The Remnant: SSPX reconciliation by 2 February?

The traditional Catholic paper The Remnant has a piece by a frequent comment writer here, Brian Mershon, about a possible reconciliation of the SSPX with Rome perhaps by Candlemas, 2 February.

I will not parse Mershon’s whole piece, for it is pretty long-winded and you should in justice visit the Remnant also.  But here are some salient bits:

Brian Mershon
(Exclusive to The Remnant)

In fact, Vatican sources have indicated that the full regularization may occur as early as February 2, 2009, the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady and Candlemas, which, if true, would be quite a Christmas present to the Church and especially traditionalist Catholics worldwide!

Vatican Working on Stable Juridical Structure

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, chief of Human Life International’s Rome bureau, could not confirm the February 2 date, ["…not confirm…"] but said his Curial source told him that they are currently busy working out the practical arrangements for a fully regularized Society of St. Pius X.

The final solution “cannot depend upon individual diocesan bishops,” [no kidding!] Monsignor Barreiro said, noting the longsuffering many traditionalist Catholics experienced for nearly 20 years under the Ecclesia Dei Adflicta arrangement.

“They would certainly need to have guarantees that where they currently are located, they cannot be touched by the local bishop,” Barreiro said, noting the Society’s chapels being located across the globe, which he described as “de facto parishes.”  Barreiro rightly noted that the Society bishops most likely would not accept any solution that involved jurisdiction by the local territorial Ordinary. [Well… okay.  But the local bishop can’t really be ignored can he?  Even if this winds up being a personal prelature, the local bishop has to have some say.  This will need some creative thinking.  But the Commission has access to some very good canonists.  Very good.]

France’s Seminaries to be Over One-Third Traditionalist

In fact, specific resistance is most prevalent in the dying churches of France with their bishops and priests.  [One French priest I know said Mass attendance in regular churches was about 2%.  In years, he had heard a handful of confessions.  God have mercy.] Upon final regularization, Monsignor Barreiro said, “More than one-third of all seminarians in France will be in traditionalist seminaries.” This would include the SSPX, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the Institute of Good Shepherd and the Institute of Christ the King (ICR) as well as some other lesser known traditionalist priestly groups.

“I expect that some structure like a universal Apostolic Administration may be the only solution,” Monsignor Barreiro said, while cautioning that he did not have direct access to the specific details.

Vatican II and All the Councils

“They won’t be asked to accept the Council,” Monsignor Barreiro said. “There is nothing dogmatic regarding faith and morals in the Council documents,” he emphasized. “Many have elevated the Council as if it were a superdogma, when in truth, it was not dogmatic at all.”  ["superdogma" ….  sounds familiar these days…]

Vatican Will Not Demand SSPX Swallow the Council

In other words, there will be no demand for the SSPX leadership to accept the “Decree on Social Communication” as an infallible, dogmatic document.  [ACK!  NO!?!  Okay… deal’s off…]

And despite the ruminations of certain bishops, cardinals, priests, Cardinal Kasper and even George Weigel, neither will they be asked to accept the Decree on Ecumenism, the Declaration of Religious Liberty, Nostra Aetate or even Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum as dogmatic declarations that can stand alone without reading them in light of Tradition[Which would be an unreasonable claim, wouldn’t it.  All the Council’s documents must be interpreted in the light of our Tradition.]

I know Msgr. Barriero and know him to be a solid and thoughful source.  He has a good canonical view as well.

Folks… let us repeat this even as we pray over the hopeful developments:

People of good will ought to be free to disagree over things which are not crystal clear, over the difficult questions raised in the Council’s documents.

Humility is needed on both sides, on the part of those who represent the Holy See and Pope Benedict and those of the SSPX who will offer their concerns and perspectives.

At all costs the Council, or it’s "spirit" must not be elevated to a "super-dogma", which can never be questioned or challenged.

Neither should the SSPX see themselves as the sole-saviors of the Church, who have all the answers and need not submit to Peter or give assent to the Church’s teachings.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM. Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to The Remnant: SSPX reconciliation by 2 February?

  1. Andy K. says:

    “The final solution “cannot depend upon individual diocesan bishops,” [no kidding!] Monsignor Barreiro said”

    That’s from the article.

    With all the talk of “Holocaust” and the Jews, and so on and so forth, I’m surprised an editor let that term in there slip…

  2. Thomas says:

    Wow. The possibilities for putting the Second Vatican Council into its proper place by way of explaining what is required of the SSPX are intriguing. It seems like there’s a chance for the Holy Father to downplay the overhyped council without having to directly confront it, but by this indirect route.

  3. Matthew Hysell says:

    If the SSPX is regularized, what would that mean for the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (whose charism, I understand, is to be a canonical counterpart to the irregular SSPX)? It would make more sense to aggregate the two communities.

  4. Mary says:

    Mr Hyell, I don’t know if they would go for that. From what I can tell on the Internet, even between the FSSP and the ICK there’s a bit of rancor, and I would imagine on that analogy much more so between the FSSP and the SSPX, since any priest who has joined either since 1988 has had to choose between the two and presumably had his reasons. Also, the SSPX has many articles on why one should go neither to indult (as formerly known) nor FSSP Masses since they are compromisers and turncoats. So, I think that might be a little uneasy, to say the least.

    Of course, the real goal, as I see it, of every traditionalist priestly society is its own dissolution, in that time when seminaries are all orthodox and every priest says the Traditional Mass… That is how I think of it, at least. I don’t know if that will happen.

  5. Sid says:

    If we are in fact this close … then all the more reason for all of us to do and say nothing that would break the deal at the last minute.

  6. Paul Haley says:

    People of good will ought to be free to disagree over things which are not crystal clear, over the difficult questions raised in the Council’s documents.

    Humility is needed on both sides, on the part of those who represent the Holy See and Pope Benedict and those of the SSPX who will offer their concerns and perspectives.

    At all costs the Council, or it’s “spirit” must not be elevated to a “super-dogma”, which can never be questioned or challenged.

    Neither should the SSPX see themselves as the sole-saviors of the Church, who have all the answers and need not submit to Peter or give assent to the Church’s teachings.

    Well said, Father, and kudos for posting this information.

  7. CDN Canonist says:

    While it is true that the documents of the Second Vatican Council are not proposed as definitive expressions of dogma, they cannot be dismissed so easily (i.e., as merely “pastoral”).

    I presume that at some point the SSPX bishops will be required to make the most recently formulated profession of faith (1989). The third paragraph of the profession of faith makes explicit mention of the level of teaching authority most commonly ascribed to Vatican II: “Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of intellect and will to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate in the exercise of their authentic teaching authority, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.”

  8. Maureen says:

    Re: priestly societies

    Actually, there’s always been lots of priestly religious orders, societies, and sodalities. I don’t see any reason why a society would necessarily dissolve once it achieves one set of goals. You can always find new goals, even if that goal is just honoring the spirituality of your patron saints, etc.

    Of course, there used to be a lot more lay societies and sodalities out there, also.

  9. Paul Bailes says:

    Dear Fr Z,

    re your adminition “Neither should the SSPX see themselves as .. who …need not … give assent to the Church’s teachings”, I think that’s a superfluous and unwarranted criticism, now and for the last 40 or so years of the SSPX’s existence. The SSPX’s difficulty with VII is precisely about how to give assent to the Church’s teachings up to the 1960s at the same time as assenting to VII. I can imagine how some people (of good will) might misunderstand the SSPX’s position as being at odds with submission to Peter, but for the life of me can’t fathom how the holy men of the SSPX can be misunderstood as some kind of heretic (which I what non-assent to the Church’s teahcings implies).

    Cheers

    Paul

  10. I am not Spartacus says:

    neither will they be asked to accept the Decree on Ecumenism, the Declaration of Religious Liberty, Nostra Aetate or even Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum as dogmatic declarations that can stand alone without reading them in light of Tradition.

    Fr. Z comments: [Which would be an unreasonable claim, wouldn’t it. All the Council’s documents must be interpreted in the light of our Tradition.]

    And since that has been accomplished, that means Vatican Two is part of Tradition, no?

    Card Ratzinger: “Ratzinger Report”

    It must be stated that Vatican II is upheld by the same authority as Vatican I and the Council of Trent, namely, the Pope and the College of Bishops in communion with him… That also with regards to its contents, Vatican II is in the strictest continuity with both previous councils and incorporates their texts word for word in decisive points.

    It is impossible for a Catholic to take a position for or against Trent or Vatican I. Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly the two previous councils… It is likewise impossible to decide in favour of Trent and Vatican I but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upheld the other councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called “traditionalism”, also in its extreme forms…Every partisan choice destroys the whole (the very history of the Church) which can only exist as an indivisible unity

  11. Berthold says:

    I would actually be surprised about an ‘Apostolic administration’. Summorum Pontificum shows that the Holy Father wants Old Rite as part of normal parish life, not as something separated and only celebrated by a group of ‘enthusiasts’. Also, the SSPX does do pastoral work, and it is for me hard to imagine pastoral work not placed under the jurisdiction of the local ordinary – at least at long term.

  12. Paul Bailes says:

    Re Berthold’s “Summorum Pontificum shows that the Holy Father wants Old Rite as part of normal parish life”, subsequent experience seems to show that too many local ordinaries can’t be trusted not to obstruct this. So extraordinary means will be needed, at least until the “long term”.

  13. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “They won’t be asked to accept the Council”

    … as what? It was an ecumenical pastoral council, no? So it has to be accepted as a council of the Church, albeit not a dogmatic one.

    (But why is Lumen Gentium called a “Dogmatic Constitution”?)

  14. Andy K. says:

    Totally unrelated to anything anyone posted after me, but I wanted to state that my usage of the “” around Holocaust in my first comment was in no way intended to demean or diminish the Holocaust. I had meant to use the quotes again in my second case, but didn’t.

    Methinks Fr. Z ought to have the anti-spam be “revise and post”!

  15. RBrown says:

    I am not Spartacus,

    I suggest you send your comments to all the bishops in the West, noting that Vat II said that all clerics should say their office in Latin but in fact almost no one does. You might also mention that Vat II was explicit that seminarians become proficient in Latin.

    If the SSPX has to accept the Council, so does everyone else.

  16. RBrown says:

    … as what? It was an ecumenical pastoral council, no? So it has to be accepted as a council of the Church, albeit not a dogmatic one.

    It was called as a pastoral council, but it became more than that.

    (But why is Lumen Gentium called a “Dogmatic Constitution”?)
    Comment by Jeff Pinyan

    It is called dogmatic because it is. In fact, I maintain that Lumen Gentium expanded the authority of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium to secondary objects of infallibility.

  17. LJM Arrington says:

    In full agreement with R Brown that everyone needs to better accept the Council- the Vatican II council and all the councils- there should be found a thread of continuity and infallibility in them.

  18. Andrew says:

    I am grateful for priests like you, Fr. Z. You do so much good for people like me.

    But I thought the article referenced above was as concise as it could be. But I also happen to like Brian Mershon very much. I was especially edified by his article from November 18, 2008 at Renew America: “One year later…the forgotten document: A reaffirmation of the one true Church of Jesus Christ.” Which then led me to read Br. Andre’s post, “What’s in That Latin Footnote?” at catholicism.org.

    I am not Spartacus quoted the “Ratzinger Report”: “Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly the two previous councils…”

    In Br. Andre’s post he makes this (his?) translation of the following footnote and says, “The Latin notes are from a huge tome known as the Acts of the Synod . These are the official records of all the discussions that took place behind the documents,” . This apparently means that the council understood itself in the following way and that we ought to do the same:

    “B) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 297-301]

    “4 – Let it be said more expressly that there is one sole true Church of Christ; that this is the Apostolic Roman Church; that all must seek to know Her and enter Her in order to obtain salvation…””

    Is this an adequate translation of the following?:

    “4 – Expressius dicatur unam solam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi; hanc esse Catholicam Apostolicam Romanam; omnes debere inquirere, ut eam cognoscant et ingrediantur ad salutem obtinendam”

    If it’s accurate, then how pro-Vatican II does the SSPX seem (at least on one particular point) compared to the Swedish bishops when they write, “The Catholic Church in Sweden has nothing to do with the “crusade” for making Sweden Catholic again, of which the programme reports, and does not support it in any way.”?

  19. Woody Jones says:

    This sounds too good to be true; 2 February is Monday, so if it comes about as suggested, it would be [another–see Bear Stearns/JPMorgan, or Merrill Lynch/BofA] weekend deal. I have never heard of Rome working that fast.

    Nevertheless, I pray that it will happen with all haste. You will pardon me lapsing into my transaction lawyer mode, but as we say in the business (when there is any): when the deal is ready, only bad things can happen if you wait.

  20. Woody Jones says:

    As to the Council, here is what the Supreme Pontiff, Paul VI, said in his address at the last session of the Council, 7 December 1965:

    “But one thing must be noted here, namely, that the teaching authority of the Church, even though not wishing to issue extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements, has made thoroughly known its authoritative teaching on a number of questions which today weigh upon man’s conscience and activity, descending, so to speak, into a dialogue with him, but ever preserving its own authority and force; it has spoken with the accommodating friendly voice of pastoral charity; its desire has been to be heard and understood by everyone; it has not merely concentrated on intellectual understanding but has also sought to express itself in simple, up-to-date, conversational style, derived from actual experience and a cordial approach which make it more vital, attractive and persuasive; it has spoken to modern man as he is.”

    So, not extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements, but authoritative teaching in a dialogic, conversational style, implying, I suppose, that there are various ways to understand what was being said, always in continuity with tradition. Or in other words, the “clarifications” that Bishop Fellay speaks of can certainly be achieved.

  21. Mark says:

    I don’t see the SSPX as having much of a role to play in the USA. A handful of chapels they have here, lack of any relationships with the local Bishops (who can’t really be ignored), a healthy and growing presence of the FSSP, and the specific brand of Catholic Traditionalism SSPX espouses, all mitigate against them. Neither do I see the SSPX as having any role to play in those countries in Europe where the Church is robust, seminaries are full, and Mass attendance rates are between 50% to well over 90%. SSPX is not taken seriously there.

    That leaves Western parts of Europe, where the Church has collapsed, or is near collapse, as their natural habitat. If the Church in France can come back to viability with the help of the SSPX, then more power to them.

  22. MPod says:

    “If the SSPX has to accept the Council, so does everyone else.”

    Hear, hear!

    If the authentic teachings of the council had been accepted by all in the first place, including by the consilium that invented the 1970 Missal, we would not be in this mess.

    St. Pius X, pray for the Church!

  23. Crusader says:

    Maybe one of the conditions the SSPX might request before entering full Communion with Rome would be that the Pope start a list of Forbidden Songs. At the top of the list: “Sing a New Church”.

  24. dcs says:

    I don’t see the SSPX as having much of a role to play in the USA. A handful of chapels they have here

    The SSPX has nearly 100 chapels in the U.S.

    Neither do I see the SSPX as having any role to play in those countries in Europe where the Church is robust, seminaries are full, and Mass attendance rates are between 50% to well over 90%. SSPX is not taken seriously there.

    Which countries might those be? Even in Poland Mass attendance is below 50% (it was 43% and falling in 2004).

  25. TeDeumLaudamus says:

    It seems that the Pope and Society of Pius X must address the Jewish question before any true reconciliation occurs. The public prayer for the conversion of the Jews should be taken away
    and there must be a more definite apology and renouncement of some of Bishop Williamson’s statements and directions. He also said some horrible statements against women saying that it is not good that women receive :”true universities are for ideas, ideas are not for true girls, so true universities are not for true girls a university education.” Women have not good reasoning etc…Anyone can see how poorly bishop Williamson reasons in many of his statements
    even though he is supposed to be with superior reason according to himself.

  26. LeonG says:

    HOORAY! HOORAY! HOORAY!

    At last those conciliar ambiguities & apparent doctrinal deviations will be up for discussion. The holy father is not afraid to do this because he loves such fora. SSPX have some justifiable doubts as do many well-informed traditional and modern Catholics. It is long past the time to do this. The french bishops have tried to tell us recently that Vatican Councils are not for sale which is rather an odd reaction on their part particularly as the french church is on the point of no return & one third of the vocations come from traditionalist seminaries. Malheureusement pour eux, nous avons besoin d’une periode de revision parce que c’est bien evident que ca va tres mal dans l’eglise moderne. Notre Dame d’Akita – priez pour nous, protegez nous.

  27. dcs says:

    The public prayer for the conversion of the Jews should be taken away

    Whatever for?

  28. Martin says:

    Marc dixit:

    those countries in Europe where the Church is robust, seminaries are full, and Mass attendance rates are between 50% to well over 90%

    Marc, can you please specify to which countries you are alluding? Or, you must be using pre-Vatican II numbers.

  29. Brian Day says:

    This is related only tangentially. If the SSPX reconciles, would that have any influence on the “independent” traditionalist chapels?

    I ask only because there is an independent traditionalist chapel in my city. http://www.olhc.us/ With the SSPX reconciled, would there be any impetus to stay independent?

  30. LeonG says:

    Which planet did this come from?

    “Neither do I see the SSPX as having any role to play in those countries in Europe where the Church is robust, seminaries are full, and Mass attendance rates are between 50% to well over 90%. SSPX is not taken seriously there”

    Did you not know God’s strength does not lie in numbers?

    I can think of only one country with such figures and that is Poland.
    Almost everywhere else it is 4%-20%. SSPX are noted for attracting large congregations at their Masses. Once this situation is sorted out then they will attract even greater & they will,have more churches and chapels at their disposal. No wonder some bishops do not want this to succeed.

  31. Martin says:

    TeDeumLaudamus:

    It seems that the Pope and Society of Pius X must address the Jewish question before any true reconciliation occurs. The public prayer for the conversion of the Jews should be taken away

    Is this a joke? A parody? If so, it is quite amusing indeed.

  32. David Kastel says:

    RBrown, are you joking?

    The Church can’t take a vote to grant extra infallibility (“expanded” – lol) to itself.

    The infallibility of the Pope does not change, nor does it apply to pastoral decisions or programs such as interreligious dialogue, ecumenism, or the like.

    Pope John, who convened the Council, called it a pastoral council, as did Pope Paul, who closed it. The current Pope has said the same on many occasions…it is a pastoral council. The Council for sure did NOT anathemetize those who deny what is written in the documents of the Council. Why should the SSPX, or any faithful Catholic, have to affirm the doctrine contained in those unfortunate documents?

  33. Brian Day:

    I’m not sure how independent some of these chapels are as they often use bishops from the Society

  34. RBrown says:

    RBrown, are you joking?

    No, are you?

    The Church can’t take a vote to grant extra infallibility (“expanded” – lol) to itself.

    Do you realize that a vote was taken at Vat I to define the infallibility of the pope? Do you realize that his infallibility was defined so as to cover both primary and secondary objects of infallibility? Finally, do you realize that Vat I only extended the infallibility of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium to primary objects?

    Have you ever read Pastor Aeternus?

    It seems that the answer to all the above question is in the negative.

    The infallibility of the Pope does not change, nor does it apply to pastoral decisions or programs such as interreligious dialogue, ecumenism, or the like.

    I didn’t mention the infallibility of the pope in the previous post. I mentioned only the infallibility of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.

    BTW, Cardinal Ratzinger noted that the infallibility of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is a new exercise of infallibility, and he referred to the appropriate text of Lumen Gentium.

    Pope John, who convened the Council, called it a pastoral council, as did Pope Paul, who closed it. The current Pope has said the same on many occasions…it is a pastoral council. The Council for sure did NOT anathemetize those who deny what is written in the documents of the Council. Why should the SSPX, or any faithful Catholic, have to affirm the doctrine contained in those unfortunate documents?
    Comment by David Kastel

    Why is Lumen Gentium called a Dogmatic Constitution?

  35. Thank you very much Fr. Z for sharing the news. It’s a surprising developement of the story, but it’s a happy surprise. Let’s continue to pray for the Holy Father & SSPX.

  36. Fr. Steve says:

    “Why is Lumen Gentium called a Dogmatic Constitution?”

    The Fact is, that Vatican II did not define any new dogmas.
    Nor did it present anything different from what the universal magisterium has always held.
    If it did, then it wouldn’t be “infallible” would it?
    If SSPX professes to hold the perennial Catholic faith and will help us bring the faithful back to orthodoxy,then I’m all for it.
    You go Holy Father!
    You have all my support.

  37. Fr. Steve says:

    After all the “Dogmatic Constitutions” were ment to express the same ancient Catholic faith that the Society believes.

  38. beng says:

    Do you realize that his infallibility was defined so as to cover both primary and secondary objects of infallibility? Finally, do you realize that Vat I only extended the infallibility of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium to primary objects?
    by RBrown

    Heh? What is “primary objects?” What is “secondary object?”

  39. Father Anonymous says:

    No way! I can’t imagine this happening by next week and I can’t imagine the ‘Remnant’ breaking the news. LOL

  40. Shin says:

    If Ecumenical Councils can err pastorally, is that basically not the equivalent of saying they can ‘sin’ pastorally? And that being the case can one then justifiably reject parts of them for being mistaken or for being sinful?

    How about in disciplinary law?

    While in the past Councils have declared things that the Popes then rejected — Since St. Peter himself made pastoral mistakes and was rebuked for them, is it not the case that the union of a Council to Peter still does not prevent these mistakes or sins?

    Pastoral, disciplinary, doctrinal, dogmatic.. Are the first two even in the cases of Councils & Popes, fallible to the point of sin?

    Everyone speaks about Vatican II, and now we have Trent and Vatican I mentioned here (kudos!) but there are many more Ecumenical Councils which one never hears mentioned at all.

    Certainly some of the things in them I cannot imagine the current Pope agreeing with whatsoever. For example, Lateran IV required Jews and Muslims wear different clothing to identify them as such.

    Where is the support for Lateran IV today? How can people resist a Council of the Church and be anti-Lateran IV?

    What of the Decrees of Vienne? That decreed bishops automatically excommunicated who did not exterminate heresy?

    How many bishops would anyone have to obey today if we held to Vienne today? Where’s the pro-Vienne crowd resisting the anti-Vienne?

    Etc.

    I know I’m coming on strong here but I’d like to know the answers to these questions.

  41. Rob says:

    Brian Mershon’s comments regarding the SSPX the ‘ Vatican Will Not Demand the SSPX Swallow the Council” or implying that they could pick and choose is just foolishness.
    THE POPE SAID in his audience this week:

    “I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by the solicitous effort by them to accomplish the ulterior steps necessary to accomplish full communion with the Church, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.”

    Stop playing mind games about the SSPX not having to accept the Council or about twisting logic the way you can twist toast in a painting. The problem is that the SSPX doesn’t understand the Council or hasn’t wanted to. They tossed it in the garbage bin decades ago as toxic waste. Aren’t Council’s inspired by the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity? When I went to Catholic Schools we prayed fervently in class each day with Sister that the Holy Spirit would shed abundant graces upon the Council Fathers. Didn’t HE? Just because some prelates misinterpreted the Council or misused the Council or just plain flunked out on it doesn’t have anything to do with the TEACHING of the Council. They are not the same things. You can twist toast in a painting but you can’t in reality. Get out the books!

  42. canon1753 says:

    Will they have to accept the Charter and Norms?

    What happens to SSPX priests who actually are incardinated in other RC dioceses? (probably a excardination incardination deal)

    I think there are probably a bunch of sticky details that would take place on a local level which would slow things down, but maybe not on a Vatican-Econe level.

  43. signum says:

    Some of the opinions going around almost seem to be on the way towards believing that Popes sometimes exercise their infallibility by sitting around waiting for a sudden flash of inspiration, even if it is a never-heard of or unsupported idea, following up by going and defining it as a dogma of faith or morals by their apostolic authority. It’s no wonder that many people are put off from entering the Church by the thought that the Pope makes “laws” as he pleases and defines “truths” off the top of his head.

    Of course, as everyone should be aware, the Popes can only define as dogma what is already part of the Faith and has been handed on by the apostles. It is true that there are other infallible teachings of the Church that are not dogma as such: these are statements logically connected to the dogmas of the Church. However, even these are not suddenly defined on impulse but rather are carefully judged to be correct and perhaps defined only after centuries of being taught by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

    It is true that if a Pope were to suddenly define something that had not been properly thought through, he would still define infallibly, given the correct conditions for infallibility, but which Pope in his right mind would act like that? The Popes are the guardians of Tradition and so they don’t set about trying to destroy it. The Holy Spirit would prevent Tradition being destroyed but it still wouldn’t be a good idea to try to make that necessary.

    One might ask what would happen if a Pope, for one reason or another, acted as if he was about to define something that was plainly not true or make a law that was immoral? The answer is obvious: it would not happen. Whatever he ended up writing would be a true statement or a good and moral law.

    That is why all one needs to do is trust the Holy Spirit in these matters, while studying carefully the objective meaning of what is actually written. It is not always what it appears to be at first sight. Believing what is popularly thought to be the teaching of the Church doesn’t necessarily avoid all errors as this example about Papal infallibility shows.

  44. Maeana says:

    Did you see the letter of apology from Bishop Williamson on Rorate Caeli?

  45. pelerin says:

    re suggested list of forbidden songs. I’d like to add the ‘clapping’ Gloria.

  46. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Maena:
    yes the letter of the Bishop is very good.
    I hope the SSPX can get rid of “Gather us in” for all the Latin rite

  47. I am not Spartacus says:

    I suggest you send your comments to all the bishops in the West..

    Mr. Brown. I wish every Bishop in the West were obedient. That many aren’t is not a valid reason for others to reject the Council or to act disobedient.

    I pray the SSPX is regularised but I literally cannot understand how it can be regularised if it rejects an Ecumenical Council.

    I won’t post the past public statements of Bp. Fellay in which he makes it crystal clear he rejects Vatican Two completely because I suspect he now regrets making those statements.

    It does appear to me the SSPX is advancing towards reunion by retreating from its past and I would not like to bear the burden Bp. Fellay bears. He has many many issues to balance while trying to keep his followers together.

    It has got to be exhausting.

    I do think I have lived during the Pontificates of two of the greatest Popes ever and if anyone can get this done it is the brilliant and holy Father Benedict than whom no one on earth is better equipped to confect this reconciliation

  48. CDN Canonist says:

    Will the SSPX be required to explicitly accept the Second Vatican Council? I don’t know.

    It is very likely, however, that the SSPX bishops will be required to make a profession of faith. It is not entirely clear how one can reconcile a profession of faith to return to full communion with the Catholic Church with a denial of the teachings of an ecumenical council. If one is faithful to Tradition, one cannot deny the legitimate teaching authority exercised solemnly at an ecumenical council – including Vatican II.

  49. Limbo says:

    Retreat

         Come into yourself a while,
         Be deaf to outer cries;
         Ask not who wins, who falls, who
    rages,     
    Or what each doubtful sign presages,
         Or what face treachery wears.

         It is not said we shall succeed,
         Save as His Cross prevails:
         The good we choose and mean to do
         Prospers if He wills it too,
         And if not, then it fails.

         Nor is failure our disgrace:
         By ways we cannot know
         He keeps the merit in His hand,
         And suddenly as no one planned,
         Behold the Kingdom grow!

    James McAuley

  50. chironomo says:

    Consider for a moment why this issue is coming up right now…

    As for the February 2nd date, maybe so, and maybe not. Perhaps the whole thing is already done and all that is waiting is the announcement of it. Recall that SP was finished, signed and in the bag long before it was finally promulgated. There is an appropriate time for everything in this Pope’s mind.

    What happens if there is a loud cry from the more liberal Bishops… “They have to accept Vatican II… They have to accept Vatican II!!”. The pontiff could easily reply something like; “I agree totally, let’s take a look at what Vatican II says so we know what they have to accept..”. This may be the point of these ‘discussions’ that have been mentioned. What if the liberal Bishops are then asked to “accept Vatican II”… how can they refuse? Anything which produces a discussion of Vatican II in terms of what the documents actually say can only help!

  51. chironomo says:

    Crusader said;

    “Maybe one of the conditions the SSPX might request before entering full Communion with Rome would be that the Pope start a list of Forbidden Songs. At the top of the list: “Sing a New Church”.”

    I think THAT was a condition set forth in Liturgiam Authenticam:

    “Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.”

    The Bishops stalled and stalled and eventually (6 days before the 5 year deadline) submitted the “Directory for Music and the Liturgy”… a lame document that in no way does what LA required and which has still not been responded to by Rome, despite having been submitted in November of 2006.

    The USCCB document “Sing To The Lord” also was supposed to be submitted to Rome, and the Bishops pulled it at the last minute and made it a “committee document”, thus ducking approval from Rome. The issue of bad music will have to be addressed at some point in the near future… I’m betting within the next 12 months.

  52. CDN Canonist says:

    Is it really fair to criticize the more liberal-minded faithful as “cafeteria Catholics,” when many are proposing precisely this for the SSPX?

    The problem is not “liberal bishops.” The problem is how to reconcile a group of the faithful who, until recently it seems, have been resolute in their rejection of an ecumenical council.

  53. dcs says:

    It strikes me as entirely possible that the suspensions of the SSPX clergy could be lifted and they could be given some sort of provisional jurisdiction while the doctrinal discussions are ongoing.

  54. Luigi says:

    There have been several comments about the Council along these lines:

    It was an ecumenical pastoral council…

    It was called a pastoral council that became much more…

    Let’s be clear; Vatican II is properly speaking an Ecumenical Council. There are certain requirements in Canon Law that must be met in order for a council to be considered “ecumenical,” and Vatican II meets them.

    The term “a pastoral council” has no canonical meaning in this context. (“Pastoral councils” as consultative councils of the fiathful on the diocesan and parish levels are addressed in canon law, however, not as the term is being used in reference to Vatican II.)

    To say that Vatican II is a “pastoral council” is simply a secondary descriptor that has little meaning apart from a great deal of explanation. One could just as easily describe Trent as a pastoral council since it administered truth to a people in need, as all ecumenical councils.

  55. CDN Canonist says:

    dcs,

    What reasons do you propose to support your suggestion? What precisely is “provisional jurisdiction”? One either possesses the power of governance or not; the SSPX clergy clearly do not.

  56. RBrown says:

    I suggest you send your comments to all the bishops in the West..

    Mr. Brown. I wish every Bishop in the West were obedient. That many aren’t is not a valid reason for others to reject the Council or to act disobedient.

    Yes, but let’s not apply a double standard. Why should Rome be strict with the SSPX but not with the rest of the Church?

    It reminds me that a few years ago some of the bishops were saying that anyone who attended a 1962 Missal Mass must first say that they accept the validity of the Novus Ordo. As I told a friend then working at the Cong of the Clergy, “Are they going to require those attending a Novus Ordo to say they accept the validity of Humanae Vitae?

    I pray the SSPX is regularised but I literally cannot understand how it can be regularised if it rejects an Ecumenical Council.
    Comment by I am not Spartacus

    I’m not sure that the SSPX rejects all of Vat II.

    Having said that, I think their rejection of religious liberty is naive. That text was intended to insist on the rights of the Church with secular governments.

  57. RBrown says:

    Stop playing mind games about the SSPX not having to accept the Council or about twisting logic the way you can twist toast in a painting. The problem is that the SSPX doesn’t understand the Council or hasn’t wanted to. They tossed it in the garbage bin decades ago as toxic waste.

    A few years ago two Cardinals, one the putative grand elector of JPII, said that the document on liturgy is not very good.

    Aren’t Council’s inspired by the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity?

    Who told you that?

    When I went to Catholic Schools we prayed fervently in class each day with Sister that the Holy Spirit would shed abundant graces upon the Council Fathers.

    See above. And I might also add that there are many who think that Presbyterorum Ordinis is an adequate expression of the ministerial priesthood.

    Didn’t HE?

    Interestingly enough, in the hymn for laudes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the HS is referred to as “datrix”.

    Vox ergo Prolem de polis
    testatur excelsi Patris
    fluitque virtus Spiritus
    sancti datrix charismatis

    Just because some prelates misinterpreted the Council or misused the Council or just plain flunked out on it doesn’t have anything to do with the TEACHING of the Council. They are not the same things. You can twist toast in a painting but you can’t in reality. Get out the books!
    Comment by Rob

    See above.

  58. RBrown says:

    1. The Fact is, that Vatican II did not define any new dogmas.
    Nor did it present anything different from what the universal magisterium has always held.

    2. If it did, then it wouldn’t be “infallible” would it?
    If SSPX professes to hold the perennial Catholic faith and will help us bring the faithful back to orthodoxy,then I’m all for it.
    You go Holy Father!
    You have all my support.
    Comment by Fr. Steve

    1. Defining new dogma is not the requirement for being a Dogmatic Constitution.

    2. There is no theological tradition behind the dogma of the Immaculate Conception–and we both agree that it is infallible.

  59. RBrown says:

    Is it really fair to criticize the more liberal-minded faithful as “cafeteria Catholics,” when many are proposing precisely this for the SSPX?

    IMHO, “Cafeteria Catholics” refers to people who reject dogmatic teachings with which they disagree, e.g., contraception, abortion, and sexual morality.

    What is the dogmatic teaching rejected by the SSPX?

    The problem is not “liberal bishops.” The problem is how to reconcile a group of the faithful who, until recently it seems, have been resolute in their rejection of an ecumenical council.
    Comment by CDN Canonist

    See above: My comment that VatII said that the clergy are to say the Office in Latin, but almost no one does. Also that VatII insists that candidates for the priesthood be proficient in Latin. How many bishops in the US have insisted on that?

  60. RBrown says:

    Heh? What is “primary objects?” What is “secondary object?”
    Comment by beng

    Primary objects refer to the dogma itself. The word used is credendum (to be believed)

    Secondary objects refer to what is intrinsically connected to the dogma. Tenendum (to be held).

    Primary object: That the ministerial priesthood exists.

    Secondary object: That it is limited to men.

  61. Luigi says:

    Maybe it helps to think of the Council’s relative “infallibilty” this way. To the extent that VII presented dogmas of the faith that had been defined by Council’s past, it coud not err. This means that the Council faithfully handed on the sacred deposit of faith even as it chose not to make new dogmatic definitions.

    That is not to say, however, that “men of good will” may not debate those other matters addressed by the Council, as Fr. Z says. An example follows.

    A general comment: The burden is not on any one of us to defend the negative “VII did not err,” rather, the burden is on the Council’s detractors to be specific in their allegations that it did err if in fact they believe this to be so. i.e. If anyone wants to point to a specific article in the conciliar documents in order to question its reliability, let them do so.

    That said, here’s an example of what it means to say that not everything proposed by the Council is to be taken as an infallible proclamation that is beyond debate. From Gaudium et Spes speaking of workers:

    “These should be able truly to represent them and to contribute to the organizing of economic life in the right way. Included is the right of freely taking part in the activity of these unions without risk of reprisal. Through this orderly participation joined to progressive economic and social formation, all will grow day by day in the awareness of their own function and responsibility, and thus they will be brought to feel that they are comrades in the whole task of economic development and in the attainment of the universal common good according to their capacities and aptitudes.” (GS 68)

    The Council Fathers seem to be implying that labor unions are a praiseworthy vehicle for promoting the common good. You and I can flatly say, “No, I disagree,” without fear of having violated our faithfulness to the Church. Why? Becuase this is not a matter of fatih and morals.

    It is quite another thing to say that Dignitatis Humanae violated the centuries old tradition of the Church in the matter of religious liberty. (A fairly common assertion that is attributed to the SSPX, if I understand correctly.) The Council did not violate sacred Tradition in this way, in fact, it could not since in order to do so it would have had to err in the matter, and an ecumenical council cannot.

    I will readily admit, it can at times, as in this case, be difficult to reconcile what the Council proposes with the sacred deposit of faith, but the point is it CAN be done, and those who think that they have spotted a doctrinal error in the conciliar texts are sadly mistaken.

    The bottom line is this; if a gathering of the world’s bishops, in communion with the Holy Father, assembled in an ecumenical council can teach error with regard to faith and morals, the whole thing is a joke and we’re wasting our time. The good news is, we are not. : )

    So long story short, to “accept VII” is to accept the individual propositions in the context in which they are offered.

    Any thoughts?

  62. CDN Canonist says:

    RBrown,

    To suggest, as you did above, that Vatican II insisted that the “clergy are to say the Office in Latin,” is misleading. Sacrosanctum concilium explicitly provides for the use of the vernacular in the Divine Office (see art. 101).

    You may also want to reassess your definition of “cafeteria Catholic,” i.e. as those who “reject dogmatic teachings.” The teaching on the illicit use of contraception is not “dogmatic,” i.e. it is not divinely revealed nor is it definitively proposed as a doctrine which is necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of the faith. According to your definition, then, one is free to disregard the teaching in Humanae Vitae. Surely, you are not suggesting this?

  63. Jordanes says:

    And despite the ruminations of certain bishops, cardinals, priests, Cardinal Kasper and even George Weigel, neither will they be asked to accept the Decree on Ecumenism, the Declaration of Religious Liberty, Nostra Aetate or even Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum as dogmatic declarations that can stand alone without reading them in light of Tradition.

    Of course neither George Weigel nor even Cardinal Kasper have said the SSPX will or should be asked to accept such a thing. They would, of course, have to accept LG and DV as dogmatic declarations, since that’s what the Church says they are, but not as standing alone apart from the light of tradition. Do Weigel and Kasper believe any of those documents, or any other magisterial documents of the Church, are dogmatic declarations that can stand alone without reading them in the light of tradition?

  64. CDN Canonist says:

    Luigi,

    I think you provide a reasonable assessment of this debate. Space and time does not permit me to provide a lengthy response.

    I would simply point out that the profession of faith prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1989 provides a helpful guide to (1) differentiate the various levels of teaching authority, and (2) the levels of response demanded of these teachings.

    Terms such as “pastoral,” “dogmatic,” “dogma” are thrown around very loosely in many posts above, often to justify one’s preferences. Unfortunately, they lack juridic precision. Presumably, the ongoing discussions with the SSPX will help clarify the teaching authority of an ecumenical council and the response required of the faithful.

  65. Jordanes says:

    CDN Canonist claimed: The teaching on the illicit use of contraception is not “dogmatic,” i.e. it is not divinely revealed nor is it definitively proposed as a doctrine which is necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of the faith.

    Really? Sure seems to me like it meets the requirements of a doctrine taught infallibly at least in the ordinary magisterium.

  66. Jason Keener says:

    “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council DEFINED NO DOGMA AT ALL, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”—Cardinal Ratzinger address to the Bishops of Chile in 1988

  67. CDN Canonist says:

    Jordanes,

    No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident (c. 749,3). This is not “manifestly evident” in Humanae vitae, nor has this been determined subsequently.

    I’m not suggesting that the teaching of Humanae vitae is not true or should not be followed. But, at the same time, we cannot attribute to Humanae vitae a level of teaching authority that it has not been assigned.

  68. RBrown says:

    To suggest, as you did above, that Vatican II insisted that the “clergy are to say the Office in Latin,” is misleading. Sacrosanctum concilium explicitly provides for the use of the vernacular in the Divine Office (see art. 101).

    1. The text of no. 101 is poorly constructed.

    That notwithstanding, the fact that the Office is almost universally said by clerics in the vernacular cannot be reconciled with the text of 101, which qualifies the obligation of Latin with exceptions for use of the vernacular.

    2. And of course, there is also the little matter that the bishops have not ensured that their seminarians learn Latin. There is no doubt that is explicit both in VatII and the CIC.

    You may also want to reassess your definition of “cafeteria Catholic,” i.e. as those who “reject dogmatic teachings.” The teaching on the illicit use of contraception is not “dogmatic,” i.e. it is not divinely revealed nor is it definitively proposed as a doctrine which is necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of the faith. According to your definition, then, one is free to disregard the teaching in Humanae Vitae. Surely, you are not suggesting this?
    Comment by CDN Canonist

    NB: I used the phrase “dogmatic teaching” instead of “dogma” in order to avoid the problem you are referencing.

    The jury is out on whether Humanae Vitae was of itself infallible (as extraordinary teaching), but it seems to me it must be considered part of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, from which its infallibility is taken.

    LG, 25.2:

    Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.(40*) This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith.(41*)

    Note that the text uses the same language for both matters of faith and morals, also the presence of the word “held” (secondary objects–tenenda), which is taken to include “believed (primary objects–credenda). And so the teaching found in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis has the same status as an OUM teaching on morals.

  69. RBrown says:

    Jordanes,

    I just noticed your comment above. Obviously, I agree with you.

  70. RBrown says:

    One other point:

    There is a school of thought that considers dogma only to be that which directly concerns matters of the faith. I don’t know the origin of this, but it seems that many many Jesuits have adopted it.

    I reject such a limitation.

    The Church is founded on the Human Nature of Christ, conjoined as an instrument (instrumentum coniunctum) to Christ’s Divine Nature. Thus any teaching on morals based on the natural law (i.e., human nature) also must refer to Christ’s Human Nature and the Incarnation.

    Further, there are teachings that can be known both by faith and by reason alone, sometimes called dogmata mixta. Included in this category are the Existence of God, the existence and incorruptibility of the Human Soul, and moral teachings based on the natural law. In so far as these can be known by an act of faith, I would have to disagree with any attempt to exclude them from what is known as dogma.

  71. CDN Canonist says:

    RBrown,

    Please see c. 749 in its entirety. I agree that the college of bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council or dispersed throughout the world can also teach infallibly under certain conditions (i.e, they agree that a particular proposition concerning faith or morals is to be held definitively). Could you show me where they have done this?

    The canon is clear: “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident” (c. 749,3). Besides, Humanae vitae is a papal encyclical and excludes any reference to the college of bishops.

  72. Maynardus says:

    I’d love to think that this is actually going to happen by 2 February, but I don’t really believe it. This is too important to rush, and both the Pope and the S.S.P.X. know it.

    Regarding the correct interpretation of the ambiguities in the Conciliar documents, Archbishop Lefebvre proposed (ca. 1977) that the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of the Decrees of the Second Vatican Council be tasked with studying them, soliciting input from both critics and defenders, and drafting an “official” interpretation which would be binding upon all upon its adoption.

    Lefebvre was so certain that this method would produce orthodox and traditional understandings of the contested passages that he agreed in advance to be bound by the findings. Unfortunately his “offer” was rejected by Pope Paul VI although it seems obvious that this would have been a valuable endeavor even irrespective of the Archbishop’s case.

    According to Michael Davies, Cardinal Ratzinger’s involvement in the affair dates to about this period (mid-1977) when he was Archbishop of Munich and newly-elevated to the Sacred College. It’s not unreasonable to expect that both His Holiness and Bishop Fellay would be basing their expectations for the next stage of the process on the Archbishop’s original proposal. Pope Paul lamented the distortions of the Council but didn’t seem terribly interested in taking any practical steps to clarify the ambiguities or correct the erroneous interpretations. But Benedict’s pontificate has been – from day one – about continuity with tradition and perhaps it is this attitude which has finally brought the S.S.P.X. to a level of trust which they did not display toward his predecessors.

    But it will take more than a weekend to complete the task at hand. I don’t expect the Pope to publicly decree a punchlist of “Officially Approved Interpretations of the Second Vatican Council” at a moment’s notice, although I have no doubt that as a theologian and Pope he certainly has the capability. Certainly the S.S.P.X. could accept regularization and a juridical structure before these questions are addressed, but what in their history would give anyone reason to believe that such a sudden step is at all likely?

    We have much cause for hope, but keep praying!

  73. I am not Spartacus says:

    Yes, but let’s not apply a double standard. Why should Rome be strict with the SSPX but not with the rest of the Church?

    Mr. Brown. Pope John Paul’s hand was forced due to the Consecrations. That could not be tolerated but I agree with your general point.

    I think my spiritual heritage has been stolen by AmBishops who have not been obedient. I was raised in what is now called the EFM (an unintended double entendre, no?) and I miss it dearly.

    It has been more’n forty years since my Mass and Sacred music were stolen from me and I think it about time they were returned and I think if this great Pope can confect this reconciliation it will be all good, as the kids say.

  74. Mark says:

    dcs:

    One hundred SSPX chapels in the USA is a very small number. In my opinion, they should really concentrate on Western Europe. But I do wish them well wherever they go.

    Church related statistical information on Poland can be obtained from the “Statistical Institute of the Roman Catholic Church”. Link below shows their Sunday Church attendance and communion records for the past decade or so, broken down per diocese. As everywhere else, dioceses with large cities lag behind the dioceses with many medium and small towns. However, the overall numbers speak for themselves.

    http://www.iskk.ecclesia.org.pl/praktyki-niedzielne.htm

  75. Orthros says:

    In the list of Forbidden Songs, “Anthem” really needs to be at the very top.

    This is a deal-breaker… we need to shoot this song, bury it, exhume it, shoot it again and rebury.

  76. RBrown says:

    Please see c. 749 in its entirety.

    There is nothing in it that is not found in LG 25.

    It is very important to note that the infallibility of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium is NOT a function of the agreement of all the bishops in the world, just as a Conciliar document does not need consensus. The infallibility is a function of them being in communion with the pope. You will find this in both LG and no.749 (which, btw, has been taken directly from LG 25).

    I agree that the college of bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council or dispersed throughout the world can also teach infallibly under certain conditions (i.e, they agree that a particular proposition concerning faith or morals is to be held definitively).

    I would hope you agree with LG 25 and the CIC.

    Could you show me where they have done this?

    Could you show me where the bishops dispersed throughout the world have taught that only men can be priests?

    The canon is clear: “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident” (c. 749,3). Besides, Humanae vitae is a papal encyclical and excludes any reference to the college of bishops.
    Comment by CDN Canonist

    You missed the point:

    1. Infallibility is not limited to infallible definitions (cf Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). This is found in no. 749, which you recommended.

    2. If Humanae Vitae is not infallible in itself (thus ordinary), then it can be considered part of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.

  77. RBrown says:

    Yes, but let’s not apply a double standard. Why should Rome be strict with the SSPX but not with the rest of the Church?

    Mr. Brown. Pope John Paul’s hand was forced due to the Consecrations. That could not be tolerated but I agree with your general point.
    Comment by I am not Spartacus

    The suspension of Lefebvre happened years before the consecration of bishops.