Concerning Recent Reports from the Blogosphere on the State of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate

The first point to be made is that the sources for recent the “reports,” are not responsible news outlets but bloggers, all of them, except one, are pseudonymous or anonymous. They have provided no evidence, that is, they have made purely hearsay allegations, or otherwise claimed to have “evidence” from which they have quoted excerpts without producing the document or its context. All the sources for these reports are clearly biased against the Commissioner and the Holy See and the bloggers in question are working in concert (Rorate Caeli and Correspondenza Romana, for example, regularly repeat and support each other’s reports).

Again, no reputable news outlet has taken responsibility for such “reports.” As far as I know—at least in the English-speaking world—no responsible news outlet has even repeated these stories emerging from the blogosphere. Please consider that when real journalists publish information from anonymous sources, the reporter takes personal responsibility with his real name, and the organization attempts to confirm the information by evidential reporting of independent sources. Nothing like this has ever been attempted by these bloggers. On the contrary, as already mentioned, there is an incestuous relationship between the various bloggers and their sources, and there has also been the habitual refusal to accept personal accountability for the damaging information that has been released. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

Prophecy and the FI

This post is tangential to my mysticism series (1 & 2). It is an aid to understanding why I am writing on the subject, as well as a practical application of the principles I have been working with.

Prophecy

Prophecy has always existed in the Church in one form or another. Like all the charisms, when prophecy is authentic it is an aid to the magisterium’s role to sanctify, teach and govern.  Prophecy requires the careful discernment of the Church, especially when it takes the form of an apparent special revelation from God or the foretelling of the future. Since the death of the last Apostle, prophecy belongs to the category of private revelation.

There also less extraordinary ways in which the spirit of prophecy may manifest itself, such as the influence that the charism of a religious institute may have on the historical circumstances in which it is given. This too is subject to the discernment of the Church. Continue reading

Declaration about Some Recent Facts

Having learned of the online petition organized by the website of the Association “Corrispondenza Romana” in order to gather signatures to be presented to the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life against the Decree of 11 July 2013 (Prot. 52741/2012), after having already expressed its position several times and after having released the official communication of its Father Founder, the Religious Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate REAFFIRMS its obedience to the dispositions of the Holy Father, DECLARES that it will have NOTHING TO DO with the initiative of the aforesaid website or any like initiative, past or future, REJECTS any attempt to use a matter internal to the Institute to attack the Pope and the Catholic Hierarchy, and APPEALS TO ALL to maintain SILENCE, RESPECT AND PRAYER regarding the matter, in order to allow the competent authorities to carry out their task in peace for the good of the Church and of the Institute.

In Corde Matris
Fr. Rosario M. Sammarco, fi
Encharged of the Institutional Website of the Franciscans Friars of the Immaculate

Second Guessing the Conclave Before It Happens

This brings us to a short meditation on our current pre-Conclave period. That there are in some sense factions among contemporary cardinals is clear. Tension among these factions ought to be quite intense, given the fact that the road that the Church will tread will be very different depending upon which of three possible “parties” comes out of the Conclave victorious: one that will follow Pope Benedict XVI’s lead, but perhaps more consistently brake the Revolution within the Church and ultimately realize that it must reverse it entirely; one that will more openly and enthusiastically join in the dismantling of the pitiful remains of Catholic Christendom; or one that will continue mindlessly to smile and praise the “fruits of the Council” as the Mystical Body of Christ is mocked, outraged, and reduced to utter impotence.

Dr. John Rao

Dr. Rao’s assessment is a good summary of the traditionalist/crypto-traditionalist habit of mind.  As a writer for The Remnant, he can hardly be characterized as a crypto-traditionalist, but I believe his tripartite division of the partisanship within the conclave betrays the evangelical bent of the crypto-traditionalists.  It is a bit of having it both ways in the interests of “conversion.”

So, according to Dr. Rao the three parties of the conclave are as follows:

  1. Party of Pope Benedict on Steroids
  2. Party of Modernist Dismantlers
  3. Party of Conciliar Disaster Denial

Rao and the crypto-traditionalists would have us believe that they are on the side of Pope Benedict, who they claim agrees with them in principle, but for one reason or another (lack of moral fortitude, blackmail from the homosexual cabal, fear of the Jews or whatever) has not found himself able to follow through with his own beliefs.

But this is where Rao wants to have it both ways.  The crypto-trads wave the Holy Father’s flag when it suits them.  Rao claims to be following “Pope Benedict’s lead,” but with perhaps with “more consistency” than the Pope himself.  Under the banner of the Holy Father and against those who wish to see the Second Vatican Council implemented properly, Rao hopes to stop the Revolution which is the Council and turn back the clock. This we are told is, in principle, the position of Pope Benedict, which he has not been able to apply consistently.

But more transparent traditionalists would say that this is just silly, because clearly the Holy Father has not abandoned his support of the Council at very fundamental levels of principle.  Take, for example, Pope Benedict’s most recent defense of interreligious dialogue, which traditionalists claim is undeniably contradictory to the position laid out by Pius XI in Moralium Animos.  Likewise, in his last substantive address on the matter of Vatican II, the Holy Father renewed his defense of the hermeneutic of continuity, which is hardly something that the traditionalists, such as Professor Roberto de Mattei, to whom Rao refers, except.  I wonder how far Dr. Rao will go to follow the following “lead” of Pope Benedict XVI:

It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force. And it is our task, especially in this Year of Faith, on the basis of this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, be accomplished and the Church be truly renewed.

If Dr. Rao were not trying to engage of boilerplate traditionalist propaganda he would more logically realize that there are actually four parties in the conclave to be reckoned with:

  1. Party of Benedict XVI’s Hermeneutic of Continuity in Reform
  2. Party of Trad/Crypto-Trad Counter-Revolution
  3. Party of Modernist Dismantlers
  4. Party of Conciliar Disaster Denial

In actuality, I believe the fourth party is rather small.  Rao tries to invoke Pope Benedict as his leader and places the hermeneutic of continuity in the Party of Conciliar Disaster Denial because that is what the propaganda requires.  The moment the traditionalists admit that the current situation is more complex than they imagine, and thus, that the solution is more nuanced, is the moment that their show is over.  In all actuality, those who are neither modernists or traditionalists are quite willing to engage in the reform of the reform.  They just wish to do in on the basis of the sound principles laid down by the Council and taught by the postconcilar popes. Continue reading

In the Hands of God: Updated

The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain,” to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength.

Benedict XVI, February 24, 2013

These words from the Holy Father rise above the confusion of the media feeding frenzy, tearing into every rumor, conspiracy theory and rash judgment about his abdication.  I am not so naive as to think that the media circus should be surprising, nor am I scandalized that men should speak the sincere convictions concerning this matter.  But there are risks involved in all of it. Continue reading

The Postconciliar Moment

I wrote the following article shortly after the beginning of the new year.  At the time I was not sure what I wanted to do with it, but now, in the light of the negative responses to the Holy Father’s abdication, I think it is time for me to put it out.

Rather than revise it in the light of the recent events,  I am just going to leave it the way it is. It is long, but it provides significant research into crypto-traditionalism and why it is a pernicious problem that needs to be called out.

NB:  The links to the endnotes are not functioning at the moment.  I will try to fix them.

The Postconciliar Moment

The Year of Faith provides a backdrop for recent developments regarding the hoped for regularization of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) and the ongoing controversy concerning the Second Vatican Council.  Not only have questions been raised about the doctrinal value of the Council itself, but also of what position Pope Benedict has taken on the matter of the Council’s continuity with Tradition.  I contend that those who denigrate the Council because they find major parts of it to be in rupture with Tradition do so along ideological linesand are therefore compelled either to publicly disagree with the Holy Father or to cherry-pick from his teaching.

Year of Faith

This Year of Faith, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, might be characterized as the postconciliar moment.  We are beneficiaries of both the patrimony of the conciliar texts and a very problematic postconciliar implementation of them.  We have witnessed extremes of all kinds, but mostly those of the progressive wing.  All the while, the postconciliar popes have been patiently and consistently working to restore the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council to both Tradition and legitimate progress.  In a particular way, Pope Benedict has made it his task to bring about a reconciliation with our past, without, however, backing away from the legitimate aspirations of the Council indicated in its actual texts.[1]

I believe the Year of Faith may be the postconciliar moment for two reasons:  First, we are witnessing a very definite shift from progressivism to traditionalism.  This has been occurring for some time, but is now plainly evident.  Progressivism is slowly growing out of fashion and the trend, at least in some circles, is moving definitely toward traditionalism. Continue reading

Traditionalist Sleight of Hand

Recently within certain circles a debate has arisen as to whether the Second Vatican Council is actually in continuity with sacred Tradition.  The debate stems from an address given by Pope Benedict to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005, in which he spoke famously of the “hermeneutic of continuity.”  It is contended by some that at that time the Holy Father actually invited the debate.

In that address the Holy Father rejected the modernist idea that the Council was a kind of constitutional convention that changed the nature of the Church, and that the actual texts of the Council were compromises between conservatives and liberals, which had to be interpreted according to their innovative spirit.  (This is the origin of the amorphous “spirit of Vatican II”.)  This notion constitutes the “hermeneutic of rupture,” and is corrected by the “hermeneutic of continuity,” which simply means that the Second Vatican Council is not a break from Tradition, but a pastoral adaptation of the perennial principles of Apostolic Tradition according to the circumstances of our times.  The starting point is that the Council must be interpreted in continuity with the Church’s perennial dogmatic teaching.  It should be noted that traditionalists accept the modernist interpretation of the Council, that is, both modernists and traditionalists hold that the Council is a break with Tradition.  Modernists do so because they do not believe in objective revelation; traditionalists because they believe that the Council betrayed objective revelation.

In this post I am following up on my “White Propaganda” contribution that generated a few comments about this debate.  It seems that the work of the Holy See to regularize the Society of St. Pius X has had the effect of lending a certain amount of credibility to anticonciliar intuitions, and that given the Holy See’s openness to the return of the SSPX, the Holy Father himself must share some of these sympathies.  I will address these contentions more directly in my next post.  In this one I merely wish to refute the contention that back in 2005 Pope Benedict invited this debate.

This exercise in the art of illusion consists in a cunning interpretation of the pope’s exhortation in his December 22, 2005, address to the Roman Curia:

There is no doubt that the wearing dispute between modern reason and the Christian faith, which had begun negatively with the Galileo case, went through many phases, but with the Second Vatican Council the time came when broad new thinking was required.

Its content was certainly only roughly traced in the conciliar texts, but this determined its essential direction, so that the dialogue between reason and faith, particularly important today, found its bearings on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.

This dialogue must now be developed with great openmindedness but also with that clear discernment that the world rightly expects of us in this very moment. Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council:  if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.

If one reads this plainly but carefully he will see that the Holy Father is stating something very simple and very pro-Vatcian II:  The modern conflict between faith and reason culminated at the time of the Council in the need for “broad new thinking.”  The conciliar texts went a long way to accomplish this, but the development of this thinking continues as a “dialogue between reason and faith,” established on the basis of the Council.  This dialogue between faith and reason, roughly outlined by the Council, must continue and be “developed” with “openmindedness,” but also with clear discernment.  But it is certainly the Second Vatican Council, interpreted and implemented, “guided by the right hermeneutic,” (the hermeneutic of continuity) that is at the heart of the “ever necessary renewal of the Church.”

So how does this observation that that the dialogue between faith and reason must continue on the basis of the Council, rightly interpreted according the hermeneutic of continuity, become an “invitation to debate” the very possibility of interpreting the Council according to a hermeneutic of continuity?  It is academic sleight of hand, fast-talking lawyering.  See, for example, Roberto De Mattei, “A Council Can Also Make Mistakes”:

The speech to the Roman curia by Benedict XVI on December 22, 2005, opened a debate on Vatican Council II as exemplified recently by the books of Msgr. Brunero Gherardini and the important conference of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, held in Rome between December 16 and 18, 2010, in addition to my study “Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta [Vatican Council II. A history never written]” (Lindau, Torino 2010).

The pope’s call to interpret the documents of Vatican II according to a “hermeneutic of continuity” has in fact offered a decisive stimulus to developing the debate on the Council in a manner different from that of the “school of Bologna,” which has presented it in terms of fracture and discontinuity with the bimillennial tradition of the Church.

At first glance, De Mattei seems to be supporting the hermeneutic of continuity against “the School of Bologna.” But a careful reading indicates otherwise.  He says that the pope’s call for interpretation of the Council according to a hermeneutic of continuity “has in fact offered a decisive stimulus to developing the debate on the Council in a manner different from the “school of Bologna” (emphasis mine).  He actually says nothing in support of the hermeneutic of continuity.  The “school of Bologna” is the Italian theological school of the progressive “spirit of Vatican II,” and De Mattei says that papal assertion of the hermeneutic of continuity is invitation to oppose the progressivists of that school (as though it was not something acceptable to do before hand).  Is he suggesting that there is no middle way between the school of Bologna and the school of De Mattei?  The pope does not appear to be supporting either the progressivist or the traditionalist school.

What is clear is that De Mattei further uses the observation of the Holy Father, that the dialogue of reason and faith guided by the right interpretation of the Council should continue, as a pretext to challenge the “hermeneutic of continuity” itself.  De Mattei’s reference to Monsignor Brunero Gherardini as being at the forefront of the debate “opened” by the papal address of December 22, 2005, makes his intentions clear, as Gherardini expressly and repeatedly challenges the possibility of the hermeneutic of continuity.  In fact, Basil Valuet in “Perché non sono d’accordo con Gherardini, De Mattei, Rhonheimer” charges Gherardini with rejecting “some formal teachings of Vatican II (“Lumen Gentium” [LG], “Nostra Aetate”, “Gaudium et Spes” [GS] and “Dignitatis Humanae” [DH]).”  At the same time, Valuet sees that De Mattei is not simply countering the position of the School of Bologna, but uses a faulty historical analysis to support Gherardini’s thesis that one must follow Tradition before the magisterium.

Indeed, later on in “A Council Can Also Make Mistakes” De Mattei states the following:

The criticism of Marchetto and Introvigne seems to have a single purpose: to close off preemptively that debate which Benedict XVI has opened with an invitation to develop it. […]

Marchetto and Introvigne criticize De Mattei for challenging the hermeneutic of continuity itself.  De Mattei thinks the pope welcomes a challenge to his interpretation of the Council and De Mattei does so on the basis of a specious interpretation of the pope’s statement.

Unfortunately, it now is just generally assumed by the anticonciliar enthusiasts that the pope really did invite theologians, historians, bloggers and armchair prognosticators to challenge him on the very existence and possibility of interpreting the Second Vatican Council according to a hermeneutic of continuity.

Note that the question answered here is not whether the traditionalists are right in challenging the hermeneutic of continuity.  That will be answered in the next post. The question here is simply whether the Holy Father has really invited or encouraged the debate over the possibility of an interpretation of the Council based on a hermeneutic of continuity.  He has not.