Preview of a book-interview with SSPX Bp. Fellay

Here is an interesting piece from APCOM.  My translation from the Italian original:

My emphases and comments.

16:53 – POLITICA- 17 FEB 2009

Book interview with Fellay: The Vatican neutralizes papal authority

Roma, 17 Feb. (Apcom) – The Pope "is not alone": words from the Superior of the Lefebvrites, [Bp.] Bernard Fellay.  "All true Catholics, and they are not a few, stand with the Pope, they cannot stand anywhere else", affirmed the bishop, for whom an excommunication was recently revoked, in a book interview "Tradition, the true face: who are the heirs of Lefebvre and what do they think" …

"We are true Catholics and we are and we will continue to be great supporters of the Vicar of Christ.  We cannot do otherwise.  Those who described us as rebels are not doing service to the truth."  [I find this a little ironic, actually.]

Of course, Fellay continues, there are very important points of discussion, very profound, but this does not undermine our love and our dedication for the Holy Father.  We love the Pope, we want the Pope.  We want the Pope in the fullness of his functions.  Unfortunately we ascertain that the prevailing theology of the last decades has brought about a true and real coup against his authority.  Today, bishops and bishops conferences often are involved in everything, from garbage emergencies to economic crises, but not in the teaching of doctrine and the transmission of the faith.  They have acquired a purely horizontal vision and have forgotten the vertical.  

This explains the disobedience to the Holy Father:  [chuckle… Do we need to ask the obvious question here?] if they deal with purely human questions, it is logical that they have different points of view, even opposed.  Our Lord did not institute the Church in this way, He did not found bishops conferences.  When you say "the Vatican", you should mean the instrument at the service of papal power… In reality, the impression is that it has transformed into a burocratic conglomeration which in part neturalizes papal authority and in parte exercises its own power.  So much so, that often you say "the Vatican said", "the Vatican does", but in reality you don’t even known who said or sustained or did something." Today you see even the absurdity of priests who arrive in a parish and declare that they are not there to teach but to learn.  It’s doubly drammatic. The concept of the ‘people of God’ has functioned as an anti-institutional myth generating the idea that the true problem in the Church is to be freed from its institutional figures, beginning with the papacy.  That’s why the role of the priest has been diminished: because it has always been the hinge of the institution in a territory, amongst the faithful.  It is not by chance if the only priests who, at a certain point, began to enjoy a good reputation were the so-called "troublesome priests", who contested the institution."   For Fellay, the Church has undergone a process of "protestantization".  Luther, Kant, Mark are "the three figures who marked history in a tragic way."  An preview of the book-interview with the superior of the Lefebvrites was published today in il Foglio.

 

There are, in this piece, moments of delicious irony.

But you have to admit that Fellay says some very good things.

I look forward to the day when Bp. Fellay has to attend plenary meetings of, say, the USCCB and the priests of the SSPX will be attending diocesan deanery meetings and getting elected by their neighboring priests to the presbyteral councils.

You might review this.

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91 Responses to Preview of a book-interview with SSPX Bp. Fellay

  1. LCB says:

    I’ve always found Vatican II’s use of “The People of God” as really, really, strange.

  2. Legisperitus says:

    Does anyone HAVE to attend meetings of the USCCB??

  3. Dan says:

    “..you have to admit that Fellay says some very good things.”

    Father, yes indeed.
    His Excellency is proving himself to be one of the Holy Fathers closest allies in the episcopacy, or anywhere for that matter.

  4. Paul Bailes says:

    Fr Z looks forward “to the day when Bp. Fellay has to attend plenary meetings of, say, the USCCB”

    Even for those of you who think the SSPX has made mistakes, surely that’s cruel & unusual punishment :-) ?

  5. Jason Keener says:

    Bishop Fellay stated, “Unfortunately we ascertain that the prevailing theology of the last decades has brought about a true and real coup against his authority.”

    More and more I believe that Bishop Fellay’s real troubles stem from the hermeneutic of rupture that is still running wild in the Church.

    In regards to papal authority, the Second Vatican Council’s documents are very clear about the role of the Roman Pontiff as the Supreme Pastor of the Church. Just because Vatican II also brought to light the proper role of collegiality amongst the bishops in no way meant the Council was lessening the authority of the Roman Pontiff.

    The Council or the theology of the Council cannot be blamed for the breakdown in respect for the office of the Papacy. The Council itself never said, “Feel free to ignore the first 1962 years of Catholic life. This is a new start from zero.” The ones to be blamed for this breakdown, if we are passing blame around, are the people who ignored the Council’s actual documents.

    I really believe the Second Vatican Council can offer us many beautiful insights when the Council’s documents are read in the light of Sacred Tradition. We cannot close ourselves up to the Council’s documents or theology just because we have been hurt by the lopsided and failed implementation of the Council’s documents thus far. The Holy Spirit did not stop enlightening our understanding of the Catholic Faith in the 1950’s. It is to be expected that the Second Vatican Council brought to light certain aspects of Church teaching that we had not fully appreciated or considered in past centuries.

  6. Jason Keener says:

    LCB,

    The Council’s use of the phrase “People of God” has rich biblical meaning. The phrase was used in both the Old and New Testaments to refer to God’s Chosen People. In the New Testament, the Church became God’s Chosen People as the New Israel.

    Those who use “People of God” as some political, Marxist, or sociological phrase have hijacked the phrase and do not understand the phrase as the Council understood it. This is another sad example of rupture that contradicts the Council’s actual documents.

  7. Breier says:

    Jason,

    The reason there can be these competing hermeneutics is because the Council’s documents are often ambiguous. Ask yoursek why Pope Paul VI need to attach an explanatory note to Lumen Gentium explaining that collegiality wasn’t undercutting papal authority? The probolems we have are because the documents are exploitable. Contrast the Vatican II documents with the Catechism of the Catholic CHurch when it cites them. Inevitably the Catechism is less ambiguous and more clear and explanatory. This doesn’t mean Vatican II is to be rejected, but it does mean that internal forces of the Council are partly responsible for what we have today, not simply external ones.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    “I look forward to the day when Bp. Fellay has to attend plenary meetings of, say, the USCCB and the priests of the SSPX will be attending diocesan deanery meetings and getting elected by their neighboring priests to the presbyteral councils.”

    If the SSPX is eventually turned into a personal prelature or apostolic administration, would this even apply? Do Opus Dei priests on presbyteral councils? I do know that the Prelate of Opus Dei has attended the Synod of Bishops in Rome, but no national conferences, etc.

  9. Confiteor says:

    Fr. Z, do you think that Archbishop Lefebvre’s disobedience is explained by a “purely horizontal vision”? The irony is superficial.

  10. Mark says:

    SSPX Bishop Fellay, and others in the SSPX leadership, don’t seem to be able to acknowledge that the actions that precipitated their excommunication were wrong, or that remaining in schism for so long was also wrong (i.e. harmful to Catholic Traditionalism). Second, the issue of anti-Semitism within the SSPX is not going to go away – their leadership should deal with this problem is a very public and sustained way.

    SSPX leadership acts as the prodigal son who is ready to regain his position, but not to admit he did anything wrong.

    I think that SSPX, as it stands now, should not be allowed to be the voice of Catholic Traditionalism. There already is a vibrant and growing Traditionalist movement within the Church, led by the FSSP, that doesn’t carry the SSPX’s baggage. I believe that until SSPX leadership becomes less stiff necked, they will remain a troublesome and marginal Gallic affair.

  11. So SSPX is a supporter of the Vicar of Christ by disobeying him? I can never recall even a modernist saying such things. So modernists refuse to obey, and SSPX obeys by disobeying. My, my…

  12. Tomas says:

    I’m still amazed by the continued references to the SSPX as “stiff-necked” (and other variations on rigid, arrogant, etc.) and “disobedient,” and now, “anti-Semitic.” Apparently, unwavering fidelity to Tradition and the Magisterium results in being accused of various personal flaws, whilst unwavering obedience to modernist disoriented Popes [see: Third Secret and Our Lady of Good Success in Quito]results in kudos? And apparently, any deviation from the official version of the Holocaust results in the Scarlet Letter of Jew-hatred? If I conclude for some reason that 5.6 million Jews, not 6 million, were put to death, then am I also anti-Semitic?

  13. jack says:

    Now that the debate is how to deal with V2, I’m seeing these positions emerge:

    1. Rupturing Ruptured Pentecostals : i.e., The Liberals. They say V2 was a ground zero for the Church, they rejecting everything that came before, and oddly muchy of what came after (e.g. Dominum Jesum, etc.). Thus they are stuck in the 60s. They, like all Liberals, Leftists, and ideologues in general, demolish what came before, look instead at a blue print, and build from scratch. They say that V2 was a supercouncil, or the only council. But regardless of what they say, they in fact ignore what the texts of V2 really state and instead believe in a phantom called “The Spirit of Vatican II”, a spirit which has nothing to do with the texts of V2. Because they claim to have a direct telephone line to this supposed spirit, I call them “Pentecostals”. They too “speak in tongues” – ICEL tongues or the words of psychobabble and Cultural Marxist politics, and their version of “Slain in the Spirit” and “Holy Rolling” is liturgical dance.

    2. The Looney , the Sedevacantists. “Back to 1958!”

    3. The Ultra Ultras: “Williamson can do or say no wrong! Fellay has betrayed Williamson! Heck, the Society has betrayed Williamson!”

    4. The Ultras, or The Double Oughts (to pun on some shot shell terms): “Everything about V2 is wrong! It was the Great Apostasy! V2 ought to be totally demolished and junked! We ought to go back to 1962! It’s Rome that needs conversion”.

    5. The Cafeteria Traddies: “Let cut out what was bad in V2, and leave what’s left”

    6. The Post Hoc Fallacious. “What came after the Council – Bugnini, ICEL, facing the people, in the hand, praise bands, assorted other liturgical abuses, assorted heresies and moral scandals, liturgical dance, etc. – ARE the Council and are authorized by the Council.” Liberals, by the way argue, this way too. But in fact, these events and activities betrayed the Second Vatican Council.

    7. The Single Oughts: The Protestant Catholics: “V2 ought to be interpreted by The Tradition, The Tradition being an established, un-developing, unchanging, and inerrant Bible.”

    7. The Great Divorcees : the pastoral divorced from the prophetic.
    They say either
    i. “the pastoral isn’t part of the magisterium”, or
    ii. “whatever is pastoral isn’t binding”, or
    iii they separate violently the Pastoral and the Prophetic offices of the Church as if there were no relation between the two, just as High Church Anglicans separate the Priestly office from the Pastoral and Prophetic.

    8. Filers in the Wrong File Cabinet : “Quanta Cura is dogma; V2 is pastoral.” Both in fact are pastoral.

    9. The Foghorns: “V2 is unclear and ambiguous” – a massive fogbank. These critics sound the warning. “BEEEEEEEEEE-ohhhhhhhhhhhhh!” (One wonders if the Foghorns will accept the clarifications when they are forthcoming from the Holy See)

    10. The Continuarians. Hermeneutic of Continuity; V2 continues The Tradition and develops it. If one prunes, then it to nourish.

  14. jack says:

    #10 should read “If one prunes, then one does it to nourish”

  15. Jerry says:

    The SSPX offers a free bundle of books and other materials explaining their positions. Among them is Abp Lefebvre’s “An Open Letter to Confused Catholics” which is just as relevant today as it was when written. This bundle has been offered for years and is not in response to the current issues and interest. It can be obtained from here.

    http://www.sspx.org/apologetic_materials.htm

    It is well worth the read and I’m sure will inform and enlighten some of the folks making comments here.

    Jerry

  16. Cathguy says:

    Thomas,

    It is difficult to argue about the anti-semitic thing without emotions getting very hot, and it is probably a rabbit hole. Suffice it to say, it is difficult to defend the SSPX against the charge of pretty serious anti-semitism.

    But, to stay on topic, Bp. Fellay is proving himself to be candid, smart, and an ally of the Holy Father in many respects. I think the thing to do is just to pray for the Holy See and the leaders of the SSPX in the coming discussions.

    IF the SSPX can be made to understand that Vatican II is a valid Council, and IF a reading of Dignitas Humanae in line with the greater Catholic tradition is possible (it surely is I think) then the WHOLE Church will benefit from the discussions. Liberal errors that exaggerate individual conscience and religious freedom to a silly degree can be refuted. In the process, this is the best chance the Holy Father has to purify the SSPX of positions outside of authentic Traditional Catholicism (see anti-semitism). They really do profess some very scary things that are not supportable from the viewpoint of authentic Catholic Tradition (see Lefebvre’s muscular racism and anti-semitism in “Religious Liberty Questioned).

  17. Call Zorbin says:

    Father Z: What is a Book Interview?

  18. schoolman says:

    “The reason there can be these competing hermeneutics is because the Council’s documents are often ambiguous.”

    I disagree. There is no ambiguity when read through true Catholic lenses. As with the Bible itself, the problem is not to be found in the text itself. Rather, the problem lies in those who would manipulate the text to advance their own agenda. Do not fault the letter of the Council — fault the hearts and minds of those who would seek to use the council as a tool of rupture with the past.

  19. LCB says:

    Schoolman,

    To an extent you are correct, but there are sections of the council documents that are incredible vague and really don’t amount to much more than a feel-good easy about Jesus-n-stuff.

  20. LCB says:

    Call Zorbin,

    In Europe, and esp. in Italy, there is a practice where political/public figures will do a very long interview with a reporter that contains deep discussion of their views, positions, ideas, and such. It puts more complicated ideas into the public square for discussion. For Example, Cdl. Ratzinger gave an interview that became the very famous, “Ratzinger Report.” You can find that on Amazon.com

    Published book length interviews don’t really happen in the states because our political debate has almost no substance and is rarely based around substantive ideas. For example, Nancy Pelosi’s recent book was widely panned as being nothing more then a several-chapter-long constant repetition of empty phrases and “girl power” quotes.

  21. schoolman says:

    LCB, I disagree. The same could be said for Sacred Scripture itself. Texts can be abused and manipulated by readers — but that is not the fault of the text. No text is beyond the danger of manipulation a filtering. That is why it does no good to lay blame on the letter of Vatican II. Rather, the Holy Father has pointed to the only solution — that it must be read in a CATHOLIC manner
    which he is calls the “hermeneutic of continuity.” In reality, this is not unique to Vatican II. This basic principle applies to Sacred Scripture and all magisterial texts.

  22. schoolman says:

    …in other words, texts are only ambiguous when isolated and ripped from their proper context. This is remedied by reading the text in question in a truly Catholic manner and according to a hermeneutic of continuity.

  23. Jason Keener says:

    Breier,

    The ambiguities in the Council\’s documents are not overly troublesome to those who know how to interpret the documents in the light of Sacred Tradition. The Bible has many ambiguities too, but we do not criticize the texts of the Bible for being \”too ambiguous.\” With both the Bible and the documents of Vatican II, we turn to the living Magisterium of the Church to show us a proper interpretation for the things that are unclear.

    Moreover, it is to be expected that the Council\’s documents would have some ambiguity. One Ecumenical Council cannot possibly teach everything there is to know about the Catholic Faith. That is why the documents of Vatican II have to be read right next to earlier papal encyclicals, documents from Trent, Vatican I, etc.

    \”Dignitatis Humane,\” for example, is often criticized for being too ambiguous about the duty of the state to recognize the true religion. The document is also criticized for not giving a fuller view of Catholic teaching on Church-State relations. The problem with those criticisms is that \”Dignitatis Humane\” never intended to give an exposition of Church and State relations because that had been covered so many times before in the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII, et al. An Ecumenical Council would serve little purpose if it merely repeated the exact same things in the same exact ways as had been done before. Through the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Spirit had to give special emphasis to the unique problems of the conciliar period, not the problems of the 1800\’s.

    The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council understood that \”Dignitatis Humane\” was meant to focus on religious liberty and not on the other aspects of Catholic social teaching. We know this because we have historical records from the Council demonstrating that the official spokesman for \”Dignitatis Humane,\” Bishop Emil De Smedt, explained the true aims of \”Dignitatis Humane\” before the Fathers voted on it.

    In any event, the intent of \”Dignitatis Humane\” was to bring to fuller light the truth that people have a right to immunity from coercion in matters of religious faith. \”Dignitatis Humane\’s\” emphasis on the right to freedom from coercion in matters of religion was very prophetic for our times when we have seen Islamic and atheistic regimes trample the rights of people in many places.

  24. Jason Keener says:

    LCB,

    You wrote,

    “To an extent you are correct, but there are sections of the council documents that are incredible vague and really don’t amount to much more than a feel-good easy about Jesus-n-stuff.”

    Could you please provide us with some specific examples of where the documents are too vague or too “feel good?”

  25. Woody Jones says:

    Just saw this take on the lifting of the excommunications, from the Russian Orthodox coordinator in France of ecumenical relations (they are in favor):

    http://ulstertaig.blogspot.com/

  26. LCB says:

    Jason,

    Gladly. In numbered form for ease of reading:

    1) Specifically, Lumen Gentium’s section on the role of Bishops and Pope being so vague that it required an explanatory note (a note which is often conveniently not attached)

    2) You cite Dignitatis Humane, and I would add to that Nostre Aetate. I would argue that the vagueness in the documents is a very intentional part of their authors’ intent, and unfortunately that intended vagueness allows for a reading that is not in clear continuity with the whole of Tradition.

    3) The use of the People of God- then-Cdl Ratzinger criticized post-counciliar ecclesiology: “Sadly, the Council’s view [of the Church] has not been kept in mind by a good part of post-Conciliar theology, and has been replaced by an idea of the ‘people of God’ that, in not a few cases, is almost banal, reducing it to an a-theological and purely sociological view.” It is my opinion that the Council’s usage of the People of God lends itself, unfortunately, to such problems, especially because the phrase itself is not deeply rooted in previous documents or in scripture (having but a few uses) the way other phrases are (e.g., The Body of Christ).

    3a) Concerning the People of God, by the Council’s failure to clearly separate the People of God phrase from the political context of the era, it gave rise to the politicizing of the phrase.

    3b) The phrase People of God entered popular theological usage, in the era before the council, due to a Lutheran Theologian, Ernst Kasemann. The phrase had come to be strongly identified with ecumenical endeavors and had come from a non-Catholic theologian. By not clearly differentiating the contemporary usage and context apart from the Council’s purposes, it became very easy to read the council’s intent as moving beyond the confines of Catholic Theology, Tradition, and Hierarchy. Indeed, one must seriously consider, given that so many European Theologians were present, if the popular understanding the phrase had come to enjoy in Theology circles wasn’t precisely what was intended. However, what remains important is that the phrase remained (and remains) a significant source of confusion because proper interpretation keys were not provided. This leads us into…

    4) In general, George Weigel (in his excellent book Chosen By God) explains that John Paul II spent much of his pontificate providing an interpretation key for Vatican II documents. Unlike previous councils, Vatican II did not provide its own interpertation key for understanding the documents within. In previous councils the documents firstly stated what the council was doing and teaching, and then used anathemas to state very clearly what the council was not doing. It is my position that this lends itself to significant vagueness and ambiguity in the council documents as a whole.

    5) Issues remain as to the precise weight, meaning, and authority of the Council’s documents. Previous councils were explicitly clear in every way when something was being taught, and provided not only a “positive” teaching (e.g., there are 7 sacraments and these are their names), but also a “negative” boundary (e.g., let he who says there are not 7 sacraments be anathema). This leads us into…

    6) The length of the council’s documents. It has been remarked (and I suspect truthfully, though I have never checked this fact on my own) that Vatican II’s documents combined are longer than the documents of all previous councils combined. Even if this is not true, the documents are incredibly long. To say that the council had the space to provide clear interpretation keys, and firmly anchor its documents in Tradition so as to prevent mis-interpretation. Yet this was not done with great frequency, and as such gives rise to significant ambiguities. Finally we are lead into…

    7) What, exactly, did the council teach? If the Council was simply re-wording previous teachings, it certainly did a poor job. If the council was providing new teachings, it certainly did a poor job of making the new teachings clearly identifiable and precise. As such, I stand by my statement that there are sections of the council documents that are incredibly vague and really don’t amount to much more than a feel-good essay about Jesus-n-Stuff (with some spelling corrections made).

    Considering the number of “duh” doctrinal notes issued that have related to the Council and mis-understandings of its documents (like the Doctrinal Note on Evangelization, explaining that Christians should still try to convert people to Christianity), and the evidence offered here, I feel my statement is sustainable. It also is semi-supportive of the SSPX-esque objections to Vatican II, that the council was purely pastoral, since it becomes difficult to identify what the council actually taught.

  27. Mark says:

    Tomas:

    “Unwavering fidelity to Tradition and the Magisterium” would suggest that one should never knowingly commit any acts that would result in excommunication. Better to suffer in enforced silence inside the Church for a while, than to posture outside of Her, wouldn’t you agree?

    The SSPX Bishops excommunication happened on Pope John Paul II watch – are we then to conclude that he was a “modernist disoriented Pope”, to echo your phrase?

    Additionally, the official version of the Holocaust is also the true version of the Holocaust. This fact has been established by many professional historians with no ideological axes to grind. If you do historical research, and are in possession of objective historical data that indicates otherwise, I suggest you get in touch with the professionals in this field;

    The link to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp website, posted below, establishes much of the historical knowledge about the Holocaust, and answers, point by point, the Holocaust denier’s claims:

    http://en.auschwitz.org.pl/h/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4&Itemid=1

  28. Paul Haley says:

    There is no question that Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops he consecrated were disobedient but they say they acted out of necessity – i.e., a grave fear that hey would be able to practice the traditional catholic faith and continue to have priests ordained in that fashion were they not to have their own bishops. Now, one can argue this point until the cows come home but I was around in 1988 and believe me when I tell you that the chances of seeing SSXP priests incardinated in my diocese were nil. In 1988 we had NO traditional latin masses in the diocese – none, zero, zip, nada.

    In the USA the FSSP does have a few parishes now and a host of “missions” that do not have the status of a regular parish. Why? I think the reason is that most local Ordinaries want traditional catholics to become novus ordo catholics and accept the so-called “reforms” of the Second Vatican Council. That occurs despite the words of two popes saying that we have a right to our traditional liturgy. On top of this we see terrible abuses such as the clown fiasco chronicled on these very pages. We have man-centered masses instead of God-centered masses with lay people assuming functions previously reserved for the ordained clergy. Yet, the SSPX are pictured as the “bad guys” who are out to put the pope in his place, as it were, and provide the true Catholic formation.

    We have to ask ourselves what it is that the SSPX are doing that can in any way be a detriment to the Faith? How are they attacking the Holy Father now in the year 2009 not 1988? Their Superior General has spoken highly of the Holy Father and, most importantly, to the office that he holds and their respect for the dignity and authority of that office. Is that not in contrast to the Austrian Bishops and others who are openly attacking the Holy Father? Everyday it seems we have bishops lecturing the Holy Father on his responsibilities and some even defying the Holy Father outright. Yet, the SSPX are still classified as suspended and their faculties are in question. Meanwhile, persons like those in the clown fiasco go unpunished and, typically, have full faculties, even bishoprics. It boggles the mind!

  29. Confiteor says:

    In any event, the intent of “Dignitatis Humane” was to bring to fuller light the truth that people have a right to immunity from coercion in matters of religious faith. “Dignitatis Humane’s” emphasis on the right to freedom from coercion in matters of religion was very prophetic for our times when we have seen Islamic and atheistic regimes trample the rights of people in many places.

    No, in fact the truth is that people have a right to immunity from coercion in matters of religious faith (in particular the public expression of religious faith) only insofar as they adhere to the TRUE religion, i.e., the Catholic Faith. If an Islamic state forbids Hindus from practicing their faith, that is an argument between infidels, not a matter of “rights”. There is no God-given “right” to practice a false religion. That is the truth handed down by Catholic Tradition, which has trampled upon in the wake of Vatican II. Question for Schoolman: is that truth affirmed by the letter of Dignitatis Humanae?

  30. schoolman says:

    “Question for Schoolman: is that truth affirmed by the letter of Dignitatis Humanae?”

    Confiteor, I think DH affirms the Catholic principle that nobody can be coerced to accept the Faith. It affirms that man has a moral duty and the corresponding moral right to be obedient to the dictates of conscience in religious matters. That involves seeking the truth and then adhering to that truth. And what is true for individuals is also true for societies.

    But don’t take my word for it. Bishop Ketteler dealt with the topic of Religious Freedom long before Vatican II. In fact, I consider his chapter on Religious Freedom (1862) as a kind of forerunner of DH. Read and study it carefully and you will see the continuity of the past with DH. Thanks to to The Remnant for reprinting this in their paper and making it available online:

    http://remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2008-1115-religious_freedom_and_the_cathol.htm

  31. Call Zorbin says:

    LCB, Thanks for the explanation. Does this mean this interview will become a book?

    Regards,

    Caleb Zorbin

  32. Jason Keener says:

    LCB,

    Thank you for the response. I will provide answers to each point:

    1. You will have to point to the exact statements in “Lumen Gentium” that are confusing or vague. Or, what exactly do you find confusing about the section on the Bishops and the Pope? Calling “Lumen Gentium” vague without showing me exactly what you find vague does us no good in advancing the conversation.

    2. Again, what exact statements in “Dignitatis Humane” do you find vague? What exact statements in “Nostra Aetate” do you find vague?

    3. Just because the phrase “People of God” has been hijacked by Marxists and liberation theologians does not make it a bad phrase. Blame the Marxists for stealing the phrase and using it in a foolish way. Any phrase can be interpreted and twisted in weird ways. Unfortunately, this has been done in a big way with the words of Vatican II.

    3a&b. The phrase “People of God” is not contrary to the Catholic Faith. Cardinal Ratzinger also pointed out that the phrase was used in both the Old and New Testaments to refer to God’s Chosen People. The Church is the Chosen People of the New Testament. According to the Bible, we are the People of God. If people misuse “People of God,” blame their faulty interpretation. Don’t blame the words of the Bible.

    4. I agree with you that Pope John Paul II and the Church in general could have done a much better job showing the continuity between the Council and Sacred Tradition. Unfortunately, Catholics have been led to believe that Vatican II was a superdogma that erases all of the rest. This, however, is not the fault of the documents themselves. It is the fault of Catholic leadership who failed to properly explain and implement the documents.

    5. Vatican II was an application of the Traditional Catholic Faith to the modern world. Pope Benedict has said that Vatican II defined no new dogmas. I agree. The Council merely further explained and brought out certain emphases in the already-existing dogmas and doctrines of the Church.

    6. Yes, the documents are relatively long. The Bible is long and so is St. Thomas Aquinas’s “Summa.” I don’t see the length of the documents necessarily being a problem when the documents are read correctly next to earlier papal encyclicals, documents from Trent, etc. There is nothing in the Sacred Deposit of Faith that says Ecumenical Councils must only write short documents according to a specific formula.

    7. The Council taught what the documents say and what the Magisterium has interpreted them as saying. Again, if you are so confused by the Council, you will have to point out specific examples of what you find to be poor, false, or vague teaching.

    I will just close by saying that writing the documents of the Second Vatican Council in a longer and more open format does make it easier for someone to hijack the Council’s true meaning if they are intent on hijacking it; however, just because the documents are more open and easily hijacked does not necessarily mean the documents themselves contain errors.

  33. schoolman says:

    “There is no God-given “right” to practice a false religion.”

    Confiteor, the right is not founded on a so-called “right to error”, as such. Rather, the moral right corresponds to the moral duty to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. To disregard the dictates of conscience (even an honestly erroneous one) is to sin — and man has a moral right to avoid sin.

  34. Mark says:

    Paul Haley:

    As we labor to lay the foundation for the rebirth of the Traditional Catholic Faith within the Catholic Church, I would make these few observations:

    We must emancipate ourselves from the ghetto mentality, which, perhaps understandably, many of us fell into. That means working with the Pope to establish the Extraordinary Form alongside the Ordinary Form of the mass in every parish, as he intends;

    We must avoid the siren song of sedevacantism like fire, also any related conspiracy theories and their dubious “locutionists”. We know how the pieces are arranged on the chessboard without recourse to these pathologies;

    We must root out any remnants of anti-Semitism from within our ranks and our souls, if need be. We all look like kooks or worse to the rest of the world when any one of us denies the established historical facts regarding the Holocaust;

    We must never allow the progressive faction to maneuver us out of the Church or into ghettos, but should take their heat and gain ground with grace and charity towards them. Their era is drawing to a close, anyway;

    We should practice speaking of other faiths with charity, the way we would like Traditional Catholicism to be spoken of;

    I’ve always been impressed with Saint Paul’s ability to engage the pagans on all levels of their psyche without insulting them, and then winning many over to Christ and His Church. May our Traditional Faith likewise be intelligent and charitable towards all.

  35. Jason Keener says:

    Confiteor,

    Thank you for your response.

    You are right. No one has a right to hold or propagate errors. In his explanation of the final draft of “Dignitatis Humane,” Bishop de Smedt pointed that out clearly. Bishop de Smedt stated, “The right affirmed in this document [Dignitatis Humane] is immunity from coercion. No where is it affirmed–nor could it be truly affirmed that, as is evident–that there is any right to propagate error. If people propagate error, this is NOT the exercise of a right, but the ABUSE of a right, which can and should be restrained if it seriously harms public order.”

    Again, what “Dignitatis Humane” is saying is that people have a right not to be forced or coerced in matters of religious faith. Affirming a right to be free from force or coercion in matters of religion is NOT an affirmation of a right to hold or propagate errors.

    People cannot be forced in matters of religious faith because religious faith is a gift that can only be properly accepted freely in the depths of a person’s conscience. You cannot force someone to accept Christ or the Catholic Faith. This gels perfectly with the Gospels. No where did Christ force His teachings on anyone.

    If you would like to read more about how “Dignitatis Humane” is to be understood in the light of Sacred Tradition, do a search for articles by Father Brian Harrison, STD.

  36. Confiteor says:

    Bishop de Smedt stated, “The right affirmed in this document [Dignitatis Humane] is immunity from coercion. No where is it affirmed—nor could it be truly affirmed that, as is evident—that there is any right to propagate error. If people propagate error, this is NOT the exercise of a right, but the ABUSE of a right, which can and should be restrained if it seriously harms public order.”

    Jason, if a group of gay activists desecrate a consecrated Host in a peaceful and orderly public demonstration, the civil authority has no right to restrain such an act?

    Schoolman, I believe that Bishop Ketteler errs in asserting that the State can never use force to restrain the adherents of false religions that are legally established. It is interesting that he provides no magisterial citation to support his assertion.

  37. wsxyz says:

    Mark, I’m not disagreeing with you on the historical record of the holocaust, but I do find your concern about being perceived as a “kook or worse” somewhat disturbing. How will Catholics look if we deny what the world would consider “established truth” about such things as the existence of Adam and Eve, or the Real Presence?

    I’m not afraid of looking like a kook when truth is involved. And I do not agree that the “established truth” of the world should be a measuring stick for Catholics, no matter how many “professional historians” or professional scientists or reputable universities are vouching for their “established truth”.

    As far as I am concerned, the only established truth is that which is divinely revealed or immediately obvious. Everything else is an assumption, a model, an opinion, or a theory for which the probability of truthfulness lies somewhere between 0.0 and 1.0, exclusive of those two endpoints.

  38. schoolman says:

    Confiteor, elsewhere Bishop Ketteler outlines the “due limits” of religious freedom. For example, he states:

    “On the other hand, religious freedom has its own natural limits as dictated by reason, by natural morality, and by the natural order of things. No reasonable moral freedom can go so far as to destroy moral order to which everyone has a right.[20] Therefore, Christian as well as non-Christian rulers and those who hold temporal authority are obliged to oppose religious teachings and practices which are in latent violation of the laws of reason and morality.”

  39. schoolman says:

    “Schoolman, I believe that Bishop Ketteler errs in asserting that the State can never use force to restrain the adherents of false religions that are legally established. It is interesting that he provides no magisterial citation to support his assertion.”

    Confiteor, the right to religious freedom is not unlimited and unqualified. See my previous post regarding the “due limits” inherent in it. Also, there is reference to the papal magisterium in Ketteler. For example, contained within his quote from Suarez regarding the teaching of Pope Gregory (below). Insofar as the religious practices do not violate natural moral law — the moral law does not confer a right to impede such religious practices (Cf. Suarez).

    “As regards the other religious practices of unbelievers which go contrary to Christian beliefs but not counter to natural reason, there is no doubt but that the unbelievers, even though they are subjects, may not be forced to abandon them. Rather the Church has to tolerate them.[14] St. Gregory addressed himself clearly to this problem regarding Jews, and he forbade anyone to deprive them of their synagogues or to prevent them from observing their religious practices therein. (Lib. I Epistol. 34) Elsewhere he reaffirmed that no one should prevent Jews from participating in their religious observances. (Lib. II. Ep. 15) The reason is that such observances do not in themselves violate the natural law, and therefore, the temporal power of even a Christian ruler does not confer a right to forbid them. Such action would be based on the fact that what is being done goes contrary to the Christian Faith, but that is not enough to compel those who are not subject to the spiritual authority of the Church. This opinion is also supported by the fact that such a ban would involve, to some extent, forcing people to accept the Faith; and that is never permitted. (ibid. n. 10)”

  40. Confiteor says:

    Schoolman, the problem with the famous “due limits” clause is that it pertains to the public order, not the common good. We see this clearly in the statement by Bishop de Smedt, quoted above by Jason.

    Let us envisage a tolerant Catholic State in which Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. are permitted to worship in their own temples. Let us also imagine that a modernist Catholic pastor and his liberal congregation invite a group of Hindus to an inter-religious worship service in their church building. During the service, the Hindus are allowed to perform their rituals upon the very altar where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Since the Hindus were invited and their liberal Catholic hosts are happy to accommodate the religious liberty of their guests, the sacrilege proceeds peacefully without the least disturbance of the public order.

    In this scenario, are the civil authorities within their rights according to the letter of Dignitatis Humanae to break up the interfaith event and restrain the perpetrators?

  41. Cathguy says that Religious Liberty Questioned contains

    “muscular racism and anti-semitism” (22 February 2009 @ 9:15 am)

    That is false. There is nothing racist or anti-Semitic in that book. Which parts did you find ‘racist’ or ‘anti-Semitic’, Cathguy?

  42. Jack’s eighth straw man is

    “8. Filers in the Wrong File Cabinet : “Quanta Cura is dogma; V2 is pastoral.” Both in fact are pastoral.” (22 February 2009 @ 7:58 am)

    Well, I suppose that any Magisterial text can be regarded as pastoral inasmuch as it will have pastoral implications. But the key difference between Quanta cura and, say, Dignitatis humanae is that the former was proposed ex Cathedra, and is therefore irreformable, whereas the Declaration in the latter (the first two paragraphs of Section 2) is reformable.

  43. Confiteor notes wisely that

    “the problem with the famous “due limits” clause is that it pertains to the public order, not the common good.” (22 February 2009 @ 11:36 pm)

    In his development of the infallible teaching of Bl. Pius IX’s Encyclical Quanta cura, Leo XIII explains quite clearly what the proper criterion for tolerance of non-Catholic religious activity is:

    §33.: “… But if, in such circumstances, for the sake of the common good (and this is the only legitimate reason), human law may or even should tolerate evil, it may not and should not approve or desire evil for its own sake; for evil of itself, being a privation of good, is opposed to the common welfare which every legislator is bound to desire and defend to the best of his ability. …

    §34.: “34. But, to judge aright, we must acknowledge that, the more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires. Wherefore, if such tolerance would be injurious to the public welfare, and entail greater evils on the State, it would not be lawful; for in such case the motive of good is wanting. …”
    (Encyclical Libertas,
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas_en.html)

    Dignitatis humanae, however, teaches that a “just public order”, which is not to be identified with the common good/common welfare/public welfare (these three latter terms are interchangeable), is the proper criterion:

    “7. The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.

    “Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.

    “These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.”
    (Declaration Dignitatis humanae,
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html)

    So, to sum up:

    Pre-Conciliar teaching: the common good is the correct criterion by which the State should judge whether or not to restrain offenders of the Catholic religion.
    Conciliar teaching: the common good is not the correct criterion by which the State should judge whether or not to restrain offenders of the Catholic religion. Rather, the correct criterion is the ‘just public order’, whose elements (“matters”) are a strict subset of the set of matters that constitutes the common good.

    (And it cannot be stressed enough: restraining offenders of the Catholic religion is NOT equivalent to coercing them into adhering to the Catholic religion—in the case of restraint, the offender may continue to conform his or her will to what her or she has judged (erroneously) to be true and good.)

  44. Schoolman,

    Msgr. von Ketteler upheld the State’s right to restrain offenders of the Catholic religion when their offences threatened the common good (Part III, paragraphs 7-9 of the article from The Remnant). Dignitatis Humanae appears not to do this. You note that Msgr. von Ketteler argued that religious freedom is limited by the natural law, and I have just noted that he argued that it could be limited by the common good too, yet Dignitatis Humanae restricts limitation to the dictates of the natural law–indeed, it considers its ‘right to religious freedom’ to be part of the common good (Section 6, Paragraph 1).

  45. jack says:

    Quanta Cura was not ex cathedra, if by which “Pole” means that it infallible. If it means that it came from the papacy, he would be correct; Vatican II also came from the papacy, Paul VI signing on. Straw Man is a game two can play.

  46. Paul Haley says:

    Mark,

    Since you took the opportunity to lecture me with such terms as “ghetto mentality”, the “siren song of sedevacantism”, etc, I feel obliged to ask you how you perceived such concepts from my original post? For your information I do not attend SSPX masses and have never advocated sedevacantism. But, I believe that I do know injustice when I see it and to me labeling the SSPX with such terms as you have used is unjust.

    I just finished viewing on another forum a video of a missa cantata at St. Nicholas du Chardonnet in Paris and I made these comments concerning it:

    “Here, Holy Father you see loyal catholics of all ages giving worship to Almighty God through the Holy Sacrifice of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ…and yet we are told this priest of the FSSPX has no faculties, that his bishops are not yet in “full communion”. How can this be, Your Holiness, with all due respect for the august nature of your Office? Will you not resolve this question immediately?”

    In my opinion this is truly the salvation of souls at work in the church today. No obtuse renderings of liturgical legalisms will convince me otherwise. Do you think Almighty God, His Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and all the Angels and Saints looking down on this scene from Heaven would think otherwise? Methinks not. It remains for those who would continue to marginalize and ostracize traditional priests to explain themselves before the Heavenly Courts.

    As for the Ordinary Form, I had to live with all manner of abuses or “deformations” as Pope Benedict labels them from 1970 until 1989 when I was able to find the “extraordinary form” in my area said by priests who although having a celebret from Cardinal Mayer of the Ecclesia Dei Commission and being ordained by bishops in communion with Rome were not recognized by the local bishop. I was born in 1941, educated in catholic schools through college in 1962, served the traditional mass as a youth and know the difference between the EF and the OF and anyone who says there are no differences are, IMHO, very misguided.

    In summary, I reject the painting of the SSPX with the broad-brush of sedevacantism and also reject the use of the term ghetto-mentality to describe traditional catholic enclaves. Neither do I think His Holiness would use such terms or such a broad-brush treatment of traditional enclaves.

  47. meg says:

    Paul Haley, great post (5:32pm). Many who now criticize the SSPX really don’t understand the history.

    If you’re still reading this thread – can you answer a question for me? A fellow parishioner at my FSSP parish told me that a few years back when our parish was turned over to the FSSP the FSSP priests had to go to Rome and sign documents agreeing among other things to refrain from speaking against the Vatican, the novus ordo, etc. Can you verify this and is it a requirement for all FSSP parishes? Apparently it caused quite a rift (it was previously an independent TLM).

    If this is true, then it seems to me that without the SSPX the traditional movement would have made very slow progress indeed, if it made any progress at all. The FSSP was formed by defecting SSPX priests; JPII welcomed them and a small amount of the faithful were appeased by the gesture – I say small amount because most people had no idea of the FSSP’s existence.

    Why? Because although the TLM was never suppressed it was *believed* to be suppressed – which had the same effect as actual suppression – and the Vatican did nothing to correct the misconception. The Mass of All Times was left in the hands of VII-minded bishops who doled it out if/when they saw fit which apparently wasn’t often. This is very grave; so many broken-hearted and disenfranchized Catholics (my own father stopped attending weekly Mass – said “they pulled the rug out from under us”). The SSPX asked, and rightly, why should we need *permission* from (mostly unfriendly) bishops for something that is our God given right as Catholics?

    The action of the bishops back then reminds me of the action of some bishops today regarding the Motu Proprio. The TLM had and still has it’s enemies. I love my FSSP parish; I also recognize and am grateful to the SSPX for staying the course all these years.

  48. Jack,

    By “ex Cathedra” I mean “ex Cathedra” as used at Vatican I in the Definition of Papal Infallibility, i.e.,

    “when carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he [the Pope] defines a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church …”
    (Dz. 1839,
    http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma19.php)

    (Note that, as Msgr. Gasser explained in his official relatio on the Definition of Papal Infallibility, “held” includes “held as rejected”.) Naturally, this means that Bl. Pius IX taught infallibly in Quanta cura. That Quanta cura was an infallible Act of the Papal Magisterium is evident from Paragraph 6:

    In such great perversity of evil opinions, therefore, We, truly mindful of Our Apostolic duty, and especially solicitous about our most holy religion, about sound doctrine and the salvation of souls divinely entrusted to Us, and about the good of human society itself, have decided to lift Our Apostolic voice again And so all and each evil opinion and doctrine individually mentioned in this letter, by Our Apostolic authority We reject, proscribe, and condemn; and We wish and command that they be considered as absolutely rejected, proscribed, and condemned by all the sons of the Catholic Church.
    (Dz. 1699,
    http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma17.php)

    The infallibility with which Bl. Pius taught in this document was noted not long afterwards by the Ven. John Henry, Cardinal Newman in his Letter to The Duke of Norfolk, wherein he speaks of

    “that infallible teaching voice which is heard so distinctly in the Quantâ curâ and the Pastor Æternus” (http://www.newmanreader.org/works/anglicans/volume2/gladstone/section8.html)

    Msgr. Lefebvre also demonstrates Quanta cura’s ex Cathedra status in Religious Liberty Questioned.

  49. Jack says:

    By “Pole’s” definition of infallibility, V2 would be infallible too. Paul VI signed on, and it defined morals.

    In fact, Infallibility was used only three times: the Dogmas of the Immaculate Conception, Assumption, and the definition of infallibility at V1.

    A just because a Magisterial statement did not invoke Infallibility (and this must be invoked with expressed words) doesn’t mean that we can disobey it.

  50. Jack says:

    should read “And just because…”

  51. schoolman says:

    Confiteor and Pole, turn to DH #7 where the requirements of the “common good” is treated in connection with “due limits” of religious freedom. There is also an editorial reference to this section of DH in Ketteler’s article (footnote #20).

  52. brendon says:

    On due limits one should also read the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    “The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a ‘public order’ conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner. The ‘due limits’ which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with ‘legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order'” (CCC, 2109).

    A footnote in this paragraph contains the following reference: “Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3.”

  53. Confiteor says:

    Schoolman,

    Are you saying that DH can be interpreted in such away that a Catholic State can and should restrain the adherents of false religions from the peaceful and orderly public expression of their religion under certain circumstances, e.g., when said peaceful and orderly public expression of the false religion directly offends Our Lord Jesus Christ?

  54. Confiteor says:

    I put the same question to Brendon.

  55. schoolman says:

    Confiteor, regarding your question (above), please see Ketteler’s conclusions (below) – especially 3, 4 & 6.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If now, after our discussion of the question, to what extent the Church must use external compulsion against the abuse of religious freedom, and whether Catholics may regard religious freedom as essential, we wish to answer the questions as they apply to our own times, we have to present the following conclusions:

    1. In general, the Church regards the acceptance of religion as a matter for inner self-determination, and would contest the right to use external force by either the state or by ecclesiastical authority.[31]

    2. The punishment of heretics by the Church in relatively few instances was not undertaken to effect conversion by external force, but rather in the sense that a Christian accepted certain responsibilities when he was baptized, and that he ought to be held accountable for them. Such external punishment, however, only took place in special circumstances and in the case of proclaimed formal heretics in the sense which we discussed above. Validly baptized Protestants are still by virtue of baptism in a certain union with the Church. However, even aside from all other reasons which ought to make it abundantly clear that the Catholic Church has not the remotest inclination to wish to use force against them, the very notion of formal and punishable heresy cannot be applied to them. Any suggestion to the contrary is therefore an irresponsible scare tactic.

    3. Heresy as a violation of civil law presupposed unity in Faith, and with the disappearance of that unity it too has become a dead letter.

    4. Where other religious organizations exist legally, a Catholic ruler is required to give them the full protection which the law affords. If he were to use external force against them he would violate the principles of his Church.[32]

    5. In this sense, there exist in Germany along with the Catholic Church also the Lutheran and the Reformed Church. A Catholic ruler, without question, owes them full legal protection as well as love and concern for their well-being.

    6. To what extent civil authorities wish to afford to other religious groups the free legal right to operate, the Church leaves this up to their own free self-determination. There is no ecclesiastical principle which would prevent a Catholic from upholding the principle that under given conditions, the civil authorities would best afford full religious freedom to all, subject to the conditions we have now to mention.

    7. We have to insist upon the limits of religious freedom referred to earlier, whereby it is an abuse of that freedom if the state, under the guise of religious freedom, tolerates sects which deny the existence of a personal God, or which jeopardize morality. Such conduct stands in open contradiction to the obligations of civil authority, first of all by virtue of the origin of civil authority. Ultimately, all authority comes from God, and therefore, there can be no more flagrant abuse of that authority than to tolerate the denial of God. Secondly, the ultimate goal of civil authority sets certain limits. That goal is to preserve peace and justice on earth, and neither of these is possible without morality; and morality is impossible without fear of the Lord.

    8. The Church will not cease, however, to use that force upon its own members which Christ Himself has entitled her to use, namely, to expel from her midst those members who deny their Faith.

  56. Confiteor says:

    If DH an be interpreted in a such a way, I would love to see it articulated as a result of the discussions between Rome and the SSPX.

  57. Confiteor says:

    Schoolman, just tell me what YOU think.

  58. LCB says:

    Jason and others,

    Thank you for taking the time to engage in this worthwhile discussion. Again, numbered form for ease of reading, since several separate discussions are taking place here.

    1) I believe that the disagreements and misunderstandings related to DH and Religious Freedom clearly demonstrate that the document itself is vague, and was not written well in a way that anchors itself properly in Tradition, thus giving rise to mis-interpertation

    2) Jason writes, “I will just close by saying that writing the documents of the Second Vatican Council in a longer and more open format does make it easier for someone to hijack the Council’s true meaning if they are intent on hijacking it; however, just because the documents are more open and easily hijacked does not necessarily mean the documents themselves contain errors.”

    To which I respond: I am not accusing the documents of containing errors, I am accusing the documents of being poorly written in such a way that makes their hijacking easy and makes it easy for men of good will to misread the documents.

    3) You have asked for specific examples. As a specific example I am providing: The phrase People of God, The sections of LG relating to the relationship between Bishops and the Pope, requiring an explanatory note from the Holy See attached for clarification (a note which is often excluded when the document is distributed), the sections of LG dealing with Mary, which fail to give her due glory through her previously given honorific titles giving rise to much loss of devotion to Mary since the Council, all of DH, all of NA.

    To be clear, it is in what the Council documents often don’t say that create vagueness and problems. The documents fail to clearly separate the phrase “People of God” from the obvious and immediate political and theological overtones it would be taken to have in 1960s Europe, the documents don’t say enough about the Bishops and the Pope, requiring a note. The documents don’t say enough about Mary (probably due to a twisted notion of ecumenism), thus creating problems, the documents don’t use clear and easily understood language about religious freedom and the Church’s relationship with non-Christians and non-Catholics.

    If a person sits down and has the documents and vagueness explained to them, they may well then understand, but that implies that the documents are actually themselves vague. Considering the incredibly wide misunderstandings of the documents from people who should easily be able to ascertain the meaning of a Church document, the frequent and basic explanations put out by Rome (i.e., “We should still evangalize”), and the widespread notion arrived at by people who read the documents (like DH) with goodwill that the Church had changed her teaching, and it becomes clear that the documents are poorly written and vague.

    If the documents’ authors wanted precise clarity, there would have been precise clarity. There is not precise clarity, there is vagueness. This is also evident when we compare the form, style, language, and meaning of previous Church documents (esp. Trent and Vatican I documents) with those of Vatican II. Combine this vagueness with the length referenced earlier, and I believe my point is made.

    Tangentially, I believe the follow point (#4) also contributes to my point and works in my favor.

    4) Concerning DH, Religious Liberty, and the common good, we must remember that Fr. John Courtney Murray, S.J. and his role in shaping DH. Just prior to DH’s passage and publication, Fr. Murray was consulted by the Abp of Boston on the matter of contraception and religious freedom. Citing the forthcoming document, Murray proceed to make the case in favor of permitting legal contraception, and utilizes two arguments. One of those arguments deals precisely with religious freedom, and the law’s inability to make illegal something that is against the common good but is viewed as morally acceptable by people of other religions.

    The specifics are not terribly important, but what is important is that even one of the primary contributors to DH apparently had a fundamental misunderstanding of how DH was to be applied and what its proper meaning was. The logic of DH, as it can be easily (mis)-interpreted by some gives rise to the madness of radical pluralism and the dictatorship of relativism that many Catholics embrace, even though they shouldn’t.

    If one of the authors of DH can so easily misunderstand the document’s intent, surely the document is vague.

    5) Of course, if we consider that Vatican II may have been a purely pastoral council, and may not have taught anything at all, but is simply a series of profound pastoral essays, then a lot of problematic issues are resolved. Throughout her history, the Church has considered, even in council documents, how to apply her timeless teachings in a specific historical context.

  59. Confiteor says:

    In other words, just give a straight answer to my question.

  60. schoolman says:

    “Are you saying that DH can be interpreted in such away that a Catholic State can and should restrain the adherents of false religions from the peaceful and orderly public expression of their religion under certain circumstances, e.g., when said peaceful and orderly public expression of the false religion directly offends Our Lord Jesus Christ?”

    Confiteor, I am saying that DH affirms the principle outlined by St. Thomas and Suarez regarding the “two classes”
    of non-Catholics (Cf. Ketteler). Here it is again:

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Since this question has such overriding importance, we shall also see what Suarez, the great interpreter of St. Thomas, had to say about it. Suarez not only confirmed St. Thomas’ opinion regarding the toleration of the religious practices of unbelievers, he went further and sets the precise limits to which such toleration can go. His determination is of the greatest practical significance in dealing with the question of how far the limits of religious freedom can extend in our own time and remain in conformity with the Church’s principles. In his commentary on St. Thomas, Suarez begins much in the style of the latter:

    “It appears as though the religious practices of the unbelievers, notably all of the unbaptized as, e.g., pagans and Mohammedans, may not be tolerated in Christian nations since they involve superstition and injury to the honor that is owed to the true God, whose honor Christian rulers have an obligation to uphold.[12] St. Thomas, however, rightly distinguishes two kinds of religious practices: there are those which go against reason and against God insofar as he can be recognized through nature and through the natural powers of the soul, e.g., the worship of idols, etc. Others are contrary to the Christian religion and to its commands not because they are evil in themselves or contrary to reason as, for example, the practices of Jews and even many of the customs of Mohammedans and such unbelievers who believe in one true God.[13]

    Regarding the first, the Church may not tolerate them on the part of her own unbelieving subjects. But that is merely the general principle. It may happen often that Christian rulers cannot prevent even such practices without causing greater harm to the nation and to the Christian inhabitants. In that case, the ruler may tolerate such evil with a clear conscience on the basis of what Christ said to the servant who asked the master whether they should remove the weeds from the field. He replied, ‘No, or perhaps while you are gathering the tares you will root up the wheat with them.’ (idid. sect. IV, n. 9)

    As regards the other religious practices of unbelievers which go contrary to Christian beliefs but not counter to natural reason, there is no doubt but that the unbelievers, even though they are subjects, may not be forced to abandon them. Rather the Church has to tolerate them.[14] St. Gregory addressed himself clearly to this problem regarding Jews, and he forbade anyone to deprive them of their synagogues or to prevent them from observing their religious practices therein. (Lib. I Epistol. 34) Elsewhere he reaffirmed that no one should prevent Jews from participating in their religious observances. (Lib. II. Ep. 15) The reason is that such observances do not in themselves violate the natural law, and therefore, the temporal power of even a Christian ruler does not confer a right to forbid them. Such action would be based on the fact that what is being done goes contrary to the Christian Faith, but that is not enough to compel those who are not subject to the spiritual authority of the Church. This opinion is also supported by the fact that such a ban would involve, to some extent, forcing people to accept the Faith; and that is never permitted. (ibid. n. 10)

  61. LCB says:

    Confiteor,

    I’ll throw my hat in the ring on this one:

    Within due limits, I think there should be restraint. Example: I do not believe Pagans should be permitted to offer animal sacrifices to their false gods.

    I think that law should prohibit this activity. In private, the law is unenforceable, in public the law is enforceable.

  62. [I put together the following comment before I saw the latest handful of comments, to which I won’t respond at the moment.]

    Jack,

    you say that

    “By “Pole’s” definition of infallibility, V2 would be infallible too. Paul VI signed on, and it defined morals.”

    I didn’t define “infallibility”, I defined “ex Cathedra, using the terms of Vatican I. As for Vatican II, it defined nothing; see the official Appendix to Lumen Gentium:

    “the sacred Council defines as binding on the Church only those things in matters of faith and morals which it shall openly declare to be binding.”
    (http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html)

    Nowhere in Dignitatis Humanae is anything proposed with full Apostolic authority as binding on all the children of the Catholic Church.

    You say also that

    “In fact, Infallibility was used only three times: the Dogmas of the Immaculate Conception, Assumption, and the definition of infallibility at V1.”

    False; the errors in Quanta cura were evidently condemned infallibly. You have merely produced an unsubstantiated counter-assertion; you have done nothing to disprove what I said in my previous comment. Please demonstrate either from the text of Quanta cura, or by appeal to a theologian of the stature of the Ven. Cardinal Newman or Msgr. Lefebvre (not to mention the Catholic Encyclopedia), that the errors in Quanta cura were not condemned infallibly.

    Schoolman,

    I quoted Section 7 in full in my comment of 23 February 2009 @ 6:26 am; in Paragraph 3 it specifies that the “just public order” is composed of elements (“matters”) that are a strict subset of the set of matters that constitute the common good. I showed this at Dr. Sudlow’s blog a while ago, and will reproduce here what I said there:

    ***

    Now look closely at paragraph 3 of Section 7:

    These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.”

    Now it is clear from the symmetry (I’m not sure of the proper grammatical term, but ‘symmetry’ will do) of the first sentence and the second sentence that “For the rest” means “For the rest of the matters that make up the common welfare”. Now let’s use the language of set theory: the “just public order”, then, is a certain set of elements (“matters”); call it Set A. Then there is another set (call it Set B) of elements (“matters”), mutually exclusive of A (since this set, Set B, consists of “the rest”). The union of A and B is the common welfare; call this set C. Now since the elements (“matters”) in A and B are mutually exclusive and exhaustive (“These matters”, Set A, plus “the rest”, Set B, make up Set C), we know that Set A (the elements/matters that make up the just public order) is a strict subset of Set C (the common welfare/common good). And since a strict subset cannot be identified with its superset, D.H.’s just public order cannot be identified with the common good. Q.E.D. (One might object that the “insofar as necessary” can mean “necessary” with respect to the common welfare, but this objection would be baseless since, as you pointed out, Daley, D.H. considers the “right to religious freedom” to be one of the conditions of which the common welfare consists—Section 6, paragraph 1.)

    ***

    The footnote to which you refer, Schoolman (20: “The limits to Religious Freedom were later set forth in the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom (Cf. DH, 7)”), comes at the end of

    “5. On the other hand, religious freedom has its own natural limits as dictated by reason, by natural morality, and by the natural order of things. No reasonable moral freedom can go so far as to destroy moral order to which everyone has a right.”

    Msgr. Von Ketteler upheld both this moral order and the common good (of which non-Catholic religious activity will, for him, not necessarily be part), whereas Dignitatis Humanae conceives of its ‘right to religious freedom’ as part of the common good, to be limited only when its exercise transgresses the “just public order”, while in the elements that make up “the rest” of the common good, “the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range” (Dignitatis humanae, cited earlier). Msgr. von Ketteler defends the heresy laws of the times when populaces were united in the Catholic Faith; Dignitatis humanae does not, and, based on its specified “due limits”, could not.

    Brendon,

    I’m glad you brought up the New Catechism; it and The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church have a stronger emphasis on the importance of the common good for “due limits” than one finds in Dignitatis humanae (though there are still significant problems in their treatment of these questions). For interested readers, the links are:

    Section 2109 of the C.C.C.: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7D.HTM

    Section 422 of The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/index.htm

    (I’ll be gone for a while now but I’ll be back later.)

  63. schoolman says:

    “Schoolman, just tell me what YOU think.”

    Confiteor, I agree with St, Thomas, Suarez, Ketteler and the Magisterium on this. The civil authority ought to restrain those activities that violate the natural moral law. On the other hand, the civil authorities have no mandate or legitimate authority beyond the natural moral law (i.e., divine positive law belongs to the province of the Church – not the state, as such — and the Church exercises this authority only over her members). Therefore, they must tolerate non-Catholic worship insofar as it remains in conformity with the natural moral law (Cf. Suarez quote above).

  64. LCB says:

    Call Zorbin,

    Yes.

  65. LCB says:

    Cardinal Pole,

    I have not read Msgr. Lefevbre’s work on Quanta cura, though I would gladly do so if you provided a link to where I could obtain a copy.

    As such, I can not comment on it except to say this:

    I am of the understanding that The Syllabus of Errors was released as an appendix to Quanta cura, and not as part of the document per se. As such the condemnations are not formal doctrinal condemnations.

  66. schoolman says:

    Pole, I think you are creating a distinction that does not exist. For example, in footnote 15, Ketteler makes exactly the same point as DH regarding the “full range” (“widest possible latitude”) relative to human freedom:

    [15] Ketteler describes in further detail the concept of “self-determination” as follows: “The essence of liberty, whatever the context, lies in free self-determination stemming from inner conviction rather than from external force. Such free self-determination and free choice are the necessary prerequisites for social and political freedom. What it all means is that a man, in his personal, social, and political life, to the extent that he is able to take care of his own needs without violating the rights of others, enjoys the widest possible latitude in managing his own affairs. This liberty is therefore aptly designated as self-determination or individual autonomy.” (Ketteler, op. cit., pp. 135-136)

  67. Jason Keener says:

    Confiteor,

    You have raised some very good questions. Let me take a stab at them.

    First, there is no doubt that “Dignitatis Humane” upholds the teaching that both individuals and SOCIETIES have a moral duty towards the true religion and the Church of Christ. (DH #1) This includes civil society and civil society’s government leaders who are representatives of the society. Divine law does not say how exactly this moral duty has to be manifested, but typical ways have been giving special status to the Church, tax breaks for the Church, written legal recognition of Catholicism as the official religion of the State, etc. This is still the doctrine of the Church, but the Church does not insist on a clear-cut implementation of the Social Kingship of Christ much these days because societies have drifted so far from Christ and the Church, even in formerly Catholic countries. It would be difficult for the Pope to insist that a pluralistic country officially endorse the Catholic Faith as the true religion when most countries today do not even recognize the natural moral law. No where has the Church renounced the doctrine of Christ’s Social Kingship.

    The role that civil society has in suppressing error is another question. “Dignitatis Humane” definitely states that civil society does have a right to repress error to keep public order, to keep public peace, etc. (DH #7)

    Civil society, however, would definitely overstep its bounds if it repressed every religious error. Civil society would be overstepping its bounds because individual people have a right to be free from coercion in matters of religious faith. Religious faith depends on people being able to enter freely into a relationship with God according to the dictates of their own conscience.

    In the example you mentioned with the gay marchers, the civil society would definitely be able to step in and stop such a desecration because such a desecration would violate public peace, especially in a Catholic country. The gay marchers overstepped their right to be free from coercion when they began disturbing the public peace by desecrating a Faith community’s most sacred element, the Holy Eucharist. Even the secular United States government enacts laws against such hate crimes.

    You may believe that “Dignitatis Humane” should have insisted that the civil government repress all moral and religious error. That is a problematic stance for several reasons.

    1. It would be impossible for the civil government to adequately monitor every person’s private moral beliefs and actions.

    2. People have a right to act freely in regards to religious faith unless that action disrupts public peace. The gift of Faith can only be accepted in freedom.

    3. We would not want civil governments around the world believing they have a right to suppress everything they believe is a religious error. Catholics living in Muslim countries could be further discriminated against, etc.

    4. Biblically, no one has a duty or a right to repress all moral and religious error. Christ said that the wheat will grow with the weeds until the end of time. There are some errors that will be corrected by God alone and not by civil leadership.

    5. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that civil law should not repress every moral or religious error. See question 96 of the Summa on “human law.”

    6. Pope Pius XII stated, “Sometimes the state has no right to impede and repress what is erroneous and false.” (Ci riesce).

  68. LCB says:

    I am a bit confused about one matter, and perhaps Jason or others could aid my understanding:

    Does the civil government have the right to ban a certain form of religion, even if the practice of that religion does not directly disrupt the the public peace, etc? By this I am referring to Satanism. Would not banning even adhering to that belief be a form of coercion, and thus unacceptable?

  69. schoolman says:

    LCB, in general the civil power ought to repress worship that violates the natural moral law — unless such repression would cause more harm to society. Human sacrifice and satanism are examples of “worship” that clearly violate the natural moral law.

  70. Jason Keener says:

    LCB,

    You bring up some good points.

    I agree that the documents of Vatican II might be viewed as vague in places by some people.

    Having said that, the documents of Vatican II were never meant to cover everything pertaining to the Catholic Faith. That would be expecting too much of a few documents.

    I think the disagreements surrounding religious freedom and “Dignitatis Humane” come from several factors: Many people have not even read DH or the other Vatican II documents. Many people do not understand that DH was not meant to address every iota of the church and state relationship. Many people like Fr. John Courtney Murray have advocated interpretations of “Dignitatis Humane” that do not actually fit with the final draft of the text. “Dignitatis Humane” is much more traditional than Murray would have liked. Moreover, DH #1 reads, [the document] “leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ.” How much clearer can you get?

    Another problem is that the SSPX often criticizes DH, but I have not seen them produce any solid arguments showing that DH is an actual contradiction to earlier Catholic teaching. The SSPX rightly sees ruptures in the life of the Church, but they always blame the Council. More often than not, the real problem is the people who have wrongly implemented the Council.

    You said the documents do not say enough about Mary. You also mentioned “Lumen Gentium.” I do not agree. The section on Mary in “Lumen Gentium” goes on and on about Mary’s dignity and her role in salvation history. For example, paragraph 56 of “Lumen Gentium” reads, “Mary, being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” That sounds pretty clear to me!

    You also said the documents don’t say enough about the bishops and the Pope. That is also false. Read Chapter III of “Lumen Gentium”. It goes on and on about the role of the Bishops and the Roman Pontiff. Here are a few examples:

    1. “The Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching office is to be firmly believed by all of the faithful.” (#18)

    2. “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ has full, immediate, and supreme power over the whole Church.” (#22)

    3. “The power of the bishops cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.” (#22)

  71. Okay, I’m really going now, but just before I go…

    Mr. Keener,

    When you say that

    “Civil society, however, would definitely overstep its bounds if it repressed every religious error. Civil society would be overstepping its bounds because individual people have a right to be free from coercion in matters of religious faith. Religious faith depends on people being able to enter freely into a relationship with God according to the dictates of their own conscience.”

    you fail to distinguish between repression (or restriction, or restraint, or prevention, whatever), and coercion. To coerce someone, in the present context, is to force him to disobey his conscience, whereas with restraint, the State merely prevents him from obeying his conscience—the restrained party may continue to conform his will to the dictates of his conscience in the case of mere repression.

    Also, regarding the term ‘public peace’: the preservation of the public peace basically just means that no-one ‘disturbs the peace’, that people aren’t going around running amok; it’s covered under what would be regarded as basic police duties.

    Regarding your point about Catholics living in Muslim countries: people often bring this point up, but its historical foundation is questionable. Bl. Pius IX managed to restore relations with the Ottoman Empire and re-establish the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem within it at the same time as he exercised absolute power in his temporal domain, running his territories as a confessional State and refusing religious liberty.

    Regarding repression of sin and error: the State has the right to repress sin and error, but it also has, in view of its duty to the common good, the duty not to repress error when it makes the prudential judgment that non-repression would be the lesser evil.

    LCB,

    You ask

    “Does the civil government have the right to ban a certain form of religion, even if the practice of that religion does not directly disrupt the the public peace, etc?”

    Yes, though as I said to Mr. Keener, sometimes the civil government has the duty to tolerate non-Catholic religions.

    You also asked

    “Would not banning even adhering to that belief be a form of coercion, and thus unacceptable?”

    Coercion means forcing someone to believe what his conscience tells him not to believe, and is hence illicit when imposed on non-Catholics. But as I’ve said, coercion is not to be confused with repression. It’s one thing to ban holding a certain belief, and quite another to ban putting that belief into action. Where I disagree with Schoolman is that, in his most recent comment, he seems to restrict the scope for restraint to violations of the natural moral law, when the full scope for restraint is, in fact, determined by the requirements of the common good. So in a country whose populace is united in the Catholic Faith, the State can restrain offenders of the Catholic religion—someone preaching heresy, for instance, even if in an orderly fashion—because of the harm that this would do to the common good. By the criterion of the natural moral law, though, this restraint would be illicit because its object is something that does not violate the natural moral law.

    Regarding Quanta cura and the Syllabus: when I say that the errors in Quanta cura were condemned infallibly, I am confining myself to the errors condemned in Quanta cura proper, not its appendix, the Syllabus. The errors contained strictly within the Encyclical itself were condemned ex Cathedra, while the errors condemned in the Syllabus are condemned with whatever level of authority they were condemned in their respective original documents or allocutions, and are therefore not necessarily ex Cathedra.

    Regarding Religious Liberty Questioned: it’s not available on-line but it is well worth reading if you wish to buy or borrow a copy.

    Schoolman,

    Just some quick thoughts on your comment of 23 February 2009 @ 11:36 am:

    1. Firstly, could you clarify which of my distinctions it was that you objected to? Was it my distinction between the moral order and the common good? If so, this distinction is certainly a valid one, because Dignitatis humanae is quite explicit about distinguishing between the “matters” that make up its “just public order” on the one hand, and “the rest”, the other matters contained in the common good, on the other hand.
    2. The first thing I note about your quotation is that Msgr. von Ketteler is just giving a definition of self-determination when he speaks of “widest possible latitude”, whereas Dignitatis humanae speaks of the “full range” in the context of prescribing norms for the State’s judgments of whether or not to restrain a certain usage of public religious activity.
    3. The quotation speaks of man’s right to “take care of his own needs without violating the rights of others”. But the Catholic religion always has a right not to have offences committed against it, whether against its articles of Faith, its moral precepts, its Divine worship or its system of government; false religions (Bl. Pius IX’s term) have no such rights. Offences against the Catholic religion—which are among the “evils” of which Leo XIII spoke in Sections 33 and 34—are only ever to be tolerated; they cannot be the object of any true and proper right.
    4. I have to confess that I find Msgr. von Ketteler’s categories of liberty a little untidy. I find the following categorisations clearer:
    4.1 Psychological liberty (free will)
    4.2 Liberty of action
    4.3 Moral liberty (equivalent to a natural right—its objects are always truth and goodness, whereas the objects of 4.1 and 4.2 won’t, by definition, necessarily be true or good)
    Msgr. von Ketteler appears to combine 4.1 with 4.2.

    (I really am leaving now, though I should be back later in the day, Australian time.)

  72. schoolman says:

    Pole,

    1) Again, I find no substative difference between Ketteler and DH relative to the natural limits to religious freedom and the requirements of the common good.
    2) Ketteler and DH both consider that human freedom should be given broad latitude (full range or widest latitude) and that human freedom should only be restrained when it militates against the common good, public morality, etc.
    3) Error, per se, has no rights — but PERSONS have rights (often in spite of their errors) — and these are not canceled merely by the fact of error. For example, Muslim parents still retain the natural right to educate their children according to the dictates of conscience.
    4) Actually, Ketteler divides human freedom into several more categories, however, you will need to refer to his complete work “Freedom , Authority and the Church” for that. The categories he brings up in the chapter on religious freedom seem to follow the same pattern oas those outlined later by Pope Leo XIII in Libertas. For example, Libertas divided the matter into “Natural Liberty” and “Moral Liberty” — where the later is founded on and presupposes the former. Bishop Ketteler simply gives “natural liberty” a different name: “self-determination.” It is the basis and foundation for all freedom — including moral freedom.

  73. schoolman says:

    “Where I disagree with Schoolman is that, in his most recent comment, he seems to restrict the scope for restraint to violations of the natural moral law, when the full scope for restraint is, in fact, determined by the requirements of the common good. So in a country whose populace is united in the Catholic Faith, the State can restrain offenders of the Catholic religion—someone preaching heresy, for instance, even if in an orderly fashion—because of the harm that this would do to the common good. By the criterion of the natural moral law, though, this restraint would be illicit because its object is something that does not violate the natural moral law.”

    I agree that states constituted on the basis of religious unity can treat heresy as a civil crime. However, this no longer becomes the case once religious unity has been shattered. This was covered by Ketteler in Part III here:

    “From what we have said, it is clear that treating heresy as a civil matter is no longer legitimate once the unity of the Faith has been shattered. Disunity destroys the essential prerequisites, and in Germany this began with the Religious Revolt.[27]”

    And later in part IV as follows:

    “3. Heresy as a violation of civil law presupposed unity in Faith, and with the disappearance of that unity it too has become a dead letter.”

  74. Jason Keener says:

    LCB,

    Another good question.

    Civil society has a duty to acknowledge and protect the true religion; however, how far the civil authority goes in suppressing religious error to protect the true religion is a matter of prudential judgement that has to be looked at in a case-by-case basis. How far a civil society goes in repressing error is a matter of policy, not a matter of doctrine.

    In the example that you brought up about Satanism, I believe that a civil authority would certainly have a right to repress Satanists IF they were committing abuses in the name of religion like sacrificing children, animals, etc.

    But, again, civil society does not have a duty or a right to repress every religious error, especially if those errors are not harming the common good of the temporal order. As despicable as Satanism is, even the Satanist has a right to seek the truth about religion according to his or her own conscience when those errors do not disrupt the public order. The civil government should allow God to take care of the Satanist as long as the Satanist is not harming the common good through heinous public acts, heinous acts against the natural law like killing children, etc.

    In the past, Popes have shown that religions have a right to practice their religion without coercion. For example, as early as A.D. 598, Gregory the Great clearly laid down that the Jews, had a claim to be treated equitably and justly. They were to be allowed to keep their own festivals and religious practices, and their rights of property, even in the case of their synagogues, were to be respected (Greg. Mag. Regesta, M. G. H., II, 67 and 383).

    St. Thomas Aquinas also taught that Jewish and Muslim parents have the right to raise their children in the Jewish or Muslim religion. St. Thomas clearly recognized that Jews and Muslims are in error about matters of religion; however, the Jewish and Muslim adherence to error did not give the state the right to force Jews and Muslims to abandon their religions.

  75. Jason Keener says:

    Cardinal Pole, (Your Eminence,) :-)

    You stated:

    “You fail to distinguish between repression (or restriction, or restraint, or prevention, whatever), and coercion. To coerce someone, in the present context, is to force him to disobey his conscience, whereas with restraint, the State merely prevents him from obeying his conscience—the restrained party may continue to conform his will to the dictates of his conscience in the case of mere repression.”

    I will try to clear this up.

    Every person has a right to be tolerated or to be free from coercion in matters of religious faith unless the outward manifestation of those religious beliefs is harming the common good of the temporal order.

    When a person’s religious beliefs harm the common good, the civil government has a positive duty to repress and restrain that error for the sake of the health of society.

    Some people will say that a healthy society will have no religious error. That might be true, but a healthy society also recognizes the dignity of the human person who has to be totally free in seeking God according to the dictates of his/her own conscience.

    More specifically, a Catholic country that would forcefully repress all Jewish and Muslim error might be fulfilling its duty towards Catholicism in a way, but that same country would be neglecting its duty towards Catholicism in another way by ignoring the Catholic teaching that people must be free in how they choose to follow God. People have a right to be tolerated in their own religions when those religions do not harm the common good of the temporal order.

  76. schoolman says:

    To add to Jason’s comments (which I agree with) — one may not appeal the the “Kingship of Christ” as a pretext to repress all social evils and error. The social reign of Christ the King also rests on the natural moral law — and we may not disregard His law in order to uphold it. To disregard tha natural moral law — including legitimate human freedom — only serves to make a mockery of Christ’s Kingship.

  77. Confiteor says:

    Civil society, however, would definitely overstep its bounds if it repressed every religious error. Civil society would be overstepping its bounds because individual people have a right to be free from coercion in matters of religious faith. Religious faith depends on people being able to enter freely into a relationship with God according to the dictates of their own conscience.

    I’m not suggesting that the State should repress every religious error. Nor am I suggesting that people should be denied the freedom to enter into a relationship with God according to the dictates of their conscience. I’m just trying to understand in concrete terms how some of you would interpret the “due limits” clause of DH. Let me state the specific case again:

    Let us envisage a tolerant Catholic State in which Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. are permitted to worship in their own temples. Let us also imagine that a modernist Catholic pastor and his liberal congregation invite a group of Hindus to an inter-religious worship service in their church building. During the service, the Hindus are allowed to perform their rituals upon the very altar where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Since the Hindus were invited and their liberal Catholic hosts are happy to accommodate the religious liberty of their guests, the sacrilege proceeds peacefully without the least disturbance of the public order.

    In this scenario, are the civil authorities within their rights according to the letter of Dignitatis Humanae to break up the interfaith event and restrain the perpetrators [including the Hindus]?

    What say you? Anyone?

  78. Jordanes says:

    Jack said: In fact, Infallibility was used only three times: the Dogmas of the Immaculate Conception, Assumption, and the definition of infallibility at V1.

    That’s a seriously truncated notion of infallibility, not at all in agreement with what the Church says about her infallibility. You have cited two examples of papal ex cathedra dogmatic definitions and an example of a conciliar dogmatic definition, but there are many conciliar dogmatic definitions, and there are more than two papal ex cathedra declarations. Besides the infallibility of the extraordinary magisterium (pope and councils), there is also infallibility of the ordinary magisterium — and even the sensus fidelium can be an organ of infallibility.

  79. Confiteor says:

    More specifically, a Catholic country that would forcefully repress all Jewish and Muslim error might be fulfilling its duty towards Catholicism in a way, but that same country would be neglecting its duty towards Catholicism in another way by ignoring the Catholic teaching that people must be free in how they choose to follow God. People have a right to be tolerated in their own religions when those religions do not harm the common good of the temporal order.

    Jason, does the State in principle have the duty to safeguard the Faith of Catholics? Again, let us imagine a Catholic State that has tolerated the practice of false religions. Over time, those religions grow in number and influence. Eventually, through peaceful proselytism, the adherents of those false religions begin winning converts from the Catholic Faith.

    According to the letter of Dignitatis Humanae:

    1. Do the Catholics have a natural right to follow the dictates of their conscience and abandon Our Lord Jesus Christ for a false religion?

    2. Does the State have a duty and right to repress the public expression of those false religions that are separating Catholics from the Body of Christ?

  80. schoolman says:

    Confiteor, the scenario you describe deals with the supernatural order rather than natural moral law — and as such is beyond the scope of the civil power. It belongs the the Church authorities to deal with the matter in accordance with canon law. What you describe can not be justly treated as a civil crime in a society that is not constituted on the basis of and is devoid of religious unity.

  81. Confiteor says:

    Confiteor, the scenario you describe deals with the supernatural order rather than natural moral law—and as such is beyond the scope of the civil power.

    Ah, well, it was precisely on that point that Archbishop Lefebvre and Cardinal Ratzinger parted ways.

    Of course, the Church cannot deal with the Hindus in accordance with Canon Law. That leaves the State, in this example a Catholic State. According to (your interpretation of the letter of) Dignitatis Humanae, the Catholic State has no competence to deal with a false religion that is harming the Catholic faithful, to say nothing of blaspheming Our Lord Jesus Christ. Madness. I can see why Archbishop Lefebvre told Cardinal Ratzinger that there was nothing further to discuss.

    There is no point in us kicking this issue around any longer. Let the discussions between Rome and the SSPX begin, pray God soon. I leave it in God’s hands.

  82. LCB says:

    Jason,

    You write, “I agree that the documents of Vatican II might be viewed as vague in places by some people.”

    Which is my entire argument. I’m glad we are in agreement :D

    I believe the vagueness is problematic, and apparently so did the Holy See, because they saw fit to attach an explanatory note on the section of LG dealing with Bishops. In addition, it is also my opinion that the extreme verbiage of the documents is, itself, problematic. Paragraph after paragraph goes on about Mary, but in the name of ecumenism, the council couldn’t bother to list the titles due to the Theotokos.

    Though the SSPX may have, in the past, rejected Vatican II or specific documents, that is no longer the case. I feel it more prudent to deal with the current positions being held. The current position is that clarification on vague sections of the documents is needed. The ball is now in the SSPX’s court, to publish a clear and exhaustive list of matters, paragraphs, lines, and words in Vatican II documents that they would like the Holy Father’s help in arriving at a greater level of clarity on.

    The Holy Father, in his Petrine ministry of strengthening the brethren, would most assuredly assist in helping greater clarity to be achieved.

    It is also time for there to be a serious clarification from Rome about the authoritative nature of the Vatican II documents. The presentation of the documents since 65 clearly does not match with the note attached to the LG appendix.

  83. LCB says:

    Since the discussion seems to be winding down, I’d like to thank Confiteor, Jason, and schoolman for a productive and enlightening discussion.

    The material is so often emotionally charged that this level of discourse becomes difficult on blogs. Laying out complicated arguments, with multiple sides recognizing the points made by others in a way they previously did not, is a rarity in any venue.

    I for one found the insight provided into DH quite helpful, because I have had great difficulty reconciling its vagueness with the previous direct doctrinal clarity of pre-Vatican II encyclicals. Thank you.

  84. schoolman says:

    “According to (your interpretation of the letter of) Dignitatis Humanae, the Catholic State has no competence to deal with a false religion that is harming the Catholic faithful, to say nothing of blaspheming Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Confiteor, the state never had competence in the supernatural order. In Medieval times, the state persecuted heresy as a civil crime because it constituted an attack to public order and the common good in a society constituted on the basis of religious unity.
    But the state can no longer justly treat heresy as a civil crime where religious unity is lacking in the body politic. That is why Bishop Ketteler states the following in Part III:

    “From what we have said, it is clear that treating heresy as a civil matter is no longer legitimate once the unity of the Faith has been shattered. Disunity destroys the essential prerequisites, and in Germany this began with the Religious Revolt.[27]”

    And later in part IV as follows:

    “3. Heresy as a violation of civil law presupposed unity in Faith, and with the disappearance of that unity it too has become a dead letter.”

  85. Jason Keener says:

    LCB, Schoolman, Confiteor, and others,

    I’m sad to see this discussion end. It was a very good one. Thank you.

    If anyone would like to email me to discuss things further, that would be great:

    keener_jason@yahoo.com

    God Bless!

  86. Jason Keener says:

    Confiteor,

    Some more good questions. I will answer them either later today or tomorrow.

    Pax Christi.

  87. schoolman says:

    “According to the letter of Dignitatis Humanae:

    1. Do the Catholics have a natural right to follow the dictates of their conscience and abandon Our Lord Jesus Christ for a false religion?

    2. Does the State have a duty and right to repress the public expression of those false religions that are
    separating Catholics from the Body of Christ?”

    Confiteor, I won’t answer for Jason but will provide my perspective for what its worth.

    1) Catholics have the same natural right to follow the dictates of conscience, however, Catholics must inform their conscience according the Magisterium of the Church. In this sense, the Catholic has no legitimate appeal to conscience as a pretext to disregard the teaching of the Magisterium.

    2) See the quotes from Ketteler above. The state will have such a duty only in the context of a society that remains constituted on the basis of religious unity. Where such religious unity is lacking, however, the state has only the duty to protect the common good (including public morality in accordance with natural moral law) and peaceful coexistence among all its citizens.

  88. Jason Keener says:

    Confiteor,

    In principle, society and the leaders of civil society must recognize the true Church. Humans live in societies and are therefore bound to recognize the true Church not only privately but also in their social capacity as a larger society.

    It is not madness for us to insist that the state has no authority or competence to shut down every single religious error that might harm the Catholic faithful, even in a Catholic state.

    Christ said in the Gospels that the wheat will grow along with the weeds until the end of time in this world. Not every problem can be solved by the state. We do not want the state being overly heavy-handed in people’s religious affairs because those affairs must be conducted in an atmosphere of freedom. When the state becomes totalitarian and begins to judge every person’s supposed moral and religious errors, the state would totally be ignoring the principle of Catholic social teaching called “subsidiarity.” Individuals and families have a right to worship as they see fit. Catholics appreciate this simple right too when they live in Islamic or atheistic countries.

    If Archbishop Lefebvre insisted that the state has the authority to repress all moral and religious error, Archbishop Lefebvre contradicted centuries of Catholic teaching where the tolerance of error was permitted.

    Gregory the Great said the Jews must be allowed to practice their religion freely. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that not every religious error should be repressed by the state because people have a right to practice religion freely and a right to raise their children in the religion of their choice. Pope Pius XII also stated, “Sometimes the state has no right to impede or repress what is erroneous and false.”

    Again, even if a Catholic state recognizes that some people are profaning the Lord through their false worship, etc., it is not the duty of the state to necessarily stop that profanation unless it is disturbing the public order. People have the right to be free in matters of religion. God can judge people at the end of time for their religious errors.

  89. Jason Keener says:

    Confiteor said:

    “Let us envisage a tolerant Catholic State in which Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. are permitted to worship in their own temples. Let us also imagine that a modernist Catholic pastor and his liberal congregation invite a group of Hindus to an inter-religious worship service in their church building. During the service, the Hindus are allowed to perform their rituals upon the very altar where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Since the Hindus were invited and their liberal Catholic hosts are happy to accommodate the religious liberty of their guests, the sacrilege proceeds peacefully without the least disturbance of the public order.

    In this scenario, are the civil authorities within their rights according to the letter of Dignitatis Humanae to break up the interfaith event and restrain the perpetrators [including the Hindus]?”

    I would say the state would have no authority in this situation to restrain the Hindus. Not every problem falls under the competence of the state nor is the state equipped to deal with every problem. God can judge the Hindus and the liberal Catholic parish for their religious errors at the end of time. The authority of the state does not exist to police religious practice and belief unless those beliefs are disturbing the public order.

    Moreover, if the state did force the Hindus to stop worshipping God in the Catholic parish when they were not causing a public stir would probably be a violation of the God-given rights of the Hindus and the liberal Catholics to seek God according to the dictates of their own consciences. The Catholic state may know the Hindu and liberal Catholics’ behavior is objectively sinful, but people have a right to be tolerated in some of their sinful and foolish behaviors.

    Also, in this particular situation the Catholic bishop could deal with the Catholic parish in his diocese that invited Hindus in to worship at the Catholic altar.

  90. Mark says:

    Paul Haley:

    Please accept my sincere mea culpa – my remarks should not have been directed at you, since they obviously don’t follow from your post – I was speaking rather freely and carelessly.

  91. schoolman says:

    “Ah, well, it was precisely on that point that Archbishop Lefebvre and Cardinal Ratzinger parted ways.”

    Confiteor, allow me to refer you back to Ketteler quoting Suarez on this very point (See Part II):

    “We regard it, first of all as intrinsically evil – intrinsice malum – to wish to force non-believers who are not one’s subjects to accept the Faith, because such force, to be applied, presupposes the existence of legitimate authority, as must be obvious. The Church, however, does not possess legitimate authority over such persons.” (ibid. n. 4) He continues: “Secondly, the Church cannot compel even non-believers who are subject to her temporal authority to accept the Faith. That is because the direct use of force presupposes full authority and jurisdiction, and it is clear from what has been said that the Church has not gotten such full power over her temporal subjects by any specific commission from Christ.” (ibid. n. 7)

    A little further on, Ketteler sums up the limits to the scope of the temporal power as follows:

    “4. The temporal power exercised in the state, whether by Christian rulers or by others, concerns itself only with a part of the temporal well-being of the subjects, not with the supernatural truths of revelation. The scope of temporal power and the authority which is proper to it and not conferred upon it by others derives from the natural order of things and the unchangeable laws which God has implanted in that order.[18] The scope of that authority can be extended if the Church chooses to confer more powers, as the Church did grant additional rights to the ancient Christian rulers – powers which they then exercised in the name of the Church.

    Likewise, certain historical situations may develop which add to the state’s power. Yet, the basic limitation of its authority derives from laws of God who, in laying down His plan for order in the universe, also included a proper sphere for the temporal community. No one, either the Church or the people, has a right to transgress these limits. Christ acknowledged the natural order and sanctified it. In doing so, He imparted to those who were vested with temporal authority as well as to their subjects a purity and nobility of purpose, as well as a loyal devotion to duty which the world had not known hitherto. The temporal order was blessed and ennobled by Him, but He did not enlarge the scope of temporal authority. The new powers which He brought to humanity were conferred upon His Apostles and their successors.[19] Temporal rulers, therefore, do not have the authority to compel non-Christians to convert to the Christian Faith, since that is a purely supernatural concern; nor can the Church grant that authority to temporal rulers, because the Church itself does not have it.”