Interview with SSPX Fr. Schmidberger, Superior in Germany

Our friends at Rorate have put up an English translation of an interview by KNA (Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur) with SSPX Fr. Franz Schmidberer.  Fr. Schmidberger was once the Superior of the SSPX and he is presently the SSPX Superior for Germany.  At you probably know, there is tension in Germany right now especially among the bishops, regarding the SSPX’s intention to ordain priests soon.

Here is Rorate’s translation with my emphases and comments.  Be sure to go visit them and see what others are saying there as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

IMPORTANT INTERVIEW
"Similar to Opus Dei?"

Schmidberger responds: "Somewhat."

Some ordinations of new priests by the Bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) took place in the United States last Saturday. New ordinations are expected for next Saturday in Germany – despite the overreaction of several German ordinaries. Amidst the controversy, the German Catholic News Agency (KNA – Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur) interviewed the former Superior General of the SSPX and current Superior for the District of Germany, Father Franz Schmidberger (source: DomRadio):

    The German Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, Franz Schmidberger, has defended the ordination of new priests planned for the coming weekend. In an interview with the Catholic News Agency (KNA), Schmidberger also commented on his assessment of the Second Vatican Council and what he expects from further discussions with Rome.

    KNA: Herr Schmidberger, are you a priest of the Catholic Church[This question strikes me as being provocative, even hostile, from the onset.]

    Schmidberger: Of course. I was ordained to the priesthood in 1975 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Econe.

    KNA: You say that without any qualifications? [See?]

    Schmidberger: Yes. I live and work in the heart of the Church.

    KNA: What does the Second Vatican Council mean to you? [More.]

    Schmidberger: There is no doubt that it was an ecumenical council, but among the 21 councils it possesses a unique status as a pastoral council. [A classic distinction.   I think this is often used when people don’t want to pay attention to the Council.] Both popes of the council declared that they wished to define no new dogmas. Therefore, the Second Vatican Council does not have the same status as the other councils.

    KNA: What about its content?

    Schmidberger: The spirit of the council has been described as an evil spirit, even by Pope Benedict XVI. There are ambiguous statements in the documents, and many others that do not agree with traditional doctrine. [I guess that would be a "no" vote, then.]

    KNA: What should the theological dialogue between the society and Rome regarding the council look like?

    Schmidberger: As far as the external form goes, it could be both oral or written, but primarily it should be written. We have selected representatives from our side and Rome also has chosen its people. [Some good information there.] The discussions will consider: what is ambiguous in the council? What contradicts the traditional doctrine of the Church[I would love to see the SSPX’s list.]

    KNA: Frankly, do you believe that the old and new rites can continue to coexist over the long term?

    Schmidberger: Well, we will have to see how things develop. There are profound differences between the two rites; for example, the direction of the celebration. The old rite is God-centered. The new is man-centered. Many of the gestures, symbols, and rituals have been fundamentally changed. Today, the old rite is like a solid rock amidst the pounding surf, that must remain unchanged. The new rite requires radical reworking so that the sacrificial nature is once again explicitly expressed.  [Well… I don’t that last observation was entirely accurate.  I think the sacrificial nature is explicitly expressed. While it is certain that in many places the Novus Ordo is celebrated with little concept of the sacrificial dimension of Mass, the newer form can be offered in a way consistent with tradition.]

    KNA: What does the Society think of the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism [Unitatis Redintegratio]?

    Schmidberger: It says that other [Christian] denominations are means of salvation. If that is true, then there is no longer any point in engaging in missionary activity. That needs to be cleared up. [Perhaps we need a little thought experiment: Since one of the effects of baptism is that the one baptized becomes a member of Christ’s Body, the Church, and since many non-Catholic Christian denominations used valid baptism, it seems that the way to salvation is open to non-Catholic Christians even though they are not formally Catholic, though that way is much much more difficult.  But, in the main, this all has to be "cleared up".]

    KNA: What about Nostra Aetate, which concerns the relationship with the Jews? [A hot button question for this German news agency conducting the interview.]

    Schmidberger: Not only the Jews, it also concerns Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. These non-Christian religions are heaped with praise. This has encouraged the expansion of Islam, for example. Today there are 4.3 million Muslims in Germany. The Church has a mandate to work for their conversion, but I do not know of a single German bishop who has made any plans to do so. As far as the relationship with the Jews goes, the statements of the Council cannot be criticized in their essence. But, since the Council, the idea keeps popping up that the Jews have their owns path to salvation. That is completely opposed to the missionary command of Jesus Christ.

    KNA: And you also have problems with the description of the Jews by Pope John Paul II as the older brothers of Christians.

    Schmidberger: Certainly Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets are. [The forerunners of the New Covenant.] But the Jews of today are not, because they do not recognize Jesus Christ as the one and only redeemer. How could they then be older brothers?

    KNA: Is the impression correct, that you, with your positions, wish to set the price for unity with the Catholic Church[A fair question, though the interviewer still seems somewhat hostile.]

    Schmidberger: We want the truth to triumph. It has nothing to do with subjective opinions, it is all about the truth.

    KNA: As you define it[Fair enough.  The SSPX leadership seems not to want to submit their minds and wills to the Church’s teaching authority unless the teaching already coincides with what they want to hear.]

    Schmidberger: No, we read all of the previous statements of the Councils and the popes. Pope Pius IX spoke out against religious freedom, for example. The question is: do these false religions possess natural rights? The Second Vatican Council answers differently than Pius IX. That is a rupture. [And that needs to be cleared up.]

    KNA: Canon law requires priests to submit to the local bishop. Why is that difficult for you?

    Schmidberger: It isn’t difficult at all. But we are our own society, [Get that?  Thus, they don’t have to submit to the local bishops.] that was even praised by Rome in 1971. [Well, that was then and this is now.  Whatever permissions the SSPX originally had were removed.] Afterwards, we developed our own life. Then tensions developed because we refused to participate in the destructive protestantizing reforms. We have questions about the faith of the Church and the bishops only respond by demanding obediance. [Indeed, the SSPX has not been properly treated in this regard.  The doctrinal discussions should have been engaged long ago.] But faith is superior to obediance. [This would be a good point for discussion.]

    KNA: In connection with the Williamson scandal, Pope Benedict XVI accused the SSPX of arrogance and urged you to refrain from provocations. But the opposite has happened. How can you help to put the pieces back together?

    Schmidberger: Naturally, every man has his weaknesses and unfortunate things have been said. But we want to live together peacefully. I have written a private personal letter to the chairman of the bishops conference, Archbishop Zollitsch, but the bishops are not willing to engage in discussions. They reject any dialogue with us. Why do they demand that we obey canon law to the letter while at the same time they assert that we are outside the Church[I should think that is clear.  If you don’t admit that teachings of a Council, obey the law that is in part shaped by that Council and promulgated by proper authority, if you don’t obey the Pope who promulgated the law or the bishop designated to guide a diocese, then… well… why would anyone get the idea that the SSPX is outside the Church?]

    KNA: In 2005 there was a conversation in Castel Gandofo, in which, in addition to the Pope, curial Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, and Traditionalist Bishop Bernard Fellay, you also took part. What was agreed at that time?

    Schmidberger: We discussed the entire situation with the Society and agreed on the path which we are now following. The Motu Proprio of 2007 and the lifting of the so-called [I love that part.  I never tire of it.] excommunications were the first steps. Now comes the theological dialogue. Next, we have to find a canonical structure for the Society with its 500 priests. We are satisfied with the solution that Rome is considering[This is an important part of the interview.]

    KNA: Which is?

    Schmidberger: In the direction of a personal prelature. [There it is.]

    KNA: Similar to Opus Dei[I suppose there would have to be some work to figure out how the SSPX functions within dioceses.]

    Schmidberger: Somewhat.

    KNA: More ordinations are planned for the coming weekend, although Rome has said that they are illict. Why do you insist on these ordinations?

    Schmidberger: The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. The faithful have a right to the celebration of the traditional form of the Mass. The point is making priests who desire to proclaim the Gospel available. The ordinations are not meant to be an affront to anybody. They are actually being done to help the Pope and the bishops. But it like dealing with patients who do not see what medicine does for their health[sigh… with this attitude… oh well….]

    KNA: And so you claim the role of physician.

    Schmidberger: Yes, that is true. Tradition is the only guide to bringing the Church out of the present crisis. In 1950, 13 million Catholics went to Sunday Mass. Now it is just under 2 million. That is a drop of 85 percent. In ten years, all of the Churches will be empty. [He can’t, of course, know that.] Is that what the bishops want? What is going to happen to our children? It is about preserving Christianity in the West.

 

A good interview, though I think the interviewer sounded a little hostile from time to time.

Fr. Schmidberger kept his cool and only stumbled into an unfortunate turn of phrase a couple times.  I think he was trying to be careful, but some things must be pretty ingrained over these years.  That business at the end about the Pope and bishops being sick and not knowing that they need the medicine that the SSPX is going to force on them for their own good was a bad stumble in my opinion.  The SSPXers would do well to avoid saying this sort of thing.

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195 Comments

  1. Memphis Aggie says:

    “But faith is superior to obediance. (sic)”

    I think this implies that obedience is at odds with faith, whereas obedience is properly seen as a fruit of faith. If Catholicism is the true Church, as I believe through faith, then obedience to her is the natural consequence of this faith.

  2. Gail F says:

    Fr. Z: Thank you for this and your continuing coverage of the SSPX. I think I am getting a grasp of what this group believes, and why, thanks in a large part to your posts. They do have a lot of good points, which does not of course make them correct about everything. But especially knowing the situation in Europe, I can see why they believe going ahead with ordinations, for example, is essential for people’s souls. It’s necessary to understand their perspective if we are ever going to reconcile — that’s what the much-maligned term “dialogue” is really all about.

    I do hope and pray that they can reconcile with the Church. So many people should not be lost.

  3. Rellis says:

    Can anyone comment on the canonical distinctions among the basic options for the SSPX? These would seem to include a personal prelature, a non-territorial diocese, an “Anglican Use” option, or what the FSSP have. Anything I’m leaving out?

  4. Fr. Schmidberger’s statements in this interview remind me of the old adage of St. Thomas Aquinas: Parvus error in principiis, magnus error in conclusionibus. His statements on what Vatican II says (notably on ecumenism) are wrong, and the result is that his conclusions are also wrong. It strikes me as tragic that the SSPX position never once considers the possibility that they and not the Church errs.

    There is indeed a difference between what is legitimately done and what is an abuse. Of course these abuses did not appear in Vatican II. Certainly the Modernists distorted pre-Vatican II teachings to justify their errors.

    With that in mind, I believe the question is: Does the SSPX act out of error or out of distortion when they misrepresent the Council?

  5. Noah Moerbeek says:

    Only 2 million Catholics go to church on Sunday in America?

    I believe it but does anyone have a source I could check?

  6. Altbanater says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “so-called [I love that part. I never tire of it.]”

    The Bugatti of sarcasm. Sweet!!

  7. LA says:

    The 2 million is referring to the Catholic Church in Germany, I believe, since that is where this interview was taking place.

  8. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    Father, I think this can go back to the post regarding Dr. Peters’ assessment of the Rome/SSPX relationship. Rome has been incredibly gracious in lifting the excommunications and has been even more gracious in not enforcing canons they could easily enforce (for example, this summer’s ordinations).

    I agree with a lot of the concerns that the SSPX has. However, the whole illness/medicine comments make me wish they would be endowed with the same graciousness they are receiving from the Holy Father.

  9. RichR says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Thank you for your commentary. This is a delicate situation, and though there are many things in the exchange between Rome and the SSPX that are said, there are many more things that are unsaid. Many of us are interested in the reconciliation process, but we cannot read between the lines. We appreciate your careful analysis of what the HF and the SSPX are trying to say.

  10. Jack says:

    With regards to the part on eccuminism I think that Fr Schmidberger is right about Non-Christian Religions being heaped with praise, the problem I (personally) see with Nostre Astre is that the language used is too ambiguous and whilst it can be read in light of tradition is also to open to a modernist reading of the text. I’m supprised that Fr Schmidberger didn’t refer to Dominus Isus which at the very least cleared up the situaton regarding non Catholic Christians.

  11. meg says:

    Fr. Z mentioned the hostile tone of the interviewer. I think it must be very difficult to give an interview to someone who is obviously using their questions to set traps. I think he did pretty good considering the stress. Charity, once again, should be the rule in all judgements.

  12. laminustacitus says:

    His opinions about religious freedom prevent me from ever sympathizing with him, if he is not willing to live in a society where everyone has a right to proclaim whatever they believe, or at least acquiesce to it, then I’m going to see their treatment at the hands of German bishops as a sort of poetic justice.

  13. Tim Ferguson says:

    Noah, since the interview took place in Germany, I’m presuming Fr. Schmidberger was speaking about 2 million Catholics in Germany going to Mass each Sunday.

  14. Josemaria says:

    Fr. Z, The points that I think Fr. Schmidberger is referring to are in his book, have you read it? [I have not.]

    Time Bombs Of Vatican II

    http://www.angeluspress.org/oscatalog/item/8104/time-bombs-of-vatican-ii

    Although he contradicts himself throughout the book, he does quote from the Infallible Magisterium of Popes in certain parts, but not all!

  15. Heather says:

    *The discussions will consider: what is ambiguous in the council? What contradicts the traditional doctrine of the Church? [I would love to see the SSPX’s list.]*

    The SSPX list is readily available on the internet.

    *I think this implies that obedience is at odds with faith, whereas obedience is properly seen as a fruit of faith. If Catholicism is the true Church, as I believe through faith, then obedience to her is the natural consequence of this faith.*
    Comment by Memphis Aggie — 26 June 2009 @ 9:44 am

    Faith is one of Theological virtues. Obedience is a virtue of Justice and is one of the Cardinal virtues. As such, Obedience, a virtue of Justice, is *subordinate* to the Theological virtue of Faith. That is what Fr. Schmidberger means.

  16. LCB says:

    Obedience is the duty one owes to his superior, whose authority is derived from God. Thus as a matter of justice obedience is superior to faith for a person in the clerical state.

    From what I recall, this is what the Angelic Doctor explains.

  17. LCB says:

    Heather,

    The list is online, but that is from the past.

    Focusing on past grievances often makes moving forward difficult, and so it has been important for a new list of topics for discussion to be produced that is reflective of the concerns that exist today, as opposed to yesterday’s concerns.

    For example, with the liberation of the EF, some other concerns related to liturgy may no longer be considered so serious.

  18. Angelo says:

    THE SYLLABUS OF ERRORS CONDEMNED BY PIUS IX
    December 8, 1864
    (N.B. The following propositions are solemnly condemned)

    15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. — Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862; Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851.

    16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation. — Encyclical “Qui pluribus,” Nov. 9, 1846.

    17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. — Encyclical “Quanto conficiamur,” Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

    18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church. — Encyclical “Noscitis,” Dec. 8, 1849.

    77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship. — Allocution “Nemo vestrum,” July 26, 1855.

    78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship. — Allocution “Acerbissimum,” Sept. 27, 1852.

    79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism. — Allocution “Nunquam fore,” Dec. 15, 1856.

    80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.- -Allocution “Jamdudum cernimus,” March 18, 1861.

  19. Melchior Cano says:

    “His opinions about religious freedom prevent me from ever sympathizing with him, if he is not willing to live in a society where everyone has a right to proclaim whatever they believe, or at least acquiesce to it, then I’m going to see their treatment at the hands of German bishops as a sort of poetic justice.

    Comment by laminustacitus”

    This comment itself shows the extent of the problem with religious liberty. The above opinion was precisely condemned by Pope Gregory XVI, Pope Bl. Pius IX, Pope St. Pius X, all the way down through at least Pope Pius XII. The entire history of the Church bears witness to the constant practice and teaching that religious freedom is an error. The State may tolerate false religions for the sake of the common good, but they do not have a freedom to exist, a freedom to proselytize their errors. This came to a head between Cardinal Ottaviani and Cardinal Bea at the Preparatory Commission. Cardinal Bea arguing for Religious Liberty, Cardinal Ottaviani saying that was an error and preferring to speak of Religious Toleration. It may seem a question of polemics, but its not.

  20. Heather says:

    To laminustacitus — 26 June 2009 @ 10:20 am

    From the Syllabus of Errors:

    “Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which guided by the light of reason, he shall have come to consider as true.”

    Condemned.

  21. Ron says:

    In all this talk about obedience, it is good to remember that obedience is not absolute. Yes, the Bishops authority is from God but Bishops are not God. It is like the State. The state derives its authority from God but if the state issues an unjust or wrong law, we are not bound to obey it. That is the question. We cannot view obedience as absolute. For example, I think the good Father has a point about the salvation of souls. If many existing priests are leading souls astray, and if the Faith is struggling in Europe, why shouldn’t good, faithful priests be ordained? My point is that we cannot view obedience as absolute so that there are never any cases were we simply must not obey.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  22. Josh Hood says:

    The issue of religious liberty is clearly not going to be settled in the combox – if the answers were that simple, then the SSPX and Rome would have long ago been fully reconciled. The main distinctions lost in these discussions are whether religious liberty is a natural/moral right or not, whether it is permissible to enshrine in civil law, and what the extent of religious liberty is. It is also seemingly forgotten that much of the pre-Vatican II literature, and in particular the papal magisterial documents, have in view a civil government that is Catholic in confession, not a secular government as most Western states have today. This necessarily affects the discussion.

    Alongside our prayers for a full rapprochement between the Society and Rome, we should perhaps explicitly petition that the doctrinal discussions provide necessary clarity on these questions that bedevil many people of good will!

  23. James says:

    “[Well… I don’t that last observation was entirely accurate. I think the sacrificial nature is explicitly expressed. While it is certain that in many places the Novus Ordo is celebrated with little concept of the sacrificial dimension of Mass, the newer form can be offered in a way consistent with tradition.]”

    Father, here’s the problem. The Novus Ordo is *almost never* celebrated in continuity with tradition.

    Sure, *on paper* it expresses the sacrificial nature—but in practice it doesn’t. Lex orandi, lex credendi… If, after 40 years, the Novus Ordo continues to be celebrated this way almost always, it has become the standard practice through custom. Priests I know who are quite traditional even celebrate it with the horizontalist innovations because they have become so ingrained with the laity (and they would run afoul of their bishop if they did things the traditional way).

    So, at this point, it is no longer easy to make a distinction between what is on paper and “how it is celebrated.” The Church has been formed by the rupture version of the Novus Ordo, which has become the standard version by custom.

    As you always say, Father, if the sense of mystery is not there, the liturgy has failed. Well, barring any radical reform, it has. Sad, but true.

  24. bob says:

    “His opinions about religious freedom prevent me from ever sympathizing with him, if he is not willing to live in a society where everyone has a right to proclaim whatever they believe”

    What tosh. Error has no rights. The civil authorities have every right to suppress harmful doctrines. Do you believe it should be legal to call for genocide, blaspheme God, or promote heresy to impressionable souls? I certainly don’t. Your comment is pure Americanism.

  25. Heather says:

    To LCB,

    I do not believe your recollection of the Summa is entirely correct. Faith is never subordinate to obedience. We must always obey God before men.

    “Religious profess obedience as to the regular mode of life, in respect of which they are subject to their superiors: wherefore they are bound to obey in those matters only which may belong to the regular mode of life, and this obedience suffices for salvation. If they be willing to obey even in other matters, this will belong to the superabundance of perfection; provided, however, such things be not contrary to God or to the rule they profess, for obedience in this case would be unlawful.

    Accordingly we may distinguish a threefold obedience; one, sufficient for salvation, and consisting in obeying when one is bound to obey: secondly, perfect obedience, which obeys in all things lawful: thirdly, indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful.”

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3104.htm#article5

    As for the SSPX dubia, I don’t believe they will have changed much. Obviously the questions over whether the Mass was abrogated will have been dropped, but I can’t think of any other questions that have been settled.

    Personally, I can’t wait to see how we are to reconcile certain documents with Pascendi and the Syllabus of Errors.

  26. Melchior Cano says:

    First you state that the question concerns “whether religious liberty is a natural/moral right or not.” And then you state “much of the pre-Vatican II literature, and in particular the papal magisterial documents, have in view a civil government that is Catholic in confession, not a secular government as most Western states have today.”

    But these are two different things. The principle is not bound by the type of government, religious affiliation of the people, etc. The applcation of the principle is bound up in those things. No one, including the SSPX, is claiming that the United States (or other modern secular states) should outlaw Protestantism tomorrow and recognize the reign of Christ the King. What traditionalists are saying is that State’s can only truly “allow” the practice of false religions for the common good, not that those false religions or their adherents have a right to publicly spread error.

  27. RBrown says:

    I think this implies that obedience is at odds with faith, whereas obedience is properly seen as a fruit of faith. If Catholicism is the true Church, as I believe through faith, then obedience to her is the natural consequence of this faith.
    Comment by Memphis Aggie

    The SSPX thinks that they are being obedient to the liturgical tradition of the Church. They have a point–obedience is not merely juridical.

    I think that many priests now are required to do things under obedience that militate against their vocations.

  28. Paul says:

    It seems to me that the SSPX has been pointing out problems that have arisen due to Vatican II for quite some time, and they have seen virtually all of their concerns materialize, to the detriment of the Church.

    This experience, compounded by the disparate treatment of liberals and traditionalists – i.e. heretics and dissenters remain “in communion” with the Church, while those who cling to Tradition are reviled or treated as schismatic – makes the SSPX cautious.

    On top of that, the existing ambiguities, ambiguiities that never existed with other councils, commonly result in abuse, plus the questionable activities of many bishops, contribute to the reticence of the SSPX to be normalized under the standard diocesan structure.

    Heck, the Tridentine rite was thoroughly suppressed for almost 40 years, then after the Motu Proprio, we were told that it was never suspended. Great liberties and novelties are introduced that on their face deviate from Tradition, but when this is pointed out, the offenders weasel out and either ignore the complaint, or justify it in the most traditional context possible, rather than correct the error.

    The SSPX has my sympathy. Those on this board have complained about the same issues, so we should not comport ourselves like the non-prodigal son (Not an accusation, but a call to patience and understanding).

    All in all, I think that the best thing for the Church as a whole, and the SSPX in particular will be full communion between the two. Hopefully, the fruit of this will be the clarification of many doctrinal and liturgical questions, the lessening of abuses, and a common and crystal clear knowledge of what the Church both teaches and expects of its members and the world.

  29. stigmatized says:

    the new rite of mass IS mancentered. that is why no priest anywhere dares to celebrate it ad orientem, even though the rite itself presupposes this. that is also why so few people attend it. why go to church to be centered on a man and on the handful of people he chooses to give a united impression to the rest of the silenced congregation. (it is important that the whole church be given the impression that its old systems, like the syllabus of errors, have become irrelevant) i do not think that this priest should be faulted for wishing to be faithful to what priests used to have to take an oath to defend. anyway, how could something be an error in 1959 and okay in 1969?

  30. Michael says:

    The civil authorities have every right to suppress harmful doctrines.

    A civil authority that has the right to suppress harmful doctrines also has the right to suppress true and beneficial doctrines. Modern secular governments are more disposed towards the latter than the former. One should be careful what one prays for.

  31. RBrown says:

    Obedience is the duty one owes to his superior, whose authority is derived from God. Thus as a matter of justice obedience is superior to faith for a person in the clerical state.

    From what I recall, this is what the Angelic Doctor explains.
    Comment by LCB —

    Heather had it mostly right. A few points:

    1. There are two theological traditions re obedience.

    The first is Obedience uber alles. This has Franciscan roots and was later taken up by the Jesuits (and most of the manualist theologians).

    The second is that Obedience is subject Conscience. This is Dominican and Thomist. (NB: This does NOT mean acting in opposition to doctrine).

    For example, a bishop orders a priest to give Communion to a pro abortion politician. The Franciscan approach would say it’s best to be obedient and do it. The Dominican approach, however, would say that if the conscience of the priest says that it contradicts doctrine, then he is under no obligation to obey the bishop.

    One other point: Acc to St Thomas faith is an act of the intellect, not the will.

  32. This interview made me a little sad. If this is representative of the general views of the SSPX leadership, their return to normalized relations with Rome seem much farther off than I feared. This priest, at least, is very far from accepting aspects of Vatican II that even if clarified certainly will not be changed. I suppose the question might be raised as to whether or not the areas where they disagree necessarily require assent by Catholics.

    One of his statements in particular struck me, when he referred to the Council disagreeing with Pius IX regarding religious freedom. However, the weight of the Council is greater than the weight of a statement by the Pope. Pius IX was not speaking infallibly or declaring dogma when he spoke out against religious freedom, and so it makes no sense to imply that Pius IX’s statement as Pope requires our assent while Second Vatican Council does not.

    I have frequently been pleased with the statements given by +Fellay. This interview with Schmidberger presents SSPX much more as a schismatic group who is very distant from Rome.

  33. Also, I think when Fr. Schmidberger refers to an “evil spirit” of Vatican II and what the current Holy Father has said are two very, very different things. I don’t know how he meant it, but it seems that Fr. Schmidberger almost wants to assert that it was Satan who inspired Vatican II. I hope I’m dead wrong in that, because if it is, then he is committing the most heinous sin identified in Scripture, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If he is merely talking about the reference that people make when invoking the “spirit of Vatican II,” which is what I believe Ratzinger meant, then that is totally different and I would agree. But my feeling is that this is not what he meant.

  34. RBrown says:

    One of his statements in particular struck me, when he referred to the Council disagreeing with Pius IX regarding religious freedom. However, the weight of the Council is greater than the weight of a statement by the Pope. Pius IX was not speaking infallibly or declaring dogma when he spoke out against religious freedom, and so it makes no sense to imply that Pius IX’s statement as Pope requires our assent while Second Vatican Council does not.
    Comment by Michael Hallman

    The same can be said for the religious liberty document of VatII. It was neither declaring dogma nor speaking infallibly.

  35. stigmatized:

    The new rite is not man centered. It is God centered because the rite is precisely centered on the Eucharist. This is not to say that far too many man-centered actions have been added, but those have nothing to do with the rite – they are extra-ritual and must be eliminated. But there is no justification in referring to the rite as man-centered.

  36. Jordanes says:

    Michael said: A civil authority that has the right to suppress harmful doctrines also has the right to suppress true and beneficial doctrines.

    Not at all. No civil authority ever has the right to suppress true and beneficial doctrines, but a civil authority can have the right to suppress harmful doctrines. You are probably confusing “right” with “ability.”

  37. Joe says:

    I didn’t think the questions were hostile; I thought they gave Father a chance to state clearly and without contradiction or argument what he wanted to say. In fact since I don’t know the interviewer or the news agency it would appear to me possible that Father might have given the basic questions to the interviewer. Even the comment “as you define it”, which could be taken as aggressive, gave Father a chance to pursue his point, without argument.

  38. Henry Edwards says:

    I wonder whether the SSPX will turn out to be among Pope Benedict’s best and strongest supporters in the Church. An Inside the Vatican “Letter from Rome” sent yesterday includes the following statements:

    “Behind the pretext of changing Ecclesia Dei, and merging it into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope wants to reopen a theological dialogue concerning Vatican II.”

    “The Second Vatican Council provoked an earthquake in the Church,” ….. And now, 45 years later, there is only one group which wants a thorough debate on the meaning of the conciliar documents: the Society of St. Pius X. And the purpose of moving Ecclesia Dei under the CDF is to prepare the way for a thorough debate on the conciliar documents.”

    Benedict, knowing that the Second Vatican Council was a watershed in the history of the Church, and knowing also that the interpretation of the Council has led in some unexpected and erroneous directions, has decided to face the basic problem — the problem of the interpretation of Vatican II — by placing the Ecclesia Deicommission in the heart of the most important doctrinal office in the Church, in the CDF.

    The letter alleges, finally, that this new motu proprio had been scheduled for release on June 19, but is being delayed by opponents of any such reassessment of the documents of Vatican II.

  39. Jim of Bowie says:

    Re: The meeting at Castel Gandofo:
    Schmidberger: We discussed the entire situation with the Society and agreed on the path which we are now following. The Motu Proprio of 2007…

    Does this mean that, as the bishops in opposition claim, that Summorum Pontificum was only promulgated to bring the SSPX back into the Church? I would hate to think that is true.

  40. Heather says:

    To Jim of Bowie…that is not new information. The SSPX had been asking for the MP since 2000.

    The SSPX wanted the Holy Father to proclaim the truth: that the Mass had never been abrogated and that all priests who wanted to could celebrate it. That is the reason for the MP.

    Why would that bother you?

  41. Mary says:

    A few typos, Father–“obediance” twice instead of “obedience” and near the bottom “illict” ordinations instead of “illicit.”

  42. stigmatized says:

    if the novus ordo is not mancentered then why are we on our knees looking up at the face of men who, as of the last year or so, no longer look back. now there is no looking at one another across the meal table, only us looking at someone who is above us as though they were a statue we should be in awe of. even the three people, out of the thousands who come to church, who are the only ones allowed to do the readings and give the eucharist suddenly have their heads up above others in this statuelike manner. how does this represent togetherness and community? why do something so futile when the priest and people are supposed to be facing the same direction in the first place? what is the point of going to church if all you experience is one person saying whatever he wants and singing those protestant hymns he likes into the microphone he wears and then allowing only three people out of thousands to read or to serve? this same man also bows to the server when she washes his hands and brings him things at the altar. these constant simultaneous bows from an elevated position seven steps above the people while the people are kneeling are very puzzling.

  43. Kat says:

    This interview may be of interest to many of you:

    http://cathcon.blogspot.com/2009/06/bishop-fellay-video-of-new-interview.html

    A Canadian priest is interviewing Bishop Fellay on June 15.

  44. RBrown,

    I didn’t say they were infallible. What I said was they carry greater weight than the statement from a pope. They do.

  45. stigmatized:

    If you can’t see the point of even going to church when the NO is offered then your faith is far weaker than you realize. I have spoken with EF devotees who actually refuse to go to Mass if there is no EF available. That is unconscionable. It is a direct breaking of the Fourth Commandment and a mortal sin.

    And people aren’t gazing at a man. They are gazing at the Eucharist. I agree with your preference of ad orientem, it is mine, as well, and as a priest I hope to celebrate the NO that way frequently. But you are wrong that it is man-centered. It is centered on the Word of God and the Eucharist.

    As for your reference to microphones, where in the rite does it mention them?

  46. Michael J says:

    Arnobius,

    While we might agree thet “His[Fr. Schmidberger’s] statements on what Vatican II says (notably on ecumenism) are wrong, and the result is that his conclusions are also wrong. “, I wonder if we would agree on the source of the error.

    There is near universal consensus on this blog that what we see in the Church today is not at all what the Council envisioned. How did we get to this state? It seems that nearly everyone got it wrong so Fr. Schmidberger cannot really be faulted.

    In any case, I am not convinced he got it wrong. I think we can agree that there is a vast difference between what the Council *said*, and what it *meant*. I think Fr. Schmidberger recognizes this also which is why he is advocating clarification.

  47. It strikes me that all the great spiritual writers throughout the history of the Church, from Catherine of Siena to Teresa of Avila to John of the Cross to Therese of Lisieux, have written about obedience as the great safeguard of humility. It makes sense, because what we see so often from SSPX is sheer arrogance and a total lack of humility, which goes hand in hand with their refusal of obedience.

  48. Michael J wrote: “there is a vast difference between what the Council said, and what it meant.”

    I disagree. I think what the Council said is exactly what it meant. I think what many post-Council have said it meant is entirely different from what it did mean, because many modern Catholics don’t care what the Council actually said. They have incorrectly interpreted it to mean that we can do whatever we want now. VII was not a relativisitic Council, but somehow we live in a largely relativistic Church. This is not the Council’s fault, and it will only be fixed by living according to the Council. The Council will not and cannot be abandoned, as some would have us do. The Council was, in fact, inspired by the Holy Spirit and must be recognized as such. Those who refuse to accept its validity are as guilty of a hermeneutic of rupture as those who interpret VII as something entirely new. The extremes on both sides are equally problematic and harmful to the Church.

  49. Geoffrey says:

    Michael Hallman said: “It strikes me that all the great spiritual writers throughout the history of the Church, from Catherine of Siena to Teresa of Avila to John of the Cross to Therese of Lisieux, have written about obedience as the great safeguard of humility. It makes sense, because what we see so often from SSPX is sheer arrogance and a total lack of humility, which goes hand in hand with their refusal of obedience.”

    Well said! And you could add St. “Padre” Pio Pietrelcina in there as well:

    “Do all within the Church, act only within the Church! We must beware of putting ourselves against our Mother… Sweet is the hand of the Church, even when it batters us!”

  50. Athelstane says:

    Hello Michael,

    The new rite is not man centered. It is God centered because the rite is precisely centered on the Eucharist. This is not to say that far too many man-centered actions have been added, but those have nothing to do with the rite – they are extra-ritual and must be eliminated. But there is no justification in referring to the rite as man-centered.

    Fr. Schmidberger’s comment is a little too bald and unqualified.

    But it is true that many of the new propers and collects are much more anthropocentric – more emphasis on our action and less on God’s – than was the case in the classical right. It raises the question of why the sacramentary had to be so thoroughly overhauled. In this respect I recommend the work of Lauren Pristas of Caldwell College (Thomist, Nova et Vetera, etc.)

    And this is true even in a very reverently celebrated, Latin Novus Ordo. Which does not make it illegitimate. Or simply “man-centered.” But given the new prayers it is certainly more anthropocentric than was the case in the classical rite.

  51. Mark says:

    “Therefore, the Second Vatican Council does not have the same status as the other councils.”

    I wouldnt say that, because you have to consider it canon by canon (well, V-II didnt have canons, it had wordy documents, but you know what I mean).

    Vatican II in general has the same status as the other councils, but it chose to do less with that authority.

    It’s disciplinary and prudential canons have the same authority of those as other ecumenical councils. It’s dogmatic canons also would have…it just chose not to issue any.

    This lack of dogmatic canons, however, does not make it’s disciplinary canons any less authoritative in themselves as the SSPX might imply. But neither should we interpret the disciplinary canons as dogmatic, as “inspired mandates of the Spirit,” or as somehow MORE authoritative than the disciplinary canons of all the other councils which came to be superceded or reversed in practice, or were never fulfilled, etc. A future Pope is not bound irreversibly by any of the canons of Vatican II, as certain bishops would seem to imply.

  52. Heather says:

    To Michael Hallman

    I think that is one of the issues to be resolved, no? Pius IX, (Syllabus) Pius X (Pascendi, Oath Against Modernism) Pius XI (Mortalium Animos) in condemning errors, were restating the constant teaching of the Church. When a document from the pastoral Council is at variance with that teaching, what authority are we to give it?

  53. Michael J says:

    Michael Hallman,

    If “the Council said is exactly what it meant”, then there is no need for clarifications. It also means that *everyone* who gets it wrong does so out of ill will.

  54. Heather says:

    I doubt Padre Pio would spit on a crucifix if ordered to do so by a superior.

  55. Mark says:

    “we read all of the previous statements of the Councils and the popes. Pope Pius IX spoke out against religious freedom, for example. The question is: do these false religions possess natural rights? The Second Vatican Council answers differently than Pius IX. That is a rupture.”

    But not on a matter of Faith and Morals. It is a question in the prudential sphere outside the realm of Public Revelation.

    As such…rupture is possible. The Church can make 180-degree-turns on such “prudential policy” questions. I may disagree with the prudence of such a change, especially such an abrupt change, but there really is no “one true teaching” on political questions like this. I believe Pius IX’s teaching is better and more consonant with Catholic principles, but the opinion of more recent popes isnt exactly heresy either.

    As such, the true answer is much less satisfying/definitive, but much more intellectually honest, than either side is likely to want:

    There was a rupture when it comes to the prudential opinion of modern hierarchs on certain questions, but they werent a matter of faith and morals, so such a rupture isnt impossible or necessarily wrong. At the same time, Catholics are also free to believe the older opinions, they just are no long the opinion on which the Vatican is currently basing its prudential diplomatic policy. But Catholics (even clerics) are free to believe we should go back to the previous opinion and to promote such views.

  56. Steven says:

    Novus Ordo Mass = man-centered?

    Yes and no. It is not man-centered but priest-centered.

    One example from Italy. Many bischops and priests have put their throne on the platform in front of the old altar. They are sitting with their back to the tabernacle. They are performers behind their new altars. The seek eye-contact all mass long.

    They are sitting where Christ once sat. They are the object of adoration. So, it is not surprising that people do not attend mass anymore I think that they should be ashamed. It is just outrages.

  57. stigmatized says:

    sometimes you can feel when something might not be valid

  58. Kat says:

    Michael said:
    “I didn’t say they were infallible. What I said was they carry greater weight than the statement from a pope. They do.”

    This is a question from me, not a statement:
    Isn’t this one of the possible problems that the Council is criticized for? This idea that the whole college of bishops,speaking together, outranks the Pope?

    In my uneducated thought on this topic, it seems Our Lord said “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church”, etc. Our Lord did NOT tell all the Apostles together that they should meet, decide what to say, and speak as a group. I don’t claim to have studied this, but I do not believe the above quotation is correct; or at least if it is deemed today to be correct,that it was an innovation from VII. The Pope’s words, as Our Lord’s Vicar on earth, should outrank any group of bishops speaking collectively. He alone was given the authority by Christ. He is not just one of a group of equals.

  59. laminustacitus says:

    “This comment itself shows the extent of the problem with religious liberty. The above opinion was precisely condemned by Pope Gregory XVI, Pope Bl. Pius IX, Pope St. Pius X, all the way down through at least Pope Pius XII.”
    What about ever single pope since Pope Paul VI because their teachings on the matter are conveniently absent from your list.

    “The entire history of the Church bears witness to the constant practice and teaching that religious freedom is an error.”
    “The entire history”? Did the Catholic church cease existing since Dignitatis Humanae?

    “From the Syllabus of Errors:

    “Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which guided by the light of reason, he shall have come to consider as true.”

    Condemned.”
    From Dignitatis Humanae:
    ” A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man,(1) and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty.The demand is likewise made that constitutional limits should be set to the powers of government, in order that there may be no encroachment on the rightful freedom of the person and of associations.”

    “2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.
    The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.(2) This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.”

    Rejecting religious liberty is rejecting the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as promulgated in Dignitatis Humanae.

    “What tosh. Error has no rights. The civil authorities have every right to suppress harmful doctrines. Do you believe it should be legal to call for genocide, blaspheme God, or promote heresy to impressionable souls? I certainly don’t. Your comment is pure Americanism.”
    Man qua man has the right to follow his own conscience. In fact, it is only from a free decision that man can be brought into communion with God, coercing individuals into that communion is an insult to its sacredness.

    “Not at all. No civil authority ever has the right to suppress true and beneficial doctrines, but a civil authority can have the right to suppress harmful doctrines. You are probably confusing “right” with “ability.””
    The poster was more concerned with what really occurs than a pipedream that when civil government is on your side, that they will be your personal lapdog.

    “What traditionalists are saying is that State’s can only truly “allow” the practice of false religions for the common good, not that those false religions or their adherents have a right to publicly spread error.”
    And who gets to define the “Common good”? It is a term every single demagogue has used to their advantage. Those is control may very well declare Catholicism against the “Common good”, and begin its prosecution based on that, and one must remember (I say this to all the above as well)that giving one’s own faction the ability to declare what man, can, and cannot in law is a loaded gun for one’s enemies for once they get in control, then they will proceed to do the same against you.

  60. Athelstane:

    I hear what you’re saying, but even many of the “actions of participation” to which you refer are not always intrinsic to the rite. If you’ve read Ratzinger’s Spirit of the Liturgy he demonstrates how the “actio” in active participation as expressed at Second Vatican Council is precisely the action of God, to which man is called to participate, and the bodily actions which we are called to undertake are the means by which corporeality is rightly expressed in the Liturgy. Those who call for greater bodily participation in various forms simply get it wrong, completely and entirely, and do not understand active participation as it is meant by the Council.

    Michael J:

    It is utterly absurd to insinuate that someone getting something wrong does so out of ill will. The Council did mean what it said, but that doesn’t mean that some of the points it made don’t require further clarification or expansion. The postconcilliar problems we face in the Church primarily have to do with people taking something that is clearly stated in the Council and interpreting it to mean something else. Whether ill will or not is not for us to decide. We must focus on the issues and pray for the purity of everyone’s intentions, including our own, and do so with humility, not with arrogance. A perfect example is the Council’s liturgical documents and its reference to Gregorian chant and the notion of other suitable hymns. In that case, the Council meant exactly what it said, which is that Gregorian chant must always have pride of place in the Liturgy. It also meant what it said that there are occasions when other suitable hymns may be inserted. What has happened, as you know, is two things: one, people have taken the reference to other suitable hymns as license to remove chant altogether from the Mass, which is neither what the Council said nor what it meant. Two, it has inserted hymns that quite obviously are not suitable for liturgical worship. Again, the Council meant exactly what it said, but in light of events on the ground, so to speak, it is now apparent that the Church also needs to define what is meant by suitable. In this case, it is clear that the Council said what it meant, but it is not clear that those who misinterpreted what is meant by suitable did so out of ill will.

    If we are to have any hope of salvaging the liturgy and truly embracing a hermeneutic of continuity, we must all learn to proceed with humility and without accusation or arrogance. This seems to be a problem afflicting both extremes of these Vatican II debates, and it does nothing but harm the Church.

  61. Heather,

    Probably not, but he also would never lead a near-schism from the Church because he refused obedience to an ecumenical council.

  62. cjl says:

    LCB said: “Obedience is the duty one owes to his superior, whose authority is derived from God. Thus as a matter of justice obedience is superior to faith for a person in the clerical state.
    From what I recall, this is what the Angelic Doctor explains.”.

    Totally false, the other way round.

    Thomas says, obedience is not a theological virtue, and the absolute obedience is the obedience to God, i.e. obedience to faith. So faith is above the obedience to the superior in religious hierarchy.

  63. Dominic says:

    Fr. Z
    You said you would love to see the SSPX’s list of what Vatican II teachings contradict the traditional doctrine of the Church. Such a list is available here:

    http://www.sspx.org/SSPX_FAQs/q6_vaticanII.htm

    http://www.sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/post-conciliar_church_a_new_religion.htm

    Here is a sample list:

    Ecumenism
    Catholic Church: “It is almost impossible to happen that Catholics who mix themselves with heretics or schismatics in any act of worship might be worthy to be excused from this shameful crime.” (Pope Benedict XIV, De Synodo Bk. VI, Chap. 5, Art. 2, 1748)

    Vatican II: “It is allowable, indeed desirable, that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren.” (Decree on Ecumenism, #8)

    Modern World
    Catholic Church: “It is not fitting that the Church of God be changed according to the fluctuations of worldly necessity.” (Pope Pius VI, Quod Aliquantum, Mar. 10, 1791)

    Vatican II: “The Church… can and ought to be enriched by the development of human social life… so that she may… adjust it [the Constitution of the Church] more successfully to our times.” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #44)

    Religious Liberty
    Catholic Church: “They do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, especially fatal to the Catholic Church and to the salvation of souls…namely that ‘liberty of conscience and of worship is a right proper to every man, and should be proclaimed and asserted by law in every correctly established society.’ ” (Pope Pius IX, Quanta Cura, #3, Dec. 8, 1864)

    Vatican II: “The human person has the right to religious freedom…this right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed. Thus it is to become a civil right.” (Declaration on Religious Freedom, #2)

    Collegiality
    Catholic Church: “The authority of Peter and his successors is plenary and supreme …the bishops… do not receive plenary, or universal, or supreme authority.” (Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, #14, June 29, 1896)

    Vatican II: “Together with its head, the Roman Pontiff… the episcopal order is the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church.” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #22)

  64. Heather says:

    To Michael Hallman, that’s not really an accurate description of the situation. Makes for a nice straw man though.

    I sometimes wonder who hates the SSPX more…liberals or “conservative Catholics”.

  65. Kat:

    No, it is not one of the problems, because it was not just the whole council of bishops speaking – it was the whole council of bishops speaking in union with the Pope. Imagine the difference between Peter saying something and the other 12 either being silent or disagreeing, and Peter saying something with all 12 Apostles agreeing and supporting what he said. What we have in an instance like an ecumenical council (this is true of all the councils) is Peter and all the Apostles speaking in one unified voice. That indeed bears more weight than Peter expressing his personal opinion on something. Scripture in fact bears this out, as Peter was brought to correction by Paul regarding issues related to the Gentiles and their adherence to Jewish Law.

    Also, this ultimately gets to questions of papal infallibility. The Church does not – neither before Vatican II nor after – recognize everything the Pope says as being infallible. He is infallible on questions of faith an morals, and then when he pronounces something ex cathedra. The instances where a Pope has proclaimed something infallibly are very rare indeed.

  66. Heather,

    It’s not a straw man and it’s an exact description of SSPX. They were not quite schismatic, but doggone close, and most certainly they acted in absolute disobedience to the Church. It is only because of the generosity of the Church that they were not declared schismatic by their egregious actions of illicit ordination of the four bishops.

  67. By the way, Heather, which am I, a liberal or a conservative Catholic? And in what way do I “hate” SSPX? Is it possible to recognize their error without hating them? Is it possible to be an orthodox Catholic as I absolutely am without being a “liberal” or a “conservative”? Or is it easier for you to argue when you are able to neatly label people?

  68. Kat says:

    Thanks Dominic for the list.
    I guess my question is answered: Collegiality IS one of those questioned teachings of Vatican II.

  69. Steven:

    Regarding the position of the throne in relation to the Tabernacle, can you point me to where that is called for in the Rite?

    This is the point that we need to understand. There have no doubt been innovations added on top of the rite in many modern celebrations of the Novus Ordo, but they are not the Novus Ordo itself. The NO is not man-centered, but men have attempted to make themselves the center of attention where the rite does not call for such. There is a profound difference.

  70. Patrick says:

    Poor Fr. Schmidberger seems to have fallen into an utterly false ecclesiology. He has forgotten that it is he who is saved by the Church, not he who saves the Church.

    On another note, as a personal prelature or “Anglican-use”-type they would only be permitted to serve in a diocese with the permission of the ordinary. I believe the only structure which would give them total freedom from diocesan oversight would be as a sui juris church – and that’s not going to happen. At some point if they want unity, they will have to recognize the authority of local ordinaries. I cannot foresee the SSPX accepting such accountability.

  71. Kat, it is not one of the issues, because, again, the Pope was the head of the council. The Council is a statement from the Pope, does carry the authority of the Pope, and in so doing is backed by the entire college of bishops. You are creating a false dichotomy, as if the council is all the bishops but one speaking, and the Pope is the Bishop of Rome speaking alone. A plenary council is all of the bishops speaking in union with the Pope.

  72. Mark says:

    “This is a question from me, not a statement:
    Isn’t this one of the possible problems that the Council is criticized for? This idea that the whole college of bishops, speaking together, outranks the Pope?”

    I think you’re onto something here. The statement from Michael you quoted that somehow non-dogmatic decrees of a council outrank a Pope or bind future Popes unless they can convince another council to reverse them…isnt true. And yet it seems to be the assumption a lot of bishops, and even the Pope, are working under. Hence why he feels the need to interpret the policy changes he wants to make “into” Vatican II, instead of just saying, “This is how it is going to be, regardless of Vatican II”.

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Ecumenical Councils:

    “The council is, then, the assessor of the supreme teacher and judge sitting on the Chair of Peter by Divine appointment; its operation is essentially co-operation — the common action of the members with their head — and therefore necessarily rises or falls in value, according to the measure of its connection with the pope. A council in opposition to the pope is not representative of the whole Church, for it neither represents the pope who opposes it, nor the absent bishops, who cannot act beyond the limits of their dioceses except through the pope. A council not only acting independently of the Vicar of Christ, but sitting in judgment over him, is unthinkable in the constitution of the Church”

    “In normal times, when according to the Divine constitution of the Church, the pope rules in the fullness of his power, the function of councils is to support and strengthen his rule on occasions of extraordinary difficulties arising from heresies schisms, relaxed discipline, or external foes. General councils have no part in the ordinary normal government of the Church.”

    “It is thus evident that general councils are not qualified to issue independently of the pope, dogmatic or disciplinary canons binding on the whole Church.”

    “It is the action of the pope that makes the councils ecumenical. That action is the exercise of his office of supreme teacher and ruler of the Church. Its necessity results from the fact that no authority is commensurate with the whole Church except that of the pope; he alone can bind all the faithful. Its sufficiency is equally manifest: when the pope has spoken ex cathedra to make his own the decisions of any council, regardless of the number of its members nothing further can be wanted to make them binding on the whole Church.”

    “These considerations further account for the great esteem in which conciliar definitions have always been held in the Church, and for the great authority they universally enjoyed without any detriment to, or diminution of, the authority of the Apostolic See. From of old it has been customary to place side by side, in the rule of faith, the authority of the councils and that of the popes as substantially the same.”

    “The principles hitherto set forth supply a complete solution to the controversy. General councils represent the Church; the pope therefore stands to them in the same relation as he stands to the Church. But that relation is one of neither superiority nor inferiority, but of intrinsic cohesion: the pope is neither above nor below the Church, but in it as the centre is in the circle, as intellect and will are in the soul. By taking our stand on the Scriptural doctrine that the Church is the mystical body of Christ of which the pope is the visible head, we see at once that a council apart from the pope is but a lifeless trunk, a ‘rump parliament’, no matter how well attended it be.”

    Anyway, the point is, a Pope would be free to totally override or ignore the disciplinary decrees of Vatican II, or any Council. They do not represent any sort of inspired mandate from God, the “true meaning” of which needs to be “discovered”. They are not binding on future popes in the sense of them not being able to overturn them. They are binding on us only for as long as, and only to the degree that, the Pope continues to use them as a point of reference for his decisions. And we may certainly hope for and argue for the day when the Pope will stop using Vatican II as his reference point. His hands are NOT tied by it, the “humble submission to the will of the Council” act is just that: an act, a political tactic used by Popes who are in no way required to submit to any such nebulous thing.

  73. Andy says:

    Before Vaticanum II there was no crisis. The crisis in the Church started after Vaticanum II. But this is just a coincidence? There is no connection? Well, if you believe this, then you are blind.

    The Second Vatican Council was highjacked by the reformers. The traditionalists just nodded “yes” and did not put up a fight, because THEY were obedient. Only Lefebvre and a few other bishops organised the resistance.

    Lefebvre: “Comment voulez-vous que je prononce, sur le calice de mon ordination, d’autres paroles que celles que j’ai prononcées il y a cinquante ans sur ce calice, c’est impossible, je ne puis pas changer ces paroles – alors nous continuerons à prononcer les paroles de la consécration, comme nos prédécesseurs nous l’ont appris, comme les papes, les évêques et les prêtres qui ont été nos éducateurs nous l’ont appris, afin que Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ règne et que les âmes soient sauvées par l’intercession de notre Bonne Mère du ciel.”

    I think he was right!

  74. laminustacitus says:

    “Before Vaticanum II there was no crisis. The crisis in the Church started after Vaticanum II. But this is just a coincidence? There is no connection? Well, if you believe this, then you are blind.”
    Fallacy of causation. Plus, there was certainly a crisis beforehand, look at the Spanish Civil War, and the council was not called by arbitrary whims.

  75. Mark says:

    “The Council did mean what it said, but that doesn’t mean that some of the points it made don’t require further clarification or expansion.”

    It’s not that simple. What do you mean by “the Council meant”. The Council is not a personal being to which we can ascribe intent, is it? It was made up of thousands of individuals intellects and wills, remember, who wanted different things and comprised on documents, and may have viewed them all differently. How can we ascribe authorial intent to documents that had thousands of authors, who may have interpretted the words they ultimately assented to in different ways??

    “The Council” didnt mean anything. Take the document on liturgy, for example. Lefebvre might have seen it one way, Ottiavani another, Bugnini another, and Paul VI another. What did “the council” mean? The fact is, ascribing intent is much more complicated when we’re talking about the actions of a group of thousands of people in more or less agreement or opposition with each other.

    The Council therefore ultimately means what the Pope at any given moment uses its documents to justify.

  76. Patrick says:

    Andy,

    Do you really believe that everything was perfect in the Church until 1964 (or whenever the council started)?

    Weren’t there considerable problems in the 40’s and 50’s in the seminaries – I mean, judging from the some of the priests who received their formation then.

    Also, since I don’t read French, can you translate the quotation from Arch. Lefebvre? Thanks.

  77. Henry Edwards says:

    I wonder how constructive it is at the present time for people to stake out rigid positions on Vatican II that seem to be at odds with the view that Pope Benedict and the SSPX apparently share — on the present need for reassessment or re-interpretation of the documents of the Council, as indicated in the quotes included in my comment above at 12:19 pm today.

  78. Andy: Do you know the difference between correlation and consequence?

    Mark: What I said was not untrue. A personal, non-dogmatic statement of a Pope speaking on his own versus a statement made by another Pope in union with the council of bishops does not carry as much weight. This is plainly obvious. It bears out in Scripture. Did Peter’s initial erroneous view of the Gentile’s need to submit to the Jewish law outrank what was later decided at the Council of Jerusalem, of which he also was head?

    Is one Pope more authoritative than another? If not, then why would you expect the statement of a Pope speaking on his own to be either of equal or greater rank than that of a Pope speaking with the backing of the plenary council of bishops? It’s entirely nonsensical.

    I will never understand the arrogance of you people who actually want to do away with Vatican II altogether. You are hurting the Church as much as anyone is.

  79. Andy says:

    Lefbevre – translation:

    “Thus by keeping the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by keeping His Sacrifice, by keeping this Mass—this Mass which has been bequeathed to us by our predecessors, this Mass which has been transmitted from the time of the Apostles unto this day. In a few moments I am going to pronounce these words above the chalice of my ordination, and how could you expect me to pronounce above the chalice of my ordination any other words but those which I pronounced 50 years ago over this same chalice—it is impossible! I cannot change the words! We shall therefore continue to pronounce the words of the consecration as our predecessors have taught us, as the Pope, bishops and priests who have been our instructors, have taught us, so that Our Lord Jesus Christ reign, and so that souls be saved through the intercession of our Good Mother in heaven.”

  80. Veritas says:

    People like Ward and Manning were very disappointed when Vatican I did not accept the extreme view of papal infallility which they propagated. Yet they did not leave, or conduct a campaign against the extremely moderate definition adopted by the Council, instead they loyally accepted the settlement of the issue. Newman of course was very happy at the outcome and said that the extreme infallibilists had been over ruled by a higher power. He had regarded the Council as not really necessary. It would help if we all looked at Vatican II in a more historical light and compared it more with Vatican I.

  81. Chris says:

    Straight — not arrogant — talk from a smart priest.

    We need more of this.

  82. Ric says:

    Schmidberger said : “The spirit of the council has been described as an evil spirit, even by Pope Benedict XVI.”

    WOULD SOMEONE, INCLUDING FR. Z. PLEASE TELL ME WHERE AND WHEN HIS HOLINESS, POPE BENEDICT XVI HAS SAID SUCH OR WHEN HE WAS CARDINAL RATZINGER OR A PRIEST, OR WHATEVER, SAID SUCH A THING AND IF SO UNDER WHAT CONTEXT. I AM DEVASTATED BY THIS COMMENT OF SCHMIDBERGER AND I AM ASKING GOD TO HELP ME CONTROL MY EMOTIONS BECAUSE IF THIS IS A LIE OR A DISTORTION FOR THE PURPOSES OF DENOUNCING THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL AND THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON HIS SOUL. [Ouch! Please DON’T SHOUT on my blog!]

  83. Origen Adamantius says:

    The Issues that many have with the actual documents of Vatican II, flow from the Council Fathers reflecting upon two questions: (1) Is faith real if it is forced?; (2) What does baptism accomplish? Before dismissing VII as “merely” pastoral it is beneficial to reflect on the theological impact of how one answers those questions.

    Stigmatized: What is your understanding of the priesthood?

  84. Steven says:

    Michael Hallman

    Thank you very much for your comment. You are right.

    Bujt, I am 38 years old, so I don’t know the older form, but the more I read about the Council and its aftermath, the more I feel betrayed. They did not have the right to change the liturgy.

    You cannot say: “We (Catholics) are right AND they (protestants, jews, muslims) are right.” One of us is always wrong…

    What the Coucil said about islam for instance is just… It is almost certain that Muhammad never really lived. His biography was a complete fabrication 150 years later. Islam was invented by some Arabic rulers, to create an enemy (Byzantine Empire).

    Islam is a hoax. Man-made climate change is a hoax. Overpopulation is a hoax. The mass-media, Hollywood, the United Nations, materialism, communism, liberalism, etc etc etc are hoaxes. They are inventions of evil politicians to enslave the people.

  85. cjl: You incorrectly separate faith from obedience to the Church. Faith in God necessitates obedience to the Church. Faith demands obedience, for the Church is the prophetic voice of God. To separate yourself from obedience to the Church is to separate yourself from faith in God.

  86. Steven: What do you mean the Church didn’t have the “right” to change the liturgy? What about every other change that has been made in the liturgy over 2,000 years? Did the Church have no right to change that, either? If you feel betrayed then it is you who needs to conform to the Church, not the Church who needs to conform to you. That is what faith demands of you. The onus is on you to accept or reject.

    As for Muhammad being a fictitious character, sorry, but you’re going off the deep end here.

  87. Ric,

    If you’re devastated by the comment of a quasi-schismatic priest then perhaps you should pray for strength of faith. Let your seed of faith be planted in rich soil, not on rocky ground or among weeds and thorns, nor on the sandy path.

    TMG: Very well said.

  88. Jack says:

    Steven I totally agree with you about feeling betrayed by the bishops and Paul VI with regards to the liturgy, lets all pray for the reintegration of the SSPX ASAP

  89. Has anyone else noticed the irony and the hypocrisy of those who sit here claiming fidelity to the Popes, when really all they mean is that they like when Popes say things with which they agree, and if a Pope says something with which they disagree then it’s clearly wrong?

  90. Jack says:

    Two points Michael, (sorry for the double post) a) the Gregorian Rite was never abrogated (b) to paraphase Thomas E Woods Jr one definition of fanatacism is that many old people whose dying wish was to have their requium Mass celebrated according to the Gregorian Rite have had their wish denied by Bishops who whilst trying to suppress Tradition have foisted their modernist novelties apon up, should we conform to a modernist mindset?

  91. Okay, I am going to start booting people who post over the top comments.

  92. Mark says:

    “What I said was not untrue. A personal, non-dogmatic statement of a Pope speaking on his own versus a statement made by another Pope in union with the council of bishops does not carry as much weight.”

    Psychologically, perhaps not. But in terms of actual authority vis a vis the ability of a Pope acting unilaterally to overturn the disciplinary canons of a council, it does. A Pope can unilaterally overturn the disciplinary canons of a previous pope and council.

  93. Jack:

    Who said it was abrogated? I sure didn’t. The MP makes it abundantly clear that it was not. I’m not really sure what your complaint is. The MP liberated the Gregorian Rite, and while there are still those in defiance of the Pope who need to be dealt with in that regard, nonetheless that doesn’t reflect on Vatican II but on the harmful attitudes of many in the Church who subscribed to modernity in a way that caused a radical distortion of Vatican II and since a radical distortion of the Novus Ordo. This is truly lamentable. But the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI takes the proper view here, and not those who wish to abandon Vatican II altogether. The Holy Father recognizes that VII was indeed the work of the Holy Spirit and now all those reforms and “innovations” that distorted the Spirit’s work need to be done away with and we need to truly become a Church in continuity with Tradition, a Tradition which absolutely and necessarily includes the Second Vatican Council.

  94. wsxyz says:

    Schmidberger said : “The spirit of the council has been described as an evil spirit, even by Pope Benedict XVI.”

    WOULD SOMEONE, INCLUDING FR. Z. PLEASE TELL ME WHERE AND WHEN HIS HOLINESS, POPE BENEDICT XVI HAS SAID SUCH OR WHEN HE WAS CARDINAL RATZINGER OR A PRIEST, OR WHATEVER, SAID SUCH A THING AND IF SO UNDER WHAT CONTEXT. I AM DEVASTATED BY THIS COMMENT OF SCHMIDBERGER AND I AM ASKING GOD TO HELP ME CONTROL MY EMOTIONS BECAUSE IF THIS IS A LIE OR A DISTORTION FOR THE PURPOSES OF DENOUNCING THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL AND THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON HIS SOUL.

    Two things Ric:

    First, the “spirit of the council” Fr. Schmidberger is talking about is not meant to be the spirit inspiring or protecting the Council, but instead the so called “spirit of the council” used as a justification for so much destruction after the council. For example, the Council did not call for ripping out high altars and throwing statues in dumpsters, but such things were done and justified as being inline with “the spirit of the council.”

    Second, I translated the document and what was said in the original German is pretty difficult to translate into English. The translation is not literally incorrect, but the alternate translation “false spirit” would also be correct and may be more along the lines of what the Pope actually said.

  95. Mark,

    I don’t disagree with that point, but that’s not what’s relevant here. You are talking about the decision of a pope subsequent to a Council to overturn something a Council has decided (unless, of course, a Council has decided something dogmatically. The Council of Nicea is what determined the dogma of the divinity of Christ, and no Pope can overturn that ever). But a council speaking in union with the Pope trumps a statement made by a previous Pope regarding a non-dogmatic matter. Dogma can never be changed, not by council nor by Pope. Non-dogmatic matters can be changed by either, and a former statement of a Pope is overridden by a latter statement of an ecumenical council in union with the Pope.

    Put another way, Vatican II did represent the Pope speaking, and in so speaking he spoke in union with the entire council of bishops. Certainly a later Pope can without the bishops override any non-dogmatic issuance of the Council, but until that happens then all Catholics are bound by that Council.

  96. wsxyz says:

    The translation is not literally incorrect,

    Sorry I meant to say that the translation IS literally correct.

  97. Antiquarian says:

    “I have spoken with EF devotees who actually refuse to go to Mass if there is no EF available. ”

    Yes, those do exist, unfortunately, and even worse. I once read a comment online from a poster who proudly claimed she would refuse the Eucharist from the hands of the Pope himself if it had been consecrated at a Novus Ordo Mass, a stunning admission from one who insisted she had not “imbibed a schismatic mentality.”

    But I do hope that extremism of the sort that can be found on both ends of the spectrum is not what we’re approaching as the talks begin. I hope.

  98. James says:

    Michael,

    “This is the point that we need to understand. There have no doubt been innovations added on top of the rite in many modern celebrations of the Novus Ordo, but they are not the Novus Ordo itself. The NO is not man-centered, but men have attempted to make themselves the center of attention where the rite does not call for such. There is a profound difference.”

    After nearly 40 years of pretty consistent practice and with the (active or tacit) approval of bishops, these disastrous innovations have become *standard.*

    Thus that “profound difference” is pretty close to meaningless unless our hierarchs (to whom, as you say, we owe obedience) actually start being obedient themselves to the Church as expressed in Tradition all the way up through Vatican II. By “obedient,” I mean they using their pastoral offices to build up the Church rather than allow Her to disintegrate. A big part of that “building up” is to make sure the Holy Mass is celebrated in their dioceses in a manner faithful to the Church’s tradition and to Vatican II.

    One of the reasons why so many laity find it difficult to be obedient these days is because so many priests and bishops are disobedient. It’s chaos on the ground in the Church—whatever you see “on paper.”

    I am obedient to my ordinary, a Cardinal Archbishop. However, I find it difficult sometimes to be so when I consider his forbidding of the FSSP in his archdiocese and very lax attitude allowing open scandal and heresy in his own parishes. The last Mass I attended at which he was the celebrant was a “praise-and-worship” type rock Mass. Just dreadful. How “obedient” is he to Vatican II?

  99. Jack says:

    Mike

    perhaps I should clarify my thoughts: in your response to Steve you said that He should conform himself to the Church, My response was meant to illistrate the fact that many of our Bishops whilst professing hetrodoxy (take the head of the German Bishops confence for example who more or less denied the redemptoin) suppress authentic Catholic Tradition. With regards to V2 I accept it as an valid eccumenical council which teaches authentic Catholic doctrine, however I think that the wording of the council documents like the Second Council of Constantinople are open to erronious interpriations. I hope that helps, now personally I hope the SSPX is reintegrated ASAP so I (and many other Catholics) can attend a TLM (which I regards as asthetically superior the NO) on a regular basis whilst remaining within the bounds of cannon law. This will be my last post on the subject as I don’t want to fall foul of Fathers’ Rules.

  100. Mark says:

    “But a council speaking in union with the Pope trumps a statement made by a previous Pope regarding a non-dogmatic matter.”

    I dont believe that is necessarily the case. And I believe the doctrinal discussions between the SSPX and Vatican will clarify that Catholics are free to accept either opinion, because the issues in question are of prudential policy, not doctrine, and because later Popes do not trump earlier popes in mere prudential opinions.

    To “trump” in a binding way, they’d have to use a higher level of decree, and the only higher level would be to say that it was in fact a question of dogma. A council+pope does NOT carry more weight than an earlier pope, when it comes to an idea of binding our consciences, when both are speaking on a non-dogmatic prudential question.

    Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on Ecumenical Councils clearly states: “the great authority they universally enjoyed without any detriment to, or diminution of, the authority of the Apostolic See. From of old it has been customary to place side by side, in the rule of faith, the authority of the councils and that of the popes as substantially the same.”

    The authority of the Pope and the authority of the Pope+Council is “substantially the same”. Councils do not imply any diminuation of the Supreme Authority of the Pope.

    But even if it werent, even if the decision of a Pope+Council were more binding, even when it comes to non-dogmatic prudential matters, do you really want to start playing Trump Cards? Because even if you can say “Paul VI PLUS Vatican II outweighs Pius IX speaking alone”…we can start saying, “Yes, but 260 Popes PLUS 20 Councils outweighs 5 Popes plus 1 council”. Because it wasnt just Pius IX who had that teaching on religious liberty or ecumenism. Lots of councils called for Crusades against Muslims, for Jews to live in ghettoes, for heretics to be burned, etc. Why does Vatican II outweigh them?

    A Catholic is not required to believe in Vatican II’s ideas of religious liberty, they are free to believe in Pius IX’s, or neither. It’s just that the current “official” opinion is what is used to make official external policy.

    We cannot “disobey” that policy, but we CAN disagree with it or wish it were overturned in theory. It’s like any discipline in that regard. A Catholic cannot take actions contrary to the discipline of celibacy (ie, get married if they are a priest, get ordained if they are married, ordain a married man if they are a bishop, go to a suspended married priest for their sacraments, etc)…but a Catholic can support theoretically an overturning of that discipline, as long as they dont actually disobey it for as long as it is in force. Breaking the current law is different than wishing for or working for that law to be changed.

    When it comes to dogmatic questions, obviously once something is defined, it is forever. When it comes to disciplinary questions, we must obey the current discipline, even if we don’t agree with it. But when it comes to this third nebulous category of prudential opinions, however, outside the scope of Revelation, half-practical and half-theory…it is more unclear. If two Popes can have different opinions, it seems we can too, if we weigh all the relevant teaching throughout Catholic history.

  101. action hero says:

    Michael please elaborate on why we should follow V2 when it contradicts defined dogma ,i.e. Council of Trent especially,.
    I think there are some V2 statements that ring true, but as a whole
    it must be rejected b/c of heretical statement or implied heresy.

    Also i have yet to read in V2 documents anything that proclaims it
    is infallibly binding on the faithful. please point out the book and line to me.

    now if you say it comes under Ordinary Magisterial authority, well
    it can’t , if you know the defined dogma on Papal Infallibilty as proclaimed by Vatican 1. thanks.

  102. Paul says:

    “Is one Pope more authoritative than another? If not, then why would you expect the statement of a Pope speaking on his own to be either of equal or greater rank than that of a Pope speaking with the backing of the plenary council of bishops? It’s entirely nonsensical.”

    Michael, you may be interested in this excerpt from Pius IX’s Encyclical condemning religious liberty, Quanta Cura:

    “Amidst, therefore, such great perversity of depraved opinions, we, well remembering our Apostolic Office, and very greatly solicitous for our most holy Religion, for sound doctrine and the salvation of souls which is entrusted to us by God, and (solicitous also) for the welfare of human society itself, have thought it right again to raise up our Apostolic voice. Therefore, by our Apostolic authority, we reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all the singular and evil opinions and doctrines severally mentioned in this letter, and will and command that they be thoroughly held by all children of the Catholic Church as reprobated, proscribed and condemned.”

    As you can see, the document invokes the highest authority possible (the Pope’s Apostolic authority) to condemn liberalism. The Encyclical is obviously binding. Where does Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae invoke similar authority? Until the authority of that document is clearly established, I opt to assent to the teaching contained in Quanta Cura.

  103. action hero says:

    Mark, The Mass and its rubrics is not a discipline that can be changed by anyone as taught by Trent.

  104. moon1234 says:

    What many who comment from America (me included) fail to realize is that the Church is many European countries is dying quickly. In France the SSPX nad its members make up 1/3 of all practicing Catholics. Think about that for a second.

    If the decline of the post VII church attendance continues at the same rate it is currently at, the SSPX will make up almost half (50%) of practicing Catholics in France within the next 10 years. This must be frightening to the local Bishops. It is why they are reacting with such hostility to the SSPX.

    In another 50 years, if the SSPX is not reconciled, the SSPX will far outnumber the “VII” Catholics in most European countries.

    Even in my little corner of America, most of the young VII Catholics have very few if any children. They attend church infrequently if at all. What happens when these younger Catholics grow older and their children see how their parents valued their faith?

    There is a reason Europe is becoming Islamic. Children are encouraged. When they are born they are taught their faith with a conviction many Catholics would do good to replicate. If we are not careful we will be surpassed by Islam by the sheer number of children.

  105. Mark says:

    “Mark, The Mass and its rubrics is not a discipline that can be changed by anyone as taught by Trent.”

    Huh? Where have I said that? Though I disagree, if you are implying the same old “Quo Primum” nonsense argument that seems to imply that Pius V somehow bound future Popes in the disciplinary matter of the liturgical texts and rubrics. Regardless of the strong language, he couldnt do such a thing, and I dont think was intending to even, merely to bind lesser prelates who might try to act without the authority of a Pope.

  106. Mark says:

    “Put another way, Vatican II did represent the Pope speaking, and in so speaking he spoke in union with the entire council of bishops. Certainly a later Pope can without the bishops override any non-dogmatic issuance of the Council, but until that happens then all Catholics are bound by that Council.”

    But to WHAT, exactly? What exactly has it bound us to? That’s the nebulous thing.

    There were no dogmatic statements, so we’re not bound to that.

    And I cant even think of many clear-cut disciplinary canons. “The Hour of Prime is to be abolished”, for example, was one of the few clear-cut directives, but it mainly for the committee drawing up the new liturgy to “obey,” not an issue for individual Catholics or even priests to consider.

    And, indeed, the new LOTH doesnt include an hour of Prime. But already, in approving the use of the Old Breviary, the Pope has “overridden” this statement in some sense by allowing the hour of Prime to come back again, ie, in the Old Rite. Are you saying that an “obedient” Catholic will refuse to say the hour of Prime “because Vatican II abolished it” even if they use the old breviary? Or that the Pope is disobeying Vatican II by not striking Prime out of his approval for use of the old breviary? Or that Catholics, before he did this “overriding” regarding Prime’s abolition, were not free to wish for or work for it’s re-institution? That seems silly to me.

    Or, for example, even if a bishop must obey IN PRACTICE Vatican II’s decree on religious liberty and ecumenism (ie, he can’t start burning heretics in his dioceses, even if he had the support of the State)…it is ridiculous to propose that he, or lay Catholics, couldnt IN THEORY support a reversal back to the old ways, as long as they didnt, in practice, disobey the current policy until such a reversal was promulgated. But they could certainly think it should be reversed, theoretically, and work for such a reversal, as long as they obeyed the current policy until such a reversal happened.

    Catholics may have become bound to DO some things different after Vatican II…but it did not bind us to THINK or BELIEVE anything differently when it comes to pure theory, any more than Pius IX’s syllabus did. In both times, a Catholic was and is free to believe either, as long as they conformed to the current PRACTICE (which is what these prudential issues are really about: the practicalities of the Church’s practical relations with the State and other religious organizations…not about any theory for theory’s sake).

  107. laminustacitus says:

    ” The council exhorts Catholics, and it directs a plea to all men, most carefully to consider how greatly necessary religious freedom is, especially in the present condition of the human family.”

    Of course, if one is arrogant enough that man does not have the right to follow his conscience without the threat of coercion qua being man, this will be anything but convincing.

  108. action hero:

    Care to elaborate where a defined dogma has been contradicted by Vatican II?

    (Here’s a hint: it doesn’t exist)

  109. Mark,

    I have to run out the door so I can’t address your comment in full, but quickly regarding Prime:

    Prime has been abolished as an official canonical hour of the Church, but that does not preclude it from being observed as a private or even communal prayer. And since the MP thankfully also availed wider use of the 1962 Breviary it also avails the use of the hour of Prime, even if it is not a canonical hour with any official status in the Church.

  110. Mark says:

    In fact, applying the same logic, Michael, how did the new opinion about religious liberty come about in the first place?

    If Catholics are bound by the last most authoritative statement on the subject, then from the time of Pius IX and Pius X until Vatican II’s alleged “trumping,” are you saying Catholics would have not been free to advocate for today’s position?

    Yet the current position didnt just drop out of thin air at Vatican II, nor was it a unilateral top-down decision emanating from the Pope spontaneously.

    We all know that it gained popularity through being advocated by men such as Fr. John Courtney Murray. Was he being disobedient for advocating, in theory, the position contrary to the (at the time) current official prudential opinion (ie, Pius IX’s)? No. He wasnt. Case in point: when commanded to stop writing or speaking publicly on the matter, he obeyed. But he wasnt required to recant, to stop holding that opinion, or to stop promoting it in private correspondence. And indeed, at Vatican II, he was “vindicated” by his position being finally adopted.

    Likewise, Catholics today, as long as they dont do anything disobedient in practice, are free to hold and advocate for the older opinion (even publicly, as the Vatican has issued no decree silencing it), and maybe some day we too will be vindicated by a change in the official opinion back to the old.

    If even non-dogmatic issues were binding on Catholics in the form of the current party-line, as neocon “magisterial positivists” seem to imagine…then the current party-line could only change if the Pope himself decided to spontaneously and unilaterally, since everyone else would be bound to hold the old opinion. Yet, we know that isnt how it works; the opinions change when there is a vigorous discussion about it happening in the Church at large, something not possible if the sort of mental-gag-order you seem to propose were in effect. But, thankfully, there is actually a lot of intellectual freedom in the Church in that regard.

  111. Mark, one more thing (waiting on my dad :) Regarding to what must be assented: while no new doctrine has been established by Vatican II, certainly traditional doctrine has been reaffirmed. However, an example of unacceptable disobedience to Vatican II is seen with regards to the attitudes of some regarding the liturgy. It is perfectly acceptable to prefer the Extraordinary Form over the Novus Ordo. I myself am on the fence as to which I prefer. What is not acceptable and what constitutes an unacceptable disobedience to the Church and a downright denial of the Holy Spirit is the attitude found among too many that the Novus Ordo is actually invalid.

    Another example is with regards to what Vatican II states regarding salvation of non-Catholics. It does not say that they will be saved, but rather that it is possible that God may extend an extraordinary act of mercy towards them. Yet there are Catholics who assert that if one is not Catholic salvation is impossible. This too is an unacceptable rejection of Vatican II.

    Clearly the talks between SSPX and Rome are necessary and I have no doubt will be fruitful – how fruitful will depend on the arrogance or humility of SSPX. I am developing some trust in +Fellay with regards to the necessary disposition for these doctrinal talks, but we shall see. I do believe the entire Church will benefit from them. But the attitude of Father Schmidberger, which more or less insinuates that SSPX is right and Rome must conform to their vision, not only is entirely false and will never happen, it is an attitude of arrogance that will diminish the potential for fruitfulness of these talks.

  112. Mark says:

    “Prime has been abolished as an official canonical hour of the Church, but that does not preclude it from being observed as a private or even communal prayer. And since the MP thankfully also availed wider use of the 1962 Breviary it also avails the use of the hour of Prime, even if it is not a canonical hour with any official status in the Church.”

    Ah, but I dont think that’s true. I believe that when the Old Rite Breviary is used publicly, either vis a vis the permission of Summorum Pontificum or in an Old Rite approved community…then Prime is indeed liturgy and official public prayer in that context.

    A priest who chooses to fulfill his Office obligation by saying the Old Breviary according to the permission of Summorum Pontificum IS required to say Prime, being an intrinsic part of that office. In that regard, the Pope has (in a rather small way) already “overridden” or ignored a decree of Vatican II, as it is fully within his power to do.

    Prime, when said by a cleric according to the old Breviary vis a vis the motu propria, indeed has canonical standing the Church again, albeit in a limited way.

    But even if it didnt, are you really going to accuse me of some sort of disobedience for saying that it does, or that (even if it didnt) that it SHOULD? I hope not, because Catholics are free to hold those opinions. How would things ever change, otherwise, except by a spontaneous unilateral decision of Popes? No, we are allowed to wish for, and even lobby for, change.

  113. Paul says:

    “Another example is with regards to what Vatican II states regarding salvation of non-Catholics. It does not say that they will be saved, but rather that it is possible that God may extend an extraordinary act of mercy towards them. Yet there are Catholics who assert that if one is not Catholic salvation is impossible. This too is an unacceptable rejection of Vatican II.”

    God does not save those who have rejected his Church, or culpably fail to enter it. This is dogma.

    “Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.” – Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem

    The dogma of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus can be reconciled with Vatican II, but the council must be strictly read in the context of the Tradition. The statements of the council about salvation “outside the church” can only be read as referring to those who suffer from ignorance beyond their control. To say anything else is heresy.

  114. James says:

    “Prime has been abolished as an official canonical hour of the Church”

    This is a perfect illustration for why there is so much upheaval in recent times.

    The office of Prime is ancient, going back to the 4th century. So after *1,600 years*, it is suddenly suppressed.

    Think about that for a second, and ponder its import.

    Combine this with many other shocking and radical changes at the same time, and it produces a *climate* where people have the impression that everything is subject to continuous change—even the teachings of the Church.

    A prescription for disintegration and chaos. Certainly the Council is valid, but in terms of *prudence*, it has borne very bitter fruit thus far.

    Almost my entire family fell away in the wake of it. As my father tells me, as a teenager, he looked to the Church as the rock. All of the sudden changes and chaos shook his faith to its foundations, and he began to see the Church as rather a man-made institution whose human rulers can radically alter at will.

    He tells me that he lost his faith in the Church, and turned to the only solid, stable thing he could find: the Holy Scriptures. He became a Baptist.

    At least he’s something—most of the rest of my family is now lapsed and secular.

  115. moon1234 says:

    The dogma of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus can be reconciled with Vatican II, but the council must be strictly read in the context of the Tradition. The statements of the council about salvation “outside the church” can only be read as referring to those who suffer from ignorance beyond their control. To say anything else is heresy.

    Exactly! Once you know of the one true Church you are bound to join it. If you reject it, then you reject Christ and can have no salvation. In the modern era, only those living in remote places or under a rock will not at some point be exposed to the Church.

    As Catholics we are BOUND to preach the gospel and try to convert as many non-believers as possible. This is NOT what is taught by many in the VII croud. If you listen to too much of this drivel you will come away thinking that you can get to heaven through any religion. THAT is heresy AND scandal.

    *Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus*

  116. Mark says:

    “It is perfectly acceptable to prefer the Extraordinary Form over the Novus Ordo…What is not acceptable and what constitutes an unacceptable disobedience to the Church and a downright denial of the Holy Spirit is the attitude found among too many that the Novus Ordo is actually invalid.”

    I have to think about that, as it is not as obvious as it may seem at first.

    I believe the Novus Ordo is clearly valid.

    But the Novus Ordo is not, in fact, universally promulgated, since it is the Rite of only one Particular Church (ie, the Latin). And we know that the rites of individual particular churches can be invalid. For example, in the Middle Ages there were dioceses with a rite of baptism that used beer instead of water. This is clearly invalid, but it doesnt question infallibility or indefectability, because those are traits of the UNIVERSAL church.

    The council of Florence believed that the Armenians had a potentially invalid ordination rite and required that they insert a Translation of Instruments. We now know that this isnt required for validity, but it proves that the Church has never taught that an entire Rite could not theoretically be invalid.

    Because infallibility and indefectability apply to the Universal Church as a whole, not any one particular church (even if it happens to be Rome; the Pope is infallible AS Pope, not as western patriarch). So, I think theoretically theologians would traditionally admit the Latin Church could have some invalid sacraments as long as valid sacraments continued in the Eastern Catholic churches and their validity was not made the subject of a dogmatic statement. And certainly merely one particular translation (ie, the English) of one particular Rite could be IN THEORY invalid without questioning indefectability. “The Anglophone segment of the Latin Rite particular church” is hardly the same as the Universal Church!! And thus is not a subject of infallibility or indefectibility.

    A rather obscure theoretical point to be discussed, seeing as I do believe the Novus Ordo is valid, even in English, and that I doubt Providence would allow such a large particular church to defect in such a grave way.

    But it has implications, for example, in things like Paul VI’s toleration, for the Latin Rite, of the use of non-olive “oils” in the sacraments (doesnt even make sense in Latin as oleum is intrinsically linked to olea). Thankfully this permission is little used, because I and many others have grave doubts about it. It probably is invalid. But does this “toleration” (ie, not a mandate, and certainly not a dogmatic statement on the issue) of potentially invalid matter for one particular church (ie, the Latin) call into question infallibility or indefectibility? No, I dont think so. And are Catholics bound to accept it or disobedient for expressing grave doubts or speaking out against it? I hope not!

  117. Mark says:

    “Another example is with regards to what Vatican II states regarding salvation of non-Catholics. It does not say that they will be saved, but rather that it is possible that God may extend an extraordinary act of mercy towards them. Yet there are Catholics who assert that if one is not Catholic salvation is impossible. This too is an unacceptable rejection of Vatican II.”

    Again, depends what you mean.

    Indeed, to believe that it has been positively revealed that God positively WONT save those who are not Catholic…is wrong. In reality, we dont know. We do know that it is the only Revealed means of salvation given to man. But what God does beyond that in the sphere of private individuals, in the internal forum…is His business. But, indeed, He is not bound by the sacraments. We cannot tell Him that He is bound somehow not to save someone. If He wants to, He will, so there is hope.

    But Catholics are free to believe that God never, in fact, does extend such mercy. When several Feeneyite groups were reconciled to the Church under Ratzinger’s CDF, they didnt have to reject their opinion regarding the practical consequences of EENS, merely the idea that their opinion was dogma.

    They were allowed to continue to hold a “rigorist” opinion as regards salvation outside the Church, they just had to admit that the rigorist opinion is just that: an opinion. They could not claim it was binding or a dogma, and had to admit that Revelation also doesnt exclude the extremely optimistic interpretation. We just dont know.

    But they were not required to recant the rigorist opinion regarding whether God ever extends such an extraordinary salvation to non-Catholics. They had to admit it was “possible” inasmuch as God is omnipotent, not bound by the sacraments, can do what He wants, and has never positively said that He wont for sure. But they are allowed to continue believing that God, in practice, doesnt extend such salvation.

  118. Justin says:

    The issue here as I see it is this. The SSPX has my sympathy. But the Church and her infallible magisterium expressed through her Oecumenical Councils has and demands my loyalty.

  119. Mitchell NY says:

    I will say a prayer that the Holy Father creates the best structure to allow the Mass and Sacraments according to the 1962 Missal to become thoroughly entrenched in the fabric of the Church, whatever that maybe. (A personal prelature or Apostolic Administration) Free from suppression (and still not everywhere) is and should not be the only goal here. And I know the Holy Father has stated that many times. It must once again become part of a Catholic’s life and prayer at least as an option in every Church. The world has much to gain from a good Catholic grounding in our faith…As Bishop Rifan said recently in his Pontifical Mass here in NYC, we ARE the religion of Love……..Told you I would never forget that…

  120. David Kastel says:

    Michael Hallman writes that “all the great spiritual writers throughout the history of the Church, from Catherine of Siena to Teresa of Avila to John of the Cross to Therese of Lisieux, have written about obedience as the great safeguard of humility”

    I doubt that these saints have forgotten that obedience to human authority is not absolute, as he seems to have done. Remember, St Thomas More disobeyed the lawful king and parliament, St Peter commanded us to “obey God rather than man”, and St Paul “withstood Peter to his face, because he was wrong.”

    Obedience to a lawful superior is required, except for two cases – 1) when he commands something outside of his jurisdiction or 2) when he commands something in violation of the command of a higher authority. Only for the commands of God Himself can these conditions never apply.

    Every human person has only limited jurisdiction, so 1) might apply, and every human person is fallible, so 2) might apply. For these reason, More was correct in disobeying the civil authority, and St Paul was correct in disobeying the ecclesiastical authority.

    The SSPX do not misstate the principle of obedience, or the conditions under which disobedience is acceptable or even required. If you wish to condemn their “disobedience” you need to argue the facts of the case, not the principles involved. They are correct on the principles.

    Disobedience is sometimes allowed or even required.

  121. tired student says:

    I’m concerned about Fr. Schmidberger’s response to questions about Nostra Aetate. “Dual Covenant Theology” is a currently debated theological issue in Catholic circles, and he’s free to think what he wants of it and debate others on the topic. But it’s fairly clear that the interviewer was particularly interested in hearing about where Fr. stand with respect to Catholic-Jewish relations as understood right now. Fr. would have done well to tackle the question of deicide clearly. Does Fr. accept Nostra Aetate’s rejection of the deicide charge and confirm its command to respect Jews and Judaism? I suspect that Fr. Schmidberger would not agree with me, but I think it is possible to affirm JPII’s respect for our “older brothers” without qualifying the issue solely on questions of salvation and Christology.

    If I were Pope Benedict, I would be quite wary of admitting the SSPX back into full communion unless the bishops of the society harmonize their views with Nostra Aetate through unambiguous statements. This could be done alongside the negotiations over all the other sore doctrinal points that plague Vatican-SSPX negotiations. This is an important issue that shouldn’t be swept under the rug in the rush to get the Lefebvrists back on the Barque.

  122. Sal says:

    Michael Hallman,

    You might consider that Cardinal Ratzinger himself had
    some fairly severe criticisms of Article 17 of Gaudium
    et spes and fairly early on. Having seen the “Pelagianism”
    of this document played out over time, the Holy Father
    may have even more reservations about this document.

    In any case, the fact that there going to be doctrinal
    talks between the Vatican and the SSPX about Vatican II
    seems to indicate that there are some matters about which
    the Pope thinks negotiations can be done. Unless there is
    no “good will” (i.e., unless decisions have already been
    made as to the conclusions) about the way the talks will
    go, it might even be that the SSPX can take a “minimalist”
    view of the Council.

    If that’s the case, then that opens the floodgates for
    everyone who has reservations about what the Council says.

  123. Sal says:

    And, by the way, Michael, the Council documents are
    frequently ambiguous in their phrasing, so it’s no
    surprise that several conclusions may be drawn from
    their statements.

  124. Why is it that the more I read snide remarks about the SSPX, the more I see the need to lend them my support?

    It could not be more clear to me that the SSPX are 98% responsible for the resurrection of the traditional Latin Mass and for limiting the reach of Vatican II and its consequences. Why shouldn’t I stand with the SSPX? Why should I lazily benefit from their efforts while sitting among well-connected churchmen who carp?

  125. Paul says:

    “I’m concerned about Fr. Schmidberger’s response to questions about Nostra Aetate. “Dual Covenant Theology” is a currently debated theological issue in Catholic circles, and he’s free to think what he wants of it and debate others on the topic.”

    No… any notion of “dual covenants” is a heresy. The Church has dogmatically defined that there is no salvation outside of her (specifically mentioning the Jews at the Council of Florence). The covenant is fulfilled in Christ and resides exclusively in the Church. There is absolutely no room for debate on this. The Catholic doctrine is totally unambiguous and perpetually binding.

  126. action hero says:

    Michael, I think that Lumen Gentium 15 qualifies as major heresy and blasphemy against the First Commandment… there other lines in different docs which at least imply heresy against defined dogma.
    keep in mind that as Catholics we are to reject docs that imply heresy even if it means rejecting the whole council.

    Mark, “Quo Primum” nonsense? preceded immediately by the Council of Trent it makes perfect sense.

  127. action hero says:

    Justin, only problem is that V2 doesn’t qualify as infallible, either extraordinary or ordinary magisterium,,,that’s the rub.