Not more Catholic than the Popes

In case you have forgotten already, it’s the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity!  I am sure that you have participated in many meaningful celebrations.

In the Low Countries, however, a shadow has been cast over this august occasion.

Protestants are shocked and saddened that a cardinal and bishop of the Holy Roman Church says that the decisions of the Council of Trent were valid!

From The Tablet:

Dutch cardinal’s defence of Trent casts shadow [Ooooo!] over Unity week

22 January 2014 11:00

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been overshadowed [because the Week is such a big deal] in the Netherlands by a row over a statement by Cardinal Willem Eijk that the decisions of the Council of Trent were still fully valid.

Cardinal Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht and head of the Dutch bishops’ conference, told the Protestant daily Reformatorisch Dagblad that the Council’s condemnations of Martin Luther’s teachings, for example on the Eucharist, still justified excluding Protestants from receiving communion in the Catholic Church.

The Council was “a sign of the self-cleansing power” of the Church because it corrected abuses that had developed in its ranks, he said.

The Protestant response was cool.

“It is not biblical to say the Church is always right,” said Gerrit de Fijter, chairman of the Protestant National Synod.

Bas Plaisier, former head of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, said he “didn’t understand what [Eijk] is doing.” [I’ll bet that’s true.]

A Catholic theologian, Marcel Poorthuis from Tilburg University, said Eijk was being more negative than Pope Benedict XVI about Protestants.

Church spokeswoman Anna Kruse expressed shock at the reactions and noted that Eijk had called the Trent condemnations “mainly a theoretical issue” and did not intend to offend Protestants.

Imagine such a thing!  A Cardinal mentions the Council of Trent… favorably!

In doing so, Card. Eijk did what Favorite Popes of Protestants (a very thin book) have done before him.

Do you remember what Blessed, soon-to-be-Saint John XXIII, said in his speech as Vatican II began, “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia“, which opened the Church to the world and to our Protestant sisters and brothers?

“The salient point of this council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all.

“For this a council was not necessary. But from the renewed, serene and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the acts of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciences in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith or the truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing, the manner in which these truths are set forth – in the same meaning and understanding – is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration, with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.”

And what did Pope Francis say about Trent?

You will recall that Pope Francis sent Walter Card. Brandmüller as his representative for the observance of the anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent. In the official letter Francis sent to Card. Brandmüller the Pope wrote:

Harking closely to the same Spirit, Holy Church in this age renews and meditates on the most abundant doctrine of the Council of Trent. In fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal”[interpretatio renovationis] which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers in no way less to the Council of Trent than to the Vatican Council. To be sure, this mode of interpretation places under a brighter light a beautiful characteristic of the Church which is taught by the Lord Himself: “She is a ‘subject’ which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia offering them his Christmas greetings – 22 December 2005).

By now, you regular readers will remember these connections instantly.  I have written about them before.  HERE

The Tablet… whingers.  They make this so easy.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Incaelo says:

    This is a messy situation we’re in over here, but not because of what Cardinal Eijk said (which, by the way, he did in a far more nuanced and detailed way than The Bitter Pill relates). No, it’s the emotional response by Protestants (and some Catholics) which causes most of the chaos. Cardinal Eijk was baited by the newspaper, which specifically focussed on Trent, and then everyone got all emotional because the cardinal said some things which weren’t very nice. Because that is wat ecumenism is about in the minds of many, apparently: being nice to each other…

    Still, it could be worse: the Italian edition of Vatican Insider ran a piece yesterday which even managed to put words in the cardinal’s mouth to the effect that Trent is only valid because Vatican II was only pastoral… Cardinal Eijk did not even mention Vatican II!

    For those interested, I have written about the affair here and here.

  2. Phil_NL says:

    Frankly, Card Eijk did not make taht much of a fuss, since this was completely ignored by all general publications. In fact, I’m Dutch, and it’s the first I hear from it. [That’s because The Pill is trying to make something big out of this. Instead they just make themselves risible.] The ‘Reformatorisch Dagblad’ caters to a very small subset of rather hardline protestants. Guys who, needless to say, know very well how to declare someone outside their church and beyond salvation. Moreover, they probably appreciate a clear and exclusionary stance, they have that in their genes. Note that the ‘tssss’ comes from the much more wishy-washy Protestant Church in the Netherlands, which is comprised of guys barely more orthodox than the US epicopalians and a bunch of guys who don’t know that yet of their co-religionists. (The Protestant Church in the Netherlands was in fact a fairly recent merger of various protestant demoninations).

    All the same, we have a good one in Card. Eijk!

  3. Legisperitus says:

    “The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”? Nah. Not biblical at all.

  4. Justalurkingfool says:

    “Bas Plaisier, former head of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, said he “didn’t understand what [Eijk] is doing.” [I’ll bet that’s true.]”

    My sides hurt, my stomach aches and my throat is raw from laughing so hard at THE RED.

  5. jarthurcrank says:

    If the Council of Trent was such an awful thing, then why are these English Catholics even Catholics? If they were intellectually honest, they would say that Cranmer and/or Foxe was right and join the Church By Law Established.

  6. Mariana2 says:

    Legisperitus beat me to it.

    Father Zed:
    ” I am sure that you have participated in many meaningful celebrations.”

    Haha : ). Our poor parish priest (in this solidly Lutheran country) always comes back fuming from these events, and has asked several of us parishioners to join him in them, but I’ve have to tell him I’ve already done my bit towards ecumenics by converting.

  7. Sonshine135 says:

    “It is not biblical to say the Church is always right,” said Gerrit de Fijter, chairman of the Protestant National Synod.

    So the argument is that the Holy Spirit is not with the church, so Jesus is a liar? “Lo, I am with you always” becomes “Lo, I am with you sometimes or possibly never”

    I never understand Protestant logic.

  8. Legisperitus says:

    “He that heareth you, heareth me… unless you happen to be wrong according to Gerrit de Fijter.”

  9. Johnno says:

    Let’s get everyone to repeat the following:

    “Ecumenism IS about explaining the full untarnished unapologetic Catholic Faith to ALL non-Catholics and apostates and defending the Church’s position as the one true and authentic ONLY Church established by the Son of God, Jesus Christ, so that non-Catholics and apostates will understand and therefore seek to convert/repent and become Catholic; as only in the Catholic Church shall there be true Christian unity. Ecumenism IS about helping people avoid choosing to go to Hell when they die due to placing their faith in falsehoods. For THAT END is why we shall dialogue and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with non-Catholics and apostates for common moral causes, social causes, and justice and peace and friendly relations.”

    “Ecumenism is NOT about World Peace as an end unto itself. Ecumenism is NOT about friendly relations for the sake of friendly relations and easy living. Ecumenism is NOT about saving the environment. Ecumenism is NOT about legitimizing false religions and encouraging non-Catholics to remain in their false faiths. Ecumenism is NOT about legitimizing the separation and excommunication of apostates from the Church. Ecumenism is NOT about emphasizing individual conscience above the objective truth. Ecumenism is NOT about remaining silent in the face of dishonesty & grave moral violations so as to be inoffensive to their adherents and practitioners. Ecumenism is NOT about censoring/avoiding the truths of the Catholic faith and watering down its Sacraments and rituals so as to make the faith deceptively more appealing on the surface to non-Catholics who reject them. Ecumenism is NOT about building a better secular world so as to accomodate all false religions and errors. Ecumenism is NOT about irresponsibility to not educate and discipline those who go astray from causing further damage and scandal and confusion and disorientation within the Body of Christ.”

  10. The Cobbler says:

    @Sonshine135, “I never understand Protestant logic.”
    I bet you have trouble drawing four-sided triangles, too.

  11. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Protestant newspaper interviews Cardinal, asks Cardinal about Council of Trent. Cardinal tells them Catholic position on Council of Trent. Shock horror. They’d no idea ;-)

    What this is all about, deep down, (but actually on reflection not that deep down at all) is the consternation of ‘modern liberal’ Tablet readers at suddenly discovering that the teachings of the Council of Trent have not been declared anathema by, e.g., one or other of those ‘documents of VII’ they’re always referring to, but never actually read.

    Martin Luther still wrong! Gosh, hold the front page. Whatever next?

    In any other situation the word would be ‘How awful! It makes you doubt everything…’ but in the case of the Tablet readership, the reaction might be ‘How awful! It makes me think maybe I have to start believing in something…’ Mind you, that particular penny may take a while yet to drop…

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  13. Athelstan says:

    “It is not biblical to say the Church is always right,” said Gerrit de Fijter, chairman of the Protestant National Synod.

    Spoken like a true Protestant.

    But one must be gentle with Mr. de Fijter. He’s seen several decades of Dutch Catholic leaders speaking and acting like progressive Protestants, working relentlessly to reduce the Church in the Netherlands to the vanishing point. So hearing a Catholic prelate speak like this must be quite disorienting.

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    “It is not biblical to say the Church is always right,” said Gerrit de Fijter, chairman of the Protestant National Synod.”


    It is not biblical to say that the Bible is Protestant.

    It is not biblical to say that the Protestant is always right.

    The Church is always right to say that Protestants are not always right.

    It is the Church that says what is biblical.

    It is not biblical to say that the Bible says the Church is not always right.

    It is not biblical to find the word Protestant in the Bible.

    It is not biblical, merely Protestant, to say that the Church is not always right.

    It is not biblical to say that the Church is always right only if you are on the left.

    The Chicken

  15. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I bet you have trouble drawing four-sided triangles, too.”

    I can see you are not an engineer. One of those sides is a back-up in case one of the other sides fail.

    The Chicken

  16. teomatteo says:

    or it could be a government regulation to have four.

  17. tufty says:

    “To dialogue means to believe that the “other” has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective. Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.” Pope Francis

    So however did the Protestants get the idea that the Church is not always right, I wonder.

    Why is the internet so completely silent about this statement? It even appears on the Vatican website, unbelievable as that may seem.

  18. I’m shocked at the orthodoxy of a Dutch Cardinal!

  19. Palladio says:

    I suppose I’d be surprised to discover that ecumenism confirms a protestant in his protestantism. But then what are the ground rules to which participants must subscribe during their ecumenical activities?

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