With my emphases and comments from the recent number of RU–486 (aka The Bitter Pill aka The Tablet) in the news section for…
Faint hopes on outcome of SSPX talks
Tom Heneghan in Paris
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt in Vienna
CARDINAL ANDRÉ VINGT-TROIS, the Archbishop of Paris, has expressed scepticism about the coming doctrinal discussions at the Vatican that will examine whether the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which rejected the Second Vatican Council, can be reintegrated into the Church. [First, while I agree with "reintegrate" and not sure about "into the Church". I don’t think anyone will say that they are "out" of the Church i a definitive way. But whatever their connection with the Church, a far more manifest unity is necessary. Second, anyone can express "scepticism". As a matter of fact, I have some skepticism about both sides of the talks: the talks will require great humility and clarity of purpose. The talks must not be turned into something they are not. Moreover, I can express skepticism and still be both positive and dedicated to the idea. I think the editors and writers of RU-486 are perhaps not very positive.]
The cardinal, who is also head of the French bishops’ conference, recalled that a precondition of the discussions, clearly stated by Pope Benedict XVI, was the acceptance of Vatican II, which SSPX continues to reject. The cardinal noted that only about 20 SSPX priests had rejoined the Church since Pope Benedict began making conciliatory gestures towards the society, a fact that showed the split was not simply over liturgical questions. [First, 20 is not nothing. Second, while is a wonderful that individuals might want to come on their own, there is value is trying to get the whole group to come together. Second, I don’t think we quite know what "acceptance" means, yet. Card. Vingt-Trois is not a member of the theology commission which will talk with the SSPX about points of concern. I am not sure that His Eminence is in the very best position to know what "acceptance" means, in reference to these talks. The talks themselves are merely a step towards reintegration. The theological talks about to begin will not be able to deal every possible question.]
Despite the uproar sparked by Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio liberalising the use of the Tridentine Rite and the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops, Cardinal Vingt-Trois told journalists, “There has not been a ‘tsunami’ in French religious practice. Some arrangements have been made here and there, but overall Catholic practice in France has not been profoundly modified.” [That really isn’t anything to be very proud of, is it. First, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI think that desire for the older forms is a legitimate aspiration. Secondly, let’s admit that since Summorum Pontificum there hasn’t been a "tsunami’. Is there a tsumani of Frenchmen rushing to churches on Sundays for the Novus Ordo? What is the level of Sunday Mass attendance in France? What? 2%? Amd I wrong? Is it more? Of those who go to Mass, what percent of those would attend the older Mass if it were available? Third, if priests aren’t able to offer the older form of Mass, is that acceptable? It seems to me that a clergy ignorant of… incapable of celebrating their own Rite is not something to be very proud of.]
The German branch of SSPX this month said the Second Vatican Council had adopted the ideas of the French Revolution. In a sixpage article in their monthly newsletter they said the Catholic Church had become a “religion of brotherliness”. “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the [words] of enlighteners, freemasons, humanists and modern do-gooders which were first proclaimed by the raging masses at the French Revolution. This triumvirate of freemasonry was taken over by the Second Vatican Council albeit in a moderate form. The congruity is easy to spot. Equality means all religions are equal – that is so-called ecumenism,” they said. [Surely that was a stupid article to print, given what is going on. However, in very many cases what is passed of as "ecumenism" has in fact been much as was described. I think that is rarer and rarer now. The old generation of ecumaniacs is passing and a smarter form of ecumenism is taking form, one which is more in continuity with our Church’s teachings and traditions.]
On Wednesday evening the Swedish television network that aired an interview with SSPX’s Bishop Richard Williamson in which he denied the Holocaust, was to broadcast a follow-up documentary claiming the Vatican had known about his views before the excommunications were lifted. The state-owned channel SVT says Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said he knew of Williamson’s views and was surprised that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which oversees SSPX’s relations with Rome, did not. It also says the Catholic Bishop of Stockholm, Anders Arborelius, said he passed the information on to “the papal representation”. [All very hard to imagine. I sure knew when I worked there.]
+ Cardinal Vingt-Trois said the French Church was planning a campaign in preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II in 1962, to enable the French to refamiliarise themselves with the Council teachings. He said: “In the 1970s, we thought it was enough just to apply the conclusions of the Council. Now we see the Council is a fundamental part of the life of the Church, but putting it into practice demands a lot of integration work … We now have a majority of Catholics who weren’t born, or were just born, at the time of the Council.”
Wouldn’t it be a great way to honor the anniversary of Vatican II by urging the whole of the French hierarchy to reach out in a friendly way to the priests of the SSPX and their many followers?
If Vatican II is so great… if Vatican II is so much to be embraced… if Vatican II was such a Spirit-filled moment…. if you are convinced of these things, then why not demonstrate the great benefits of embracing Vatican II by embracing those who have trouble with some of its teachings?