First Things: on Lefebvre and schism

As a follow up to my comments on schism in another entry, I found this in the blog of First Things (my emphasis):

I will take up this distinction a bit further below, but I first need to take up the case of Lefebvrism, which can perhaps illuminate my point better than I have so far been able to do. On that issue, I see no substantive difference between myself and Stephen Barr, as he too declines to tar them with the charge of heresy, and for reasons he too can’t quite put into words. For those like me and Dr. Barr, who don’t quite know how to categorize Lefebvrism, Pope John Paul II comes to our rescue here. In his officially promulgated Apostolic Letter, Ecclesia Dei, given on the occasion of Archbishop Lefebvre’s unlawful and schismatic ordination of four bishops on June 29, 1988, in Écone, Switzerland, the pope magisterially declares:

The root of this schismatic act can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition. Incomplete, because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of Tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, “comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on.” (Emphases in the original.)

Ironically, it is out of precisely that defective understanding that the Lefebvrists were led to accuse the popes of heresy. But their own positive assertions of doctrine are not so much wrong per se (the way Haight’s are) as they are defective. In that regard, there are also many crypto-Lefebvrists inside the Catholic Church, among whom I would include–and their name is legion–any and all self-styled traditionalists who haven’t bothered to learn the tradition they claim to be defending. They take a snapshot, so to speak, of some period of church history and then judge all that follows as heretical.

But history always defeats them; and I mean by that not just the movement of history forward in time but also the study of past history. In a famous observation in his Essay on Development Cardinal Newman said that “To be deep into history is to cease to be a Protestant.” Whether or not he was being fair to the Protestantism of his time, I cannot judge. So let me revise his line for the contemporary intra-Catholic scene: To be deep into history is to cease to be a Lefebvrist, a crypto-Lefebvrist–or a Pitstickian.

Interesting, nicht wahr?

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72 Responses to First Things: on Lefebvre and schism

  1. Well said, Father and it needed saying with your characteristic clarity and bravado. Bravo!

  2. David says:

    Father, I was received into the Church last Easter and I have been quite distressed by what I have seen since I was received. Within a matter of months, dissatisfaction with the way that the “source and summit of Christian life” was celebrated led me to seek out the Traditional Latin Mass.

    However, that has come with a price. To express an interest in the Tridentine Mass in Scotland puts one almost “beyond the pale”. As I said in a previous comment, it was suggested to me that if I am seeking a teaching position in a Catholic school then I should keep this interest “under the radar”.

    So, we have a situation where an attachment to this form of the Mass leads to isolation and a certain suffering. Whether justified or not, we can’t help feeling a certain degree of guilt at our attachment. At some level we feel “out of step” with the Body of the Church – and we suffer. Often this feeling of guilt expresses itself in an extreme position. But, also, this guilt expresses itself in the need to exonerate ourselves to point at others as being the true outsiders – those who should be isolated.

    With all respect and a readiness to admit that I have misjudged your position, I suggest that your warning about “crypto-Lefebvrists” might come from this need to justify your love for the Traditional Mass in the face of an era that has little respect and even some disdian for it.

    I would gladly be corrected in my perception.

  3. stephen says:

    had Vatican II been properly implemented afterwards, we would never have seen the Lefebvrist problem get to where it is. while I have no sympathies for them, we must remember that many of them have been hurt by the craziness we see around us in various diocese. Their attitude is even apparent in traditionalists who are “within” the Church… walking wounded.

  4. charles R. Williams says:

    “your warning about “crypto-Lefebvrists””

    The four main paragraphs of Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s post are all Fr. Oakes – not just the two paragraphs that are inset.

    Here we see what happens when a brilliant man (Fr. Oakes) starts blogging and gets sloppy about what he writes.

    It’s not clear to me if Fr. Oakes is denigrating the traditionalist position or just insulting the least articulate proponents of the traditionalist position.

    The followers of Lefebvre cannot be heretics because they do not reject any “de fide” teaching of the Catholic Church. Disobedient to lawful authority, yes. Schismatic, that’s debatable. Heretic, no.

  5. Cardinal Newman- the whole passage is worth reading.

    I would also contrast the “New Labour” ahistoricism of justifying all things by the “spirit of the Second Vatican Council” as if the past no longer existed.

  6. Gregory: Your message clarifies nothing. The majority of what you quote is irrelevant. No is questioning that SSPX priests are ordained validly, or that a person fulfills his Sunday obligation by going to an SSPX chapel. That is not in question. The subjunctive has nothing to do with whether there is a schism. We all know that people do not incur the censure of excommunication if they have not committed a mortal sin.

    The only thing that is relevant in your rambling citation is the phrase: “TO THE EXTENT that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre [my emphasis, this means it is NOT ipso facto], they are also excommunicated.”

    This, sir, is obvious.

    In the meantime, John Paul II is still on record as saying that what Archbp. Lefebvre did was schismatic. If people adhere to schism, they incur excommunication. I didn’t make that up. It’s canon law. How lay people adhere to schism is unclear. I think it far less fuzzy in the case of clerics. So, Gregory, my head scratching isn’t about you unless you are a cleric of the SSPX.

    I would add only that your consistently abrasive approach to posting on this blog can serve as an object lesson to readers about how people of a certain traditionalist leaning find ways to short-circuit good relationships with priests and bishops who would otherwise have been quite open to their point of view.

  7. Michael says:

    Why is it that the traditionalists who chose to remain fully subject to the authority of the bishops and accept whatever scraps they are thrown are always treated with such disdain, vitriol, and loathing by their fellow Catholics? If they do not have a proper understanding of tradition it is because the Church, itself, fails to teach such. One can begin to understand why the SSPX can exert such appeal on Catholics who have become so weary of the hatefulness with which they are constantly faced and why some Traditionalists even succumb to the temptation to return hatred and contempt for hatred and contempt.

  8. David says:

    The four main paragraphs of Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s post are all Fr. Oakes – not just the two paragraphs that are inset.
    Father, please accept my apologies for misunderstanding your post.

  9. Scott says:

    “It’s canon law. How lay people adhere to schism is unclear.”

    Father, since the letter says that people attending an SSPX Mass are not sinning (given the right intention), mustn’t that mean they are also not committing a schismatic act?

    Scott (who never has and never intends to attend an SSPX Mass, but who wished the motu proprio was instead a modo proprio).

  10. Scott says:

    Afterthought: I suppose instead we could call it the “immoto proprio”.

    :D
    Scott

  11. I know where to find Lefebvrists outside the Church, but I wonder where to look for these fearsome “crypto-Lefebvrists inside the Catholic Church”. Just out of curiosity, I’d like to know what they look like. (Sounds like much ado about little to me; perhaps someone’s attempting to prove bona fides in an inside game that I’m unaware of.)

    No doubt there are schismatics outside the Church, and more heretics inside it. But if I glance around at the congregation at the indult Mass I occasionally attend, I see few if any of either. Instead, vibrant group loyal Catholics, noticeably younger that the average age at the new Masses they and I attend, more actively and consciously engaged in the liturgy than ever seen at a mainstream Sunday Mass, looking with confidence and hope to the future rather than the past. Reverently silent within church except when singing the liturgy with zest, though perhaps a bit noisy outside, lingering for joyous discussion of nuances of faith and worship that ordinary mainstream Catholics rarely talk about in such informal settings with such keen interest and detailed knowledge.

    I certainly hope that (in preparation of his motu proprio) our Holy Father is not as fixated on Lefebvrists, crypto or undiluted, as some here in blogdom. If he were, I’d fear he’d miss the mark as much as some of those here do. In my view, it’s not Lefebvrists inside or outside the Church who need and deserve his protection and redress, but loyal Catholics who have clung to the faith through when so many all about them in the Church, including an appalling number of bishops and priests, not only abandoned their own, but derided and persecuted those whose only offence was to remain faithful.

  12. Leguleius Magnus says:

    As fond as I am of the old liturgy, I have to constantly remind myself that it is not the liturgy that we worship but God that we worship through the litugy. I prefer the old ways, but I have to be careful not to metamorphose my preference into a dogma.

  13. Charles Robertson says:

    The one thing that makes me uncomfortable with the SSPX is their ecclesiology. It seems to me, as I peruse SSPX literature, that they border on a spiritualistic notion of the Church, akin to Protestant ecclesiology. It’s subtle, but I think nonetheless present. Sedevacantists, on the other hand, are modern day Donatists who ought to be suppressed by the state!0;)

  14. Brian says:

    I agree with Charles. SSPX’s ‘eternal Rome’ sounds a lot like Calvin’s Invisible Church. Calvin was Swiss, I wonder if he ever stopped by Econe… just kidding ;)

  15. RBrown says:

    From JPII and Ecclesia Dei:

    The root of this schismatic act can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition. Incomplete, because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of Tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, “comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on.”

    I have no doubt that the SSPX has “an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition”. But, according to the writings of JRatzinger (who considered the new liturgy a break with Catholic Tradition), I suspect the same can be said for those who composed the Novus Ordo and pushed for vernacularization of the liturgy.

  16. Leguleius Magnus says:

    It strikes me that the problems with the new rite stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the liturgy by the “adapters.” The new rite shares the sort of Bauhaus minimalist/functionalist fascination that all of the arts suffered from in the ’60s. Along with that goes a focus on seeing the liturgy as a “teaching moment.” Hence the hideous “Commentator” that was inflicted upon us, the diactic collects telling God what it is that he has done, telling the saints what they did, and telling us what we are supposed to do, and even the more-or-less homiletic preces at Lauds and Vespers.

  17. John Polhamus says:

    Father, I would like to ask something; the end of the Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” defining the dogma of the Assumption, reads thus:

    “48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

    I, PIUS, Bishop of the Catholic Church, have signed, so defining.”

    This was, I believe the last incidence of a Catholic prelate speaking “ex cathedra” in a dogmatically binding way, was it not? In all other utterances, is not the Pope rendering his opinion in a way which remains fallable to one degree or another? My point is, is it not possible that JPII’s conception of the nature of what schism is and is NOT was flawed, or slightly mistaken? I don’t believe that the letter Ecclesia Dei Adflicta has quite the same weight as Munificentissimus Deus. JPII was quite flawed in his decision to allow the Assisi conference to go forward, and there are other examples etc. etc. I do believe in the sanctity of the man, but I do not believe that the SSPX situation is as “defined” as the dogma of the Assumption. Given the recent statements such as that the situation with the SSPX is “not exactly a schism” and others over the years, JPII might just have been lacking a little as a cannonist, might he not? Perhaps he simply got bad advice from his curia. We shall see what revision his statement undergoes in the next few months…I hope.

    Father, I work in an American parish where the word “tradition” is held up as a virtue to be cultivated assiduously within the family. Yet this is the same parish where the Precious Blood is spilled on the sanctuary carpet without anyone doing anything about it; a parish where the faithful are told to extend their hands and echo the phrases of the preface and other prayers; a parish where women are likened during sermons to the “priestess of the household”; where children boys AND girls are brought around the altar during the consecration, extending their hands like future priests and priestesses in mock consecration. Is this Catholic Tradition? Is this Tradition? Is this even Catholic?

    Conversely, I served for four years as my local indult community’s choir director; I have done manifold service leading chant choirs for LMS masses in London and the English hinterlands; I have seen Pontifical High Mass in Chartres Cathedral, and wept during the tridentine Holy Week in Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, London, a small and humble inner city sanctuary, but Chartres to me for the fullness of Catholic identity it restored to me, who as a child of the Vatican II Blight had felt it, but had never truly known it.

    I have even assisted musically for the SSPX once, when they asked me to, and was happy to do it, in charity. Strangely, I didn’t feel myself in the presence of schism, at least not to any greater degree than I do in my novus ordo parish, and none of it, if there was any, expressed objectivelly; unlike the church in which I work, but which I frequently have to admit is far from my own. Not always, but definately sometimes.

    Does that make me a crypto-Lefebvrist? If it does, I take it as a compliment relative to the best of them. Rather, I think it makes me a conscientious Catholic who, based on the experiences afforded him has understood that there are lessons from the past that the present church needs to apply to its future. We’ll debate the nature of time on another occaision, but to seek a better state of things from a past which was decidedly healthier than the present, is no sin, no heresy. There is no going back in time, but the present can manifest the past, or aspects of it. Isn’t that what the Holy Mass does, exactly?

    To sum up, personally I find alot less to worry about from the SSPX than from the version of the church in which I find myself on a regular basis. Where lies the clergy’s antipathy? “A bishop of such sympathies might be to rigorous; they might make my ecumenical relations difficult; they might tell me what to do!!” What exactly is there to FEAR from the SSPX? I would also like to remind you and everyone else that the arguments concerning tradition CONCERN ALOT MORE PEOPLE THAN JUST THE SSPX AND FRANCE. (My bolding, since I can’t italicize here.) Someone needs to remind the Holy Father about that. If they haven’t, would you be so kind, Fr. Z? Has he thought much about Roger Mahoney lately? There’s alot of corrective work in France, and everywhere that the presence of the SSPX will help to correct. In longing for such correction is no lack. The church must improve itself, or face some dire consequences.

  18. RBrown says:

    I don’t consider the preces to be liturgy, and therefore they are not part of the Office. Of course, anyone who doesn’t read them will miss this gem: Concede nobis hodie neminem umquam contristare–omnes autem, qui nobiscum sunt laetificare. Dio mio! Talk about a direct confrontation with the Redemption!

    Ditto for the bidding prayers at mass.

    Those who were responsible for the new liturgy were more interested in the Community of Man than the Church of Christ. And so the Eucharistic liturgy became more of a Peace Treaty between the sheep and the wolves (with various doctrinal distinctions suppressed) rather than the re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice.

  19. Leguleius Magnus says:

    I should have recalled the hoary dictum that all generalizations are false.

  20. Woody Jones says:

    Just a few questions here:

    1) Is it so certain that a “schismatic act” as referred to in ED and elsewhere is an act of formal schism or may it refer to an act of material schism? Was this not in fact the distinction that seemed to be drawn in some of the ED letters referred to earlier, and Card. Castrillon’s interview in “30 Days”?

    2) Is it proper to infer from the “practical effect” of an act the state of mind of the actor? Especially when he says his state of mind is something opposite to what is inferred?

    3) Is it really right that all of these issues should be subsumed into questions of discipline? I note the following from “Beyond Vatican II” by Fr. Claude Barthe: “The members of the hierarchy have noted that teaching which binds or looses for eternity has become incomprehensible for our epoch, attached as it is to individual freedom as a founding principle, liberty that prohibits the very notion of irrevocability. But since they try all the same to obtain adherence in doctrinal questions, they can only do so in the name of disciplinary obedience and no longer in the name of obedience to the Faith.”

  21. Dan Hunter says:

    If His Eminence Cardinal Hoyos says that those who priests and congregants of the SSPX are not in schism at this time,it’s good enough for me.
    God bless you Father.

  22. RBrown says:

    This was, I believe the last incidence of a Catholic prelate speaking “ex cathedra” in a dogmatically binding way, was it not? In all other utterances, is not the Pope rendering his opinion in a way which remains fallable to one degree or another? My point is, is it not possible that JPII’s conception of the nature of what schism is and is NOT was flawed, or slightly mistaken? I don’t believe that the letter Ecclesia Dei Adflicta has quite the same weight as Munificentissimus Deus. JPII was quite flawed in his decision to allow the Assisi conference to go forward, and there are other examples etc. etc. I do believe in the sanctity of the man, but I do not believe that the SSPX situation is as “defined” as the dogma of the Assumption. Given the recent statements such as that the situation with the SSPX is “not exactly a schism” and others over the years, JPII might just have been lacking a little as a cannonist, might he not? Perhaps he simply got bad advice from his curia. We shall see what revision his statement undergoes in the next few months…I hope.

    Munificentissimus Deus is the last time a Pope defined a new dogma, but it is not the last time the pope acted infallibly.

    Schism is the withdrawal of submission to the pope. In so far as the LeFebvrist consecration of bishops was against the wishes of the pope, it was obviously a schismatic act.

    But whether someone (or a group) is in schism is a much more complex question.

    It is fairly obvious that Lefebvre’s consecration of bishops was a schismatic act

  23. Woody: “1) Is it so certain that a “schismatic act” as referred to in ED and elsewhere is an act of formal schism or may it refer to an act of material schism?”

    Nothing is certain about this whole thing. It would be good to have something authoritative.

    Part of the issue is that a person does not incur a censure if he doesn’t commit a mortal sin in the act. I have even heard it argued that if the late Archbp. Lefevbre was senile or emotionally overburdened because of those around him, then perhaps he, not being in his right mind at the time of the consecrations, he did not incur the excommunication. Personally, I don’t buy that, but it underscores the connection between sin and the censures.

    In any event, I am all for having this whole thing resolved with a Motu Proprio and a new concrete initiative with those who are separated (to whatever degree).

  24. John says:

    I am confused. I suspect I am not alone. Father, what is the difference between a Cardinal Archbishop who fosters, nay, enforces liturgical and theological deviations from the norms, and between a run-of-the-mill crypto-Lefebrists canonlaw-wise? Are they equally liable to criticism ornot? Why or why not?

  25. Jordan Potter says:

    Dan said: “If His Eminence Cardinal Hoyos says that those who priests and congregants of the SSPX are not in schism at this time,it’s good enough for me.”

    But not good enough for me, since he is only speaking for himself, not for the church. It seems quite a lot of other bishops disagree with him.

    As for whether or not Archbishop Lefebvre’s act was formally schismatic or materially schismatic, if it weren’t a formally schismatic act, then the Pope would not have issued a decree announcing the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishop he had illicitly ordained. What Archbishop Lefebvre did is obviously in violation of canon law, and the Pope said so. Therefore, formal schism, not just material schism.

  26. John: “Father, what is the difference between a Cardinal Archbishop who fosters, nay, enforces liturgical and theological deviations from the norms, and between a run-of-the-mill crypto-Lefebrists canonlaw-wise?”

    You get the gold star for the day, I think. This might have been something of the point of the comment about “crypto-Lebvrists”.

    You can go into the ditch on either side of the road, right or left: either way… you are in a ditch.

    There are those who criticize the Holy Father on both sides.

    On a more amusing note, I recall Card. George telling Bp. Trautman during a USCCB meeting that to argue in favor of bad ICEL translations just because they are 35 years in use now (Oooo! 35 years!) was like a “Lefebvrism of the left”.

  27. John Polhamus says:

    Father: And here we are. Not ten posts later, and it boils down to Burger King syndrome, or to parley vous, “Le Roi de Burger” syndrome: i.e. “have it your way,” to echo their old add campaigne. I don’t remember the old mass from my childhood, but I do remember that! So what’s the point in trying to define the undefinable, undefinable that is, until Rome decides to RULE on the matter, which they haven’t done and seem unwilling to do. Ruling…reigning…same thing, same lack. Does not the Papal refusal to administer the authority incumbent upon the office constitute a materially schismatic act in itself, one that the Papacy has allowed itself to perpetuate for forty years now? Come on, this is all sophistry. The man in the pew deserves better, and knows better too. He can see when the Emporer (Holy Roman or otherwise) has no clothes.

  28. John Polhamus: “Does not the Papal refusal to administer the authority incumbent upon the office constitute a materially schismatic act in itself, one that the Papacy has allowed itself to perpetuate for forty years now?”

    No. It doesn’t.

    “Come on, this is all sophistry. The man in the pew deserves better, and knows better too. He can see when the Emporer (Holy Roman or otherwise) has no clothes.

    No, it is not sophistry. It is simply something you don’t understand. You want things to be one way, but they are another. This chaffs and is frustrating for you and many many others.

    The man in the pew does not determine how the Universal Church is governed. Christ had another plan.

  29. John says:

    Thank you Father for the clarification. I too remember the Cardinal George come-back and think it was a wonderful remark by a pretty remarkable Cardinal.

  30. Dan Hunter says:

    Yes Father the man in the pew does deserve better.Respect for our priesthood demands that every aspect of the liturgy support us in that same priesthood,otherwise we die.
    God bless you.

  31. Jon says:

    Father,

    In the end, I don’t think the issue for us here in the pews is the distinction as to whether the Society as a whole in schism, if the schism is confined to the bishops, or personally to Bishop Lefebvre in ordaining them without papal mandate. I trust the Holy Father will delicately work out those details in the coming days. More importantly the issue for us is where to ultimately place Bishop Lefebvre and the Society in our private and public pantheon.

    I think it’s crystal clear that without the intransigence of Archbishop Lefebvre, the Traditional Mass would’ve disappeared down the black hole of history, leaving us with the universal victory of the Marini rite. Had Lefebvre accepted Cardinal Ratzinger’s protocol in 1988, would the Society now be in a place where its status offers to effect a restoration throughout the entire Church? I don’t know. However to my eyes his action is ultimately responsible not only for the 1962 Mass I assist at each week, but for the reform of the reform as well. Without Lefebvre I suspect the Church would’ve continued in freefall, and would never have been pushed at her highest levels to re-examine her path and that hermeneutic of continuity.

    Our institutions are rife with heroes of clay feet, good man behaving badly, great men who were not at times above childish self-importance and even betrayal. I think of Churchill’s petulancy, of Washington’s pedantry, of Jefferson’s skulduggery with regard to Washington, a man who thought him a son. The Church herself has not been immune. We have saints who suffered opprobrium at the hands of other saints, popes who suffered calumny justly and unjustly at the hands of saints, and saints who suffered horribly at the hands of their shepherds. It’s all part of the human package, and in the end it all comes out in the eternal wash.

    For my money, if Pope Benedict takes the action we all think he will take, 500 years from now Archbishop Lefebvre will be remembered as the man who saved the Mass and the Church, and his actions and words simply those of desperation, being the mark of clay at his heel.

    Thoughts?

  32. Dan Hunter says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,
    on the Rorate Caeli Website His Eminence Cardinal Hoyos says,The bishops priests and faithful of the sspx are not schismatic”.
    Please correct me if I am wrong but is what he is saying against what Pope Benedict says.
    Is the Cardinal stating the truth, or a lie.
    God bless you.

  33. Paul says:

    Fr. Z,

    “The man in the pew does not determine how the Universal Church is governed. Christ had another plan.”

    I know this statement certainly fits me. However, it does bring another question, how has governance of the Universal Church changed and, if yes, why? So many people point to all of the changes in the post-VII era and conclude that governance is dramatically different – but is it really? I honestly have no clue. What about over the last 100 years since St. Pius X?

    Father, if you have the time and/or inclination, I would appreciate hearing your cogent thoughts on this. Thanks.

  34. John Polhamus says:

    Dearest Father: How emminantly patronizing you are, redolent with Clericalism (of which I’m generally in favour!) “Yew simply dewnt understahnd theese theeings.” Please. It’s not a question of “how I want it,” it’s a question of what works and what doesn’t; what has the Holy Spirit in it, and what has the spirit of the world in it. Besides, didn’t St. Paul say that in the letter of the law lay death, and in the spirit of it, life? The SSPX have always acted in the spirit of the law, if not to the letter of it. They got impugned for it, that’s all. One doesn’t have to be a canon lawyer to know that when something’s called black one day, grey the next, and downy-white the next, that there’s been a volta-face. I THINK that means “about-face” but I may have misread my book of latin tags. I’m onwee thwee-and-a-half yearth old!

  35. Dan: This blog also reports that is what Card. Castrillón said.

    “Is the Cardinal stating the truth, or a lie.”

    Why does this have to be a matter of “lying”? Why even bring up that category? That simply charges the conversation with an element that creates more heat than light.

    No one questions that His Eminence truly said those things. No one questions that he really meant what he said! We don’t know if Pope Benedict told him to say these things. We don’t know anything other than what he said to a newspaper, which is not an instrument of the Holy See.

    What His Eminence says to a newspaper has no juridical effect whatsoever.

  36. Brian Jilka says:

    Certainly the status of an individual is quite difficult to grasp. However, one only need look to their web site (www.sspx.org) to see that the Society as a whole seems to be on shaky ground.

    Reading a few of the articles they have posted regarding the FSSP and the Novus Ordo, it appears to be a wholesale rejection of the legitimate authority of the Church to regulate the liturgy and other matters. The central theme is a rejection of just about anything which acknowledges that authority, such as the FSSP.

    I certainly don’t believe that what we have today is what the Council Fathers intended, and I prefer the old liturgy, but it is certainly within the legitimate authority of the Church to change her rites, even if doing so results in a strong departure from over 1000 years of liturgical tradition.

  37. John Polhamus: What I wrote to you has nothing of the clericalism you imply.

    The plain fact is you don’t understand. Period. No one does apparently.

    There have been no official statements of proper ecclesiastical authority or any of the Church’s tribunals after a proper cause. There are many conflicting opinions. There are tangled questions of canon law real experts disagree about.

    But here come people on a blog, resolving everything.

    It’s not a question of “how I want it,” it’s a question of what works and what doesn’t;

    From what I have read, I think it is a question of what you like and what you don’t.

  38. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Brian, That is also the feeling I get about SSPX. They seem to want the church to reject VII virtually in toto, and, of course, that is not going to be done. I believe that Il Cardinale in his interview makes clear that reconciliation means that SSPX will have to accept the “sanctity” of the Novus Ordo. I may be too much of a pessimist, but I don’t see that happening.

  39. Dan Hunter says:

    Father,
    I do not like going to mass every week,but I have to.It is not about what I like it is what God likes.
    So to me it is not a matter of stumping about what I like or dislike.The matter to me is confusion.
    Why on one hand does one hear that the SSPX priests and bishops are in schism and the the director of the Ecclesia Dei commision says that they are not.
    I was not trying to shed heat on this subject,Father,Iam just trying to enlighten myself.
    You hear so many differing statements made even within the One,Holy,Catholic,Apostolic Church.

  40. Woody Jones says:

    Jordan: “As for whether or not Archbishop Lefebvre’s act was formally schismatic or materially schismatic, if it weren’t a formally schismatic act, then the Pope would not have issued a decree announcing the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishop he had illicitly ordained. What Archbishop Lefebvre did is obviously in violation of canon law, and the Pope said so. Therefore, formal schism, not just material schism.”

    The canonical penalty imposed against Abp Lefebvre was, as I recall, under the following provision of the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

    “Can. 1382 A bishop who consecrates some one a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.”

    Interestingly, as I recall, this penalty was not in the original 1917 Code but was added in around 1954 in response to the impending consecration of bishops by the so-called Chniese Patriotic Church. A somewhat ironic fact, one would think, now.

    Schism is dealt with as follows:

    Canon 751 defines “schism” as follows: ” schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

    The penalty for schism is set forth in Can. 1364 §1. “Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication;…”

    The point of this is that an excommunication by itself does not define the person suffering the penalty as a schismatic. To conclude that someone is a schismatic (if it were to be thought not rash for any of us not in a canonical forum to do so) one would have to refer to the specific provisions of the Code that deal with schism.

    I would also note for the record that the Navarre/McGill commentary on the 1983 Code reminds us that excommunication does not in itself constitute removal from the Church. This seems to be opposed to the earlier understanding of this penalty, in which there were two types of excomunnication, differentiated by whether the excommunicand was to be “shunned” or not. Now it seems the penalty is viewed as medicinal in nature. Not to say that “shunning” does not still go on, but one does have to wonder about the wisdom or, for that matter, the charity, of that practice now.

  41. Dan: “You hear so many differing statements made even within the One,Holy,Catholic,Apostolic Church.”

    Imagine how bad it is for Protestants, who have no authority to guide them.

    Dan, it sure would be nice to have some clarity on this from Pope Benedict XVI himself, wouldn’t it? I sure look forward to that.

  42. John Polhamus says:

    Father: do lets not quarrel! I agree with you, no one understands the situation, and that includes the man who thought he accurately addressed it in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, JPII. He clearly didn’t, or we wouldn’t be experiencing the evolving situation we’re having now, since the SSPX’s position hasn’t changed an iota. By the way, how exactly do you think I “want it?” Perhaps you could elaborate for me. You may know better than I do!

    Leguleius: I think that it is incumbent upon the Novus Ordo to prove its sanctity to tradition, not the other way around. And I mean that on the general level, not the specific one. The Oratory in London, specific papal masses, masses that I have personally been involved with which were celebrated Novus Ordo, ad orientem, with chant, in Latin (no shortcuts!), masses said by priests whose minds are well known and whose orthodoxy is above suspicion, these are all good examples of the Novus Ordo beyond reproach. Sure it’s possible. But these are the exception, not the rule. The SSPX’s main problem with the NO stems from the fact that it is susceptable to subjectivity on the part of the celebrant. There are other grounds, but questions of validity stem from that point. This IS a problem, but it’s ours (in the modern church) not theirs. What do you think?

  43. John Polhamus” “I agree with you, no one understands the situation, and that includes the man who thought he accurately addressed it in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, JPII. He clearly didn’t, or we wouldn’t be experiencing the evolving situation we’re having now, since the SSPX’s position hasn’t changed an iota.”

    I think John Paul II, the legislator, understood the situation quite well. He had asked, nearly begged Lefebvre not to do what he was about to do. He found himself dealing with a bishop who ignored the Apostolic See and refused to obey not only the law, but also personal appeals and then sterner warnings. He understood that he was dealing with a man who refused to submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff. That is pretty easy to understand.

    Still, hindsight is 20/20. It is a lot easier for us to snipe from our vantage point many years later and say, “Well, if he had only done THIS, things would not be so bad.”

    To which I respond, “Oh yah? They might be worse yet.”

  44. Leguleius Magnus says:

    John, I am fortunate in that I belong to a Mercedarian parish, where the 10:00 am each Sunday is celebrated in Latin, ad orientem, with Gregorian chant ordinary and propers. I still prefer the Old Way. I have no problem at all with SSPX’s condemnation of the flagrantly aliturgical excesses that one sees all over the place in the new rite. I have no problem with their criticism of the basic banality of the NO itself. It seems to me, however, that their criticism extends to the substance of the Novus Ordo, and, indeed, to its validity. My point in my prior posting was that I cannot see them conceding the validity, let alone the sanctity, of the mass of Paul VI even in principle, and from what the cardinal said, I take this to be a condition of reconciliation. That is why I am pessimistic.

  45. Matthew Robinson says:

    Debating whether or not Levefre was excommunicated formally, materially,
    symbolically ect is a fruitful an exercise as 15th Century Catholics debating
    whether or not St. Joan of Arc was excommunicated. She afterall refused to
    obey the Catholic Bishops of France in recanting her Divine calling to start a
    general war against “our friends” the English, and was unjustly murdered by
    these same Bishops as not only a schismatic, but a heretic to boot.

    Gentleman, history and history alone will decide the issue of who was on the
    side of the Catholic Faith.

    One of my favourite figures in Catholic history is Cardinal Collona. A man
    who abandoned the legitimate, but hopelessly ineffectual real Pope, to
    join a “schismatic” conclave which elected, not just one, but two
    successive antipopes (John XXIII and Alexander V). And served as the “papal
    legate” for antipope Alexander V.

    The Catholic heirarchy had messed things up so badly through Avignon, simony,
    political machinations, and flagrant toleration of abuses (a scandal that the
    Church has YET to recover from by the way) that in the end canonized Catholic
    Saints were found among all three factions….Yes, there were three factions
    of Popes at the time…and tithes demanded by all three Popes!

    The only solution to the crisis was a general, and by all accounts, illicit
    Council of Constance, which forced all three Popes to resign.

    The only reason Constance carries any weight as a true ecumenical council
    is that parts of it were confirmed by the outgoing Pope Gregory XII before
    he “abdicated”.

    In the end, history vindicated the “schismatic” Cardinal Colonna, and we
    know him today at Pope Martin V. The first Pope of a reunited Catholic Church.
    (Even though he was a bit of a “bad seed” himself).

    These examples demonstrate that Catholic history is much more complex than
    the “John Paul II We Love You” crowd will ever wish to fathom.

    Ultimately, history will judge whether “Aggiornamento” was but another
    ill-conceived papal policy gone horribly wrong.

    In that case John Paul “the Great” may be found to have been on the wrong side
    of history, regardless of the man’s personal sanctity and achievements.

  46. RBrown says:

    Father: do lets not quarrel! I agree with you, no one understands the situation, and that includes the man who thought he accurately addressed it in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, JPII. He clearly didn’t, or we wouldn’t be experiencing the evolving situation we’re having now, since the SSPX’s position hasn’t changed an iota. By the way, how exactly do you think I “want it?” Perhaps you could elaborate for me. You may know better than I do!

    Once again:

    1. The consecration of bishops by Msgr LeFebvre was materially a schismatic act. In so far as it would have done voluntarily, it was also a formally schismatic act.

    2. But whether individual members of the SSPX or their followers are in formal schism is another matter that is VERY complex because it involves a variety of issues.

  47. Jon,

    For my money, if Pope Benedict takes the action we all think he will take, 500 years from now Archbishop Lefebvre will be remembered as the man who saved the Mass and the Church

    Surely you don’t think it’ll take 500 years for Archbishop Levebvre to receive the recognition of a grateful Church for his lonely service in saving the Mass of the Ages, when so many others else went like lemmings off a cliff down a blind alley of banal liturgy unworthy of the God we worship.

  48. From a fuller translation at Rorate Caeli of Card. Castrillon’s most recent interview:

    QUESTION Does the Indult advance an ecumenism “ad intra”?

    ANSWER Please, accept that I reject the term “ecumenism ad intra”. The Bishops, Priests, and Faithful of the Society of St Pius X are not schismatics. It is Archbishop Lefebvre who has undertaken an illicit Episcopal consecration and therefore performed a schismatic act. It is for this reason that the Bishops consecrated by him have been suspended and excommunicated. The priests and faithful of the Society have not been excommunicated. They are not heretics. I do, however, share St Jerome’s fear that heresy leads to schism and vice versa. The danger of a schism is big, such as a systematic disobedience vis-à-vis the Holy Father or by a denial of his authority. It is after all a service of charity, so that the Priestly Society gains full communion with the Holy Father by acknowledging the sanctity of the new Mass.

    It seems to me there may be a new thing or two here. Anybody else spot them?

  49. Matthew Robinson says:

    QUOTE:
    “They take a snapshot, so to speak, of some period of church history and then
    judge all that follows as heretical”.

    I see the above as an wholly uneducated comment on the Traditionalist position
    in general and the SSPX situation in particular.

    They are at 1962, the “mainstream” Church is at 1970.

    That is a liturgical distance of only Eight Years!

    It’s not as if Lefevre was sticking as a fundamentalist to the liturgical
    Decrees of 1570. They are not liturgical luddites (in fact it was the
    “reformers” who were rejecting liturgical development).

    On the contrary, the SSPX accepts all legitimate development of the liturgy
    all the way to John XXIII! The very Pope of Vatican II.

    How anyone who accepts the truly radical changes to the liturgy implemented
    by Pius XII and John XXIII can be painted as a medieval fanatic is beyond me.

    The fact that their position sparks such outcry underscores the fact that
    they are not resistant to liturgical change or reform, but only to revolutionary
    destruction.

    The wide and broad liturgical chasm between 1962 and 1970 certainly vindicates
    the thesis, that this was not a reform, “but the real destruction of the Roman
    Rite” to quote Father Gamber.

    How any Catholic in their right mind could have gone along with this anti-historic,
    revolutionary liturgy is a fascinating question for future scholars to debate.

    The second quote I believe to be inane is the following:

    “Whether or not he (Newman)was being fair to the Protestantism of his time, I
    cannot judge. So let me revise his line for the contemporary intra-Catholic scene:
    To be deep into history is to cease to be a Lefebvrist, a crypto-Lefebvrist–or
    a Pitstickian”.

    Sorry, but Newman’s entire thesis is the exact opposite. The whole purpose of
    his work is to argue that the Church remains the same, while developing its
    doctrine. This process is organic not mutative.It was the Church Fathers that
    inspired Newman’s conversion. And as he states, as a puppy grows “it becomes
    more doggy not less”. It certainly doesn’t mutate into a unicorn within a span
    of eight years!

    Had it been a true reform, it would have made Catholics even more reverant,
    even more devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, and even more disciplined.

    No, I am convinced that Newman, who himself could not even begin to relate to the
    “Brady Bunch living room” santuaries comprising the heart of “parish everywhere”
    would much less agree that this was in any way, a genuine development of Catholic
    doctrine.

    “To be steeped in history, is to cease to be a fan of aggiornamento”.

  50. Jon says:

    Matthew,

    “To be steeped in history, is to cease to be a fan of aggiornamento.”

    LOL! Spot on!

  51. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Matthew, I could not agree more with your criticism of the implementation of the VII decree on the liturgy. It was hijacked, pure and simple by the radical periti. However, don’t you read Il Cardinale as saying that SSPX has to accept the validity and even sanctity of the Mass of Paul VI before there can be reconciliation? I just don’t see them doing that, and that is why I am rather pessimistic on achieving a solution.

  52. Matthew Robinson says:

    Leguleius Magnus,

    I agree with you. I believe the best way toward reconciliation would be to give t
    the SSPX a bit more room to let off steam. They do believe that the New Mass
    is valid, when the proper conditions are present….but any agreement asking
    for a blanket acceptance of the Novus Ordo as being a “holy” rite is far-fetched.

    I mean, what exactly is the New Mass anyway? It’s more of an anti-rite than
    a rite. The Holy Father himself commented on how the mass varies more from
    one parish to the next, than do even entire rites of the church.

    From the beginning there was never any “Ordo” to the “Novus”. What are they to
    accept? The 22 Eucharistic Canons from the 1970′s? The dreaded children’s
    canon? Altar girls? “Eucharistic ministers”? A 10-1 female to male ratio
    in the sanctuary?

    All of these things, even the ones which are truly abuses according to Rome
    itself are the universal NORM in parishes across the globe.

    When the Pope cannot even get his brother bishops to accept the sanctity of the
    New Mass, how can he exact such a demand from the SSPX?

    Also, I apologize for the bad grammar earlier….I’ve had coffee now..

    “To be steeped in history is to cease being a fan of Aggiornamento”.

    As for schism….clearly any loyal Roman Catholic who loves the Pope would
    whole-heartedly agree that what Archbishop Lefebvre did was totally schismatic…
    under NORMAL conditions.

    However, who can argue that the Catholic Church in the 1980′s was anything
    but normal. It was utter chaos.

    Ironically, if anything the situation in the Church only began to improve
    once Lefevbre was excommunicated! (And not for the reasons liberals would agree
    with). 1988 was a watershed moment for the Church, and it has been painful
    but steady progress back to sanity since that time. The SSPX has provided
    that counterweight to the chaos, and as a result, I think that history is
    ultimately on Lefebvre’s side as a result.

  53. John Polhamus says:

    Henry: I think what he is saying here, “The danger of schism is big,” is indicating a possible future denial of the authority of the Papacy on the part of the modernists, not the Lefebvrist action which took place in the past. He’s also accusing the moderninsts of either flirting with or embracing hersey if it does in fact lead them to split over the presence of the Lefebvrists, who he explicitly states are NOT heretics, and their mass.

    I would also like to draw to your attention another part of the interview, which may well relate to the above observation, where Card. Castrillon answers an accusation which has not yet been publicly put forward, and I wondered exactly who he was talking to. It is the part where he says that “The Holy Father is not yielding to outside pressures and signatures on petitions.” I think he was talking to some Bishops when he said that, since no one has said these petitions of appeal were intended to “pressure” the Holy Father, only to encourage him in his hoped for action. Now, who would view it as pressure? Which group? Therefore we can surmise what they may be accusing Benedict of, and threatening him with a schism of their own (as if they’re not already in it, in some cases). Did you notice that, Henry?

  54. Dan Hunter says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,
    Your comment box is closed up above.I will leave message here.
    You are loved and are being prayed for.
    God bless you.

  55. Leguleius Magnus says:

    An amuzing, probably aprochryphal, anecdote: I am told that, just after the liturgical “reform,” Paul VI came down to vest for Mass the day after Pentecost. When he saw green vestments, he asked his chaplain why white was not being worn for the octave. The startled chaplain replied: “But Your Holiness has suppressed the octave!” Maybe it was after that that Bugnini was sent to Iran.

  56. John: Yes on both counts. (1) Surely systematic disobedience of the pope, denial of papal disobedience, and de facto schism have been far more widespread on the left than on the right. (2) There has been speculation in some quarters about recent pressure from the left in the form of accusations and/or threats, but nothing sufficiently credible (to me) to warrant reference.

  57. RBrown says:

    Ultimately, history will judge whether “Aggiornamento” was but another ill-conceived papal policy gone horribly wrong.

    Comment by Matthew Robinson

    There is legitimate aggiornamento.

    Moral Theology had been in a pitiful state before the Council, and Thomists like Garrigou LaGrange had no use for it. Ditto the Theology of Grace–the recent document on Justification has more in common with the thought of St Thomas than does the post Trent theology. There were also certain adjustments (not wholesale changes) that needed to be made to the liturgy.

    Unfortunately, the liberals, dissenters, and Ecu-maniacs took advantage of the situation to all but destroy Catholic life.

  58. RBrown says:

    However, don’t you read Il Cardinale as saying that SSPX has to accept the validity and even sanctity of the Mass of Paul VI before there can be reconciliation? I just don’t see them doing that, and that is why I am rather pessimistic on achieving a solution.
    Comment by Leguleius Magnus

    Validity, OK, but what do you mean by sanctity?

  59. Leguleius Magnus says:

    RBrown, I don’t know what he meant. I was quoting a translation of what he said.

  60. Matthew Robinson says:

    There is legitimate aggiornamento.
    Comment by RBrown

    I would contest that point. I am not against St. Cyprian’s maxim that the
    Church is always in need of reform. However, Aggiornamento is an entirely
    novel means of approaching the question.

    By Aggiornamento, I mean the very specific philosophy of John XXIII which came
    to underpin all the bad ideas which flowed since 1959. The concept
    “of getting up to date” is a secular term, not a Catholic one. In fact,
    it’s an impossible task….for as soon as the Church becomes “up to date”
    it becomes almost immediately “outdated”. Exhibit A, we are still operating
    on the naively optimistic viewpoint of the early 1960′s, and our art, vestments,
    music and architecture is hopelessly dated to the 1960-’s-1970′s era.

    (One problem is that it is too expensive, and too exhausting to keep the Church
    continually “up to date”….as soon as we become conformed to modern thinking,
    we are soon left behind). We long gave up trying to be up to date since about
    1974.

    I believe, that the entire philosophical edifice of John XXIII’s idea is
    untenable. Chiefly, because it views the “modern world” as being the SOURCE
    of reform rather than the OBJECT of reform.

    Worse, the entire proposition that the Church can be renewed via conforming to
    spirit of the age is erroneous. As they say, you don’t open the windows during a
    hurricane! John XXIII couldn’t have picked a worse time to “reorientate the
    Church towards the world” than the 1960′s.

    Gaudiem et Spes formulates this, as incoherently as it does, by stating that

    –”Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation,
    one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well”.

    –”Finally, these new conditions (i.e. science, technology, sociology, psychology)have their impact on religion. On the one hand a more CRITICAL ABILITY to distinguish religion
    from a magical view of the world and from the superstitions which still
    circulate PURIFIES it and EXACTS day by day a more PERSONAL AND EXPLICIT
    ADHERENCE TO FAITH. As a result many persons are achieving a more vivid
    sense of God”.

    –”The recent studies and findings of science, history and philosophy raise new questions which effect life and which demand new theological investigations.”

    –”In pastoral care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles,
    but also of the findings of the secular sciences, ESPECIALLY OF PSYCHOLOGY and
    SOCIOLOGY, so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and MATURE
    LIFE OF FAITH”.

    –”The Church acknowledges also new forms of art which are ADAPTED TO OUR AGE
    and are in keeping with the characteristics of various nations and regions.
    They may be BROUGHT INTO THE SANCTUARY since they raise the mind to God, once
    the manner of expression is adapted and they are conformed to liturgical
    requirements(13″)

    –”May the faithful, therefore, live in very close union with the other men of
    their time and may they strive to understand PERFECTLY their way of thinking
    and judging, as expressed in their culture. Let them BLEND new sciences and
    theories and the understanding of the most recent discoveries WITH Christian
    morality and the teaching of Christian doctrine, so that their religious culture and morality may MAY KEEP PACE with scientific knowledge and with the constantly progressing
    technology. Thus they will be able to interpret and evaluate all things in a
    truly Christian spirit”.

    This is the heart of Aggiornamento if you read what Pope John XXIII actually
    wrote himself, this flawed philosophy is the FORMAL CAUSE of all the craziness
    that has flowed since.

  61. John Polhamus says:

    Henry: I thought as much. And I’ve opined before that the delay is to do with the politics of manifesting obedience. He wants to keep the left on board, since they are more numerous and potentially scandalous than the right. HH scored points in December among the French bishops, but whether he can capitalise on it politically remains to be seen. Time may be the only remedy; a solid political base takes time to arrange, attrition being what it is. Personally I’d crack the sledgehammer with the walnut, and if the left wants to go, let the chips fall where the Holy Spirit directs them to, but then…etc.

    I liked the post yesterday about the era of the three popes. The example of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Sienna is frequently in my mind. It may come to it yet. Like I said, there’s nothing new under the sun.

  62. RBrown says:

    To MRobinson:

    1. You’re right, “aggiornamento” is a secular word, but so is “ressourcement”, which I assume you favor (as does BXVI).

    2. You make the same mistake that the liberals do, in using G&S as the hermeneutic for the entire Council. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote on this very point.

    3. JXXIII had nothing to do with G&S, which is a lousy document. The only document produced under him is SC, which isn’t very good–but not nearly as bad as G&S.

    4. JXXIII was correct in understanding that it was time to disassemble the Counter-Reformation Church, but he really had no idea what should replace it. And organization doesn’t seem to have been his long suit.

    Further, he was probably optimistic to the point of naivete–for various reasons. And at the Council he sided with the Progressives.

    5. As I already pointed out, before the Council there were serious problems that needed attention, e.g., restoring a Christological (rather than striclty Ecclesiological) approach to life in the Church, the reform of Moral Theology (cf getting rid of the disasters of casuisty and deontological MT), the re-integration of Patristics into dogmatic theology, and how the lay associations (Opus Dei) fit in the structure of the Church.

  63. John Polhamus says:

    RBrown: Relevant to point 4, how on earth did you come of the opinion that John XXIII “was correct in understanding that it was time to disassemble the Counter-Reformation Church”? The CRC (to abreviate it) is still dealing with the disaster of the Reformation, and is the only ecclesial structure objective enough to deal with the onslaught of Islam which is only just beginning. You seem to think that the lives, perceptions and spiritual needs of regular, working people in the pews are in dire need of making a highly improbably leap of conciousness into a vastly subtle, metaphorical and philosophically extrapolated understanding of the faith, and at the same time to be able to apply it hoplessly optimistic and naive practical terms. I really think you’re wrong about that. What they need is the simplicity of objectivity in religion. Something that the liturgy has provided for them in both eloquent and elegant ways. Not only was such a top-down beurocratic decision incompatable with the organic nature of ecclesial development, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. I mean, of all the eras to choose to even attempt something like that, when what church and society most needed in the 1960′s was stability and steadfast adhearance to external form until the storm had passed. It was foolhardy, counterproductive, and I can cite the examples of people that I know who decided NOT to join the church at that time (and have had little incentive to since!), precisely because they felt it was beginning to conform to and reflect exactly what they objected to in society.

  64. Matthew Robinson says:

    “1. You’re right, “aggiornamento” is a secular word, but so is “ressourcement”, which I assume you favor (as does BXVI).”

    It’s not the word, it’s the concept which figures here.

    “2. You make the same mistake that the liberals do, in using G&S as the hermeneutic for the entire Council. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote on this very point.”

    Well, it is the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World afterall? We are talking about one of the 4 major documents, not a minor declaration. It’s not about hermeneutics, but what the document actually says and directs..i.e. that Catholic morality and belief must change with the times. Hans Kung himself had a hand in drafting these points…and you know what he wanted!

    3. JXXIII had nothing to do with G&S, which is a lousy document. The only document produced under him is SC, which isn’t very good—but not nearly as bad as G&S.

    Indeed true, but GS follows the general outline of Aggiornamento to the tee (naive optimism included). (See John XXIII’s opening address for comparison…he is basically negating the past, so all we have left to look for inspiration is modern man…the “signs of the times” point to a new age of Aquarius for mankind, and the Church doesn’t want to miss the bus).

    “4. JXXIII was correct in understanding that it was time to disassemble the Counter-Reformation Church, but he really had no idea what should replace it. And organization doesn’t seem to have been his long suit.”

    Yes, there were drawbacks to the Church’s “ghetto” mentality. Certainly aspects of the Church’s approach can change to take account of present challenges, but abandoning traditional (and timeless) principles is a price too high to pay. The new orientation of Vatican II was to address questions which were primarily political in nature rather than pastoral. (The entire “Pastoral” bit was a huge Vatican smokescreen in my view). The way John XXIII saw the Church regaining political clout with the world, was by making a Faustian bargain with it —”We won’t criticize our traditional enemies and we will disavow our anti-modernist, anti-masonic past, in exchange for you allowing us back into the game. We want Peace on Earth”! Paul VI took this to the next step, by adding “we will sacrifice our own traditions and spirituality if necessary to accomplish this goal”.

  65. John Polhamus says:

    “The way John XXIII saw the Church regaining political clout with the world, was by making a Faustian bargain with it—-”We won’t criticize our traditional enemies and we will disavow our anti-modernist, anti-masonic past, in exchange for you allowing us back into the game.”"

    Quite so, Matthew Robinson. That’s one succinct paragraph you wrote there. And it’s a game that no morally, historically, or even ethically aware Catholic would want to have anything to do with. And by not playing what had we achieved, I mean besides the presidency of the United States and an unparalleled social position? So what was the deal, were we being threatened with state persecution? Bring it on, we’re going to get it under Sharia law anyway, which is where we’re heading.

  66. michigancatholic says:

    In that regard, there are also many crypto-_______ inside the Catholic Church, among whom I would include–and their name is legion–any and all self-styled _________ who haven’t bothered to learn the tradition they claim to be defending. They take a snapshot, so to speak, of some period of church history and then judge all that follows as heretical.

    But history always defeats them; and I mean by that not just the movement of history forward in time but also the study of past history. In a famous observation in his Essay on Development Cardinal Newman said that “To be deep into history is to cease to be a Protestant.” Whether or not he was being fair to the Protestantism of his time, I cannot judge. So let me revise his line for the contemporary intra-Catholic scene: To be deep into history is to cease to be a _______, a crypto-________–or a __________.

    Plug in the ideology of your choice and we’ll see who gets defeated by history.

  67. michigancatholic says:

    Looking at the original post, I’m not quite sure where the pope’s quote leaves off and someone else’s words begin. No quote marks in necessary places.

    I’m a convert, like David, and I’m also appalled. At least 75% of the Church’s problems in the last 50-100 years have been caused by shoddy, sloppy thinking. That’s all we currently get, frankly, from one end to the other. This example of scooping people up into classes like “self-styled traditionalists” to be subjected perjoratively to abuse and such is an example. What precisely does it mean to be a “self-described traditionalist?” Does it mean one goes to church rather than trying the new coven in the woods yonder? Or is it only limited to one’s choice of thoughts about particular rites of mass on a minute-to-minute basis? Or must it be hour-by-hour? Day-by-day? Or what? Since thoughts do not always equal actions (and vv), whether one is a self-styled kind of thinker is not exactly something that can be demonstrated, I would think, so what is it exactly?

    Of what are this despicable class of people guilty, and where exactly are they? Which individuals might they be?

    Now, I’m willing to admit that the church has always had its dark corners. I’m a convert and coming to terms with popes who were up to their eyeballs in corruption is part of the conversion process. Let’s be honest here. But it’s always also always had its shining saints. The history of the church is a study in contrasts–a lesson in good and evil. (Something always-Catholics often don’t like to admit–like calling your mama tone-deaf when she IS.)

    All this sloppiness that occurs everywhere obscures the contrast. Perhaps that is the intention of the evil one. There are two ways to defeat the Church: 1) to attack her head-on which has not worked in the past, 2) to obscure her light and her dark with sloppiness, which appears to be working–so far.

    The Church still needs to come to terms (on terms of truth, its own terms) with modernity, but what we’ve seen so far (put in your own example) is NOT how it’s done.

    /rant

  68. Matthew Robinson says:

    Good comment michigancatholic,

    Being a convert, you are more than qualified to assess what is wrong in the Catholic Church today. Never feel intimidated by cradle Catholics.

    Too many in the Church today on the “conservative” side want to push a Disneyland version of the Church on people. You’re right, if you don’t have the faith to face the worst aspects of the Church on earth and in time, you will never get the grace to experience the best Our Lord offers us.

    As Catholics, there would be no point in being Confirmed, if Our Lord didn’t want us to be adults in the faith. Part of that responsibility is to point out policies which are damaging to the faith.

    I have a convert friend from the most liberal wing of Protestantism. His conversion was miraculous, but yet he’s told by Church officials that he can’t have the Latin Mass, because it’s bad for ecumenism, and pastoral activity ect. Also that young people can’t relate to it (he’s 25 by the way).

  69. michigancatholic says:

    The progressive side is no better. We are currently living in their “Disneyland,” and it’s no fun. It’s about as deep as a mud puddle and just about as corrupt too.

  70. michigancatholic says:

    Er Matthew, don’t make the common 20th century mistake of thinking that adult thought is necessarily progressive thought just because that’s what you might have been schooled to think by some conventional crackpot(s) in the process.

    Many of the most thorough thinkers are not necessarily progressives. Progressive thought has some absolutely serious flaws, omissions and assumptions.

    Thought proper deals with truths, not assumptions, presumptions and attitudes you might have picked up like a hidden liver absess. What you obtain from serious thought is not at all unlikely to be just exactly what the Church teaches (and has always taught, even through the nastiest historical periods and yes, her most traditional exhortations) exactly because the church teaches the truth. There are not two truths which are opposed. Logically impossible, you understand. [Even modality considered--make sure you understand it before you dabble in it!]

  71. RBrown says:

    To Matthew Robinson:

    1. The concepts of aggiornamento and ressourcement are both secular.

    As an unrepetant Thomist, I think both are necessary for the health of the Church. Ressourcement without aggiornamento runs the danger of not answering the questions posed by contemporary times (cf. Opus Dei). And, as we have seen the past 35 years, aggiornamento without ressourcement drains the Church of the essence of faith.

    A good example of theological aggiornamento is found in JRatzinger’s book on Eschatology. In the section on the Risen Body he discusses the conflict between negative cosmological principles of Entropy (which is of course Newtonian) and of ascent toward more complexity (a more recent concept). To me understanding these concepts are necessary to understand St Thomas concept of Time.

    2. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that the problem IS about using G&S as a hermeneutic to understand the other documents of the Council.

    Where in G&S do we find directives that morality and faith must change with the times?

    3. I find nothing in JXXIII’s opening address that he is negating the past. What are the specific examples?

    4. I agree that JXXIII wanted to regain the Church’s political clout, and the principle way was by positioning the Church between the West and the East, rather than just on the side of the West. This approach, based on the Unity of Europe (and enhanced by Nixon’s opening to China), was the foundation for the end of the Soviet Empire.

  72. RBrown says:

    Many of the most thorough thinkers are not necessarily progressives. Progressive thought has some absolutely serious flaws, omissions and assumptions.

    Neither is aggiornamento necessarily progressive–even though the progressives have used it as an excuse to intoduce Protestant concepts in the Church.