SSPX Bp. Fellay: “This is new.”

I saw an interesting juxtaposition of churchy news items.

First, from the SSPX site DICI:

Europe: The churches are closing

That isn’t news, really. We have been seeing this everywhere. How the decades of reform have worked!

Next, from SSPX.org, we have some preaching from SSPX Bp and head Bernard Fellay at the consecration of one of their new churches. A taste:

…Let us ask God to help us understand this mystery a little better and understand that despite all human misery, despite the fact that even a pope is now saying unbelievable things on morality and trying to tell us that sin is the state of grace – what we are hearing today is unbelievable, unheard of! – well, despite that, this pope can still accomplish actions that sanctify and save. God has not taken from him his power to bind and to loosen (see Mt. 16:19). He can do good and he still does. It is the same with the bishops. These are great mysteries. It does not mean that we approve the evil that is done; far from it, we reject it and guard ourselves from it. But at the same time we recognize that in the Church there is something stronger and greater than the things we see: there is God, the infinite God, infinitely holy, infinitely good. There is one path that has been given to us for our salvation, for there is no other. If we wish to go to heaven, we have to go through the Church, the Roman Catholic Church; there is no other path. We can try to invent whatever we want: it is all to no avail. It is the only path. So we must not leave the Church.

There are scandalous things that happen these days, it is true, for what we see now is a situation of growing confusion, a more and more chaotic situation. You ask one bishop what he thinks, you ask another bishop what he thinks and they give contradictory answers, even on the essentials: the Faith, what we must do to be saved. So it is extremely serious. And as time goes on, the situation spreads.

And at the same time, we see how God works in His Church. At the same time we see that, especially among the youngest, there is starting to be a reaction, even high up in the hierarchy. There are cardinals and bishops who are starting to say: “This is too much.” They are starting to speak out. I would say that we are no longer the only ones protesting and reacting; there are others. This is new.

MEANWHILE…

At the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) we see their glee over the remarks of German Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, who was presided over the decline of the Church in Germany as president of the bishops conference from 1987 to 2008.

He complains that his team are not getting their candidates for the episcopate through.  Imagine my sorrow.  Get this:

However, Lehmann said he believed the nomination process was being disrupted by people “focused on a strict church policy allowing no deviation” and who had “knowledge of how things work in Rome.”

[Hold on….!] “Much greater attention should be given to an episcopal candidate’s theological competence than his formal orthodoxy,” said Lehmann. “There’s an urgent need for clarification — otherwise, the whole appointment process will come into question.”

Get that? When picking bishops…

Much greater attention should be given to an episcopal candidate’s theological competence than his formal orthodoxy.

So… they should be really smart, like him and Card. Kasper and not so much mired in all those dogmas and creeds and formulas.  I mean, they have to know those things, but they don’t really have to be attached to them.  Sure… there’s formal orthodoxy… clinging to those old formulae and teachings and stuff… and then there’s the really heady stuff that frees us from the rigidity of the “institutional” ossification of the spirit-filled blue-skying that has been such a success in Germany over the last few decades.

Sorry… I’m ranting.  I’ll let you all get back to reading your Rahner.

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19 Responses to SSPX Bp. Fellay: “This is new.”

  1. surritter says:

    “Sure… there’s formal orthodoxy… clinging to those old formulae and teachings and stuff… and then there’s the really heady stuff that frees us…”
    Hmmm, seems to me that a certain bishop of Rome also said something close to this a while back, cautioning the faithful not to be too focused on the rigid rules. Shrug.

  2. JARay says:

    Take a look at what has happened to the Church in Germany. We need bishops who are deeply steeped in tradition, who will uphold the truth of the Catholic Faith. They must be willing to attack Modernism and to speak out against the secular trends prevalent in modern society.

  3. I read the rest of Bp. Fellay’s sermon as posted on the SSPX website, and it is one of the most uplifting things I have read or heard from any clergy in a long time.

  4. Father K says:

    ‘even a pope is now saying unbelievable things on morality and trying to tell us that sin is the state of grace,’ – no he is not, actually. ‘We can try to invent whatever we want:’ – the SSPX have been doing this for decades, hence their longevity.

  5. PTK_70 says:

    Who gets to pass judgement on one’s “theological competence?” Surely other factors should also be considered, such as one’s magnanimity, humility and prudence as well as preaching and organizational skills.

    The decline of the institutional Church in certain places is due to Catholics embracing the prevailing (God-less) ethos of the dominant culture. In the South where faith and the Bible still matter, Catholic dioceses seem to be going strong and this in no small part due to the liturgical reforms IMHO. The post-Conciliar form of the Roman Rite has made the Church to no longer appear foreign and unintelligible to our “separated brethren”.

  6. KAS says:

    “Sorry… I’m ranting. I’ll let you all get back to reading your Rahner.”

    No thank you. I prefer my St John Paul the Great. :)

  7. rcg says:

    So the candidate should be brilliant and able to argue theology than to obey it. More like Lucifer than Mary? Which light does he think we should follow?

  8. Augustine says:

    I thought that the religion of theologians, one which is reinvented by professional and amateur scholars alike, was Protestantism and that the religion of the Apostles, one which preserves their teachings and practices the life they exampled, was Catholicism.

  9. chantgirl says:

    PTK_70 – “The decline of the institutional Church in certain places is due to Catholics embracing the prevailing (God-less) ethos of the dominant culture. In the South where faith and the Bible still matter, Catholic dioceses seem to be going strong and this in no small part due to the liturgical reforms IMHO. The post-Conciliar form of the Roman Rite has made the Church to no longer appear foreign and unintelligible to our “separated brethren”.

    Considering that the Mass is a participation in the Heavenly Liturgy described in the book of Revelation, it is no wonder if Protestants do not understand it. An understanding of sacrifice, the mystical body of Christ, the communion of saints, and the treasury of grace given to the Church by Christ is necessary to understand the Mass. We should not pretend that the Mass is not what it is to dumb it down for those who do not believe what the Church teaches. Rather, we should evangelize so that those who do not believe might start to believe. Then they will begin to understand the Mass. In reality, the novus ordo, as celebrated in most places, is foreign and unintelligible to well-formed Catholics. Even celebrated well, the novus ordo falls well short of the Extraordinary Form in its form and function.

    Dioceses which embrace tradition are providing far more fruit, seen visibly in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

  10. akp1 says:

    Well if we get given one formally orthodox I will be very, very happy indeed :-)

  11. Mike says:

    Fr. K:

    I think the Pope is doing just in chapter 8 of AL. You disagree: why?

  12. Toan says:

    It’s refreshing to hear that, amidst all of the confusion we are in, Lehmann’s type of bishop is not getting ordained.

  13. PTK_70 says:

    @chantgirl…..Thank you for sharing.

    Something that gets glossed over perhaps in traditionalist circles is that Pope Benedict’s Summorum is not in the first place about advancing a liturgical agenda, noble as it may be. No, for the beloved pope emeritus, “coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church” was the positive motivation for issuing the Motu Propio. He also says the the two forms of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching….this I think is critical.

    The enriching effect, however, is stunted when the traditional form Mass is relegated to mid-Sunday afternoon (or when a separate parish is formed to cater to the more tradition-minded). No layman in my (very northern) community has gone to greater lengths than me to “mainstream-ify” celebration of Mass according to one of the traditional Rites. It’s an uphill battle. An absolute slog. I may have to leave this place before anything actually changes.

    It’s not for me to say whether this form is superior to that form or whether this Rite is superior to that Rite. What I do think (and I have lived in the South) is that the not-so-novus-anymore Ordinary form of the Roman Rite has made easier (more tenable, more palatable) the path of conversion for Protestants of open mind and good will. And this I see as a win.

  14. Imrahil says:

    More competency in theology than formal orthodoxy?

    Yeah, right. Like choosing, as professors of mathematics, rather those competent in mathematics than those knowing the state of the art and able to get their proofs and theorems right (and recognize their mistakes).

    It’s hard to even formulate the analogy.

    Btw., Fr Karl Rahner himself, whatever his tone, direction and boringness, seems to have shunned any outright heterodoxy he himself saw. As far as I know. But if that applies to a professor, it doesn’t necessarily apply to his former doctorands.

    As for Bp. Fellay: spot on. I hadn’t believed, despite my sympathies, that the time would come where I could accept a longer statement of an SSPX bishop on the topic of “relationship with Rome” without at least making some reservation. Well, “you live and learn, as my old gaffer used to say” (though I pose as Imrahil and not as Samwise).

  15. wmeyer says:

    Lord, grant that my ossification may only increase, as does my faith.

  16. Manducat in the hat says:

    Being very new to the SSPX conversation, can anyone recommend books which explain the origin of the conflict?

  17. Giuseppe says:

    More competency in theology than formal orthodoxy?
    Translation: sophistry (mixed with a bit of public relations) over true belief

    One can argue anything in theology and philosophy.
    True belief is true belief.

  18. Gabriel Syme says:

    Manducat in the hat,

    Check out this page from the Society’s US district.

    http://fsspx.org/en/about-landing

    In the “key concerns” section, there are useful articles explaining the SSPX objections to aspects of the Second Vatican Council & associated matters – religious liberty, collegiality, new mass etc.

    These matters are the root of things. I hope this helps! The History section, charting the development of the SSPX, is also interesting – especially the description of the very shady process by which the legally formed Society was suddenly suppressed without warning or reason given.

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