Frantic Backpedalling

A press release from the US District of the SSPX:

During a 2-hour conference given in Ontario, Canada on December 28th, 2012, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society St. Pius X, commented on the relations between the Holy See and the SSPX during the last two years.

During the conference Bishop Fellay stated “Who, during that time, was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church. The Jews, the Masons, the Modernists…”

The word “enemies” used here by Bishop Fellay is of course a religious concept and refers to any group or religious sect which opposes the mission of the Catholic Church and her efforts to fulfill it: the salvation of souls.

This religious context is based upon the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Gospels: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:30)

By referring to the Jews, Bishop Fellay’s comment was aimed at the leaders of Jewish organizations, and not the Jewish people, as is being implied by journalists.

Accordingly the Society of St. Pius X denounces the repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism or hate speech made in an attempt to silence its message.

Okay, it’s not antisemitism.  It’s crypto-antisemitism.  Is that better?

And why are we getting this from the US District of the SSPX and not from His Excellency himself?

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Bishop Fellay Burns the Bridge

We have many enemies, many enemies.  But look . . and that is very interesting.  Who during that time was the most opposed that the Church will recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church:  the Jews, the Masons and the Modernists.  The most opposed that the Society would be recognized as Catholic:  the enemies of the Church.  Interesting, isn’t it?  More than that, what was the point?  What did they say to Rome?  They said:  “You must oblige these people to accept Vatican II.”  That’s also very interesting, isn’t it?  People, who are outside the Church, who clearly during centuries are enemies of the Church, say to Rome, if you want to accept these people, you must oblige them to accept the Council. Isn’t that interesting?  Oh, it is!  I think it is fantastic, because it shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church’s.  They see—the enemies of the Church—their benefit in the Council.  Very interesting!  So, I may say, that is the kind of argument we are going to use with Rome, trying to make them reflect, trying to make them reflect.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX, December 28, 2012 (1:18:23-1:20:06)

“Very interesting, isn’t it?” This repeated phrase is supposed to let us know that there is more to what Bishop Fellay is saying than what he actually puts in words.  In the world of traditionalism, the good bishop’s suggestion enjoys a certain amorphous plausability. That is all it needs. It has plenty of gas and will go a long way. Continue reading

The head of the…

Quote

The head of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X has called Jewish people “enemies of the Church”, saying Jewish leaders’ support of the Second Vatican Council “shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church’s”.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the society’s superior general, said those most opposed to Rome granting canonical recognition to the SSPX have been “the enemies of the Church: the Jews, the Masons, the modernists”. . .

Bishop Fellay said: “Even in the Council there are some things we accept,” as well as reject, however, the group wishes to be free to say, “there are errors in the Council” and that “the new Mass is evil”.

Bishop Fellay over the edge.

Pope Benedict and the SSPX: the Facts

For the record:

on June 30 (it’s a secret that I reveal to you, but it will be made public), on June 30, 2012, the Pope wrote with his own hand a letter to our Superior General, Bp. [Bernard] Fellay, signed personally: ‘I confirm to you in fact [that], in order [for you] to be truly reintegrated into the Church [Tissier says:] (let us move beyond this expression), it is necessary to truly accept the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium.’

But this is only consistent with what has been known at least since 2009 from the Secretariat of State:

For a future recognition of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, the full acknowledgment of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and of the same Benedict XVI is an indispensable condition.

So why was there this myth propagated that the SSPX would achieve canonical status without a doctrinal agreement that included acceptance of Vatican II?  It has been argued that the Pope is sympathetic to the SSPX and has been eager to have it contribute to resolving problems within the Church by means of its “defense of tradition” (read anticonciliarism).  It seems that the Pope himself has definitively rendered this claim baseless.

 

The Checkmate of Pope Benedict

No more moves for the SSPX.

Pope Benedict has effectively brought the dialogue between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X to a magisterial conclusion.  Bishop Fellay has certainly transformed his way of looking at things.  In responding to the grave concerns of three SSPX bishops, Mons. Fellay is now selling Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity.  Or is he?

Within the Society, some are making the conciliar errors into super heresies, absolute evil, worse than anything, in the same way that the liberals have dogmatized this pastoral council. The evils are sufficiently dramatic; there is hardly any reason to exaggerate them further (cf. Roberto de Mattei, Une histoire jamais écrite, p. 22; Mgr. Gherardini, Un débat à ouvrir, p. 53, etc.).

Fellay’s problem is that Pope Benedict has left him nowhere to go other than into the arms of the successor of St. Peter.  It is either that or what Fellay terms as “real schism.”  His view contains a healthy dose of realism.  But the three bishops and the members of the SSPX they represent pose a real problem for Bishop Fellay.  In the above quote Fellay makes reference to the work of de Mattei and Gherardini, neither of whom are convinced that the Council can be reconciled with Tradition.  Indeed, in the preface to his new book Gherardini states:

There remains truly the fact that neither Vatican II can be recognized fully and peacefully in it [Tradition], nor can it be harmonized with the tune of Vatican II. They are two scores that cannot be reciprocally harmonized with the “dominant”, not due to any accidental note, but because one is intrinsically different from the other; and at times even opposed.

There are those who are in the Church that appear to be going out, and then those very much like them who are out and appear to be coming in. This is very uncomfortable fence sitting.  And it is not getting less complicated.  Last month, Monsignor Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, sent a letter to the Institute of the Good Shepherd in France  regarding the results of their canonical visitation.  There he wrote that concerning seminary formation:

Rather than maintaining a critique of Vatican Council II, even a “serious and constructive” one, the efforts of your teachers must point out the transmission of the integrity of the patrimony of the Church, insisting on the hermeneutics of renewal in its continuity and using as support the integrity of Catholic doctrine expounded by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One wonders what Fellay and Gherardini would think of this.  Fellay is put in a very uncomfortable position by the three bishops because by accepting the Pope’s terms he will no longer be in a position to dismiss Vatican II, as he even now so casually does:

It has reached a good number (still a minority) of young priests, seminarians, and even includes a small number of young bishops who clearly stand out from their predecessors, who confide in us their sympathy and support, but who are still pretty well stifled by the dominant line in the hierarchy in favor of Vatican II. This hierarchy is losing speed.

He can’t really believe this is consistent with spirit with which Pope Benedict has called the Year of Faith.  Can he?  But he is forced to politicize his position in the interests of winning over the reluctant.

Pope Benedict has a big carrot and a big stick: a personal prelature and the doctrinal preamble.  Checkmate.

SSPX Reality Check

SSPX General House Communiqué

4-18-2012

The media are announcing that Bishop Bernard Fellay has sent a “positive response” to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and that consequently the doctrinal question between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X is now resolved.

The reality is different.

In a letter dated April 17, 2012, the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X responded to the request for clarification that had been made to him on March 16 by Cardinal William Levada concerning the Doctrinal Preamble delivered on September 14, 2011. As the press release dated today from the Ecclesia Dei Commission indicates, the text of this response “will be examined by the dicastery (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) then submitted to the Holy Father for his judgment”.

This is therefore a stage and not a conclusion.

Menzingen, April 18, 2012.

I thought the reality was more like this, stick in the mud that I am.

A Year of Faith or a Year of Doubt?

This is the last installment of a series that I originally planned to be just two posts, but has turned out to be four.  I link to them, not in the order that I posted them, but in the order of their logical development.   First, there is a bit of background about my own experience and formation with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and what I mean by the term “traditionalism,” and why I think a discussion of it is important (“Traditionalism and Liturgy”).  Second, is a an explanation of the stated motives of Pope Benedict XVI for having promulgated the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum and what he means by the “reform of the reform” (“The Spirit of Summorum Pontificum”). The third installment is an examination of what the current debate over the “hermeneutic of continuity” is all about and why a statement of Pope Benedict has been used speciously as a pretext to question the continuity of Vatican II with Tradition (“Traditionalist Sleight of Hand”).  And lastly, here I wish to illustrate the current problem of sympathy for traditionalism by means of the contrast between traditionalist incursions and the responses to them from the Vatican over the last several years.

On October 11, 2011, Pope Benedict promulgated an apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, “the Door of Faith” in which he announced “A Year of Faith” to begin in exactly one year on October 11, 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict tells us that he is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, who in 1967 announced a year of faith to commemorate the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdoms of Saints Peter and Paul.

I believe that this announcement is both providential and calculated.  The Holy Father is taking opportunity of the providence of God in the arrival of these anniversaries to address a mounting “orthodox” contempt for the Second Vatican Council—a traditionalist sleight of hand that proposes to dissect the Council and analyze it according to contingent opinions about Tradition and then invoke Pope Benedict as the one who mandated the exercise.  For a growing number of traditional Catholics, in spite of fifty years of papal teaching, the problems of our times within the Church were not occasioned by disintegration of modernity hitting the Church at the time of the Council.  On the contrary, they tell us, the Council itself has been the cause of a great anti-dogmatic revolution.  And Pope Benedict is on their side, they say!

Continue reading

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.

I’m Dreaming of a White Propaganda

A distinction can be made between white and black propaganda.  White propaganda is basically an informercial.  You know someone is trying to sell you something and that they are going to spin the presentation in the interests of their sale.  Black propaganda, on the other hand, is false information from a source that pretends to be friendly but is actually hostile.

Leave it to the traditionalists to exploit Christmas for their anticonciliar views.  At least no one can fault them in this for a lack of transparency.

Bishop Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X promulgated a Christmas pastoral that impresses upon the faithful why the mystery of Christmas reveals to us the evils of the Second Vatican Council.  Merry Christmas everyone!

The King of peace, Rex pacificus. Here we would like to elaborate somewhat on this truth, which is so to speak at the heart of the crisis that is shaking the Church and affects the relations of the Society of St. Pius X with the Holy See.

Indeed, it seems to us that the basis for the current problem can be summed up as a loss of faith in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! Of course many people protest that they believe that Jesus is God, but very few are ready to draw the practical consequences of that truth which will manifest itself in the sight of the whole world at the end of time.

Our Lord is the Head of the Church. But since He willed that His Church should be visible, after His ascension into heaven, He gave her a visible head, who is His Vicar on earth, Peter and his successors…. To him alone did Our Lord give the power to feed the sheep and the lambs, he alone has full, sovereign, and immediate authority over each and every member of the Church. That is why the Church has always proclaimed herself to be a monarchy, governed by one man. Certainly, the human character of government makes it quite understandable to seek counsel and the advice of wise persons, but a form of democracy imported into the Church by collegiality and by the parliamentary parody of bishops’ conferences allows all sorts of abuses and subjects to group pressure the decrees of Divine Law that declare that each diocese has only one head, the bishop of the locality.

Authority today is seriously shaken, not only outside, through the litigation of secular leaders who claim a share in government, but also within the Church, through the addition of a number of councils and commissions which, in today’s atmosphere, prevent the just exercise of the authority delegated by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The really unfortunate thing is that these kinds of ideas are gaining currency among those who are ostensibly “regular” and openly supportive of the present occupant of the Chair of St. Peter, as though Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity was a question rather than an answer.  Collegiality is anathema to the traditionalists because theirs is an elitist way of life in which the few have control over every aspect of the lives of the many.  “Who cares what the pope or an ecumenical council says if it does not confirm our airtight system of ideas?”

It is funny how everything, and I mean everything, points to the same conclusion, that the poor plebs in the pews should have more trust in Bishop Fellay than they should in Pope Benedict.  Aren’t you amazed that this little kernel of gold was hidden in the manger of Bethlehem?

It was news to me too.