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.

“Rebellious, Divisive”

“Rebellious, Divisive” posted in Eleison Comments on September 15, 2012

The seventh chapter of the Gospel of St John has a special lesson for today: who are the real rebels against authority, and who are the merely apparent rebels? Who appears to be dividing the people of God, and who is really dividing them? Things are not always what they appear. It is necessary always to “Judge not according to the appearances, but judge just judgment” (Jn. VII, 24).

John VII is close to the end of Our Lord’s life on earth. The Jews are seeking to kill Jesus (verse 1), but Our Lord nevertheless goes up to Jerusalem and teaches in the Temple (14). The crowd is already divided (12), and so the effect of his teaching is that some people (40) recognize in him the prophet (cf. Deut.XVIII, 15–19), while others (41, 42) refuse him that recognition because he is from Galilee. So there is division and dissension. Now division as such is blameworthy, so who is to blame? Certainly not Our Lord, who is merely preaching the doctrine of his Father in Heaven (16–17). Nor can that part of the crowd be blamed which accepted the divine teaching. Clearly the blame for the dissension lies with the Temple authorities and that part of the crowd that was refusing the Truth.

Similarly in the 1970’s and 1980’s Archbishop Lefebvre divided Catholics by teaching and practising the truth of Catholic Tradition, but what Catholic that now boasts of being Traditional blames him for that division? Clearly the blame for the division of the Church lay neither with the Archbishop nor with those who followed him, but mainly with those Church authorities who were twisting the true religion, like the Temple authorities in Our Lord’s own day. Again and again the Archbishop pleaded with them to “judge just judgment” by confronting the central problem created by their Conciliar adultery with the modern world. To this day they refuse that confrontation. Again and again their only answer has been, “Obedience!,” “Unity!.” Does not their lack of arguments as to the basic questions of truth suggest it is they who are the true rebels and dividers of the Church?

Yet dissension as such is not a good thing, and both Our Lord and Archbishop Lefebvre knew ahead that dissension would follow on their teaching. Why then did they still go ahead? Because souls can be saved with dissension (cf. Lk.XII, 51–53), but they cannot be saved without Truth. If the religious authorities are misleading the people – and the Devil works especially hard on them because of their power to lead many other souls astray – then the Truth must be told to bring people back on the path to Heaven, even if dissension will be the result. In this respect Truth is above authority or unity.

And where is that truth in 2012? Vatican II was a disaster for the Church – true or false? The Church authorities who brought about Assisi III and John-Paul II’s “beatification” are clinging to Vatican II – true or false? And so if the Society of Pius X puts itself under those same authorities, they will use all their prestige, and the power over the SSPX that it will have given them, to dissolve its resistance to Vatican II – true or false? So the SSPX runs a grave risk of losing steadily whatever will it still has to resist that prestige and power – true or false? As Romans say, “Rome can wait”!

Then in the SSPX today, if one “judges not according to the appearance but just judgment,” who is it that is being truly “divisive”? Who are the real “rebels against authority”? Those who criticize such a risk of blending Catholic Truth with Conciliar error, or those who are promoting it?

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.