RORATE: on Summorum Pontificum, SSPX, unity – enlightening

Our friends at Rorate have posted a very interesting interview with Prof. Luc Perrin at the Univ. of Strasbourg about the state of the question of the SSPX, Summorum Pontificum, unity, a year after the Motu Proprio and twenty years about the SSPX split with the Catholic Church.

My emphases and comments.  Not my translation.

 

 A Historian observes the Catholic moment

One year of Summorum Pontificum and the SSPX

Luc Perrin is a professor at the University of Strasbourg, where he teaches History of the Church. Perrin, widely known in Traditionalist circles in France, has written several works on the History of the pre-Conciliar and post-Conciliar trends in the Catholic Church, including on the so-called "Traditionalist Question", such as L’affaire Lefebvre (The Lefebvre Affair) and Paris à l’heure de Vatican II (Paris at the time of Vatican II).

We have interviewed Professor Perrin twice in the past, and have asked him a few questions on the Catholic moment one year after Summorum Pontificum and on the future of the negotiations of the Holy See with the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX).

______________________________

Q: As a historian and as an observer of the Catholic Church in the past decades, do you believe that the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum has been relevant for the universal Church? Has its impact been what you expected when it was published one year ago?

PERRIN:    First of all, it is important to underline that this 2007 motu proprio can have a major impact only on the long term for various reasons. The vast majority of the clergy and the episcopate worldwide has been trained to see the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite as "the" Rite per se, a so-called "restoration" of a pretended Early Christian times liturgy and "the" liturgy promoted by The Council, the only council they know or want to know [Good point.] i.e. Vatican II. They have a sort of Berlin Wall in their mind that keeps them protected from any interference from the Liturgical Roman tradition. This mental wall is extremely thick and resistant.

    We can see how entranched the neo-liturgical lobbies are at every level (Roman Curia, episcopal committees, diocesan Curia, seminaries, parishes) with one example regarding the Ordinary Form. In most vernacular Masses (English, Italian etc.), "pro multis" is abusively translated into "for all", instead of "for many". John Paul II, with "Liturgiam Authenticam" in 2001, specifically mentioned this abuse, to no effect. Five years later, cardinal Arinze, prefect of CDW [the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments], sent a letter to the bishops where the false translation is currently used asking them to make a "necessary catechesis" of the people within "one or two years" so the change finally comes true. One year passed, a second year is nearly over and guess what … nothing happened. Thus the neo-liturgical establishment has been powerful enough to block the change of … two words during 7 years. The "pro multis" movie is going to stay on the screen for a while : cardinal Arinze recently approved the new translation but for the USA only and he is giving a new … delay to prepare the faithful that should have been prepared during the past two years. But without any specific date. So don’t expect that in one year any substantial change of attitude regarding the Extraordinary Form could have taken place.  [I too am frustrated about the perpetual delays.  However, I think Perrin’s analysis is not entirely fair.]

    Besides, some episcopal attitudes [He means "some bishops"!] have made it clear from the start: the German, Swiss and Polish bishops took a stand of frontal opposition after the release of the document during Fall 2007. In France, episcopal opposition was very vocal before the motu proprio, especially in 2006, but the majority of French bishops adopted a more quiet attitude after July 2007. Wisely, the French Conference of bishops abstained to edit abusive guidelines like in Germany. In general, French bishops refrained to publish anything like open restrictions added to the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, like a few American or Italian bishops initially did. But a "containment policy" is implemented under the leadership of cardinal Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, elected president of French bishops in 2007, especially for his subtle opposition to the pope’s will to free the Traditional Latin Mass. The aim of this policy is to retain a 1984-1988 regime [In other words, pretent that Summorum Pontificum never came out and that we are still living under the provisions of Quattuor abhinc annos and Ecclesia Dei adflicta.] in spite of Summorum Pontificum: bishops want to stay those who allow or not the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, superseding the faculties granted by the pope to the parish pastors and chaplains. Only a minority of French bishops is really open to a generous implementation of the Motu proprio.

    Some facts are illustrating this containment policy: not a single personal parish (article 10) has been erected in France in a year; the 3 existing personal parishes were erected in 2005 and 2006. Not a single seminary has scheduled to systematically train the future priests in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form: in the best cases, like in Toulon under very benevolent Bishop Rey, the eventual volunteers are allowed to attend a training given by local traditionalist priests. One of the most hostile bishops, Archbishop Jordan of Rheims, granted a Mass but for two Sundays per month … The reluctance to call for traditional Institutes is obvious, although it’s not a general rule. In Paris, the cardinal-archbishop is refusing to negotiate a status for the Good Shepherd Institute which has a small conference center (Centre Saint-Paul) and traditional institutes have not a single diocesan apostolate. The contrast is striking with the former president of French bishops, cardinal Ricard, who has in his diocese of Bordeaux two FSSP chapels, one ICR-SP chapel and signed an agreement with the Good Shepherd for Saint-Éloi church in February 2007. So the increase of TLM locations is slow in France though it happens in spite of all these obstacles. According to some observers, around 40 new locations have been added to those existing under the Ecclesia Dei canonical provisions.

    The situation is similar in most European countries, except maybe in Italy where apart from a very hostile lobby, several bishops look at the Motu proprio with an open eye, like Archbishop Bagnasco their president. I have not heard, so far, of a great echo either in Latin America (except for Brazil) or Africa and that was utterly predictable. On the contrary, as for the Ecclesia Dei motu proprio of John Paul II, implementation in the USA and Canada is much more encouraging both from the bishops and clergy. If we remember the hostile position of cardinal Lehmann (Germany), the negative attitude expressed by cardinal Murphy O’Connor (England), the containment policy of cardinal Vingt-Trois, it is amazing to see the benevolent policy of cardinal George, president of USCCB. In his diocese of Chicago (USA), he blessed the Canons of Saint John Cantius (who are celebrating with both Forms) and then invited the Institute of Christ the King (TLM only); the Liturgical Institute founded by the Cardinal is adding a mandatory course on the Extraordinary Form in its program and sessions of training have been organized for volunteers to learn how to celebrate with the Canons and in presence of Bishop Perry, the African American auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, who is known for his attachment to Liturgical tradition.

    In short, Summorum Pontificum’s practical implementation is a replica of Ecclesia Dei’s expansion and limits. [Well… yes and not.  It is less than a year that Summorum Pontificum is in force.  It takes time to build.] So far, PCED [the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’] has not used its new authority – articles 7,8 and 12 -, just like the Pontifical Commission was not enforcing the provisions of the previous Motu proprio. [There is a lot to consider here.  What would a policy of "enforcement" involve?  Also, what obstacles have been – at least in the past – placed in front of the PCED within the Curia itself?  These obstacles probably still give shape to the interior policy of the Commission.] We have also to remind that it’s not easy, even with a welcoming parish pastor and bishop, for a group of lay people to be constituted in countries like France, where Catholicism is in sharp decline. Moreover, the TLM is very demanding in energy, financial contribution and time for lay people. [I am not so sure about this.  It need not be.  Perhaps in some places where there is literally nothing left of decent things for Holy Mass, or they have to support a priest to do it, this is the case.  I have in mind the Diocese in the USA where the bishops established a place and chaplain for the older Mass but said that he would support it as long as people paid the bills.  People got angry because they were asked to support it financially.  So there are problems to be sure.]   In many aspects, the "active participation" of lay people in the Extraordinary Form Mass communities is superior to what it is in the standard Novus Ordo parish. You need more than one year to build a community[Right.  But I get the impression that that realization doesn’t inform all of the comments made here.  But let’s read on.]

    However we should consider two facts that need time to be fully received by the Church. First fact: the status of the traditional Roman rite (Extraordinary Form) has been firmly settled as never before. [But some will complain that it isn’t becaues Benedict XVI changed the Good Friday prayer.  They are wrong, of course, and this guy right.  But that doesn’t change the grousing.] On the very long term, it could help to influence the liturgical studies and consequently the teaching in seminaries and Faculties (see the examples of Mundelein and Kenrick-Glennon seminaries for Chicago and Saint-Louis which are magnets for vocations). The second fact is nearly impossible to evaluate: how many priests, especially young priests in Europe and Northern America, will have a spiritual benefit from article 2? [This is what I maintain is perhaps the single greatest point of importance of Summorum Pontificum.] It could be very interesting to have an inquiry to know the impact of the private celebration in the Extraordinary Form among priests.

    I have constantly drawn attention to the structure of the motu proprio: the extension of the celebration in the parishes comes with article 5 but the right to celebrate privately for priests comes with article 2, i.e. the clergy is the main target of the document. [YES! Excellent! (Has he been reading WDTPRS from the beginning?)] Those who deeply refuse any move in the liturgical field toward Tradition are betting on the 3 year delay mentioned by the pope in his letter to the bishops. They are perfectly aware that Summorum Pontificum requests years and years, decades, to have a serious impact and bears its fruit so the "containment policy": in 2010, they will pretend the motu proprio is a failure and ask it to be rescinded[This is really really really important.]

[Now we switch gears…]

Q: What are the similarities and the differences in the attitude of the FSSPX [SSPX] and the Holy See in the negotiations of May-June 1988 and of June-July 2008?

PERRIN:   [Here is a status quaestionis.]  Let us recall the whole process was in three, not two steps: the negotiations of 1988, the second attempt in 2000-2002 that ended with a declaration of Bishop Fellay saying the talks were stalled then the new talks that started after the August 2005 short encounter between pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Fellay.

    We can find some similarities between the 1978 election of John Paul II, who chose to meet Archbishop Lefebvre very quickly after his election and the election of Benedict XVI. But the situations are very different: there was [was] probably still a serious chance to reach a sound canonical agreement in 1988, although it was already difficult at that time like the events of May 5 and 6, 1988 showed. Fr. Tissier de Mallerais was then a member of the SSPX delegation and was urging the Archbishop to sign; [Interesting!] today he is the most vindictive [!] among the four bishops of the Society. He expressed, several times in 2007-2008, a true wrath against pope Benedict XVI, saying that the "horror" [!] of the pope’s theology is letting him "speechless", [Would that that were literally true.] if we can say so for a bishop who has gone very vocal these days. He is now raising the threat of new episcopal consecrations[Watch the splintering begin.]

    Archbishop Lefebvre was constantly seeking a canonical status that would give his priests the possibility to "make the experience of Tradition", as he said in 1975-1976. From 1969 to 1975, when the SSPX was suppressed by Bishop Mamie, this was after all the situation of the Society, in full communion with the Holy See, with a statute that was far less favorable than the 2000 proposal of a personal apostolic administration. However the failure of the 1988 agreement was an indication this path was quite dead like Bishop Galarreta said in June 2008.

    In 2000, cardinal Castrillon Hoyos tried to reopen this canonical path: clearly the reluctance was strong on the SSPX side but Bishop Fellay was positively impressed by the open hand of the Holy See. Just like the pope was positively impressed by the decision of the SSPX to participate to the Great Jubilee, in the dioceses and with a big pilgrimage in Rome. But a few months later, Bishop Fellay put the ball in the Roman side with the two prerequisite questions: freedom for the TLM, the excommunications to be lifted. It was a subtle way not to say "yes", without clearly saying "no". [!] This was the beginning of the "in between" policy chosen by Bishop Fellay in order to restore a sense of Romanity within the SSPX: [Interesting.] with years passing by, most Society priests have got only a vague idea of what a "pope" and "Rome" are. [Exactly!  After all this time, there is a whole new generation of followers and now members of the SSPX who have never known anything but conflict and separation, hostility and suspicion in regard to the Pope and Rome.  We have said this here before on WDTPRS.]  So when Bishop Tissier de Mallerais is saying, "In Rome, a new Pope? Really, if he would become worse, there is no need" (The Angelus magazine, interview, July 2008) -, he is probably the voice of many young SSPX priests.

    Pope Benedict XVI is well aware of this feeling and he mentioned the danger of a prolonged schismatic attitude in his 2007 letter to the bishops sent with the Motu proprio and his intent to fight it : "one has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden". His election in 2005 allowed a renewal of the talks with Menzingen but, in spite of the Motu proprio or because of it, this phase inaugurated 8 years ago may come to an end[Sad, if his assesment is accurate.]

  [Watch this and keep in mind what I have written about the leadership of the SSPX trying to play to their base when there is any talk of greater unity with Rome.  This is really interesting.]  Regularly, when the SSPX is getting closer to a reconciliation, the leadership breaks up and a period of "cold war" against Rome begins. For example, from 1988 to 2000, there were very few contacts, if any, between Menzingen and Rome. The lack of permanent structures for a negotiation between the Society and the Holy See is most likely one major reason for the regular failure of the talks. It is impossible to work seriously on complex doctrinal matters when you meet briefly at irregular moments.

Q: What do you believe that the future holds for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X? Is there any hope of reconciliation if not in the Benedictine Pontificate?

PERRIN:    The bishops of the Society are now saying that "a certain discouragement is coming back" (Bishop Fellay), to quote the most polite statement. Both Bishop Fellay and Bishop Tissier de Mallerais are openly talking of a 30 year delay, and the latter is even excluding frankly any "reconciliation"; Bp Tissier de Mallerais is using words so offensive that he is coming very close to Sedevacantism, [Wow…] though he still refrains to say so. It’s easy to see why there is, to quote Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, "a hardening of the hearts, a blindness of the minds".

    Pope Benedict XVI is strengthening the efforts made by his predecessor to interpret Vatican II "in the light of Tradition", which is exactly what Archbishop Lefebvre was requesting in 1978, [!] after his meeting with the Polish pope. The thorny question of the traditional Roman Missal was, during a long time, an obstacle but with Summorum Pontificum, this obstacle is de jure – as Bishop Fellay acknowledged in the July issue of The Angelus – removed; there are still many problems to make it real within Church life and parishes, but the legitimate status of the 1962 missal, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite, is now established.  [Excommunication remains an issue too, though easier to resolve in some ways than some of the doctrinal points.]

    So we are left to face all the other thorny questions as listed by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: religious liberty, ecumenism, Christian spirit of sacrifice, social kingship of Christ; curiously, the problems raised by inter-faith dialogue is not cited. But to be able to work with Roman theologians on these crucial issues, the SSPX would need some qualified experts and to be able to evaluate the achievements of the Church in the past decades with something more accurate than "John Paul II did nothing to rebuild the Faith" or, speaking of Ecclesia Dei communities, "These poor people (priests, religious, lay people) are liberals and pragmatics" (Bishop Tissier de Mallerais). These conditions are hardly met by the Society today[Right.  This is one of the most important things Prof. Perrin has pointed out so far.  He puts it well.  The SSPX just doen’t have anyone at the level needed to undertake the sort of doctrinal discussions the SSPX demands.  I raised this point in other entries when examining the SSPX’s claims.  Do they really think that they could go into a theological discussion with Benedict XVI or those whom he would appoint?  Really? If so, they have better put on their big boy underwear and eat their Wheaties, because they will have very hard days indeed.]

    Bishop Fellay spoke recently of a "road map" to guide the relationship between Rome and Menzingen and this was an excellent idea, keeping open the eventuality of a reconciliation but as a distant goal and with several steps … in between. [Reasonable?  Perhaps.] Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’ five conditions of June 2008 were a way to request from Bishop Fellay to make a first move, at least a symbolical one. [A very important one, too.  There were theological underpinnings: Who is Peter to the SSPX?  What does "Rome" mean for Catholics?] The June-July 2008 decisions are apparently – the response of Bishop Fellay to the Cardinal has not been published, only an official statement by Fr. Lorans – to store the "road map" in a drawer. [Another period of détente in the Cold War?] When is Bishop Fellay or his successor going to reopen the drawer and give a serious attention to the road map? Will the papal visit to France in September be a providential occasion to do so? What would be the next step if the excommunications are to be lifted ? Providence will tell us. Maybe a Week of Prayer for … Catholic Unity could help.

And excellent piece.  Very informative.

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26 Responses to RORATE: on Summorum Pontificum, SSPX, unity – enlightening

  1. Matt of South Kent says:

    I wonder what would happen if Rome unilaterally lifted the excommunications and regularized SSPX in an independent canonical status, like it was an eastern rite church.

    The next move would be to have the four excommunicated bishops submit one of them to be the leader and that bishop would become a Cardinal.

    In some ways, it would be rewarding them for their behavior, but I think it would go a long way to preserve unity. (And lets be honest, we are not talking about crazy wymyn preist supports here.)

  2. Baron Korf says:

    I guess its kind of like Kissinger said “When I want to talk to Europe, who do I call?” I realize Bp. Felley is the superior, but how much centralized power does he really have? If he were to reconcile, what would happen if Bp. Williamson were to call him a sell out and stay? Its like herding cats.

    That said, I hope it works out.

  3. Patrick says:

    This is one of the most brilliant lines ever:

    “they have better put on their big boy underwear and eat their Wheaties, because they will have very hard days indeed.”

    Perrin makes a great point that they lack any serious intellectual to negotiate. Every one of them has a consistent track record of making disrespectful and uninformed comments about the Church and the Holy Father.

  4. “I have in mind the Diocese in the USA where the bishops established a place and chaplain for the older Mass but said that he would support it as long as people paid the bills. People got angry because they were asked to support it financially.”

    That should send some people a message about themselves. I seem to recall one of the six precepts of the Church…

  5. Joe says:

    in the line “the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite as “the” Rite per se, a so-called “restoration” of a pretended Early Christian times liturgy” I suspect the word ‘pretended’ is a mistranslation of the French ‘pretendu’, which actually means ‘claimed’, not ‘pretended. But yes, an excellent and informative piece.

  6. megotoaz@gmail.com says:

    From the article:

    Cardinal Arinze recently approved the new translation but for the USA only and he is giving a new … delay to prepare the faithful that should have been prepared during the past two years. But without any specific date. So don’t expect that in one year any substantial change of attitude regarding the Extraordinary Form could have taken place.

    Why isn’t someone in authority in Rome directly threatening censures of bishops and priests on this point? “For all” is an implicit denial of the Faith and the Holy Father didn’t say that changing the local translations was an optional requirement: it’s mandatory and non-negotiable! I think the extension of the deadline, if anything, send the message to priests and bishops that Rome will always give in on these points, as they have with altar girls, communion in the hand, and all manners of liturgical abuse since the introduction of the new Mass. Until someone in Rome starts demanding obedience and imposing consequences on violators we will never see the end of liturgical abuses.

  7. Malta says:

    *not a single personal parish (article 10) has been erected in France in a year.*

    SO, regularize SSPX without condition, since the majority of French Catholics worship there anyway, and they are, indeed, more “Catholic” than the current sidling, compromising, seeking-creature-comforts regime that now exists; regularizing SSPX without condition would be a gentle but firm kick in the arse of those prelates who defy the Pope!

  8. Malta says:

    *But some will complain that it isn’t becaues Benedict XVI changed the Good Friday prayer.*

    You’re right Father, some, but very few, the vast majority of Traditionalists are perfectly happy with this prayer who I have met:

    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2008-0215-declaration-in-support-of-pope.htm

    It’s actually a very Traditional change: While it removes “offensive” language, it reaffirms the Church’s perennial teaching that outside of Her, there is no Salvation.

    Even our Pope, in his book “Jesus of Nazareth,” points to the early Church’s understanding of the story of the Prodigal son in that the jealous son represents the Jews, who thought Salvation was exclusively for them, and the prodigal son the gentiles, and pagans of the day, who, after Christ, may receive Him, and thus Salvation. Reading this book, I think Benedict has a completely Christological view of Salvation history. The Old Covenant, I believe, to him, is abolished, and now there is a New Covenant.

  9. Joe says:

    re “In most vernacular Masses (English, Italian etc.), “pro multis” is abusively translated into “for all”, instead of “for many”. John Paul II, with “Liturgiam Authenticam” in 2001, specifically mentioned this abuse, to no effect.” Is it an abuse if it is approved by the Episcopal Conference and the relevant Vatican office? I’ve read LA but I can’t remember where Pope JP II specified this one.

    I remember when I was in college, late 70s, there was a fight at our chaplaincy over whether the priest should say ‘for all men’, which was then the text, or ‘for all’. Well after diocesan priests started saying ‘for all’ our chaplain changed over, arguing that it was going to be changed anyways, and then it was. I wonder if those who jumped the gun then are going to anticipate the change again (those who are left, of course).

  10. CPKS says:

    This very interesting article, in detailing the areas of greatest resistance to the liberalization of the 1962 Mass, again raises the question of whether resistance is highest in those areas where SSPX is strongest or most vocal, e.g. in Francophone Europe.

  11. Malta says:

    Joe: *I remember when I was in college, late 70s, there was a fight at our chaplaincy over whether the priest should say ‘for all men’, which was then the text, or ‘for all’. Well after diocesan priests started saying ‘for all’ our chaplain changed over, arguing that it was going to be changed anyways, and then it was.*

    That is a perfect argument for the Traditional Latin Mass!

    Perfect, exact, rubrics is how it should be. The Mass isn’t a venue for novelty, but the vehicle for sublimity: In it we transcend our everyday hum-drum life, and ascend to God….

  12. athanasius says:

    “For all” is an implicit denial of the Faith and the Holy Father didn’t say that changing the local translations was an optional requirement: it’s mandatory and non-negotiable!

    Of course it is mandatory and non-negotiable, but I take issue with the concept that it is an implicit denial of the faith. That sounds too close to saying we have a bona fide heresy in the consecration formula.

    It seems to me more correct to say an imprecise formula. Even the Roman Catechism affirms that Christ died for all, as does the new testament, but “many” multis is more correct because while Christ did die for all, not all will accept the grace of redemption.

  13. Manrique Zabala de Arízona says:

    I personally think the discusssion with FSSPX it’s not even about power, but about maintaining a status they can’t possibly have if they happened to be in full communion with the Church. I’ve said it before, but after the laughable Palmar de Troya, Écône is on the edge of turning more and more into a sedevacantist stronghold. The more they wait, the more Bishops Fellay and Galarreta will lose the upper hand over the radical “hounds”.

    As for us, we can pray for them, but if the neojansenists led by Tissier and Williamson are going to “secede” and perform ordinations of their own, what I’m going to do is go to the roof, sit back with coke and a popcorn bowl, and enjoy the show…

  14. Malta says:

    I am praying that the Holy Father lifts the “excommunications” on 09 03 08: Feast of St. Pius X.

  15. megotoaz@gmail.com says:

    Of course it is mandatory and non-negotiable, but I take issue with the concept that it is an implicit denial of the faith. That sounds too close to saying we have a bona fide heresy in the consecration formula.

    You’ve nailed it on the head, and you should be uncomfortable about it. To intentionally change the wording from “for many” to “for all” is to change the words of Christ Himself. What statement is one making to presume to correct or change the words of Christ? Heresy would be a mild word to apply to the intentions of such a person.

    Now before you go jumping to conclusions: (1) I’m not suggesting that every priest who says “for all” instead of “for many” is doing so out of malice or even with the intention of thumbing his nose at the Pope or intending to correct Christ, and (2) this is more a question of discipline and not dogma per se. That said, we didn’t get to where we are without at least a handful of clerics who were maliciously defying the Pope and/or seeking to distort the doctrinal reality that not all Christians saved. My point is that the change needs to be ordered and a FIRM deadline for implementation given — is 30 days too little? — with censures and excommunications to follow. Not only is there the point of doctrine at stake but also discipline: the de facto position of clerics in this country (the USA) is that Rome can say what they want and we can do what we want and there will never be any consequences. It’s this attitude which needs a serious re-calibration with an iron fist from Rome. We need to pray that (1) Rome takes such a hard line and that (2) our clergy in this country obediently accept and follow any such proscriptions.

  16. Gerard says:

    [Right. This is one of the most important things Prof. Perrin has pointed out so far. He puts it well.

    The SSPX just doen’t have anyone at the level needed to undertake the sort of doctrinal discussions the SSPX demands.

    How do you know? You haven’t had the courage to call Bishop Williamson yet and ask him directly. The truth is Rome has no one capable of countering the arguments which are based on the magisterium of the Church.

    Amazing how a council that was supposed to re-present the constant teaching of the Church in the plain language of modern man is out of the reach of people who’ve studied Thomas Aquinas for years and years. What chance does Joe Schmoe have in keeping from error? It’s just more proof of the failure of the Council.

    I raised this point in other entries when examining the SSPX’s claims. Do they really think that they could go into a theological discussion with Benedict XVI or those whom he would appoint?

    Let’s find out. Who’s dragging their heels on talking about doctrine? Answer: Rome.

    Really? If so, they have better put on their big boy underwear and eat their Wheaties, because they will have very hard days indeed.]

    Don’t worry they already are:

    13 Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:

    The Holy Father should be chomping at the bit to bring them “back” into “unity” after he clearly explains how wonderful the Gnostic Council of Vatican II “could be”

    Show some guts Father, stop throwing pebbles from the sidelines trying to stir up division. Call up the SSPX, talk to Bishop Williamson and hash it out with him. Then, tell us what “hard days” are about.

  17. Antiquarian says:

    Richard Williamson is virtually a textbook pseudo-intellectual, substituting favored little phrases that appeal to his base (such as the 2 + 2 don’t equal 5 thing he trots out constantly). I think the fact that he has an English accent and speaks confidently fool some of his followers into being dazzled by his intellect, when in fact he says very little of any real substance.

  18. Antiquarian says:

    Whoops, sorry.

    “…substituting favored little phrases, etc…” for arguments that would stand up to any accepted standard of academic (or philosophical, or theological) scrutiny.

  19. CPKS says:

    Antiquarian: right. The invective of Messrs Williamson and Tissier de Mallerais (particularly demonstrated by the latter in his woefully jejune and insinuating allegations about the Holy Father’s understanding of the theology of the atonement) never demonstrates more than an ability to dredge up selective quotes; and “arguments from authority” are never of industrial strength if they do not demonstrate real understanding of the authorities themselves.

    On the subject of theological acumen, I want to make a point, albeit roughly, that I think is important. It is very easy to raise doubts or quibbles with something that someone else has written. It is a far different thing to come up with a thesis that throws real light on a subject, or which makes people say to themselves, “I’m glad I read that, I’ve learned something, that has changed my perspective”. I might loosely characterize these two approaches as “negative” and “positive” respectively.

    As a further clarification of this negative/positive divide, it is useful to consider our Lord Jesus’s moral teaching. Very much moral teaching, seen across times and peoples, takes the form of condemnations of immorality. Very little involves highlighting things that we might have overlooked, things that we ought to pursue, things that enrich and sharpen our sensitivity to God’s will. It is useful to puruse a compendium of the sayings of our Lord Jesus and ask ourselves: “is this teaching negative or positive”? Or, equivalently, “Does this hold up an example of what to avoid, or what to emulate?”

    Using this (albeit vague) criterion, it is interesting to evaluate, theologically, the SSPX critique of contemporary Catholic thought, and ask ourselves to what extent we are being offered things to shun and avoid, and to what extent we are being offered things that are desirable and have been neglected.

    If we look at the content of Catholic moral teaching since the second Vatican council, we can think of the principle of subsidiarity, the insights of Humanae Vitae into the relationship between creative and unitive love in marriage (whereas most mischaracterize that encyclical as forbidding birth control, there is so much more that upholds what is good and precious in the marital relationship!), the work of the late Pope John Paul II of blessed memory on the theology of the body, the work of the present Pope (thinking just for example of the encyclicals to date, and the wonderful writing on the sacraments) – do we not see a great preponderance of the positive over the negative? – And just to take one specific example, on a liturgical question, namely celebratio ad orientem: was Ratzinger’s argument merely a negative one, lamenting what was lost in celebrating the liturgy versus populum, or was it not rather a celebration of the rich meaning of the ad orientem style?

    If I have succeeded in adumbrating something useful here in looking at “positive” rather than “negative” teaching – which, in essence, is holding up something desirable, something to love and seek rather than something to hate or fear and avoid – then it becomes hugely interesting to see what body of teaching emerges from the SSPX, when the negative is removed and only the positive is left.

  20. Gerard says:

    Richard Williamson is virtually a textbook pseudo-intellectual, substituting favored little phrases that appeal to his base (such as the 2 + 2 don’t equal 5 thing he trots out constantly).for arguments that would stand up to any accepted standard of academic (or philosophical, or theological) scrutiny.

    Hah! I guess THAT’s why the Vatican doesn’t want to engage in Doctrinal discussions and the SSPX does.

    By that thinking, there should be a line up at the Vatican of theologians ready to save the Church from Bishop Williamson’s “pseudo-intellectualism.”

    I think the fact that he has an English accent and speaks confidently fool some of his followers into being dazzled by his intellect, when in fact he says very little of any real substance.

    Just keep telling yourself that. One can almost hear the voice cracking and the gulping as you try make a statement like that. ;)

  21. David Kastel says:

    The typical parish priest and diocesan bishop defies the Pope and Rome in a much more grave liturgical issue than the priests and bishops of SSPX do. The say “for all” at the sacramental form at every mass they say in direct defiance of the command of the Pope,and in direct defiaNCE OF 2000 years of Church tradition. The SSPX priests who have declined to say the new Good Friday prayers defy the pope in a much lesser matter.

    Fr Z, when you offer mass in English, do you say “for all” or “for many”?

  22. Antiquarian says:

    ” Richard Williamson is virtually a textbook pseudo-intellectual, substituting favored little phrases that appeal to his base (such as the 2 + 2 don’t equal 5 thing he trots out constantly).for arguments that would stand up to any accepted standard of academic (or philosophical, or theological) scrutiny.

    Hah! I guess THAT’s why the Vatican doesn’t want to engage in Doctrinal discussions and the SSPX does.

    By that thinking, there should be a line up at the Vatican of theologians ready to save the Church from Bishop Williamson’s “pseudo-intellectualism.”

    I think the fact that he has an English accent and speaks confidently fool some of his followers into being dazzled by his intellect, when in fact he says very little of any real substance.

    Just keep telling yourself that. One can almost hear the voice cracking and the gulping as you try make a statement like that. ;)”

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

  23. Antiquarian says:

    “The say “for all” at the sacramental form at every mass they say in direct defiance of the command of the Pope”

    His Holiness says it in Masses in English too. It is, no matter how much we disagree, the currently approved wording. I assume Pope Benedict does not intend to inspire more disobedience to approved texts by ignoring that fact.

  24. Patrick says:

    Gerard,

    The reason Rome has not entered into theological dialogue with Bishop Williamson is because they see it as a supreme waste of time. Williamson has published numerous criticisms of the Church that are quite laughable. He is an intellectual gnat with little respect for true scholarship in the tradition of the Church. His Holiness Pope Benedict doesn’t need to sit down with Bishop Williamson anymore than he needs to sit down with “Pope Michael.”

    Your insistence that Fr. Z needs to interview Bishop Williamson is funny. Do you expect that Williamson would suddenly make sense when all his usual interviews do not?

  25. Oliver says:

    One would think here that the Church of Vatican 2 is the fountain of all knowledge and cannot possibly be held to account for the mess she has created. The fact is Rome is a theological wreck swinging nervously between new hideous expressions of modernism and embarrassing traditional titbits taken from Ratzinger’s long questionable past. It takes a body of clean independent bishops to realise the wealth of the Church and maintain her integrity in exile while the ideas that spawned conciliarism eventually die a death. There is now much greater justification to rely on the Church’s supplied jurisdiction and for the SSPX and others to create far more bishops to deal with the task ahead.

  26. Joseph says:

    “Do they really think that they could go into a theological discussion with Benedict XVI or those whom he would appoint? Really? If so, they have better put on their big boy underwear and eat their Wheaties, because they will have very hard days indeed.”

    This is as vulgar as it is witless. I have never been to a SSPX service in my life but I sense your analytical skills diminish dramatically when confronted with their rationale.