I Believe in Ghosts, or Even More on Crypto-Lefebvrism

For a group of people who believe that there is no content to the term “crypto-Lefebvrism” those at Rorate Caeli along with Roberto de Mattei devote a good deal of time and space to the question. They also seem to be quite concerned about the criticisms I have been lodging, devoting as much time and energy as they have to the question, while making sure that they avoid linking to my blog.

But I am willing to concede that the crypto-Lefebvrists are ghosts. At least, they sure do behave like them. Etherial creatures they are, lurking in the shadows and working in the dark.

The latest contribution about this matter on Rorate Caeli is from pseudonymous Fr. Pio Pace who claims that the Holy See has been engaged in the “programmed destruction of the Franciscan of the Immaculate.” Not surprisingly, he calls the allegation of “cryto-Lefebvrism” simply the absurd and baseless pretext for the destruction of the FI. All the while he employs a revisionist historical narrative of the dialogue of the Holy See with the SSPX in the service of his allegation of the Church’s attack on traditionalism within the FI.

I have written an account of the dialogue of the Holy See with the Society of St. Pius X, which you can find here. The facts of the case show clearly that the leaders of the Society never intended to modify their doctrinal position, nor was the Society ever near an agreement with the Holy See. Furthermore, my account also documents the collusion between the Society and the crypto-Lefebvrists on the outside, including those associated with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. I urge you to take the time to read the account. It makes everything else here much more understandable.

Scapegoating Pope Francis

Fr. Pio’s essay is likely to leave the poorly informed reader with the impression that the current want of movement in the dialogue of the SSPX with the Holy See has something to do with Pope Francis and his lack of interest in the Society. But the truth is that the dialogue was effectively over before Pope Benedict announced his resignation. (Again, read that account.)

It is true that Ecclesia Dei sent a letter to Bishop Fellay on January 8, 2013 asking him to accept the doctrinal preamble as it was, but this was a last ditch effort after the personal letter of Archbishop di Noia of December 8, 2012 went unheeded. Pope Benedict announced his resignation on February 11, before the deadline for the Society’s response (February 22), which seems to indicate that he was letting everyone know that the window of opportunity was closing. This had nothing to do with the person who would actually succeed him more than a month later.

Fr. Pio imagines what would have happened had Pope Benedict, in spite of the SSPX’s unresponsiveness, gone ahead an reintegrated the Society after the announcement of the Holy Father’s resignation but before its execution. Had this occurred, he says, it could have entirely changed the outcome of the subsequent conclave and the current position of the SSPX.

But this does not take into account the fact that the dialogue simply failed due to the disintegration that occurred prior the announcement of the resignation. The SSPX had their chance—the best chance that they could have ever hoped for, and they let it pass. Pope Benedict could have held on if he had believed that a reconciliation was a realistic possibility, or he could have simply regularized the Society on its own terms had he been as determined as Bishop Fellay suggested he was. But he did not regularize the Society, whose representatives then declared their satisfaction that they had held to their principles and that the episcopal consecrations of 1988 thus proved to be fully justified. And it was Pope Benedict, and no other, who turned over the future the reformed-minded cardinals.

False Pretext

So it is not at all fair to say that Pope Francis ignores the Society. The dialogue had breathed its last prior to any talk of a new pontiff and Bishop Fellay had already expressed his being resigned to a long period of waiting for more advantageous conditions.   But Fr. Pio’s assessment is based on the same false pretext popularized by Roberto de Mattei, namely, that Pope Benedict himself was the sponsor of the “permanent ‘interrogation’” of Vatican II, and at least implicitly had been encouraging the Society to maintain its “loyal” opposition. (Read that account.)

Fr. Pio is correct in saying that Pope Francis does not share the theological preoccupations of his predecessor, and therefore, the questions of continuity and discontinuity do not hold the same place in his thought. But in this regard, there are several things to consider beyond the obvious differences between the former head of the Holy Office and the former Jesuit superior.

First of all, the Benedictine pontificate ispso facto has permanent value in the life of the Church. Pope Benedict has left a patrimony that will not and cannot be ignored. It is condescending and shortsighted to think Pope Francis is ignorant or dismissive of this.

Secondly, Fr. Pio minimizes the several references of Pope Francis to the work of Archbishop Marccheto. That Pope Francis is an outsider to the debate does not mean he is uninterested. But he has reason to remain aloof from the debate over continuity—the same reason that Pope Benedict ignored the appeal of Monignor Gherardini for a great clarification and reordering Council. Fr. Pio maintains the false tradition that Pope Benedict is the sponsor of the great questioning, and that he himself believed that it was urgent and necessary to prove continuity or otherwise abandon the Council. Pope Benedict ignored this contention for a reason, and Pope Francis does as well.

Finally, Fr. Pio leaves the reader with the impression that the situation with the SSPX was ripe for forward movement and hands-on intervention as Pope Francis ascended to the Chair of St. Peter. But actually the opposite is true, as I have shown irrefutably in the post already mentioned several times. The situation when Pope Francis was elected was altogether different than the one in 2007, when Summorum Pontificum was promulgated and then in 2009, when the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops was lifted. Pope Benedict had opened the doors wide to the Society and took them under his wing. It seems to me that this opportunity was exploited by the leaders of the Society to further their own ends and concluded in an inevitable stalemate. The principles expounded by Rome and the SSPX are substantially and intractably at odds. This is the only reasonable conclusion that can be reached after years of failed dialogue.

The Doctrinal Agreement

But not according to Fr. Pio. On the contrary, he contends that, in the reflected light of Pope Francis’ exclusively pastoral preoccupations and his general lack of interest in anything seriously theological, now Vatican officials believe it was a mistake to have submitted “too strict” a doctrinal statement to Bishop Fellay for his signature.

But what was the real difference between the doctrinal statement that Bishop Fellay that he ultimately rejected and the one he was willing to sign? It was the difference between fundamentally accepting the continuity of the Council and insisting that such continuity must be proven before accepted. What Fr. Pio fails to mention, but which Bishop Fellay openly admitted on December 30, 2012, is that Pope Benedict not only agreed to the strengthening of the text of the agreement (55:10) but he also insisted in writing on three points: 1) the SSPX must accept that it is the magisterium which is the judge of what is traditional or not; 2) the SSPX must accept that the Council is an integral part of Tradition; 3) the SSPX must accept that the New Mass is valid and licit (54:43-56:39).

But neither the SSPX nor those represented by Roberto de Mattei could fulfill even the demands of the weaker agreement. This is so because the discussion of such matters among traditionalists sympathetic to the SSPX is not simply the exercise of theology in the service of the magisterium, but counterrevolutionary activism.

This needs to be emphasized. There is all kind of talk about “legitimate” theological discussion, study and explanation of difficult conciliar passages. But this is not really the fundamental issue. The Society and its supporters could not even come close to complying with the CDF’s Instruction Donum Veritatis, on the “Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian,” because their basic work has nothing to do with academic theology but with propaganda and community organizing. Indeed, the anticonciliar agenda is carried out from the pulpit, in seminary and religious formation, in popular literature, in journalism and on the blogs. In other words, it is a complete anticonciliar propaganda machine and an instrument of political agitation. And even if Pope Francis was as uninterested in theology as Fr. Pio suggests, which I do not believe for a second, he is nobody’s fool, and he understands what he would get if all he had was a weak, toothless agreement from the Society.

We are not talking about an agreement involving mere abstractions. In fact, the touchy point in the doctrinal preamble was not about what one may and may not be free to believe, but about what an ecclesiastically approved society with a ministerial mandate may actively promote. And therefore, it is about whether a charism can or cannot be harmoniously integrated into the life of the Church. It is about whether it is practical and advisable to grant the Society such a wide measure of independence, which would be afforded by a personal prelature, if the Society does not actually agree to behave differently than it has up to now.

Fr. Pio goes on to suggest that now with Pope Francis’ lack of doctrinal concern there is an openness of certain Vatican officials to admitting the Society without a strict doctrinal agreement, but, unfortunately, the Society is now much too volatile to accept any agreement with Rome. But Fr. Pio is simply rewriting history. The SSPX has never been close to an agreement with Rome and this has nothing to do with Pope Francis. Furthermore, a regularization without an agreement would be seen as a vindication of the Society’s long held principles and would be used as a pretext to continue their counterrevolution. Neither Pope Benedict nor Pope Francis is so naïve.

Crypto-Lefebvrism

And this brings me back to the allegation of Fr. Volpi, the Apostolic Commissioner for the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, that the problems of the Institute are related to crypto-Lefebvrism, a contention that I have already defended multiple times. Fr. Pio Pace, concurring with Rorate Caeli and Robero de Mattei, pretends he has no idea what I am talking about, and that, in fact, I am not really saying anything meaningful.

Crypto-Lefebvrism is theoretical and practical agreement with the anticonciliar ideas of the SSPX, involving whatever dissimulation is necessary to continue to operate within full communion. Bishop Fellay has made reference to bishops who act in this fashion, who are in agreement with the SSPX, but more or less camouflage their intentions in order not to be removed from influence (1:14:00-1:16:30).

An example of this is the attempt to justify the Society’s behavior and the theories of its sympathizers, like Roberto de Mattei, on the false basis that Pope Benedict was the one that encouraged the questioning of the “hermeneutic of continuity” The falsity of this is shown clearly, both from my arguments here, as well as my documentation of the dialogue between the Society and Rome.

Another instance is the “95% argument,” namely, that the SSPX agrees with 95% of what Vatican II teaches and therefore could never be construed logically to be fundamentally opposed to the Council. This is simply sophistry contrived to produce sympathy toward the Society. It is abundantly clear that the SSPX believes Vatican II is a poisoned apple. It does not matter what percentage of the Council the Society accepts. Anyone, who has read the sources I have pointed to knows that the SSPX believes the Council and the Mass it produced to be a Modernist, Freemasonic and Jewish betrayal of tradition.

One final example, Chris Ferrara claims that no “crypto-Lefebvrist” would question the liceity of the Ordinary Form, if by that one means “the Latin Typical Edition of the Mass of Paul VI celebrated in Latin with a high altar, Gregorian Chant, and no communion in the hand or altar girls, a la the Brompton Oratory.” But I have personally heard traditionalists argue against the liceity of the Ordinary Form, reasoned from Quo Primum. There is also an argument against it liceity in the comments on my own blog based on the PECD’s Prot. 156/2009, though the author claims it is a position he does not hold, or at least not firmly.

The Haunting

I imagine that readers will notice that I do nothing here to substantively defend Vatican II against the traditionalist arguments. My purpose is different. Here I just want to hold their feet to the fire and get them to commit themselves to their position like the counterrevolutionaries they are.

I understand the reasons for not doing so, especially among priests and bishops, whose positions would be at risk within the postconciliar Church if they came clean. For this reason, Internet anonymity and pseudonymity are very effective tools of the counterrevolution.   But it is bad business all the same, and someone has to point it out.

And I have just the motive to do it, since the crypto-Lefebvrists have chosen to make the religious Institute to which I have been committed for more than twenty-five years the battlefield of their little war on the Council. That is one of the reasons why the Holy See has intervened within the FI in the manner as it has, and all the complaining just makes the problem even more evident. The more people who clearly have agendas claim that “crypto-Lefebvrists are just ghosts, the more it is clear they have something to hide.

22 thoughts on “I Believe in Ghosts, or Even More on Crypto-Lefebvrism

  1. Dear Fr. Angelo,

    I hope you won’t doubt the insincerity of my question. But here it is.

    Today we have many who are Cardinals that have written texts and published them which contain doctrinal problems. There are Bishops who have done the same. When it comes to Priests, the number of offenders is much larger. (I am not naming names of anyone here because I do not think it required or necessary).

    In this context, what does it mean to speak of “doctrinal differences” between the SSPX and Vatican as an impediment? The only issue seems to be an opposition to the idea that the SSPX reject the modern way of doing things adopted by the Church. This rejection extends from the manner of celebration of the Liturgy to how she approaches non-Catholics or those who persistently hold to error inside the Church. There are question raised by the SSPX but the Holy See has not bothered to clarify how one reconciles the current pastoral approach with that of 2000 years before it. Only thing repeated is that we must accept Vatican II but no one seems to really know what Vatican II is (or everyone seems to know a different Vatican II that must necessarily oppose the traditional praxis). If one is unclear as to what Vatican II means in the definitive sense (because the Church has not bothered to clarify many of its issue as raised by even those with no ties to the SSPX), why should one be so critical toward the likes of the SSPX?

    More importantly, why be so critical toward the SSPX or FFI when there is much more real dirt? Why not clean up the dirt that is persistently insisting that we reject the 2000 year old doctrine and praxis on divorce and remarriage? Or those who are giving communion to Protestants? Or the Canadian Bishops that signed the Winnipeg Statement (I am honestly bamboozled to this day as to how the Canadian Bishops managed to escape without even a single warning to correct themselves on this issue)?

    Is it not true that all of this points to some issue with the Church hierarchy? Is it not true that our Church hierarchy today is more hellbent on persecuting those who want to live like the faithful always have lived for 2000 years while those who openly reject teachings and prudence are hailed to higher positions?

    • Tony,

      As I am sure you would agree, the doctrinal extreme of one side of the spectrum does not justify that of the other. Most people see the progressives at work everywhere, whereas the traditionalists have a comparatively small but growing influence. Nevertheless, the “doctrinal differences” between Rome and the SSPX are real and significant or otherwise the Society would have just signed the agreement. And Rome was not going to sign Bishop Fellay’s version, because it was tantamount to binding oneself to contract authorizing the SSPX to oppose the Holy See as part of its ministerial mandate.

      Furthermore, progressivism prides itself on being heretical or at least iconoclastic, even if it uses euphemisms, like “being relevant,” or “anti-authoritarian.” Some may refer to this as the “new orthodoxy” because it is the only “option” in many places, but precisely because Catholic Tradition remains what it is, modernism, which breaks everything it touches, can never camouflage itself as orthodoxy for too long.

      Quite the contrary is true of traditionalism because it uses the Church’s own arguments against the Church itself. Hence, traditionalists see themselves as the remnant in a Church that has betrayed its own identity.

      But there are fundamental flaws. Private judgment is one. By this I do not refer to fiducial or relativistic, skeptical faith, but the choice of a rule of faith by which one submits the living magisterium to a test that effectively renders it free from the jurisdiction of Peter.

      The second flaw flows from the first, namely, a false ecclesiology and a weakened or destroyed ecclesiality. The legitimate distinction between dogma and pastoral teaching becomes a pretext to organize seminary and religious formation, preaching, apostolates and entire ecclesiastical jurisdictions around opposition to Rome. This is false doctrine that inevitably leads to a loss of communion with the Church, but in such a way that it is presented as the only orthodoxy possible.

      It is not true that the Church has failed to provide a clarification of Vatican II, but it certainly it true that it has not satisfied the demands of the Society and other traditionalists. Problems remain, without a doubt and so clarification continues to be necessary. The Church’s interaction with modernity is fraught with problems and a crisis of one form or another, regardless of how the Church might have reacted, is not surprising. A fifty year long crisis is not surprising either, nor unprecedented. But the answers remain within the providence Christ provided, and so there is no justification for organized and public opposition to the Holy Father.

      So I am critical of the SSPX’s dirt, because it is “real dirt.” It might have a thin veneer of gold leaf covering it, but it is real dirt all the same.

      I actually don’t blog that much, but when write, I write about what I know and about what has its claws under my doorway. And it seems to me that I am one of the few small voices that speaks openly about the false dichotomy between modernism and traditionalism. You present the situation as though there are only two options. That is a doctrinal position—it is a false doctrinal position, and one that fully deserves to be resisted.

      All that being said, I have no interest in preventing anyone from following his conscience in these matters. And I pointed out to the competent authorities within my Institute the conflict of conscience that was inevitably on its way when those same authorities decided to drag the community into this controversy. I am sorry that those on the other side now find themselves in a conflict of conscience. But it is not my fault because I spoke up about it when I saw what was coming. And the Church is not at fault either.

  2. I agree that Vatican II needs to be accepted by faithful Catholics even if there are passages in some of the documents that on their face value seem to be difficult to reconcile with prior magisterial teaching. Authors like Fr. Brian Harrison have done a great service to the Church in explaining how to reconcile some of the difficult passages in DIGNITATIS HUMANAE (http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt151.html). I think what is needed now is for the Magisterium to come out with an encylical and provide an official explanation similar to what Fr. Harrison has done. This would go a long way in helping Catholics who care about doctrine and are struggling to understand the more difficult passages in the Vatican II documents. I think it would also greatly reduce the impact of the counter revolutionary movement you talk about in this post.

  3. Dear Fr. Angelo,

    If the Church has sufficiently provided clarification and has enforced the correct position of Vatican II, why is it that there is such dissidence still present at a mass scale in the name of Vatican II?

    Almost every parish in Canada (and I suspect same in many places in Europe) preach error from the pulpit or turn the mass in to a stand-up comedy session. I am here speaking of the Novus Ordo of course. Why is it that the Winnipeg Statement is still standing without even a whimper of a challenge from the Holy See?

    Do you honestly believe that the SSPX “dirt” is much grave compared to the actual dirt of rejecting Church teaching?

    The SSPX for the most part have only rejected Church praxis. There is nothing that one can point to them as promoting rejection of actual doctrine. At the end of the day, is it not true that one can actually disagree legitimately based on conscience with respect to how even the Pope may command something to be carried out? Here I speak not of doctrine of course but governing decisions.

    Is it your position that the SSPX’s refusal to accept governing decisions based on it’s contradiction with the traditional governing decisions of the Church is a much grave and dangerous issue compared to dissent from actual doctrine?

    (I am not trying to debate with you but I am trying to understand exactly if I am understanding you correctly)

    • The clarification of Vatican II is ongoing and being carried out by theologians whose ecclesiaslity are beyond question, Bishop Schneider being one of them. There are many others, like Basil Valuet, Martin Rhonheimer, Thomas Pink, Archbishop Marchetto, who have taken Pope Benedict seriously and are working in union with the supreme magisterium.

      I can only speculate as to why Mons. Gherardini’s petition was ignored. I believe it is related to the way in which everything now is politicized and propagandized. Any attempt to produce a definitive assessment of the Council along with a syllabus of errors would be met by so much opposition from either side, that it would accomplish nothing. If, for example the SSPX were not satisfied—and they wouldn’t be unless all their positions were upheld—then the “great assessment” would be rejected as more of the same. And the progressives would act in the same manner unless all their positions were upheld. One could just imagine the leaks, false reports, machinations and political maneuvering that would occur. This seems to me to be undeniable.

      But more than this, the Pope, no matter who he might be, is not going to submit the magisterium to the assessment of scientific theologians and then just fall in line. I think Rome is playing the long game, and it has to because it is met by opposition from both sides from the progressives and traditionalists.

      You use a very weak argument: If x is more important that y, or if x is worse than y, then ignore y and concentrate on x. Really? That’s it?

      But in reality the situation is not that simple, because you think that y is not a problem at all. If you did think it was a problem, we would not be having this conversation. Furthermore, you seem to think that y is the solution to x, and that certainly is doctrinally problematic.

      Traditionalism has become an overt fifth column within the Church that sanctions direct opposition to the sacred magisterium and to the Supreme Pontiff himself. It is not simply a matter of conscientious objection, the work of academic theology, or even disagreement about Church governance. It is programmatic hostility that saturates all aspects of Catholic life: theology, catechesis, apologetics, preaching, liturgy, seminary formation, religious formation, devotional life, Church discipline, the Catholic press, etc.

      This is a doctrinal problem, not simply a pastoral problem because it effectively denies the supreme, immediate and effective pastoral authority of Peter as belonging the principle of the unity of the Church. It is a matter of doctrine that the principle of unity is not merely a question of the infallible charism of the Pope in the abstract as the cause of infallible acts. It is the doctrine of the Church that Christ willed Peter to be Supreme Pastor and to be obeyed in all matters belonging to his competence.

      Traditionalism is a modern prophetic tradition that has arisen out of the conciliar and postconciliar crisis and invokes as its archetype the New Testament prophetic role of St. Paul and later saints, such as Catherine of Sienna. This also is not a simple matter.

      First, I can’t think of anyone in these times, including Archbishop Lefebvre who is comparable to St. Paul or Catherine of Sienna. Secondly, even if there was someone acting in that capacity, it remains the competence of the magisterium and not the prophet to judge whether the prophecy is from God. In both the case of St. Paul and St. Catherine, the pontiff criticized acknowledged the validity of the prophecy. But in no case in the history of the Church has prophecy (even if you want to reduce this to academic theology) ever served as the justification for the emergence of an organized and public resistance against the Holy Father, especially when it involves fifty years of papal magisterium from six popes, two of them saints.

      Besides this, it is not true that controversial questions of Vatican II do not involve doctrine. The application of perennial doctrine to historical circumstances is not purely a pastoral decision.

      The SSPX rejects Dignitatis Humanae, precisely on doctrinal grounds. Pope Benedict would say that a measure of discontinuity arises not from the abandonment of the deposit of faith but from historical factors that justify a new assessment of the secular state. Thus, continuity and discontinuity arise at different levels. This determination is both a matter of doctrinal and pastoral authority. Traditionalists deny the right of the pope to make this determination unless he invokes his infallible charism, in which case they would just call him a heretic. This is also a doctrinal problem that the Pope rightly resists.

      So I openly resist traditionalism because the question of its relative evil when compared to modernism misses the point. Traditionalism proposes itself as the solution of modernism and reduces if not completely eliminates a middle ground. You, in fact, completely, ignore the middle ground.

      And that ground is precisely what I am fighting for because it is made of rock and not sand.

  4. Dear Fr. Angelo,

    Thank you again for your detailed reply. If I may ask another question

    Question
    ***********
    The movement of “traditionalism” espouses a way of life and relationship with the world as it had been held for almost 2000 years. This way of life had a natural development which always contained it’s previous stance within it.

    For an example, the advise given by the first Apostles to refrain from associating intimately with those who hold to heresy developed in a way that respected and upheld that advise. There was no doctrinal development to the end that one would then say that the first Apostles were wrong in their advise.

    To say that one can have doctrinal development in such a way that contradicts the previous advise of an authority like the first Apostles or countless Popes and saints leads to a problem.

    First, if one can have such doctrinal development, then nothing in the Church is certain. Today the Church hierarchy may believe that the we must oppose gay marriage. But later on we might have doctrinal development that suggests that there is much grace in gay marriages or something to that order.

    Second, it also raises the question as to where to draw the line. Maybe everything the Church teaches is in flux and merely a product of it’s time. Why? Because the Church apparently has a super dogma that she can adapt the teachings to each time period via doctrinal development in a way that contradicts previous advise. So almost every liberal plea today is valid and justified then.

    One may reason that [em]”It is right to ask for women priests. The Church’s disagreement may just be due to their lack of understanding today and bad timing. But there may come a time when the Church develops doctrine sufficiently enough that even women priests become identified as a valid possibility inside the Church.”[/em]

    So it seems to me that what you defend or suggest as valid must be necessarily regarded as an invalid solution. It would be considered invalid because it just destroys Catholicism and reduces it to “whatever the Pope feels” which is also not Christianity.

    The Pope at the end of the day is only infallible with respect to his teaching office. He can mismanage the Church. He an personally hold on to error (Pope John XXII) It is logically possible for many to identify these errors and mismanagement. It would be correct to oppose this mismanagement and errors.

    ************************************************************************

    I would also like to raise an objection with respect to something you said.

    Your position seems to be that the Church is remaining without rigorously defining the correct position in order to keep both sides (progressive and trad) happy (or from going to war) with the Church.

    I used to hold this position myself but I am afraid I cannot see how this is legitimate anymore. To keep the faithful in confusion is not the job of the Church. She must proclaim the truth even if it disturbs the peace when salvation of the faithful is hanging in the balance. After all, while the Church remains silent, souls are lost to progressive priests who preach dissent from doctrine of the Church in the name of conscience and sincere Catholics are mislead by the likes of SSPX.

    So at the very least, this suggest that the entire Church hierarchy is guilty of not doing their duty to the faithful.

    But leaving this point aside, when in doubt, it would seem from the perspective of the faithful, the right thing to do is to hold on the traditional way of life of their forefathers. Is that not true? Until the Church bothers to explain how she can legitimately oppose the traditional way of life (I am not speaking here solely regarding the mass but everything else as a whole) taught by the first Apostles, the Popes, the Saints and adopt a way of life explicitly warned against by these very people of authority, I fail to see how one can trust in the Church hierarchy on those particular matters, right?

    • Tony,

      No serious theologian disputes the fact of doctrinal development. Your argument suggests that if any at all is possible than any and all is possible. Doctrine develops the same way the liturgy does, organically, not by way of evolution or corruption but by growth—and this not by simple addition but augmentation of what is already incipiently present.

      There is no question that much sold under the title of development is actually evolution and corruption. Indeed, the real question is about this discernment. And it is certainly a legitimate question because it is the same one brought out by the distinction between continuity and discontinuity. But again, a certain measure historical discontinuity can exist without harming the organic continuity of doctrine.

      You mention the counsel of the Apostles in respect to Christians living in a pagan world. That world was one in which the desire for Baptism with water was almost identical to the desire for martyrdom, since the public profession of the faith was in itself the taking on of the concrete risk of being killed. This is the reason why there were serious early debates as to the possibility of absolving a penitent outside the danger of death, especially in the cases of Christians who has apostatized. In fact, in the earliest period of the Church, absolution was obtained only after a very long period of penance and many times only immediately prior to death. And there was a whole other debate when, as the fervor of the early Christians cooled, people began to even seek absolution more than once!

      Of course, eventually the hostile State was transformed into the Christian State, so the Church’s attitude toward the civil authority also changed. This is why, for example, it was only after the quasi-merging of the organs of Church and State that sins against the first three commandments were punished under the civil penal code. Prior to this no one was ever executed for heresy, nor was it considered proper to hope that such would be possible.

      And while it was true that the Church gained her freedom with the Peace of Constantine, the Christian State proposed new problems that militated against the independence of the Church. The Christian Prince was a solution to some problems but also a source of new ones. There has never been a time in the Church when she did not struggle for her independence, though the object and manner has changed a number of times.

      The situation changed again with the disintegration of Christendom, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. And that context religious liberty is tantamount to indifferentism and relativism. Since the Enlightenment can see nothing certain about religious belief, according it its false principles no religion can be binding either in conscience or in law. But since with the enlightenment came also a greater emphasis on the dignity of the human person in the rather contradictory context of relativism, the Church, as she always has, took what was noble and worthy and separated it from what was false.

      In the present context of a world in which the secular State is a given and one in which the Church no longer enjoys a central place, and, where once again her freedom is threatened, religious liberty, as the Church understands it, is not the fruit of relativism but of a new appreciation for the dignity of the human person. This appreciation leads to the conclusion that fact the process of religious conviction, ought to be left as free as possible. To say this is not the same thing as saying error has rights. In a way, this is the reason that among Catholics in the modern world blasphemers are no longer whipped, but among certain Muslims they still are.

      I know this raises all kinds of the theological questions, which are pertinent to the clarification underway, which I have already said is necessary. But it is simply not true to say that in matters of very serious doctrinal questions there has been no development. Furthermore, it is short-sided and somewhat fundamentalist to fail to see that magisterial interventions over the course of history were provoked by historical circumstances, and responded to in kind, without always making distinctions between what pertains absolutely to the deposit of faith and what pertains to its application. No serious theologian who thinks with the Church reads a magisterial document outside of its historical context, or ignores that context as it seeks to properly interpret it. To ask the question: “What was the Pope actually seeking to condemn and why?” is not irrelevant to understanding what was or was not actually defined.

      Can the Pope be wrong about all this? Theoretically, yes. Is his opinion on the matter simply a theological opinion? Never. Is your or my opinion on the matter ever anything more than a contingent personal opinion? Never. If you are a theologian write to the Holy Father. If you are a prophet, then prophecy to the Holy Father. But you are never justified in organizing public opposition to his teaching. He has a mandate from Christ. You do not.

      I will answer the second part of your comment when I have a moment.

  5. I have, in fact, noticed that you don’t devote very much time to the discussions about what the continuity of Vatican II consists in. But it is precisely this that seems to me to be the most fundamental question. Because in Vatican II doctrine and pastoral decisions are interwoven, and restatements of traditional doctrine are put side-by-side with developments the import of which is not always internally clear, the thesis of continuity demands explication. If all that you require is a statement of conviction that Vatican II is an expression of reform in continuity of the same subject Church without demanding that that affirmation have any context, I’ll make it right now. Properly interpreted, with distinctions carefully made, and the historical context taken into account, the documents of Vatican II express the same faith and propose reforms in continuity. Great. I’ve made a declaration of adherence to Vatican II.

    It is a completely empty declaration. I can, in effect, completely ignore Vatican II and make that declaration so long as I leave the discussion of what the continuity consists in to the “experts”. In order for a declaration of that sort to have any meaning at all, it has to have content. I have to be affirming certain things besides a priori principle when I affirm that. It has to exclude certain things.

    But the content of the continuity is still largely unclarified. If I recall correctly, during the doctrinal discussions, one of the invitations given to the SSPX was precisely to engage in the conversation about what the continuity consisted in.

    Essentially, I’m more than willing to make a blind declaration of obedience to the effect that I accept the Council as acts of the Church’s highest magisterium, and that I believe it has been so protected by the Holy Spirit that it has nothing within it in that is not capable of being read in the light of Tradition. I feel like that declaration is not very robust.

    • Joseph Anthony,

      You are correct that I have not devoted much effort to explain the manner in which the Council remains in continuity with Tradition. The reason for this is that I do not see that deficit as touching on the main problem, and, therefore, I also do not see that satisfying that deficit would solve the real problem.

      It is true that traditionalists, by and large, are a well-catechized group of individuals and very conversant in traditionalist literature and argumentation. But my experience indicates to me that that in respect to the Council their knowledge is largely polemical and motivated by the historical argument of the Council’s aftermath. Some of the intellectuals like de Mattei even have the static a priori framework of Revolution/Counterrevolution and plug the theological polemics into that ready-made slot.

      I actually do not see in the traditionalist movement what ought to be present among Catholics, namely, a similar (analogical) attitude to the one that they should have regarding the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture (obviously there are differences). Instead of insisting that the declaration of inerrancy be proven against the evidence of unsolved anomalies, or otherwise be considered “empty,” the Catholic ought to believe, look for solutions, and otherwise remain humble.

      Again, there are obvious differences. Humility in respect to Sacred Scripture means accepting its inerrancy as an object of divine faith. No one is called to put that kind of faith in Vatican II. But I do believe that humility does require more of Catholics than is supplied by traditionalism in general.

      There is plenty of theological and popular literature available, as you well know, that takes the hermeneutic of continuity seriously. This question should not be approached fundamentally as a matter of polemics, or the literature supporting the Council ignored or caricatured because it does not fit the traditionalist narrative. But in fact that is exactly the way that it is treated by the bulk of traditionalists I speak with. They have a contingent theological (or apologetical/polemical) argument against the Council and they consider it somehow more than a personal opinion, or at least one that provides them sufficient justification to publically oppose the sacred magisterium. I object to this as a wholly flawed way of thinking.

      And I consciously choose to underscore, by my insistence on always bending the discussion back to these fundamental points, that in the SSPX and the traditionalist movement, we are not dealing generally with well-formed and competent theological opinions, nor with simple conscientious objection, nor with a prophetic and ecclesial loyal opposition, but with a polemical and divisive spirit that resorts to public, organized, militant and anti-ecclesial opposition to the Council and fifty years of papal magisterium. Even if the traditionalists were right in some respect, I do not believe the movement, at least in this respect, is godly.

    • I could see much of what you say applying the SSPX and to people like John Vennari whose tone is indistinguishable from the polemical rhetoric too often used by the SSPX. I won’t comment too much on this, since my experience of the SSPX comes down to conversations on comment threads and internet fora and one single friend who assists at SSPX chapels. That’s no joke. When a woman called me up from a chapel in Florida last week to ask where the local EF Masses were, she was only the regular attendee of the an SSPX chapel that I’d knowingly conversed with. Not knowing them personally or from the inside, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself beyond the vague impressions I’ve already given.

      The critique does not touch home with my experience of people attached the EF in regular parishes.

      But I want to get back to the content issue. Thank you for the time you’ve already devoted to dialog with me. Please indulge me if I stress this point again. The content issue is not a vague theoretical question of allegiance. It involves real question of practical mores and the manner of living our lives.

      I’ve already given the example of administration of the Sacrament of the Sick (compare Denzinger-Hunermann 3635 with CIC 844). This is not a slight change in practice. It is often related to a new ecclesial self-understanding related to the substitution of “subsistit in” for “est” in LG 8 (pace footnote 4 of “Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church.”), and not merely a pastoral application of UR 8. In this example, we see the close connection between lex orandi and lex credendi and the general confusion that results from the reversal of previous practice. For instance, in one ecumenical community I’m familiar with, it became common practice for protestants and Catholics alike to participate in the Catholic Mass and for everyone to receive communion. When the Bishop forbade this, is caused confusion and consternation among the members, who felt so sure that they were all united together in the love of Christ that they had difficulty understanding this rule.

      I’ve already spoken about that previously. Now I want to turn to a related point that is very pertinent because it was in the news this week. Brian Stiller, a protestant who met with Pope Francis, has claimed that the Pope stated he was not interested in converting evangelicals to Catholicism but wished everyone to meet Jesus in his own community. The very idea of a Pope saying something like that is so outlandish and incredible that it should be dismissed out of hand. Yet the confusion and indifferentism of the past 40 years has made it just credible enough that many people like myself are stopping to give it pause for that… “could the Pope have said something like that…I mean…he wouldn’t….he COULDN’T….”

      Here we have the Traditionalist point illustrated. The traditions of the Church that grew up organically and were carefully pruned by people who wished to protect the authentic nugget that came from the apostles were not merely contigent cultural expressions of a transcendent faith capable of being expressed in unlimited ways, they were embodiments of the faith in an ecclesial context.. It was through these venerable and immemorial traditions that the faith was made quasi-incarnate, preserved, and passed down.

      Now it seems that the preservation of these traditions has been replaced with a thirst for new forms more relevant to today. We are given the assurance that the faith will be preserved and incarnated equally well within the new forms. This is not what we see.

      It is a dogma of the Church that Jesus Christ established one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, which is the Catholic Church, and that this Church is the mystical body of Christ, and that those who are not part of this mystical body have no share in Christ and cannot be saved. A doctrine like this should be a great impulse to do exactly what so many Popes did in encyclicals and other addresses: to call for those who are not actually members of the Church (actu) to be united in act to the Church, which Jesus calls all men to. Our practice reflected this conviction. It is in the Catholic Church that God has willed to be worshiped in a manner pleasing to Him. If any man would be in right relationship with God, we should want to help that man find and enter the Church.

      So when it’s suggested that the Pope said he had no interest in helping men and women toss off their errors and follow the call of Jesus into His one, onely Church, we should laugh and call it ridiculous.

      Yet 40 years of ecumenical meetings, of ambiguous statements, of communicatio in sacris and sharing in sacraments has made it just believable enough that a Pope might wish someone to discover Jesus in their own community, even if that community is not the Body of Christ and the community where God willed to be found, and I find I can’t just laugh off a quotation like that that is attributed to the Pope.

      I //want// to trust the Pope and not have to approach his words with a hermeneutic of suspicion. It is precisely the loss of the external elements of tradition that make it difficult to trust that the internal elements of it are still alive and well.

    • I want to be clear that I am //absolutely// giving the Pope the benefit of the doubt that there this more to this story than was passed down to us. My point wasn’t that I’m looking for every suspect thing the Pope says, my point was that the revolution in liturgical, legal, and pastoral practice has obscured what was formerly clear to the point where it is not priima facie ludicrous to think that a Pope might tell those whose communion with the Church is materially broken and understanding of the faith is tragically flawed that he isn’t trying to bring them into the Universal Church. It’s easy to prever former clarity on questions like the identity of the Church and the ordinary path of salvation to new statements that might be entirely orthodox when understood, but lend themselves to confusion.

      • Joseph Anthony,

        You may, of course, prefer the former clarity, and as I have said many times before, we do well to point out that such clarity is often absent and promote it in an ecclesial fashion. In fact, the version of the doctrinal preamble from the CDF formally permitted the SSPX to acknowledge that certain doctrinal affirmations of Vatican II that are difficult to reconcile with the previous magisterium must be understood in the light of Tradition.

        The CDF acknowledged that there are ambiguities. This was not a sticking point for either side, and it is not for me.

        The effort to clarify is not the problem. It has never been the problem. It is not the reason for the continued irregularity of the SSPX or the reason why people object to what I write on this blog.

        The “right” to a fifth column that proposes itself as the solution is the problem. It is the problem to which I objected in my community. It is what is behind Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, Catholic Family News, Chiesa e post-Concilio, Messa in Latina, Radici Christiane, Correspondenza Romano, Roberto de Mattei, Chris Ferrara, Michael Matt, Michael Voris, Louie Verrecchio, Carlo Manetti, Cristina Siccardi, Brunero Gherardini, E. M. Radaelli, Alessandro Gnocchi, Mario Palmaro (RIP), et al.—all of whom have had their claws into my Institute (even though none of them are personally invested, and even though there is nothing in our ecclesiastically approved legislation to warrant contact or influence by this fifth column).

        I do not mean to suggest that all of these people have colluded with elements within the Insitute, though some certainly have. But these are the people at the forefront of our “defense.”

        Traditionalists can do what they want. I don’t have to agree with it. And you can be sure that if my community is infected with this problem, I will go to the mat fighting it.

        It can’t solve the modernist problem because it shares some of the same defects, not least of which is the constant double talk and recourse to the worst aspects of political modernity.

    • I see. I sense a lot of kinship between us intellectually.

      What if I wanted to go a step further and express a wish for the restoration in Magisterial documents of scholastic terms and the language used before the Council? Would it be going to far to say that, accepting the doctrine and pastoral decisions of the Second Vatican Council, I think that certain terms tend to obscure the traditional doctrine, and that among these terms are “partial communion” (as if being part of the Church admitted to degrees, or someone was in some way part of the Church merely by virtue of being part of a community that shares in ecclesial elements) and “religious liberty” (which has the danger of obfuscating the traditional distinction between between true and false religion and treat all religion of a sort).

      In other words, do I have to keep my critiques of lack of clarity vague and general, or can I point to a particular “problem point” where I think it would be helpful to re-evaluate the language adopted in a particular historical context to express the Catholic faith?

  6. @Fr. Angelo M. Geiger,

    It seems to me Father that your entire position is dependent on the existence of a middle-ground between traditionalism and modernism. I believe you think that you are safe in this assumption because it is from the Chair of Peter (grounded on rock and not sand).
    However, what about the following problem.

    Traditionalism itself is grounded in the instruction and wisdom of Apostles (as Tony points out), Church fathers, Saints and also Popes before Vatican II. So is the person who grounds himself in those traditions in any less firmer grounds than your own?

    There is a common phrase among Catholics Father as you are certainly aware that “we must learn to think with the Church”.

    Now imagine the story of John Doe who was a Catholic Bishop. Bishop John was a man who lived during the reign of Pius XII. He embraced Catholicism to the fullest and worked day and night to fight growing popularity of religious liberty and ecumenical movements in his diocese. He stood up against those who wanted the mass to be modernized with a complete change to the vernacular and introduction of some singing and entertainment as the Protestants have it.
    Bishop John was often tempted to give in. But he reminded himself of the reasons behind the condemnation of such errors and activities. He reminded himself of the prudent reasons based on human nature that these prior condemnations were based on. He told others about them as he defended the Church position.

    Then, lo and behold, 3 years later (1962-1965) in which nothing in the world or in human nature had really changed, the Church had made Bishop John the enemy of the Church. What happened?

    The man who thought with the Church and fought for the Church is now told that he was not caught up with the times. That the doctrine had developed to point out that the Church had indeed being wrong all alone in condemning things like religious liberty or ecumenism. The Protestants had it right even before the Church did. Furthermore, the request for changing the mass to the vernacular and other things were valid. The Church had been so nasty all these years in refusing to concede.

    Perhaps after the upcoming synod, Bishop John will be told that he was completely insensitive and lacking pastoral sensitivity in refusing communion to the remarried. He will be told that the Church erroneously mishandled the case of Henry VIII and drove the Church in to schism over nothing.

    Those Saints who were martyred for issues like opposing divorce, remarriage, trying to convert heretics, were unfortunate that they had not lived in a time where the doctrine was sufficiently developed enough to show them their folly.

    Is that what we are to believe now Fr. Angelo? Is this the middle-ground? If this is the middle-ground, the Catholic Church has no credibility regarding any matter that dictates how to live. For what she says today and what men will stand for will be proven to be ill conceived and as having not been worth it at all.

    • This answer is also directed to Tony whose comment and my response to him are the source of your own intervention.

      My middle ground is not an assumption, nor is it simply the mean between two extremes, as though I am merely measuring off and finding the center between modernism and traditionalism. You are correct that we must think with the Church, and it is precisely why, in the presence of anomalies and controversy, the principle of unity, which is Peter, ought to be clung to most of all.

      Traditionalism, in my opinion, is not by any means grounded in the wisdom of the Apostles. Tradition is, but not traditionalism, because the latter uses Tradition as a pretext to employ a polemic against any anomaly in the modern magisterium. This is why I insist that traditionalism as it exists is a modern, and by no means ancient, movement.

      It is as modern as Saul Alinsky and the slogans of “Question Authority” and “Stick it to the Man.” It is as reactionary as 60’s were revolutionary, and it is as dysfunctional as fatherless families, where teenagers have to be the parents. Traditionalism is not the ancient Church. It is not the seed of Christendom replanted in the postconciliar era. Traditionalists are moderns reacting to modernity in the only way modern men could. You can dress traditionalists up like they just walked out from a black and white photo from the 40’s, but they are not men of the forties. Many of the middle-aged traditionalists were smoking weed, listening to Led Zeppelin, and doing other less savory deeds in the 70’s and now they are trying to make sure that their kids and grandkids don’t make worse mistakes than they did.

      I admit that taken by itself this is a caricature. I do not mean to imply that the movement is not serious, nor that it should not be taken seriously. But it is facile to suggest that it is nothing other than the wisdom of the Apostles. Besides every traditionalist ought to know that the primitivist argument is a bad argument.

      But I would say that you come very close to caricaturing the Council, which itself was not hostile to the past, but sought to reconcile it with the present, which is always what the Church has done, as I pointed out to Tony in my last response to him. Your bishop John Doe was indeed treated like an irrelevant fossil by the postconciliar experts, but not by the Council.

      By the way, did you ever stop to think that the some of the martyrs you mention, like those in England who were killed “for issues like opposing divorce, remarriage,” actually were not martyred for an infallible doctrine, but for a fallible pastoral decision? The martyrs in England did not die for the “doctrine” of the indissolubility of marriage, but for the specific marriage of Queen Catherine of Aragorn, whose rights were upheld in a very narrow judgment of fact made by Pope Clement VII. The question was not whether marriage was indissoluble, but simply whether the marriage of Catherine to Henry was valid. There was nothing infallible about that decision. But it was absolutely clear that it was the pope’s competence to determine the matter—his and no one else’s. So in essence the martyrs of England died for the supreme pastoral authority of Peter. How about that!

      Please, also note that the middle ground (the Rock) is such, only insofar as the extremes have the same problems: private judgment, bad ecclesiology and compromised ecclesiality. Again, both modernism and traditionalism share some of the same characteristics of modernity.

    • > Traditionalism itself is grounded in the instruction and wisdom of Apostles (as Tony points out), Church fathers, Saints and also Popes before Vatican II. So is the person who grounds himself in those traditions in any less firmer grounds than your own?

      If you actually believe that, why not just as well espouse Eastern Orthodoxy? After all, it is thoroughly grounded in the instruction and wisdom of Apostles, Church fathers, Saints, and also Popes before the Great Schism. Is the person who grounds himself in those traditions in any less firmer grounds than your own?

  7. Dear Fr. Angelo,

    Hello again and thank you for entertaining my questions. If I may make some observations.

    1) The judgement of whether or not the marriage between Henry VIII and Queen Catherine was valid is not actually a pastoral decision. For an example, the Pope cannot for the sake of being pastoral conclude that the marriage was invalid. In fact, the Pope can only look at the evidence and pronounce a judgement on the question “is this marriage valid?”. There is an objective set of criteria that he can check with to see and he can conclude accordingly. Furthermore, given the evidence and the same objective criteria, even you and I (or a St. Thomas More) would be able to see how his conclusion was reasonable.

    Such objective decision making need not have a guarantee of infallibility. We see such judgements all the time in any academic field and even in our day to day lives. No one ever requires that these decisions be infallible. Everyone only requires that the decisions be reasonable.

    2) Any Catholic can objectively look at decisions like “should we engage in ecumenism?” and arrive at a conclusion as to which option one would pursue.

    The Catholic in this case can look at knowledge any culture has about human behavior and conclude as to whether it will be detrimental toward the faith of Catholics or not. What is interesting is that when one concludes that it is indeed detrimental, and then they discover that past Popes of the Church have also made the same point and outlined the same reasons as they have discovered, they find more reason to think that they are correct.

    At this point in time, is it reasonable for any Catholic to even think of assenting to the Pope or the pastoral advise of council (both of which are actually fallible) over reason and past Popes who not even too long ago were in agreement with reason?

    3) I do agree with you that the SSPX are far from Godly and certainly have problems in their behavior. I personally have no allegiance to them and lean more toward the FSSP.

    But at the same time, I can see how the SSPX would justifiably feel a sense of anger toward the current Church hierarchy and feel that they are betraying the Catholic faithful. Every single Pope we have since Vatican II were probably holy men in their personal lives. But, almost all of them engaged in actions that would scandalize many in the Catholic Church. I am sure it irks them as it irked me to realize that these Popes did so by performing actions and encouraging things that anyone with a sense of prudence or respect for the Popes before them would have known was a bad idea.

    You have personally decided that the best reaction is to perhaps just go along with the Pope and obey everything he says. Someone like me might feel that the best reaction is to “disobey” the Pope when he seems to give advise or encourage activity contrary to the warnings of previous Popes that it will lead to a weakening of the faith. Of course some like the SSPX might take it “too far” by your standards and mine and simply decide to stay completely outside the jurisdiction of the Pope in all matters since Vatican II and even go to the length of disobeying the Pope on matters where he has full authority (whether or not to ordain a Bishop).

    4) What the council permitted (like ecumenism) has resulted in the weakening of faith. As a person living in Canada, my experience is that almost 90% of Catholics in parishes have adopted some form of syncretism or indifferentism. These seem very much like the fruits that were warned would be the outcome of ecumenism. So it seems perfectly legitimate that any thinking Catholic conclude that this was an error in the council. There is no issue of infallibility here since council advise on whether or not to do ecumenism is not protected under infallibility.

    5) Religious Liberty leads to a practical problem as to who decides what actions are bad for the common good that such religious convictions are not accommodated. For a Catholic, supporting contraception might be the issue while for a Jehovah’s Witness, funding blood transfusions through tax payer money would be an issue.

    The concept of religious liberty espoused in Vatican II and promoted by the Church through her Bishop’s conferences makes zero logical sense. It is great if the only goal is to play the secular system. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all and every Catholic is suppossed to abandon the warnings of the Popes before to support this unreasonable endeavor.

    6) If one agrees with everything above, they would feel responsible to indeed oppose the Church (I am not quiet sure why you say magesterium) and make them explain what on earth this new religious liberty concept means or how she things pursuing ecumenism is a great idea when the fruits are showing all over the world.

    7) As a man, if I were raising my family, I would have to advise my kids against following the imprudent and unreasonable decisions of the Church. I would like to make a distinction between “doctrine” and “decisions made to facilitate upholding of that doctrine”.

    So for an example, contraception is immoral is doctrine. Everyone should obey it. But to implicitly support government funding of contraception is a decision that one must make based on the doctrine. If the Church says one should fund anyway, I think I can very well disagree with the Church that her allowance is a mistake.

    I do therefore feel that there is room to uphold all doctrine but disagree and disobey the Church with respect to the advise she gives. The Church doesn’t seem to have the best interest of making sure her faithful keep all the teachings of the Catholic Church. She seems more concerned since Vatican II with trying to make sinners and those who have separated themselves from the Church feel that they are loved.

    This is where I share concern with the SSPX.

    • This is about it, Tony. The fact that you cannot see a pastoral decision when it stares you straight in the face represents for me the entire problem with traditionalism. The application of the principles of the faith to the concrete is EXACTLY what a pastor does, and that is EXACTLY what Clement VII did.

      You appear to think that somehow pastoral means “arbitrary” or “sentimental” or God knows what, like the term is somehow pejorative in itself. You seem to think that the practical applications of the faith to historical facts and circumstances are some mathematical solution arrived at by necessity, and that, on the contrary, the work of a pastor is something like a masonic Shriner clown who goes and visits children in the hospital.

      Of course the pope is called to use an “objective set of criteria,” because that is exactly how the pastor gets the sheep from the pasture to the sheep’s gate, but that does not mean that everyone by necessity is going to arrive at the same conclusion. You need to study the virtue of prudence.

      This is why we have superiors in the Church and in civil society. You say it is all mere governance. Then Clement VII decision was mere governance. The faith is always involved, and there is always the necessity for some measure of trust in divine providence.

      You further assume that if any honest and objective Catholic looks at the question of ecumenism they will arrive at the same conclusion you have. I don’t mean to be offensive, but that is just presumptuous. I am sorry. It is.

      And once again—I have said it here a million times—traditionalism manifests itself in the programmed assumption that contingent personal opinions are not contingent at all, and have by their nature some kind of necessity to them—that is, if they are traditionalist opinions. This is not just bad theology. It is bad metaphysics and bad logic.

  8. Maybe worth saying, the fact that “A Pope must be ready to pass judgement on whether or not a marriage is invalid” is indeed a pastoral decision because it is necessary for building an atmosphere for faithful Catholic living. But, his passing of judgement itself is not a pastoral decision.

    Do we at least agree with this distinction?

    • Actually, Tony, you have it exactly backwards—a perfect illustration of the problem.

      That among the Pope’s rights and duties is included his jurisdiction over marriage cases is a matter of doctrine, because he receives the governing munus from his episcopal ordination and that jurisdiction becomes universal by his elevation to the See of Peter. That is doctrine. Period.

      His exercise of that jurisdiction in the particular, as in the case of Clement’s judgement, is a pastoral decision. He looked at the particular case of Henry and Catherine and applied the principles of the faith to his decision. The fact that in this case the answer was clear is irrelevant to the point. It may have also been the case, though it wasn’t, that his canonists disagreed as to the correct solution, as sometimes they do in marriage cases. He still would have had to make a decision. It sill would have been pastoral. And it still would have been a judgment not protected by his charism of infallibility.

      You simply miss the point entirely.

  9. Pingback: The problem with traditionalism | Agellius's Blog

  10. What a shame Fr. Geiger.
    Helping Modernists destroy your religious order and betraying your brothers for adhering to the immemorial Catholic faith is an absolute travesty.

    Rest assured of my prayers.

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