Card. Pell on the SSPX and Pope Francis

Vatican Insider has an interview with Card. Pell, who is one of the Gang of 8.

In this interview the cardinal comments on the recent meeting of the Council of Cardinals with Francis, the reform of the Roman Curia, and Lefebvrist leader Bishop Fellay’s attack on the Pope
GERARD O’CONNELL
ROME

The Australian cardinal George Pell, one of the eight cardinals that Pope Francis has chosen to advice  him, agreed to talk about his experience of their historic meeting (October 1-3) with the Holy Father on the understanding that “the only substantial information” available about that gathering is what Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, gave to the media. “Anything that I might say will be peripheral to that”, he said; and “as one of the Pope’s councilors, I see that part of my task is to defend and explain the Holy Father, to support him in his role”.  [defend... explain... support]

On that basis, I interviewed him in Rome, October 17, five days after Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior-General of the Society of Saint Pius X, speaking in Kansas City, had launched a harsh attack on Pope Francis. I began by asking him to comment on that attack.

Q.  Bishop Fellay has denounced Pope Francis as “a genuine modernist”, and charged that while the Church was “a disaster” before he was elected, he is making it “10,000 times worse”. What do you say to this?

A.  To put it politely, I think that’s absolute rubbish!   Francis said he’s a loyal son of the Church, and his record shows that.  He’s very, very concerned for the day-to-day life of the people, and for those who are suffering, those not well off and those in difficult situations.  He’s a completely faithful exponent of Christ’s teaching and the Church’s tradition. [I think we will eventually have ample evidence that Pope Francis will uphold the Church's doctrine quite well.  And I remind the readers again that he speaks far more often of the Devil and of confession than previous Popes and that he excommunicated ex-Father Greg Reynolds for his promotion of women's ordination and same-sex stuff.  Yah, I don't like his liturgical approach and lack of proper decorum.  And liturgy is also theology.  Let's keep our eyes on what he does.]

Q.  So people like Fellay have completely misread Pope Francis?

A.  Yes, it is a gigantic misreading!  In actual fact, the Lefebvrists – many of them – have misread the situation for decades.  [That's a little vague.  They aren't wrong about everything.] It was to Benedict’s great credit that he tried to reconcile with them, but they didn’t respond. Now the Church today accepts the Second Vatican Council. You don’t have to accept every jot and tittle of it, but it is part of Church’s life now, there’s no way around that.  [Get that?  "You don't have to accept every jot and tittle" of Vatican II.  For example, the Council's shift concerning religious liberty is hard to work with.  The topic is hard. Why not allow for varying views in a matter that is so difficult?]

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57 Responses to Card. Pell on the SSPX and Pope Francis

  1. James C says:

    Amen to that. I wish Cardinal Pell had been running the negotiations with the SSPX, for I fear that those who were in charge might have demanded acceptance of “every jot and tittle” from Fellay and Co.

  2. SimonDodd says:

    I thought that the Holy See announced that Mr. Reynolds had incurred an ecommunication latæ sententiæ?

  3. paulbailes says:

    “It was to Benedict’s great credit that he tried to reconcile with them” – True. I wouldn’t say that he bent over backwards as many WDTPRS-ers would put it, but his efforts in a positive direction cannot be denied, especially his exposure in SP of the tyranny of the previous four decades of purporting that the TLM had been abrogated.

    “but they didn’t respond” – with respect that’s nonsense! WDTPRS-ers might not like Bp. Fellay’s conclusions from the discussions with Benedict, but it’s hard to understand how someone like Card. Pell can say that about the SSPX, unless he’s not nearly as well-informed, or as logical, as we might wish.

    OTOH it’s great to see Card. Pell saying that we “don’t have to accept every jot and tittle of” VII. Can we expect some action on that front (eh Abp. Mueller?), or is that line just as throwaway (literally) as his about the SSPX’s alleged non-response?

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    Some excellent comments on Pope Francis and the devil:

    The Smoke of Satan Returns , by William Doino Jr., at First Things.

  5. HighMass says:

    Very Good Article…..I tend to agree and Believe what JAMES C, Said……”I wish Cardinal Pell had been running the negotiations with the SSPX”….as we have seen during our Dear Sweet Benedicts Pontificate, there was a lot of underhandedness that went on ….and I too believe “that those who were in charge might have demanded acceptance of “every jot and tittle”

    How beautiful it would have been to have them back in Full Communion with the Church…..:(

  6. Rachel K says:

    Charles E Flynn: thanks for the link to the excellent article. A good piece to meditate on….

  7. jacobi says:

    Two things coming out of this article, Father, if I may.

    - It’s very good that the Holy Father should be concerned about people who are having a hard time, the poor, but I hope he’s at least as concerned about those in spiritual poverty.

    - The Church has always accepted the Second Vatican Council, as one in Continuity, containing no new doctrine but concerned principally with pastoral matters, obliged to maintain what earlier generations had maintained as holy, as part of the living tradition of the Church, and so on.

    The problem is that a concerted effort was undertaken by liberal/Modernists to insert into the documents items which they could, and have since very successfully used, to destroy that Continuity, and we will probably need another Council – but not just yet – to sort out the mess.

    Mark you, I suspect the good Cardinal fully realises this and is just being a bit diplomatic.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Cardinal Pell would be of the greatest asset for us if he not only explained and defended, but gave advice to the Pope regarding the big, bad wolf of the main stream media.

    The Vatican cannot be manipulated by anyone and can you imagine a serious manipulation, which we have not seen yet, only skirmishes.

    As to Bishop Fellay, his concerns are not new and he is merely pointing out some of the apprehensions of many. But, to say the Pope is influenced by some aspects of modernism and to call him an out and out modernist, is not the same thing.

    And, people change and grow and become holy. I have faith in the Holy Spirit.

  9. Phil_NL says:

    James C,

    The SSPX should, in a way, accept ‘every jot and tittle’. Not accept it as being the only correct formulation of truth (the texts are way to vaguefor that anyway), but accept it as being within the realm of the Catholic Faith. that they need to accept, along with the Pope’s authority which declared (inter alia) the council documents to be within the faith.

    The problem is that the SSPX cannot bring itself to do even that. No ‘we can agree to differ’ on certain points, but ‘our point and VII differ, and ours is right’. They will acknowledge only one mode of acceptance, namely acceptance to the exclusion of alternatives. That tunnelvision – that there can not be a difference of opinion on certain points – is something that ails the SSPX in much, much greater degree than the (of now, rest of the) Church. I daresay that whomever ran the negotiations would have stranded on that issue.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Phil_NL, there are real issues, like the false interpretation of ecumenism and the false wording of certain lines, even in the CCC, which point to universal salvation. One cannot paper over the cracks and blame the SSPX for pointing out post-Vat II teaching, which has led the Church to be imploding from within from all the problems discussed on this blog.

    We cannot ignore the real problems by demonizing the SSPX.

  11. Phil_NL says:

    Supertradmum

    This isn’t about demonizing the SSPX. The issue is not that VII had some very ill side-effects. The issue is not that various documents are very poorly worded (in my book something that didn’t start with VII, by the way, the syllabus of errors ranks quite high on my list of unfortunate documents in that sense). Those are all issues that are there, but don’t form the ultimate root of the problem, they are issues only because the core problem exists, and therefore mere manifestations of the real problem, gaining prominence more by historical accident (these are the issues people in the current age get worked up about) than anything else.

    The issue is that the SSPX has to admit that the Holy Father has the right to declare those documents as part of the faith. That doesn’t mean that the SSPX has to agree with all these documents, only that those who do agree with them are not in error. And that bring us, as I analyze the situation, the core problem: the SSPX will not recognize the Petrine prerogative to allow a broader interpretation of the doctrines of the faith than they hold. Since they do not allow for substantial differences in interpretation, they are faced with the choice of submitting to the literal texts (which they understandably refuse) or rejecting proper papal authroity (which they sadly do). They disallow themselves the solution of accepting papal authority while holding themselves (and themselves only, as opposed to the entire church) to a stricter standard. The absence of that solution means the SSPX can logically say only ‘our way or the highway’. But, since SSPX isn’t the pope, they lack the authority to make such a statement. In fact, they lack the standing to judge the pope at all, which ironically is about the only characteristically traditional element the SSPX ignores.

    So, there is in a nutshell why I do believe the problem is in its essence one that lies with the SSPX. They might have points and arguments on the particulars of the issues on which they campaign, but the underlying assumption implies a denial of papal authority and therefore has to be rotten. If that can’t be fixed, the whole sorry situation cannot be fixed.

  12. Hank Igitur says:

    Cardinal Pell is our archbishop. Fr Z I would like to know from your interview a) how studied and familiar ++Pell is with the contemporary SSPX and +Fellay and b) what if any dialogue he has had with SSPX in order to have reached his current view? I suspect the answers would be a) none and b) none but would be very glad to be corrected should I be in error.

    [It's not my interview.]

  13. James C says:

    “They disallow themselves the solution of accepting papal authority while holding themselves (and themselves only, as opposed to the entire church) to a stricter standard.”

    Actually, Phil, that’s exactly what they wish to do! They aren’t requiring the hierarchy in Rome to disavow its preoccupations with ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and all the rest. They just want to be left alone to teach the traditional understanding of these doctrines. It is Rome that is requiring them to affirm these novel interpretations derived from Gaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae, etc. In conscience they cannot do that. And I don’t understand why they should be required to in the first place; it was Joseph Ratzinger, after all, who blasted Dignitatis Humanae for using “downright Pelagian terminology”… Was he not in union with the Church when he criticized elements of the Vatican II documents?

    I think the SSPX should be allowed the same freedom, if harsh polemic is avoided.

  14. Phil_NL says:

    James C,

    With respect, but that’s not what the SSPX wishes to do. They wish to hold themselves to what they see as a traditional standard, surely, but they also wish to fulminate against what they see as the errors of VII, and call the NO ‘evil’ or words to similar effect, just to name a recent example. In other words, they want two things: to be left alone, and to place those of a different opinion outside the Church, by denying their positions are compatible with traditional Catholicism. And insofar such different opinions are accepted by the Pope, that latter course of action is not acceptible. The Pope, and the Pope alone, makes that determination. The SSPX needs to accept proper authority, and has serious trouble with that.
    (And, needless to add, not just on matters theological. The SSPX wouldn’t be on the verge of schism had they not procedeed with episcopal ordinations despite the Holy Father’s objections. From each angle, the issue boils down not to what the SSPX wants in terms of their own behavior, but what it wants to do regarding the Pope: if push comes to shove, they will not acknowledge Petrine authority. )

  15. LA says:

    Isn’t this the same Cardinal Pell who referred to Adam & Eve as religious mythology in a debate with Richard Dawkins?
    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2012-0415-mjm-dawkins-pell.htm

  16. Elizabeth D says:

    The story of Adam and Eve is highly symbolic and as he said not a scientific story, it conveys religious moreso than scientific knowledge. I don’t think Cardinal Pell’s comment necessarily represents a denial that we had specific First Parents. Cdl Pell is not a scientist either and in saying we “evolved from apes… well from Neanderthals” he is kind of commenting outside of his area of knowledge.

    Some traditionalists believe in the Genesis account more literally than most of us and turn it into a source of scientific information.

    Some progressives make evolution into a religious ideology and a hermeneutic through which to view religion. This is what “the universe story” or “the new cosmology” is, that one hears LCWR types talking about. It is pure modernism.

    John Paul II and Benedict XVI steered between Scylla and Charybdis and believed evolution was not incompatible with God’s role as Creator, and they believed in God’s plan and design and that we had specific First Parents.

  17. Robbie says:

    I think it’s s stretch to say we’ve had a gigantic misreading of the Pope. In some areas, like tradition, that’s just not the case. As for his comment about not having to accept every jot and tittle of VCII, that’s great. I think his position is a minority one though.

  18. Eliane says:

    ” The SSPX wouldn’t be on the verge of schism had they not procedeed with episcopal ordinations despite the Holy Father’s objections. ”

    If AB Lefebre had not taken his radical action and been willing to pay the price for doing so, we would not have the EF of the Mass today; nor would we even have the FSSP. The SSPX would by now have practically no priests left. Why are the Lefebrists the only Catholics of whom complete obedience to VatII is demanded?

    I have no doubt that when the dust finally settles on VatII and full light is let to shine on all its deliberate false messages –long after we all are gone — Lefebre will gain his proper place as THE individual who saved the Catholic Church during the most menacing threat of her 2,000 years. In the meantime, it is probably best that the Lefebrists remain as they are because if they were integrated into the church, they would be crushed. To what bishop would they be assigned? Is there even one who would permit them the freedom to speak truthfully about VatII?

    They brought John Paul II to his knees, but Francis seems a tougher nut — far less open minded and capable of understanding. So they might serve him best by keeping a distance while making lots of lio.

  19. liquidpaw says:

    Phil_NL, go reference Cardinal Pell’s debate with Richard Dawkins. I’m glad LA posted that link. A friend of mine had discussed it with me recently, about how he saw the debate and was offended at how Cardinal Pell made a mockery of Church teaching. How can anyone not question or demand answers as to what in the heck is going on in Rome? Did Pope Francis not have any knowledge of that debate before adding Cardinal Pell to his list of Cardinals to help him reform the Curia? This is what we have to help us with reform? Go research some other appointments in other areas the Pope has made, such as Msgr. Ricca. Google his name and see the “nice” things you’ll find. Sandro Magister exposed him (very credible journalist who has sterling reputation for facts), yet the story was swept under the rug. Unfortunately, most of these guys would be sternly reprimanded or disciplined under Popes such as Pius XII and those prior to his Pontificate. Archbishop Lefebvre (metioned by Pope Pius XII as “my best Apostolic Delegate”) once mentioned during his ordeal that he continually taught the same sound doctrine after VII as before, but all of the sudden what was “sound” and “correct” became “outdated” and “rebellious.” Thankfully, there are still Catholic Bishops like Bishop Fellay who fearlessly teach the truth and point out error (yes, he is Catholic). We’ll need more like him to get rid of this mess caused by a line of Popes who prayed in Buddhist temples, synagogues, kissed korans, and offer the Holy Sacrifice of Mass in which our Lord is distributed to those who are known to be in mortal sin, and where the sacred host is passed along in plastic cups (WYD Rio). Anyone denying the Church to be in crisis is delusional.

  20. Phil_NL says:

    “Why are the Lefebrists the only Catholics of whom complete obedience to VatII is demanded?”

    A classic. If they can get away with it, why not we? Apart from the somewhat dubious level of this argument, there is actually a perfectly logical answer to this.

    What is demanded (as I see it, at least) is that they acknowledge it’s within the bounds of Papal authority to issue these documents. For the rest they would be just as free as the rest of the chuch to heir own opinions about matters like VII, the NO and the like. They’d probably get the same pass on ignoring he contents as he rest of the church too (not that this is, in general terms, a good thing). Problem is that such a position would defy the SSPX’s internal logic: given a) that in their view tradition leaves hardly any room for difference of opinion on these matters, and b) they consider themselves to be in their rights to correct a succession of Popes, it must follow that the Popes were wrong, and can be disobeyed were obedience is owed, as a matter of principle.

    And that is the one single item on which no-one gets a pass from the Vatican. There can be only one Church, and therefore only be one Pope. As said, this is in the core about the non-acceptance of the Petrine authority.

  21. jhayes says:

    Phil_NL wrote: The issue is that the SSPX has to admit that the Holy Father has the right to declare those documents as part of the faith. That doesn’t mean that the SSPX has to agree with all these documents, only that those who do agree with them are not in error. And that bring us, as I analyze the situation, the core problem: the SSPX will not recognize the Petrine prerogative to allow a broader interpretation of the doctrines of the faith than they hold.

    I think that is a good analysis of the SSPX position. In his December 2012 speech in Canada, Bp. Fellay said that when the negotiations broke down Benedict sent him a private letter saying that the SSPX must accept that Vatican II “is an integral part of Tradition.” Regarding that, Bp Fellay said:

    “That the Council Vatican II is traditional! Imagine! During forty years themselves have said the contrary. Now they say it’s traditional. And we say “Beg your pardon?” We say, “Look at the reality!”

    Strangely enough, just before that Bp. Fellay had mentioned another point which Benedict had said the SSPX must accept:

    “it is the Magisterium which is the judge of what is Traditional or not.” And, well that’s true, that’s [a] point of Faith, so. But if we say yes they will use it against us, of course, so it’s dangerous.

    The whole speech is at: http://www.therecusant.com/fellay-conf-dec2012

  22. Phil_NL says:

    And apologies for the italics bug, if it indeed rears it ugly head..

  23. Inigo says:

    Eliane

    If I understand correctly, what you are saying is, that in the case of AB Lefebre, his disobedience somehow triggered the positive events of today, almost if this disobedience somehow merited them. But this would mean that the ends justify the means, and as far as I know, that notion is not christian.

    Saying that the FSSP or Summorum Pontificum is merited by the actions of AB lefebre is illogical. It was divine providence, that turned his (at least questionable) actions into the positive events we see today.

    Be safe: attribute these things to God and thank Him, not Lefebre (’cause if it should turn out he was a saint, he wouldn’t mind…otherwise our Lord would have some unconfortable questions for you at the final judgement).

  24. SimonDodd says:

    Elizabeth D says: “The story of Adam and Eve is highly symbolic and as he said not a scientific story, it conveys religious moreso than scientific knowledge.” As I have noted before, Christians who hold to original sin, including but not limited to Catholics, cannot so easily dismiss Adam and Eve. If you eliminate a common ancestor, you eliminate the logic of original sin. This does not oblige us to accept Eden as historic, but it does tend to foreclose interpretations that eliminate the dogmatic fact of Adam as fallen primogenitor.

  25. robtbrown says:

    Elizabeth D,

    John Paul II and Benedict XVI steered between Scylla and Charybdis and believed evolution was not incompatible with God’s role as Creator, and they believed in God’s plan and design and that we had specific First Parents.

    Joseph Ratzinger thinks that so-called Micro evolution (e.g., wings and legs from fins) is possible within the Faith of the Church but that Macro evolution (e.g., rational creatures from irrational ones) is not.

    Re JPII: I assume you’re referring to his 1996 well known address to scientists. I have read it in the original French, and I don’t see how it permits anyone to conclude that the pope thought “evolution is not incompatible with God’s plan”.

  26. Elizabeth D says:

    SimonDodd, I am not dismissing Adam and Eve in the sense of specific First Parents. I agree specific First Parents who committed specific original sin is important. But the various elements in the story (ie, the serpant representing the devil) are highly symbolic.

  27. Cordelio says:

    Dear Phil_NL,

    Though I disagree with you, I greatly respect you for trying to enunciate a principled rebuttal to the position of the SSPX and would like to better understand your position – which I take to be your statement “there is never an acceptable ground for rebelling against the pope, no matter how grave the crisis.” If that is true, then certainly one need not consider the factual basis the SSPX puts forward for its resistance – except perhaps out of charity in an attempt to facilitate a conversion.

    Having “cared to read it,” I must admit that there are elements of your position that might admit of greater definition. For starters, what constitutes “rebelling against the pope”? As a manner of illustrating what I mean, would you also agree with the statement “there is never an acceptable ground for disobeying the pope, no matter how grave the crisis”?

    Is this alternate statement, to your way of thinking, synonymous with the one you proposed?

    If not, and you would not agree with the restatement, how would you distinguish rebellion – which can never be justified – from disobedience – which might be.

    Also, what’s up with the italics? I did not intentionally include any italics in this statement.

  28. everett says:

    Eliane says:
    If AB Lefebre had not taken his radical action and been willing to pay the price for doing so, we would not have the EF of the Mass today; nor would we even have the FSSP. [...]

    I have no doubt that when the dust finally settles on VatII and full light is let to shine on all its deliberate false messages –long after we all are gone — Lefebre will gain his proper place as THE individual who saved the Catholic Church during the most menacing threat of her 2,000 years.

    How many Saints of the Church were ever excommunicated? How many of them were ever disobedient in such a degree? How many of them were “willing to pay the price” of cutting themselves off from full communion with the Catholic Church? It’s possible that Lefebvre and SSPX may have “saved the Catholic Church” (or at least the EF), but you have no way of knowing what might have occurred with regards to the EF and traditional liturgy had he actually been obedient as he should have. Everything changed in that moment when the Bishops were consecrated, and that influenced every action thereafter regarding the EF. I’m inclined to believe that those actions poisoned the well against the EF for 20 years, and that’s why those who remained in full communion had such a time getting access to it, and why even after SP it has a tough time of it in many areas.

  29. robtbrown says:

    I was told (from someone inside the SSPX) that the doctrinal preamble permitted criticism of VatII. In any conflict between a Vat II text and traditional expression (cf Dignitatis Humanae), the latter was to be given preference.

    And so I know of no objection of the SSPX to papal authority re Vat II. In fact, Paul VI approved of the New Liturgy as within the purview of VatII. Benedict XVI did not.

    The skunk at the reunion picnic is the phrase “accepting VatII as an integral part of tradition”, which seems to me sufficiently ambiguous to be endorsed by everyone from Hans Kung and Rembert Weakland to an SSPX priest. Unfortunatley, not only is there a tendency in the SSPX to interpret everything univocally (anyone remember Hymie the Robot on Get Smart?), but there also seems to be anxiety that agreeing to such a phrase will obligate them to obeying the customary liberal interpretations of it.

  30. robtbrown says:

    Elizabeth D says:
    SimonDodd, I am not dismissing Adam and Eve in the sense of specific First Parents. I agree specific First Parents who committed specific original sin is important. But the various elements in the story (ie, the serpant representing the devil) are highly symbolic.

    I would say that the serpent might be symbolic but not necessarily so.

  31. robtbrown says:

    For the argument in favor of Original Sin, see Romans 5:12.

  32. rbbadger says:

    The Most Revd Athanasius Schneider, ORC, proposed that the CDF come up with a syllabus of errors setting forth exactly what is and is not acceptable with regards to the interpretation of the Vatican II documents. It was a good idea and needs to be done.

  33. jhayes says:

    robtbrown wrote “In any conflict between a Vat II text and traditional expression (cf Dignitatis Humanae), the latter was to be given preference.”

    Not really. Benedict said in 2005 that in interpreting older statements of the magisterium, you must distinguish between principles (which are enduring) and contingent matters (which are changeable). He mentioned that Vatican II “had corrected certain historical decisions” and that “the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church”

    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. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

    It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

    The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time.

    [...]

    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.

    The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues “her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God”, proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 8).

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2005/december/documents/hf_ben_xvi_spe_20051222_roman-curia_en.html

  34. SimonDodd says:

    rbbadger, I agree, but I do not expect to see such a thing any time soon, and given Francis’ comments on the council, I’m not sure that I would want one during his pontificate.

  35. Johnno says:

    Elizabeth D -

    It is infallible dogma that Adam and Eve existed and are the father and mother of the entire human race.

    And as for Genesis, while there is leeway in interpretation to some extent: that the ‘serpent’ wasn’t your garden variety snake, nor is it specific to some genus being identifiable, but whatever it was physically, it was in fact there and its reality does not negate it symbolism. The Crucifixion and Resurrection are actual events that actually happened and are simultaneously filled with symbolism. Genesis is literal history and it is also symbolic. Richard Dawkin’s evolutionary worldview is unscientific myth devoid of evidence and it doesn’t deserve the priveledge of being taken seriously except for argument’s sake.

    Back to the SSPX issue, it’s clear that Pell is simply brushing it away. If nobody is obligated to accept every jot and tittle of Vatican II, then why are the SSPX being forced to accept them? Why were Benedict and Fellay’s talks sabotaged? Whodunnit? There are rats involved here in the middle that are intent on destroying any reconciliation.

    And I invite Cardinal Pell to please clarify all of Pope Francis’ remarks for us to show us why they are not the least bit troublesome. He speaks one way to us, and he speaks in a vaguer way to others, which is pretty much what modernists are accused of doing, like politicians, speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth to appease two sides and causing confusion.

  36. liquidpaw says:

    Phil_NL, agreed that it is the Pope to decide how to fix such problems. However, when the Pope makes decisions or seems to advocate things contrary to what is sound doctrine, it is right for one to disobey. That is why a Catholic needs to know his/her Faith. Blind obedience can be detrimental to one’s soul. I would say that those of SSPX are more disobedient than rebellious in areas of disagreement with Rome. I don’t advocate rebellion either, but I certainly would be disobedient if someone told me that men such as Cardinal Pell or Cardinal Dolan (imploring Muslims to “keep the faith” during a mosque visit) are to be the ones to teach my children the Faith. Who would you be more confident in receiving sound teaching from in line with Church Tradition, Bishop Fellay, or one of those two? I know who I would trust. One last note, fearless priests such as Father Rutler have spoken out (without naming the Pope directly) against the confusion the ambiguous statements this Pope has made can lead people into. When we look at those who have been in charge since VII, we better not be blind in our obedience. Scripture offers us clarity with regard to what VII has brought to the Church: “Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them.” This situation is the result of those Popes presiding over VII letting the liberals and Freemasons have there way in influencing the Council with little restraint.

  37. jhayes says:

    Johnno wrote: “It is infallible dogma that Adam and Eve existed and are the father and mother of the entire human race.”

    It’s not that specific. Here’s the explanation from the USCCB website:

    How should modern readers interpret the creation-flood story in Gn 2–11? The stories are neither history nor myth. “Myth” is an unsuitable term, for it has several different meanings and connotes untruth in popular English. “History” is equally misleading, for it suggests that the events actually took place. The best term is creation-flood story. Ancient Near Eastern thinkers did not have our methods of exploring serious questions. Instead, they used narratives for issues that we would call philosophical and theological. They added and subtracted narrative details and varied the plot as they sought meaning in the ancient stories. Their stories reveal a privileged time, when divine decisions were made that determined the future of the human race. The origin of something was thought to explain its present meaning, e.g., how God acts with justice and generosity, why human beings are rebellious, the nature of sexual attraction and marriage, why there are many peoples and languages. Though the stories may initially strike us as primitive and naive, they are in fact told with skill, compression, and subtlety. They provide profound answers to perennial questions about God and human beings.

  38. Elizabeth D says:

    “Elizabeth D–It is infallible dogma that Adam and Eve existed and are the father and mother of the entire human race.”

    For the last time, I have not denied that but repeatedly tried to state that we indeed had specific First Parents even though some aspects of the Biblical narrative about them are or may be symbolic. There are two Creation accounts that tell the story of how the first people came to be a little differently, I think it is clear enough that they are not literal in a simple way even though they convey real information and truth. True enough one may not reject the idea that Adam and Eve were real and really father and mother of all humans.

  39. Cordelio says:

    Wow. That USCCB Genesis Introduction is piarum aurium offensiva.

  40. acardnal says:

    The papal encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, 1950, addressed the theory of evolution and stated that Catholics are free to accept it or reject it.

    It also states that Catholics must believe that the human race arose from one man and one woman. It rejected polygenism.

  41. jhayes says:

    acardnal wrote: “The papal encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, 1950, addressed the theory of evolution and stated that Catholics are free to accept it or reject it.

    It also states that Catholics must believe that the human race arose from one man and one woman. It rejected polygenism.”

    Here is an article from the official newspaper of the archdiocese of Baltimore. It mentions Humani Generis and developments since that time.

    He added that “the question of biological origins is a scientific one; and, if science shows that there is no evidence of monogenism and there is lots of evidence for polygenism, then a Catholic need have no problem accepting that.”

    When such an approach is followed, he said, Adam and Eve are not seen as historical people, but as important figures in stories that contain key lessons about the relationships of humans and their Creator.

    http://catholicreview.org/article/work/catholic-church-has-evolving-answer-on-reality-of-adam-and-eve

  42. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: Archbishop Lefebvre’s alleged courage and holiness —

    Archbishop Donatus was a heck of a brave and holy guy, even a confessor, IIRC, before he let his righteous anger with those who’d lapsed turn into Donatism. We do not remember him with gratitude, nor as a saint.

    Tertullian was practically one of the Church Fathers before he let his anger and grief take him into Donatism, and then into even wackier Montanism, and then even more sect-ish sects. He is not remembered as a saint or a Church Father, and his glory of being a great layman and teacher departed him, though his writings from when he was saner survived.

    Archbishop Lefebvre will only be remembered kindly by Church history, according to the degree that his followers forsake his brand of stupidity. Had he stayed faithful in all things, he could have been a saint; he preferred rebellion to difficult obedience. The FSSP are a much better memorial to him than the SSPX; they speak of his better and wiser self.

  43. jhayes says:

    And, last year, Cardinal Pell said:

    TONY JONES: So are you talking about a kind of Garden of Eden scenario with an actual Adam and Eve?

    GEORGE PELL: Well, Adam and Eve are terms – what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man. That’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science but it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and the universe. Secondly, that the key to the whole of universe, the really significant thing, are humans and, thirdly, it is a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and suffering in the world.

    TONY JONES: But it isn’t a literal truth. You shouldn’t see it in any way as being an historical or literal truth?

    GEORGE PELL: It’s certainly not a scientific truth and it’s a religious story told for religious purposes.

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3469101.htm

  44. Hank Igitur says:

    Fr Z I apologise for misreading the piece as to who did the interview

  45. Spaniard says:

    acardnal:
    Humani Generis does not state that Catholics are free to accept or reject this theory. It states teachers are not allowed to teach it, as it has severe inconsistencies. It allows, however, for catholic scientists to debate and investigate it, but subduing in the end to the conclusions the Church might offer. Conclusions which jhave not yet been published. However, seeing that the evolutionary theory teaches progress from a faulty creation being needed to reach mankind, and wrongs being previous to the creation of man; and seeing it is incompatible with Original Sin, death and suffering being a consequence of sin, God creating a “good” world, Adam and Eve being just, immortal and devoid of illnesses, and God creating ex nihilo all creatures; we can conclude that this theory is not in accordance with our aith.
    It is interesting to note it is still a theory, as scientific proof in genetics, microbiology, geology, and palentology point firmly away from it.

  46. jhayes says:

    Spaniard. In 2007, Benedict said:

    Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God. This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2007/july/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20070724_clero-cadore_en.html

  47. robtbrown says:

    jhayes,

    Sorry for the delay.

    I’m not crazy about certain VatII texts on religious freedom. Nor do I much care for the SSPX understanding of them.

    What is true about those texts is that by definition the act of faith is a free act. The problem is that DH all but posits an application that assumes a certain political situation. In fact, the SSPX also assumes a political application, but a different one. The former implicitly posits a social and governmental situation that is, at best, neutral toward the Church, and now is, as we are increasingly aware in the West, pursuing policies attacking the Church. The latter assumes circumstances that promote the Faith.

    It’s the old criticism of the Church: Where Catholics are a majority and exert a certain control over law, the promotion of the Church is based on the True Church argument. Where Catholics are a minority and society/govt opposes it, the argument is Freedom of Religion.

    IMHO, it’s possible to say that both DH and the SSPX are correct, depending on the application.

  48. Cordelio says:

    Suburbanbanshee,

    Even those most opposed to Archbishop Lefebvre during his life would not have considered “anger and grief” as his defining characteristics. Whether they were defining characteristics of Donatus or Tertullian, I have no idea (nor, I suspect, do you).

    Regardless of whether Archbishop Lefebvre may have shared undesirable personality characteristics with Donatus, Tertullian, Arius, Pelagius, Martin Luther or Cardinal Koch, it would probably be best not to glaze over the rather significant distinction that these notorious characters professed heresies, whereas Archbishop Lefebvre did not.

    Thus, I can only join in your banshee wail on this point if I accept that: a) no disobedience to the pope along the lines taken by Archbishop Lefebvre could ever be justified, as a matter of principle (which I submit would require me to profess an opinion not consistent with the Catholic Faith – like Donatus et al.); and/or b) the Archbishop’s resistance was not, in fact, justified by the circumstances.

  49. Phil_NL says:

    Cordelio,

    You asked for an explanation of the analysis I posted earlier, rebutting claims that rebellion against the Pope would not be justified. I must warn you, and anyone else reading it, that I’m no theologian, and that forwarding theological theses (which is essentially what I’m about to do) is a daunting prospect. I hope my attempt helps you and others. The outline of my arguments is as follows.

    (Mind you, it’s a long haul for a comment, so I beg Fr. Z.’s indulgence, I wouldn’t have typed out such an extensive pice if it wasn’t on request)
    —-
    The starting point is the special position the papacy has – and must have – in maintaining the Church, and its four characteristics that are part of the credo: unam, sanctam, catholicam & apostolicam.
    While there would be numerous other arguments that could be made to establish the same, apostolic succession is probably the clearest reason why there is a necessity for the Church to be a physical, human, organization (apart from a spiritual concept, in which sense the Church could be broader than the organization itself). Without some sort of structure, apostolic succession cannot be maintained, or would (need to be) spread over all the faithful, rendering it meaningless. Moreover, since the Church has the means of salvation in its sacraments (“Et tibi dabo clavem regnum caelorum”, not by accident inscribed on the dome of St. Peter’s) the sacraments themselves need to be preserved. This requires governance of the Church as an organization.
    Moreover, the Church has to be one, and that too requires organization, in fact it requires a hierarchy, as no organization can maintain its unity over any extended period of time – let alone 2 millenia – without someone having the ability to make a final decision; human nature is by definition something that will cause division.

    The nature of the Church therefore requires the nature of the papacy; not in its particulars, but it does need the essence of the office. This then means that I believe that the papacy will be protected by the Holy Spirit from any actions that would destroy or remove (NB: I’m not saying ‘diminish’) the essential characterestics of the Church (in the spiritual sense) in the organization of the Catholic Church (the physical church). Such a protection would have to be at the level of the Holy Father, as otherwise a situation could (would – eventually) arise where the Holy Father leads his flock outside the Church in a spiritual sense. [probably, many in the SSPX would in fact see that as a description of the situation after VII, or something close to it]. However, such a disaster would destroy not just the unity of the Church, as the faithful would be lead in different directions to differing and ultimately incompatible conclusions (as several break-offs of the SSPX and sedevacantists would show). It would also destroy the sanctity of the Church, as there would not be a proper governance of the sacraments; it would not be clear who would have the tools of salvation, or what they would be. One can try to keep everything together, and may succeed for a while, maybe even some centuries, by clinging closely to tradition, but it would not eventually be possible to determine who holds the Keys. New situations, muddying the waters and posing questions that are not answered in tradition, will sooner or later arise. The Keys are essential, someone must have them, and it must be clear who has them.

    Which brings us to the desired issue to be analyzed, the ‘right’ to rebel against a Pope, of which I deny its existence. You’re right that ‘rebelling’ is in itself not a very precise definition. Let me make it somewhat more precise – nota bene: I cannot hope to get it completely nailed down in anything less than a theological PhD thesis, and I lack the time and inclination to get another PhD in a different field.
    While ‘rebellion’ in the early church would mean breaking off communion, we nowadays need a different formulation. With ‘rebellion’I would mean any action that would run counter to the instructions or pronouncements of the Pope, insofar they 1) relate to the government and doctrines of the Church, and 2) also would have an effect of the ability of the Church to meantain those 4 essential characteristics – unam, sanctam, catholicam & apostolicam. The reason for this is, as explained above, that I believe the Petrine office to be protected from taking any action that would result in the complete loss of those characteristics in the actual organization that we call the Church.

    And such a threat of complete loss would be, in my book, the only acceptible reason for rebellion (in fact, then we would not just have a right to rebel, but even a duty). If the loss is anything less than complete, there would not be grounds for rebellion. Why? because this would entail judgement on our part, a judgement of the Holy Father. That is such a tall order that I do not think the faithful, or even other bishops, are empowered to make such a judgement, at least in so far it relates to the government and doctrines of the Church, when those government and doctrines concern the essential characteristics of the Church. Moreover, given the protection the Papacy enjoys, such a judgement would be highly risky. There is no guarantee our judgement is the better one, yet there is – and I think this would be agreed upon even by those who differ in the details of the thesis I forward – a degree of protection from error in the pope, as that protection would be needed to fulfill God’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail. On an individual basis, no such unconditional promise exists.

    This also means that it is up to the Pope, and only with him even if in a Council, to determine the length and width of what is still Catholic. After all, judgement of the Pope in terms of the essential characteristics of the Church is not permissible, so even in cases where the teaching is not infallible, we cannot conclude that the Pope has brought the Church outside the faith (he can have acted sinfully, but he cannot have led the Church as a whole astray to a point where it is no longer the Church, in all its elements).

    And that would be perhaps a better working definition of ‘rebellion’: to denounce, or to hinder in word or deed, the Pope’s decisicions where he sets the governance and doctrine of the Church, as related to its essential characteristics. This I hold to be impermissible.

    A few examples (some taken from history, others purely hypothetical):
    - declaring the NO to be ‘evil’ would be denoucning the Pope, and would be denying his governance of the Church. The NO may be unfulfilling, poorly designed, spiritually poor (in areas, rather that in general) and so on, but it cannot be declared to be outside the confines of the Faith, which is essentially done when an approved way to celebrate our most precious sacrament is called ‘evil’. Criticism can go very far indeed, but not past that particular line. The same boundary would apply to ‘fraternal correction’ of the Pope (which would in principle be possible, though to be exercised with extreme caution)
    - Disobedience by ordaining priests or bishops outside the established rules would consist of rebellion and be unjustifiable, as it would again only be truely necessary if the Pope would bring the Church outside the spiritual Church, otherwise it’s the Pope’s judgement on how to deal with apostolic succession and eligibility to administer the sacraments.
    - Disobedience in matters that do not touch the essential elements of the Church and the role of the papacy therein would however be permissible, given the ‘right’ circumstances. Not closing down a parish, not revealing the source of a donation or celebrating the EF instead of the NO (as both are valid options) even when told to do so, would not classify as rebellion in the sense described above. The effects would not touch upon the nature of the Church, would be only a personal matter or would not involve a course of action that denies authority, respectively. It would be a disciplinary problem, surely. But there is a difference between disobeying the rules, and denying the rules are there. The first submits to judgement of competent authority, thereby making any damage in principle reperable, the second denies competent authority and therefore places such authority out of bounds. Only actions that have elements of the latter are in my sense of the word rebellious.

    To sum up, the argument is, in essence based on the belief that the Petrine office does enjoy a special charism that will not cause it to sever the link between the institutional church and the Church in the spiritual sense. If one does not accept that, the entire edifice I built falls. (and frankly, one might in that situation forward a much better case for a severance between the institutional Church and the spiritual church that goes back to (approximately) the 9th century…) If one does accept it, I’m of the opinion that the rest logically follows.

    I do want to stress the limitated applicability of the argument though. It does not imply the Popes cannot make mistakes, even in governance or the promulgation of rites. It does not mean that popes cannot commit sin, or take others with them in a sinful act. It does not mean that a Pope’s actions can’t hurt the church, even in its characteristics.
    But it would mean that such damage would not be irreperable, and the faithful called upon to endure and repair according to their state and calling. It would mean that there is no papal act possible that would justify – and require – one to break communion with the pope, and therefore rebel, or to actively work against the pope – as Pope, successor of Peter – and rebel in that way. Rebellion does not cover disagreement with a Pope, or in many cases even disobedience. As long as it stays clear of the area of the government and doctrines of the Church, it isn’t applicable. But it does include arrogating the right to pass judgement on the successor of Peter in these areas, and declare that the Pope’s actions are ‘evil’, ‘sinful’, or ‘incompatible with the faith’, directly or indirectly. The reason for this is not the nature of the actions people seek to judge, but the essence of the Petrine office, which means it cannot be condemned as having lost, for the organizational church, the essential characteristics of the Church.

    Now the next discussion is obviously if pronouncements A, B and C (insert Fellay/Lefebvre quotes here) would or would not fall into that category. That’s a debate I will abstain from, apart from noting that as I see it, the SSPX did rebel in going forward with the ordinations (as that pertains to the governance of apostolic succession) and is continously giving food for thought where the line on a second element (placing the Pope outside the Church) exactly lies… which is in itself more than enough to maintain the sorry state of relations that exists between the society and the Petrine office, and which needs to be fixed.

    —-
    Again, apologies for the long text. I hope this provides food for thought. It’s the best phrasing I can turn out on short notice, and obviously I would accept correction by competent authority. In my opinion it’s but internally logical and consistent with the Faith.

  50. robtbrown says:

    jhayes,

    It’s not merely a question of whether Adam and Eve existed. It is inseparable with questions concerning the loss of Original Innocence.

    Original Sin is the state of the deficiency of the grace of OI. Let’s say that men lived in OI for 3 generations before the First Sin. Or that polygenism is true–that various men came to exist in various places in the world, with one of them committing the First Sin. If either of those situations were true, it would have been unjust for God to deprive other men of the grace.

    And so it is said that the First Man received the grace of OI for the entire human race. And by virtue of his status as First Man, he lost it for the entire human race.

  51. acardnal says:

    Polygenism is irreconcilable with the concept of Original Sin.

  52. robtbrown says:

    acardnal says:
    Polygenism is irreconcilable with the concept of Original Sin.

    Isn’t that what I just wrote?

  53. acardnal says:

    robtbrown,
    yes. I was merely affirming what you wrote in response to jhayes comments.

  54. jhayes says:

    robtbrown said It’s not merely a question of whether Adam and Eve existed. It is inseparable with questions concerning the loss of Original Innocence.

    Yes, exactly so. In 1950, in Humani Generis, Pius XII described polygenism as a “conjectural opinion” and that “it is in no way apparent” how it can be reconciled with Church teaching on Original Sin.”

    That is not the same as a statement that it is “irreconcilable”. If polygenism advances from “conjectural opinion” to “accepted scientific theory” (as in the case of evolution) it will require further study.

    Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

  55. Cordelio says:

    Dear Phil_NL,

    Thank you for your extensive reply. I appreciate your taking the time, and will give what you said careful consideration.

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