SSPX Superior Bp. Fellay on Pope Benedict’s Letter

Rorate is usually on the spot with things like statements from the SSPX’s leadership.

Here is the statement of SSPX Bp. Bernard Fellay about the Letter Pope Benedict wrote to bishops of the world about the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.

My emphases and comments.

Communiqué
of the Superior General
of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX]

Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, dated March 10 2009, in which he made them aware of the intentions which guided him in this important step which is the Decree of January 21, 2009.

After "an avalanche of protests was unleashed" recently, we greatly thank the Holy Father for having placed the debate at the level on which it should take place, that of the faith. We fully share his utmost concern for preaching to "our age, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel".

The Church lives, in fact, through a major crisis which cannot be solved other than by an integral return to the purity of the faith. With Saint Athanasius, we profess that "Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the Catholic faith: whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally." (Quicumque Creed) [The sticking point, however, is this: who gets to say what "purity of faith" is?]

Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, [The Pope in his letter wrote: "The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society."]  we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this Tradition which Saint Vincent of Lérins defined as that "which has been believed everywhere, always, by all" (Commonitorium), without rupture and in a perfectly homogeneous development. It is thus that we will be able to contribute efficaciously to the evangelization asked for by the Savior (cf. Matthew, 28,19-20). 

The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its will to address the doctrinal discussions considered "necessary" by the Decree of January 21, with the desire of serving the revealed Truth which is the first charity to be shown towards all men, Christian or not. It assures him of its prayers so that his faith may not fail and that he may confirm all his brethren (cf. Luke 22 32).

We place these doctrinal discussions under the protection of Our Lady of Trust, with the assurance that she will obtain for us the grace of faithfully delivering that which we received, "tradidi quod et accepi" (I Cor. 15,3).  [The motto on the late Archbp. Lefebvre's coat-of-arms.] 

Menzingen, March 12 2009

+ Bernard Fellay

 

Not bad, really. 

There still seems to be a touch of an attitude that they are in no way at fault on any point. The Holy Father did instruct them about freezing the Church at a point in time. 

Still, if they say they are not doing that, let’s believe them and then let them demonstrate that in concrete ways.

And let them be given the opportunity to demonstrate that!

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60 Responses to SSPX Superior Bp. Fellay on Pope Benedict’s Letter

  1. Corleone says:

    As I asked on the other thread, what exactly NEEDS to happen now to demonstrate this? I don’t think anyone is going to ask them to set up a burlap banner with a white that says “Halleluya!” on it, nor are they most likely to be asked to sing a bar from “Day by Day”. So, I guess I’m kind of at a loss here. What are they (and I mean the SSPX AND the Vatican) waiting for at this point?

  2. schoolman says:

    “…we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this Tradition which Saint Vincent of Lérins defined as that “which has been believed everywhere, always, by all” (Commonitorium), without rupture and in a perfectly homogeneous development. It is thus that we will be able to contribute efficaciously to the evangelization asked for by the Savior (cf. Matthew, 28,19-20).”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    This clear affirmation from Bishop Fellay is very encouraging and is exactly what the Holy Father has been asking of the SSPX. I hope and pray that this new affirmation leads to positive concrete steps towards full reconciliation soon.

  3. Tomas says:

    Who gets to say what “purity of faith” is? The Magisterium.

  4. Roland de Chanson says:

    I always found it curious that “tradidi quod et accepi” in classical Latin means “I have betrayed because I too have interpreted.”

    Oh the perils of eisegesis.

  5. GordonBOPS says:

    Corleone – Agree with your thoughts, and its also the same as what’s expressed in this article http://remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009-03150-ferrara-wheres-the-beef.htm

    The best thing about these “talks” are that they will frame key issues which dog us in this day – and I think will help recrystialize Catholic identity. I think Catholics have lost their true identity with the way Ecumenism and political correctness have played out… the reality is that the only thing we know for sure is salvation through the Catholic Church, which MUST by definition include Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. I don’t pretent to know for sure to what extent certain graces operate to provide salvation for non-Catholics — but who wants to leave their brothers and sisters in that uncertainty!? Correct me if I’m way off here in my understanding –

  6. Paul Q says:

    Bring on the talks! The SSPX will benefit and the so will the whole Church! Papa knows what he’s doing…

  7. Michael UK says:

    +Fellay will be given hell over this by certain elements of SSPX. Anti-BXVI; anti-+Fellay; Anti-Fr. Schmidberger.

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: There still seems to be a touch of an attitude that they are in no way a fault on any point.

    I feel pretty neutral on this, at least to the extent of not having followed either side of SSPX disputes closely enough to know what’s going to be at stake in the presumably forthcoming doctrinal discussions.

    I’ve tended to regard it as a purely disciplinary and/or liturgical matter. If this were the case, and the liturgical question were now moot, then there would seem to be little difficulty to a resolution of the disciplinary question.

    So I wonder whether you would point out a specific doctrinal error that the SSPX appears to have made in the past — a point on which they were, in fact, at fault — which therefore now needs to be resolved before they can come in from the cold.

    I say “specific” because, on a more general level, it often appears that the typical national bishops conference is more at fault — regarding continuity with tradition (or lack thereof) for instance — than the SSPX, so I’m wondering what about this I don’t understand.

  9. schoolman says:

    “Fellay will be given hell over this by certain elements of SSPX. Anti-BXVI; anti-Fellay; Anti-Fr. Schmidberger.”

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

    I think you could be right. I have not seen from the SSPX such a clear statement of principle regarding Vatican II and its reforms as understood “in Light of Tradition.” To me it really seems like a positive step forward indeed. I am sure Bishop Fellay will get some criticism for it in some quarters.

  10. Michael says:

    “Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this Tradition.”

    That is the main problem, because they do not see the Vatican II and the post-conciliar Magisterium, as the authentic interpretation of Tradition.

    DV 10/2: “The office of interpreting authentically the word of God, whether scriptural or traditional, has been entrusted exclusively to the living voice of the Church’s magisterium (reference to Humani Generis, Denz 2314 (3886)), whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”

    The SSPX arrogates this office to itself by setting an arbitrary DIY selection from what they conceive to be “tradition”, against the Vatican II and the subsequent Magisterial teaching; and take upon themselves the role of super-magisterium, passing a judgement as to whether the latter (i.e. V II, and post-VII Magisterium) complies with the “tradition” as conceived by them; and that is what they mean by “in the light of this Tradition.”

    Their position is, essentially, a Protestant one. The difference is that the latter reject the judgement of the living Magisterium when in comes to interoperation of Scripture; the SSPX reject the judgement of the living Magisterium when it comes to interpretation of Tradition. The Protestants set up the Scripture against the living Magisterium; the SSPX set up the Tradition against the living Magisterium.

    The SSPX would deny this by saying that they submit to the “Magisterium of all times”, failing to realize that what they “submit to” is not the Magisterium of all times but their unauthorized DIY interpretation of it. The past Magisterium is a constitutive element of Tradition itself, the authentic interpretation of which, together with other elements of Tradition, is entrusted to the LIVING Magisterium. That is what the hermeneutic of continuity is all about.

  11. Corleone says:

    GORDON – very well put. I have to say that one of the hallmarks of Pope Benedict (may God bless him and grant him 100 years) even before his papacy was that he was so well-spoken that there was little wiggle-room for doubt. The Vatican II documents, specifically referring to non-Catholic (or even Christian religions) are extremely vague on this point. So, hopefully this will indeed lead to clarifications on this point. I cannot tell you how many priests I have seen interviewed on television who when questioned “are all non-Catholics going to hell?” say with such an indignance and puffy chest, “Absolutely not! Vatican II confirms that not only Catholics can go to heaven. And the gospels say that you can go to heaven with good works if you live your life the way God intended” (I’m not joking. I can dig up several interviews to this effect).

    During one particular debate with a now decesed Mohammedan named Ahmed Deedat that took place decades ago, the interviewer asked the Catholic priest residing, “What is your opinion on Mohammed?” He answered to the effect, “I am of the same stance ecchoed in Vatican II that Mohammed plays a vital role in God’s plan for salvation.” I swear to you, I almost tore my clothes in anger. THIS is what the ambiguity of the Vatican II documents has caused. And as you rightfully point out, is also the source of a crisis of identity.

  12. JMM says:

    Who knows, after the SSPX reconcile with Rome (let’s hope they will) their will be another SSPX that will be made up of anti Anti-BXVIers, that will brake away from the original SSPX.

  13. It sounds to me that Bishop Fellay wishes to enter these talks with his head held high and I believe that is what the Pope wants too, The SSPX were not asked to crawl but to walk as brothers in a conversation on the future, let us pray both sides can learn and give in this process

  14. sparksj3 says:

    Just as a little clarifying note: “Tradidi quod et accepi” was the inscription on late Archbishop’s tomb. “Credidimus Caritati (We have believed in Charity)” was the motto on his coat of arms.

  15. craig says:

    Michael, spot-on.

    For my part, the post-conciliar Magisterium consists first and foremost of the Catechism, secondly the complete encyclicals of the post-conciliar popes (esp. John Paul II’s, which made frequent reference to Vatican II documents), and thirdly certain CDF-produced documents including Dominus Iesus.

    If the FSSPX can affirm the Catechism in toto, then I don’t see how the separation can long continue. If not, then things doesn’t look good for them long-term. Rome is not going to agree to “split the difference” on doctrine with FSSPX any more than with, say, Canterbury.

    If FSSPX’s real point of insistence is going to be that Rome enforce orthodoxy on the left too, I think neither side will be completely satisfied; Benedict is not about to turn Rottweiler and exchange a schism on the right for one on the left, and if they reconcile with Rome, FSSPX will nonetheless be quick to “back-seat drive”.

  16. GordonBOPS says:

    Corleone – Well, we can add that we do know that those who die in a state of grace and invincible ignorance are saved– and that’s possible to be, historically no small number, but its hard to judge in the information age how much invicible ignorance there is out there— but since really only God can determine that, we still can’t as Catholics be comfortably unevangelical or disinterested about brining all other toward the Sacraments-especially the Eucharist.

  17. Corleone says:

    GORDON – I think I personally would be much more comfortable if more clergy would shorten the answer to “only God can determine that” since that’s what it comes down to. The info is so much more complicated than a television soundbite.

  18. Michael J says:

    craig,

    Is there really a difference between the “post-conciliar Magisterium ” and the “pre-conciliar Magisterium”. Your statement seems to indicate that you believe there is.

    You appear to want the SSPX to assent to post-conciliar teachings that are different than what was taught before. And by “different” I mean contrary to or superceding

  19. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    @Fr. Z

    The motto of Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre was: “Credidimus caritate”.

    “Tradidi quod et accepi” appears upon his tomb in the crypt of the church at the International Seminary of St. Pius X at Ecône.

  20. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    Oops!

    I see that someone already posted the correction!

    My apologies!

  21. schoolman says:

    Michael J, if the post-V2 Magisterium represents a deepening of that same deposit then its rejection in favor of the pre-V2 Magisterium necessarily signifies a narrow/reductionist position relative to Tradition and the Magisterium. Here we come back to the “root” problem as outlined in the Motu Proprio “Ecclesia Dei Afflicta”.

    On the other hand, I like the tone of this last message by Bishop Fellay. It shows a willingness to accept the post-V2 Magisterium in light of Tradition.

  22. craig says:

    Is there really a difference between the “post-conciliar Magisterium” and the “pre-conciliar Magisterium”?

    One is a living interpretive authority, and the other is an authority that requires interpretation by living individuals. The only real question in the case of the latter is, does Peter have the standing to interpret Tradition or doesn’t he?

    Michael is exactly correct above: the FSSPX flirts with claiming the same right to interpret Tradition against the Church that Luther claimed for Scripture. Whether they will take the final step and claim it de jure instead of de facto will determine whether they are in or out once and for all.

  23. Merriweather says:

    @schoolman

    +Fellay isn’t saying anything different in this letter than what has been said and asked for by the SSPX for years.

    The problem is, for the SSPX , “in the light of Tradition” means a rejection of ambiguity and that which contradicts previous infallible teaching. To the Vatican it means if something in V2 contradicts a past teaching (ie the Syllabus), then it should be considered a ‘development’ and therefore traditional.

  24. schoolman says:

    “The problem is, for the SSPX , “in the light of Tradition” means a rejection of ambiguity and that which contradicts previous infallible teaching. To the Vatican it means if something in V2 contradicts a past teaching (ie the Syllabus), then it should be considered a ‘development’ and therefore traditional.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Merriweather, Bishop Fellay is clear. His words speak of a “homogenous development” and without “rupture” of doctrine relative to post-V2 Magisterium. Taken at face value, this is exactly what the Holy Father has been asking of the SSPX.

  25. Michael says:

    Michael UK
    Michael J
    and there is occasionally yet another Michael without specification, besides myself
    – four in total so it seems.

    This comment might be of help to all non-Michaels.

    Greeting to all.

  26. Jeremy says:

    Let them demonstrate that they aren’t trying to freeze the Church in 62??? WHAT??!? Don’t they pray for Benedict every day!??!!! It’s not like they are sedevacantists. That is a red-herring. Let them demonstrate. Fr. I love you, but sometimes you try to be more nuanced then you ought to be and it comes off, to me, as pseudo-intellectual. How many millions of rosaries do they have to pray for the Holy Father? When it comes to the faith YOU KNOW that they are not the problem. What item per the faith do you convict them of? NOw let’s think about the vast majority of bishops and priests in the US. When do we stop convicting them???!!?? Card. Mahony, priests that have been my pastors, archbishops, bishops, etc.!! Get real! No, these modernists need to DEMONSTRATE that they aren’t starting a new church since 69. SSPXers needs to demonstrate nothing except charity, which they so often seem to lack. But Fellay seems to be working on his attitude and delivery.
    Thanks for the forum and God Bless, good Fr.

  27. Merriweather says:

    @craig

    Is there anything in the *new* new catechism that is different than the Catechism of the Council of Trent? Other than the novel teaching on the death penalty?

    I can’t be the only one here who prefers the cut and dry language of the older one. I trust it a little more too, particularly since the new catechism when revised had some fairly significant corrections.

  28. Merriweather says:

    @schoolman

    I know +Fellay is clear—he’s been clear all along.

    Hopefully after the doctrinal discussions we will have some clarity on the murky aspects of V2 and how we are to reconcile those elements which contradict previous Church teaching.

  29. schoolman says:

    Merriweather, there will be some aspects in the CCC that could appear “new” on the surface. But these aspects were already “implicit” in the Catechism of Trent. That is the nature of “homogenous development without rupture”, according to the words of Bishop Fellay — that what was formerly implicit is made more-and-more explicit through a process of authentic development..

  30. Jmm.. If you feel that the SSPX will brack(sic) away from the church you have no place in this discussion. We do not have an arguement with the Holy father beyond Vatican II, and come to the table armed with tradition and the writings of Pope (Saint) Pius the V, who declared that the Latin Mass was the mass for all time, and can not be added to or detracted from. That seems rather succinct, germane, and to the point

  31. Merriweather says:

    @schoolman

    If something is implicit, it won’t *appear new*. A good example of this is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

    I’m stick with Trent.

  32. Michael says:

    Craig

    In two posts you have perfectly articulated what I tried to say.

    To expand, in view of comments made by Merriweather and Schoolman, there is only one Magisterium, and it is the living one here and now. Others, who lived in the past can no longer teach us: they have left their documents or other witnesses of Faith, which all together constitute Tradition, which doesn’t speak itself, but has to be interpreted, and it is only the living Magisterium who can interpret all that Tradition authentically.

    The SSPX wouldn’t have it that way. They are the living “Magisterium” who take liberty (a) of arbitrarily selecting a section of the Tradition, (b) of setting it up against the most recent documents – let me call these the most recent Tradition, because the Magisterium which promulgated them is partly still alive, and ( c ) of passing the “Magisterial” judgement about these recent documents’ conformity or non-conformity with what they conceive as “Tradition”. In other words: the most recent documents must be interpreted “in the light of Tradition” as that Tradition is conceived by them and interpreted by them; instead of accepting the recent documents as an authentic interpretation of all that preceded them.
    Incredible!

    But I think the Pope might be inclined to turn a blind eye and receive them in “full” communion for two reasons: (1) He has to put up with bishops and theologians who believe far less than the SSPX do and are far greater troublemakers – yet in “full communion”, and of “decent standing”, (2) He needs a well organized group of hardliners to counter this menace, (3) The Church has traditionally been lenient when it was a matter of receiving people “in communion”: it was left to each individual to grow in Faith at his own pace.

  33. Melchior Cano says:

    I just want to address the question that has come up time and again concerning a supposed split within the Society. That when the time comes and they are in a canonically regular situation, a group will refuse. Perhaps there are certain elements who wouldn’t want a normal situation with the Holy See. However, I think two things speak against the idea of a larger split. Number one, the faithful and priests offered almost two million rosaries for the lifting of the excommunications. How likely is it that they will create a schism because precisely what they prayed for came to pass. Two, and I recognize that this is a subjective appeal, but for what its worth. I attend a Society chapel. I know a fair amount of priests in the Society. They all, without exception, want a normal canonical situation with Rome. This idea of a split is bogus.

  34. schoolman says:

    “If something is implicit, it won’t appear new.”

    Merriweather, only in a sense will it appear “new” (e.g., new formulations that make some aspects of the truth more explicit) — even as it was already implicitly held “everywhere, always, by all.”

    Therefore, to reject the current Magisterium of the Popes in favor of some “older” Magisterium implies a narrow/reductionist view of some aspects of the Faith. That is why it is a serious problem not to be taken lightly.

  35. Merriweather says:

    @schoolman

    “new formulations that make some aspects of the truth more explicit”

    OK…so how does the “new formulation” in Gaudium et Spes make the truth contained in the Syllabus of Errors “more explicit” ?

  36. Merriweather says:

    @Michael

    The sour grapes coming from the anti-sspx wing is astounding.

    The SSPX has already had two major positions of theirs completely vindicated by the Holy Father: the Mass was *never abrogated* and the SSPX was not schismatic.

    I can’t wait to hear the Pope’s response to the dubia.

  37. Corleone said : “only God can determine that”

    Agreed. However, this can be quickly morphed into “God is God and He can do whatever he wants”. This quickly leads down the road to relativism and a laissez-faire “anything goes” approach to salvation. Since God is perfect He can not sin, and therefore, does not lie. Our Lord told us that He is the Way and the Church that he established is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church .

  38. Deacon Augustine says:

    @ Michael

    While the “Living Magisterium” is the true interpreter of Tradition, it is limited in its power to interpret Tradition as set out in the Vatican I documents Pastor Aeternus and De fides et ratio, and reiterated at Vatican II in Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum.

    The Holy Ghost has not been given to the Church in order to guarantee novel doctrine, and anybody who so reinterprets doctrine to give it a different meaning than what the Church has always believed is clearly anathematised.

    The fact is that there are many passages of Vatican II documents which are so ambiguous or banal in their content that they do appear at least to contradict Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, and they have been used to justify dissent from Catholic dogma by some of the highest ranking prelates in the Church without them being corrected.

    The peritus Fr. Ratzinger is on record as accusing Gaudium et Spes of containing Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian passages, so it is only right that now he is Pope and has the power to do something about it, that he should be challenged to have the integrity of his convictions and not pretend any longer that all is rosy in the Conciliar garden. If he were to insist that the SSPX should accept uncritically everything that is written in the Council documents then he would be nothing other than a hypocrite and a coward.

    I am sure that he is neither of those, and this whole sorry episode will finally serve to establish the true theological note of the last Council.

  39. schoolman says:

    Merriweather, you need to get a little more specific. For example, give us a specific example of a V2/post doctrinal teaching that you find “contradicted” by a former teaching. I assure you that the so-called “contradiction” is only apparent. The alternative is a Magisterium that has DEFECTED in faith or morals…impossible.

  40. Merriweather says:

    @schoolman

    Cardinal Ratzinger called Gaudium et Spes a “counter syllabus”…even he believes it contradicts the Syllabus of Errors…in particular, #77:

    “In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.”

    This error was also condemned by Pius VI in Auctorem fidei and by Pius X in Pascendi 24. See also Denzinger 2114 for St. Pius X’s condemnation of those who would contradict Pascendi—they are excommunicated!

    So tell me how this contradiction is not apparent, when even the pope agrees that GS is a change from the above condemned error.

  41. Cathguy says:

    Merriweather,

    There was a great teacher in the history of the Church during the Middle Ages. I forget the name of this great saint. Was it Albertus Magnus perhaps? Or another? It was in the introduction to my logic textbook and I can’t find that text right now in my piles.

    He had a habit in teaching that almost got him into trouble. He would take two passages of the Bible, or two passages from two different saints from tradition that seemed to be in complete and obvious contradiction and place them side by side, with no commentary.

    When questioned why he responded something like this: “because I don’t want to do the work for my students.”

    He taught logic, was probably one of the founders of the discipline, and he had an unshakable faith in this precept: if two seemingly contradictory things were both from the teaching authority of the Church, then the contradiction MUST be only perceived. In the case of “contradictory” Bible passages, since both passages were divinely inspired, the “contradiction” must have been apparent only.

    Now, if Catholics loyal to VI and traditionalist Catholics who have problems with the Council simply took this same approach to the question of the Syllabus vs Gaudium et Spes, we could actually have a constructive argument in-house that would build up the faith. This as opposed to constantly pointing the finger at each other and shouting heretic.

    Wouldn’t this be the authentic “traditionalist” approach?

  42. Cathguy says:

    The above post should read “if Catholics loyal to VII” not “VI”

  43. craig says:

    There is a lot more content in the 1992 Catechism than in the old Trent Catechism. It is a much more specific reference, and has the excellent attribute of providing concrete definitions for the terms it uses. That is why I believe it especially should be used to “smoke out” any remaining points of dispute section by section, and then discussions can begin.

  44. Merriweather says:

    @craig

    Don’t you mean the revised 1994 edition?—there were so many errors in the first one they had to publish corrections.

    I don’t believe the SSPX will use the catechism as a point of reference for the discussions. The new catechism, is the catechism of V2–that is where they will focus, IMHO.

  45. David Kastel says:

    Michael, you\’ve gotta be kidding with this:

    \”The past Magisterium is a constitutive element of Tradition itself, the authentic interpretation of which, together with other elements of Tradition, is entrusted to the LIVING Magisterium. That is what the hermeneutic of continuity is all about.\”

    What the SSPX won\’t submit to is any interpretation of the vague, ambiguous and non-doctrinal texts of the Council which is contrary to the clear doctrines taught infallibly and explicitly by the Church in times past.

    If you read some of the doctrinal statements of the past magisterium, you would know that the Church used to speak clearly on matters of doctrine. No \”interpretation\” was necessary. If the docs of V2 were clear, then there wouldn\’t be so many different interpretations. The Council was a disaster. It\’s time to admit it.

    Accepting the Council using the \”light of tradition\” is all any of us should confess.

  46. David Kastel says:

    schoolman is here displaying his belief in the condemned idea of the evolution of dogma:

    \”Merriweather, there will be some aspects in the CCC that could appear “new” on the surface. But these aspects were already “implicit” in the Catechism of Trent. That is the nature of “homogenous development without rupture”, according to the words of Bishop Fellay— that what was formerly implicit is made more-and-more explicit through a process of authentic development..\”

    Bishop Fellay did not say he accepts the development of dogma. He said he accepts the Council and the Magisterium. He did not say it\’s ok for them to change or create dogma. Development without rupture is ok for pastoral matters, but not for doctrine.

    I\’ve said it before and I\’ll say it again…the deposit of faith was given to the Apostles and the Magisterium cannot add to it or take away from it. It has not the power.

    P.S. – Brother bishops can correct the Pope if he should go astray, please see the case of Paul v. Peter.

  47. Merriweather says:

    @David Kastel:

    “If you read some of the doctrinal statements of the past magisterium, you would know that the Church used to speak clearly on matters of doctrine. *No “interpretation” was necessary. *If the docs of V2 were clear, then there wouldn’t be so many different interpretations. The Council was a disaster. It’s time to admit it.”

    Well said!

  48. Geoffrey says:

    “Don’t you mean the revised 1994 edition?—-there were so many errors in the first one they had to publish corrections.”

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church was first published in French in 1992, and then translated into numerous languages. The official Latin typical edition with “modifications” appeared in 1997, and new corresponding vernacular translations followed. The SSPX’s website was very critical of this wonderful text. I’m curious if their position has changed?

  49. Merriweather says:

    @Geoffrey

    My mistake, ’97

    The modifications weren’t all typos. (ie. changing “homosexual condition” to “homosexual inclination — intrinsically disordered”).

    The new catechism also incorporates JPII’s novel teaching on the death penalty–a major pet peeve for me.

    The SSPX, as far as I know, has not changed their view on the new catechism.

  50. Geoffrey says:

    “…JPII’s novel teaching on the death penalty…”

    Is it novel or developed? ;-)

  51. Merriweather says:

    @Geoffrey

    It’s novel.

    That the legitimate authority has recourse to the death penalty is the perennial teaching of the Church based on Scripture and Tradition.

    Allow me to point out the novelty in the 1997 Catechism:

    “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, *when this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor*. If however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.”(2267)

    Ironically, this is completely different than the 1992 Catechism, which is actually superior–though incomplete in terms of the actual purpose of the death penalty:

    “Preserving the common good of society required rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, *not excluding*, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.”(2266)

    Of course, the Catechism of the Council of Trent is the *best* expression of the true doctrine:

    “Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment is the preservation and security of human life.”

  52. Michael says:

    Merrriweather
    “The SSPX has already had two major positions of theirs completely vindicated by the Holy Father: the Mass was never abrogated and the SSPX was not schismatic”.

    My comments were about doctrine. Whether the Mass was ever abrogated or not and whether the SSPX was schismatic or not, are canonical matters.

    Deacon Augustine
    You evidently failed to understand what I had said, although I had repeated it twice.

    David Castel
    The above applies to you as well.

    That “Church used to speak clearly on matters of doctrine. No ‘interpretation’ was necessary” is one of the best jokes I have heard recently.

    Nicea’s ambiguity was clarified by Ephesus, the latter was clarified by Calcedon etc. The Creed of Nicea was clarified by the Creed of Constantionople I, filioque was a clarification of Constantinople I, and the Preface of the Holy Trinity is clarification of all that preceded it.

    The very claim that no interpretation is necessary because it is all “clear” implies that one has digested the text and made something out of it to make it “clear”, is an act of interpretation, and you claim that it is not necessary. How would you establish that the text is “clear” if you do not interpret it is such a way that it makes sense to you?

  53. teresa says:

    Oh, Father Zuhlsdorf is this time much more quick that the German news agencies!

    I didn’t see this post at first and post a link of the letter under the other article, I am very sorry for that!

    But what I want to say is only that I am very very HAPPY about it.

  54. Corleone says:

    inillotempore said : “only God can determine that”

    Agreed. However, this can be quickly morphed into “God is God and He can do whatever he wants”.

    Well, that’s the problem with any type of sound bite in our information age, isn’t it?

    This quickly leads down the road to relativism and a laissez-faire “anything goes” approach to salvation. Since God is perfect He can not sin, and therefore, does not lie. Our Lord told us that He is the Way and the Church that he established is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church .

    We are in agreement. My point was when priests during media interviews make statements which lend themselves to thinking that “anyone can go to heaven as long as they are good” without giving the appropriate background information it is very damaging. But unfortunately, it is all to pervasive. Therefore, were a priest to say simply, “this is a subject which is far too complicated for a soundbite. Suffice it to say that the Catholic church believes salvation comes from the grace bestowed by God alone.” Something short and sweet enough to show Catholics are indeed “biblical” and yet open enough which would force people to actually dig for the answer if interested.

  55. Michael J says:

    craig,
    Your explanation: “One is a living interpretive authority, and the other is an authority that requires interpretation by living individuals.” is nonsense.

    It means that we cannot rely tomorrow on what we were taught today. When does the “living Magisterium” become the “historical Magesterium”? Upon the death of the Pope? Midnight each night?

  56. RP says:

    Jeremy (No 26) is correct in saying that the SSPX is not sedevacantist and that they pray for the Pope. However, the issue at stake is not recognition of the Pope, but submission to his authority.

  57. David Kastel says:

    Michael,

    You make assertions without substance such as this “Nicea’s ambiguity was clarified by Ephesus, the latter was clarified by Calcedon etc.” What ambiguity was there in Nicea? Please do give an example.

    In fact, if you say the doctrine taught by all these Councils is ambiguous, how is it that you can claim to believe what the Church teaches? By your own words, you count is all as ambiguous!

    Let’s quit demanding that SSPX confess the doctrine contained in Vatican 2. I can and do here give a specific example of said ambiguity…

    Pre-Vatican 2:
    The Church of Christ “is” the Catholic Church = CLEAR

    Vatican 2:
    The Church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic Church = VAGUE
    (at best)

    It should be sufficient that SSPX confess to the pre-Vatican 2 doctrine on the Church, since it is clear for all the world to see. Demanding that they confess to the second vague, Vatican 2 statement is absurd.

  58. Michael says:

    David Kastel

    The Council of Nicaea was convened by Emperor, because of the Christological controversy due to the ambiguous language of the New Testament. In fact the Church is still using the same ambiguous language when referring to Christ as the “Son” of God. The Council of Nicaea sanctioned the term, and tried to resolve the ambiguity by adding the coined word “consubstantial” to the amended credal symbol used at Bishop Eusebius’ baptism, and that was what is now known as the Nicene Creed. On his return home Eusebius had quite a job to convince his flock that the term “consubstantial” was meant to be a mere explanation of what their baptismal Creed implied. Had the Nicaea taken place in 1962, the SSPX would have rejected it because it was a “novelty” and contrary to “tradition”.

    Even the term “God”, when applied to Jesus, was ambiguous: God is invisible and Jesus was visible. If God was really “made man”, how could He have remained invisible, and God? On the other hand, if the “made man” means that Jesus was divinized how could He, Jesus, have remained visible and man? Was He turned into a ghost? Did He remain a man in any meaningful way? Or God remained God, and Man remained Man and the two were somehow “glued” together, but remained separate entities? The latter was attributed to Nestorius, who is said to have claimed that Mary, therefore, could be only spoken of as the mother of Jesus, not as the Mother of God. The Council of Ephesus resolved that aspect of ambiguity, but other aspects remained.

    I can now go on and on analysing the Council of Calcedon, and then returning to the ambiguous Pneumatology of the Constantinopolian Creed now used in the Mass, and its Western clarification by the synods of Toledo etc., but it would take pages…You could work it out yourself.

    You comment: “if you say the doctrine taught by all these Councils is ambiguous, how is it that you can claim to believe what the Church teaches”.

    Good question. The above examples show that there are ambiguities – that can’t be disputed. The ambiguities in the NT lead to the Arian heresy, the ambiguities in the Creed of Nicaea lead to the Nestorian heresy, and the ambiguities of Ephesus lead to the Monophyzite heresy. All these heresies claimed to be faithful to tradition: Arians to the New Testament, Nestorians to the Nicaea, Monophyzites to Ephesus, and the councils of Nicaea, Ephesus and Calcedon respectively were to them the “novelties”: Nicaea to the Arians, Ephesus to the Nestorians, Calcedon to the Monophysites.

    Why ambiguities? There are two problems in my view. (a) First, limitations of human mind when it comes to the grasp of divine realities. We have to use our own concepts to account for the realities that are supernatural, and these concepts, although adequate up to the point, are nevertheless inadequate for a full grasp of what is the Mystery beyond our grasp. This leaves a door always open for a fuller understanding as the time goes. (b) Second, ambiguities of human language when it comes to articulation of what was grasped by the concepts. The same word can articulate different concepts and their nuances, and when it comes to the concepts used to understand the divine realities, it is sometimes necessary to coin a new word because none in a language is adequate.

    So, the answer is that every “next” of the four councils was an authentic interpretation of the “previous” ones, and developed, not contradicted, the “previous” councils. The “last”, i.e. Calcedon, will soon be reinterpreted by the Constantinople III, which dealt with the Monothelite heresy.

    This can be generalized by asserting that the later documents of the Magisterium, when dealing with a particular subject, authentically interpret and develop the doctrine of the earlier ones on the same subject. Every new document, as soon as it is promulgated, is incorporated in the whole body of Tradition.

    And about that body of Tradition Dei Verbum 10/2 teaches: “The office of interpreting authentically the word of God, whether scriptural or traditional, has been entrusted exclusively to the living voice of the Church magisterium (note 16), whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” The note 16 refers to Humani Generis, Denz 2314 (3886).

    So, to your question: “how is it that you can claim to believe what the Church teaches”, my answer is: I am trying my best to assent to the teaching of the LIVING magisterium, to whom I am directly subjected, and if a particular subject is not dealt by the living Magisterium I am trying to identify the most recent document that deals with it, going from now backwards. I see no other way that would make sense to me.

    While I cannot rule out ambiguities in Vatican II, it is – if there really are any – nothing unusual. You will find them even in dogmatic definitions.

    The specific example of “clear” doctrine, i.e. “The Church of Christ “is” the Catholic Church”, is far from clear, because the word “is” is ambiguous. It can be the present tense of the verb “to be”, in analogy to Jahweh (I Am). On the other hand, it can be a part of predicate to denote (a) full identity, say: “he is Craig”, (b) species of a genus, say: “tiger is a cat”, (c) an attribute, say: “he is strong”. What is “clear” then?

    That “The Church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic Church” means that the Church Christ has established is fully present in, “stands under”, what we now know as the Catholic Church; and although some elements of the Church He established are or might be present in other Christian bodies, they are not fully present, they do not “subsist”, they do not “stand under”. In view of the fact that the Christ’s Church is fully present, subsists, stands under the Catholic Church, one can equally say, that the Catholic Church itself, is or might be present, but not fully, in other Christian bodies, for the simple reason that, when they had separated, that separation was not a full one, but partial, in various degrees. They all retained Baptism and the main part of the Bible, at least. It is the Catholic Baptism and and the Catholic Bible (better: its main part) that they have never abandoned.

    In any case, Vatican II was a higher authority than Pius XII’s encyclical, which was in fact a novel doctrine, never asserted before.

    I regret to say that, due to other commitments, I will have to end my participation in this Blog for a month or two. But thank you for your stimulating challenge.

  59. Michael says:

    Michael J (re: to Craig)

    Regrettably, I can’t get involved more (see my comment to David Kastel) at the moment; perhaps in a month or two. So briefly, because it was myself who happened to “inspire” Craig’s comment (see earlier correspondence).

    You say that his assertion: “One is a living interpretive authority, and the other is an authority that requires interpretation by living individuals” is nonsense. It isn’t nonsense. You do not seem to grasp the notion of interpretation.

    Your statement: “It means that we cannot rely tomorrow on what we were taught today” makes no Catholic sense, because the Catholic Faith is nothing but Tradition, i.e. handing on in “doctrine, life and worship” what the Church has received from the Apostles and reflects upon it (DV 8). This is a continuous process, the interpretation of which, at any given time is entrusted to the LIVING Magisterium of that time. That interpretation as soon as it is made is incorporated into the same process, and is interpreted together with the whole body of Tradition by the same or next LIVING Magisterium, and so on.

    When does the “living Magisterium” become the “historical Magisterium”? The “historical Magisterium” is not the Magisterium in the same sense as the Living one is: it is the body of dead documents, the authors are no longer alive; and being dead, cannot teach us anything. The documents themselves are not persons, but the writings that have to be interpreted by persons. And a Catholic, who isn’t part of the Living Magisterium, cannot arrogate to himself this interpreting role.

    To answer specifically to your question: you are using the word Magisterium do denote two different concepts: Documents promulgated by persons, and Persons who promulgate the documents. The former, the “historical Magisterium” is a body of documents, the persons who promulgated them are dead, and the documents cannot speak for themselves: they should be read, understood i.e. interpreted, and this interpretation has to be communicated to others by living persons. The latter, the “living Magisterium” is not a body of documents, but the living persons who interpret and communicate to us the true sense of the former. As soon as the Living Magisterium has promulgated a particular document, the latter, i.e. the document, is incorporated into the “historical Magisterium” (and you will frequently find, that a new document refers not only to the documents of earlier councils or popes, but – on equal footing – to the documents promulgated by the author of the new document himself).

    “Upon the death of the Pope? Midnight each night?” is a superfluous question in the above context.

    The statemen: “we cannot rely tomorrow on what we were taught today” is mistaken, because what the next generation will be taught “tomorrow” essentially depends on what we are taught “today”, as what we are taught “today” is dependant on what others were taught “yesterday”. But the “depends on” is not the “photocopy of”; i.e. the “new” teaching is not strictly a repetition of the “past” teaching, but both are the same teaching articulated differently, and the “new” one always contains an element of a deeper insight into that same teaching, which insight was not known to those who were taught in the past.

  60. CPKS says:

    Excellent explanations by Michael – very refreshing to read something by someone who understands theology.