CDF Prefect Archbp. Müller: “the hermeneutic of reform” is “only possible interpretation”

My old pastor, the late Msgr. Schuler used to say that “You can go into the ditch on either side of the road, left or right.  Either way, you are still in a ditch.”

This has been my concern about some members and followers of the SSPX.  Can they wind up stuck in the ditch, but on the opposite side of the road from where the LCWR and NCR and Tablistas are mired?  I think that is possible, yes.

I don’t think it is all that easy to get yourself into the ditch, since Holy Church is pretty flexible when it comes to some things.  Not so much in others, of course.  And it is easier by far to go off the road to the left.  The shoulder tilts over there and the Enemy of the Soul, it seems to me, is generally ignored on that side, to the peril of all who stray thither.

When in December 2005 the Holy Father spoke to the Roman Curia about a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” – one of the most important acts of his pontificate, by the way  – he was actually talking about modern theologians, not the traditionalists who refuse it the “left”, to stick with the political label for brevity.  In fact, I think the Pope was actually carrying on a polemic against Rahner and his allies and legacy.  But the fact is, discontinuity and rupture can also take place with the refusal of new authentic magisterial teachings.  The road has a ditch on both sides.

From the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, comes this, with my emphases and comments.

Prefect of the CDF says seeing Vatican II as a ‘rupture’ is heresy

By Carol Glatz

Traditionalist and progressive camps that see the Second Vatican Council as a “rupture” both espouse a “heretical interpretation” of the Council and its aims, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said. [That’s sure to win hearts far and wide!  But it is refreshing to see the word “heretical”.]

Archbishop Gerhard Müller said that what Pope Benedict XVI has termed “the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity” is the “only possible interpretation according to the principles of Catholic theology”.  [I can see now what some on the left are going to do with this.  They will say that Muller says that if you don’t agree with the Pope on Vatican II, then you are a heretic.  They won’t make any distinctions about the actual texts in question.  Thinking they have scored a point against traddies, they will lose sight of the fact that they themselves are pretty far from the Pope’s view of Vatican II.  Moreover, the Holy Father’s interpretation of Vatican II texts isn’t right merely because it is the interpretation of the Holy Father.  That helps, of course, when it comes to revealed truth.  But there are sound ways to interpret the Church’s documents and bad ways.  This Pope is right because he grasps the correct way of interpretation apart from the fact that he is also given the graces of the Petrine Office.]

Outside this sole orthodox interpretation unfortunately exists a heretical interpretation, that is, a hermeneutic of rupture, [found] both on the progressive front and on the traditionalist” side, the archbishop said.

[And now what I have been saying for years here…]What the two camps have in common, he said, is their rejection of the council: “The progressives in their wanting to leave it behind, as if it were a season to abandon in order to get to another Church, and the traditionalists in their not wanting to get there”, seeing the council as a Catholic “winter”.  [Sadly, heresy and other problems creep in through stressing points that are true.  In a sense, we have to get on with things, a liberals want.  But in truth that is because Vatican II, over now for close to 50 years, wasn’t nearly as important in the list of Councils as they think it was.  On the other side, since the Vatican II wasn’t nearly as important as many think, those on the traditionalist side must absorb it, stop insisting that it either isn’t a Council or that it must be interpreted in the most negative light possible, and move along with the rest.]

A “Council presided over by the successor of Peter as head of the visible Church” is the “highest expression” of the Magisterium, he said, to be regarded as part of “an indissoluble whole”, along with Scripture and 2,000 years of tradition.  [That doesn’t mean that everything issued by the Council is of equal weight or value.]

The doctrinal chief’s remarks were published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, to present the seventh volume of The Complete Works of Joseph Ratzinger. The volume collects both published and unpublished notes, speeches, interviews and texts written or given by the future pope in the period shortly before, during and just after Vatican II.

Archbishop Müller specified that by “continuity” Pope Benedict meant a “permanent correspondence with the origin, not an adaption of whatever has been, which also can lead the wrong way”.

The term “aggiornamento” or updating – one of the watchwords of the Council – “does not mean the secularisation of the faith, which would lead to its dissolution”, but a “making present” of the message of Jesus Christ, he said.  [Hear that, Fishwrap?]

This “making present” is the “reform necessary for every era in constant fidelity to the whole Christ”, he said.

“The tradition of apostolic origin continues in the Church with help from the Holy Spirit,” he said, and leads to greater understanding through contemplation and study, intelligence garnered from a deeper experience of the spiritual, and preaching by those who through the “apostolic succession have received an assured charism of truth”.

To my mind, just as deadly, if not more deadly, is a ignorance of the Faith of which Pope Benedict spoke to French bishops during their “ad limina” visit.  HERE.  This is something of which the people in the left-side ditch are far more guilty than those in the right-side ditch.

BOTTOM LINE:

If we want the Holy Father and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to correct liberals who are going into the ditch on the left, then we must also want correction for those straying to the right side of the road as well.

That is the trend I am seeing since the new Prefect has taken up his office at the Holy Office.

Moreover, were I a liberal, I’d be far more worried than any traditionalist needs to be.

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41 Responses to CDF Prefect Archbp. Müller: “the hermeneutic of reform” is “only possible interpretation”

  1. StWinefride says:

    to convoke a General Council, except when absolutely demanded by necessity, is to tempt God”.

    Henry Cardinal Manning

  2. Imrahil says:

    Fwiw:

    The traditionalist interpretation has nothing to do with a heresy. Unless it is a dogma that the Second Vatican Council did not contain instances where either doctrine or in a striking way practice was changed.

    Some might say: “Well, this is the reform within continuity.” True. I certainly see such a changing as regards religious freedom; I think it changed what was in Magisterium very near to an error, and in theology was an error, into the right direction. On another thing, Sacrosanctum Concilium in all details is highly traditional, but nevertheless it is explicit that it does want a rupture without specifying wahtever that may consist in (except: “no Primes”, which itself seems rupturous enough), and this rupture did come too (the historical development, and the Pope that supervised it, has some authority as interpreter). Other than the reform on religious freedom, I’m inclined to more criticism of this reform.

    But the point is: Other than the distinction between continuity and rupture, the distinction between reform-within-continuity and rupture does not have this gap you can build anathemas with; it is basically a language question in which he who likes the thing will use a nicer expression and he who doesn’t won’t.

    Please please do not let this issue be aggravated by a friendlyness-of-language dispute.

  3. Imrahil says:

    An addition: While it is nice to see the word “heretical” again, we might expect the Prefect of the Holy Office (the CDF is, still, a tribunal also that deals with, amongst other things, heresy, see the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus) to use them only in cases when he might as well sentence a defendant guilty of the said crime.

    Even the left-ditch people are heretics only if they, in a given case, believe the Second Vatican Council (or whatever else) changed a dogma (or that they won’t believe it anymore anyway).

  4. anilwang says:

    I’ll have to agree. Ironically the two extremes feed off each other. Take for instance LG 16 which states that non-Catholics (and even non-Christians) can be saved. Both extremes point to this to show that Vatican II is a rupture to tradition and thus their position is valid.

    What both sides will not admit is that quote is taken out of context. Immediately following this quote is a statement that most people on their own will reject God’s will and condemn themselves ( Rom. 1:21, 25). This nuanced understanding goes all the way back to the early Church (So many sheep without, so many wolves within – Augustine), but nuance is not what the extremes want.

    This same taking things out of context can be found in every other case proclaimed by the extremes.

    Personally, I like the Vatican II documents more than the Catechism. Take the LG 16 example, the Catechism 847-848 restatement of LG 16 is much weaker and makes it sound like being a faithful Catholic is an optional nice to have, rather than a life or death decision. Too many saints and early fathers have stressed the fewness of the saved of even Catholics for me to feel comfortable about any weakening of the language.

  5. Imrahil says:

    Dear @anilwang, LG does say that many do not follow their conscience etc., in other words that they sin. It does not say that these many are condemned…

    On the other thing, a binding tradition as regards fewness of the saved does not exist. (No fear, reverend dear @Fr Z, I will not comment on that any more detailed in this combox…)

  6. kgurries says:

    I like the ditch on either side of the road analogy. I am sure the Archbishop chose his words very carefully and did not make use of the term lightly. Either way, rupture theology is a heresy.

  7. wolfeken says:

    Heresy is the denial of formal dogma. (Which is why some used the word heretic to describe Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller when he wrote some crazy things on dogmatic issues before heading CDF.)

    Vatican II is not dogma. It was a pastoral council, twice defined that way by John XXIII and Paul VI. The Council of Trent, on the other hand, was a dogmatic council. Should we start investigating who denies the binding writings from that council? (Please do.)

    If Archbishop Müller continues to poke fingers in the eyes of traditionalists, there will never be Christian Unity. I cannot imagine him ever saying these things with respect to the schismatic Anglicans and schismatic Orthodox. [Let the CofE “ordain” women bishops and see what the CDF says. You also seem to be grouping the SSPX with schismatics. Perhaps not intentional.]

  8. frahobbit says:

    Fishwrap just (?) put out an anniversary edition celebrating the Council, which I received from my franciscan group. I only glanced at it but they appear very dissatisfied with things in the church now. I have no idea how to approach members of my group who are all goggle-eyed about it. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t know how to BE in my group anymore.

  9. MichaelJ says:

    I do not understand the use of the term “heretical” either, as refreshing as it might be to hear. I do not seehow this moniker can be applied to those in either camp. Is it truly heresy to believe that a Church Council proposed something that was, in fact, false? As anilwang mentions above, the Council proposed that non-Catholics can be saved, but did not bind us to believe it. In fact, as wolfeken noted, it took great pains to note that it was not defining any dogma.

    So, if I continue to believe that only Catholics will be saved, I can, I am sure, be accused of many things, but heresy?

  10. Jack Orlando says:

    Archbishop Müller’s observation on extremes “both on the progressive front and on the traditionalist” is a fact. The lay of the land could be likely this:

    I. The Liberals:
    1. The heretical ultra-Liberals of the faux-aggiornamento/Concilium school. These are Müller’s “progressive front”, and they hate Summorum pontificum. These are the “LCWR and NCR and Tablistas”. They indeed do resemble the Ultra-Traditonalist by rejecting the V2; the latter are simply honest about their rejection.
    2. The heterodox “anything goes” school, which doesn’t oppose Summorum pontificum, because it is part of “anything”

    II. The Conservatives, including the ressourcement/Communio school:
    1. those who support V2 and accept the Bugnini Mass, yet otherwise orthodox in Dogmatic and Moral Theology, and who believe V2 must be interpreted in terms of tradition. Most of these support Summorum pontificum; a few don’t.
    2. those who accept all of II.1. except the Bugnini Mass, which they say is not what V2 called for.

    III. The Traditionalists:
    1. those in Group II. who simply wish the available option of the Extraordinary Form Mass
    2. those in Group II. who wish the Extraordinary Form of the Mass to replace the Bugnini Mass
    3. the heretical ultra-traditionalists, who utterly reject V2, what came after V2, and any theology other than Thomist Scholasticism. These are Müller’s “traditionalist” front.

    Holy Father and the Archbishop Müller I think are in Group II., and because they can read Sacrosanctum concilium, they are likely II.2.

  11. brianvzn says:

    I really need help. I have read the Documents of Vatican II numerous times. I have read Iota Unum, Pope John’s Council, and The Rhine flows into the Tiber. I honestly do not understand how one can say there is no rupture. Joseph Ratzinger himself wrote that Gaudium et Spes is a counter-syllabus. Is that not rupture?

    Can anyone suggest reading I can do to help me understand how the Documents of Vatican II are not contrary to previous councils and encyclicals?

    As for seeing the word “heresy”, should it not be used anymore to describe Protestants? What about those who claim to be Catholic but believe in there is salvation outside the Church? What about those who question other dogmas?

  12. Jack Orlando says:

    To deny the teaching authority (Magisterium) of an Ecumenical Council, and to deny that this authoritative teaching binds Catholics, is to be heretical. Teachings both doctrinal and pastoral bind us. That I attend Sunday Mass is a pastoral teaching. Am I free to deny that this binds me? I hope that it will be soon a pastoral teaching to eat meatless on Fridays. Would I be free to disobey? Would I not then be a “Cafeteria Catholic”?

    To say that only Catholics will be saved (unless one wants to define “Catholic” in a particular way), is heresy. When my new Denzinger finally arrives, I’ll give the number.

  13. Bev says:

    Muller is making an issue out of a non-issue. If V2 contained heresy, it was a break with the past — and traditionalists continue to believe the dogmas of the Catholic Church. If V2 did not contain heresy, only appears to contain heresy, then traditionalists are simply mistaken about the meaning of the documents but still believe what the Church teaches. Either way, we believe what the Church teaches and reject what the Church rejects.

    V2 was not a dogmatic council, so it is possible that it contained heresy and it does appear, at least on surface, to have such heresy. Sure, maybe some find uncomfortable ways of understanding the documents to clear away error. If Muller wants to take that position, fine. But if he is honest, he still has to admit that what the traditionalists object to is heresy, not the contorted but legitimate understanding of the documents he supposedly presents.

  14. kgurries says:

    To interpret the documents of Vatican II in such a way that the supreme magisterium is understood to have defected from Catholic truth by promoting errors against the Faith is the essence of the problem (hermeneutic of rupture). The very notion runs counter to Catholic dogma — and that is what prompts the Archbishop to use the harsh terminology.

  15. contrarian says:

    Bev,
    Very well said.

    I might also, with respect, take slight issue with this:

    “Moreover, were I a liberal, I’d be far more worried than any traditionalist needs to be.”

    Well, if we mean that the Catholic Church is not going to change its stance on women clergy, married clergy, contraception, or homosex, then I suppose that the libs should be upset.
    But a random Latin Mass here or there shouldn’t really concern the libs, who have simply won, and continue to win, the hearts and minds of the faithful with their sanitized conception of the Faith offered in the NO Mass. The NO Mass ain’t going away anytime soon. So the libs shouldn’t be *that* worried.

  16. anilwang says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    It says much more than than people violate their conscious. It says “But often men, deceived by the Evil One, … have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator….Wherefore to promote the glory of God and PROCURE THE SALVATION of all of these…the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.”. The scripture being quoted (Romans 1:18-32) supports this contrast.

    It is true that a binding tradition as regards fewness of the saved does not exist. However, it has been a near universal doctrine since the Early Church until the modern world, were most of us are too distracted to even think of God (i.e. we care more about created things rather than the Creator). I can easily find an encyclopedia full of homilies and other Church writings that declare this to be true. But I’d have a much harder time finding pre-Vatican II writings and homilies the support the position that most are saved.

    I personally don’t like this tradition and I hope it’s just an overblown fear…especially since I have family members who are good and loving people but are extremely negligent in their faith. But the last thing I want to do on judgment day is to be confronted by Christ because I was guilty of the sin of presumption, and that sin put myself and everyone I know in danger of perdition.

  17. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The term “aggiornamento” or updating – one of the watchwords of the Council – “does not mean the secularisation of the faith, which would lead to its dissolution”, but a “making present” of the message of Jesus Christ, he said. [Hear that, Fishwrap?]

    This “making present” is the “reform necessary for every era in constant fidelity to the whole Christ”, he said.”

    Then, why, by that logic, does the Church not have a Council for every new era? The problem is that there is no such thing as, “The Modern World.” Each new era is the next modern world, so Gaudium et specs should be, “The Church in the world of 1963.” That world doesn’t exist, anymore. When is the next Council scheduled for?

    The Chicken

  18. MichaelJ says:

    Jack, I could agree with your asserttion that “To deny the teaching authority (Magisterium) of an Ecumenical Council, and to deny that this authoritative teaching binds Catholics, is to be heretical” , although I awit your citations.
    That being said, nobody has demonstrated that the Vatican II council chose to teach anything at all.

  19. anilwang says:

    contrarian,

    Truth be known, none of us know the fate of TLM or NO Mass. There are however some signs that NO Masses tend to have a lower retention rate than TLM, and TLM continues to grow, the NO Mass goes well beyond what was called for by Vatican II, the new Roman Missal was well received, liturgical abuses have a much lower tolerance now, and the trend (inspired by the current Pope) is for the NO Mass to adopt more and more of the TLM. If the next Pope is of the same mindset as this one, one can expect this trend to accelerate since the next Pope will not have to fight the battles this one has on the liturgy, and that Pope will not have to gamble or convince anyone that the laity will walk away if the NO Mass is improved, since experience shows otherwise.

    Whatever happens, liberals *do* need to worry about both the NO and TLM.

  20. onosurf says:

    Regarding the charge of heresy, the SSPX would simply state the following: is a position heretical if it follows catholic dogma held by all previous (to VII) popes, the church doctors and all the saints?

    Fr. Z, your post seems to imply that you agree with the charge of heresy with regard to the SSPX. Can you be specific? No worries on the progressives, they are protestants…are the SSPX?

    Thanks,

    Ono

  21. jhayes says:

    In the document linked in the post, Benedict points out that in reading earlier statements of the magisterium (for example those of Pius IX) we need to distinguish between principles and their application to a problem of a particular time (he calls them “contingent” applications).

    In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church’s faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the “hypothesis of God” superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic….

    The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.

    And

    In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.

    On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

    Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change.

  22. Jack Orlando says:

    Thank you, kgurries, at 30 November 2012 at 12:22 pm! You’ve said what I wanted to say far better than I.

  23. contrarian says:

    Hi anilwang,
    “… the new Roman Missal was well received, liturgical abuses have a much lower tolerance now, and the trend (inspired by the current Pope) is for the NO Mass to adopt more and more of the TLM.”

    I hope when you mean ‘adopt more and more of the TLM’ that you mean the prayers therein. One could make the point (indeed, I’m poorly wording a point better made by a zillion people) that we have only begun to address the problems of the NO once we get rid of Haugen, ad libbing, communion on the hand, and handholding during the Our Father.

  24. tominrichmond says:

    Most of the Council is innocuous puffery pastoral, and can be safely ignored and moved beyond.

    But there are a few serious *apparent* breaks with the Magisterium (the allowance of public dissemination of heresy as a fundamental human right; the claim that the Church of Christ merely “subsists in” and not simply “is” the Catholic Church).

    So the facile attempt of Muller to paint both supposed “extremes” against a theoretical middle position of assumed but yet unproven continuity speaks more of his devotion to Hegelian dialectics than to any reality… you know, thesis (left ditch), antithesis (right ditch), synthesis (“continuity”). Facially appealing perhaps but not in accord with reality.

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  26. Brian2 says:

    There is more to the Hegelian aufhebung than thesis, antithesis, synthesis. I wish people that threw around the word, particularly in this context, would make a serious study of Hegel. How exactly does Vatican II relate to the march of spirit through history, the immanentized eschaton and overcoming of unhappy consciousness discussed in Hegels “phenomenology of Spirit”? do they want to say that Mueller and Bxvi accept these things, because that’s what Hegelian means, not thesis, antithesis, synthesis. hegelianism in Catholic theology is a very bad thing, but I don’t see it in either of those two, nor in the hermeneutic of continuity and reform (I do see it, however, in ultra liberal hermeneutic of discontinuity types.

    For what it’s worth, Hegel only uses the trio of thesis, antithesis and synthesis in one of his very early works on logic. It is not carried over into his more mature and widely read texts: philosophy of right, phenomenology of spirit, philosophy of history and so on. Even his later works on logic don’t use that terminology

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    This really got interesting when I got to this line, which is perhaps the most interesting line in everything you have up there, Fr. Z. After this line, everything else flows from it.
    “Archbishop Müller specified that by “continuity” Pope Benedict meant a “permanent correspondence with the origin, not an adaption of whatever has been, which also can lead the wrong way”.”

    He means that we’re not on some kind of trajectory, but rather on a mission given us by the origin, who was Christ. And that all kinds of derailing, whether on the left or right, are deviations from the point. And this, of course of course, all polemics aside, is what heresy really means. From Merriam-Webster, the root of the word is from Greek: hairesis, action of taking, choice, sect, from hairein to take.

  28. asophist says:

    It simply can’t be heretical to reject V2. There aren’t any new dogmatic pronouncements within any of its texts. I don’t see how it could be heretical to be an “ultra-traditionalist” either, if one accepts all of the defined dogma of the Church. Speaking of defining things, how can I believe that the Holy Father has the “correct” interpretation of the Council, when neither he, nor any of his authoritative collaborators can explain the council clearly??? I’m still waiting to understand what a number of things in the Council mean. I’m still waiting for clarity in the speech of those in authority who talk about the Council’s meaning. This seems really fishy. It seems there is nobody in the hierarchy, including (with all due respect) the Holy Father, with the guts to say there is a problem.

  29. Imrahil says:

    Dear @anilwang,

    some comments, always trying to be short before that evolves into a rabbit hole (as I commented at some length on that in the St. Leonard article):

    The Church does indeed procure the salvation, always, anywhen. If a heathen is converted to the Faith, salvation is procured for him. He may have had a chance of 100% to attain Heaven on the contrafactual that the Faith had not reached him, but even so, the moment of his Baptism is precisely the moment salvation is procured for him. Those that are out of the Church are, at least, right now out of Salvation. (Might be a point worth focussing on.) It is true that the final chances are bettered by actual joining the Church [*], which is of course another reason for eagerness in mission. But I’ll say again that when people even got the idea that from the hypothesis “the non-Christians are saved” follows deductively “then why the need for mission”, it revealed a very huge problem with the Faith. And problems as these may for a time be held down by the fear of sin, but unsolved problems will break out in the future.

    I don’t very much like this tendency of theology either. What is more, I might boldly say that – granted I am ignorant and a sinner, etc. – I do not think God would include something in His Tradition which a Christian, not led astray by false premises (which I may well be, if you get my drift) and not suffering from mistakes in deduction (which I may well be, etc.), in good conscience can dislike.

    One does not like to need to talk like that, but as I said: Holding down questions not by answers but by a veto on posing them will not help in the long run.

    On preconciliar concepts, I do not see that the topic dominated the sermons as much as some (not you) seem to assume. It was before the Council that Fr Feeney was called to responsibility. Of course priests often scolded their flocks; after all, they needed topics for the sermon. But the Catholics always knew that the sermon is, however important, least important in the Sunday Mass; the important thing is resting before God in adoration. See also the reflection in good Catholic belletristics (I know, not the greatest argument, but still): Chesterton, Greene, and so on.

  30. Imrahil says:

    [* It is a very telling thing to me that, I believe it was Fr Karl Rahner SJ, and similar theologians, for one group of people did not cease to threat them with Hell. We hear all sorts and sorts of the salvation of the heathens, creating the image that this is pretty much a done deal; but when it comes to the Christians, we’re getting the “childs of the Kingdom thrown out” figure applied, and loads and loads of words about the additional and specific burden of being a Christian which we must be eager to bear in the joy of performing a good thing. And practically not even the image of a merit for this is created, because merit, while not denied, is not spoken of either.

    In my view, it amounts to questioning the effectivity of the Sacraments if one supposes that being a Christian makes it harder to attain salvation.]

  31. jhayes says:

    In the Instruction “Donum Veritatis”, Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the CDF, distinguished between “solid principles” and “contingent and conjectural elements” in past statements of the Magisterium:

    “24. Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. It often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent.”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19900524_theologian-vocation_en.html

  32. joan ellen says:

    I like Msgr. Schuler’s left ditch and right ditch on either side of the road. It reminds me of Cardinal George who years ago during a televised Bishops gathering said something like, “Oh, I’ve got it. Some of us are to the left and some of us are to the right of Rome. Have I got that right?”

    There are people who don’t like the idea of calling some people liberals/progressives and some others conservatives/traditionalists, because they say there is only Truth. But Rome represents that Truth, so to the left or right of Rome or a road with left and right ditches seem fitting ways to put Truth at the center of, well, everything .

    As for Vatican II and what seems ambiguous or incongruent, once again, Fr. Hardon’s writings, especially his Catechism, his Modern Catholic Dictionary, his Marian Catechist materials…etc. all seem to weave the documents of Vatican II right down the middle with Rome, right down the center of the road with Truth.

    Fr. Z says “But there are sound ways to interpret the Church’s documents and bad ways.” And he says the Holy Father enjoys certain graces because of his office, making him a reasonably reliable interpreter of dogma and doctrine.

    The teaching of the Church “Outside the Church there is no salvation” interpreted by some who read the Council Documents in a ‘bad way’, “or that it (they) must be interpreted in the most negative light”, say the Church abandoned the teaching in the Council Documents. If so, that would deprive the Holy Father the very graces he enjoys. Graces and mercy come to us because of the Cross when Jesus’ blood poured out, and where at that moment the Church was born. The Catholic Church was born on Calvary. The graces and mercy are there for anyone who desires them, but they come only from the Church. Salvation comes only thruough the Church. If graces and mercy were there for us before Jesus died, there would be no reason for Him. The teaching was not abandoned by the Vatican II Council. Not ONE iota. Nor could it be so, without being heretical.

    Not to digress, Fr. Z, but as a tiny way to sort n separate a ‘bad way’ and a ‘sound way’. In my little tiny mind.

  33. Floreat says:

    To deny the teaching authority (Magisterium) of an Ecumenical Council, and to deny that this authoritative teaching binds Catholics, is to be heretical. Teachings both doctrinal and pastoral bind us. That I attend Sunday Mass is a pastoral teaching. Am I free to deny that this binds me? I hope that it will be soon a pastoral teaching to eat meatless on Fridays. Would I be free to disobey? Would I not then be a “Cafeteria Catholic”?

    You raise a couple of interesting points, Jack….and a couple of questions:-

    (1) Assuming that you’re referring to VII as an Ecumenical Council, specifically what binding new teachings do you believe that it promulgated?

    (2) Assuming that you’re referring to the Extraordinary and Ordinary Magisteria when you write “doctrinal and pastoral teachings”….and bearing in mind that only the Extraordinary Magisterium can be free of error, what would you advise where the Ordinary Magisterium promotes a clear error – i.e. one which is in conflict with the Extraordinary Magisterium?

    (3) It is a fundamental precept of the Church, enshrined in the Catechism and in canon law, to assist at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, to receive the Eucharist during Easter and to confess one’s sins at least once a year. What would qualify this requirement as ‘pastoral’?

  34. cyrillist says:

    asophist: “I’m still waiting for clarity in the speech of those in authority who talk about the Council’s meaning.”

    Bingo. If the teachings of the Council are truly in accordance with Tradition (“hermeneutic of continuity”), then straightforward explanations bearing this out would seem to be in order, not merely bland proclamations that such is the case. The modernists and the traditionalists both agree that Vatican II looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck; their only disagreement is on whether or not a duck is a good thing. And the left-ditch-right-ditch analogy has got to go; it’s like saying, “2+2=4 is old and boring, but 2+2=22 goes too far, so let’s just compromise – 2+2=13.”

  35. Jack Orlando says:

    Reply to Floreat
    ad 1. whether old or new is irrelevant. All that V2 teaches is binding.
    ad 2. irrelevant. V2 not in conflict with earlier dogmatic teachings of the Extraordinary Magisterium. Supposed contraditions can be clarified. So can supposed ambiguities.
    ad 3. These obligations are certainly pastoral. Nor am I free to ignore or disobey them because they are pastoral.

    Ultra-Traditionalists keep saying, “If it’s pastoral, I can ignore it and do as I please.” Sounds like the extremes of Ultra-Liberals and Ultra-Traditionalst make the same argument.

  36. Jack Orlando says:

    Anyone who thinks V2 will be vacated, repealed, or nullified is living in a fantasy world. It ain’t gonna happen. What can be done is clarification. Dominus Jesus from 12 years ago is a good example of clarification with respect to extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. More clarifications will follow. Stay in the Church and ask for such clarifications, and once so clarified, accept the teaching of the Magisterium. And don’t ask for the Moon.

  37. muckemdanno says:

    Those who claim to be so loyal to Rome seem not to understand, or are simply unwilling to admit, the difference between commands of authorities which must be obeyed and statements of truth of authorities which must be believed. It is the commands (or suggestions) which are “pastoral” and can certainly be changed, reformed, or discarded, and the statements of truth which are “doctrinal” or “dogmatic” and can never be altered in the slightest.

    The “liberals” deny the dogmas which have always been taught by the Church, the “traditionalists” do no such thing. For example the “traditionalists” see an apparent (not a “supposed”) contradiction regarding the teaching on religious freedom. Those who claim loyalty to Rome insist that the “supposed” contradiction “can be” clarified.

    But, for 50 years the Church has steadfastly refused to “clarify” this apparent contradiction. It seems to me that the Church could “clarify” by stating that Dignitatis Humanae is only a pastoral suggestion on how the state should be run, given all sorts of pragmatic concerns. If the Church “clarifies” by stating that it is a dogma that men have a right to worship false gods (in contradiction to not only Pius IX, but also the 1st Commandment) then they will drive away anyone, such as myself, who actually believes in the 10 Commandments and cannot engage in Orwellian doublethink.

  38. mysticalrose says:

    @michaelj: Precisely.

    The VII documents themselves seem to be more like vague indications of a pastoral nature rather than any firm teaching or explicit doctrine. One example is Dei Verbum which states that Scripture and Tradition “flow out from the same divine wellspring and come together to form one thing … ” (I’m doing this from memory so my quote might be off). That’s a really nice image, except, what exactly does it mean?! Are Scripture and Tradition both norma normans non normata? If not, how are they different? When the issue of Scripture and Tradition was taken up at Trent, at least there was some precision involved in the definition, particularly as elaborated by Bellarmine and Canisius. This example is, I think, symptomatic of all the VII documents in general: they simply lack any kind of precision or definitive statements. Were it not for this imprecision, there would never have been a “spirit of VII” at all.

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  40. cyrillist says:

    @jack – “Anyone who thinks V2 will be vacated, repealed, or nullified is living in a fantasy world. It ain’t gonna happen.”

    Of course it won’t. The Church would never say, “Sorry, please disregard previous Council,” in any sort of official manner. However, once its architects have passed on, Vatican II may well end up in a state of salutary neglect, and regarded as a bit of a period piece – a theological Nehru jacket, if you will. Only time will tell what sort of ground the Council provided for the Seed: wayside, stony, thorny, or good. I’m guessing Door #2, Monty…

    “Stay in the Church and ask for such clarifications, and once so clarified, accept the teaching of the Magisterium.”

    Well, sure. If the clarification really clarifies. If not, then further clarification will be requested, ad infinitum if necessary, cf. the poor widow and the unjust judge.

    “And don’t ask for the Moon.”

    I would never dream of settling for anything as paltry as the moon! Eternal salvation or bust, baby!

  41. cyrillist says:

    Btw, that “if the clarification really clarifies” refers to acceptance of the teachings of the Magisterium, not to staying in the Church. I’m in for good, griping all the way… ;-)