The Remnant: new interview with SSPX Bp. Fellay

Brian Mershon, who sometimes comments here, has on the site of The Remnant posted an interview with SSPX Bishop Bernard Fellay.

It is too long to bring over here, so here are a couple salient points:

Mershon: Did you ever think this would result in so much negative publicity and attacks from the secular media?

Bp. Fellay: Definitely not. In fact, I had no specific idea what the reactions of the media or the bishops’ conferences would be. It is obvious, and this has been going on for years, that there is a strong opposition against us among the progressivists, but it was impossible to imagine that they would have used such weapons against us as they have now been doing for weeks.

And unfortunately, Bishop Williamson provided them with an unhoped-for weapon to launch their attack against us. And so the secular world and the progressivists together were able to attack us and create tremendous pressure upon the Pope about something that has nothing to do with the Faith. It would seem that several cardinals were able to discern in that turmoil and storm that the Devil was at work. Let us hope that they will go further in their conclusions.

Mershon: What is next? Do you have a specific timetable for the theological discussions on the difficult points of Vatican II? Can you tell us who will participate in these talks from the SSPX and from within the Roman curia?

Bp. Fellay: We have no timetable yet. We shall see with Rome in the upcoming months how things will develop with these necessary talks about doctrine and also important elements of Christian life. We will reveal in due time the names of those who will participate in these talks.

It is obvious that part of these discussions must take place in a peaceful atmosphere, far away from the media, in order to be fruitful. We will certainly give the necessary information to our faithful. But all this must first become a concrete reality.

Mershon: … Could you clarify for us the specific points, presumably on the Decree on Ecumenism and Declaration on Religious Liberty over which you will seek clarification? Perhaps Gaudium et Spes also?

Bp. Fellay: First of all, if someone thinks that I have watered down our position, he is wrong. Our position remains exactly the same. And when I said that sufficient clarification is needed and not necessarily an exhaustive list of theological points, [I think this is a key point: sufficient, not exhaustive.] I mean that all the essential points and principles which have led the Church into the present crisis need to be solved; but of course, not all the conclusions that would take too long and could be an endless task. Once the principles are sound the conclusions will follow by themselves.

The specific points: we are confronted with a huge mountain. First, there is a spirit, which we may call modernism. There is also a very ambiguous language that has been used along the pattern of the language of modern philosophy. This gives the false spirit which permeated the whole Council. [Watch this…] The fact that there are so many ambiguities leads to several interpretations of the texts, and even Pope Benedict XVI condemned the extremist interpretations of the ultra-progressivists.

Next, we have the whole question of the relations between the Church and the world. In the Council, a very positive and human-centered vision spoils everything, especially in Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium. There is a much too positive way of considering the other religions, which at the time, were still called “false religions.” Now this term has been dropped. Does it mean that they would be truer now?

Religious liberty is a fundamental element of modern thinking and of modern philosophy. Of course, you may find some good points in other religions, but the true doctrine must be found in profound and necessary distinctions.

Let us take human rights, for instance. The Church has always defended and protected many human rights. The Church says that these rights flow from men’s duties toward their Creator. They are not absolute; they are always dependent upon the true and the good. You will never find a right which is based on error or evil.  Therefore, to place the emphasis upon the human person, as it is done now, may lead to profound error. And this does not mean that there is not a true and necessary use of human conscience, for instance. … Indeed, we have an enormous task lying ahead of us.

Mershon: The present Holy Father (in his letter to the Bishop of Chile in 1988), as well as Pope Paul VI himself, both said the Second Vatican Council was primarily pastoral, with no note of dogmatic declarations from the Extraordinary Magisterial level. With this in mind, what type of decisions do you expect to reach with the Holy See?

Bp. Fellay: We will present to the Holy See our questions, our problems. We hope they will be phrased clearly enough so that the right and appropriate answers will be given. We definitely expect from the Holy Father and the Holy See a true clarification of the Council. What needs to be corrected must be corrected. What needs to be rejected must be rejected. What needs to be accepted must be accepted.

Mershon: Of course the Society recognizes the Second Vatican Council as a Council of the Church. Do you believe that you will be expected to adhere to more than that—with the understanding that you adhere to the documents with the same theological authority and certitude in which the Church herself holds them?

Bp. Fellay: If we go by the last statement from the Secretary of State, we may fear that Rome might like to impose upon us a full acceptance of Vatican II. But again, what does this mean? What is the real Vatican II when there are so many different interpretations?  Even within the last 40 years, what was Vatican II? It is, according to its own definition, a pastoral, and not a dogmatic Council, and so it cannot be suddenly interpreted as fully dogmatic. And regarding the authority of the documents, because we do not find any kind of clear pronouncement of their authority, there is great confusion on this issue. Very clearly, its authority cannot be greater now than what the Council itself meant it to be. And the Council did not want to be infallible.

Mershon: Do you foresee any oversight by territorial diocesan bishops once the Society is regularized?

Bp. Fellay: That would be our death. [!] The situation of the Church is such that once the doctrinal issues have been clarified, we will need our own autonomy in order to survive. This means that we will have to be directly under the authority of the Pope with an exemption. …

Mershon: Do you expect a personal prelature or perhaps an Apostolic Administration for the SSPX, reporting directly to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei?

Bp. Fellay: It would seem that the project Rome has in store for us is going in that direction. But I am not certain.

Mershon: Mershon: Are there tendencies toward anti-Semitism in the ranks of the SSPX?  Is it "anti-Semitic" in your opinion, to pray and work and dialogue for the conversion of religious Jews to the Catholic Faith?  And why do you think there is such sensitivity in the media to supposed “anti-Semitism” as if it were under every rock? Do you think there is just as much anti-Catholicism from politicians, media and other decision-makers in Western society? If so, why do you believe the anti-Catholicism gets a free pass from the secular media even from most Catholic media?

Bp. Fellay: The words “anti-Semitic” or “anti-Semitism” are ambiguous. They have at least two completely different meanings. First, the word “Semite” refers to all the people who are descendants of Sem, one of Noah’s three sons. Not only the Jews, but also the Arabs belong to this branch of mankind; they are all Semites.

In this sense, the word refers to races, to people, and it has no religious connotation. Anti-Semitism is condemned by the Church as a species of racism. Racism is both an injustice and goes against the commandment of charity toward our neighbor.

There is another meaning given to anti-Semitism, which is connected to religion, and specifically, the Jewish religion. In the present situation, anyone who makes any remarks about the Jewish religion, or, for instance, says that the Jewish people should embrace the Faith, could very easily be labeled as anti-Semitic. But this is wrong. In fact, to answer your question, in the world there is much more anti-Catholicism than anti-Semitism. The problem is that anti-Catholicism remains in the religious domain, whereas anti-Semitism is almost immediately connected with the Jewish people, which is, once again, very ambiguous and imprecise. [But he was asked if there are tendencies toward anti-Semitism in the SSPX.  Did he answer?]

Mershon: Do you have any closing thoughts you would like to share with Catholics interested in this “joyful news for the whole Church”, as Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi dubbed it?

Bp. Fellay: If we look at the way these excommunications were surprisingly lifted; if we especially look at the undeniable link between this fact of the decree remitting the excommunications and the unbelievable turmoil aroused just after and based upon an incident that had nothing to do with the Faith, we cannot but see that there are forces let loose there which are not human.

I have heard from several cardinals that they believe it was the Devil that was let loose. And whenever the Devil rages with so much violence and uproar, it is a good sign. We may not yet realize all that it means. But for us, it is an invitation to pray, and sacrifice more.

The Church is a supernatural being essentially, and we cannot fully explain the Church, or even the fruits and consequences of human acts performed in the Church if we look only at the human side.  [Well said.]

The head of the Church is, and remains, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The soul of the Church is the Holy Ghost Himself. Our Lord promised that His Church would be indefectible. So let us do our best, be faithful to our duty of state, pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and pray our rosary.  [Better advice than that it is hard to find.]

And then, everything will end well.

 

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75 Responses to The Remnant: new interview with SSPX Bp. Fellay

  1. Thomas says:

    Not sure why this just popped into my head, but wouldn’t it be great if the SSPX wound up “replacing” the Jesuits. It would be a delicious irony if the schismatics filled the void left when the Society of Jesus decayed. What a “Counter-Reformation” that would be.

  2. Bruce says:

    “The head of the Church is, and remains, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The soul of the Church is the Holy Ghost Himself. Our Lord promised that His Church would be indefectible. So let us do our best, be faithful to our duty of state, pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and pray our rosary.”

    How often do you hear liberal Catholics say something like this?

  3. Paul Knight says:

    I’ve always liked what Bishop Fellay has had to say. I liked this too.

  4. Ken says:

    I see even Father Z (!) starting to see the SSPX in a more favorable light now. Congrats to Bishop Fellay for an excellent interview. THIS is what traditional Catholicism is about. [My position hasn’t changed.]

  5. Lori Ehrman says:

    His advice at the end of the interview is perfect. Pray and let mom fix it! Immaculate Heart of Mary, cause of our joy, pray for us! And for today, Ste. Bernadette, priez pour nous!

  6. Brian Mershon says:

    Father, with all due respect, I did ask His Excellency that question about “anti-Semitism” in the ranks of the SSPX, but to be fair o your readers, you should include the entire question, which is included here, which he did answer. I asked multiple questions, really.

    Based upon his answer, I would conclude that the priests and the bishops of the SSPX, with the Catholic Church, believes that Jews should convert to Catholicism for their own salvation. I doubt very much that any of them is “anti-Semitic” in the sense of being racist. The priest that was expelled had Jewish blood and was expelled because of his public criticism of the SSPX leadershiop and of having sedevacantist tendencies.

    Mershon: Are there tendencies toward anti-Semitism in the ranks of the SSPX? Is it “anti-Semitic” in your opinion, to pray and work and dialogue for the conversion of religious Jews to the Catholic Faith? And why do you think there is such sensitivity in the media to supposed “anti-Semitism” as if it were under every rock? Do you think there is just as much anti-Catholicism from politicians, media and other decision-makers in Western society? If so, why do you believe the anti-Catholicism gets a free pass from the secular media even from most Catholic media?

    [I adjusted the entry at the top. But I don’t think he answered the question.]

  7. Brian Day says:

    Ken,
    You have to admit, the FSSPX/SSPX has had a profound change in its tone in the last 18 months. What’s not to like when you speak the truth in charity?

  8. Son of Trypho says:

    Fr Z
    Your right to note the point about his response concerning anti-semitism in the SSPX. It is obvious that these tendencies do exist in the group and Fellay could not honestly answer it without creating more problems for himself and his group (and Benedict).

  9. little gal says:

    I preface my comment here by saying that I am not fully informed on the SSPX issue. But, in what I have read, where direct quotes from “Bp.” Fellay are included, I definitely get the impression that there is a continued stance of righteousness on their part; that the Church is the one that needs to conform itself to their ideas. Are the entrees for unification coming only from the Vatican?

  10. veritas says:

    Is it possible to put forth Pastoral Statements without them cleary implying a theology? Is not a Council ratified by a Pope covered by his authority?

    Does Bishop Fellay not realise that one can have a people who are not a race or even a religion but are nevertheless an identifiable group? His discussion of anti-semitism is somewhat simple minded. Perhaps he should consult some of his faithful in France who would have no difficulty in recognising those whom they were against.

    Does he still hold to the idea that “error has no rights” which justified persecution of others when Catholics were in a majority? It has certainly been taken up by secularists and Muslims from their point of view. How would he have the Pope try to negotiate on matters of religious freedom with the King of Saudi Arabia?

  11. Brian Mershon says:

    Error has no rights is true. Otherwise, God, all-truth, is not true. People, however, have some rights. People who are erroneous, have rights too. But the big question is, do they have a supernatural RIGHT, in the eyes of God, to hold and promulgate error.

    Of course they do not. “Civil” society must sometimes TOLERATE people with erroneous ideas, but tolerance and God-given right, which is what the Church can speak about regarding Faith and Morals, are two very different things.

    Ideas do not exist without people connected to them. Error has not supernatural right to be promulgated. Other religions are erroneous.

  12. A Bishop who warns of the evil one! When was the last time you heard a homily speaking of the power of the devil?

  13. Richard says:

    Reflecting on what I have read on this site (both from Fr. Z and the comments, like that from Thomas, above) I think I understand the basic “rules” of this site:
    -There are bad popes (John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II [at least for part of his papacy]) and we should ignore them because they were bad and wrong.
    -There are good popes (Pius X and Benedict XVI [at least for now]) and everything they said/say and do is right and good. We should never think about what they said, just do it.
    -There is good liturgy (EF) even if it is said by priests who have broken from the papacy and we should attend it.
    -There is bad liturgy (OF)and we should avoid it, even if it is reverent and follows the established rubrics approved by Rome, unless we have no choice on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation.
    -There were good councils (Nicea, Trent)inspired by the Holy Spirit and nothing they said or did can ever be studied, questioned or changed.
    -There were bad councils (Vatican II [and may parts of Vatican I]) and they should be condemned to the scrap heap of history since clearly the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with them.
    -There are good priestly orders (SSPX, Dominicans)all of whose priests are always holy, blessed and to be obeyed.
    -There are bad priestly orders (Society of Jesus, Franciscans[?]) all of whose priests by definition are evil and to be mocked and ignored.
    -It is critical to know every thing possible about every clause in Canon Law (although we get to pick and choose which version we cite to support our condemnation of those who disagree with us or say their prayers in their own language.) We can ignore Matt. 1-5; it is scripture and only Protestants know and quote scripture.
    -Dressing up like Renaissance Italian merchants and nobles is a sign of holiness. (We can ignore Matt. 28-30 [see above re:quoting scripture])
    -If Latin and Gregorian chant were good enough for Jesus and the Apostles at the last supper {(to quote someone posting on another thread about the EF vs. OF Mass, “You pray the way you want and I’ll pray the way God wants”)- the hymns they sang [Mark 14:26] had to be in Gregorian chant or God would not have appreciated them, right?} it has to be good enough for us.
    Just want to be sure I have it right.

    [Nope. Wrong again! And.. wow!… you had better be careful with those hyphens! They create strikeout tags. tisk ]

  14. Son of Trypho says:

    Brian Mershon
    As a convert from Judaism I can assure you that anti-semitism is real and alive in the world and is not “supposed”.
    Fellay, if he was informed, would have noted that the Chief Rabbi of France himself instruced the Jewish community in France (in 2003) not to wear their yarmulkes in public because their safety was in peril.

    I can also confirm that anti-Catholicism is rife, indeed, some call it the last acceptable prejudice in society. This is deeply unnacceptable and should be fought against by all Catholics. The difference is that in the world there are something like almost 15 million Jews and almost 1,100 million Catholics and so, sensibly, taking into account the historical context and consequences of the Shoah, anti-semitism is taken more seriously.

  15. Luigi says:

    “This gives the false spirit which permeated the whole Council. [Watch this…] The fact that there are so many ambiguities leads to several interpretations of the texts, and even Pope Benedict XVI condemned the extremist interpretations of the ultra-progressivists.”

    So what then is the real problem? Is it ambiguous language? Perhaps the case can be made but that misses the point. That ship has already sailed. The language employed by the Council is done. The real problem is one of faithlessness and pride. Ambiguous or not, if humility and faith reign, authentic interpretation will emerge.

    Look at the Pelosi situation. I am certain the Holy Father was not at all ambiguous in his counsel today, yet watch how Nancy interprets his teaching.

    The bottom line is that it is not for any one bishop or group of bishops (SSPX or otherwise) to interpret the Council documents on their own over and against the bishop of Rome. We can decry the results of erroneous interpretations together, but to harp on “ambiguities” is as productive as trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

  16. Richard says:

    Not sure why there are strike through lines in my post above. I did not try to strike anything out. I do note they involve the paragraphs that refer to scripture. Wonder if the Bible is blocked from this site.

  17. David D. says:

    What’s your angle Richard? I’m just dying to know!

  18. Daniel A. says:

    Richard,

    First of all, Fr. Zuhlsdorf already answered why those quotes are blocked: the hyphens tend to create a \”strike out\” font. Furthermore, if you would read the site more frequently, not only would you see that the opinions you mentioned above are seldom if ever expressed on this blog (and never by Fr. Zuhlsdorf), you would also see that Fr. Zuhlsdorf frequently posts translations of scriptural prayers and other passages from the Bible.

  19. Ed Francis says:

    An opinion:

    I’ve read a fairly substantial quantity of Pope Benedict’s writings, and find him to be the fairest of critics. He goes farther than many, many theologians and scholars in accurately and fairly presenting the case of opposing interests, recognizing and working from their positive points. In that light, when Bishop Fellay says of the Pope that,

    “even Pope Benedict XVI condemned the extremist interpretations of the ultra-progressivists”,

    he rhetorically ignores the fact that Pope Benedict never only condemns (too strong a word for Benedict’s Love-centered theological style), but always offers positive alternatives, or presents the proper response, the right thing, that is missed by however-persuasive interpretations.

    That quality, and a preferential option for Truth is one of Benedict’s shining gifts. Also, as one commentator said of him, he’s not afraid to ask the tough questions, and to find Truth-based answers them.

    Bishop Fellay is offered unity, but he’s going to have to accept the truth, which is that Pope Benedict, while aware of egregious abuses after Vatican II, is a an outspoken proponent of Vatican II, not as misinterpreted, but as intended, ultimately, by the Holy Spirit.

  20. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Not sure why this just popped into my head, but wouldn’t it be great if the SSPX wound up “replacing” the Jesuits. It would be a delicious irony if the schismatics filled the void left when the Society of Jesus decayed. What a “Counter-Reformation” that would be.

    I entertained a similar wild thought. Break up the SSPX and assign each priest to a parish where they could twin with the incumbent. 700 parishes would suddenly have the TLM! (Unrealistic and unfair on SSPX priests, I know.)

  21. Brian Day says:

    Richard,

    Not only did the hyphens inadvertently create the strike-through tags, for forgot to include the sarcasm tags. Or were you being serious?

  22. Mershon: Mershon: Are there tendencies toward anti-Semitism in the ranks of the SSPX? Is it “anti-Semitic” in your opinion, to pray and work and dialogue for the conversion of religious Jews to the Catholic Faith? And why do you think there is such sensitivity in the media to supposed “anti-Semitism” as if it were under every rock? Do you think there is just as much anti-Catholicism from politicians, media and other decision-makers in Western society? If so, why do you believe the anti-Catholicism gets a free pass from the secular media even from most Catholic media?

    Placing the issue on antisemitism in a series of exculpatory questions invited a (near) non-response.

  23. Mitchell says:

    Richard,

    Although the either/or mentality does exist in some posts I would venture to guess that most are flexible in reformulation of their opinions when cited with credible evidences and statistics. Myself included. Most internet blogs are all slighted to one side of an issue or another. I have yet to read an “I have no opinion, and neither do we, gray zone” blog. And I suppose underneath the either/or commentary you provided, you stand on one side more than 50% of the time. Declare your position on the topics being discussed and we will watch to see what side you fall on. And if it happens to be on the OF side, sans tradition and ritual more than 50% of the time consider us on your side. That is, the side of endless opinion and option which the NO of today stands for. Which leaves me on the side of the UA more than 50% of the time.

  24. Mark says:

    I’m completely unimpressed with this interview.

    One, the questions were softball;

    Two, there was no hint of apology, remorse, or introspection about the schismatic actions of this group. On the contrary, any criticism was interpreted as the attack of the Devil and his minions. This is essentially self exoneration;

    Three, there was no real answer to the “question” about their tendencies toward anti-semitism, only a dissertation on the various meanings of it. The question itself was so heavily qualified that the answer was almost unnecessary.

    To me, the general tone of this interview is pride in oneself, and consignment of any criticism to the action of the Devil. With such hard attitudes, I don’t see why the leadership of this group should be viewed as the voice of Catholic Traditionalism. There is a vibrant and growing Traditionalist movement within the Church that is not blighted by pride or apocalyptic visions, and speaks in a more approachable tone.

  25. Phil Steinacker says:

    Richard,

    Henceforth please bring a bucket and mop with you so you can clean up the mess you make. Your sarcasm is dripping everywhere, and your broadside is off-topic, to say the least.

    I think I recall one of your earliest posts (if I’m wrong, I apologize) in which your views indicated a far liberal-left tilt. Back then I followed the link embedded in your signature to find that your blog and its denizens hold views quite divergent from those expressed here. Your sarcasm would indicate you’d agree with that statement, although I’ve noticed your posts carry either no such link anymore, or its busted – like this one is – so perhaps you’re shy about visitors trolling in your comboxes now.

    My friend, you appear to suffer from the myopic view of someone who hasn’t gotten at all close enough to his subject to see the many distinctions and details that are, in fact, quite evident. There is a considerable divergence of opinion here, even among regulars, so the first victim of your narrow-minded shooting from the hip is your own credibility.

    From reading comments by this crowd I for one have learned issues within the Church, its history, dogma, doctrine, etc that I didn’t even realize were on the table – now or in the past. Having read such a wide range of viewpoints for a year or better I can tell you the homogeneity you say you see here is better found at your own blog – a left wing orthodoxy there, to be sure, but pretty much a homogeneous echo chamber nonetheless. When I visited I found your little crew in enthusiastic agreement with one another – all 8 of you. I daresay your implied accusation of groupthink is more likely a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    If I am correct that you are also an ordained deacon, then I’d suggest you might rethink whether it is appropriate for you to communicate with other Catholics in such a judgmental and disrespectful manner. For me, the bottom-line to your little post seems to be judging what’s in other people’s hearts, and the erroneous charges indicate either a severe limitation on the time you’ve spent reading in depth the posts and comments here, or a limitation to your own integrity as evidenced by your distortions of reality.

    I find your manner insulting, and your jibes off-putting. That an ordained clergyman of our Church will bite other Catholics with his sarcasm without taking the time to actually know better is unacceptable. After all, we wouldn’t want to sit in judgment about anyone, would we, Deacon?

  26. Sam Fusari says:

    I am slightly concerned about the assumptions commentators make on the Society; I have attended a Society chapel for nearly three years. While attending the church, I have seen absolutely no instances of anti-semitism. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were not for sale in the book store, and the priest did not speak against the Jews. Rather, books on the saints were sold and the priest preached the words of Christ and the saints. If Bishop Williamson seems anti-semitic, he in no way represents the entire Society. To speak of a problem of anti-semitism within the Society is ignorant. At least, I have ever been confronted by any tendencies. Thank you.

  27. Athelstane says:

    Placing the issue on antisemitism in a series of exculpatory questions invited a (near) non-response.

    I’m inclined to agree with Rich Leonardi (not for the first time), but I presume that wasn’t Brian’s intention.

    He didn’t answer the first question, although he did try with most of the others. Might have been worth while to ask him as a stand-alone question.

    The Society – and traditionalists in general – have gotten beaten up unmercifully in the public square, not least because of so much confusion about what the Church’s traditional teaching on Judaism is, and what Nostra Aetate says (and does not say). But Williamson’s comments didn’t help the perception that remnants of old anti-Dreyfusard sentiments might lurk in pockets of the Society, especially (obviously) in France, and how it might be distinguished what are simply traditional Catholic views on salvation. I’d like to see Bishop Fellay address that if the chance arises again. And I suspect it will.

    Thanks to Brian for making this interview with Bishop Fellay possible, and thanks to Fr. Z for linking to it.

  28. … but I presume that wasn’t Brian’s intention.

    Yes. This is my presumption too.

  29. Placing the issue on …

    issue of, ‘natch.

  30. Nick says:

    Bishop Fellay answered the question by clearly defining anti-semitism and what is sinful about it. What he neglected to say was that sociologically, culturally, conservative Frenchmen are increasingly anti-semitic, i.e. anti-Arab and anti-Jew, because their country appears to be overrun. Obviously the SSPX is composed of conservatives but they do have a rather high percentage of people who actually go to frequent confession and one can only hope that they struggle to overcome their sinful impulses. Fellay underscores that Judaism is not a parallel path to salvation with a detour around Christ, an optional Christ. That of course is generally considered anti-semitic. Remember the Godd Friday prayers? How many of us then would be classified as “anti-semitic?”

  31. Christopher says:

    Perhaps there is some confusion about language when it comes to the Church’s attitude to the Jewish people, which in fact it is good for Bishop Fellay to point out. There is “anti-seminitism” (a matter of race or descent in general) and an “anti-seminitism” which remains primarily racist but which is aimed squarely at Jews or those with Jewish backgrounds (Nazism, the Shoah exhibit this kind); but then there is also “anti-Judaism” which perhaps the Catholic Church, or at least some Catholic Princes, could be charged with historically but which has nothing to do with race; and finally there is (related to that anti-Judaism or the cause of it) what you might call “supersessionism” i.e. the belief that the Christian faith has replaced the faith of the Jews as the true bearer of the definitive covenant between God and man. In other words that Christianity is the true Judaism (if I can put it that way) and Judaism has itself gone onto a false path. I suspect when looked at from that point of view, the answer given by Bishop Fellay to the question on anti-semitism was well divised to avoid a falsehood (that Judaism is not in error in refusing the Messiah) while at the same time declining to give offence to anyone. The problem is almost intractable, especially since there is likely at least a level of at the worst “anti-Judaism” and more likely “supersessionism” within the SSPX which would be quickly misunderstood or maliciously misinterpreted if Bishop Fellay admitted to its existence (I cannot see how any Christian is not at a “soft supersessionist” as it is called in a certain degree). I don’t think he can be blamed for not answering directly such a question; it is a quagmire into which he does again wish to draw his society and the Holy Father.

    I was in general very impressed with this interview and the outlook of Bishop Fellay, who says many good things. I don’t see the tone of pride others have noted, he seems to me only to want a clarification of the Vatican Council II teaching, to know what it really means and, so also, what it does not mean. This is something I hope for all the time, and if the dialogue of the SSPX with Rome can help to get that clarification, I am all in favour of it. I especially like his closing remarks; I mean what could be better than that we devote ourselves to the Mother of God and to prayer sure in the hope that the Lord will make all things well?

  32. schoolman says:

    Mershon: “Error has no rights is true. Otherwise, God, all-truth, is not true. People, however, have some rights. People who are erroneous, have rights too. But the big question is, do they have a supernatural RIGHT, in the eyes of God, to hold and promulgate error.”

    Brian, even an honestly erroneous conscience has rights. The reason is due to the fact that an honestly erroneous conscience
    has duties — and one who disregard the dictates of his honestly erroneous conscience commits a sin. Man has a right to avoid sin by doing the moral good — even when conscience is invincibly erroneous.

  33. brendon says:

    …the hymns they sang [Mark 14:26] had to be in Gregorian chant or God would not have appreciated them, right?

    I don’t know about appreciation, but I once read a bit about an exchange between a priest and a rabbi. The priest asked the rabbi what the Psalms sounded like when sung in Hebrew. The rabbi answered that they sounded a lot like they sounded when Catholics sung them in Latin.

    So the hymn from Mark 14:26 might not have been in Gregorian chant. But it would have been a lot closer to Gregorian chant than to any of the “praise and worship” music so often found in a modern Catholic parish. “Pride of place” has an historical and theological significance. It’s not just about preference.

  34. Brian Mershon says:

    Schoolman. I was not speaking of the subjective and objective areas of moral certainty in the actions of individuals.

    “Rights” as the Church understands, from a supernatural perspective, objectively speaking, cannot ever contain error. Therefore, in the public sphere, in an ideal world, all citizens are Cathoic and therefore, it would certainly be OK, in fact, I would argue, imperative and a moral duty for the State to publicly suppress erroneous religious ideas and false religions–esp. in the matters of morality.

    Very few consciences are “invincibly ignorant.” Dignitatis Humanae states that al lmean are REQUIRED to seek the truth and to hold it once they find it. That means the objective Truth. If man does NOT seek the Truth, then he is at fault.

    There are certain objective and subjectively formed consciences and uncertain subjectively and objectively formed consciences. Man has the DUTY to NOT act when his consciences i doubtful abou the objective good.

    Error has no supernatural rights. Objectively speaking, with God as the Object, thi sis always TRUE. I do not want to wander into the personalism of talking about human rights unattached to man’s duty to God. That is what has gotten us into the mess we are currently in within the Church.

  35. schoolman says:

    Brian, man has a moral obligation (and corresponding moral right) to follow his honest conscience — even when erroneous.
    To fail to do so is to sin — and man has a right to fulfill his moral duties and avoid sin. This pertains to the moral order with is perfectly attuned to the supernatural order united to the divine will.

    For example, some men of good will holding erroneous religious beliefs will attain heaven with the help of divine grace. On the other hand, many prideful men having religious truth will perish.

    I expect that the doctrinal talks will need to address the positions found in the “Dubia” of Archbishop Lefebvre concerning religious freedom. However, there are some problematic ideas that need to be sorted out. For example:

    1) Dubia Affirms: One is obliged under pain of sin to act according to his honest erroneous conscience, however…
    Dubia Denies: that the moral obligation has a corresponding moral right to act. We have seen that this is impossible as the moral law cannot contradict itself by commanding and forbidding the same thing.

    2) Dubia Affirms: Those who ignore “without guilt the dogmas of the true religion” indeed have an objective natural right to worship God, however…
    Dubia Denies: That this natural right extends to cases other than the “hypothetical” of those who worship God strictly according to the “lights of natural reason” and without any supernatural revelation.

    3) Dubia Affirms: That divine positive law does not cancel the natural law (e.g., muslims retain the natural right to educate their children), however…
    Dubia Denies the principle in effect by reducing the natural right to one of “practical non-repression” — that could be ignored when repression seems more “practical”.

    The common theme is a denial that objective natural rights can somehow conflict with the divine eternal law. Indeed, this is true but then how do we resolve the apparent contradictions above?

    St. Thomas provides the key (i-ii, 19, 10) by distinguishing between “material” and “formal” conformity with the divine will. In other words, when man’s will is truly good (i.e., men of good-will) then his will is in “formal” conformity with the divine will (as to the common aspect and the point of the last end) – even if it is not in “material” conformity with the divine will (on account of his particular apprehension of reason or honest ignorance of the material aspects of the divine will).

  36. Phil Steinacker says:

    Brendon,

    Might this be the exchange you’re referring to?

    I got this from an article written in 1999 by Fr. Joseph Fessio “The Mass of Vtican II.”

    About one-third of the way into this piece, Fr. Fessio takes us into some deep background behind the true origin of Gregorian chant that might twist the panties of Church liberals who hate the Gregorian Rite:

    “Now, just a little footnote on the Gregorian Chant. In reflecting on these things about Church music, I began to think about the Psalms a few years back. And a very obvious idea suddenly struck me. Why it didn’t come earlier I don’t know, but the fact is that the Psalms are songs. Every one of the 150 Psalms is meant to be sung; and was sung by the Jews. When this thought came to me, I immediately called a friend, a rabbi in San Francisco who runs the Hebrew School, and I asked, ‘Do you sing the Psalms at your synagogue?’ ‘Well, no, we recite them,’ he said. ‘Do you know what they sounded like when they were sung in the Old Testament times and the time of Jesus and the Apostles?’ I asked. He said, ‘No, but why don’t you call this company in Upstate New York. They publish Hebrew music, and they may know.’

    “So, I called the company and they said, ‘We don’t know; call 1-800-JUDAISM.’ So I did. And I got an information center for Jewish traditions, and they didn’t know either. But they said, ‘You call this music teacher in Manhattan. He will know.’ So, I called this wonderful rabbi in Manhattan and we had a long conversation. At the end, I said, ‘I want to bring some focus to this, can you give me any idea what it sounded like when Jesus and his Apostles sang the Psalms?’ He said, ‘Of course, Father. It sounded like Gregorian Chant. You got it from us.'”

    “I was amazed. I called Professor William Mart, a Professor of Music at Stanford University and a friend. I said, ‘Bill, is this true?’ He said, ‘Yes. The Psalm tones have their roots in ancient Jewish hymnody and psalmody.’ So, you know something? If you sing the Psalms at Mass with the Gregorian tones, you are as close as you can get to praying with Jesus and Mary. They sang the Psalms in tones that have come down to us today in Gregorian Chant.

    “So, the Council isn’t calling us back to some medieval practice, those ‘horrible’ medieval times, the ‘terrible’ Middle Ages, when they knew so little about liturgy that all they could do was build a Chartres Cathedral. (When I see cathedrals and churches built that have a tenth of the beauty of Notre Dame de Paris, then I will say that the liturgists have the right to speak. Until then, they have no right to speak about beauty in the liturgy.) But my point is that at the time of Notre Dame de Paris in the 13th century, the Psalms tones were already over a thousand years old. They are called Gregorian after Pope Gregory I, who reigned from 590 to 604. But they were already a thousand years old when he reigned. He didn’t invent Gregorian chant; he reorganized and codified it and helped to establish musical schools to sing it and teach it. It was a reform; it wasn’t an invention. Thus, the Council really calls us back to an unbroken tradition of truly sacred music and gives such music pride of place.”

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0540.html

  37. schoolman says:

    Mershon: “Therefore, in the public sphere, in an ideal world, all citizens are Cathoic and therefore, it would certainly be OK, in fact, I would argue, imperative and a moral duty for the State to publicly suppress erroneous religious ideas and false religions—esp. in the matters of morality.”

    Brian, I urge to carefully read the following from Bishop Ketteler of Mainz (1862) to separate fact from fiction on the matter of Religious Freedom. Our mutual friends from The Remnand recently made this available:

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

  38. RobK says:

    I found two lines particularly telling in the bishop’s response: “a very positive and human-centered vision spoils everything” and “to place the emphasis upon the human person, as it is done now, may lead to profound error.” In it I hear a bit Jansenism. The bishop also has an odd idea of what a right is – they are a gift from God given to fulfill God’s plan – we can abuse these rights, but they remain rights (that is where sin comes from). It seems as though the bishop would like suspend a few rights that result from God’s creating man in his image and likeness, at least in certain situations. I fear that the bishops position “may lead to a profound error.” Just because “progressives” bow to their false God of tolerance doesn’t mean that tolerance, patience, and kindness are no longer valued nor required. I certainly hope that we don’t do away with a “positive” or a proper understanding of the human person in relation to the Creator.

    I want so much to be in sympathy with the SSPX – because so much of what I value they do as well, but there is a stiffness to their back that reminds me of the more militant on the other side. There will be some hard lessons if they don’t think that they have something left to learn from the Pope.

  39. Michael UK says:

    I do not know about SSPX having to apologise, but I do know that myself and thousands of others are entitled to apologies for the de facto, but illegal, deprivation of the benefit of The Mass.

  40. Dubya-aye See says:

    “The words “anti-Semitic” or “anti-Semitism” are ambiguous. They have at least two completely different meanings. First, the word “Semite” refers to all the people who are descendants of Sem, one of Noah’s three sons.”

    The term “anti-Semitism” is of relevantly recent vintage, coined as a polite way to say “anti-Jew.” Anyone who uses the “anti-Semitism could mean anti-Arab” argument is either ignorant or engaging in semantic back-bends.

  41. Origen Adamantius says:

    That Bishop Fellay has entered (or is willing) into discussions is a great thing thing for the Church. However, I found his responses in the interview to be a bit fallacious. Is the Church’s understanding of VII that ambiguous in the papacy of JPII and Benedict. Please! That pastoral is has nothing to do with dogma. Please.

    In regard to praying for the Jews, we should, but are they singled out as needing more prayers than muslims or budhists? Joe the plumber graaps what is meant in common parlance by anti-semitic, why does Fellay have to dance around it?

  42. Brian Mershon says:

    Dan, The article I wrote actually ran in The Remnant nearly immediately after the lifint of the excommunications. I did not say what you attribute to me, but quoted a Vatican source close to the issue, and while not confirming the exact date, Msgr. Barreiro, said the PCED and Holy See was busy working out the details.

    Bishop Fellay was adamant in the interview that the doctrinal issues be worked out first. How long this will take is anyone’s guess.

    If I were you, I would not be so scrupulous about worrying about the souls of those who attend SSPX Masses. The PCED has already ruled that a Catholic can fulfill his Sunday obligation there. As for confessions and marriages, this is only speculation, but once everything is finalized, I cannot imagine that all of them will not be OKd upon final canonical regularization.

    I would take the approach of Dr. Alcuin Reid in his excellent article in The Catholic Herald.

  43. Brian Mershon says:

    Schoolman, Again, I am not going to get into the moral culpability of individuals. I read the article from The Remnant long before it was posted there. It is a great theological argument. It is not doctrine nor dogma.

    The Declaration on Religious Liberty, I would argue, is also neither dogma, nor doctrine.
    It is not infallible.

    Error has no rights. People have no right to possess error. In a Catholic State, the Church’s teaching, even DH, does not forbid the suppression of the public worship and promulgation of false religions.

    DH affirms “the traditional Catholic doctrine.” Cardinal Ottaviani made this clear in his own theological arguments on this matter.

    DH does nothing more than affirm what Pope Leo XIII said in Libertas. Sometimes, for the common good or public order, the State must allow false religions and heresy to exist–while attempting to limit it by condemning it and proclaiming the truth.

    The allowing of error to spread is a perfect example of why Western Civilization is in its twilight.

    Now is not the time to discuss the details of DH. Its teaching can ONLY be read in light of pervious teaching, including the truths proposed (some say infallibly) by the Popes of the 190th century.

  44. Brian Mershon says:

    or “previous truths” and “the 19th century”

  45. Origen Adamantius says:

    Brian

    It is true that DH must be read in light of what preceded it; however, what precedes must also be read in light of DH.
    The difficulty created by the State suppressing false doctrines is that it can inhibit necessary free emplacement of truth that is necessary for faith to be real in a person.

  46. jarhead462 says:

    Phil Steinacker: I believe that you are correct. I am pretty sure it was Richard where some time ago, I had followed the link to his site, and posted in response to something he had written. As I recall, he had posted a conclusion based on an historical inaccuracy, which I corrected with no discernble disrespect, or sarcasim, but he did not post my response.
    I can only conclude that he does not care for orthodox Catholics, and in the true “spirit” of liberals, he tries to keep actual discussion and debate suppressed.
    His house is built on sand.

    Semper Fi!

  47. Brian Mershon says:

    Origen Adamantius: “It is true that DH must be read in light of what preceded it; however, what precedes must also be read in light of DH.”

    Agreed wholeheartedly.

    However, we must also take into account the relative weight of the documents. Multiple papal encyclicals from muliple popes in the 19th Century and previous condemning “religious liberty” and one of them going so far as to call it “insanity.”

    When a doctrine is promulgated repeatedly over time in authoritative decrees (I would argue the weight of the pre-Vatican II magsiterium is of a higher value than DH, it is considered to be infallible teaching.

    If the DH teaching was merely an accommodation of the times, then so be it. Then it is certainly7 far from Divinely revealed truth and is open to correction or “development” at a later time.

    If the 19th century teaching was not permanent truth, then certainly DH is not.

    Christ is King of hearts, families, societies and governments. Man can accept that or reject it. So far, beginning in 1789 and already with the establishment of the U.S. at its roots, man has rejected it–and we will all bear the consequences.

  48. Paul Haley says:

    Bishop Fellay gave me another indication of how intelligent and worthy of the episcopate he is. Surely, if the holy father reads this interview, he may come to the same conclusion. Hopefully, this will convince him to act immediately to remove the suspensions and grant faculties. Yes, there are discussions to be held and issues which need clarification but there is no doubt in my mind that Bishop Fellay is truly catholic and desires very much to be in union with the Holy Father. I can think of nothing in Bishop Fellay’s remarks now or in the past which smacks of heresy or a desire for schism. He has led the Fraternity for many years now and has kept them on the path back towards full communion. I truly admire this man, this bishop.

    As to the question of antisemitism, I think Bishop Fellay cannot rightfully answer this question because (1)there are two forms of antisemitism and (2)he cannot read another man’s heart so he cannot judge the person internally but only by external acts. The form of racial antisemitism, I believe, cannot exist in the Fraternity per se and he knows that. The form of religious antisemitism also cannot exist unless the desire to convert the Jews is considered as religious antisemitism. So, I guess the bottom line is it all depends on what definition of antisemitism one chooses to use. He might have said:

    “No, there is no antisemitism in our Fraternity because we love our Jewish brethren and want to see them in Heaven with us for all eternity. How can this fraternal love be considered antisemitic?” But, as the saying goes, there is much to answer in the question posed, time is so short and hindsight is almost always 20/20.

    The question that arises in my mind and is quite a tease is the identity of the cardinals who saw the devil at work in this brouhaha over the past several weeks. Who was he referring to and who has he been conversing with? Knowing him, though, he will protect the identity of those with whom he has had private conversations and will continue to do so, as it should be. Ad multos annos, Your`Excellency.

  49. Maureen says:

    Well, there’s different ways to phrase every statement and argument, and Bishop Fellay certainly doesn’t seem to pick the ways which give the Vatican any room to agree with him.

    For example, “This gives the false spirit which permeated the whole Council.” There’s a statement immediately before and after about ambiguous language, which anybody who’s read any of the Council documents would agree with. Yes, they were awfully ambiguous and broad. Yes, they read more like working papers for calling a committee meeting than final drafts of policy mandates. But Fellay cuts off the reader from nodding in agreement by insisting that everything was bad and false.

    Immediately, people’s backs are set up. So the participants all were false, including the last two popes who were there. (Also immediately, counterarguments arise. Oh, so saying every parish should teach every parishioner how to sing in Latin was false and mealymouthed and ambiguous? No… there was no loophole there. People ignored it and denied, it but they’ve never wiggled through it. Not that that’s done us any good as yet.)

    Anyway, the same thing goes with most of Fellay’s major points. Always he has a point which could be fruitfully argued, but almost always, he throws that argument away by using all-or-nothing rhetoric that blocks his own path to winning those points.

  50. schoolman says:

    Mershon: “Error has no rights. People have no right to possess error.”

    Brian, Error, as such, has no rights, however, PERSONS do have rights — even if they hold erroneous beliefs. The fact of religious error does not cancel natural rights. For example, a Muslim does not lose his natural right to educate his children according to his religious convictions. On the contrary, he has a moral duty and therefore the corresponding moral right to do so.
    In this case it is not accurate to speak about a so-called “right to error”. Rather, God (tolerates) the error for the
    sake of a “greater good” (i.e., preserving the natural order, the family unit, the role of parents as the primary educators, etc).

  51. Henry says:

    Michael UK: I do not know about SSPX having to apologise, but I do know that myself and thousands of others are entitled to apologies for the de facto, but illegal, deprivation of the benefit of The Mass.

    Quite apart from the SSPX and traditionalists, surely less than 1% of Catholics, I wonder how the Church can “move ahead” and correct the errors of recent decades … Without first a forthright admission of and apology for the spiritual damage done to so many millions of the faithful as a result of false teaching and direction by religious, priests, bishops and other designated Church officials.

    And whether this may require the development of a more nuanced understanding of the indefectibility of the Church. In an earlier and simpler time we were taught that this meant “the Church can do no (spiritual) wrong”. Whether or not this teaching was correct then, it does not appear to have survived the test of recent decades.

  52. Brian Mershon says:

    {sigh} Schoolman said: “Error, as such, has no rights, however, PERSONS do have rights—even if they hold erroneous beliefs.”

    BCM: Persons are the ones who discover and formulate ideas. Ideas cannot be separated from people.

    Persons have NO RIGHT to hold error. Their error may be tolerated in a fallen world, but they have no RIGHT to hold it. It is merely tolerated.

    Persons, ideas and rights cannot be separated.

    The bottom line is that Persons have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to hold error.

  53. schoolman says:

    Mershon: “Persons have NO RIGHT to hold error. Their error may be tolerated in a fallen world, but they have no RIGHT to hold it. It is merely tolerated.”

    Brian, we are obliged to tolerate error by virtue of the greater good. Again, the Muslim has no right to teach his children error, as such. At the same time, the Muslim has a natural right to teach his children according to his religious convictions. In other words, you have no right to impede him — you have a moral obligation of tolerate the error for the sake of the greater good. While error, as such, has no rights — error does not cancel natural rights. In other words, erring persons still have rights.

  54. Brian Mershon says:

    Schoolman: Not talking about natural rights. Haven’t used the term yet.

    Tolerate? yep.

    Divine right to error? Nope. The Church teaches what God expects. We have enough Catholics, priests, bishops, cardinals included, who think the “right to religious liberty” means the Church is against Catholic states. That is untrue and would be in error and would make a mockery of the Kingship of Christ over society.

    I would venture to say that most Catholics, priests and bishops think that persons have a Divine RIGHT to whatever religion they want to hold. They would use DH as the basis.

    They are in error. There is no supernatural RIGHT to error. NO ONE has a right to it.

  55. schoolman says:

    Mershon: “Not talking about natural rights. Haven’t used the term yet.”

    Brian, you should be. You are correct in stating that error, as such, has no rights. On the other hand, one must recognize
    that error does not cancel natural rights — erring persons still retain natural rights. The great danger is that some traditional Catholics wrongly conclude that erring people have no rights! No, we must tolerate error insofar as God Himself will to tolerate it — for the sake of the greater good. A Muslim retains the natural right to educate his child according to his religious convictions — in spite of his error. You have no right to impede him. You are obliged to tolerate the error for the sake of the greater good. This pricinople comes from St. Thomas and was explained in Ketteler’s article.

  56. Brian Mershon says:

    Who determines what constitutes “the greater good”?

    Re: the Muslim, as a baptized Catholic, we would all, each and every one of us, out of true charity and love for him, be obligated to use fortitude and prudence in presenting the Catholic faith to him, for the good of his eternal salvation.

    So, as Catholics, we are obligated to EVANGELIZE others. Using religious liberty and religious indifferentism as an excuse NOT to evangelize is exactly what has happened in the post Vatican II Church.

  57. Henry Edwards says:

    Free association:

    Fascinating interview……Dignitatis Humanae……errors have rights……rights have errors……whatever……thread capture……stinking bore……rat hole

    With, of course, my apologies to Brian, schoolman, et al and their riveting dialogue.

  58. Brian Mershon says:

    Dan, I was accusing you of anything. I guess my point is that you should refrain from going to confession to the SSPX priest until/when they are regularized or given faculties to hear confessions.

    Although not ideal, I have been going to local priests for years for confession. They validly absolve, which is what the Sacrament is about.

    I understand you are desiring to take seriously what the Church teaches, and the PCED has provide for that by affirming canon law that you have no sin nor fault by attending SSPX Masesses.

    We must wait and pray for the final regularization, which I sincerely believe will take place–hopefully within our lifetimes.

    My gut is that it is going to be sooner rather than later.

    In the meantime, perhaps you could set up spiritual direction with the priest in lieu of confession?

  59. Brian Mershon says:

    Henry: No apologies needed. You are right.

    Over and out.

  60. Maureen says:

    The Transalpine guys submitted themselves to the Pope’s authority without reservation, as I understand it. They showed more trust. Similarly, the bunch of SSPV?/SSPX? nuns got to come back pretty easily.

    Of course, it’s possible that they also had fewer bits of baggage and existing issues to clear up between them and the Vatican. A small religious order that doesn’t have a bishop and doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of members is a lot easier proposition.

  61. schoolman says:

    Brian, it belongs to the legitimate authorities to apply sound moral principles in making such a determination. What are said principles? I refer you back to Bishop Ketteler who quotes Suarez commenting on St. Thomas:

    ==========================================================================================
    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)

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

  62. TomG says:

    >The term “anti-Semitism” is of relevantly recent vintage, coined as a polite way to >say “anti-Jew.” Anyone who uses the “anti-Semitism could mean anti-Arab” argument is >either ignorant or engaging in semantic back-bends.

    Spot on, Dubya. Only slightly less are those who claim the term “anti-Zionist” ever only means opposed to the policies, indeed the existence, of the nation of Israel. Those (mostly) paleo-con Catholics who engage in this sort of thing should be ashamed of themselves!

  63. Henry Edwards says:

    Brian: Henry: No apologies needed. You are right.

    Actually, I do feel obliged to offer additional explanation (if not further apology) for my abrupt “association”.

    I didn’t mean to imply that, in itself, Dignitatis Humanae is uninteresting or unimportant. As Peter Kwasniewski points out so ably in the current 2009 issue of The Latin Mass, it may admit a certain range of admissible interpretations whose discussion is (of course) entirely valid.

    However, I hate to see debate of this single issue sidetrack discussion not only of your superb interview with Bishop Fellay, but also of the overriding issue of the full assimilation of the SSPX into the mainstream of the Church, which is so important not only for the Society but for the Church itself–in order to constructively influence not only the implementation of Summorum Pontificum (and in turn the reform of the reform) but also the wider reinterpretation of Vatican II consistent with tradition.

  64. Michael J says:

    schoolman,

    It seems to me that your entire argument is dependent on a pre-judged conclusion that the state would cause more harm to the common good if it prohibited a muslim father from educating his children in the muslim faith. This may be true in many countries today, but as you stated later, “it belongs to the legitimate authorities [the state] to apply sound moral principles in making such a determination [if forbidding muslim education would cause harm]”.

    So, if the supposed harm to the common good were found to be non-existant, your hypothetical muslim father’s “right” completely evaporates. In any case, I still fail to see how you can claim that a person has a right to error simply by virtue of the fact that society must tolerate this error.

  65. Paul Haley says:

    Getting back to the main topic of this thread, the interview with Bishop Fellay, I had hoped that this Sunday (Feast of the Chair of St. Peter) would be the occasion of the provision of temporary faculties to the FSSPX pending full resolution of whatever “clarifications” or assents are deemed necessary and a permanent juridical solution. However, with Ash Wednesday fast approaching and the Vatican preparing for Lenten services I see little hope that this will occur. It seems a bit of a waste to see all those potential confessions of Lenten penitents in the SSPX venues to be classified invalid by the Vatican but, then, it still could happen. I wish I knew why such an event could not take place now for the good consciences of all involved.

  66. Brian Mershon says:

    Schoolman: “Brian, it belongs to the legitimate authorities to apply sound moral principles in making such a determination. What are said principles?”

    {BIGGER SIGH} 1. I conducted an interview. These were Bishop Fellay’s answers. I write for Catholic media outlets–not conducting speculative theology for the masses.

    {BIGGEST SIGH} 2. If you want to know what Bishop Fellay meant, perhaps you could call him up and ask him yourself. I think I know perfectly well, within the context of the interview, what he meant, but I’ll leave it to you to research further.

    DH is not doctrine nor dogma nor infallible in my estimation. The late Fr. William Most, no friend of the SSPX, agrees. So does Fr. Brian Harrison.

    There are legitimate divergences of theology re. DH and its harmonization with the Kingship of Christ the King.

    For the record, my master’s thesis was exactly on this topic–showing how DH and post-Conciliar teaching continues to emphasize the SOCIAL reign of Christ the King.

    Finally, if the legitimate governing authority is not applying Catholic principles to the application of “common good” or “public order” to society, then your entire point about tolerance is out the window–just like the “just war” theory that I am certain George W. Bush did not consider prior to beginning the unilateral invasion of Iraq.

    The Church leaves it to the governing authority to apply its enunciated principles–but who is actually applying them seriously these days?

  67. schoolman says:

    Mershon: “Finally, if the legitimate governing authority is not applying Catholic principles to the application of “common good” or “public order” to society, then your entire point about tolerance is out the window—just like the “just war” theory that I am certain George W. Bush did not consider prior to beginning the unilateral invasion of Iraq.”

    C’mon, Brian (my turn to sigh). If one is negligent in his duty to apply proper principles it does not follow that the principles outlined above are suspect or “out the window.” The principles themselves do not change according to out ability or willingness to apply them properly or not.

  68. schoolman says:

    Brian, thanks for the great interview. My comments don’t reflect on anything in the interview — but only a reponse to your comments above.
    Keep up the good work on the interviews!

  69. It is impossible to comment on all the theories, interpretations, and personal implications regarding the condition and situation of the members of SSPX. Show me a group of Catholics who are more in line with the official teachings of the Church, and I will adhere. This is a faithful challenge. Bishop Fellay will never accept the changes of Vatican II. But you can pray for it, if you wish

  70. Matt says:

    schoolman:

    By your logic: (Men can form their own conclusions)

    – Abortion should be legal (We must tolerate it)
    – Murder should be legal (same argument)

    The Jews rejected Jesus. Those that continue to reject him have no path to salvation. Continuing in error is not a right. I think you focus too much on the temporal implications of the words. You are most likely American or of a Western Democracy where the word “right” implies a permission to do something. So you follow that defintion to a conculsion that forbidding that right prevents someone from doing it.

    People do not have a right to murder the unborn and the state *Should* ban and prevent people from practicing it. There should be no exemptions in the law. People will still violate the law and that is error. The state could also outlaw the teaching of error (1+1=3), but people will still continue in error. Since there is no physical harm to this error we tolerate it, but we do not say a person has a right to persist in error.

    All other religions, except the Catholic church are false religions. If you do not affirm this teaching then you too are in error. The Jews are in error and CAN NOT get to heaven by following the old covenant. The old covenant has been fulfilled and a new convenant was made when Christ came.

    The Church focuses on the Jewish people (the religion, not the race) so much in liturgy and pastorally because the Jews were/are God’s chosen people. All Catholics are fulfilled Jews with the fullness of Christ. The people practicing Judeism today (the religion) are persisting in error. We, as Catholics, should neither support or allow others to blindly persist in error. So there is no RIGHT to hold a non-catholic view. There is only the toleration of error.

    Natural law is what? Animal Law? Natural Instincit? Mans own conscience? We have seen the atrocities that happen when we let men follow their own conscience without being informed and guided by God’s laws. God created nature and all of it’s “laws”. Persisting or allowing others to persist in error due to some natural law is to deny the truth that God created in nature. You argument stating people have “rights” to follow their conscience according to “natural law” without viewing everything in nature as being created by and for God is erronous.

    The muslim example is a good one. Does a man have a “right” to persist in teaching his children error? No he does not. A Catholic state would not punish this Muslim father for his error, but the Catholic state would not grant him a right to error nor endorse or be silent that his action is indeed error.

  71. schoolman says:

    “By your logic: (Men can form their own conclusions)

    – Abortion should be legal (We must tolerate it) – Murder should be legal (same argument)”

    Matt, not at all. We are talking about natural rights that are limited by duties to God, neighbor and society. Natural rights have their natural limits. Bishop Ketteler stressed the “due limits” of Religious Freedom in the article cited above.

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

    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.

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

  72. Matt says:

    But natural laws come FROM God therefore any denial of law of the Church (Since God established it) is also a denial of the Natural Law. You can’t have it both ways. You can not sanction or assign a right to someone to error against truth. The state can choose not to prosecute certain errors, but it should NEVER sanction the “right” of people to persist in error.

    You are either in the church or not. If your not, you are in error and there is no way to heaven if you persist in this error when the truth is staring at you.

  73. Matt says:

    Religious freedom is also nothing more than allowing someone to persist in error the way that you are presenting it. Jesus told the apostles to preach the gospel in all the homes they enter. If people did not listen then they were to shake the dirt from their shoes and leave the unbelievers in the dust. (or close to that) The point is there is no such thing as religious freedom if you define it in such a way as to permit/endorse/etc someone to examine and follow another religion whereby they could make their way to heaven.

    Religious freedom is nothing more than the ability to choose to be in the Catholic Church or not. It should in no way force or oblige a Catholic (or anyone else) to give any deference to a false religion. As Catholics we must work hard to convert all to Christ and to his Church.

    To carry this further it would be perfectly permissable and good for a secular state to make a law stating that the Catholic church is the one and only true church. The secular state (us Catholics) should encourage all people to join the Catholic church. All secular laws should be in harmony with Church and divine law. A law of man should never encourage someone to persist in error against truth.

    A law stating that one can believe whatever one wants sets up man as the head of himself. It removes, rather than permits, Gods presence as head of all men. It doesn’t make much sense to cut off your head to save your body now does it?

  74. schoolman says:

    Matt, again take another look at Suarez on this. Yes, God is the author of natural and divine positive law, however, it is
    possible to conform to the former in the order of nature without (material) conformity with the later in the order of supernature.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    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)

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

  75. Matt says:

    *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)*

    Which is exactly what I was saying. Civil government may tolerate error, but MAY NOT grant it equal footing with the true church. The secular state should not have ANY material support for non-catholic teaching. Indeed, the secular state should promote the church as the one true faith. The paragraph above supports my statements.

    What many in the church today argue for is equality of religion and “inter-faith dialog” which for most is nothing more than giving the impression that there is no difference between Catholocism, Hinduism, etc. The is directly contrary to traditional church teaching.

    Your last paragraph also sums up what the SSPX believe and teach. Any secular state must recognize and promote the Catholic faith as the one true religion. There will be no material or immaterial support for other religions. While the state may tolerate them in so much as what they teach does not violate Catholic teaching, the state will NOT give an equal status to those false religions.

    So what does this really mean? This means that no money should be given, no material support of any kind, to non catholic faiths. All communication with non-catholics should be focused on bringing them into the Church. Without this focus we only comprimise our beliefs and submit to error.