  4. It always amazes me how people like Jack B. grudgingly accept the validity of the Mass in the ordinary form but are so eager at the same time to point out its so-called deficiencies.

    I will use my deceased wife as a defense of the ordinary form of the Mass. She was the most Christ-like person that I have ever met. She was a daily communicant from her first Holy Communion. She attended Mass in Latin before the change into the vernacular, and she attended Mass only in English from the time of its introduction. Somehow, her attending Mass in the ordinary form in no way whatsoever prevented her from becoming so conformed to Jesus Christ. And is this not the purpose of the Mass, the sacraments, prayer, etc., namely to achieve union with God? She died at the age of 70 in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

    She once told me that the secret to happiness was to make others happy; of course, she meant this in the full Christian sense. She did accomplish this, and I know many people who will attest to this.

    Bill Foley

  5. I may be confused about your statement that Cardinal Ratzinger does not view the Novus Ordo was defective ~ but how else would you interpret his words in regards to the new Mass, “a banal and on-the-spot creation” or words to that effect?

  6. Dear Bill Foley:

    With all due respect for your deceased wife, may she rest in peace, but you indicate that “She attended Mass in Latin before the change into the vernacular, and she attended Mass only in English from the time of its introduction”.

    There wasn’t a “change into the vernacular”. There was a change into an entirely new Mass, and saying it in the vernacular was just one part of the all-new and improved Mass.

    I am most happy that the change to a new Mass was not a stumbling block to her love of God and ability to worship at Holy Mass, however. She was blessed and sounds like she was a wonderful woman. God rest her soul.

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