Rorate Caeli

Evaluating the Meaning of a Movement

Abbé de Cacqueray FSSPX speaks about Summorum Pontificum

Over the past year, conflicting judgments have been issued concerning the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum promulgated in July 2007. In hindsight it is possible to have a clearer picture.

It seems to me that the fundamental point to properly interpret it is to recognize it as the inauguration of a movement on the liturgy and, hence, the Church itself (Lex orandi, lex credendi). Only by evaluating the meaning and scope of this movement can one express a fair and justified judgment.

A movement must have a point of departure. What was the situation of the liturgy in June 2007? The overwhelming, almost total domination of the so-called Mass of Pope Paul VI, and the almost complete elimination of the traditional Mass which was regarded as totally obsolete if not outright prohibited.

Responding to this situation were two very small groups. On the one hand, the "traditionalists" who consistently said that the traditional Mass was not and could not be prohibited and who never accepted the Mass of Paul VI and were severely persecuted by ecclesiastical authorities. On the other hand the "Ecclesia Dei" faction which, by the grace of a few exceptional laws, was permitted under restrictive conditions to celebrate the traditional Mass on the premise of spiritual preference.

The first article of the Motu Proprio is clearly unacceptable: the traditional Mass and the Mass of Paul VI are "two usages of the one Roman rite." But this is only a starting point.

However from this (catastrophic) state of things, the Motu Proprio goes on to pave the way much more widely for the celebration of the traditional Mass than anything that had been done up until then.

“[T]he Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be […] given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage”; “It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated”; “[E]ach Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962”; “For such celebrations […], the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary” etc.

Further (from the pope's letter): "I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

The Motu Proprio opens a door to the traditional liturgy for anyone, and they are many, who have been unlawfully deprived of it for the past forty years.

This of course, does not concern those who have always known that the traditional Mass can not be prohibited, and therefore have attended it with a clear conscience. For this minority, the "traditionalists", to employ the Motu Proprio would be a step backwards: it would admit that the Mass of Paul VI carries "the same dignity" as that of the traditional Mass which they have always denied.

However, those who have known only the Mass of Paul VI and, given the propaganda, have been convinced up until now that the traditional Mass was prohibited or bad; are now afforded access to this Mass through the Motu Proprio and may begin to discover its riches.

This is the essential meaning of the movement launched by the Motu Proprio: A possibility for all baptized who have been deprived of it for decades, to see for the first time the traditional liturgy of the Church and get re-accustomed to it - a gradual but humanly necessary beginning, at least in terms of the liturgical crisis.

The French bishops (in particular) who do everything to block, restrict, and distort the Motu Proprio, were not mistaken.

Therefore let us not ourselves be mistaken.


Abbé Régis de Cacqueray †, Supérieur du District de France

La Porte Latine

60 comments:

John McFarland said...

So the question for the motuists would seem to be: do you believe that the new rite is of equal dignity with the old?

If you do, is it not fair to say that any preference for the 1962 Mass is nothing very much more than a matter of taste.

If you don't, is it not fair to say that you are brethren of the SSPX without the courage of your convictions?

Anonymous said...

Much of what Fr. Cacqueray says is true. But notice this: "For this minority, the 'traditionalists', to employ the Motu Proprio would be a step backwards".

I will have to see the French text to know if this is accurate. I only point out that one does not "employ" the m.p., even should one refer to it. The m.p. does not establish a right, as Fr. Cacqueray does write elsewhere; the m.p. only recognises a right which was always there. The norms of S.P. are only there because it *also* recognises the New Mass. Since the number of canonical hours, places, and priests is limited, rights arising from the New Mass could restrict those arising from the old (and vice versa). Hence the need for norms to separate the rights pertaining to each. But the right per se to celebrate the old Mass is recognised, not granted, by S.P.

Traditionalist priest are not affected by S.P. only because they refuse to celebrate the New Mass, something any priest may do in principle unless, under current law, he holds an appointment as parish priest, vicar, curate, chaplain, or rector.

P.K.T.P.

Paul Haley said...

I'm against any comment that would denigrate the importance of what the Holy Father has done with SP. It is an historic document and one which should go down in history as a complete vindication of the Traditional position vis-a-vis the Mass. I think Bishop Fellay has said as much.

Jacob said...

I agree with Paul.

I do think the abbot's evaluation is a step in the right direction for him and his brethren to acknowledge that the MP is only a beginning to the process, not the end.

Patrick said...

On the whole a fairly positive article, with no direct criticism of the Pope. But what is the import of that cryptic final remark?

Confiteor said...

John McFarland,

The NOM is a theologically deficient setting for the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is set within the NOM like a diamond in a brass ring. Nevertheless, our Lord Jesus Christ is both Priest and Victim in the offering of the Sacrifice within the rubrics of the NOM. Therefore, we must ask to what extent the Sacrifice can be separated from the rite. As a practical matter, those of us who attend the NOM out of necessity must make that separation to some degree, if we do not want to go mad.

The SSPX position is that the NOM is not Catholic, full stop. They also assert that those who attend the NOM aware of its deficiencies are guilty of sin. The SSPX thus put their own magisterium above that of the Pope, who affirms our moral obligation as Catholics to attend the NOM if (for whatever reason) no other form of the Latin Rite is available to us.

So, I think it is safe to say that, while my problems with the NOM are not merely a matter of taste, I am no brother of the SSPX.

schoolman said...

"For this minority, the "traditionalists", to employ the Motu Proprio would be a step backwards: it would admit that the Mass of Paul VI carries "the same dignity" as that of the traditional Mass which they have always denied."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This seems problamatic. If each of these forms are valid -- then each has the same intrinsic dignity. It seems to me that to deny the equality of intrisic dignity is to deny validity...and ultimately this leads to a practical denial of the Indefectibility of the Church.

John McFarland said...

From the SSPX perspective, the problem with the MP is the continuity and equal dignity concepts. Everyone knows that the intent was to eliminate the traditional Mass, although Pope Paul was for whatever reason unwilling to come right out and say that it was abrogated. If I remember correctly, even Cardinal Ratzinger in his Salt of the Earth interview book of the late 90s said pretty much in as many words that the process consisted of demolishing the Old Mass and cobbling together a new one out of some of the pieces. And one of the obvious characteristics of the new Mass is to downplay (in Eucharistic Prayer II to the point of extinction) the sacrificial nature of the Mass as defined at Trent. So how can continuity and equal dignity be taken seriously, much less the ordinary-extraordinary distinction, which is just thrown in to justify the powers that be in not treating the equal traditional Mass as equal? And if these things cannot be taken seriously, neither can concerns about treating with the powers that be about who can say the traditonal Mass and where and when.

One cannot talk of attending the New Mass out of necessity, unless attending the New Mass is licit. If it is not licit, one must stay home. As anyone can satisfy himself by opening the Roman Martyrology at random, the Catholic faith ain't beanbag. If the New Mass is licit, and it's just brass vs. gold as the setting for the common diamond, then the whole Old Mass thing is just background noise, relatively speaking.

Father de Cacqueray's final remark is not at all cryptic. He is saying that the enemy understands that the MP is the thin edge of the wedge, which is why they fight against it; and so traditionalists should not denigrate it -- for those who do not yet understand all that is at stake.

John McFarland said...

One further important point regarding Confiteor's argument. The Pope's magisterium is only valid to the extent that it is in continuity with the magisterium of all times. The SSPX does not have its own magisterium; it is arguing that the magisterium of all times is against some of what the Pope teaches, and so those teachings may not and indeed cannot be accepted. The SSPX maintains that the conciliar magisterium is on its face not continuous with the magisterium of all times. It does not take a St. Thomas Aquinas; something like Deus est Caritas on love, or Redemptor Hominis on the nature of redemption, is not the doctrine of the Church. In the old days, the vast majority of the popes habitually spoke in continuity with their predecessors and the ordinary and universal magisterium, and the bad popes' interests lay in different directions, which are what made them bad popes. But the old days are gone, and we must admit what we are up against. Do we really have to believe with Pope Benedict that the starting point in understanding love is eros -- sexual desire -- even after he himself says that the only time that eros is used in scripture is in the traditional Greek translation of the Old Testament, on the lips of the bad woman of Proverbs? We can't go from obedience to apostasy.

Confiteor said...

'If the New Mass is licit, and it's just brass vs. gold as the setting for the common diamond, then the whole Old Mass thing is just background noise, relatively speaking.'

We don't have to accept these false alternatives that the SSPX set before us:

A. The NOM is illicit and those who attend it are guilty of sin.

B. The differences between the TLM and the NOM are merely "aesthetic" in nature.

The NOM obscures the sacrificial purpose of the Mass. This is hardly an "aesthetic" quibble. Nevertheless, the theological deficiencies of the NOM do not negate the reality of the sacrifice that is offered. Our Lord Jesus Christ is Priest and Victim in both forms of the Latin Rite, including in that form which all of us would agree is deficient and unworthy. Perhaps we can say that the NOM has a "borrowed" dignity that makes it the "equal" of the TLM in spite of itself.

Joe B said...

Well, maybe I'm just blinded by love for the beautiful Old mass that I've come back to, and maybe that spiritual beauty has now so spoiled me that I cannot attend a Novus Ordo anymore without anger welling up inside me - not at just the barrage of abuses, but the banality of that mass. At any rate, my eyes and ears tell me that equal validity doesn't imply equal dignity. At an extreme level, consider a black mass, for example.

True, Sanctifying Grace is present at all valid masses, but the actual graces received vary with, for one thing, the disposition of each participant. But my eyes and ears tell me that the form of a mass affects that. For example, the pathetic substitute prayer of the Novus Ordo for "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" while kneeling and beating the breast), must negatively affect the dispositions of participants at a Novus Ordo. And the reception of actual graces must be negatively affected overall as a result. Thus, I do not see the mass of Pope Paul being equal to the Ancient and Venerable mass in at least that regard.

John McFarland said...

As regards Confiteor's defense of the New Mass:

We need to bear in mind that validity is not an abstraction. As the SSPX points out, many priests do not believe in the doctrine of the Mass as taught by Trent, and so it is hard to see how their Masses could be valid; and the proportion of such priests is more likely increasing than decreasing.

The effect upon those assisting at the New Mass has to be taken into account. The SSPX view is that the New Mass is the New Mass of a new conciliar religion, and is intended to be the lex orandi that drives the lex credendi of that new religion. In Archbishop Lefebvre's classic formulation, the New Mass is Protestant, and makes Protestants. He himself spoke of the adverse affect on his own spiritual life of saying just the transitional Mass of 1964.

It is these considerations that lead to the SSPX's conclusions. To be sure, these are prudential judgments leading to radical conclusions, and it is not surprising that many have difficulty coming to those conclusions. But I think that the utter decadence of the Church is powerful evidence for the correctness of that judgment. The one thing that every practicing Catholic does is attend Mass. And what fruits does one see of that attendance?

Anonymous said...

John McFarland's comments are illogical. No, the New Mass does not have a dignity which is equal to that of the old. However, the law of the Church makes the New Mass normative in law. We don't get to write the law in the Church. That job belongs to the guy in white.

No, it does not follow that a preference for the Gregorian Mass is nothing more than a matter of taste, like the preference for the music of Bach over that of Handel. It is possible to insist that the Gregorian Mass is objectively superior and even that the New Mass is objectively disordered. The New Mass nevertheless is valid and does fulfil the four ends of prayer.

Of course those favouring the m.p. are brethren of the S.S.P.X. But we do have the courage of our convictions, one of which is that disobedience to legitimate authority is justified only out of necessity, not out of convenience.

Since 2000, the Pope has been offering the S.S.P.X and its supporters a structure which will allow it to celebrate and benefit from the T.L.M. exclusively, indepdenently of all the diocesan bishops. At that instant, the state of emergency ended. The disobedience of the Society, justified before that time on the ground (let us say) of preserving a Mass which had never been abrogated, evaporated.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Confiteor writes:

"They also assert that those who attend the NOM aware of its deficiencies are guilty of sin."


No, as far as I am aware, that is not an official position of the S.S.P.X. It may be a position given by some of its priests from time to time.

Certainly, the N.O.M. is not Catholic in spirit. We cannot claim that it fails to be a Catholic rite of Mass, however.

P.K.T.P.

Pascendi said...

To determine the "magisterium of all times", the SSPX de facto supplants the Pope. This is a contradiction. Pope Paul VI pointed this out to Archbishop Lefebvre.

Anonymous said...

Schoolman writes:

"This seems problamatic. If each of these forms are valid -- then each has the same intrinsic dignity."

No, that does not follow, since dignity is a property pertaining to all the aspects of Holy Mass, not just its validity. The Mass is also the first catechism of the Church, for example, and it also derives much of its dignity from its ancient and constant usage (or not).

The correct position is the N.O.M. is valid and materially Catholic as a Rite of Mass; but it has less dignity than has the T.L.M., and it is not Catholic in spirit, since it was concocted in committee rather than grown organically. A fortiori, the New Mass clearly expresses the central truths of the Faith--especially the nature of the Mass itself--less well than does the old. In particular, the New Mass is ambiguous about the central meaning of the Actio Christi as a propitiatory Sacrifice.

P.K.T.P.

P.K.T.P.

Long-Skirts said...

Joe B said:

"At any rate, my eyes and ears tell me that equal validity doesn't imply equal dignity."

So true, Joe. Remember Cain and Able both made sacrifices to God and only one was acceptable.

The SSPX always told the truth in that the Tridentine Mass was NEVER abrogated. They are owed a HUGE apology.

Merci Marcel!

Confiteor said...

Joe B,

I agree with you 100%. If you have the opportunity to attend the Traditional Mass, you should do so and avoid the NOM. Everyone must contend with different circumstances. Some of us have literally no choice but to deal with the NOM (and it's not always a simple question of "availability"). We must do the best we can to keep the grace-inducing qualities of the Traditional Mass in our hearts as we suffer through the banalities of the NOM. Ultimately, though, it is the reality of the Sacrifice itself that must become our focus. Think of the priests in concentration camps who had to make do with miserable substitutes for the sacramental elements and whose liturgies consisted of nothing more than the Consecration itself, whispered hurriedly, the guard dogs barking in the distance.

Anonymous said...

John,
Can you please explain what you mean by "the magistarium of all times"? Don't you accept the first Vatican council? The Magistarium proper, is the Offical Teaching Office of the Church. All the bishops of the world in union with the Pope. This is the Magistarium of all time. It is the only one. Christ did not establish a second.

Confiteor said...

'The correct position is the N.O.M. is valid and materially Catholic as a Rite of Mass; but it has less dignity than has the T.L.M., and it is not Catholic in spirit, since it was concocted in committee rather than grown organically. A fortiori, the New Mass clearly expresses the central truths of the Faith--especially the nature of the Mass itself--less well than does the old. In particular, the New Mass is ambiguous about the central meaning of the Actio Christi as a propitiatory Sacrifice.'

Very well said, P.K.T.P.

Why is it so hard for the SSPX to adopt this nuanced and correct position, rather than saying that the New Mass is "Protestant", which is a crude overstatement? The Holy Father has extended his hand. Why must they slap it away?

Jordanes said...

But I think that the utter decadence of the Church is powerful evidence for the correctness of that judgment.

I wonder what you would say was the cause of the utter decadence of the Church in the areas of faith and morals during various earlier periods of history, centuries before the Pauline-Bugnini reformed rite existed.

Looking at your arguments and assertions, it does not appear how you can be understood as doing anything but advancing the heresy of the defectibility of the Church. Such appears to be the logical implications of your assertions.

Jordanes said...

It does not take a St. Thomas Aquinas; something like Deus est Caritas (sic) on love, or Redemptor Hominis on the nature of redemption, is not the doctrine of the Church.

What exactly is objectionable about what the Pope says of the nature of redemption in Redemptor Hominis? I take it you wouldn't have brought this up unless you had specific citations in mind, and had studied the Church's doctrine sufficiently to be able to detect where the Pope departed from it.

In the old days, the vast majority of the popes habitually spoke in continuity with their predecessors and the ordinary and universal magisterium, and the bad popes' interests lay in different directions, which are what made them bad popes.

A vast oversimplification of papal history.

Do we really have to believe with Pope Benedict that the starting point in understanding love is eros -- sexual desire -- even after he himself says that the only time that eros is used in scripture is in the traditional Greek translation of the Old Testament, on the lips of the bad woman of Proverbs?

First of all, the encyclical is "Deus caritas est," not "Deus est Caritas" as you call it above. Secondly, the Holy Father in his encyclical never says that the starting point in understanding love is eros. If you read his encyclical, you apparently did not understand it, or you are misremembering it.

We can't go from obedience to apostasy.

You're right: we, that is, the Catholic Church, do not have the ability to go from obedience to apostasy. That's why it has never happened. Individual Catholics, however, can do that.

schoolman said...

With validity comes Our Lord Jesus Christ. In both forms the graces are infinite and therefore of equal intrinsic value. The real distinction lies in what is extrinsic and accidental rather than intrinsic and substantial.

Anonymous said...

'The New Mass nevertheless is valid and does fulfil the four ends of prayer.

Of course those favouring the m.p. are brethren of the S.S.P.X. But we do have the courage of our convictions, one of which is that disobedience to legitimate authority is justified only out of necessity, not out of convenience.

Since 2000, the Pope has been offering the S.S.P.X and its supporters a structure which will allow it to celebrate and benefit from the T.L.M. exclusively, independently of all the diocesan bishops. At that instant, the state of emergency ended. The disobedience of the Society, justified before that time on the ground (let us say) of preserving a Mass which had never been abrogated, evaporated.'

1). It is helpful to recall what validity means for the Eucharist. Take a priest in the past who during Lent wants to drink a bottle of wine but cannot because of fasting regulations; in his ignorant and irreverent mind he decides to get around these regulations by saying the words of consecration over a bottle - which then is no longer wine and no longer something forbidden by fasting regulations. That consecration is valid. But obviously it is irreverent and should never have been done. I'm not saying the Novus Ordo is equally irrereverent; I'm making the comparison to being out the point that we cannot conclude from the validity of a mass to its equal dignity with the old liturgy, or to its being permissible, or to its fulfilling any of the ends of prayer. The fact, conceded by everyone on this thread, that it was written on purpose to obscure essential teachings of the faith concerning the Eucharist means that as such it is offensive to God.

As for the state of necessity; Peter T.K. Perkins is mistaken in asserting, as he seems to, that the only factor relevant to the claims of a state of emergency by the SSPX is the suppression of the old mass. There were two reasons Abp. Lefebvre got in trouble with the Vatican in the first place. One was his insistence on the old mass, and the other was his loudly pointing out that the elephant has no clothes; that the supposed reform and renewal of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath was no such thing, but was instead a pretext for the destruction of the faith. The motu proprio has in theory disposed of the first issue (not in practice it seems since many bishops are disobeying it with impunity), but nothing has been done about the second issue. This second issue remains as a justification for the state of necessity. It is in fact, as Abp. Lefebvre remarked, the more important of the two. It is this, more than the insistence on the old mass (which can be fudged as a spiritual preference) that makes the SSPX intolerable to bishops and to most of the people in positions of authority in Rome; and it is this that makes the SSPX reasonably believe that any arrangement with Rome will be designed to prevent them from insisting on this second point.

as for the Pope's being generous with th motu proprio; he was brave, but not generous, because ( as he himself said) he simply confirmed an existing right.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should have been 'the emperor has no clothes' - I mixed this phrase up with the irritaing cliche about the elephant in the room.

Anonymous said...

1. There seems to be general confusion over the distinction between validity and licitness of a sacrament.
2. I cringe whenever the term 'magisterium' is bandied about - it seems to be one of the cudgels of modernists.
3. Though we sheep should not need to, in these bad times we must take advantage of the availability of old books to learn what the true teaching of the Church is. One of the marks of the true Church is, that it is one - and that oneness includes unity in teaching: the same teaching in all times and all places for everyone. Sheep must ignore shepherd's teachings and orders when they contradict prior teaching contained in old approved books. Louis

Anonymous said...

First of all, on comparing the New Mass with saying Words of Consecration over a bottle of wine to avoid breaking the Lenten fast:

This is a false analogy. The New Mass per se, when celebrated according to its rubrics, can be a reverent Eucharist in which the intention of the celebrant is entirely good, however mistaken that celebrant is in celebrating it, whereas the intent in the other case is objectively disordered.

Secondly, while the New Mass is certainly deficient, and while I think that this deficiency was deliberate on the part of its concoctors, it is open to an entirely orthodox meaning. Hence the celebrant can offer it with a good intent. So your analogy is entirely false.

Of course, the deficiencies of the New Mass are a grave scandal, but it is for legitimate authority to correct them, not us. We are right to insist on the old Mass, of course, because the old Mass was never abrogated, cannot be abrogated (cf. Cardinal Stickler's statement on the finding of the 1986 Commission of cardinals), and has been illegally suppressed in practice.

The latter comments of this anonymous writer make no sense. We cannot refuse legitimate on the grounds of Vatican II errors because Vatican Ii teaching is not de fide in the first place. It is true that Abp. L. rejected some conciliar misinterpretations. But he never made this a condition for keeping the Society regularised. On the contrary, (1) he signed all the conciliar documents and (2) he signed a document of regularisation which offered FAR LESS than the offer of 2000. Society supporters conveniently forget that Archbishop Lefebvre ONLY tore up the 1988 agreement because of a practical problem; namely, the tardiness of Rome in naming a bishop for the Society. He said so DIRECTLY. Was he a liar? Not at all.

But, in 2000, Rome accepted not just one four ALL FOUR Society bishops, and then offered them a structure which afforded FAR BETTER protection than the one signed by His Grace in 1988. Bsp. Fellay even called the 2000 offer "the Rolls Royce" structure.


I note, in addition, the typical Society response to this argument. They say that much has changed since 1988. Really? 1988, according to my calendar, is two years AFTER the abomination at Assisi. Why was Archbishop Lefebvre prepared to accept regularisation two years AFTER Assisi? It is because he knew that no Catholic is required to accept doctrinal errors in Vatican II non-infallible documents. As Michael Davies said quite correctly, if Dignitatis Humanæ contradicts Quanta Cura, 1864, it is the former we must reject in favour of the latter. And, as Catholics, WE ARE FREE TO DO SO BECAUSE ROME DID NOT INVOKE THE CHARISM OF INFALLIBILITY at Vatican II.

Excuses, excuses, excuses. That's all I see here. True, I understand the Society's reticence. But there is no state of necessity because we do not have to avoid a law which does not bind. The Society can now regularise while protecting all her real property. There is, of course, no absolute guarantee of perfect protection from the Vicar of Christ--and Archbishop Lefebvre knew that in 1988.

Those who refuse to obey the Vicar of Christ when there is no state of necessity are not traditionalists but Protestants. The Pope needs the Society to help him combat error in the Church. The Society refuses to help. Therefore, let the Pope grant the same international structure to those who will help. And then let us see where the S.S.P.X will be ten years hence.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

"One was his insistence on the old mass, and the other was his loudly pointing out that the elephant has no clothes; that the supposed reform and renewal of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath was no such thing, but was instead a pretext for the destruction of the faith."

And yet neither of these reasons was the one given by Archbishop Lefebvre himself for tearing up the agreement of 1988. It was only because Rome was delaying on giving the Society its own bishop.

In 2000, Rome offered the Society far more than she was offered in 1988, and was prepared to accept not one bishop for the Society but all four. It follows clearly that Archbishop L. would have accepted the offer Bishop Fellay publicly admits was made in 2000.

So why doesn't Bsp. Fellay accept what his old master was prepared to accept. Is Bishop Fellay disloyal to Archbishop Lefebvre?

Some neo-conservatives have been calling Society supporters 'Lefebvrists'. But this is clearly unfair, since Lefebvre would never have taken the line now being taken by Fellay et alii. No, perhaps we should call current Society supporters 'Fellayites' or, better yet, "Williamsonians'.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

The S.S.P.X loves to cite the law of non-contradiction. Perhaps it should apply that law to itself. Archbishop Lefebvfre was prepared to accept far less juridically in 1988 than what was offered in 2000. Rome has fixed the Archbishop's only 1988 problem: agreement on a bishop. In fact, Rome has accepted all four Society bishops for a new structure.

So, which one is correct: Archbishop Lefebvre or Bishop Fellay? Only one of them can be right: either regularisation may precede doctrinal discussions or it may not. You can't have it both ways. If it may not, then it follows that Abp. Lefebvre was plain wrong in 1988.

The Society wants to make an agreement on doctrine a condition for obeying the Vicar of Christ. This presupposes that that the Deposit of Faith is not in the custody of the Holy Father but in Pope Fellay. If we believe that there is only one Sacred Magisterium and that it cannot bind us to believe errors, then we must accept on Faith the authority of the Pope on dogma, and we must truly believe that God will not allow him to bind us to accept errors.

The Society can argue that some non-binding conciliar documents are leading souls astray. Since the salvation of souls is the highest law, the Society cannot accept this. Fair enough, but Rome is not asking it to accept this. Rome is only saying that faithful may not reject legitimate authority as a means of refusing non-binding teaching. If faithful wish to reject non-binding teaching to help souls, they must find other ways to do this. For example, while Rome may counsel laics to stop preaching Quanta Cura, she cannot prevent them from doing so.

Of course, the Pope may get sick of all this and simply IMPOSE regularisation on the Society: he doesn't need its agreement to regularise it. That would be an interesting outcome.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Those who wish to see how I assess the sitaution may go to Mr. Mitchell's new blog, where I have made a posting. It is 'The Gregorian Mass', here:

http://gregorianmass.blogspot.com/

P.K.T.P.

John McFarland said...

Law exists for an end. If the man in the white soutane enacts laws that frustrate the ends of the Church, above all the salvation of souls, its supreme law, his laws must not be followed. Like most moderns, motuists tend to be legal postivists. They think that if legitimate authority passes the law in accordance with the applicable legislative norms, it's binding and that's the end of it. But that's not the Catholic view of law.

Most of the remarks about the Mass's validity and liceity keep on ignoring the points I raised and implicitly accused the motuists of ignoring: it is what is happening in the actual celebration of the New Mass that is the thing to focus on.

Second-guessing the pope is not something that in normal times one does. But these are not normal times, and (to repeat myself) it doesn't take St. Thomas to see that. The problem for motuists is one or both of two things: they don't really know the doctrine of the Church before Vatican II, and/or they don't want to recognize the problems because they're afraid of destroying indefectibility. The answer to the latter is easy: none of the teaching of the concilar Church comes even close to meeting the classic criteria for an ex cathedra statement. We've got big problems, but having a religion is not one of them. It's a question of where to find it.

Let me add that although I'm 64, I'd pretty much forgotten the traditional doctrine (and of course was never taught those that clashed with The American Way) until I discovered the SSPX (whose existence was itself a pretty well-kept secret).

As regards Redemptor hominis, get hold of a copy of the relevant volume of Father Johannes Doermann's "Pope John Paul II's Theological Journey to the Meeting of Religions at Assisi." As he demonstrates, it is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Pope was as much a believer in anonymous Christianity as Rahner. In particular, he never mentions subjective redemption at all. Needless to say, no one outside the orbit of SSPX, which published the book, has even let on that it exists. So sense if trying to refute the irrefutable. I gave a copy to a traditionally oriented priest of Opus Dei who holds a Roman STD. After five years, he still hasn't got back to me with a refutation.

Sorry about getting the order of the words wrong in Deus Caritas Est. Now can anyone tell me why I'm wrong about what I say about it? There's a lot about love and nothing about eros in the New Testament; and a lot about love and almost nothing about eros in the Fathers. There's a lot about love, and nothing about eros in the Doctors. Get my drift?

A readily available source of evidence for the heterodoxy of the recent popes are the monthly letters of Father Peter Scott from the SSPX's Holy Cross Seminary in Australia, and the SiSiNoNo studies archived on the SSPX's Asian site. If you want something more detailed and fire-breathing, try the Abbe de Nantes' Libri Accusationis on Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, his critique of the Conciliar Catechism, and his line by line commentaries of the Vatican II documents that his spiritual sons are starting to put on their website, www.crc-internet.org. Another good source are the letters of Bishop Richard (the Motuist's Bogeyman) Williamson, which are now coming out in paper and must still be on the web somewhere.

As for the whole business of the state of necessity: obviously, there's no knockdown argument. But if Rome is in the hands of men who present an adulterated magisterium, it would seem to be a necessity to stay out of their clutches. Any deal that you cut with them must be absolutely bulletproof, because you can't trust them. It's even a nice question whether there's anything to be gained by trying to make a deal until Rome shows some evidence of coming back to the faith.

Let me put it this way: when Rome is not teaching the true faith, being assured of that true faith is a matter of necessity, not convenience.

Motuists do funny things with the actions of Archbishop Lefebvre.

Does anyone thing that his signing the documents of Vatican II means that he accepted them? And if anyone does think that, do they doubt that he repudiated that acceptance in his subsequent speeches and writings?

Yes, he did sign the protocol in in 1988 --and repudiated it the next day because he couldn't trust Rome.

To repeat a very important point: if what the Pope says is not what the Church has always taught (the ordinary and universal magisterium) or what he or his predecessors has taught ex cathedra, then it can be in error, and its being in error is not evidence of the indefectibility of the Church. It is indeed evidence of an unprecendently grave crisis; but the propoer reaction to that crisis is not to refuse to admit that exists because of a wrong notion of infallibility.

Impose regularity on the Society? The conciliar Church doesn't do imposition. And if it did, what purpose would it serve? If the Society is still defending the true faith against those who are still traducing it, how could it change its course in good conscience. And if it didn't change its course, what would be Pope do? Excommunicate its bishops? Its priests? Its faithful? So what? In a crisis this grave, legal legerdemain means nothing.

Finally, PTKP's argue about non-binding doctrine and binding authority doesn't work. The point is that this non-binding doctrine is for all practical purposes the only doctrine Rome is teaching; and it has sent, is sending and will send countless souls to hell. In order to protect the true doctrine of the Church, those perpetrating this horror cannot be obeyed when the effect is to give the authorities free rein to tear and scatter the sheep. These are terrible words, but they are also true words; and those who do not accept them are wasting their time and imperiling their souls and the souls of every other Catholic.

Jordanes said...

Mr. McFarland, before your comment at the start of this discussion thread, I had never before encountered the term "motuist." Is this another example of the in-house lingo that ultratraditionalists have been coining to describe/deride/distance themselves from Catholics who do not share their opinions? What exactly might be the definition of this neologism? I gather it has something to do with Catholics who accept and are grateful for the provisions of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, and I suppose it might also refer to Catholics who accept that the pre-Vatican II Roman Rite and the reformed Roman Rite are both juridically the Roman Rite. But who are these "motuists" to which you have been referring?

Second-guessing the pope is not something that in normal times one does. But these are not normal times

It has never been "normal times," Mr. McFarland.

Sorry about getting the order of the words wrong in Deus Caritas Est. Now can anyone tell me why I'm wrong about what I say about it?

You're wrong because the Holy Father didn't say what you claimed he said. He didn't say eros is the starting point for understanding love (not even close), nor did he even say that, in your words, "the only time eros is used in Scripture is in the traditional Greek translation of the Old Testament, on the lips of the bad woman of Proverbs." Rather, he said, "Let us note straight away that the Greek Old Testament uses the word eros only twice, while the New Testament does not use it at all," without mentioning where it appears in the Septuagint.

There's a lot about love and nothing about eros in the New Testament; and a lot about love and almost nothing about eros in the Fathers. There's a lot about love, and nothing about eros in the Doctors.

"Eros" is a kind of love. Anyway, it's not particularly relevant that the New Testament, the Fathers, and the Doctors have so little to say about "eros" (or at least they use the word "eros" rarely, while actually having a good deal to say about it), since what matters is whether or not the Holy Father's discourse on eros and how it must be purified by agape is true or false. If you can find anything in his discourse that is false or contrary to Catholic doctrine, please bring it to our attention. After all, you assert that the teaching in Deus caritas est is not the doctrine of the Church, so you ought to be able to back up your assertion with evidence and examples. Same with Redemptor Hominis: what does it say that is contrary to the faith or that is not true?

Patrick said...

'...this non-binding doctrine...has sent, is sending and will send countless souls to hell.'

Interesting the way Mr McF. has such insider knowledge about who's arriving in the nether regions.

Anonymous said...

On McFarland's comments:

First I all, I'm no legal positivist. This is a red herring. The question is whether or not there is a legitimate excuse for disobeying divinely-established authority. There is not. It is not a case in which the lawgiver asks you to do something which contradicts a higher law. Regularisation is a legal norm. So the only question is whether accepting it will endanger the faith. But it can be accepted without endangering the Faith and without risking the loss of the Society's real property. That's why Abp. Lefebvre was prepared to accept it in 1988. And, again, he only tore it up because Rome was not forthcoming with a bishop--and he said so. But that problem has been solved.

He then writes:

"The point is that this non-binding doctrine is for all practical purposes the only doctrine Rome is teaching; and it has sent, is sending and will send countless souls to hell. In order to protect the true doctrine of the Church, those perpetrating this horror cannot be obeyed when the effect is to give the authorities free rein to tear and scatter the sheep."

But accepting regularisation need not entail any support of these widespread misteachings. Does the I.B.P. spread errors just because it is regularised? No. Are souls lost just because it works under legitimate authority? No: this is a wild excuse. Do the Campos priests teach error or advance it by their co-operation with the Pope? No. Does the F.S.S.P.? No. More excuses. Oh, that's right, Esmerelda from Paraguay concludes that Fr. Fruitcake must be right because the F.S.S.P. and Fr. Fruitcake both work under established authority. That's more than reaching for it. It's hilarious.


Refusal to accept legitimate authority, once again, can be done in a real case of necessity but not otherwise. It could only be done in this case if Rome were saying: We shall put you under the authority of the local bishops; or, we shall force you to accept some of these errors. That is not going to happen. If the errors are ranged against the truth under Christ's Vicar, the truth will out in the end. We believe that because we trust in God and not because we hold to a false understanding of indefectibility.

The Society should accept the 2000 structure and simply continue to fight the post-conciliar errors from there. Somehow, I don't think that the curia will prevent that. What can they threaten to do?

So, what is really going on in the Society? The answer is simple. Bishop Fellay is fairly reasonable but wants, above all, to keep the Society together. He can't bring a united Society under Rome becasue the Society hardliners will not come with him. So he'd rather sit it out and wait for a better day.

And who are these hardliners? Some of them are orthodox Catholics who are imprudent. They think that the Pope should purge NewChurch now. Simple. The problem, again, is that the salvation of souls is the highest law--it works both ways!--and the Pope hopes to lead the mistaken sheep into the pastures of life. Expelling them will only ensure their final damnation. So he judges it better to move slowly and gradually. It will take a great deal of time to invert an entire worldview which has emerged in the last forty years.

I am not saying that the Pope himself is free of all the errors. I don't think that at all. But he has apparently realised that the liberal Church was largely a mistake, and he is trying to change course. Going much further is the work of future popes. He knows that he can only get so far.

And then there are the sedevacantists and other extremists in the Society. They are not officially supported by it but are there nevertheless. They won't accept regularisation since they reject Benedict XVI as Pope or else figure that he is wilfully trying to subvert the truth.

I very much sympathise with the Society and always have, but, as Catholics, we are bound to accept the normal authority of the Church whenever it is possible for us to do it, not whenever conditions are ideal. We shall not have a perfect Pope, just as our Lord did not choose a perfect Apostle to be the first Pope. It was not St. John, who stayed by our Lord's side at the Cross; no, our Lord chose St. Peter. We must choose to support his successor to the extent possible.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

"If the man in the white soutane enacts laws that frustrate the ends of the Church, above all the salvation of souls, its supreme law, his laws must not be followed."

I agree, the "law" of celibacy being a sovereign example.

+ Thomas Wolsey

Card. Presbyter Sae Caeciliae trans Tiberim

Legatus a latere

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Mr Perkins for his long and interesting analysis : it is reminding me the Perkinsian strategy on a Yahoo group before the election of pope Benedict XVI.

Just a point : I hope there is no Fellayism only an unfortunate August 15 homily from Bp Fellay. The Superior general was more careful so far in his public speech : the official statement by Fr Lorans which is an abstract of the (secret) response to cardinal Hoyos shows a more serene way to speak than the apocalyptic nonsense of this homily.

Bp Williamson in this case is not the n°1 Extremist : Bp Tissier de Mallerais is. I suggest to Mr Perkins to read again the infamous, outrageous and in some places overtly opposed to Tradition interview by Bp Tissier de Mallerais in The Angelus, July 2008.
We can be seriously worried that the "Tissierism" could influence Bp Fellay. I detect this "Tissierist" influence in the August 15th homily. Within the Society, Bp Tissier is adorned with great esteem due to his biography of Abp Lefebvre and so his radicalisation which is constantly increasing since 2002 is a real concern. Some are bending to make him the spokesman of deceased Marcel Lefebvre. We must recall that then Fr. Tissier de Mallerais played a key role in the May 1988 agreement, pressing a reluctant Abp Lefebvre to sign what cardinal Ratzinger proposed. His overt Benedict-bashing of today could come from there : the bishop is burning and flaming what he was supporting 20 years ago.
"Tissierism" could be the "cancer", to quote Bp Fellay's image, within the SSPX, if the present Superior general is not correcting the dangerous course adopted since June.

J. McFarland is correct on one major point that is weakening the analysis of Mr Perkins from the Society point of view :
"Yes, he did sign the protocol in in 1988 --and repudiated it the next day because he couldn't trust Rome."
The lack of trust that was clear in 1988. Has it changed in 2008 ?
- it seems there isn't much trust between PCED and SSPX. When the Cardinal is pressing new FSSP priests to concelebrate, when he is pressing for a mysterious and so worrying policy of "evolution" of the Extraordinary Form that PCED would impulse alone (his June speech in England), His Eminence is certainly undermining trust.
- on the Society side, what has been said to restore some trust ? Bp Fellay made timid steps forward and a big step ... backward with August 15th homily, without disciplining Bp Tissier de Mallerais.
Everybody must remember Pope Benedict is to visit France from September 12th to the 15th : is he the "Antichrist" according to the August 15th homily ? or the Vicar of Christ that Bp Fellay was meeting in August ... 2005 ?
We can hope that this Papal visit in France is the opportunity for ALL to clarify their positions and work to rebuild some trust.

nb. The question of living Tradition, in fact the Magisterium as it is, is a more serious question than what Mr Perkins thinks. It is obvious that on implementation of general principles, the Magisterium cannot replicate the exact words used in the past like a parrot or a copy machine. When you read the Syllabus, that was so outdated in 1864 already a sort utopia, you understand easily why the Church cannot repeat the same words in 2008. Besides Bl. Piues IX allowed as soon as 1865 the liberal interpretation of Bp Dupanloup about "thesis/hypothesis". A "Tissierist" in 1865 would have shout at the "liberal" pope Pius IX ...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mcfarland,
While the state of the Church right now is not what we want it to be, it has been far worse several centuries ago. In the early days, we had all these different groups of heretics emerging: arians, donatists, monophysites, etc. Many were led astray, but Christ's one true Church held together and is still here. Later, we had so much corruption and scandal in the Church; priests disregarding all of their vows, simony, nepotism. Popes were having bastard children, and we even had three popes at one time. So, please do not consider that we are in a state of emergency. Others stayed in without whinning and bashing anyone who disagreed. The times could be far worse. In amy event, Christ and his Church always prevail.
Phillip

theneva said...

Phillip,

The Church has been through many crises in her two-thousand year history. Many attempts have been made to subvert the Church from within, but all have been unsuccessful, until the Vll council, when the freemasonic ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality were then enthusiastically embraced by the Roman hierarchy. During the Arian crisis, as you probably know, 70% of the bishops were infected, to varying degrees, with Arianism. And yet Our Lord chose a humble servant to keep the traditional magisterium afloat--St. Athanasius.

As far as priests who disregard their vows, as well as the problms of simony, nepotism, etc., these are on the order, for the most part, of personal sins, rather than the promulgation of error which the current hierarchy is guilty of. Yes, the Church will prevail, but the only way that the situation could be worse is for Rome to formally embrace heresy, and that isn't likely to happen.

Another way that it can be worse is if the faithful have no access to the traditional sacraments, but thanks to Divine Providence giving us the saintly Archbishop Lefebvre, we are assurred, at least for the time being, of having access to those sacraments.


It is your opinion that the Church is not in a state of emergency. A majority of Catholics would no doubt agree with you. But those of us who cling to the eternal traditional magisterium do see a state of emergency, which is not a matter of opinion, but rather of an objective reality.

John McFarland said...

I use "motuist" because it's simple and catches the essence of the thinking of most of you: that the MP has (as St. Paul says in other contexts) opened a door in the relation between traditionalists and the Vatican. I'm pretty sure it's not original with me, but I don't think it has anything like currency in any circles.

Unlike "ultratraditionalist," it is not an attempt to sneak criticism into terminology. On the other hand, I can't deny that I think that those that I apply it to are dead wrong in their basic judgment regarding the MP. If it offends anyone, I'm prepared to use an arbitrary symbol.

I'm pretty impressed by how much some of you profess to know about the internal politics of the SSPX, when I have the distinct impression that you have very little direct contact with the Society, and haven't studied its more detailed explanations of its positions. I myself have a son going into his third year at Winona. When I ask him about the sentiment for quick reconciliation with Rome, he says that as far as he knows there isn't any. When I suggest that I can't see much distinction between the positions of Bishops Fellay and Williamson, he agrees; and notes that even if Bishop Williamson would just as soon not talk to Rome at all, it doesn't matter, because he's not in charge. When I ask he whether there are any sedevacantists in the Society, he says no. Now he's just a seminarian; but it's also the case that the Society is about the most transparent institution on earth.

The line of argument that the SSPX's demands have been met strikes me as very odd. The SSPX does not think that Rome is teaching the true faith. How can you ever regularize your relationship with an institution that you think that about? Unless it can obtain some control over the Society, why should Rome make a deal? And how can the Society give control to those who in its considered opinion are unrepentantly traducing the faith?

Bishop Tissier is the theologian of the SSPX bishops. To the best of my recollection, he has taken little if any role in commenting about the dialogue between the Society and Rome. He is just the most obvious example of what has been going on for some time now: the more carefully the Society examines the documents of Vatican II and the pronouncements of the conciliar popes, the worse they look. I guess you can call this "radicalization," if you like; but I think it's better described as additional ammunition.

As regards the Pope and eros, recall that the Pope is supposed to teach the doctrine of the Church. Recall also that the NT, and most particularly the gospel and epistles of St. John and certain of the epistles of St. Paul, have quite a lot to say about love. So the Pope's failing to talk much about all of that seems at a minimum very odd. When you then go on to ask what is the connection between what the Church has traditionally taught on the topic and the what the Pope writes, things get even odder, because there doesn't seem to be much if any connection.

Or let me take another example. In the latter part of the encyclical, the Pope comes out quite forcefully against the use of a charitable activities in the earthly sense as the basis for proselytism. But the Church has always started off by relieving earthly distress as both a sign and a beginning of getting to mankind's real sufferings. And so did Jesus. Are we to denounce Jesus for healing people before and not after the Sermon on the Mount?

The examples could be multiplied indefinitely from the Pope's voluminous writings. He is constantly teaching a gospel different from the gospel that came down to us before 1962. You can quibble all you like, but that's nothing but the truth; and so your only recourse is to demonstrate how what the Pope says really ties in with traditional doctrine. But before you start, reflect on the fact that the Pope has spoken of a hermeneutic of continuity, but is yet to give the first example of that hermeneutic in action.

As for Redemptor hominis, here's the basic point. There is objective redemption, and in that sense everyone is saved. Then there is subjective redemption, accepting the Catholic faith, which is the only way that objective redemption does any one person any good. There is practically nothing in the encyclical that speaks to subjective redemption. The net effect of the encyclical, then, is best case a document that gives aid and comfort to universal salvation, and practically none to the doctrine of the Church. But why is the full doctrine missing? Was the Pope forgetful? What good does it do to tell non-Catholics that they're objectively redeemed when only subjective redemption will save them from hellfire?

Basically, your efforts to refute me on conciliar papal doctrine involve focusing on particulars on the assumption that that doctrine is sound, when the big picture is utterly inconsistent with the notion that the conciliar popes are concerned to defend the traditional faith. The elephant in the room is the perfect metaphor for the situation and the motuist mindset. Or as the poet has it: a man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest.

One commentator gives the back of his hand to the Syllabus of Errors. Implicit in his remarks is the notion that since its denunciations no longer work politically (in the broad sense), we can round file them. The name for this kind of thinking is liberalism, and it is precisely the thinking of the Pope, although he is a little more careful in how he makes the point. Do the rest of you guys agree? Are you just historical relativists with a taste for smells and bells that's stronger than the norm? And if not, how do you square the conciliar round filing of the Syllabus of Errors the tradition of the Church? Can you show me the place in the preconciliar doctrine where it says that tradition consists of taking the best of the old and then the best of the new, and then the best of the old and the best of the new, and then...until He comes?

Times indeed have been very bad in the Church before. But never before have popes and councils, over a period north of forty years, taught a new gospel. It is a question of the faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith, we're just talking location in hell. John XII and Alexander VI and the simonists and the nicolaists did not abandon the true faith and make for themselves (and the faithful) cracked cisterns that can not hold the waters of salvation.

Note in this connection the absence of any sign of institutional reform. There is no monastic revival. There is no St. Cajetan or Charles Borromeo or Pius V. Alexander VI approved the Minims. Benedict XVI approved -- the Neocats. What do you suppose St. Pius X would have made of Kiko and Carmen? We have fallen very low. For all practical purposes, all we have is the SSPX. It ain't much; but God help us if we insist on shooting the last messenger.

Joe B said...

Those of you who beat this status thing to death sound like legislators who talk much but have no solutions to pressing issues.

Here's the thing - SSPX is the best friend the Holy Father has, and he just doesn't see it. Nobody prays and does penance for him like they do. Nobody is fighting harder for traditionalism than they are. You act like they're the enemy, but they're fighting for the faith as it was passed onto us, which is exactly what the Holy Father should be doing. When he does, then only will things turn around, and I presume SSPX will lay down their shields, and you don't know otherwise.

As for status, everything I read says the Holy Archbishop thought things through pretty well before choosing what he knew to be a radical course, and he had time to change it before his death if he thought it best, so I can't see him having failed to pass on his perspectives effectively to Bishop Fellay. SSPX will be fine and will accept the right status when status is the important issue. Right now the important issue is the steady stream from Rome of unnecessary changes to our "extrinsics and accidents", as you say, which turn into eros and anything goes at the front.

And the authority of the Holy Father isn't enough, as the fruits show. He needs help, but he needs to recognize his friends from his enemies. And so do many of you, I think. Save your fire for the true enemy.

dcs said...

As the SSPX points out, many priests do not believe in the doctrine of the Mass as taught by Trent, and so it is hard to see how their Masses could be valid

This doesn't follow. In order to confect a valid Sacrament one needs only the intention to do what the Church does (or an equivalent intention, like that to do what Our Lord instituted), even if one is mistaken about what the Church does (offer a Sacrifice). So one can have an heretical belief about what the Church teaches and still validly confect the Sacrament.

Eric G said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand the motu proprio, when it says the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated, to mean that it was never completely done away with, but always existed in the form of one indult or another.

This is not a vindication of the SSPX position, not by far.

Anonymous said...

'Refusal to accept legitimate authority, once again, can be done in a real case of necessity but not otherwise. It could only be done in this case if Rome were saying: We shall put you under the authority of the local bishops; or, we shall force you to accept some of these errors. That is not going to happen.'

This gets to the heart of the matter. As against the claim that 'this is not going to happen', the SSPX can point to the experience of the FSSP. The FSSP was forced to concede to its priests the right to celebrate the new mass, had it leader replaced, and had its seminary shut down by the CDF; not because the seminary was teaching anything contrary to the Catholic faith, but because it was insisting on the very points that the SSPX rightly insists on, against the non-binding teachings that, as was pointed out, are the only ones the Church now teaches. (Compare this with seminaries who enforce heresy on their students, and are permitted to continue to exist.) This is an additional fact that has to be taken into account in addition to the outlook of Abp. Lefebvre in 1988. The reply could made that the IBP in Bordeaux is now permitted to teach substantially what the SSPX does. I'm not sure that this is true; is the IBP permitted to assert that the Novus Ordo is an abuse that should be ended? Even if it is true, though, there is a substantial difference in size and past history between the SSPX and the IBP. The SSPX is larger, and above all is the original foundation of Abp. Lefebvre. Allowing to to operate freely would thus be seen as an implicit acceptance of the Archbishop's claims about the liturgy, the Council, and postconciliar development and teachings. There is a good case for saying that the Vatican cannot in practice do this while still insisting on the conciliar positions about religious freedom and ecumenism, and on the goodness of the new litury. That is the good case that the SSPX can make for refusing an agreement; it is confirmed by the experience of the FSSP, and by the statement in the letter accompanying the motu proprio;

'There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.'

This statement, in its claims about the new liturgy, is false, as Mr. Perkins concedes above. The SSPX's official position rightly insists that it is false. How is the SSPX to reach an agreement with Rome if the claims in this statement are made requirements for being in full communion?

As for 'the apocalyptic nonsense of this homily'; Bp. Fellay's comments were not claiming that we are living in the final apocalypse, but that the times we live in have an important resemblance to those times, and to that extent are a foreshadowing of them. This is a claim that has often been made in the past (e.g by St. Vincent Ferrer), and is obviously true. If the present state of the Church is not such a foreshadowing, what is?

As for the term 'motuist', I don't object to it - I am one myself, I go to a FSSP parish. I can't see that there is anything wrong with going to a parish whose juridical position is regular, provides the liturgy and the preaching are done properly; the SSPX claim that doing that must involve some kind of compromise is without foundation. For it to involve compromise, you would have to make some act of compromise - i.e. some act of assent to wrong teaching, or of acceptance of the new liturgy. I don't have to do that, so why not go to the FSSP parish?

John McFarland said...

DCS,

A priest who doesn't have the faith may indeed do what the Church intends, and thus confect the Eucharist. But if he doesn't have the faith, I respectfully suggest that the odds of his doing so aren't very good. By contrast, the odds that a priest who unequivocally accepts the doctrine of Trent will validly confect the Mass is virtually 100%.

Eric G,

An indult is permission to do something that otherwise you couldn't do. For example, it was the case in the pre-conciliar Church, and probably still is, that a priest needed an indult to say a private Mass on Holy Thursday. The point of the MP is that the traditional Mass was never abrogated. It follows that it is not forbidden, and never has been, and so no indult is required or ever has been.

If you had the opposite impression, I'm not surprised. Most of the conciliar Church until now has been at some pains to give you that impression, or at least not disabuse you of that impression. Just before the SSPX consecrations and excommunications, a committee of major Vatican figures, including then Cardinal Ratzinger, voted nearly unanimously that the traditional Mass hadn't been eliminated and could be said by any priest. This inconvenient fact was just ignored in Paul John Paul's 1988 motu proprio, which treated the Old Mass as if it required an indult without, of course, actually saying that in as many words. The truth was kept hush-hush until Cardinal Stickler, a distinguished liturgist and a member of the committee, blew the whistle a few years later. But still the Vatican didn't come clean, and everyone continued to act as if an indult was needed until Pope Benedict's 2007 MP was issued. Cardinal and Pope Ratzinger of course knew all about all of this for about 19 years before the MP.

I would add that the MP produces some very strange results. The traditional Mass as authorized by
St. Pius V in 1570 is authorized as the Church's universal Mass. So was the New Mass. The legal effect is that the traditional Mass is the Church's universal Mass, and the New Mass is the Church's universal Mass. As Bishop Fellay has noted, it is as if the government told you both that you had to drive on the left side of the road as in the U.S., and on the right side of the road as in England. The Pope's solution was to call one the ordinary and one the extraordinary form of the same rite. The point of this, I take it, is to give the New Mass a leg up without saying that that's what is happening. He offered no explanation, because there is none, especially since he also said that the two Masses were of equal dignity. As the SSPX is wont to observe, the conciliar Church doesn't mind contradicting its way out of tight corners, and the Pope can contradict himself with the best of them.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McFarland writes;

'In the latter part of the encyclical, the Pope comes out quite forcefully against the use of a charitable activities in the earthly sense as the basis for proselytism. But the Church has always started off by relieving earthly distress as both a sign and a beginning of getting to mankind's real sufferings. And so did Jesus. Are we to denounce Jesus for healing people before and not after the Sermon on the Mount?

The examples could be multiplied indefinitely from the Pope's voluminous writings. He is constantly teaching a gospel different from the gospel that came down to us before 1962.'

There is an unfilial 'hermeneutic of suspicion', and exaggeration, in this claim and those like it made by people affiliated to the SSPX. One can give a perfectly sensible reading to this statement of the Pope, which is that charitable activities should not be used as a way of bribing people to convert. Is there any doubt that this is not actually what he had in mind? And to say that the Pope 'preaches a gospel different to that heard before 1962' is slander; it is accusing the Pope of teaching heresy. Certainly the papal teaching is deficient; it is unclear or leaves out important claims. But that is not teaching a different gospel, and the accusation of teaching a different gospel can only be made on the basis of tendentious interpretations like the above. Saying the Pope, in his encyclicals, regularly teaches a different gospel from the Catholic one is not compatible with the Catholic faith. The Catholic faith teaches that the authoritative teachings of the Pope are in general to be relied on, even if they are not infallibly defined. (I am the 'motuist' who was defending the SSPX by the way.)

Anonymous said...

You are all nothing but a bunch of armchair theologians pontificating on the novus ordo, an inferior rite, with inferior results, stop denying the facts, look at the state of the church, look at the state of the world, realize that the church is responsible. By their fruits you shall know them. If you want to be known by the fruits of the novus ordo, then go right on ahead.

dcs said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand the motu proprio, when it says the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated, to mean that it was never completely done away with, but always existed in the form of one indult or another.

I think it is quite a bit stronger than that, as the Pope explains in his letter accompanying the MP:

"I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted." [my emphasis]

Anonymous said...

Eric G. said:

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand the motu proprio, when it says the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated, to mean that it was never completely done away with, but always existed in the form of one indult or another."

I'm afraid that you are wrong. Indults are exceptions to the law. An indult would be superfluous if the Gregorian Mass had never been abrogated. No, S.P. is incompatible with "De Missali Romano" of 1971. I have opposed the Society position on the jurisdiction but I will give credit where credit is due. The S.S.P.X was proved right by "Summorum Pontificum": the Gregorian Mass was never (and never could be) abrogated. It follows logically that the de facto suppression of the Gregorian Mass was ultra vires--unlawful and illicit ab initio.

This has graver consequences than some might suppose, but I will say no more of this for the moment. But once consequence I will mention is that it proves that there was a state of necessity justifying--even demanding--the Society's disobedience. This state of necessity existed from 1976 until 2000.

Society commentators will agree with my assessment but then go on to say that it was not the *only* reason for a state of necessity, thereby justifying their current canonical situation. But I won't add further commentary on that this time 'round.

P.K.T.P.

Confiteor said...

John McFarland writes:
'Or let me take another example. In the latter part of the encyclical, the Pope comes out quite forcefully against the use of a charitable activities in the earthly sense as the basis for proselytism. But the Church has always started off by relieving earthly distress as both a sign and a beginning of getting to mankind's real sufferings.'

Pope Benedict XVI writes:
'Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends. But this does not mean that charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside. For it is always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of suffering is the very absence of God. Those who practise charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love.' (DCE 31)

Mr. McFarland, if you see a crime victim bleeding by the side of the road, is your first thought: "Oh, here's a great opportunity to preach the Gospel"? No, of course not. Your first thought is to tend to the needs of that human being, inspired by the love of Christ that is in you. Those who see the poor and suffering as opportunities to preach are not Christians, they are opportunists.

kevin said...

I agree with "anonymous" in his/her explanation of a hermeneutic of suspicion at work. One of the reasons I left the SSPX after many years in it was I realized I could no longer read some of the traditionalist critiques of Benedict XVI's works without shaking my head, wondering if we were reading the same text.

After I read "Milestones" for instance, I checked out Si Si No No's lengthy critique of that book, and found myself very much in disagreement with them on the book's section regarding God's revelation to man.

"Introduction to Christianity" is another example--Bishop Tissier de Mallerais attacked it forcefully, but I found Jacob Michael's analysis of the work, in which he defends then Cardinal Ratzinger from His Excellency, to be much more convincing.

I can't speak for others, but during my time in the SSPX I got the impression that studying the works of Benedict XVI and Vatican II for oneself is considered dangerous by the SSPX, and is discouraged by them--but what that produces is a situation in which a person doesn't have contact with the primary texts and simply takes it on the word of others that the latest Ecumenical Council and the current Pope are wrong.

Of course, we could all just drop the armchair theologian thing and submit to the current living magisterium, as "Humani Generis" commands--in my case, studying some of these works first-hand led me to do just that.

Jordanes said...

Theneva said: Many attempts have been made to subvert the Church from within, but all have been unsuccessful, until the Vll council, when the freemasonic ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality were then enthusiastically embraced by the Roman hierarchy.

Okay, so you are asserting that the enemies of the Church have succeeded in subverting the Church from within. That can only mean that the Church has defected.

During the Arian crisis, as you probably know, 70% of the bishops were infected, to varying degrees, with Arianism. And yet Our Lord chose a humble servant to keep the traditional magisterium afloat--St. Athanasius.

The Holy Spirit also protected the Holy Father from formally promulgating the Arian heresy. But anyway, that example would not be relevant, because, as you said, all previous attempts at subverting the Church from within failed, but the enemies of the Church have now won the definitive victory over her: the Church has been subverted, and she is no longer what God made her.

As far as priests who disregard their vows, as well as the problms of simony, nepotism, etc., these are on the order, for the most part, of personal sins, rather than the promulgation of error which the current hierarchy is guilty of. Yes, the Church will prevail, but the only way that the situation could be worse is for Rome to formally embrace heresy, and that isn't likely to happen.

Okay, are you making a distinction between "promulgation of error" and formally embracing heresy? Because if the Church is promulgating error, that makes her a false teacher, one to whom we should not listen. But if you mean that Church has not formally promulgated error, then the Church has not yet been subverted from within, contrary to what you a few sentences earlier.

Another way that it can be worse is if the faithful have no access to the traditional sacraments, but thanks to Divine Providence giving us the saintly Archbishop Lefebvre, we are assurred, at least for the time being, of having access to those sacraments.

We shall leave it to God and the Church to tell us whether or not Archbishop Lefebvre was and is saintly, but as for not having access to the traditional sacraments, that would include all of the Eastern Catholic Churches: they don't have access to them, nor do they desire access to them.

Jordanes said...

Mr. McFarland said: I use "motuist" because it's simple and catches the essence of the thinking of most of you: that the MP has (as St. Paul says in other contexts) opened a door in the relation between traditionalists and the Vatican.

The motu proprio is not solely, or even chiefly, about healing the broken relations between the Church and those traditionalists, like the SSPX, whose communion with her is impaired or broken. It's chiefly about achieving internal reconciliation within the Church. To the extent that the SSPX is within the Church, the motu proprio will be of help to it.

I'm pretty sure it's not original with me, but I don't think it has anything like currency in any circles.

That's a good reason to explain what it means, then.

Unlike "ultratraditionalist," it is not an attempt to sneak criticism into terminology.

I'm not so sure about that, nor is the term "ultratraditionalist" necessarily an implicit criticism.

The line of argument that the SSPX's demands have been met strikes me as very odd.

I don't believe the SSPX's demands have been met, nor do I believe they will ever all be met -- nor, for that matter, do I believe that one ever rightly makes demands of the Church.

The SSPX does not think that Rome is teaching the true faith.

The traditional Catholic belief, however, is that the Roman Church has ever maintained and safeguarded the Apostolic Faith.

How can you ever regularize your relationship with an institution that you think that about? Unless it can obtain some control over the Society, why should Rome make a deal? And how can the Society give control to those who in its considered opinion are unrepentantly traducing the faith?

With this appraisal, one cannot be hopeful about any reconciliation between the Church and the SSPX, ever. As you describe things, it is as if the SSPX is the Church and the Church has ceased being the Church.

As regards the Pope and eros, recall that the Pope is supposed to teach the doctrine of the Church. Recall also that the NT, and most particularly the gospel and epistles of St. John and certain of the epistles of St. Paul, have quite a lot to say about love. So the Pope's failing to talk much about all of that seems at a minimum very odd.

He does not fail to "talk much about all of that." Again, I must observe that if you have read Deus caritas est, you seem not to have understood it. You have yet to point to a single false teaching anywhere in his discourse on eros vs. agape.

When you then go on to ask what is the connection between what the Church has traditionally taught on the topic and the what the Pope writes, things get even odder, because there doesn't seem to be much if any connection.

Or perhaps your knowledge and understanding of what the Church has traditionally taught on the topic is not as solid as you think?

Or let me take another example. In the latter part of the encyclical, the Pope comes out quite forcefully against the use of a charitable activities in the earthly sense as the basis for proselytism.

Yes, and there he adheres perfectly to the unvarying faith of the Church. God calls us to love all men and help those in need, with no strings attached.

But the Church has always started off by relieving earthly distress as both a sign and a beginning of getting to mankind's real sufferings.

Where does that contradict what the Holy Father wrote?

He is constantly teaching a gospel different from the gospel that came down to us before 1962.

Okay, so you claim unequivocally that the Holy Father is a heretic, and yet you have not yet shown a single one of his statements to be heretical.

your only recourse is to demonstrate how what the Pope says really ties in with traditional doctrine.

No, you are the one who presumed to bring these most serious charges. It is your grave obligation now to back them up with evidence, or else to retract. Catholics assume that what the Vicar of Christ teaches ties in with traditional doctrine unless shown evidence to the contrary: we never assume that what he says is erroneous unless shown that it is true.

As for Redemptor hominis, here's the basic point. There is objective redemption, and in that sense everyone is saved. Then there is subjective redemption, accepting the Catholic faith, which is the only way that objective redemption does any one person any good. There is practically nothing in the encyclical that speaks to subjective redemption.

"Practically nothing" is not the same as "nothing." So you concede that the Pope did not deny or reject subjective redemption, and you do not show us which, if any, of the Pope's statements in his encyclical are contrary to the faith of the Church.

But why is the full doctrine missing?

You already conceded that it's not missing. Anyway, encyclicals never treat of the whole Catholic faith. If the Pope sees a need to teach on the subject of objective redemption and not so much subjective redemption, perhaps a Catholic might wish to docilely listen to what he has to say and consider why he said it?

What good does it do to tell non-Catholics that they're objectively redeemed when only subjective redemption will save them from hellfire?

The Pope wasn't talking to non-Catholics. He was talking to Catholics.

Basically, your efforts to refute me on conciliar papal doctrine involve focusing on particulars on the assumption that that doctrine is sound, when the big picture is utterly inconsistent with the notion that the conciliar popes are concerned to defend the traditional faith.

You've given me no reason to believe that doctrine is not sound in these two encyclicals. You've claimed the doctrine in them is not Catholic doctrine, but so far have failed to establish you assertions as true.

a man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest.

That applies not just to "motuists."

Theneva said...

Jordanes wrote:

"Okay, are you making a distinction between "promulgation of error" and formally embracing heresy?"

Yes, of course.

Jordanes wrote:

"Because if the Church is promulgating error, that makes her a false teacher, one to whom we should not listen."

I did not say that the Church is promulgaing error. I specifically stated that the current heirarchy is promulgating error. There is a significant difference.

No, the enemies of the Church have not succeeded in permanently subverting the Church. I should have made that more clear, and I appreciate that you pointed it out. Do you disagree that the ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality (freemasonic ideals) have been promulgated by the last four Popes?

As far as judging the Archbishop Lefebvre as being saintly, I'm only judging him by his actions and writings, and unwavering loyalty to the Church and her traditions. I did not say that he was a saint. That is up to the Church to decide. But surely there are Catholics, who, while not canonised saints, can exhibit saintliness all the same. Likewise with the Popes who have promulgated error, I have not, and will not condemn them as heretics. I haven't the authority to do so, and we cannot see into their hearts and minds, so we cannot judge their motivations...only their actions.

Confiteor said...

'I did not say that the Church is promulgaing error. I specifically stated that the current heirarchy is promulgating error. There is a significant difference.'

There are individuals in the curia who are saying things that are just plain nuts, e.g., Kasper. However, the "current hierarchy" as such, i.e., the Ordinary Magisterium, does not and cannot promulgate error. We need to be much more careful in our use of terms here.

If you take it upon yourself to accuse the Magisterium of error, then you put yourself in place of the Pope. You set up a parallel Magisterium. You become, in effect, a Protestant.

Theneva said...

Confiteor,

Well, You can't accuse me of being a sede, or a schmismatic, but, hey, I've been called worse things than a Protestant. I guess that means that Archbishop Lefebvre was a Protestant, too. All because he refused to go along with many of the changes that occurred in the Church since Vll.

But do you know, Confiteor, the idea of "change" in order to adapt to the ideals of the world is a Protestant notion...not Catholic.
We Catholics are called upon to be a sign of contradition to worldly values, rather than adapt and conform some of our beliefs to them.

Confiteor said...

Theneva,

Refusing to go along with change for the sake of change doesn't make you a Protestant. Submitting papal teachings to your own private interpretation of Tradition, which is to say, dragging the Pope before your own private magisterium, makes you a Protestant. Luther didn't set out to be a Protestant. He, too, thought that he was more Catholic than the Pope. Of course, Luther was wrong on matters of doctrine, whereas the SSPX is largely in the right, yet the fundamental attitude toward the person of the Pope is much the same.

The magisterium (the one in Rome, not the one in Econe) has done a poor job of explaining to the faithful how, say, the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Liberty is in continuity with previous papal teaching on the absolute sovereignty of Christ the King. The faithful have a right to ask for better explanations. However, the faithful do not have the right to substitute their own explanations for those that are late coming from Rome, still less do they have the right to use their own interpretations to convict Rome of formal error.

John McFarland said...

Let me offer just one further thought, and then I'm done for present purposes. One of the posters defends Redemptor hominis by noting that I say that there's practically nothing about subjective redemption. Now in fact, I can't think of ANYTHING in RH that mentions subjective redemption; I was just protecting my argumentative flank, as we lawyers will.

But note that the poster is implicitly admitting that Pope John Paul says practically nothing about the only thing that causes redemption to apply to a particular soul, and that in a time and place (1979, and for that matter today) where notions of universal salvation are, to say the least of it, common and influential among both theologians and the faithful.

What is your explanation? That Pope John Paul the Great was forgetful? ignorant? There is obviously only one explanation: he didn't want to talk about the only that that, per the constant doctrine of the Church, will save anyone.

And why? Why does Pope John Paul the Great decline to talk about the one thing needful?

This is not a matter of suspicion, hermeneutic or otherwise. Pope John Paul was at great pains to avoid a central doctrine of the faith.

Do you have an explanation other than that he wanted to give a deficient account of the doctrine of the Church?

And why? Take a look at the latter part of the encyclical. He argues for us all getting together and solving the problems of the world. No separation between the sheep and the goats, and still less any talk about what happens after that separation.

It's Masonry with holy water sprinkled on it: the Spiritual Animation of Universal Democracy, in the Abbe de Nantes' epitome (MASDU, in its French acronym).

Does it remind you very much of the gospel?

Does it help you to explain why back in November 2005, Pope Benedict gave forty-five minutes to Bishop Fellay, and a couple of hours to Hans Kueng and his unabashedly Masonic one-world scheme? Or why practically everything he said during his recent U.S. trip was the evangelization of MASDU? The MP was dealing with a minor irritant; MASDU is what is at the top of the pile.

Confiteor said...

'Jesus Christ meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free". These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world. Today also, even after two thousand years, we see Christ as the one who brings man freedom based on truth, frees man from what curtails, diminishes and as it were breaks off this freedom at its root, in man's soul, his heart and his conscience. What a stupendous confirmation of this has been given and is still being given by those who, thanks to Christ and in Christ, have reached true freedom and have manifested it even in situations of external constraint!' (RH 12)

Mr. McFarland, if that isn't an exposition of subjective redemption, I don't know what is.

Joe said...

Mr. McFarland,

We need to bear in mind that validity is not an abstraction. As the SSPX points out, many priests do not believe in the doctrine of the Mass as taught by Trent, and so it is hard to see how their Masses could be valid; and the proportion of such priests is more likely increasing than decreasing.

The belief of these priests is irrelevant. Unless the priests are of manifestly bad will and intend not to do what the Church does, they confect valid sacraments. This is basic theology 101.

Do you remember from basic catechism the examples of Moslems or athiests validy baptizing? Surely they have no faith. They don't even have the luxury of being material (or formal, for that matter) heretics.

Assertions that invalid Masses are multitudinous due to lack of intention merely betrays a lacking understanding of sacramental theology.


Also, with regards to your position vis-a-vis the liceity of the New Mass: The position that you propose is gravely contradictory to Catholic Doctrine. By being universally promulgated (which is truly indisputable), the rite falls under the promises granted to the Church. The Church can never issue a universal law of a obligatory or promissory nature that is gravely harmful to souls or intrinsically evil. This is Catholic Doctrine. To deny this is to deny an integral part of the Church's teaching regarding herself.

To claim that the rite does not fall under the protection of indefectibility due to its being contradictory to past teaching vacates the Church's doctrine regarding indefectibility utterly. To subject something already defined excathedra or something already universally promulgated to one's own intellectual circumscription creates a self-enclosed and destructive circle. The Divine Promies are not merely a verification of something already true--they are, rather, a personal and divine guarantee. In such cases, as taught by St. Ignatius in the spiritual exercise, we must crucify our intellect and "accept black to be white and white to be black if the hierarchical Church tells us so."

Jordanes said...

Pope John Paul [in Redemptor Hominis] says practically nothing about the only thing that causes redemption to apply to a particular soul, and that in a time and place (1979, and for that matter today) where notions of universal salvation are, to say the least of it, common and influential among both theologians and the faithful.

If John Paul II were really leaving the door open to universal salvation, he wouldn't have written an encyclical reaffirming that Jesus Christ is the redeemer of man.

What is your explanation? That Pope John Paul the Great was forgetful? ignorant? There is obviously only one explanation: he didn't want to talk about the only thing that, per the constant doctrine of the Church, will save anyone.

It is not necessary that a papal encyclical mention or discuss every single doctrine of the faith, nor that it discuss them in terms and language that we personally would prefer. It is only necessary that the encyclical teach the truth.

Why does Pope John Paul the Great decline to talk about the one thing needful?

Jesus -- believing that He is the redeemer of man -- IS the one thing needful. His entire encyclical was a discourse on the one thing needful, Jesus.

It's Masonry with holy water sprinkled on it: the Spiritual Animation of Universal Democracy, in the Abbe de Nantes' epitome (MASDU, in its French acronym).

You only make a fool of yourself when you characterise a Catholic document that upholds Jesus as the only redeemer of man as "masonry with holy water sprinkled on it." No committed Freemason, sprinkled or not, believes that Jesus is our redeemer. Try reading Redemptor Hominis with the understanding that it was written by a devout Catholic, indeed written by the Vicar of Christ: the Holy Father may not have explicitly mentioned all that the Catholic Church holds and believes in faith, but he denied none of it, and his encyclical cannot be understood unless it is read in the context of John Paul's Catholic faith.