Dog Bites Man! Sun Rises In East! SSPX, Holy See disagree!

National Catholic ReporterJohn Thavis of CNS has a piece today, with the headline “Traditionalist bishop cites lack of progress in talks with Vatican” which was also – for reasons which will be obvious – picked up by the National Catholic Fishwrap and given another headline adding also “Society of St. Pius X head: Cure of ‘sickness’ of Vatican II ‘almost impossible'”. Somewhat fairer is Reuters which says “Catholic splinter group sees no Vatican accord”.  True enough.

As I read both the English version of part I and the French, I did not get the sense that Fellay was being so very pessimistic about the course of the talks between the SSPX and the Holy See.  Nay rather, I came away from that interview with the idea that Fellay saw that the talks were positive.   He also says that there hasn’t been a big shift of positions in either side, but… is that a surprise?

Dog bites man… Sun rises in East… SSPX and Holy See disagree about Vatican II.

The CNS article spends a lot of energy on the lack of enthusiasm about the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II and about the upcoming meeting in Assisi.  You get the idea that these things in themselves are enough to derail the talks.

It is no surprise that the SSPX would object to the beatification of John Paul II.  But then, so do a lot of liberals.  The first Assisi confab was so dreadful that anyone would hope and pray that it not be repeated.

Would it surprise anyone that CNS or Fishwrap would want to put anything having to do with the SSPX in as negative a light as possible?

There are seasons and tides in difficult talks between parties who sharply diverge.   Does anyone think that these talks would go fast or smoothly in any respect?   Some things take time.   They may take various sets of interlocutors.  They may need to warm and then cool and then warm again.

They are going to sit down and read some papers to each and – BAMMO! – AGREEMENT!  Right?  Does that sound realistic?

So, they have come to the end of the first round.   So?

The talks are time limited, of course.  But what in the affairs of men is not?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. robkphd says:

    I was certainly more hopeful than what we are seeing – I do not think it was obvious that we would have no progress. Certainly there remains hope, but I am not so sure that it is as bright as when the talks began. We shall see (and pray).

  2. kgurries says:

    Naturally, Bishop Fellay is going to be somewhat “moderate” and diplomatic in his comments — neither sounding too optimistic nor pessimistic. He probably has to keep pressures from different sides in check. Nevertheless, this does seem like a real piece of news. Basically, the message is that the SSPX has not been successful in converting Rome to a true understanding of the Faith and Tradition and that recent Magisterium is still in “contradiction” (rupture) with the past (Tradition). In spite of the diplomatic tone, it gives the impression of a hardening of position. In any case, it’s probably safe to say that the doctrinal differences are significant — and will take time to resolve.

  3. kgurries says:

    Bishop Fellay’s comments on Assisi are interesting. He correctly says that Pope Benedict does not in fact accept the idea that members of different religions can pray together. Nevertheless, Bishop Fellay rejects the idea that participants will be asked to “perform religious acts.” What does that mean? Will they be encouraged to PRAY for peace? Is that something that we should really object to — even if they be non-Christians? Do we reject that such prayer has any value before God? In any case, we don’t really know the details about what will happen. So why encourage making reparation now for something that has not happened and may in fact be perfectly legitimate?

  4. Bryan Boyle says:

    Layperson’s view?

    It took one fell swoop of the Holy Father’s pen (so to speak) to welcome the Anglicans (who, in theology and practice hardened over many CENTURIES were separated from the Church) who wish to return.

    The SSPX are a newer phenomenon (relatively speaking). It will take time. The Church works in centuries. We want immediate results. It will happen in the Holy Spirit’s time, not ours.

  5. dcs says:

    One would think that the experience of the modern ecumenical movement is ample evidence for the idea that one party and another can’t just sit down at a table and talk things out.

  6. kgurries says:

    dcs, you make a great point. It’s interesting to observe the development of the new ordinariates. Those coming over have made a decision to adhere to the Catholic Faith and the teaching of the Magisterium (Catechism, etc.). I get the impression that this is not so much the result of some intellectaul achievement — but a simple act of the will (I believe…). The problem of conversion is primarily located in the will — and dialogue alone can never overcome that.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    The important point is that those involved-the Vatican and the SSPX are talking. As long as there is communication, there is hope.

  8. jm says:

    Fellay seems like a class act.

  9. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Sigh. I read through the three parts on the Rorate Caeli blog, and it seems that part one is probably the most “neutral” you are going to get from him. This in part 1 under Fr. Z’s link really got to me under question 8:

    ” …. It is really a matter of making the Catholic faith understood in Rome and trying, why not, to make it understood even more throughout the Church …. There is one danger: the danger of keeping up illusions. We see that some Catholics have managed to lull themselves to sleep with illusions … the beatification of John Paul II … a new Assisi.”

    Making the Catholic faith understood to Rome? It is Rome, via B16 and his Magisterium, that is the vessel for making the faith uderstood to us, not the other way around. And illusions? It seems personally insulting to the late JPII that you call his beatification, an “illusion”. He wouldn’t be beatified had the miracles been false and the investigation not been throughly done. It’s even more rigorous now than before. The other two parts, especially Assisi (Part III) made me backtrack to my original thoughts posted here in the last tagged SSPK posting a few days ago.:

    ” …. Everytime you read something of his, doesn’t one feel like he is using double speak saying “Yes, Yes, Rome is Good and so is B16? when in reality the subtext is “They are not the true Church of Christ, but a mere shell with false theology and doctrine thanks to Vatican II …. Fellay is also not stupid, he knows that B16 is using the nulled excommunications and SP to lure SSPX and other ultra-trads back in Communion with Rome, but Fellay doesn’t want to give up that easily, hence dragging on useless “negotiations.” Once again, until the Vatican says yea or nea to them, they are not fully canonical with Rome and their Masses and sacraments are questionable to licitness. I personally won’t go till B16 or Hoyos or the CDF says OK .

    And SSPX still bashes Vatican II. This was their Convictions magazine latest article where once again SSPX keeps bashing the council and the summative message the reader gets is “it’s flat out “wrong”: .”

    Sigh. Once again, we active faithful Catholics get it. We understand Vatican II and we want tradtionalism, but this is just erecting barriers. Please just agree to Vat II for the sake of being in full canonical status and help bring back the TLM and traditionalism to its full glory. And please everyone, pray. Seems that’s all we can do. Personally, if the negotiations are almost concluded, and this is still what we are getting out of it, I don’t feel that full canonization will happen.

    Bryan Boyle, I like your “fell swoop of a pen idea.”

  10. GregH says:

    Who cares about Vatican II anymore considering the decline of western civilization in the LSAT 40 years

  11. asophist says:

    “Approved” bishops have expressed reservations about Vatican II and a desire for clarifications. Vat-II was not a dogmatic council, anyway, so what’s the big deal? I don’t see why Rome can’t “approve” the SSPX as is, especially since Bp. Fellay previously indicated that Rome had already a scheme for SSPX regularization that they would approve of. Or am I missing something?

  12. kgurries says:

    asophist, I think the key difference is that the SSPX does not merely ask for “clarifications” of Vatican II documents. I think they are seeking to prove to Rome that the Vatican II documents are not compatible (contradictory/rupture) with the Faith and Tradition. So, it may seem like an subtle distinction — but it is actually a pretty big difference.

  13. albizzi says:

    Young Canadian,
    “He wouldn’t be beatified had the miracles been false and the investigation not been throughly done”
    That isn’t so certain, would these purported “miracles have been checked with the same filter as they are in Lourdes (only 67 miracles approved among tens of thousands!).
    In addition since the “Devil’s advocate job” has been cancelled (by JPII himself) there is nobody in the beatification process to object with some the late Pope’s suspicious declarations, statements and acts like the Quran kissing and the Assisi meetings.
    There is too much haste in that process as if the post conciliar Church needed urgently to canonize a post conciliar pope. Why then not to start again the canonization trials of John XXIII or Paul VI? After all they were the Council’s Popes, the Popes of the new Church’s springtime, the new Pentecost.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    Last time I checked two of the documents of the Second Vatican Council were Dogamatic Constitutions. So upon what is the fantasy that VCII was not a dogmatic council based?

  15. Mike says:

    Fr. Jim,

    I always thought there were no new dogmatic teachings on the 2VC. There are levels of documents in regard to importance, however, with the “decrees” being the lowest rung and dogmatic constitutions the central docs of highest importance, but still…no new teaching defined.

  16. kgurries says:

    The SSPX’s goal to prove that Vatican II is not compatible with Tradition is going to be an uphill battle. Pope Paul VI addressed this issue directly in a letter to Archbishop Lefebvre. Basically, the Pope rules out any question of rupture with Tradition — and affirms that the supreme magisterium is indefectible by virtue of the special assistance promised to Peter.
    “Nothing that was decreed in this Council, or in the reforms that We enacted in order to put the Council into effect, is opposed to what the two-thousand-year-old Tradition of the Church considers as fundamental and immutable. We are the guarantor of this, not in virtue of Our personal qualities but in virtue of the charge which the Lord has conferred upon Us as legitimate Successor of Peter, and in virtue of the special assistance that He has promised to Us as well as to Peter: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’ (Lk 22:32).”
    (Pope Paul VI, Letter to Archbishop Lefebvre, October 11, 1976)
    The letter has a very serious tone. Pope Paul VI goes on to say that the disciplinary problems with the SSPX is rooted in doctrinal problems. He points to an erroneous notion of Tradition and a “warped” ecclesiology. In any case, I suspect that these are among the themes that have come up in the doctrinal discussions.

  17. jflare says:

    Could someone please tell me what happened at Assissi in ’86 that was so god-awfully horrid?
    I’ve read the SSPX view, which predictably insists that the wrath of God is set to fall on the participants, and I’ve read another view that comments that people prayed.

    Certainly, we must always be on guard against watering down the faith as we teach it, as we preach it, and as we practice it, but I’m at a loss to explain the angst with Assissi. So we had huge numbers of persons there who weren’t Catholic, many who weren’t even Christian, most of whom would have strenuous objections to Catholic faith. OK. What about it?

    Certainly we must be passionate about our faith wary of any effort that doesn’t celebrate that Truth of faith in it’s fullness. I get that. Near as I can tell, so did John Paul II. Don’t forget, Assissi wasn’t intended as a means of evangelizing anyone. It aimed to provoke people to acknowledge the vice of bloodshed and pray for an end to that same bloodshed in whatever way they would.
    I can’t see how that’s a bad thing. Seems to me the alternative would be to continue on with efforts that net nothing because we insist that someone else must be exactly like us before we’ll pray with him.

    In all seriousness, if we’re going to go ballistic over other traditions daring to pray in the same place and at the same time as Catholics, then I must ask how we can tolerate the multitude of Catholic parishes who routinely abuse the Mass?

  18. I just read “54 Answers from Bishop Fellay,” and I must say that I am both disappointed and not surprised. It should be manifest to anyone who reads these answers that Bishop Fellay and the SSPX will never accept that the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican is a true ecumenical Council of the Church. The SSPX came into being primarily because of their dissent from the teaching of Vatican II on religious liberty, and the schism will not be overcome until and unless the bishops and priests of the Society accept the Council and its teaching. What is increasingly clear is that this is unlikely in the extreme. And please note that neither the origin of the Society nor their primary concerns now have anything to do with the sacred liturgy. This was, is, and will continue to be a fight about — inter alia — Dignitatis Humanae.

  19. Henry Edwards says:

    jflare: Could someone please tell me what happened at Assissi in ’86 that was so god-awfully horrid?

    I do not know what really happened there, but I know that some are so upset because they believe reports that sacrilege was tolerated. From a Catholic News Service report:

    “Vittorio Messori, who has written books with Pope Benedict, said the pope had, in effect, waited nearly two decades to settle an old score — the 1986 interfaith prayer meeting for peace in Assisi, hosted by the Franciscans and presided over by Pope John Paul II.”

    “As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope had expressed uneasiness over the meeting. In explaining why, Messori cited a story that has become something of an urban legend in Italy: During the 1986 encounter, he said, African animists slaughtered two chickens on the altar of the Basilica of St. Clare.”

    “In Messori’s view, the alleged sacrifice was emblematic of the abuses of dialogue at Assisi.”

    Along with this widely denied “urban legend”, it is perhaps more credible that Cardinal Ratzinger offered his resignation as Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith in the aftermath of Assisi 1986. If so, we can certainly be grateful that Pope John Paul II refused to accept it.

  20. Maltese says:

    Vatican II did not pronounce one–even ONE–new dogma. Vatican II did re-iterate past dogma. But ANY novel idea iterated at Vatican II might someday be rejected by the Church.

    Therefore, why not go the path of the Saint Benedict Center:

    Fr. Feeney was excommunicated for his stance on non salvus, but was re-admitted into perfect communion despite the fact that he didn’t give-up any of his prior positions.

    I think the position of FSSPX is even stronger than those of Feeney (though I admire the man entirely; I was especially awe-struck by his book on Elizabeth Seton.) But, seriously, why not let FSSPX agree to disagree on non-essential non-dogmatic matters?

  21. Thomas S says:

    Funny aside:

    I clicked Fr. Z’s link to the Fishwrap and looked around. A certain Maureen Paul Turlish (a nun apparently) has an article about the Archdiocese of Milwaukee filing for bankruptcy. Guess how many times she references Rembert Weakland…


    These people are so tiresome.

  22. Henry Edwards says:

    frjim4321: So upon what is the fantasy that VCII was not a dogmatic council based?

    Since you have a seminary education, I know you could not have intended this as a serious question. But, in any event, Cardinal Ratzinger in 1988 was one of those suffering from this particular “fantasy”:

    “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living
    Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero.
    The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”

  23. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Henry Edwards: That very quote from the Holy Father is EXACTLY the summation of what went wrong in Vatican II and what it truthfully should be.

  24. Denis says:

    @Father Newman, respectfully:
    It’s a bit unfair to say that the SSPX should remain in exile as long as they dissent from V2. There are many Catholics, clergy included, who disagree with this or that portion of Church teaching but aren’t “in schism”, if that accurately characterizes the SSPX’s status. I’d be willing to bet that the average SSPX priest would do pretty well on an orthodoxy test, compared with the average priest in good standing.

  25. paulbailes says:

    So, now that it’s clear that V-II defined no new dogmas, why is the SSPX in so much trouble for dissenting from same?

    It seems that an abuse of power manifested in the illicit suppression of the TLM (illicitness acknowledged in SP) and the persecution of the TLM’s defenders is also revealed in the persecution of those who dissent from the pseudo-dogmas of V-II.


  26. Tony from Oz says:

    For the life of me – if the Pope, when Cardinal Ratzinger, stated the bleeding obvious that Vatican II formulated no new doctrine, then – apart from the necessary clarifications of all its myriad waffling (which IS greatly to be desired) – what is all this tripe about theological clarifications viz SSPX and the Vatican?

    I accept that theological clarifications need to be nailed down and defined in relation to a whole raft of clauses in Vat II documents – as a service to the ENTIRE Church so that it may ‘move on’ from the muddiness and chaos of the past 40 years, yet that is a much wider issue than the SSPX dialogue; although Pope Benedict XVI appears to be using the dialogue as a sort of deus ex machina to achieve that end.

    But, seriously – if Vatican II did not issue any new dogmas but, rather, affirmed all that went before (which is indubitably true) – then the remainder of its more novel ruminations are akin to politicians floating policies to see if they will gain any traction [ and these ‘policies’ have gained minimal traction/success in 40 years]. There simply can be no theological implications to be resolved between SSPX and the Church in regard to such epehemeral, non-dogmatic, ramblings of the Council. Which raises the possibility: are these talks really about ‘settling theological’ differences which, in reality, pertain to what the Church has always and everywhere taught? or are they really a clever vehicle whereby good Pope Benedict can redefine the way in which Vatican II is to be interpreted? I think – regardless of results – this may be the lasting value, and by-product, of the SSPX-Vatican talks.

  27. paulbailes says:

    Dear kgurries

    Just because the pope says something (e.g. Paul VI to Abp. Lefebvre) doesn’t mean its true.

    E.g. Paul VI wanted the TLM replaced by the NOM. That was wrong.

    I know the pope’s infallible – but under very carefully-controlled circumstances.


  28. smad0142 says:

    Fr Jim,
    Card. Dulles explained that dogmatic constitutions have the seeds of dogma in them, but that those “seeds” need to grow and be evaluated before being defined. They are akin to early meditations and contemplation on certain areas of the Faith that may be dogmatically true. Nowhere in the documents though are dogmatic terms like immutable or irrevocable used.

  29. Mike says:

    From what I have read, many SSPX objections (and not from them alone) re V2 concern the ambiguity of some of the documents which left loopholes in place for various bishops to, quite literally, bring in the clowns. The loss of sacrality in the Mass itself has in many places bled the Church severely of vocations, holy marriages, perseverance, and doctrinal clarity. The issue of religious freedom is also a major issue, and as interpretated by your average Catholic today, a real issue. As interepreted by Benedict XVI, well, I don’t see the problem. I do see, however, that the Holy Father wants their 500 priests in full communion with the Church, and so we should all pray that this happens.

  30. kgurries says:

    paulbailes said: “So, now that it’s clear that V-II defined no new dogmas, why is the SSPX in so much trouble for dissenting from same?”

    Here is the problem as I see it. Not only the solemn magisterium is authoritative (i.e., irrevocable solemn definitions). We have to give assent even to the teachings of the ordinary universal magisterium (e.g., such as the teachings contained in the Catechism). There are different levels of authority and assent — but never a right to dissent from the teachings of the magisterium.

  31. steve jones says:

    “they are nevertheless at a loss to explain the nature of the change which quite evidently has taken place”

    This is my experience and they are scary words.

  32. kgurries says:

    I think we can get a little insight into the “pastoral” vs. “dogmatic” question by having recourse to what the respective documents say. For example, the PASTORAL CONSTITUTION (GS) has the following note of explanation regarding the meaning of its “pastoral” nature:

    The Pastoral Constitution “De Ecclesia in Mundo Huius Temporis” is made up of two parts; yet it constitutes an organic unity. By way of explanation: the constitution is called “pastoral” because, while resting on doctrinal principles, it seeks to express the relation of the Church to the world and modern mankind. The result is that, on the one hand, a pastoral slant is present in the first part, and, on the other hand, a doctrinal slant is present in the second part. In the first part, the Church develops her teaching on man, on the world which is the enveloping context of man’s existence, and on man’s relations to his fellow men. In part two, the Church gives closer consideration to various aspects of modern life and human society; special consideration is given to those questions and problems which, in this general area, seem to have a greater urgency in our day. As a result in part two the subject matter which is viewed in the light of doctrinal principles is made up of diverse elements. Some elements have a permanent value; others, only a transitory one. Consequently, the constitution must be interpreted according to the general norms of theological interpretation. Interpreters must bear in mind—especially in part two—the changeable circumstances which the subject matter, by its very nature, involves.

    Compare that to the concluding statement of a DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION (LG):

    “Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God.”

    Obviously, both are authoritative, however, the Dogmatic Constitution is considered more weighty. But even the Pastoral Constitution is not something optional. It deals with contingent aspects, however, resting on sound doctrine (mixture of both principle and prudential application).

  33. Supertradmum says:

    jflare et al,

    In case some people are too young to remember Assisi, 1986, I connect them with this blog, as the photos are ones which were highly circulated at the time.

  34. muckemdanno says:

    Let me try to get some of you to think logically regarding the dogmatism of V2 using the example of its teaching on religious liberty.

    1) “Religious Liberty” is something taught by V2.
    2) SSPX disagrees with V2 teaching on “religious liberty” – saying that it contradicts what the Church taught before V2
    3) Pope John, Pope Paul, and Card Ratzinger all said the Council was not ‘dogmatic’ and taught no new dogmas.

    Here are some questions this raises:
    1) Is “Religious Liberty” a dogma that all Catholics have absolute obligation to believe?
    2) Does the SSPX violate a dogma of the Church by disbelieving in this teaching, and if so, when and where was this first taught as a dogma? (Per #3 above, it could not have been at V2.)
    3) If it is not a dogma, but merely a pastoral idea or notion, then can any Catholic state his opinion that is is a good or effective notion, or a bad and ineffective notion without being “outside the Church”?
    4) Is it possible to say that back in the 1960s it was an okay idea, but it’s outlived its usefulness now and should be discarded?

    I hope that the Holy Father or the group that is engaged in these talks with SSPX will tell us categorically whether “Religious Liberty” as described by V2 is, in fact, a dogma of the Church which all Catholics, under pain of sin, must believe. As far as I know, SSPX has never been condemned by the Church for any particular doctrinal teaching or doctrinal dissent in any specific way, including regarding “religious liberty.” There are only very general assertions against them, as the one posted above in the letter by Paul VI.

  35. paulbailes says:

    Thanks kgurries for kind replies.

    I understand that I must believe in everything the Church has always taught and believed, whether defined infallibly as dogma or not.

    But V-II’s innovations (religious liberty) don’t seem to qualify on either count.


  36. TNCath says:

    Sorry, but I do not believe that Fellay is truly interested in reconciliation with the Church. This isn’t about the Latin Mass or even Vatican II. This is ultimately about obedience.

  37. kgurries says:

    paulbailes, I don’t think its so easy to label the teaching on “religious liberty” as an innovation of Vatican II. For example, we have a very thorough explanation of the doctrine of religious liberty from Bishop Ketteler of Mainz (1862). Bishop Ketteler in turn relies on those who came before him (e.g., Suarez, St. Thomas, etc.). I think you will find that this agrees in every respect with the doctrine found in Dignitatis Humanae over 100 years later. Was Bishop Ketteler a theological liberal? No way. He is the pioneer of Catholic Social teaching in the modern era. Pope Leo XIII based Rerum Novarum on Ketteler’s work and referred to the Bishop as “our great predecessor from whom I have learned.” In fact you will see that he was highly esteemed and respected by Pius IX, Leo XIII and Pius X. Read here if you want to have a glimpse into the “continuity” of the doctrine of religious liberty:
    (Note: this is in four parts….but follow the links….)

    Or else you can find it here on the webite of The Remnant (it has a little preface — and may be a little easier to read….but fewer images):

  38. kgurries says:

    paulbailes, there is another thought I wanted to leave you with. Yes, we adhere to all that the Church has always “taught and believed” whether dogmatically defined or not. The difficult part is that what the Church as always taught and believed is not always perfectly explicit (there are always some infinitely deep mysteries involved). Sometimes there are important aspects of the truth that are there more-or-less implicitly. The notion of the development of doctrine has to do with this process of making more explicit what was always “taught and believed” — at least implicitly. It would be a mistake to accuse the Church of teaching novel doctrines when in fact there is an organic development of doctrine going on — making the implicit more and more explicit. This work of the magisterium will continue until the end of time…

  39. paulbailes says:

    Thanks again kgurries – I hear what you say.

    But I don’t see how V-II’s religious liberty is an organic development.

    God bless

  40. @kgurries: Exactly. Indeed V2 defined no new de fide doctrines. But it’s still an Ecumenical Council. Documents like Lumen Gentium are still at a *very* high magisterial level, requiring at least ‘religious submission’ even if not ‘full assent of faith’ as for a de fide credenda dogma.

    It’s not a question of ‘infallible or meaningless’ – there are other levels of doctrine.

    SSPX’s issue is, I think, more in separation/attitude than actual orthodoxy — the aforementioned Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are in full communion despite being

    BUT I think that’s because, as I’ve heard it, Feeney was excommunicated more because he continued to teach his highly problematic interpretation of EENS against the instructions of his bishop – not because those beliefs as such constituted heresy or anything. Again, it has more to do with attitude toward the Magisterium vs personal interpretation of Tradition.

  41. That should say ‘… are in full communion despite being a similarly ultratraditionalist group with dissent in their history’.

  42. Stephen Matthew says:

    The Feeney followers eventually all have come back into a regular status in the Church by submitting to the full authority of the Church.

    The SSPX could do the same, but it chooses not to do so. It is hoped that perhaps in time they will do this, but thus far they have not

    In some respects the SSPX are to traditionalist break away groups what the Anglicans are to Protestants. That is to say they look and sound very much like Catholic Church, and many in it think themselves just as (or even more) Catholic than the Pope, and they are the respectable, presentable, reasonable variant of the rupture each is a part of. The Anglicans are very respectable compared to many protestants. The SSPX are very respectable compared to their fellow travelers of “tradition” like the Cow Pope or SSPV.

    I am afraid in the end the return of the SSPX to the fold will be very much like the return of the Anglicans to the fold, by which I mean it will be long and painful, and in the end only a part will arrive while the others will either never undertake the journey or turn back at some point.

  43. Warren says:

    @ TNCath.

    I share your thoughts.

    As for me, because the popes accept the Second Vatican Council, I do too.

    Re: ecumenism of yesteryear. Graven images on a Catholic altar? Yikes! Let’s hope many, many acts of reparation were offered lest the Lord’s wrath descend upon us.

    Dialogue – yes; inter-religious services – absolutely no!

  44. Sixupman says:

    BXVI and +Fellay have two things in common, each is walking a tightrope to keep their organisations falling apart and both are failing, but fail to admit it.

    Is belief in Vatican II an ‘Article of Faith’? Yes: No: . Let us have a vote.

    The fruits of Vatican II: making a mint for architects, supplliers, builders, et al – related to unnecessary ‘re-ordering’; the lifting of the laity to a perceived state of equivalence with the ordained priesthood and control of the parishes – with priest as “presider” for God’s sake!; diminishing congregations and virtual absence of working class therefrom – clergy say it would have happened in any event; lack of Catholic teaching from both pulpit and schools; belief in The Real Presence; the list is endless.

    But that ‘fruit’ which is now blossoming is that of the ‘National [C(?)atholic] Church, indeed even regional churches, or, even de facto independent parishes according to the whim s of the clergy. Tell me that is the situation which is not emerging! These developments are pure Protestantism, are they not.

    Diocesan dicasteries which either ignore or contradict the pope – with apparent impunity! Tell me that such assertion is untrue!

    In my view, the angst, nay ire, concerning SSPX has a psychological basis. But there are within the SSPX clergy and congregations elements which see themselves as individual proto-popes, mostly of the +Williamson wing. There exist congregations which are neurotically anti-+Fellay.

  45. jflare says:

    Supertradmum et al,
    Oddly, I think I understand 1986 pictures from Assissi. I was about 12 twelve then and had only very poor knowledge of what all was happening regarding faith around the world. I wouldn’t actually have a class in Theology for at least one more year and would have only been a server at Mass for a few years, if that long. I recall though that the faith here in the ‘States had already become..confusing.
    I spent most of my teens trying to comprehend why the rules we had originally been intended to follow were being changed suddenly, so it makes sense to me that the persons gathered in ’86 would’ve suffered many of the same problems. After reading a biography of Pope John Paul II some years ago, I’ve had the general impression that the Holy Father considered every person in the world to be his spiritual charge, Catholic or not. In that light, he provoked ALL of his children, including his errant bishops, to pray how they might, but to learn from their mistakes and choose the most Truthful options by their own free will as a result. I notice that he DID correct a few of those errant bishops when their mistakes became too flagrant, but he tried to allow them to grow in faith first.
    While it’s definitely a controversial approach, one that I’m not certain I would’ve taken, I can’t precisely fault the Holy Father for trying this way. It means that one must tolerate many abuses, but it also means that, as one’s spiritual children “grow up”, they’ll come to understand why their previous methods didn’t suffice. They’ll choose on their own to follow the path of Truth.

    It makes sense then that various abuses would’ve occurred at Assissi. Many clergy and laity would’ve assumed that the Pope intended to allow for various abuses, such as a chicken sacrifice or a buddhist shrine. If anything doesn’t make sense to me, it’s the question of why the Church didn’t follow up Assissi with a general offering of catechesis to the Catholic faithful, nor to anyone else. Is it possible that too many Catholics saw too much they didn’t like and decided they didn’t want to struggle with it anymore? I don’t know, but it seems plausible to me.

    Hopefully we’ve learned that being that loose with rules isn’t wise. I’m curious too, actually: Would anyone have objected to a Buddhist prayer service in a Catholic church if the tabernacle had been either removed or emptied for a time?
    If the Lord isn’t there in the Eucharist, you can’t abuse Him with another form of sacrifice, can you?
    At that point, the distinctly Catholic character of the other furnishings would’ve been simple “background noise” that another faith tradition would be instructed to ignore.

    Considering how we can offer Mass on a table in a hotel for a one-time special occasion, I fail to see how anyone could legitimately object.

  46. I question the evidence that most of those bad things have to do with VII as such. I’ve heard that the big burst of dissent, in America anyway, came about when a bunch of theologians etc. said the Church was about to change its position on contraception (and people started acting accordingly) and then Humanae Vitae squashed that. On a broader level, the Church in America and Western Europe has been affected by the civilization-wide decay in these countries.

    If Vatican II had been allowed to be what it really was, it would not have changed much at the level of the average churchgoing Catholic; the fruits would be more at the level of relations, and hopefully reunion, with other Christian groups. I see Anglicanorum coetibus as the sort of thing V2 was meant to promote — and considering that the text cites Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio continually, I think that was the intended impression.

  47. paulbailes says:

    It’s amazing the lengths to which some people will go to represent JP-II’s failings instead as virtues. But of course now that he’s to be beatified, how could he have done anything wrong?(!)

    Dear jflare, there’s one person to blame for “why the Church didn’t follow up Assissi with a general offering of catechesis to the Catholic faithful”; indeed, the same one is to blame for why there would have been a need for same in the first place.

    More generally, the “the pope can do no wrong, never ever disobey the pope under any circumstances” attitude is quite a curse, blinding people as it does to the raft of contemporary errors and abuses, and their remedies (viz. the irrational denigration of the SSPX and its leadership).


  48. Sid says:

    1. There is no real division or contradistinction between the dogmatic and the pastoral. The pastoral is the application of the dogmatic to a particular time and place. The pastoral relates to the dogmatic as the glove to the hand, the shoe to the foot, the tool to the worker.

    2. Since when do pastoral decisions not oblige obedience? One can suggest to the Magisterium – and suggest respectfully – that the pastoral glove may not fit the dogmatic hand, or that the pastoral tool may not do the dogmatic job; yet obedience to the pastoral decision is still obligatory. And the Holy Father, as Primus and as Universal Pastor, is to be obeyed.

    3. The V2 teaching on religious liberty is not against the Tradition or against what the Church previously taught. It is merely the pastoral application of the dogmatic teaching against Semipelagianism as taught by the Second Synod of Orange (Denzinger, 40th ed., ##370-397). Therein is taught:

    i. The Prevenient Grace that enables faith is a free gift of God; He is free not to give Prevenient Grace.

    ii. Once Prevenient Grace has set the will free from Original Sin, then the receiver of Prevenient Grace is free to reject the truth taught by Prevenient Grace.

    It follows from this dogmatic teaching: No one may be forced to accept faith, because Prevenient Grace is a free gift. No one can be forced to accept faith against his will, nor be subject to any denial of human or civil rights because of his rejection of The Faith (including the essential civil right of “equal protection”), nor be forced to practice aspects of The Faith, nor forced to pay taxes to an established church, nor be denied to practice his own religion.

    See also Trent’s teaching on Justification.

  49. NCtrad says:

    TNcath stated: “Sorry, but I do not believe that Fellay is truly interested in reconciliation with the Church. This isn’t about the Latin Mass or even Vatican II. This is ultimately about obedience.”

    I can’t say that I’m surprised at your comments based on your previous emotional and ill-thought out snips at the SSPX. However I wonder how you come about your conclusions as to the motives of BISHOP, yes he is a bishop, Fellay. If you would take the time to view BISHOP Fellay’s talk at the 40th anniversary conference in Kansas City, you would see a man in love with the Church and truly hurt that this separation remains. Despite your inference that His Excellency relishes in the current state of the SSPX and Rome, I know first hand that most priests of the SSPX and the faithful who attend their chapels want nothing more then for this confusing time in the Church’s history to end. We are ROMAN Catholics, not “traditionalists.” Rome is our Mother. Things will work out, but not at the expense of the Faith.

  50. paulbailes says:

    Dear Sid,

    So for example Moslems should be free to practice polygamy in Australia, USA, UK, Europe etc.?


  51. albizzi says:

    One may hope that the council Vatican II will be overturned one day because:
    – 1/ It was not dogmatic
    -2 The “new springtime of the Church” that Pope John scheduled never happened
    – 2/ Instead it sowed confusion in the minds and dissensions with hatred in the flock that don’t look to calm down with the time. Sad fruits.
    For this to happen, the Church will have to get rid of its last high ranked modernist members who are clinging to that council with all their strength, probably through a big ordeal that everyone owing a sound discernment is able to predict in a not so remote future.

  52. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    Dear paulbailes,

    No, Moslems should not be free to practice polygamy in Australia, USA, UK, Europe, becuase ploygammy is contrary to the natural law. All human laws are based upon and derive their just authority from the natural law, despite what any theorists might say to the contrary. According to the reasoning implied in your question honor killings and human sarifices would also have to be permited if religious liberty is to be protected.


  53. @albizzi: Forgive me if I am misreading your comment, but I do not think an Ecumenical Council can be overturned in the stricter sense. There’s a big difference between saying “that particular exhortation in V2’s documents made sense in the 20th century, but this is the 26th [or whatever] and our needs are different” and saying “V2 was wrong”. The first is clearly possible, at least for purely prudential pastoral statements; but I don’t think the second is really possible. (Certainly not universally — not all of V2 is purely pastoral; a lot of Lumen Gentium, for example, is inevitable consequences of defined dogma and settled doctrine.)

    As for the fruits of the Council — there are two issues here.

    -It is far, far too soon to tell; I think it is still too soon to judge the fruits of Vatican One! It has not been fifty years since V2; 1/40 of the age of the Church so far.

    -V2 coincided with a tremendous cultural upheaval; most of the problems of the recent Church in the West is likely due to that instead — those problems have not hit other parts of the world nearly as hard, whereas if they were consequences of V2 they should be universal.

  54. AGA says:

    Isn’t it just a bit ironic that the SSPX would support a dialogue with no apparent progress being made? Isn’t this the basis of one of their central gripes: That the Church engages in too much open-ended “dialogue”?

  55. Henry Edwards says:

    jflare: At that point, the distinctly Catholic character of the other furnishings would’ve been simple “background noise” that another faith tradition would be instructed to ignore. Considering how we can offer Mass on a table in a hotel for a one-time special occasion, I fail to see how anyone could legitimately object.

    It’s clear that your remarks are entirely well-intentioned. However, you may not be fully aware of the difference between a consecrated altar and a kitchen table or jeep hood. Certainly, it is legitimate to use a non-consecrated space for the Sacrifice of the Mass. But the use of an altar — consecrated for the use of God alone — for a pagan purpose is a sacrilege.

    You see, it goes one way but not the other. It is alright to sanctify a non-consecrated table by using it to celebrated Mass. But not to profane a consecrated altar by using it for a pagan rite.

    As a stretch to make the point . . . It would be ok to celebrate Mass on a non-consecrated jeep hood, but not to sacrifice a chicken on a consecrated jeep hood.

  56. Centristian says:

    “VATICAN CITY — The head of a group of traditionalist Catholics said reconciliation talks with the Vatican would soon be coming to an end, with little change in the views of either side.”

    To an end? Praise the Lord. If this really does mark the end of any chance of the Society of St. Pius X being formally and officially embraced by Rome (as though it were worthy of such an exaltation), then praise be to the Lord. The Church needs the conspiracy-oriented false tradition of Lefebvrism like Richard Williamson needs a subscription to American Jewish Life Magazine.

    “It is really a matter of making the Catholic Faith understood in Rome,” he (Fellay) said.

    Oh, well, gee-whiz, Bishop Fellay; thanks a million for all your marvelous efforts to help the Pope and the Church of Rome understand, at last, what Roman Catholicism is all about. One day they’ll get it, sir, and Christ will have you to thank for it.

    “Fellay said the pope may be acting under pressure…”

    Are you sure it’s even him, Bishop? Maybe it’s a CIA imposter. Ask Williamson; he’ll know for sure. He’s got all the facts.

  57. Supertradmum says:

    We should not rejoice that the conversations are ending, if this is the case. Conversation is good, and as the Holy Spirit works through and in us, we should hope for opportunities of grace concerning this problem.

  58. kgurries says:

    paul bailes said: "But I don’t see how V-II’s religious liberty is an organic development."
    Not sure if you say my comment above (22 February 2011 at 9:51 pm) where I recommend to you an article by Bishop Ketteler of Mainz (1862) on the doctrine of religious freedom.  I think it does a good job of connecting the dots and showing the continuity. 

  59. Centristian says:

    We should not rejoice that the conversations are ending, if this is the case. Conversation is good, and as the Holy Spirit works through and in us, we should hope for opportunities of grace concerning this problem.
    I beg your pardon but I do rejoice, in fact, without apology.  We aren't talking about healing the schism with the East, here…we're talking about coddling a cult.  I hope Rome will at last stop indulging these people and treating the SSPX as though it were a sane and healthy organ of the Catholic Church.  I pray for the day that Rome fully realizes that the SSPX is just a whacky cult and says, "you know what, Bishop Fellay…if you don't want to come back…we're actually good with that. Nice chatting with you."

  60. MarkJ says:

    If VII proclaimed no new Dogma, and if SSPX believes in every Dogma that came before VII, aren't they in fuller Communion with Rome than all the liberal, modernist, disobedient wolves-in-sheep's-clothing bishops who lead their flocks astray by their actions, words and liturgical deformations? When a Shepherd like Bishop Fellay is trying to protect his flock from Modernism and Heresy, and other Bishops are spreading Heresy (e.g., Cardinal Mahony at his annual Religious Ed Congress, where I heard a priest teaching that Jesus never rose bodily from the dead, and another that in the future there would be no need for priests or the Sacraments, and where a nun taught that Mary was the Incarnation of the Holy Spirit), then who is in Communion with Rome and who is not? When a priest in Orange County has an annual Halloween Mass with people dressed as satan handing out the Eucharist and where the priest comes out in a Barney costume to give the final blessing, and the Bishop does nothing about it, I ask you, who is really in Communion with Rome? Despite the rancor between the Popes and the SSPX, I applaud the SSPX for their continual defense of Tradition, and I pray every day for the realignment of the Church with the Faith. Go to Europe, and see the deformation of the Faith in the majority of the churches which has decimated the Catholic population. Then go to an SSPX Church, and see the Faith alive and well. By their fruits you shall know them. I don't know why the Pope doesn't just regularize the SSPX now, and then work together with them to come out with some clarifications. If you had to choose a "Barney priest" or an SSPX priest as your spiritual mentor, which would you pick?

  61. Centristian says:

    “If you had to choose a “Barney priest” or an SSPX priest as your spiritual mentor, which would you pick?”

    You make it sound as if a Catholic’s choice is either/or: “It’s either Lefebvrism or Barney! There’s nothing in between. Pick now!”

    Come on.

  62. MarkJ says:

    Of course my last comment was hypothetical, but it was meant to emphasize the seeming contradiction between the lack of condemnation of heretical bishops and priests supposedly in Communion with Rome on the one hand, and the amount of negative attention directed at the SSPX on the other. That said, there are indeed dioceses in the world where one might have to choose between an ultra-liberal priest at the local parish or an SSPX priest…

  63. albizzi says:

    @ abiologistforlife
    I agree with you: VAT II have some points that will be hard to be overturned. But all what is in contradiction with Tradition will be without remorse.
    Regarding the fruits, I am categorical: IMHO VATII is at the very roots of the mess we are undergoing in the times being.
    See how the Orthodox Church is currently recovering and blossoming in the Eastern countries although no council was set to “update” (aggiornamento) it with the sad times we are living in.
    I don’t remember which Cardinal once said that “shouldn’t the RCC have been the true Church of Christ, certainly the council would have destroyed it in a few years”.

  64. @albizzi: I disagree that anything in V2 is in real contradiction with Tradition; emphasizing different aspects, yes, but not flat yes/no contradiction.

    Re the Orthodox – key words: “in the Eastern countries.” While no place is really safe, the onslaught of the modern collapse of culture is worst in Western Europe & Canada, then the northern/west coast US etc. And Eastern Europe has only been free from Communism for ~20 years; of course Christianity is improving there.

    If it were really Vatican 2, things would be a lot worse for the Church in Mexico or Nicaragua or…

  65. Indeed.

    If the SSPX as an organization is bad — and there are definitely some bad roots to the SSPX, anti-Semitism and such — that is only more reason for us to hope, and to pray for, their becoming fully parts of the Church.

    @MarkJ: Mary as the Incarnation of the Holy Spirit? Seriously?

  66. Oops. My previous post was totally unclear — what I meant is that if the SSPX as an organization is bad, then the people *in* it need reunion with the Church all the more. Not that the Church needs the bad stuff.

  67. Jason Keener says:


    What part of the Church’s teaching on religious liberty do you see as inorganic?

    I believe that the SSPX should be fully regularized. After all, Cardinal Hoyos has said over and over that the SSPX is essentially in communion with the Church. The SSPX should also be allowed to offer their criticisms of Vatican II as long as the criticisms are offered in a constructive and non-polemical manner. Moreover, if we sat down and read the documents of Vatican II line by line with Bishop Fellay right now, I am sure he would agree with all of the essential doctrinal statements contained therein.

    Finally, who is to say that we cannot debate some of the Church’s policy changes in the areas of ecumenism and religious liberty? We must remember that practical Church policies can change, and these are non-infallible changes that are open to critique. For example, I think one can legitimately question the Church’s current policy of being so open and positive about non-Catholic religions. We can debate if Christian unity is better achieved through an open posture towards non-Catholics as found in the Vatican II era or a more closed posture, as was common before the Council. We also can debate which ecumenical policies are better supported by the unchanging doctrinal truths related to these issues. In short, there can be a legitimate diversity of Catholic opinion in quite a few areas.

  68. MarkJ says:

    Yes, indeed, a nun really said that… and as for the priest denying the Resurrection, I called the head of Religious Education for Los Angeles to alert her about it, and she said she thought it was a wonderful talk and she saw nothing wrong with what he said.

  69. Athelstan says:

    Hello jflare,

    “Would anyone have objected to a Buddhist prayer service in a Catholic church if the tabernacle had been either removed or emptied for a time?”


  70. Jason Keener says:


    Christ established only one true religion. Even if the tabernacle were removed, it would be an immoral act against the First Commandment for Catholics to actively provide the use of a Catholic Church to Buddhists so that they could carry out their false religious practices.

  71. MarkJ says:

    Jason Keener: You’ve hit the nail on the head as to why groups like the SSPX object to the Ecumenical fruits of Vatican II, because before Vatican II, a gathering like Assisi would have been unthinkable.

  72. asophist says:

    Cardinal Hoyos is not the only high-ranking Vatican prelate to assert that the SSPX are not in schism. If they are not is schism, aren’t they “in the Church” ( like “normal” Catholics)? It is just that their situation within the Church is canonically irregular. That’s an internal policy issue, no? The good folks who attend their masses are not de facto outside the Church, that much seems obvious, from all the failed attempts by various bishops to declare them excommunicated (these “excommunications” have been overturned, or voided, by Rome). Let’s not set up the SSPX as bogeymen. I think they are trying to save the Church from the results of the past 40+ years, as best they can. Also, as far as any anti-Semitism is concerned, I don’t think Bp Williamson is an anti-Semite. To my knowledge he has never said anything derogatory about the Jewish race.

  73. Sid says:

    The writebacker at 23 February 2011 at 6:23 am ignores my (and the Church’s) arguments about Prevenient Grace, and is not correct about (1) Reason vs. Revelation and (2) Islam’s teaching of and actual practice of Polygamy

    ad 1: Ernesto at 23 February 2011 at 8:26 am is correct. The rightness of monogamous marriage is known to be right by reason’s understanding of the natural law, and The State has an prudent interest in coercing monogamy. If on the other hand the moral obligation of monogamous marriage were known only by revelation, then the state might not prohibit polygamy, no more than it might impose burqas. Plain and simple. It used to be hard to get a divorce in NY because of Catholic power there. No more. The teaching against divorce is known by revelation. Does the writebacker in question wish Catholics to forbid by law divorce in one state and Baptists and Church of Christ to forbid booze in another?

    ad 2: The Qur’an does not require polygamy, only permits it, and in some cases discourages it. See Surah 4, verses 3 and 129. Polygamy is forbidden by law in the Muslim countries of Tunesia, Albania, Turkey, and those states of the former USSR which have a majority Muslim population. In most other Muslim countries, polygamy is dying out and facing new legal burdens, especially in more populous and industrial countries, such as Egypt, Algeria, and Indonesia. In Libya, Pakistan and Morocco require the written permission of the first wife if her husband wishes to marry a second, third, or fourth wife. My research indicates that polygamy is practiced in fact by less than 3% of Islamic marriages. Seems like in practice, the natural law’s correctness on monogamy is recognized in practice in Muslim countries.

  74. paulbailes says:

    So, Sid
    – even some “Moslem” countries restrict Moslems’ freedom to marry according to their religion
    – re “It used to be hard to get a divorce in NY because of Catholic power there. No more” … and that “no more” is a bad thing???

    Dear Ernesto – re “According to the reasoning implied in your question honor killings and human sarifices would also have to be permited if religious liberty is to be protected”

    Thanks both for reinforcing my belief that religious liberty is indeed a bad idea.

    God bless

  75. Thomist student says:

    I agree with Fr. Z that it was a foregone conclusion that the Vatican/SSPX talks would bring no breakthrough. [You agree with me? That’s odd. I never said any such thing. Don’t, friend, put words in my mouth. Speak for yourself.] How could they ever agree? Vatican II’s teaching seems to be the opposite of the consistent pre-Vatican II teaching of the Church. See, Vatican II expert and prominent conciliar theologian, Fr. Hans Küng, recognized that Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty was the opposite of Church’s prior teaching:

    “Lefebvre has every right to question the Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom,” Küng says, “because Vatican II completely reversed Vatican I’s position without explanation. … The Council bishops said: It’s too complicated to explain how you can go from a condemnation of religious liberty to an affirmation of it purely by the notion of progress.”
    October 21, 1977 Interview, National Catholic Reporter

    [Well.. if Küng says that, it must surely be so!]

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