Doctrinal talks between the Holy See and SSPX closer

Via a reader, from ASCA (my rapid translation from the rather awkward Italian):

(ASCA) Vatican City 10 June

This morning the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith discussed how to begin the doctrinal dialogue with the Lefebvrite Preiestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, for whom four bishops – among whom is the negationist [Bp.] Richard Williamson – Pope Benedict XVI in February revoked an excommunication.

According to the French agency I.Media, the cardinals of the ex-Holy Office – to whom Pope Ratzinger entrusted the dialogue wiht the Lefebvrites in view of their eventual reinstatement, in the future, in the structure of the Church – discussed a text "drawn up to clarify the parameter of the doctrinal dialogue with the Fraternity".  This dialogue should start with the necessity "of accepting the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Pope" subsequent to the Council.

According to I.Media, the Superior of the Lefebvrites, [Bp.] Bernard Fellay, was received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 5 June last and, even if there hasn’t been identified the "team" which on the two sides will effectively conduct the dialogue, it is probable that there will take part the Swiss Domincan Fr. Charles Morerod, the new Secretary for the International Theological Commission and, on the part of the Lefebvrites, Fr. [l’abbate] Gregoire Celier, co-author of a recent book on Benedict XVI.

Meanwhile, as the "doctrinal" dialogue with the Vatican moves along its first steps, the Lefebvrites have decided to challenge again the authority of the of the Pope, announcin the ordination of at least 21 new priests in three parts of the world.

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  1. Tom says:

    Any chance the Holy See approved these ordinations? What would it signal if no excommunications followed?

  2. Papabile says:

    The penalty for such ordinations is suspension. All the Bishops are already suspended in Romes eyes.

  3. Dr. Eric says:

    Could someone enlighten me on this “Pope Ratzinger” stuff? I’ve also seen “Pope Wojtyla” and “Pope Montini” it seems like an insult to me. [This is simply a convention in Italian journalism. Relax.]

  4. Pseudomodo says:

    Dr. Eric,

    See the wikipedia entry on Papa Marchelli.

    It was composed by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and sung at Papal Coronation masses. It is a term of endearment. Even Pope St. Pius X was known as Pope Sarto in his time.

  5. EJ says:

    Even ordinary Romans and other Italians say Papa Ratzinger and Papa Wojtyla almost in an endearing way…entirely respectful, even loving, in a way that is difficult to comprehend to North Americans – geez… the cultural obliviousness and the propensity to go Chicken Little by many of our tradition minded brethren on this side of the pond is pretty scary.

  6. Oleg-Michael says:

    Pseudomodo, Missa Papae Marcelli is so named after Pope Marcellus II, whose last name was Cervini degli Spannochi. This use can in no way be compared with “Papa Wojtyla”, “Papa Sarto”, etc.

  7. Dr. Eric says:

    OK, I was ignorant of the term. Thank you for enlightening me.

  8. Pseudomodo says:

    Absolutley right, Oleg – my mistake!

  9. Mark says:

    I wonder what “accepting Vatican II and the Magisterium of the Pope” will mean?

    I think that is a good starting point for the discussion. Because…as is often pointed out, it’s not like Vatican II issued any anathemas, nor have any Popes solemnly defined any dogma Ex Cathedra since then.

    Furthermore, many things said (say, about religious liberty) are in direct contradiction to what many past popes said. Now, both were instances of prudential teachings not having the level of doctrine, so it’s not like such contradiction questions infallibility or anything.

    But are we going to be forced to believe [How about just relaxing a bit.] that just because a Pope LATER in history said it, even with an equal level of solemnity, that this for some reason trumps past popes and past teachings? Or may we, as the SSPX says, indeed accept the earlier teachings after weighing all the relevant statements?

  10. Joseph says:

    “accepting Vatican II and the Magisterium of the Pope”

    I hope that phrase has not been taken out of an important context by the inept people in the Vatican’s PR machine…

  11. Paul Haley says:

    Bishop Fellay in part two of his interview at the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary last April inferred that the Society would have no problem accepting Vatican II in light of Tradition and I assume that also applies to the magisterium of the popes since the council. He wants clarifications and my hope is that he will get them. Prayers are in order I believe that both sides will understand the legitimate complaints of the other.

  12. Veritas says:

    Surely after Vatican I it was no longer possible to believe in Papal Infallibility in the same way that Ward and Manning did? Their unhistorical exaggerations were in the actual definition over- ruled by a higher power. Newman certainly thought that this was the case.

  13. schoolman says:

    Not sure what is meant above by “exaggerations” in in definition of papal infallibility. On the other hand, we have seen “reductions” of the dogma peddled by the proponents of “Rupture Theology”. Check out this post on Fr. Finigan’s “Hermeneutic of Continuity” blog. Do rupture theologians really have the right idea of Papal infallibility?

  14. Joseph says:

    What about the possibility of a Pope adhereing to heretical ideas while believing himself to be orthodox. How can a Pope be ipso facto deposed by believing something he believes to be a part of the deposit of the faith? Shouldn’t invincible ignorance preserve him from losing his office?

  15. Allen Murphy sfo says:

    SSPX needs to submit to the authority of the Pope and accept the Second Vatican Council. The Holy Father has gone as far as he can and should go- For the SSPX the latin Mass seems only a small part of their dissident behavior. They need to obey the Successor of Peter. Allen Murphy sfo

  16. Allen Murphy sfo says:

    Not that the latin mass is a problem- But the heart of their error seems in eccelesiology and not in liturgy. Allen Murphy sfo

  17. Rose says:

    Under the circumstances it seems arrogant and provocative to go ahead with the ordinations. What happened to their stated appreciation of the Pope’s magnanimity- can they not now voluntarily “stay” these ordinations until the doctrinal discussions get underway- sure it means these men will have to wait until the situation becomes clearer (one way or the other) but it seems a small sacrifice in the totality of circumstances. Frankly I think this is another “poke in the eye” kind of gesture.

  18. Mark says:

    “What about the possibility of a Pope adhereing to heretical ideas while believing himself to be orthodox. How can a Pope be ipso facto deposed by believing something he believes to be a part of the deposit of the faith? Shouldn’t invincible ignorance preserve him from losing his office?”

    Many theologians in the past did, indeed, believe that a heretical pope would be deposed automatically.

    But I believe the declaration of the dogma of papal infallibility is formulated in such a way as to make the whole question moot.

    The charism is not a “self-fulfilling” “by definition” sort of legalism, whereby if a pope tries to promulgate heresy, he is automatically deposed, and therefore no pope, by definition, can teach heresy ex cathedra.

    That is an untenable interpretation to maintain, as it would make the certainty of knowledge impossible. Then how do we know, for example, that the Immaculate Conception isnt heresy? Maybe, for trying to promulgate it, Pius IX was “automatically deposed” per the “by definition” theory of papal infallibility.

    No. No. No. Infallibility is a real charism. A Pope CANNOT teach heresy ex cathedra. And the mechanism is not automatic deposition in the event of such an attempt. It is a real charism that simply makes such a situation impossible.

    As the chief legislator, the Pope is not bound by canon law, and any canonical censures are automatically lifted from a man elected Pope for that reason. A heretic almost certainly COULD be elected Pope, Martin Luther himself even, and the charism of Papal Infallibility would STILL prevent him from teaching heresy ex cathedra.

    Now, usually, we can assume that the Holy Spirit and Providence simply arrange so that no such men are elected in the first place. But I think the idea that such a papacy would be a priori invalid…is not true. That makes infallibility merely into a sort of “self fulfilling prophecy” whereby a Pope can’t teach heresy merely because a man who tries to teach heresy is by that fact no longer Pope.

    Rather, I think Infallibility has been definitively formulated in such a way that there can never arise a situation where we (in what tribunal? by what authority?) would have to discern a man “putatively” pope to have lost office due to heresy. Rather, a heretic CAN validly be Pope, and Infallibility (or perhaps a providentially arranged early death, etc) will simply prevent him from teaching heresy nonetheless.

    That’s the beauty of it. It is a real charism, not something defined into existence in a self-fulfilling circle.

  19. Mark says:

    “Bishop Fellay in part two of his interview at the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary last April inferred that the Society would have no problem accepting Vatican II in light of Tradition and I assume that also applies to the magisterium of the popes since the council.”

    But what does “accepting” them mean, beyond admitting that they were valid and that no heresy was promulgated ex cathedra?

    It should be clarified that anything more than that is more than any Catholic is required to believe about any Pope or any Council.

    That just because someone happens to be the current Pope, or a council the latest council, that their opinions on prudential matters are not more binding on Catholics when past Popes and Councils of equal authority have had different opinions.

    Are we really to believe that a Catholic in the time of Pius IX was bound to be against religious liberty and that now a Catholic is bound to accept it as a fundamental human right? Even though both were promulgated with less than ex-cathedra authority?

    The SSPX, in turn, should agree to admit that the past Popes are, similarly, not necessarily right about non-de-fide matters either just because they happen to be in the past, and that Catholics are free to accept the newer opinions, even while the SSPX is allowed to continue arguing for their imprudence and non-continuity. But they should try to get the Vatican to call a spade a spade and admit the turn-around on certain issues (which, for non-ex-cathedra issues is perfectly possible, and does not question infallibility). Instead of trying to portray some things as “development of doctrine”…they should just admit that certain prudential opinions changed when it comes to the “official party line”, but that Catholics are also free to hold the older opinions too.

  20. Veritas says:

    schoolman – Please read what I said, I did not speak of exaggerations in the definition but in the ideas of Manning and Ward which preceded it. My words were chosen carefully and I hope with the precision of the Schoolmen. The definition itself was a moderate and careful one and was welcomed as such by Newman. Since you clearly misunderstood what I said ,your later comments, although interesting, are quite beside the point.

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