Tag: Doctrinal Preamble

Faith Undermined

Faith Undermined posted in Eleison Comments on April 11, 2015

The editorial in a recent Priory bulletin of an honourable colleague of the Society of St Pius X shows one major reason why Society priests are not yet joining the “Resistance” – they do not yet believe that the Faith is at stake. We wonder what it will take to persuade them. We can be sure that the leaders in XSPX headquarters are convinced that they are not themselves changing the Faith, and that they find it that much easier to continue persuading Society priests and laity that they are not changing the Faith. But if they had the true Faith, how could they dream of putting its Lefebvrian defence under the neo-modernists’ control in Rome?

The editorial is entitled “Obeying Fallible Superiors.” It recognizes that resistance to fallible Superiors is legitimate when the Faith is at stake, but the editorial’s emphasis is rather on the limits to be set to such resistance: anarchy and disrespect for authority are never lawful; obedience to lawful Superiors is essential to any society; Superiors have special graces of state; care must be taken in warning sheep that cannot make the necessary distinctions; there is a dangerous spirit of independence abroad today (Benedict XV); name-calling should be avoided, etc. – the principles are impeccable, the problem lies in their application.

For instance, while shunning name-calling the editorial nevertheless recognizes that Pius IX named “liberal Catholics” as being the Church’s “worst enemies.” Indeed in any Church crisis to identify and name the Church’s enemies, e.g. “Protestants” in the Reformation, is a major first step towards being able to fight them. No doubt the editorial’s author would grant as much where the Faith is at stake, only he would deny that there is any crisis of the Faith taking place within the Society. But, Father, do you think that liberal Catholics of the 19th century who came under Pius IX’s condemnation would have denied a single Article of the Faith? On the contrary, they would have vigorously affirmed their belief in every such Article. And yet would they not with equal vigour have condemned Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors? The problem for a modern mind to be Catholic lies not in its accepting or rejecting any one truth of the Faith, but in its instinctive undermining of all truths whatsoever, and this dreadful dissolution of the mind is, without a divine miracle, a virtually insoluble problem for and of the Faith.

And it has reached to the top of the Society. Father, do you recognize that Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity” is tantamount to the suspension of the law of non-contradiction? And have you studied paragraph III.5 of Bishop Fellay’s Doctrinal Declaration of April, 2012, a document which he circumstantially “withdrew,” but never substantially retracted? It states that non-Traditional statements of Vatican II must be interpreted as Traditional. Is that not a perfect example of the “hermeneutic of continuity,” of interpretation overtaking reality? Then do you really think that the Society has no problem of the Faith when its Superior joins in Rome’s suspending the law of non-contradiction, and swims in contradictions and in what Churchill graciously named “terminological inexactitudes,” as happily as a fish swims in water?

By the way, you also say that anybody who “doubts that hierarchy can still exist in the early 21st century excludes himself from all Catholic life.” If he doubts it in principle, one might agree with you, but if he is merely relating what he observes in practice, might he not be merely observing the extension one century later of what you quote Benedict XV already observing as “the dangerous spirit of independence abroad” in 1914?

Kyrie eleison.

Grave Danger

Grave Danger posted in Eleison Comments on March 31, 2012

The desire of certain priests within the Society of St Pius X to seek a practical agreement with the Church authorities without a doctrinal agreement seems to be a recurring temptation. For years Bishop Fellay as the Society’s Superior General has refused the idea, but when he said in Winona on February 2 that Rome is willing to accept the Society as is, and that it is ready to satisfy “all the Society’s requirements . . .on the practical level,” it does look as though Rome is holding out the same temptation once more.

However, the latest news from Rome will be known to many of you: unless the Vatican is playing games with the SSPX, it announced last Friday, March 16, that it found Bishop Fellay’s January reply to its Doctrinal Preamble of September 14 of last year “not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems which lie at the foundation of the rift between the Holy See and the SSPX.” And the Vatican gave the SSPX one month in which to “clarify its position” and avoid “a rupture of painful and incalculable consequences.”

But what if Rome were suddenly to cease requiring acceptance of the Council and the New Mass? What if Rome were suddenly to say, “Alright. We have thought about it. Come back into the Church as you ask. We will give you freedom to criticize the Council as much as you like, and freedom to celebrate the Tridentine Mass exclusively. But do come in!” It might be a very cunning move on the part of Rome, because how could the Society refuse such an offer without seeming inconsistent and downright ungrateful? Yet on pain of survival it would have to refuse. On pain of survival? Strong words. But here is a commentary of Archbishop Lefebvre on the matter.

On May 5, 1988, he signed with then Cardinal Ratzinger the protocol (provisional draft) of a practical Rome-Society agreement. On May 6 he took back his (provisional) signature. On June 13 he said, “With the May 5 Protocol we would soon have been dead. We would not have lasted a year. As of now the Society is united, but with that Protocol we would have had to make contacts with them, there would have been division within the Society, everything would have been a cause of division” (emphasis added). “New vocations might have flowed our way because we were united with Rome, but such vocations would have tolerated no disagreement with Rome – which means division. As it is, vocations sift themselves before they reach us” (which is still true in Society seminaries).

And why such division? (Warring vocations would be merely one example amongst countless others). Clearly, because the May 5 Protocol would have meant a practical agreement resting upon a radical doctrinal disagreement between the religion of God and the religion of man. The Archbishop went on to say, “They are pulling us over to the Council . . .whereas on our side we are saving the Society and Tradition by carefully keeping our distance from them” (emphasis added). Then why did the Archbishop seek such an agreement in the first place? He continued, “We made an honest effort to keep Tradition going within the official Church. It turned out to be impossible. They have not changed, except for the worse.”

And have they changed since 1988? Many would think, only for yet worse.

Kyrie eleison.

Rome Insists

Rome Insists posted in Eleison Comments on December 17, 2011

At about the same time that Bishop Fellay was letting it be known that the SSPX will ask for clarification of the Doctrinal Preamble (Rome’s reaction to the doctrinal discussions running from 2009 to spring of this year), one of Rome’s four theologians taking part in those discussions, Monsignore Fernando Ocariz, published an essay “On Adhesion to the Second Vatican Council.” His timing shows that we are not out of the woods, on the contrary! But let us look at his arguments, which are at least clear.

In his introduction he argues that the “pastoral” Council was nonetheless doctrinal. What is pastoral is based on doctrine. What is pastoral seeks to save souls, which involves doctrine. The Council documents contain much doctrine. Good! The Monsignore is at least not going to dodge doctrinal accusations levelled at the Council by pretending the Council was not doctrinal, as have done many of its defenders.

Then on the Church’s Magisterium in general, he says that Vatican II consisted of the Catholic bishops who have “the charism of truth, the authority of Christ and the light of the Holy Spirit.” To deny that, he says, is to deny something of the very essence of the Church. But, Monsignore, what about the mass of Catholic bishops going along with the Arian heresy under Pope Liberius? Exceptionally, even the near unanimity of Catholic bishops can go doctrinally astray. If it happened once, it can happen again. It happened at Vatican II, as its documents show.

He proceeds to argue that the Council’s non-dogmatic and non-defined teachings nevertheless require of Catholics their assent, called “religious submission of will and intellect,” which is “an act of obedience well-rooted in confidence in the divine assistance given to the Magisterium.” Monsignore, to the Conciliar as to the Arian bishops no doubt God offered all the assistance they needed, but they refused it, as is shown by the departure of their documents from his Tradition.

Finally Monsignore Ocariz begs the question by arguing that since the Catholic Magisterium is continuous and Vatican II was the Magisterium, therefore its teachings can only be continuous with the past. And if they look like a break with the past, then the Catholic thing to do is to interpret them as though there is no such break, as does for instance Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity.” But Monsignore, these arguments can be turned around. In fact there is a doctrinal break, as is clear from examining the Conciliar documents themselves. (For instance, is there (Vatican II), or is there not (Tradition), a human right not to be prevented from spreading error?) Therefore Vatican II was not the Church’s true Magisterium, and the Catholic thing is to show that there is indeed this break with Tradition, as did Archbishop Lefebvre, and not to pretend that there is no such break.

The Monsignore’s last word is to claim that only the Magisterium can interpret the Magisterium. Which takes us right back to Square One.

Dear readers, Rome is not by any means out of the woods. Heaven help us.

Kyrie eleison.