Weigel on the Pope’s Letter: getting it wrong in an important detail

George Weigel has predictably chimed in on the Pope’s Letter about the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.  He wrote on the site of National Review.

My emphases and comments.

March 12, 2009, 0:00 p.m.

Pope Benedict Explains — and Challenges
His March 10 letter reveals a man of exquisite manners and deep pastoral sensitivity.

By George Weigel

One wishes that Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the world’s Catholic bishops on the controversy surrounding the lifting of the excommunications of four dissident Lefebvrist bishops — which was dated March 10 and released publicly today — had not been necessary. Benedict was badly served by the Curia in this affair. A different kind of man and a different kind of pope might have been inclined to take the Olympian view and simply ignore the firestorm caused by the fact that one of the Lefebvrists, an international crank named Richard Williamson, was a longtime Jew-baiter who had recently indulged in the most grotesque form of holocaust denial. For all that the world media’s Rottweiler Brigade has been nipping at his heels ever  since the Lefebvrist storm broke, [longer] however, Benedict XVI is not that kind of man, and he’s not that kind of pope. He is, in fact, a man of exquisite manners and deep pastoral sensitivity, who knew that something unprecedented was required of him to set things aright. Both of those qualities are amply displayed in his letter.

[So far so good.]
 
The letter makes several crucial points. 
 
The pope candidly acknowledges that what he had intended as a gesture of mercy backfired badly [Well... the story isn't over yet.  It hasn't backfired until it has failed, which is by no means the case yet.] : “A gesture of reconciliation with an ecclesial group engaged in a process of separation . . . turned into its very antithesis: an apparent [apparent is the key here] step backwards with regard to all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews taken since the council — steps which my own work as a theologian had sought from the beginning to take part in and support.” 
 
The pope further acknowledged that this fiasco was in part the fault of inept work by the Curia, and that it was “our Jewish friends who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore [an] atmosphere of friendship and trust. . . .”
 
As for ensuring against such problems in the future, the pope made the necessary bureaucratic move: [Weigel now assumes that the PCED is to be blamed and that the Pope blames the PCED for the "fiasco".] the Ecclesia Dei Commission, established as an independent agency by John Paul II afer [sic] the Lefebrvist [sic] schism in 1988, and charged with reconciling Levebvrists [sic] and others who wanted to return to full communion, has been [will be, I believe, not "has been", or am I missing something?] put under the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There will be no more free-lancing [interesting... an image also used by John Thavis of CNS... ] from Ecclesia Dei, which had become a loose cannon careening around the ecclesial deck.  [Do you accept the premise that the PCED was a loose cannon?  I don't.  Perhaps this is simple prejudice on the part of the writer.  Instead, I think that the Card. Castrilon did in fact in the main keep Pope Benedict informed about the over all vector of his pursuits.]
 
The reining in of Ecclesia Dei and its subordination to the Catholic Church’s principal doctrinal office also sends an important signal to the Levebvrist leadership, which has continued to insist throughout this affair that it represents “the Tradition” (always capitalized) and that it continues to have the gravest doubts about the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on religious freedom, [Which itself is not sinful, I think.] on the nature of the Church, [Does the SSPX have doubts about the "nature of the Church"?  I can think of a few progressivists who do, but I thought the SSPX was pretty clear about the nature of the Church. Therein lies part of the conflict with many in the mainstream.  Or am I getting this wrong?] and on the Church’s relationship with other religious communities. [Again... I think the SSPX has a few doubts on this score.  But, what seems to be going on here is that the writer is painting the SSPX with a very broad brush indeed, and in the colors he chooses, rather than those which accurately depict it.] Benedict XVI’s letter makes clear that, while he recognizes that most of the Lefbvrist [sic] faithful couldn’t care less about Catholic church-state theory and simply want to worship in the manner of their grandparents, [Does the Holy Father recognize this in the Letter?  Surely it is true, but is that in the Letter?] he also understands that the leadership of the Society of St. Pius X [SSPX], which is the embodiment of the Lefebvrist [sic] movement, tilts toward forms of doctrinal dissent more typically found on the Catholic Left. [This is left unexplained by Weigel, but it may be in some way true.  I have mused about this possibility elsewhere.] The unmistakable implication is that there will be no reconciliation or restoration of full communion until the Lefebvrist leadership acknowledges Vatican II as an authentic expression of Catholic faith. One might suggest that this process would be advanced were the leadership of the SSPX to cease referring to itself as the incarnation of “the Tradition,” [Yes, that is annoying and unhelpful.] as if it were the rest of the Catholic Church that went into schism in 1988.

At the same time, the pope’s letter reminds Catholic progressives that Catholicism did not begin at Vatican II, or even begin anew at Vatican II. The Council’s documents have to be read in the light of 2,000 years of Christian tradition, not read against that tradition. The Church began with the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, which Christians will celebrate one month from now on Good Friday and Easter; the Church did not begin on December 7, 1965, when Paul VI promulgated the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.”
 
The papal letter also includes a powerful plea to Catholics to re-focus on the real issues of the day: “In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority [for everyone in the Church] is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai . . . that God whose face we recognize . . . in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.” Thus the pope puts into the proper context the problems posed by both the Lefebvrist schism [Note that in the Letter, the Holy Father speaks of "danger" of schism, not its fact.  Also, Card. Castrillon, presently the favorite scapegoat, has been saying what the Holy Father said: there is danger of schism.  Now... believe me... I am a strong proponent of the duck argument in these matters.  But when I hear more than once from the President of the PCED and now the Pope a particular manner of speaking of the SSPX and schism, I tend to accept it more easily.  But "Lefebvrist" is spelled correctly here.  Read on, however...] and the psychological schism in which some Catholic progressives live [NB: I am willing to accept "psychological schism" on both sides, but at this time not the implication that the SSPX is in formal schism.]both forms of schism [problem: I don't think there are twor forms of schism at work here.  Weigel suggests that there are similarities between the progressivists's errors and those of members of the SSPX.  Fine.  I think his train of thought derails with the implication of a formal schism on the part of the SSPX.  Also, I would ask: If there is a schism on both sides, which side would really be harder to reconcile?  The SSPX or the progressivists.  I think we are talking about very different attitudes, all in all.  Simply to place them on opposite extremes isn't quite right.] impede the evangelical mission of the Church at a moment when that mission has acquired a new urgency[If I am not mistaken, the Holy Father in his Letter implies that the SSPX members, once reconciled, have something positive to contribute.  I don't get that same sense from the contributions of the other type of rupture Catholics.]
 
It remains to be seen whether Benedict XVI will now take in hand a reform of the personnel and practices of the Roman Curia, which is essential if the evangelical brilliance of this pontificate is to fulfill its great potential. [That is fair.  A change in personel is very much needed.  I think Rodari's assessments are useful in understanding this.] For the moment, however, the Rottweiler Brigade [and ironic and nice turn of phrase, considering that Papa Ratzinger for a long time was contunamciously nick-named "God's Rottweiler".] has been put in its place; a major flaw in the Roman bureaucracy has been fixed; the Church has been reminded of the dynamic relationship between tradition and development in Catholic self-understanding; Catholics living in both formal and informal schism [there it is again... the wrong move that undermines Weigel's argument] have been told, politely but firmly, that they are impeding the Church’s mission; the psychological path has been cleared for a successful papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May; and, as Jews approach Passover and Christians approach Easter, both have been reminded that their inevitable entanglement is of the will of God, as St. Paul tried to explain to the Romans two millennia ago. That’s accomplishment enough for one letter. 
 
— George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. 

The piece has marks of haste, including the typos we who work under stress often slip into with the willing pushes of Titivillus.

I sense at the back of this both haste – and therefore a not entirely well-considered argument -  and a measure of intolerance.  Am I being unfair if I wonder if Mr. Weigel is harder on the "rupture" that comes from lack of continuity with the present and future than he is on the rupture that comes from lack of continuity with the past?

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79 Responses to Weigel on the Pope’s Letter: getting it wrong in an important detail

  1. Brian Mershon says:

    Father, No you are not wrong. I would add that it is both sinful and defammatory to continue to cast aspersions at people as “schismatics” when they in fact are not.

    The question is do we view the Traditional doctrine of the Church through the lens of Vatican II OR do we view Vatican II through the lens of Tradition. This Pope has repeatedly stated that Vatican II should be viewed “in light of Tradition.”

    Also, is this a charitable and Christian manner of treating a fellow Catholic bishops who no longer operates under the penalty of excommunication? “an international crank named Richard Williamson, was a longtime Jew-baiter who had recently indulged in the most grotesque form of holocaust denial.”

    “international crank”? a “Jew-baiter”? “indulged in the most grotesque form of holocaust denial.”

    Really? Seems ad hominem to me. Also, to repeat, Bishop Williamson did not “deny the holocaust.” That is a bald-faced LIE for anyone who has actually watched and listened to the interview.

  2. John Enright says:

    People should get off Cardinal Castrillon\’s back. Really, the whole point of lifting the excommunications is to BEGIN a dialog with SSPX. The Church didn\’t regularize them, the Holy offered the opportunity to discuss issues which may separate us. I think it was a bold move, and I applaud it.

  3. Fr Gregoire Fluet says:

    I tip my biretta to you Father, an excellent comment on Mr Weigel’s interesting article. Apparently there is a genuine pattern taking shape to blame the PCED for all things, convenient when I just sense something more insidious that had nothing to do with the PCED in this matter. I am especially pleased you mention that poor fiend, Titivillus. His handiwork is clear in Mr Weigel’s hastily written work.

  4. John Enright says:

    Sorry for my mis-post. The word “Father” should follow “Holy.”

  5. Luigi says:

    Fr Z: I wonder if Mr. Weigel is harder on the “rupture” that comes from lack of continuity with the present and future than he is on the rupture that comes from lack of continuity with the past?

    If this were his only musings on the topic, one might wonder, but I think all in all from what I’ve seen of Weigel’s writings he is plenty severe in his treatment of progressives. My guess is he wouldn’t hesititate to say that the progressives have done far more damage to the Church.

    I don’t believe he meant this to be condescnding, but this sentence doesn’t sit terribly well:

    “…faithful couldn’t care less about Catholic church-state theory and simply want to worship in the manner of their grandparents…”

    Again, probably not what he meant, but this choice of words implies a sappy nostalgic attachment to the TLM when in fact the real concern runs far deeper.

  6. Ken says:

    I wish the Holy Father would have addressed his letter:

    Liebe Mitbrüder im bischöflichen Dienst und George Weigel!

  7. RJM says:

    It has been popular in some circles to portray the SSPX and leftist Catholics as two sides of the same schismatic coin. In my view, this approach to the situation distorts the status and nature of the SSPX and is, thus, unhelpful. Dissenting progressives are explicit in their denial of certain aspects of the faith, and many of them launch their dissent off of the deceptive platform that Vatican II was a rupture (or “new beginning,” in their words) in the life of the Church. In contrast, the SSPX–while having serious reservations about certain facets of the conciliar documents–have always sought to remain faithful to the dogmatic content of the faith. In this regard, the fault of the SSPX lies in a concrete act of disobedience to the Holy See. While one might rightly criticize this particular action, it is uncharitable and slanderous to foist inaccurate accusations that portray the SSPX as being akin to true dissenters. If we are to take the leaders of the SSPX at their word, then they are ready to submit to the authority of the living magisterium and to accept the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council, as read in the light of the tradition. Commentators like Weigel, who continue to peddle this narrative that the SSPX is just the opposite side of the same schismatic pole, are only hindering the conversation that desperately needs to take place.

  8. Peter Nelson says:

    Let’s be fair to Mr. Weigel. From what I can tell, he’s a good, old-fashioned Catholic. In fact, his book, “Letters to a Young Catholic”, led to my conversion. I read this essay as his attempt to put the best face possible on what is, let’s face it, a P.R. disaster. The public at large now blithely slanders the head of our church as an unrepentant Nazi busy rehabilitating his fascist pals from the heartland of the Third Reich. Yes it’s unfair, yes it’s an exaggeration, yes it’s manipulative, but it’s working for them. They were waiting for something, and they seized their chance with both hands, and they succeeded, and now the faithful are in damage-control mode. Get used to it; that’s the way the evil one operates. Rather than turn on each other (more evil-ways at work), let’s let Mr. Weigel do his bit to pour water on this fire, and let’s do our bit to help. Save the vitriol for our true enemies.

  9. ED says:

    Now that Mr. Weigel has handled the Williamson affair ,can he please get on the widespread heresy cases in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Albany , Rochester, Miami, St. Petersburg, etc etc etc , I’m sure he wants those bishops excommunicated for allowing outrageous attacks by dissenters on GOD (JESUS CHRIST)!!!!!!

  10. Matthew M says:

    Mershon writes: “Also, to repeat, Bishop Williamson did not “deny the holocaust.” That is a bald-faced LIE for anyone who has actually watched and listened to the interview.”

    Weigel is, of course, free to look beyond the contents of the interview, where Williamson has praised the views of well-known cranks and holocaust deniers, and repeated their nonsense. But even within the interview, Williamson denies any Jews were killed within gas chambers, and says the number of deaths in concentration camps is overstated by a factor of 20X.

    That is Holocaust Denial. No Holocaust denier claims no Jews were killed. They just use specious evidence and false experts such as Leuchter to make the genocide look much much less significant, and also to make contemporary Jews look like lying special pleaders.

    I would add that to refer to Weigel as a ‘bald-faced liar’ might also be considered ‘both sinful and defammatory’. He mat be wrong in other points in his article (and indeed in the gist of it), but he isn’t lying about Williamson

  11. Brian Mershon says:

    Matthew, The topic is the interview with Bishop Williamson, which I doubt many have watched or listened to. You might want to broaden it to implicate more than that, but I will not. Weigel did not either.

    He said what he said and in that sense, it makes him, just like all the media which repeated the headlines to establish dramatic effect for months now, liars. It is inaccurate. Bishop Williamson did not deny the Holocaust.

    You might not like whom he has read nor whom he got his information from, but that is besides the point. Bp. Williamson said in the interview that he was no expert and that it was merely his personal opinion. He did not state it as a dogmatic fact.

    Therefore, the myth Weigel continues to promote in his column is not true. I don’t know whether or not he did so deliberately, but it is defammatory and an out-and-out LIE.

  12. Brian Mershon says:

    All: For those of you blessed enough to have attended daily Mass today in the Traditional Latin rite, re-read the Lesson and the Gospel for today.

    I wonder whom, spiritually, the Fathers of the Church say is being affected here. Those readings would be very instructive and ironic in light of the past two months of “outrage” from the media and the usual sources.

    Remember, according to the media and other influential “spokespersons,” it is “anti-Semitic” to think that the Jews must embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior and recognize the Roman Catholic Church as the new People of God–the elect.

  13. Tom says:

    Father:

    This does have the mark of haste. And, haste makes waste. Nevertheless, I believe that if Wiegel put more effort in to this, we’d still get excrement from him.

    It has been a tough time for him. Better to pray for him than try to engage him in an argument. He’s just not properly equipped and forcing him to employ the ad hominen serves no one.

  14. Tom says:

    Remember, according to the media and other influential “spokespersons,” it is “anti-Semitic” to think that the Jews must embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior and recognize the Roman Catholic Church as the new People of God—the elect.
    Comment by Brian Mershon — 13 March 2009 @ 9:22 am

    But perfectly okay for them to hold for racial superiority.

  15. Johnny Domer says:

    I still don’t understand how this is at all interpreted as “keeping Hoyos under wraps” or “reining in Hoyos, the loose cannon.” How? That seems like a simplistic, easy-to-put-in-a-headline interpretation with no basis in the facts. What did Hoyos even do? He failed to tell the Holy Father that Williamson had some interview on a Swedish television station where he said crazy stuff, an interview that was buried by the TV station and released precisely a day or so before the reconciliations took place so as to make the Church look bad and so as to prevent a response by the Church. I would ask how that is at all Hoyos’ fault; it’s not his job to be daily scouring traditionalist blogs to try and dig up stuff like that, and I doubt any of his staff at Ecclesia Dei are assigned to do it. Some people at the Holy See Press Office maybe should maybe take some blame, seeing as communications are WHAT THEY DO. I would also ask how that was in any way an example of Hoyos “freelancing.”

    But let’s say this is truly Hoyos’ fault, let’s suppose he is at fault for not informing the Holy Father that Williamson was crazy and possibly a Holocaust reductionist. How is an alleged OMISSION on the part of Hoyos interpreted to mean that Hoyos is a loose cannon? A person who is a loose cannon, as I gather from reading Patrick O’Brian’s books, recklessly and actively DOES things that wind up having bad consequences. Hoyos was not the active agent in all of this. Hoyos got this letter from the SSPX bishops asking for a lifting of the excommunications; he relayed it to the Holy Father; and the Holy Father lifted them. If you’re going to accuse anyone of freelancing, anyone of being the active agent behind this event, it was none other than the Holy Father. Of course, nobody on the more conservative end of the Catholic spectrum wants to blame the Pope (whom I praise for his courage), so Hoyos becomes the scapegoat.

  16. Ottaviani says:

    Now that Mr. Weigel has handled the Williamson affair ,can he please get on the widespread heresy cases in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Albany , Rochester, Miami, St. Petersburg, etc etc etc , I’m sure he wants those bishops excommunicated for allowing outrageous attacks by dissenters on GOD (JESUS CHRIST)

    Oh no! You see the bishops in those diocese were appointed by JP II and JP II can do no wrong in the eyes of Weigel et al.

  17. Jordanes says:

    Matthew M, thanks for correcting Mr. Mershon’s well-intentioned but misguided and inaccurate defense of Bishop Williamson.

  18. Romulus says:

    Several of Bishop Williamson’s extracurricular views are eccentric and ill-founded. His gross imprudence at airing them in a public forum suggests lack of self-control or of self-knowledge, or both. I would have to concede the harsh verdict of the “international crank” label — though I question the propriety of its use in a published article. Then immediately to follow with the smear of “Jew-baiter” is grossly unfair and smacks of piling on. At this point Mr Weigel’s telling us more about himself than his target: that his animus too is extracurricular and even personal.

    I can’t help sensing that Weigel’s readiness to accuse the PCED, and his misreading of the SSPX faithful (more than a few of whom are able to articulate well-reasoned doubts about “ecumenism” and Church-state relations and what the Council is supposed to have said about them) is rooted in a disdain for their concerns. It is very late in the day for traditionalist Catholics, whether or not attached to canonically irregular groups, to be dismissed as throwback sentimentalists unable to shake off their grandparents’ ways. Indeed, it’s past time for the question to be asked just why are Catholics still being scolded for heeding the human impulse of observing the traditions of their ancestors.

    Curiously telling is the absence from Weigel’s article of any mention of the Holy Father’s pastoral concern for the SSPX members and the faithful they serve. The Holy Father perceives in them a love of Christ and a desire to proclaim him. Likewise absent is any mention of the Holy Father’s personal suffering for having undertaken this initiative of reconciliation. “Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians?” asks the Pope. Well, Mr. Weigel?

  19. Luigi says:

    Debates about what literally constitutes “Holocaust denial” between people who love the Church just goes to show what a powerful distraction this has become.

    Why hairsplit this thing? Let’s call it “Holocaust Uncertainty” and move on.

    And let’s be honest, Brian, that Williamson’s comments were prefaced with, “I’m no expert…” doesn’t mean that he is immune from criticism for what comes next. Try telling your wife, “I’m no cosmetologist, but your hair looks like crap” and let me know how that works out for you. : )

    Levity aside, his comments taken at face value, forget labeling them, are an invitation to trouble.

  20. Chironomo says:

    Not wrong at all Fr. Z…

    The author is clearly out to make this whole affair seem like an ill-conceived idea that should never have been undertaken. Part of the problem is that the majority of Catholic faithful, and even many Bishops, seem to not understand the reason for the lifting of the excommunications in the first place. For them, the SSPX was a loony right-wing group that should be allowed to die out now that the Church has progressed “past that kind of thing”.

    The author also seems determined to make the PCED look like the real culprit in all this, and can’t help concluding that the Pope has reigned in this curial office in charge of those “loony right-wing” groups. His entire analysis is skewed by his prejudice against tradition and continuity to the point where he believes that the Pope is acting as he would…

  21. Matthew M. says:

    Merson continues: “It is inaccurate. Bishop Williamson did not deny the Holocaust.”

    Here are quotes from the transcript:
    “Q: So, there was no gas chamber? A: I believe there were no gas chambers, yes…between 200- and 300.000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in gas chambers”

    Then he goes on to invoke the discredited Leuchter report as evidence. That, my friends, is Holocaust Denial.

    But Weigel didn’t restrict himself to forming his opinion of Williamson based on the Swedish interview. He might have run across other choice quotes from Williamson. He is ofen quoted from a speech in 1989 at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes church in Sherbrooke, Canada: “There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies. The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel. … Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.”

    How does it serve the good intentions of traditionalists to continue to deny Williamson’s egregious nonsense? He’s at best a terribly confused man who has done a great deal of damage to a worthy cause.

  22. boredoftheworld says:

    Ottaviani has expressed my opinion. Just as aging liberals are locked in the 1960s there are a lot of people locked in the last pontificate. I don’t think there’s anything particularly sinister about it either, it just is. Psychologically they probably couldn’t change even if they wanted to.

    It seems to happen to all of us to some degree or another… the music, tv, cars, clothes, food, theology, ecclesiology, liturgy of my youth is better than the slop of today.

    Recently bishop Fellay said something about leftist German Catholics never having forgiven Joseph Ratzinger for becoming pope and as far as that goes it’s probably true. I think at the same time some of America’s conservatives haven’t forgiven him for not being John Paul III and if you pay attention to what they’re saying they seem to be often trying to remake Benedict XVI as John Paul III.

  23. EJ says:

    You gotta love the potshots against John Paul II once George Weigel comes up. Sometimes I think the rad trads hate the so-called neo-cons more than left of center dissident Catholics. As a former employee of the archdiocese of washington, I witnessed first hand as an insider the courage with which Mr. Weigel challenged and stood up to Cardinal McCarrick and his misrepresentation of then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s instruction concerning pro-abortion Catholic politicians. He suffered much for this – it was not PC, but courageously held his ground, even after the DC Archdiocesan newspaper (not surprisingly) banished his column from the publication. I do not think the article in question is among his best at all, and I agree that it seems hastily written – but he is a solidly orthodox Catholic layman, and has written alot more articles that we would be in agreement with than in disagreement. In a good majority of his works, he has certainly been critical of the dissent, the abuses, and the dissaray caused by 40 years of rupture from the past – let’s certainly disagree with him on this one, without villifying the man all together.

  24. Aaron says:

    I tire of what has lately become the near constant apologetics in this blog for a group that is not Roman Catholic–indeed has no canonical status in the Roman Catholic Church–and yet arrogantly and repeatedly proclaims itself–on its own authority–as the true embodiment of the R.C. Church. The only thing it hasn’t done yet is explicitly elect an anti-Pope.

  25. Tom says:

    Mr. Maguire

    I almost wish that +Williamson was a holocaust denier. A perfect teaching moment on what puts
    one outside the Church (e.g. denying the Incarnation) and what does not (e.g.:believing that elephants
    live in trees)

    Some in the hierarchy are confused

    http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=12263

  26. Maureen says:

    Personally, I think the flat earth/geocentrism thing is a lot more indicative of crankiness on Williamson’ part than the holocaust denial/uncertainty thing. I mean, you can sorta strain at accepting the latter as connected to logic in some pitiful manner, whereas maintaining the former as a member of a spacefaring society is simply impossible. As a moral matter,
    of course it’s holocaust denial that’s the worse indication; but both require telling hundreds of thousands of people that they are liars.

    Nevertheless, I don’t see why so many people want to leave an old man out in the cold, tisting in the wind — much less the rest of the SSPX. The Church Militant is not a place designed for only perfect people; if that were so, I would have no place in her. For Weigel to claim that this was a bad idea — doesn’t he realize that it’s tantamount to a claim that his own salvation by Christ was a bad idea, which backfired upon Him, and must now be spun?

    Let the shepherds go out searching for the sheep. Let those who want to turn around and come home to Peter do it. Otherwise, there’s not much point in having a Church at all.

  27. boredoftheworld says:

    You gotta love the potshots against John Paul II once George Weigel comes up.

    Huh?

  28. Tom says:

    Maureen:

    Please do not conflate geocentrism with the Flat Earth Myth!

    http://www.amazon.com/Inventing-Flat-Earth-Columbus-Historians/dp/027595904X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236960441&sr=1-1

    There are NASA scientists who hold for geocentrism, Dr. Thomas Woods found two people in Western History (one dubious) who held for a flat earth.

  29. Richard says:

    the “gesture of mercy backfired badly [Well… the story isn’t over yet. It hasn’t backfired until it has failed, which is by no means the case yet]”

    Literally a backfire doesn’t usually stop the car moving forwards – it just creates a lot of unpleasant noise.

    Does that sound like a good metaphor?

  30. Breier says:

    Maureen,

    Where does Williamson have geocentric ideas? Are you confusing him with Robert Sungenis?

  31. irishgirl says:

    Er, Ed-Albany and Rochester bishops were not appointed by JP II. They came in under Paul VI.

  32. Tominellay says:

    I think that Pope Benedict XVI has personal interest in the entire SSPX matter, and a unique vantage point, from which he sees much more than his critics or his supporters, and so is moved to do what he is doing. As a young theologian during the Council, he was, I think, among the “Progressivists”; later, he broke with many of the “Progressivist” ideas and people, and came to embrace a much more “Conservative” line. Under John Paul II, then-Cdl. Ratzinger engaged in the negotiations with Abp. Lefebvre which ultimately failed in dissuading the archbishop from consecrating the four SSPX bishops. I think the pope feels a personal responsibility for unity in the Catholic Church; and I think that perhaps NO other Catholic can have the investment that Pope Benedict XVI has in the cause of unity in the Catholic Church.

  33. TMG says:

    Why do so few not see that the interview of Bishop Williamson was orchestrated in advance, sat on for months until the opportune moment, and trotted out with the express purpose of throwing a great big monkey wrench in any efforts by the SSPX to at last be allowed to throw open the doors to traditional Roman Catholic teachings?

    Why do so few not see that the media’s obsessed focus on Bishop Williamson is part of that same strategy? Notice how we are all still obligingly allowing ourselves to become the pawns in their game by following their chosen topic of discussion. So why continue to play their game at all? As it is, the interview has been discussed ad nauseam.

  34. Origen Adamantius says:

    While sweeping comparisons of the left and the right loses a lot of nuance, there is a truth that both sides believe that their view of what the Church is and should do is more valid than the Pope- as protectors of the “tradition” of the Church or “spirit” of VII

  35. PMcGrath says:

    Fr Z: “If I am not mistaken, the Holy Father in his Letter implies that the SSPX members, once reconciled, have something positive to contribute.”

    I agree with you 100%. Look at the Holy Father drilling down to real numbers:

    Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests …

    As I mentioned yesterday, German intellectuals don’t cite this precise level of statistics without a reason. If he were indifferent, he would have just said “hundreds” of priests and seminarians. No, his citation of the precise figure shows that he believes all of them have something important to contribute.

    And every bishop in the world is going to compare the numbers cited directly by the Holy Father and compare it with their own dioceses.

  36. I think Weigel’s statement shows the difference between being orthodox in the faith and being conservative in the faith.

    The former judges concepts such as “conservative” by how they fit into orthodox faith.

    The latter judges concepts like “orthodox” by how they fit into conservative views.

    @Ottaviani – You think Weigel held Pope John Paul II could do no wrong? You ought to see how he handled the Pope’s encyclicals on social justice, which he skewered on “conservative” grounds

  37. Sal says:

    @TheOtherDavid,

    Thanks for the distinction between those orthodox in the faith and those conservative in the faith. It’s very helpful.

  38. Paul M says:

    Yes, the letter has marks of haste and is a bit all-over-the-map. I expect better from Mr. Weigel. The scapegoating of PCED is uncalled for, as is the use of “Lefebvrist” as a pejorative. The shot at +Williamson turns the piece into more of a rant. As I said, I expect better.

    One thing that irritates me about George Weigel is his harping on Vatican II. Whether in his books, columns or interviews, I have always felt that he is too quick to reference VII no matter the topic, but have not been able to articulate why it bothered me so much. Brian Mershon’s quote above, The question is do we view the Traditional doctrine of the Church through the lens of Vatican II OR do we view Vatican II through the lens of Tradition. This Pope has repeatedly stated that Vatican II should be viewed “in light of Tradition.” is a good one in reference to Mr. Weigel. He seems to view everything (yes, a generalization) through the lens of VII and IMHO, it clouds his judgement when he writes on the SSPX or even the TLM.

  39. Sid says:

    I join Jordanes — 13 March 2009 @ 9:37 am in thanking these two men for there rightly corrective comments:
    Comment by Peter Nelson — 13 March 2009 @ 8:59 am
    Comment by Matthew M — 13 March 2009 @ 9:04 am
    Comment by Matthew M. — 13 March 2009 @ 9:50 am

    Folks, let’s all do what we can to ostracize antisemitism and holocaust denial (both really the same thing). Nothing will kill faster the MEF and reconciliation with the SSPX than the perception of identification with Antisemitism and the crimes of the ultranationalist Nazi regime.

    Felley himself has said that such crimes in particular and Antisemitism in general are anti-Christian. Those who foster holocaust denial or defame Jews are thus enemies of the Society.

  40. Sid says:

    A comment above:
    “But perfectly okay for them to hold for racial superiority.”

    A bald lie and utterly defamatory to Jews, who hold no such views of racial superiority or racialist views at all. This comment in injurious to this fine website.

  41. mbd says:

    At the risk of seeming to employ a Straussian analysis to George Weigel’s comments, it seems to me that the unspoken point may be a (wishful) contention that Pope Benedict’s letter signals a restriction or ‘reining-in’ of the PCED on liturgical matters. Although he does not specifically speak of liturgical issues in this article, and he seems to be focusing on the PCED’s ‘free-lancing’ in respect to Cardinal Castrillon’s actions to bring about reconciliation with the SPPX (actions which seem to be the very antithesis of what might be characterized as having the qualities of a ‘loose cannon’ – certainly the negotiations and discussions have dragged on interminably through the years), yet the area which has seemed to annoy Weigel in the past regarding the PCED has been in comments and statements advocating the expansion of the EF, especially since the issuance of Summorum Pontificum. I believe that Weigel, who seems at times to view the old liturgy with disdain, sees the effort to expand it and the resultant controversies as a distraction from what he views as the ‘real issues of the day.’ Even if Pope Benedict’s joining the CDF to the PCED in future undertakings with the SPPX in no way impacts the PCED’s role in overseeing the expansion of the EF under Summorum Pontificum ( a function which I believe is scheduled to transfer to the CDW when the PCED is merged with that Congregation), simply portaying the Pope’s action, as announced in this recent letter, as a reining-in of the PCED will inevitably affect its credibility with the bishops, the clergy and the faithful in all matters, including those relating to the liturgy.

  42. Brian Mershon says:

    Analysis of Weigel and esp. his “false idea of a middle way between two extremes” which of course posits him always in the middle (the heart and soul) of the Church.

    Written PRIOR to this most recent column.

    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009=0229-baresel-george_weigel.htm

    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009–131-ferrara-neocatholic_sour_grapes.htm

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/090220

    BTW, Thank you to all those who pointed out Matthew M. and Jordanes’ errors.

  43. Brian Mershon says:

    To Sid, Jordanes, Matthew M. and others… Please, whatever you do, do NOT read the Gospel of St. John or ANY of St. Paul’s letter because you might–just maybe–confuse their doctrines with anti-Semitism.

    Do not read them, and most certainly, do NOT quote them hear. Esp. today’s TLM Lesson and Gospel; and most CERTAINLY do NOT read the Haydock Bible Commentary, Dom Gueranger’s commentary or ANY of the Church Fathers’ commentaries on today’s Lesson and Gospels.

    I condemn true anti-Semitism. As a Catholic Christian, I condemn anti-Christianity and ALL those who abhor the Cross of Jesus Christ Our King–regardless of their race or false religion.

    I also abhor all rash judgment and detraction when faithful, hard-working, traditional Catholics must be smeared by other Catholics with the “anti-Semitic” and “schismatic” label.

    But it is Lent afterall, isn’t it?

  44. ALL: Do not drag this down a rabbit-hole. I guarantee I will apply both the delete and ban options.

  45. Jordanes says:

    Sorry, Mr. Mershon, but none of that shows Weigel’s characterisation of Bishop Wililamson to have been a lie or in any way inaccurate. You are not correctly representing what he said and did in the infamous interview. I think you should temper somewhat your antipathy (if not animosity) for Weigel, as well as your propensity to minimise Bishop Williamson’s outrageous opinions. You’re not helping.

  46. Pete says:

    “I tire of what has lately become the near constant apologetics in this blog for a group that is not Roman Catholic….”–Comment by Aaron

    Aaron,
    I am at a loss for words. What can you possibly mean the SSPX is not Roman Catholic?

  47. John Hudson says:

    I find it very strange that commentators are interpreting the connection of the PCED with the CDF as an administrative reigning in of the former. The Holy Father’s letter recognises that the remaining issues with the SSPX are doctrinal, and hence it is appropriate for the CDF to be the curial body involved in the next stage of the process of reconciliation, which is discussion of doctrinal questions. Furthermore, the SSPX has always insisted that the issues were doctrinal and not only liturgical, that acknowledgement of the validity of the pre-conciliar liturgy in the life of today’s Church was only a preliminary step to opening the door to the doctrinal discussions. Both ‘sides’ now acknowledge that the time has come for doctrinal discussions, and this is why the PCED is being connected to the CDF.

  48. Corleone says:

    The pope further acknowledged…that it was “our Jewish friends who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore [an] atmosphere of friendship and trust. . . .”

    Personally, the thing that struck me on this whole episode was the same factionalism we see in our church was present in greater Judaism as well. When the Venetian Rabbis denounced the pope/Vatican’s move, the other more conservative Rabbis countered immediately and said this in no way damaged or set-back Catholic-Jewish relations to date. I think in ANY major religion, there will always be stone-throwers who seek to gain more fame, notoriety or legitimacy by galvanizing certain factions for support.

    Thinking back, I think the last time the International Jewish community got so peeved was when St Edith Stein was canonized. Same bissl, different Pope.

  49. Merriweather says:

    Well said Brian Mershon.

  50. Michael J says:

    I fail to understand the almost pathological desire of many to label and categorize an individual. Cannot actions and words be evaluated on their own without trying to shoehorn them into a particular category? Couple that with a subjective and changing definition of the category paves the way for dehumanizing the labeled person.

    Is it intellectual laziness or something more sinister at work I wonder?

    Food for thought:

    Those who insist that Bishop Willaimson fits the subjective definition of “Holocaust Denier” and those who insist that George Weigel fits the subjective definition of “Neo Conservative” – both “BAD THINGS” – exhibit the same behavior (on a much lesser scale) that allowed the Holocaust to happen in the first place.

  51. Nuggen says:

    “an international crank named Richard Williamson, was a longtime Jew-baiter who had recently indulged in the most grotesque form of holocaust denial”

    I didn’t even get past the quote above. And this guy is a revered “theologian” and “author”?

    Oh hey Weigel! I can call people names, too. But in order to keep my integrity, I will refrain from doing so.

    Ok, I had to get that out of my system, I will now go and finish reading it.

  52. Brian Mershon says:

    From Commentary from Fathers of the Church from the Haydock Bible Commentary on today’s Gospel reading: Mat 21:33-46

    Ver. 33. A certain master of a family, &c. This master is God; the vineyard, the Jews; the husbandmen, the Jewish priests; the servants, God’s prophets, sent from time to time: the son, called (Mark xii. 6,) his only and most dear son, is our Saviour Jesus Christ, whom they persecuted to death. (Witham) — By this parable, our Saviour teaches the Jews that the providence of God had wonderfully watched over them from the beginning, that nothing had been omitted to promote their salvation, and that notwithstanding his prophets had been put to most cruel deaths, still the Almighty was not turned away from them, but had at length sent down his only Son, who should suffer at their hands the inexpressible ignominies and tortures of his cross and passion. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxix.)

    Ver. 37. They will reverence, &c. This is not said, as if God were ignorant what the Jews would do to his only begotten Son, since in this very place he declares that they would condemn him to death; but, to shew what they ought to have done, and what he had a right to expect from them. (Nicholas of Lyra.)

    Ver. 38. Heir. From this text, it appears that the princes of the Jews knew Jesus to be the Messias, and that it was only through envy and malice they were so blinded as not to acknowledge him for the Son of God. When, therefore, the apostle says, (1 Corinthians ii. 8,) If they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; this, it is probable, must be understood of the common people, since we can hardly believe that the princes of the people were ignorant of it, as Christ had so repeatedly inculcated this truth, that he even says himself they had no excuse, and were only actuated by hatred against him and his Father. (St. John xv. 22.) (Tirinus) — Inheritance, &c. It appears from St. John xi. that one of the motives why the Jews killed our Saviour was, lest if they let him live, all men should believe, and the Romans should come and destroy their nation. But the very means they took to secure their kingdom to themselves, hastened their downfall, and eventually caused their ruin; since in punishment of their crucifying Jesus Christ, their city and state were completely ruined under the Roman emperors Titus and Vespasian. (Nicholas of Lyra.)

    Ver. 41. He will bring those evil men to an evil end. This answer was made by some of them. Yet St. Luke (xx. 16,) tells us, that others among them, (whom we may take to be the Scribes and Pharisees) cried out, God forbid; seeing well enough that this was a prediction of their future ruin. (Witham) — If we compare this text with St. Luke, it will appear that it was from the midst of the people that this answer was given, which was confirmed by Jesus Christ, and at which the high priests were so indignant, because they saw clearly it must fall upon themselves. (Bible de Vence)

    Ver. 42. The head of the corner. By these words, (Psalm cxvii,) which the Jews themselves expounded of their Messias, Christ shewed them, that although they, who should have been the architects, had rejected him, yet he should be the chief corner-stone to unite the Jews and the Gentiles, converted into one Christian Church, militant on earth and triumphant in heaven. See Acts iv. 11. (Witham) — St. Augustine remarks, that this parable was addressed not only to the opponents of Christ’s authority, but likewise to the people.

    Ver. 43. The kingdom of God shall be taken from you. By this dreadful conclusion he tells them in plain terms, that they shall be forsaken, and punished for their blindness and obstinacy. (Witham)

    Ver. 45. They understood that he spoke of them. This parable, though immediately addressed to the Jews, contains an admirable instruction for Christians. For, what the Jews have suffered for their wickedness and ingratitude, has also been the fate of many Christian kingdoms, and the mournful lot of many once flourishing happy churches, whose candlesticks are removed, and light extinct. The same conduct God observes with regard to particular persons, in punishment of their repeatedly abusing his graces; he at last withdraws them, and leaves the culprit to himself, and to the miserable consequences of this merited privation of grace.

    ____________________

  53. Jordanes says:

    . . . . but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

    In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

  54. Brian Mershon says:

    Cute. And as usual, all knowing, all appearing “Jordanes” (formerly “Jordan”), you are completely blameless in this “rabbit hole” leading.

    Yes, commentary from the Church Fathers on today’s Gospel reading that relates directly to the topic George Weigel addressed in his letter is such a “rabbit hole.”

  55. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    You hit the nail square on its head when you talk about the palpable haste in Weigel’s piece, and you are also on the mark when you note that haste did not allow Weigel to consider fully either the substance or the tone of some important passages.

    I do not, however, sense the intolerance that you sense.

    George’s knowledge of and respect for the constancy of Catholic truth are well known.

    On balance, therefore, I think it best to attribute any appearance of intolerance to the infelicity of expression and uncharacteristic lack of full consideration that brought about the piece you have criticized.

    C.

  56. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    “the Lefebvrist [sic] movement, tilts toward forms of doctrinal dissent more typically found on the Catholic Left….The unmistakable implication is that there will be no reconciliation or restoration of full communion until the Lefebvrist leadership acknowledges Vatican II as an authentic expression of Catholic faith”

    Let’s leave aside the questionable claim that SSPX reservations about some V2 teachings on religious freedom are comparable to the dissent that one finds on the “Catholic left”. The fact remains that dissenters on the left are in “full communion.” Why does Weigel want a more rigorous standard for the SSPX? Does he really believe that the V2 teaching on religious freedom is more important than any other teaching of the faith? For the record, I have a great deal of trouble with the way in which documents like Nostra Aetate are interpreted. In particular, I resent the implication that is often made by NA enthusiasts that the CHurch was anti-Semitic before this document. Have I excommunicated myself by virtue of my NA-skepticism?

    I once heard Weigel say (on EWTN, I think) that we Catholics can teach Muslims how to respect religious freedom and live in a pluralistic state because we were where they are now until Vatican II. I found that statement ridiculous and offensive on so many levels, but most of all because of what it said about his views on the pre-V2 church.

  57. Aaron says:

    Aaron,
    I am at a loss for words. What can you possibly mean the SSPX is not Roman Catholic? -Comment by Pete

    As the Holy Father said in his letter:

    “In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”

  58. meg says:

    Thank you Brian Mershon for this clarity: “The question is do we view the Traditional doctrine of the Church through the lens of Vatican II OR do we view Vatican II through the lens of Tradition. This Pope has repeatedly stated that Vatican II should be viewed “in light of Tradition.”

    Weigel was a teenager when VII hit and he swallowed it hook, line and sinker. He doesn’t have the heart of a Traditionalist and so will never understand the Pope’s views on the SSPX enough to write about them with real insight.

  59. Tom says:

    One has to realize that Weigel is backed by money, much of it secular.
    He isn’t published all over the place because of any profound insight.

  60. Jason Keener says:

    George Weigel says a few good things here, but he isn’t an expert on the hermeneutic of continuity. It seems Weigel is accustomed to making the Second Vatican Council into some kind of superdogma. What bothers me most is that Weigel often addresses the Church’s teaching on religious liberty in his writings, but I never see him mention or emphasize the part of “Dignitatis Humane” that states, “it leaves untouched the traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and SOCIETIES toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.” (#1)

    The Second Vatican Council, while rightly pointing out man’s civil right to be free from coercion in matters of religion, still promoted the doctrine of the Social Kingship of Christ when it made explicit mention that societies have a moral duty towards the true religion.

  61. Merriweather says:

    @Aaron

    You’re views are at variance with those of the Holy Father. Get with the program. Just because, as a group, they do not have canonical status, doesn’t mean that they are not Roman Catholic. Furthermore, they were canonically dissolved violated canon law–hopefully, that will soon be rectified as well, as it is a matter of justice.

  62. MargaretMN says:

    Wow, all the harshing on Weigel, who is a thoughtful man and a good writer. But we all have our off days and this is probably one of them. I think he really did intend to put “left” and “right” schisms in the balance and blasted the anonymous people in the Vatican Communications office so that the Pope could remain above reproach. And speaking of PR, this reminds me of a particular kind of positioning that Politicians and others will do. They go way out of their way to condemn somebody in order to mark territory as “beyond the pale” for some larger purpose. The purpose here is to dramatically denounce anti-semitism because the church has been attacked on that basis by many for years. And injury to the Church’s reputation is most to be avoided.

    And the Holy Father, being German, and with the scurrilous “Hitler Youth” allegations attached to him must be defended against them too. (The Germans got it right away–he was probably attacked most viciously over the Williamson episode in his own homeland, which is more than a little heartbreaking). Perhaps I am being too political and not religious enough. Certainly all the work that John Paul II did to dispel the clouds of anti-Semitic had to be honored and reasserted too.

  63. Merriweather says:

    @MargaretMN

    “The purpose here is to dramatically denounce anti-semitism because the church has been attacked on that basis by many for years.”

    Unjustifiably so. To hear the liberals tell it, the Church was anti-semitic until V2.

    The key is, what is a fixed definition of ‘anti-semitism’? The secularists like to keep the definition fuzzy so they can denounce anyone who says something they don’t like, ie Pat Buchanan.

  64. Athelstane says:

    Fr. Z observes: The piece has marks of haste, including the typos we who work under stress often slip into with the willing pushes of Titivillus.

    I think it’s hard to avoid that conclusion.

    The SSPX remains unfortunately outside of Weigel’s sympathies, and I understand the umbrage that many here take at some of Weigel’s more inflammatory characterizations. I also understand there’s a fair amount of daylight between his view of the Catholic understanding of Church and state relations and that of many traditionalists – and if the latter are too eager to overlook the flaws of the ancien regime, it is also true that Weigel at times reads a little (or more than little) too much John Courtney Murray into Dignitatis Humanae – an excessive sanguinity about the compatibility of the American experiment and Catholic political theology.

    To be sure, Weigel is a conservative, not a traditionalist. But most of his fire is directed at liberals within the Church, and when he does, I think praise and thanks should be issued when they’re merited. Let’s not raise the temperature of the debate any higher than it already is.

  65. Philip-Michael says:

    George Weigel is not a theologian. He is not a bishop, priest or deacon. He is a shoddy historian. He is not a philosopher. He is not a canonist. He wrote a crumby biography of JPII that rambled on about nothing for some innumerable amount of pages that makes Augustine’s “City of God” seem brief. When will the world wake up and realize that “we just don’t care what George Weigel has to say!”?

  66. Patrick says:

    I don’t understand the lashing out at anyone who says a negative word about the SSPX. The SSPX has done more to ruin the name of Tradition than any other group ever. After their schismatic act of 1988, they opened a wide door for every liberal bishop to label anyone with traditionalist leanings as “schismatic”. Suddenly, someone who desired anything traditional could just be labeled as a schismatic wacko and dismissed. Gee, thanks Lefebvre et al, that really helped. They destroyed any credibility of the traditionalist movement within the Church. And yet, there are some here who fawn over them as though they could do no wrong. Ever. The spittle-flecked defenses of Bishop Williamson and the calling of his critics “Liars” are, well, insane. A prudent, rational move might be to acknowledge that Williamson was wrong and stupid but, at the same time, rejoice at the Holy Father’s actions to reunite the Church and bring the SSPX home. Defending tradition doesn’t mean defending the SSPX, or especially defending Williamson. Stop making them the poster children of Tradition. Make the thousands of great priests, and men like Card. Siri and Ratzinger your heroes.

  67. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:

    Weigel clearly has no respect for the SSPX and holds the four bishops in utter disdain. His act gets tiresome after a while as because of one papal biography he has set himself up as the lead spokesperson for Catholicism in America.

  68. boredoftheworld says:

    Suddenly, someone who desired anything traditional could just be labeled as a schismatic wacko and dismissed.

    Patrick,

    There was no “suddenly” about it in 1988. Talk to traddies who were around during the 70s and early 80s, look at the articles and books written during that same time. People have forgotten (or like me, never knew first hand) how bad things were, and I think that’s a problem.

    In order to understand the sympathy many people have for the SSPX I think we must also understand the situation that most people found themselves in during the 70s and 80s, long before the episcopal consecrations.

  69. ssoldie says:

    Well said and so true ‘Corleone’ 3/3 12:58. A truly wonderful “Saint Benedicta”, we would do well to pray to her and ask for her intercession, that we may love the embrace the Catholic faith as much as she did.

  70. Merriweather says:

    @Patrick

    You obviously have no clue what you’re talking about. There wouldn’t be a Traditionalist movement without +Lefebvre.

  71. Corleone says:

    Merriweather – that is very uncharitable. Patrick is entitled to his opinion on the subject. And IMHO, it is people of YOUR opinion which brought about the current situation. If the “Traditionalist movement” is indeed inspired by the holy spirit, which I truly believe it is, then no man is responsible for it. If it is a fad or a folley, then you can attribute that to any man you’d like. The point being, while I acknowledge Lefebvre’s early works were for the good of the church, and indeed agreeable to the Vatican, he unfortunately let his pride and ego cloud his judgement by dissenting and thumbing his nose at the magesterium. And I personally believe that had Lefebvre never existed, there would still be a “Traditionalist movement” alive today, albeit with a different head or poster-boy. Perhaps one who was even more loyal and humble enough to have never allowed things to happen as they did.

    You are allowed to disagree, but you also owe Patrick an apology.

  72. Patrick says:

    Merriweather,

    It is you who misunderstand. I never said there would be no Traditionalist movement without Arch. Lefebvre (although there would be, there were other bishops nurturing traditionalist priests). My point is that there would DEFINITELY be a traditionalist movement even without his schismatic act. His schismatic act did NOTHING to help the movement. It only hurt the movement by branding “traditionalism” with “schism” to the entire world. That was a decidedly unhelpful thing for the traditionalist movement.

    I might also add, in future posts you could perhaps write more charitably in your responses. God bless.

  73. Merriweather says:

    @Corleone

    I have nothing to apologize for. This statement from Patrick, “The SSPX has done more to ruin the name of Tradition than any other group ever.” is an outrage.

    As for, are you a soul reader? You dare accuse +Lefebvre of pride and having an over sized ego? Of not being humble enough? What an outrageous slander. I seriously doubt the Holy Father would say those things about him.

    Besides +Lefebvre and +Castro, what other bishops were insisting on the TLM? It was because of them that there was an ’84 indult, which was *still* not right, since it didn’t conform to the truth that those bishops and faithful always maintained—that the mass had never been abrogated. *The MP completely vindicates +Lefebvre’s resistance*.

    What other group was vocally asking the Holy Father to free the Mass for *all priests*? The SSPX was castigated for not taking a deal, but they didn’t want a deal just for them, they wanted the Mass for everyone. It’s a matter of justice.

    If it makes you feel better to fantasize that someone else would have done the same thing, if +Lefebvre hadn’t been around, fine…but if what you say is true, why is it that only one other bishop had the guts to join him in his refusal to say the new mass?

  74. Merriweather says:

    @Patrick

    It wasn’t a “schismatic act”…it is impossible to accuse +Lefebvre of schismatic intentions, based on his own statements about his actions, which we must accept at face value, and also because the pope has recently declared that *he* does not believe it to have been a schismatic act, rather an act that poses a danger of schism. Not the same thing at all. (“An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism.”)

    “It only hurt the movement by branding “traditionalism” with “schism” to the entire world. That was a decidedly unhelpful thing for the traditionalist movement.”

    Whose fault is that? The calumniators who spread the lie. It is not the mission of the traditionalist to be loved by the world. If +Lefebvre had been given his day in court (so to speak) while he was still alive, that charge could have been dealt with then, but he wasn’t.

    “I might also add, in future posts you could perhaps write more charitably in your responses. God bless.”

    I will, if you will agree to take your own advice.

  75. Corleone says:

    Merriwether – your tone is far too angry and hostile to be taken seriously for the purposes of discussion. May I kindly remind you this is the period of Lent. When you want to tone down the hostility/name-calling/accusations we can have an intelligent conversation.

    God bless.

  76. Gerry says:

    Yes, you’re being unfair. Not only to Weigel, but to the truth. Pray as you might, you can’t blame the fiasco on the Lefties. One word – google.

  77. Merriweather says:

    @Corleone

    Hello pot, meet the kettle.

    My tone is angry? I’m not the calumniating a holy archbishop who gave his life for the Church. Not humble? hmph.

    I suppose it is easy to say things about people you don’t know, and judge them the way you have, but what is really laughable, is when called out on it, you pull out the charity club.

    Anyone who is interested can look at the rooms and only possessions of this proud egomaniac lacking in humility:

    http://www.seminaire-econe.ch/gbcom/doc/memoriam/pl2.htm

  78. DR says:

    I too have lost much respect for George Weigel. He seems to have a personal axe to grind against Traditionalists (with a capital “T”) that is clouding his judgment here. It borders on bigotry.

  79. RBrown says:

    I too have lost much respect for George Weigel. He seems to have a personal axe to grind against Traditionalists (with a capital “T”) that is clouding his judgment here. It borders on bigotry.
    Comment by DR

    Weigel is a good man, but his vision of the Church seems to exclude liturgy as the driving force (source and summit) in the life of the Church.

    As SC.10 put it, 10 . . . the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.