Rorate Caeli

A relevant address:
The Pope on Tradition, Ecumenism, and Vatican II

As we know, in vast areas of the earth, faith is in danger of being put out, as a flame that finds no more fuel. We find ourselves before a profound crisis of faith, before a loss of the religious sense that is the greatest challenge for today's Church. The renewal of the faith must thus be the priority in the effort of the entire Church in our day. I hope that the Year of Faith may contribute, with the cordial collaboration of all components of the People of God, to make God present in this world and may open to man acess to the faith, that he may entrust himself to that God who has loved us to the end (cf. John 13,1), in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.
...

The coherence of the ecumenical effort with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and with the entire Tradition has been one of the areas to which the Congregation, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, has always paid attention. We can see today not a few good fruits born of the ecumenical dialogues, but we must also recognize that the risk of a false irenicism and of an indifferentism, completely separated from the mind of the Second Vatican Council, demands our vigilance. This indifferentism is caused by the ever more common opinion that truth would not be accessible to man; it would thus be necessary to limit oneself to search for rules for a praxis which would improve the world. And, therefore, faith would be replaced by a moralism with no profound meaning. The center of true ecumenism is, instead, the faith in which man finds truth, that reveals itself in the Word of God. Without faith, the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a kind of "social contract" to be joined for a common interest, a "praxeology" for creating a better world. The logic of the Second Vatican Council is completely different: the sincere search for full unity of all Christians is a movement animated by the Word of God, by divine Truth that is spoken to us in this Word.

The crucial problem, that marks in a transversal way the ecumenical dialogues, is, for this reason, the question of the structure of revelation - the relationship between Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in Holy Church, and the Ministry of the successors of the Apostles as a testimony to the true faith. And here the problematic of ecclesiology, which is part of this problem, is implied: in what way the truth of God reaches us. It is fundamental here, among other things, to distinguish between Tradition, with a capital letter, and traditions. I do not wish to enter in details, but just to make an observation. An important step in this distinction was accomplished in the preparation and application of the provisions for the groups of faithful coming from Anglicanism, who wish to join the full communion of the Church, in the unity of the common and essential divine Tradition, preserving their own spriritual traditions, liturgical and pastoral, that are consistent withh the Catholic Faith (cf. Cost. Anglicanorum coetibus, art. III). There is, in fact, a spiritual wealth in the various Christian confessions that is the expression of the one faith and gift to be shared and to be found together in the Tradition of the Church.

Today, therefore, one of the fundamental questions consists of the problematic of the methods to be adopted in the various ecumenical dialogues. These also must reflect the priority of faith. To know the truth is the right of the interlocutor in every true dialogue. It is the very demand of charity for brother. In this sense, it is necessary to face with courage also the controversial questions, always in the spirit of fraternity and reciprocal respect. It is important to offer a correct interpretation of that "order or 'hierarchy' of truth in Catholic doctrine," mentioned in the Decree Unitatis redintegratio (n. 11), which does not mean in any way to reduce the deposit of faith, but to make emerge the internal structure, the organicity of this one structure. Also the study documents produced by the various ecumenical dialogues have great relevance. Such texts cannot be ignored, because they are an important, though temporary, fruit of the common reflection matured throughout the years. Nevertheless, they are to be recognized in their adequate significance as contributions offered to the competent Authority of the Church, who alone is called to judge them in a definitive way. To ascribe to such texts a binding or almost conclusive weight for the ecclesial Authority would not, in a final analysis, help on the path to a full unity in the faith.

One last question that I would finally wish to mention is the problem of morals, which is a new challenge for the ecumenical path. In the dialogues, we must not forget the great moral questions related to human life, family, sexuality, bioethics, liberty, justice, and peace. It will be important to speak on these matters with only one voice, drawing the foundation on Scripture and on the living tradition of the Church. This tradition helps us understand the language of the Creator in his creation. By defending the fundamental values of the great tradition of the Church, we defend man, we defend creation.
Benedict XVI
January 27, 2012
[Rorate translation]

18 comments:

Barona said...

God bless Pope Benedict !!

Edward said...

Agreed very straight forward! Excellent!!!

M. A. said...

By reading the Old Testament, one can more easily see the solution to our current crisis of apostasy.

Esdras: “Thou madest know to them thy holy Sabbath, and didst prescribe to them commandments, and CEREMONIES, and the law by the hand of Moses…But they and our fathers dealt proudly, hardened their necks and hearkened not to thy commandments…..and thou gavest them into the hands of their enemies, and they afflicted them…..and thou art just in all things that have come upon us; because thou hast done truth, but we have done wickedly.”

The people repented with fasting and sackcloth and they made an agreement with God. In ch. 10 we read how the Israelites proposed to make amends, amends which included a separation from those not of the faith in the one true God: "All that could understand promising for their brethren, with their chief men, and they came to promise, and swear that they would walk in the law of God…that they would do and keep all the commandments of the Lord our God, and his judgments and his CEREMONIES…And that 'we would not give our daughter to the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons.'"

It sure would be nice if his Holiness were to comply with God’s desires to have Russia consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of our Lady. It would be an act of humility to counter “fathers [who] dealt proudly, hardened their necks" against our Lady’s requests.

P.K.T.P. said...

What we are seeing here is simply the Pope holding fast in his 'hermeneutic of continuity' position, developing it a bit here and there. He is signalling, I think, that he has no intention of changing his tune to accommodate the S.S.P.X. However, this might also suggest a particular sort of solution. We have already seen hints that a group might exist outside canonical structures without being outside the ambit of communion with the Pope. It seems likely that we are moving towards a declaration regarding the status of the S.S.P.X, which which will mix disapparoval and some degree of acceptance. That is likely the only reasonable way forward at this point. The idea of a juridical unity is indeed decades away, just as Bishop Tissier has said.

I just pray that this pontificate lasts long enough for Benedict XVI to set things on the right course.

P.K.T.P.

Joe B said...

"We can see today not few good fruits born of the ecumenical dialogues ..."

Yep.

English Pastor said...

"The renewal of the faith must thus be the priority in the effort of the entire Church in our day..."

Ensuring solid formation of youth by orthodox catechetical texts in schools is a foundation for all re-evangelisation of the modern world, yet the generation up and coming –as those from the 1960’s onward- are not being given the Truth to pass on. Rather, the texts often used today seem to prime them with a critical attitude to the Faith that actually destroys their Faith. Authentic criticism of the Faith would follow the system of
1. what we believe
2. Why we believe it
3. the arguments that are advanced against the Faith
4. adequate responses to those arguments.

In my experience schools, seminaries and lay formation courses are great at 1 and3 but totally lacking in regard to 2 and 4.

Jonvilas said...

P.K.T.P, the pope raised the most fundamental question, namely that of the FAITH, the one that is lacking. He actually talks about the huge crisis that we, as catholics, as christians are in. In this case, it is a much much much more than only such 'parochial' view, as our discussion about the solutions for FSSPX. Actually, he talking about whole universe - cosmos, indicating the right and true order, as it always was. I am afraid that his thought is much higher and bigger than majority of our bishops (and priests) can grasp. Oremus pro pontifice nostro Benedicto!

Ted Maysfield said...

“...provisions for the groups of faithful coming from Anglicanism, who wish to join the full communion of the Church, in the unity of the common and essential divine Tradition, preserving their own spriritual traditions, liturgical and pastoral, that are consistent withh the Catholic Faith (cf. Cost. Anglicanorum coetibus, art. III). There is, in fact, a spiritual wealth in the various Christian confessions that is the expression of the one faith and gift to be shared and to be found together in the Tradition of the Church.”

THIS IS BRILLIANT. It represents the original understanding of the Faith. If past popes sometimes did not perceive this insight that is a shortcoming of theirs, not Pope Benedict XVI, who, in this instance, is short-circuiting the scandal of hatred between Christians, and he is doing so based on the truth.

Elizabeth said...

This is terrific. "Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian unity."

Matt said...

Every once in a while, the sun breaks through, but unfortunately shines only on barren dirt. Our Holy Father writes and says great things unfortunately they don't seems to go much beyond that.

The Holy Father, of course, has done much in the short time he has been on the Throne, but in many ways it seems he says good things but only hopes people will act on them rather than actually making them happen.

I believe the Holy Father is serious about unity and Anglicanorum Coetibus is a tremendous step forward but the SSPX (IMO) is the other half. I'm hopeful things will work out for them but I also think perhaps A. C. will be the means by which the "reform of the reform" will occur.

Matt

John, an unlikely pastor said...

I'm a Lutheran not a Catholic and I agree whole heartedly with Jonvillas--Benedict XVI is focussed on the biggest question for the church catholic in our age: what is the future of faith --simple and complete trust -- in Jesus Christ crucified and risen.

Benedict is not speaking only about in an house Roman Catholic issues nor in this age is he speaking to an in house Catholic body. He's wrestling in the open air with questions of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ while many are pulling away from faith in anything at all.

The pope's adress in the fall to Lutherans and Catholics at the Black Cloister in Erfurt focussed on this same question and provides a solid basis for conversation. http://www.romereports.com/palio/popes-speech-in-lutheran-church-salvation-comes-with-a-faith-thats-lived-out-english-4974.html

Pax, John

Deone said...

I agree with you John. as an evangelical fundamentalist with no apologies, I have followed nearly every word this man of the Word and seeker of tHe face of the Lord Jesus Christ has written and he truly believes what the Bible says about the essence of faith as to the life of the church,

In his apostolic exhortation on Hope he perhaps elucidated the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as any of my most trusted evangelical teachers-beware! One cannot navigate his works without an open bible on the table.

His thoughts on unity and dialogue should make any serious Christian from any tradition literally tremble with excitement--yet I have encountered so few --even Catholics who read him at all.

He is God's man for an hour when the only hope for the world is the hope by which we are saved-- "faith is the substantia of what we hope for". Hebrews 11:1

Ecclesia Militans said...

I must say it is indicative that Protestant like the Pope's idea of applying to everything the "hermeneutics of unity" (Card. Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics, 79-83).
The Pope is unfortunately laying the foundations of his opinion and a lot of his actions on two erroneous premises, which he expresses in the text, both in the parts of the address that have been published on the blog as in the full adress. These are the premises:
- that Christians are disunited,
- that all "Christian" denominations share the same one, basic faith.

As for the first one, you can see clear examples in the text, and especially in the parts that were not published on the blog (look up the address on the Vatican site below).
As for the second one, you can find it the part about the Anglicans, particularly this sentence:

"Indeed, a spiritual richness exists in the different Christian denominations which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to share and to seek together in the Tradition of the Church." (direct quote from http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120127_dottrina-fede_en.html)

If you read it carefully, you will see that it says "different Christian denominations" all share the same one faith and tradition.
Are these not revealing words?
Do we now know the mind of the Pope?

New Catholic said...

"If you read it carefully, you will see that it says 'different Christian denominations' all share the same one faith and tradition."

No, it doesn't. Read it carefully.

Ecclesia Militans said...

Well, let's analyze it:

"Indeed, a spiritual richness exists in the different Christian denominations which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to share and to seek together in the Tradition of the Church."

The sentence says that there is a "spiritual richness" "in the different Christian denominations". This "spiritual richness" of theirs is "an expression of the one faith", so Catholics and they have one faith, and the "spiritual richness" of the "different Christian denominations" should be "shared" and "sought", "together" (!) "in the Tradition of the Church".
Let's repeat this separately:
the "spiritual richness" of the "different Christian denominations" should be "shared" "together" "in the Tradition of the Church",
and the other part - the "spiritual richness" of the "different Christian denominations" should be "sought" "together" "in the Tradition of the Church".
This means that this supposed "richness" is contained in the Tradition of the Church, since we share it and seek it together with the "different Christian denominations" (which of course means heretics and schismatics).

In fact, there is another quote in the address which explicitly confirms this conclusion:
"the groups of faithful coming from Anglicanism, who wish to join the full communion of the Church, in the unity of the common and essential divine Tradition"

There you have it, an explicit affirmation that the Pope is using the "hermeneutics of unity" and that he considers that Catholics have a common divine Tradition with heretics. Notice also the use of the word "essential", which means that the conciliar idea of Tradition is Tradition in the lowest common denominator.

This is why, for example, Benedict XVI, while he was still a cardinal, wrote that the Eastern schismatics would not have to reckognize and confess the dogma of Papal Infallibility to return to the Church (http://merecath.tumblr.com/post/32542902/the-ratzinger-proposal).

The facts about the views of the Pope are there. It is not a matter of opinions or wishes but a matter of accepting the facts.

New Catholic said...

NO. It means that the Tradition of the Church and of the one Faith expressed itself in a spiritual wealth that can, indeed, be found in the various Christian confessions - it is why we, Catholics, can find many points of common ground which we share with non-Catholic Christians and find nuggets of the one Truth in their lives. That is obviously true, and it is what one grasps if one is not willing to find flaws with His Holiness every single moment.

Now, EM, we will not have this argument here now - this post is several days old, it dates from last week, and you should have had this discussion at the time. We simply will not carry on a private conversation with you in this box.

New Catholic said...

No, EM: it was at the time, and remains, a matter of crossing the fine line between an opinion on words and disrespect for the man, who is inseparable from his Office.

John, an unlikely pastor said...

Ted Mysfield,
I just reread your comments and found hope in them. There's a chance, and Benedict has caught that possibility, of short circuiting the scandalous way one Christian has treated another.

There is great confusion outside the church. Someone who speaks of Christ's love for the world or Christian charity, but speaks shameful words and acts shamefully towards other Christians creates confusion. Someone who speaks of truth, love, fraternity and fidelity in Christ but obscures the simple meaning of God's Holy Word and denies the mystical presence of Christ's Body through reified human divisions intensifies the confusion.

The second place of great confusion exists among the unfortunate few who refuse to see their own brothers and sisters who serve the Living God revealed in Word and Sacrament in other church bodies today.

Maybe Benedict has bypassed the broken human understading with the simple word of God,
Pax, your brother in Christ, John