magisterium

Reversible Declaration

Reversible Declaration posted in Eleison Comments on September 22, 2012

Not everything about the General Chapter of the Society of St Pius X held in Switzerland in July may have been disastrous, but of its two official fruits, the “Six Conditions” were “alarmingly weak” (cf. EC 268, Sept. 1), and its final “Declaration” leaves much to be desired. Here is the briefest of summaries of its ten paragraphs:—

1 We thank God for 42 years of our Society’s existence. 2 We have rediscovered our unity after the recent crisis(really?), 3 in order to profess our faith 4 in the Church, in the Pope, in Christ the King. 5 We hold to the Church’s constant Magisterium, 6 as also to its constant Tradition. 7 We join with all Catholics now being persecuted. 8 We pray for help to the Blessed Virgin Mary, 9 to St. Michael 10 and to St Pius X. This is a Declaration not lacking in piety, which St Paul says is useful for all purposes (I Tim. IV, 8). However, to his two disciples, Timothy and Titus, he is constantly emphasizing the need for doctrine, which is the foundation of true piety. Alas, the Declaration is rather less strong in doctrine. Instead of blasting the Council’s doctrinal errors which have been devastating the Church for the last 50 years, it has in its most doctrinal paragraphs, 5 and 6, only a timid condemnation of those errors, together with a tribute to the unchanging Magisterium (5) and Tradition (6) of the Church, accurate but constituting an argument all too easily reversible by a Conciliarist. See how:—

Paragraph 5 mentions Vatican II novelties being “stained with errors,” whereas the Church’s constant Magisterium is uninterrupted: “By its act of teaching it transmits the revealed deposit in perfect harmony with everything the universal Church has taught in all times and places.” Which of course implies that Rome should take Vatican II to the cleaners to take out the stains. But see how a Roman can reply: “The Chapter’s expression of the continuity of the Magisterium is wholly admirable! But we Romans are that Magisterium, and we say that Vatican II is not stained!”

Similarly with paragraph 6. The Declaration states, “The constant Tradition of the Church transmits and will transmit to the end of time the collection of teachings necessary to keep the Faith and save one’s soul.” So the Church authorities need to return to Tradition. Roman reply: “ The Chapter’s description of how Tradition hands down the Faith is wholly admirable! But we Romans are the guardians of that Tradition, and we say, by the hermeneutic of continuity, that Vatican II does not interrupt it but continues it. So the Chapter is entirely wrong to suggest that we need to return to it.”

Contrast the force of Archbishop Lefebvre’s irreversible attack on the errors of Vatican II in his famous Declaration of November, 1974. He declares that Conciliar Rome is not Catholic Rome because the Conciliar reform is “naturalist, Teilhardian, liberal and Protestant . . . poisoned through and through . . . coming from heresy and leading to heresy,” etc, etc. His conclusion is a categorical refusal to have anything to do with the Newrome because it is absolutely not the true Rome.

Pull up on the Internet both Declarations, and see which is an unmistakeable trumpet-call for the necessary battle (I Cor.XIV, 8)! One has to wonder how many of the 2012 capitulants have ever studied what the Archbishop said, and why.

Kyrie eleison.

April Ambiguity

April Ambiguity posted in Eleison Comments on September 8, 2012

In mid-April there was submitted to Rome on behalf of the Society of St Pius X a confidential document, doctrinal in nature, of which it was said that it laid out Catholic principles that all the SSPX authorities could subscribe to. In mid-June Rome rejected the document as basis for a Rome-SSPX agreement. Thank goodness, because it contained a supremely dangerous ambiguity: in brief, does an expression like “The Magisterium of all time” mean up until 1962, or up until 2012? It is all the difference between the religion of God, and the religion of God as changed by modern man, i.e. the religion of man. Here are some of the principles, as summarized for SSPX authorities:—

“1/ . . .Tradition must be the criterion and guide for understanding the teachings of Vatican II. 2/ So the statements of Vatican II and of the post-conciliar papal teaching with regard to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue or religious liberty can only be understood in the light of Tradition complete and uninterrupted, 3/ in a manner that does not clash with the truths previously taught by the Church’s Magisterium, 4/ without accepting any interpretation opposed to, or breaking with, Tradition and that Magisterium . . . .”

The 1962 or 2012 ambiguity lurks here in the words “Tradition” and “Magisterium.” Are these two words being taken to exclude doctrines of the Council (1962–1965) and its aftermath, or are they including them? Any follower of Tradition will read the passage so as to exclude them, because he knows that there is a huge difference between the Church and the Newchurch. But any believer in Vatican II can so read the passage as to be able to pretend that there is a seamless continuity between the Church before and after the Council. Let us take a closer look at how the Traditionalist and the Conciliarist can each read the passage in his own way.

Firstly, the Traditional reading:— “1/ Pre-conciliar Tradition has got to be the measure and judge of Council teachings (and not the other way round). 2/ So Conciliar and post-conciliar teaching must all be sifted according to the whole of Traditional teaching prior to the Council, 3/ so as not to clash with anything that the Magisterium taught prior to the Council, 4/ accepting no interpretation or text that breaks with the pre-conciliar Tradition or Magisterium.”

Secondly, the Conciliar reading (certainly that of the Romans in charge of today’s Church):— “1/ Tradition from before and after the Council (because there is no difference) must be judge of the Council. 2/ So Conciliar teaching on controversial subjects must be sifted according to the Church’s one complete pre- and post-conciliar Tradition (because that alone is the “completeness” of Tradition), 3/ so as not to clash with the Church’s pre- or post-conciliar Magisterium (because they teach the same), 4/ accepting no interpretation that breaks with pre- or post-conciliar Tradition or Magisterium (because there is no break between all four of them).”

This Conciliar reading means that the Council will be judged by the Council, which means of course that it will be acquitted. On the contrary by the Traditional reading the Council is utterly condemned. Ambiguity is deadly for the Faith. Somebody here is meaning to play games with our Catholic minds. Let whoever it is be anathema!

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.

Benedict’s Thinking – II

Benedict’s Thinking – II posted in Eleison Comments on July 16, 2011

If one divides into four parts Bishop Tissier’s study of the thinking of Benedict XVI, then the second part presents its philosophical and theological roots. By analyzing the philosophy first, the Bishop is following Pius X’s great Encyclical “Pascendi.” If a wine bottle is dirty inside, the very best of wine poured into it will be spoiled. If a man’s mind is disconnected from reality, as it is by modern philosophy, then even the Catholic Faith filtered through it will be disoriented, because it will no longer be oriented by reality. Here is Benedict’s problem.

Like Pius X before him, the Bishop attributes the prime responsibility for this disaster of modern minds to the German Enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel KANT (1724–1804), who finalized the system of anti-thought, prevailing now everywhere, which excludes God from rational discourse. For if, as Kant claimed, the mind can know nothing of the object except what appears to the senses, then the mind is free to reconstruct the reality behind the sense appearances however it may like, objective reality is dismissed as unknowable, and the subject reigns supreme. If the subject needs God and postulates his existence, well and good. Otherwise, so to speak, God is out of luck!

Bishop Tissier then presents five modern philosophers, all grappling with the consequences of Kant’s subjective folly of putting idea over reality and subject over object. The two most important of them for this Pope’s thinking might be Heidegger (1889–1976), a father of existentialism, and Buber (1878–1965), a leading exponent of personalism. If essences are unknowable (Kant), then there remains only existence. Now the most important existent is the person, constituted for Buber by intersubjectivity, or the “I-You” relationship between subjective persons, which for Buber opens the way to God. Therefore knowledge of the objective God is going to depend on the subjective involvement of the human person. What an insecure foundation for that knowledge!

Yet involvement of the human subject will be the key to Benedict’s theological thinking, influenced firstly, writes the Bishop, by the renowned School of Tuebingen. Founded by J.S. von Drey (1777–1853), this School held that history is moved by the spirit of the age in constant movement, and this spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Therefore God’s Revelation is no longer the Deposit of Faith closed at the death of the last Apostle, and merely made more explicit as time goes on. Instead, it has a constantly evolving content to which the receiving subject contributes. So the Church of each age plays an active and not just passive part in Revelation, and it gives to past Tradition its present meaning. Is this beginning to sound familiar? Like the hermeneutic of Dilthey? See EC 208.

Thus for Benedict XVI God is not an object apart nor merely objective, he is personal, an “I” exchanging with each human “You.” Scripture or Tradition do come objectively from the divine “I,” but on the other hand the living and moving “You” must constantly re-read that Scripture, and since Scripture is the basis of Tradition, then Tradition too must become dynamic by the subject’s involvement, and not just static, like Archbishop Lefebvre’s “fixated” Tradition. Similarly theology must be subjectivized, Faith must be a personal “experiencing” of God, and even the Magisterium must stop being merely static.

“Accursed is the man that puts his trust in man” says Jeremiah (XVII, 5).

Kyrie eleison.

Romans Measured

Romans Measured posted in Eleison Comments on March 29, 2008

From France I received earlier this month what seems to me a well-balanced assessment of who exactly today’s Roman churchmen are and what they are trying to achieve. Here are extracts:

” . . .The churchmen in Rome are battling with us (clergy and laity of the Society of St. Pius X) to bring us around to accepting their Conciliar religion. Cardinal Castrillon and even the Pope are convinced that we are mistaken, and that it is their duty by all means fair and borderline foul to get us to accept the essence of the Second Vatican Council, which has become their Credo. To this end they work on us with determination and patience, but also with authority, always “for our own good.”

“On our side, because we insist on sane thinking as an essential pre-condition to staying faithful to the irreformable doctrine that has been handed down to us, we find ourselves obliged to resist their pressure and so to disobey today’s Magisterium in order to obey the God who does not change. However . . . we must never forget that despite their courtesy and subjective kindness, these Romans are, objectively speaking, our enemies. Beneath the appearance of good they are motivated by a spirit that is not good. An old proverb says that if you sup with the Devil, you need a long spoon . . .”

The writer’s conclusion is also wise: “ . . .On our side we should be devoting all our energies and abilities to keeping our faithful informed, to strengthening them spiritually and to forming them doctrinally . . . by not doing this enough, we lose in men and resources every time Rome attacks. In the trials lying ahead of us, reinforcing the quality of our troops will have more effect than trying to amass large numbers of Catholics who do not understand the need to fight.”

“As Archbishop Lefebvre said on September 4, 1987, in Econe, “We must hold on, absolutely, through thick and thin . . . Rome, I declare, has lost the Faith, Rome has apostatized.” End of the writer’s quote.

Kyrie eleison.

Latest Encyclical

Latest Encyclical posted in Eleison Comments on December 15, 2007

To illustrate what is appealing and what is most dangerous in Pope Benedict’s latest Encyclical Letter, Spe Salvi (“By hope we are saved” – Rom. VIII,24), here is a comparison.

In a river flowing fast towards a deadly waterfall, men are happily swimming and drifting downstream, apparently unaware of the danger. On the bank one man has tied a rope to a firmly rooted tree, and he cries out to the men in the water to grab hold of the rope which he is throwing out to them as their last chance of rescue. But the men in mid-stream seem deaf, and few grab hold of the rope.

Seeing this lack of response, a second man on the bank unties the rope from the tree, fastens it around his waist and begins to wade out towards the men in danger, hoping that by getting that much closer to them he can make himself heard. Alas, the current sweeps him too off his feet, and too late he realizes that he will share the fate of the doomed drifters.

The river is our swiftly passing life in this world. The men in mid-stream are the mass of its inhabitants, drifting blithely towards eternal damnation. The tree is the saving doctrine of Catholic Tradition, thrown out afresh to each age by the rope of the Magisterium. The first man represents Catholic Traditionalists. The second man represents Conciliar churchmen like Benedict XVI, who in their concern to reach modern man have untied their teaching from Tradition and tied it to themselves. But in this condition they can no longer rescue modern man, they can only perish with him.

The appealing side of Benedict XVI and his latest Encyclical is his evident and sincere desire to reach out to modern man by, for instance, his abandoning of the classic precision of concepts such as faith, hope and redemption (no less!), in order to “refresh” their content in a way meaningful to humanists today. However, such humanizing gravely foreshortens and distorts the Church’s divine doctrine. Immensely dangerous, to take just one example, is the strong suggestion (Section #46) that “the great majority of people” go to Purgatory, and so are saved. Our Lord said on the contrary, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Mt.XX,16), and “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat” (Mt.VII,13).

Holy Father, you are drifting to destruction, and you risk taking many souls with you. We pray for you!

Kyrie eleison.