Archbp. Vlazny (Portland, OR) on the lifting of the excommunications

His Excellency John Vlazny of Portland, Oregon, has made comments about the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.

All in the family
By Archbishop John Vlazny
 
The first two weekends of Lent here in the Archdiocese of Portland each year draw our attention to growth in the family of believers. [a good way to start]  Bishop Steiner and I travel around the archdiocese to celebrate what we describe as the Rite of Election. The catechumens who are preparing for Baptism become our elect, those chosen for the Easter sacraments. Those already baptized in other Christian families are welcomed as candidates for continuing conversion on the road to receiving Confirmation and Eucharist with the catechumens at the Easter Vigil. If nothing else happens, at least the elect and candidates are much more mindful of the fact that the Catholic family is much larger than the parish venue with which they have become familiar thus far in the process of initiation.

Church membership is a privilege and a gift, not an accomplishment or entitlement. No one is perfect. We all sin. From time to time we need to seek healing and forgiveness through the sacrament of Reconciliation. The season of Lent reminds all of us that our conversion to Christ is lifelong and ongoing, one that requires our attention, something we can never take for granted.

Church membership brings with it certain expectations
in terms of our beliefs, values and behaviors. Serious sin, we know, excludes us from the full participation in the celebration of the Eucharist. We all learned as children that we must confess mortal sins before approaching the Lord in the sacrament of the Eucharist. We can also choose to walk away from the church, disassociate ourselves from the family’s activities, halt our support for its mission. But once baptized, always baptized. Even when you or I might choose to walk away from the church, the church can’t walk away from us, even though it might penalize us in some way.

A penalty we hear a lot about is excommunication. Excommunication was a word that was bantered about a lot during recent elections because of unseemly behavior on the part of some rather well known Catholic politicians. Should they be excommunicated for supporting abortion rights? If not excommunicated, does that mean they are still welcome at the table of the Lord?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us, “Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them.” That’s tough talk.

When a person is excommunicated, he or she may no longer participate in the liturgy in any ministerial capacity and certainly is not allowed to receive the Eucharist or the other sacraments. He or she may be present for the celebration of Mass, [As a matter of fact, the excommunicate still is obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.]  for example, because the excommunication is primarily intended to signal the gravity of the offense and lead the person to conversion from behaviors or statements which are seriously at odds with Catholic values and teachings. A person who has been excommunicated is still considered Christian and a Catholic because the seal of Baptism is indelible. Excommunications are sometimes automatic and at other times they must be declared in a more public way. However the excommunication takes place, it may be lifted by legitimate authority for a good reason.

As most of us are now aware, Pope Benedict XVI recently lifted the excommunication on four bishops of the St. Pius X Society who were ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. This took place during Christian Unity Week in January, a gesture described by Pope Benedict XVI as “paternal.” It is the Holy Father’s hope that this will be the first step toward reconciliation with these bishops and their followers and their eventual restoration as full members of our Catholic family. But it is only a first step, a reaching out of one hand to another with the hope that beliefs and behaviors will be brought in line with those of our Catholic family.

Reaction to the Holy Father’s “paternal gesture” have been mixed, some quite hostile. Recently I received a letter from an irate couple in the archdiocese who expressed their great disappointment with the Holy Father in this regard and, as a result of this action and others, were strongly considering leaving the church as a protest to this “lack of moral leadership.[Puhlese... there is more to such a threat than this event.] We also learned that Israel’s rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican as a protest to this decision of the Pope.

Why all this hostility? After news of the lifting of the excommunication was made public, it was learned that one of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, who resides in the United States, [Ummm... not for years.  Is Argentina a type of "United States" also?] had publicly expressed serious doubts about the killing of six million Jews through the Holocaust. Lifting the excommunication was considered a grave violation of the mutual understanding that has grown between the Jewish and Catholic communities during respectful dialogue in recent years. The reaction here in Portland wasn’t so strong but many questions were raised by our Jewish friends.

Back on February 3, the President of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George, acknowledged publicly that Bishop Williamson’s denial of the Holocaust was “deeply offensive and utterly false.” The Pope’s gesture, he explained, was “an act of mercy and personal concern for the ordained and lay members” of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X.
Pope Benedict, like all pastors of the church, works and prays that one day all Christians will once again be one. Like his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, he is hopeful that the full communion with the Catholic Church of these bishops and their priests will be reestablished. Of course these bishops, like the rest of us, will have to give their assent to all that our church professes, including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which is a very neuralgic matter for them. [I would say!]

The outrage over the remarks of Bishop Williamson is certainly understandable. None of us can erase the memory of the Shoah. No Catholic may tolerate expressions of anti-Semitism and religious bigotry. In fact, subsequent to the lifting of the excommunications, the Holy Father himself has said, “May the Shoah show both old and new generations that only the arduous path of listening and dialogue, of love and forgiveness, can lead peoples, cultures and religions of the world to the longed-for goal of fraternity and peace, in truth. May violence never again humiliate man’s dignity.” Undoubtedly it is much easier to welcome the elect and the candidates to the Sacraments of Initiation this coming Easter than it will be to welcome back those who were separated by their denial of fundamental church teachings, like the four bishops of the St. Pius X Society and their followers. [You know... this is a pretty good point.  However, what "fundamental church teaching" have the leadership of the SSPX denied?  I can think of a lot of progressivists who] Lifting an excommunication is not a signal that they have returned home. But it opens the door to the possibility of their return.

In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus tells us the father rushes out to greet his wayward son long before he reaches home. I see the Pope’s gesture somewhat akin to that one, even though the Pope has done no more than open the door. In no way has he rushed out to welcome these wayward bishops home[Not a bad analogy.  We should remember that the father stood watching, waiting for his son to return.] We Catholics pledge to continue doing our best to build bonds of trust and understanding with our elder brothers and sisters in faith, the Jewish people, God’s own people who uniquely journey with us on the road to salvation.

Pretty good, actually!  

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36 Responses to Archbp. Vlazny (Portland, OR) on the lifting of the excommunications

  1. Tom says:

    I’m detecting a thaw in some quarters

  2. Tim Ferguson says:

    Vlazny’s misunderstanding of Williamson’s current location is, perhaps, excusable – he was bishop of Winona when Williamson was presiding over the SSPX seminary just up the hill from Vlazny’s own college seminary. I’m sure that, since his move to Portland, he’s not kept tabs on the current whereabouts of his erstwhile neighbor (who was, I’ve no doubt, a more than occasional source of irritation for the good bishop).

  3. A Random Friar says:

    The SSPX was fairly strong in Veneta, OR and Portland, IIRC, which may be part of the reason he has written this.

  4. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:

    This is actually pretty lousy. I am tired of seeing the prodigal son parable being applied to this situation. It is infinitely more complex than that and is quite an insulting comparison. I am sure that the Orthodox or Protestants wouldn’t like that parable being applied to them. If these bishops had taught the faith and celebrated the liturgy like it should be then there wouldn’t be an SSPX.

  5. TJM says:

    I’m far more concerned with the Mahoneys and Trautmans of this world who masquerade as Catholic bishops. They’re the ones I’m concerned about. Tom

  6. Brian Day says:

    From the Diocese of Orange in California:

    Bishop Brown Statement on Distressing Comments by Richard Williamson, SSPX

    Having returned from a pilgrimage to Vietnam and a visit to our sister Diocese of Hanoi, I was distressed to hear of the stated opinions of Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) Bishop Richard Williamson regarding the terrible and unforgettable events of the Holocaust. It is unfortunate that a gesture toward dialogue on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI toward the SSPX has been obscured by the hurtful words of Bishop Williamson. I unequivocally add my voice to that of the Holy See and our United States Bishop’s Conference in support of the Jewish Community and in condemnation of Bishop Williamson’s statements regarding the Shoa. I wish also, to assure the Jewish Community of Orange County of my ongoing commitment to the dialogue and friendship which over many years has marked our relationship. I look forward to working together with our Jewish brothers and sisters for the good of all our people and I especially wish to warmly commend the work and ongoing dialogue of our Jewish/Catholic Commission.

    The Most Rev. Tod D. Brown, Bishop of Orange

    http://www.rcbo.org/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&Itemid=100000001

  7. LCB says:

    “Church membership is a privilege and a gift, not an accomplishment or entitlement.”

    I thought that all persons had a right to Baptism, accompanied by the duty of giving due and proper worship to God?

  8. The Other David says:

    Yes and No. We certainly cannot deny the person seeking salvation. But we are not owed membership in the Church, and cannot demand salvation.

  9. QMJ says:

    When I moved to Oregon (little more than a year ago) I was not given a very good impression of Archbishop
    Vlazny by some people here in the archdiocese. In the past year I have found that initial impression to be
    wrong.This statement has strengthened my good opinion of him. It is great to see this. Thank you for posting it.

  10. Yes we are not owed membership in the Church, it is a free gift, but the gift is not given by men in the Church, but by Christ. Anyone who cooperates with the grace of God is “entitled” to membership in the Church, and no man, not even the pope, can deny him that. The Church is not some club, it is the Mystical Body of Christ, outside of which absolutely no one is saved.

  11. John Mueller says:

    I received Holy Communion from the Archbishop on Ash Wednesday. He gave a wonderful homily about the need to recover the lost Catholic tradition in regards to Lenten fasting. His Excellency recalled that, fifty years ago, Catholics fasted for the entire Lenten season, not just on Ash Wednesday,Fridays and Holy Week. He taught of the benefits of fasting to our souls. He said that maybe it was a good time to reconsider the recovery of these good practices. Well said.

  12. veritas says:

    What a wonderful last sentence – it should be given wide publicity. It echoes Vatican II , Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict.

    As one familiar the old catchism I believe that one cannot be saved without faith and that “faith is the gift of God by which we are enabled to believe without doubting what God has revealed.”

  13. LeonG says:

    “No Catholic may tolerate expressions of anti-Semitism and religious bigotry.”

    True. However, is expressing some doubt about actual numbers exterminated anti-semitic or bigotry in itself? This is a misunderstanding of the word Semitic in any case. Bishop Williamson is not necessarily bigoted if he questions numbers. I fact, while I certainly believe several million Jews were shamefully exterminated in concentration camps the SWW was about wider issues that the so-called Holocaust should not be permitted to hijack in the way that it does. Hostilities and self-justifications aroused by anyone who does this disguises other agendas and also attempts to conceal some insidious phobias of its own. Objective and rational responses would be better and more representative of the alleged freedom of speech that many protest to defending.

    The issue of excommunications and SSPX has essentially nothing whatever to do with The Holocaust. It has been exploited as a propagandist instrument to further undermine this pontificate from without The Church and, very lamentably from within.

  14. DAJL says:

    I identify two “fundamental teachings of the Church” denied by the leadership of the SSPX. (1) The unity of the Church: Her “first mark” is expressed and effected especially by acting and remaining in communion with the Bishop of Rome. By the original act of disobedience explicitly, and implicitly by their less than fully hospitable response to Pope Benedict’s magnamimous gifts of Summorum POntificum (even though this also had other ends) and the lifting of the excommunications, these four bishops deny the unity of the Church. (2) The status of an ecumenical council: All issues of implementation aside (and remembering that it always takes multiple generations to implement major councils), Vatican II has all the same ear-marks of the highest conciliar authority as Trent, Fourth Lateran, Chalcedon, to name a few; namely, the intention to be ecumenical in scope and result; the participation of bishops from throughout the world and representing the whole Church; the authority of the Pope in convoking it and promulgating its decrees; the approbation of succeeding Popes; and explicit continuity with preceding councils. By using their own judgment above the “mind of the Church” in respect to Vatican II, these bishops imply that anyone may use his own judgment in the same way in respect to any of the other councils.

  15. David says:

    DAJL,

    You are wrong when you wrote:

    “Vatican II has all the same ear-marks of the highest conciliar authority as Trent, Fourth Lateran, Chalcedon, to name a few; namely, the intention to be ecumenical in scope and result; the participation of bishops from throughout the world and representing the whole Church; the authority of the Pope in convoking it and promulgating its decrees; the approbation of succeeding Popes; and explicit continuity with preceding councils.”

    There’s no doubt that the Second Vatican Council was an Ecumenical Council, but there’s no indication that it’s pronouncements carry equal authority as other pronouncements from other Councils. Vatican II made no new dogmatic pronouncements that are binding on the faithful, first by it’s own admission, and then by the admission of Pope Paul VI, at least one subsequent Magisterial statement, and then at least one statement of the man who was to become Pope Benedict XVI.

    First, the Council itself states: “In view of the conciliar practice and pastoral purpose of the present Council, the sacred Synod defines matters of faith and morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.” This is the preliminary note of the theological commission that Paul VI ordered to be inserted into Lumen Gentium.

    Second, Pope Paul VI clearly stated in 1966: “In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document.”

    Third, the magisterial statement from the CDF, Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church (2007), stated clearly that the Second Vatican Council did not define any new doctrines.

    Fourth, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict XVI, in his capacity as head of the CDF stated in 1988 that “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.”

    An Ecumenical Council can teach in an infallible manner as part of the Extraordinary Magisterium, or an Ecumenical Council can teaching according to the Ordinary Magisterium. As Pope Paul VI stated, the Second Vatican Council did not make any extraordinary statements endowed with infallibility. Thus, one can not make the statement that the Second Vatican Council is equal in authority to Ecumenical Councils that did.

    I have a little more sympathy for you when you wrote:

    “the unity of the Church: Her “first mark” is expressed and effected especially by acting and remaining in communion with the Bishop of Rome. By the original act of disobedience explicitly, and implicitly by their less than fully hospitable response to Pope Benedict’s magnamimous gifts of Summorum POntificum (even though this also had other ends) and the lifting of the excommunications, these four bishops deny the unity of the Church.”

    If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then… But, you have to admit that is a subjective judgment on our part. Whether or not the SSPX was schismatic is for the Vatican to decide, and the PCED has stated they were not. Therefore, there’s no basis for you to say, aside from personal opinion, if the SSPX was or is guilty of schism.

  16. Fr Paul McDonald says:

    One thing was lacking to Vatican II as that Council *explicitly* said of itself: the will to “bind”, the will to demand a “definitive assent” for its teaching.
    I can think of only one other instance where the magisterium, either in advance or after, explicitly said: “my teaching is not binding”: when, in the press conference after the release of Humanae vitae, the official spokesman, one Monsignor Lambruschini, being asked if the encyclical was infallible (= definitively binding), said “No.” He was never officially contradicted.
    (The encyclical itself as such may have refrained from imposing definitively its judgment, but the doctrine itself that artificial contraception is intrinsically wrong and gravely wrong is infallibly taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium down through the ages.)
    What a disaster !
    Contrast this with Ordinatio sacerdotalis, in which Pope John Paul II explicitly fulfilled all the four conditions for an exercise of infallibility, thus now and forever all catholics must “definitively” hold that the Church has no authority whatsoever to ordain women to the ministerial priesthood.
    There is no new insight or teaching of Vatican II with any authority like that !

  17. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    Archbishop Vlazny has, like many, evolved in his episcopacy. He is incredibly humble, kind, and gentle, and is completely willing to follow where the Holy Spirit leads him. He just celebrated his 25th Episcopal Jubilee, so he’s had many a year to reflect, grow, and evolve (like we all do). He’s a wonderful man and, although I’ve had disagreements with him, I have nothing but total love and respect for him.

  18. TMG says:

    Will we now see a lock-step avalanche of letters to the faithful such as this one, and the one Fr. Z posted yesterday from another Diocese, in which the opportunity to bash the SSPX over the head via “guidance to the faithful” seems to be the only thing the Dioceses’ get worked up over?

    They’re busy making sure they keep the SSPX in a box in a dark and remote corner of the basement, and what better way than scaring the faithful away from them with letters such as this? After all, the SSPX is the boogeyman to them – they may have to actually learn Latin if this traditionalist stuff is allowed to take hold! Or worse yet….what if the CASSOCK comes back?! Ooooh – be afraid, be very afraid, close that box!

  19. dcs says:

    Indeed, one might say that since membership in the Church is necessary for salvation we have a right to membership in the Church. But this statement is obscured by modern “rights” language which admits of no qualifications. We have a right to the Sacraments, for example, but our pastors have the right and in fact the duty to see to it that we are properly prepared and disposed to receive them.

  20. veritas says:

    What sort of people are they who question the reality or magnitude of the shoah? Historians? Those who think well of the Jewish people? Those who reject publications such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Those who are not anti-Zionist?

    Should the questioning come from ones such as these then one might not suspect an ulterior motive. As it is “if it quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it is a duck”.

  21. LCB says:

    David,

    I have not read your 2nd and 3rd points before. Can you source them please? (not doubting, just would like to read the originals).

  22. LCB says:

    Veritas,

    Noam Chomsky (I’m blanching just typing the name, much less preparing to quote him) made an interesting point. Holocaust denial is not necessarily anti-semetic. He then proceeded to give this example (paraphrased):

    “A person, upon hearing and learning of the holocaust, could think “This did not happen. Humans can not be capable of such evil. I refuse to believe that such evil is in human nature.”" Clearly, then, it is possible for a person to deny the holocaust without being anti-semetic. Q.E.D

    The two are not inter-changable terms, and ought not to be used as such.

  23. dcs says:

    There is also certainly nothing anti-Semitic about being anti-Zionist. Indeed, some Jews are anti-Zionist.

  24. Corleone says:

    LCB and DCS – great points. I am extremely anti-Zionist because I don’t believe God gave any specific boundaries to the Jews for perpetuity. As an Italian, I can lay as much claim to Israel as any Jew, since my ancestors owned that territory historically as well. So, I don’t subscribe to any racist superiority clause regarding Israel. A Christian Palestian born there has just as much right to live there as a Russian emigre who’s great-grandparents happened to be Jewish once-upon-a-time.

    That having been said, I DO believe that we as Western Civilization have shown that we failed miserably when it came to protecting teh least of God’s children. In this case of course I am referring to the Jews prior to WWII. Had the holocaust never happened, or even to a lesser extent, I would say there would be no need for Israel as a “safe-haven” for Jews. But unfortunately, that appears to still be the reality from a pragmatic point of view.

    And equally unfortunate is that I think the US has inadvertently recreated Golum.

  25. Altbanater says:

    Since noone so far has commented on the last sentence of this article, I will.

    “We Catholics pledge to continue doing our best to build bonds of trust and understanding with our
    elder brothers and sisters in faith, the Jewish people, God’s own people who uniquely journey with
    us on the road to salvation.”

    Regarding the connection between Catholics and the Jewish people this is one of those horrid, nebulous
    statements that implies way too much without saying anything concrete.

    Blessed Lent to all.
    Altbanater

  26. veritas says:

    Thank you LCB for your quotation, it makes an excellent point. Following from it one might deduce that disbelievers in the Shoah might have an optimistic view of human nature while believers would more likely hold an orthodox view of Original Sin.

    dcs – thank you also – certainly not all anti-Zionists are antisemitic, some indeed are Jews who say that no State of Israel can exist before the coming of the Messiah, but most antisemites are anti-Zionist.

    I included that point as part of a collection of attitudes which tend to hang together. It is not uncommon to find the same person, unlearned in history, anti-Jewish, believing in that Tsarist forgery “The Protocols”, and also very anti-Zionist. Such people tend to deny the reality of the Shoah.

  27. RANCHER says:

    Surprising given the source. Now if the ABp of Portland would spend just a few dollars on a right to life program (Portland budgets zero) instead of all the money that it sends to liberal social justice programs that would be a good thing.

  28. Paul Haley says:

    We want blood not apologies.! This is disgusting. A matter of the interpretation of history has been turned into an article of Faith in some quarters. Tell me that private consciences cannot disagree on the interpretation of history and I will respond “not in my neighborhood or in my church”. The public flagellation of Bishop Williamson by even many high ranking members of the hierarchy leaves me speechless.

  29. Alona says:

    We, in the faithful TRADITIONALISTs here in the Philippines attending Latin Masses in the St.Jerome, Alabang, Divine Mercy, QC, Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Valenzuela and other Ecclesia Die Mass Centers support the lifting of the excommunications among SSPX Bishops but feel sad that
    Archbishop John Vlazny is still blinded by heresy of modernism which as a pastor of the church he must first to defend. Blessed is Bishop SALVADOR LAZO,D.D. who abandon heresy for ETERNAL ROME, for JESUS CHRIST and OUR LADY! How sad such kind of Archbishop betrays what is the real colors he wears that is white and red which stands for purity and bravery. Modernist bishops lacks true courage and will always be blinded by honor and prestige. Let us pray for them!

  30. Alona says:

    We, the faithful TRADITIONALISTs here in the Philippines attending Latin Masses in the St.Jerome, Alabang, Divine Mercy, QC, Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Valenzuela and other Ecclesia Die Mass Centers support the lifting of the excommunications among SSPX Bishops but feel sad that
    Archbishop John Vlazny is still blinded by heresy of modernism which as a pastor of the church he must first to defend. Blessed is Bishop SALVADOR LAZO,D.D. who abandon heresy for ETERNAL ROME, for JESUS CHRIST and OUR LADY! How sad such kind of Archbishop betrays what is the real colors he wears that is white and red which stands for purity and bravery. Modernist bishops lacks true courage and will always be blinded by honor and prestige. Let us pray for them!

  31. Al says:

    Archbishop John Vlazny must imitate Bishop SALVADOR LAZO,D.D. of the Philippines!
    He was never excommunicated though some modernist Bishops may be against him because
    he supported the SSPX establishment in the South East Asia. So what is the use of whether
    SSPX has been excommunicated or not! What matter is that we follow Jesus! What more important
    is to fulfill with Latin Mass our Sunday and Holyday of Obligations! Therefore it is not important if some heretical Archbishop like John Vlazny comments on the BENEVOLENCE of the POPE!
    Viva il PAPA!

  32. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    Wow.

  33. DAJL says:

    David,

    Thanks for replying with thought and charity to my earlier comment. I will reply and explain my position in more detail, since you are inviting such discussion.

    You said first: “There is no doubt that the Second Vatican Council was an Ecumenical Council, but there’s no indication that it’s pronouncements carry equal authority as other pronouncements from other Councils. Vatican II made no new dogmatic pronouncements that are binding on the faithful, first by it’s own admission, and then by the admission of Pope Paul VI, at least one subsequent Magisterial statement, and then at least one statement of the man who was to become Pope Benedict XVI.”

    In a technical sense, of course, no dogma can be “new.” But that’s merely an obfuscation. In fact, Vatican II did make dogmatic pronouncements. These were explicitly not new dogmata, in teh sense of dogmata not previously defined by the Church. This is what the sources you quote above refer to. These were “renewed” dogmata, in the sense of “divine recapitulation,” as someone once said. But it’s not novelty, but rather authority, that makes a magisterial teacing binding. These teachings are certainly binding on the faithful, inasmuch as they have both the authority of the Council, explicitly an act of the whole Church, behind them, and especially inasmuch as the fourteen “sacred constitutions” and “decrees” produced by the Council were promulgated by Pope Paul VI, as discrete exercises of the papal Magisterium.

    You said second: “An Ecumenical Council can teach in an infallible manner as part of the Extraordinary Magisterium, or an Ecumenical Council can teaching according to the Ordinary Magisterium. As Pope Paul VI stated, the Second Vatican Council did not make any extraordinary statements endowed with infallibility. Thus, one can not make the statement that the Second Vatican Council is equal in authority to Ecumenical Councils that did.”

    I grant the distinction in levels of teaching. It is a worthwhile question to ask, what level of authority attaches to the sacred constitutions and decrees of the council, as promulgated by Pope Paul VI. However, from the point of view of we the faithful (including all clergy) in accepting the council, it makes absolutely no difference in practice. That the decrees of Vatican II may theoretically be modified or even revoked does not make them any less binding at the present time, and until such time as they may be, in fact, modified or revoked.

    Therefore, any attempt to make use of the perceived distinctions in level of binding authority between the documents of Vatican II, and any other conciliar or papal document, as if there could be a contradiction between them, misrepresents both the truth of Tradition’s unity and the authority of every Ecumenical Council.

    Those who would oppose Tradition to the documents of the Council (as distinct from the interpelations and initial ideological implementations of the documents), therefore, deny a fundamental Church teaching in so doing.

  34. David says:

    LCB,

    General Audience of 12 January 1966 of Pope Paul VI: \”dato il carattere pastorale del Concilio, esso ha evitato di pronunciare in modo straordinario dogmi dotati della nota di infallibilità; ma esso ha tuttavia munito i suoi insegnamenti dell’autorità del supremo magistero ordinario il quale magistero ordinario e così palesemente autentico deve essere accolto docilmente e sinceramente da tutti i fedeli, secondo la mente del Concilio circa la natura e gli scopi dei singoli documenti.\”

    In reference to the first question in the CDF document Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church, it is stated that the Second Vatican Council neither changed or intended to change the doctrine of the Church.

  35. David says:

    DAJL

    There’s no such thing as a renewed dogma. There’s simply dogma. Dogma doesn’t require renewing or recapitulating or even understanding. It is binding on its own accord. The Second Vatican Council simply restated in many places dogmata already defined and infallible prior to the Council. This does not, to the best of my knowledge, make the pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council the product of the Extraordinary Magisterium.

    The question here is not whether or not one is obedient to the Second Vatican Council. The question is whether aspects of the Second Vatican Council can be held in reserve or questioned. If these pronouncements are definitions of the faith, pronounced by the Extraordinary Magisterium, then, of course, they are infallible, in other words free from error. As already pointed out, the Second Vatican Council, by its own admission, by the admission of Pope Paul VI, by the admission of the CDF, by the admission of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, did not act in an extraordinary manner.

    If they are not infallible, and are exercised by the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, then they do indeed have a certain degree of authority, but since they are not definitions of faith, they are sufficiently provisional to admit a possibility of error. The Second Vatican Council, then, can be questioned in good faith, but the authority of the Church must still be recognized as such. (It is here that I have problems with the SSPX and their appearance of schism—they, to my mind, are not recognizing the authority of the Church.)

    I’m not denying a fundamental Church teaching in saying so. I’m simply repeating what has already been stated by the Vatican as it relates to the Institute of the Good Shepherd, which it has been agreed are free to question certain aspects of the Second Vatican Council while remaining in good standing. If I in pointing out these distinctions, concerning the degree of authority, am “misrepresenting the truth of Tradition’s unity and the authority of every Ecumenical Council,” then I’m afraid you must say the same of Pope Benedict XVI, who indeed made just these distinctions in his negotiations with the Institute of the Good Shepherd.

    Sincerely,

  36. Sharon says:

    If a person is excommunicated ,and not for something which only the Holy See can rescind, how is the excommunication lifted if the person can’t go to reconciliation?