Rorate Caeli

In defense of Mons. Brunero Gherardini - Part 2

Every existential journey is worthy of respect, especially, if is has been marked by suffering, but the one who has transformed his positions has no right to accuse another (in this case Mons. Gherardini) who has remained coherent, of being ‘ambiguous’ or ‘vague.’ Furthermore, nobody has the right to substitute the supreme authority of the Church in judging their brothers on questions of faith which are still undefined. There are some dogmas, such as the Immaculate Conception, that are infallibly defined by the extraordinary Magisterium of the Church. Whoever denies them, should be considered, without question, a heretic. There are other truths of a theological order, such as that of the invalidity of the ordination of women to the priesthood which cannot be denied without falling into heresy or error, because, never having been defined by the extraordinary Magisterium, they have been proposed infallibly by the ordinary universal teaching authority of the Church. Nevertheless, there are other points in which theological discussion is open, for example, of attributing theological merit to the declaration of religious liberty (Dignitatis Humanae) or to the liturgical reform of Paul VI. In these cases the extraordinary Magisterium has never made any declaration and the conditions required by Vatican I for the infallibility of the ordinary Magisterium are missing. Thus, discussions here, are free and wide open.



The Church throughout Her history, has always acknowledged theological disputes, even heated ones. Until a truth has been defined as such by the Church, it is licit to defend ones’ own opinion, even passionately, because we have the duty to sustain that which we believe to be true. We have no right, however, to “excommunicate” whoever thinks differently from us, just because we do not share their opinions. If Mons. Gherardini, Fr. Lanzetta or Professor de Mattei are in error, let the Church Herself condemn them. But if Mons. Gherardini lives in the Vatican and writes for “L'Osservatore Romano”, it means that his opinions, even if not necessarily shared, are at least tolerated by the ecclesiastical authorities. And how can they not be, when positions that are objectively heretical are tolerated, such as the Austrian or German parish-priests that demand the ordination of women and also married priests? It is no surprise that Mons. Gherardini’s positions are loathed by the progressive front. But why is there such aversion from the part of one who is not progressive? Why is there so much focus on the one who defends Tradition instead of unifying all their forces in order to fight those who deny Tradition?

Perhaps the accusers of Mons. Gherardini, who present themselves as the unique interpreters of the Magisterium, want the only alternative to their unconditional acceptance of Vatican II to be sedevacantism or at least, the irregular canonical position in which the Fraternity of Saint Pius X presently finds itself. The accusation of “crypto-sedevacantism” offends the intelligence and honesty of those who assert it. And regarding that of “lefebvrism” , Mons. Gherardini himself has recently reaffirmed his position clearly: “I agree fundamentally with some of the Fraternity’s ideas: the sense that Tradition lives because it has never been interrupted, “ the romanness”, of its Founder, the criticism of the present worldly decadence, and even more. But not, however, the Fraternity’s autonomy with which it recognizes matrimonial causes, dissolves marriages, reducing them to the lay state: these come under the authority of the Church and Her tribunals, not of a “priestly society”, which is, after all, not yet canonically recognized.”

In short, sharing some doctrinal positions, does not mean being an accomplice in canonical life choices. The great merit of Mons. Gherardini is actually that of demonstrating that a serious and objective criticism of some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council can be done, remaining fully inside the Catholic Church, respecting the supreme Authority and leaving it with the task of resolving the question in a definitive manner. Until this happens, discussions are licit and should take place in a calm and respectful way. One cannot be defined “sedevacantist” or “protestant” just because they have critically analyzed documents, acts or omissions by ecclesiastical authority not covered by infallibility, but those who deny, in principle or fact, the existence of this authority. This is not the case of Mons. Gherardini nor of the other authors under attack, who in other times would have been defined as “ultramontane” precisely because of their attachment to the Apostolic Authority and the Roman See. The accusations which have been launched at us wound our Catholic honour and constitute an unfair denigration which implies a sin against justice, and is grave. It is in the name of violated justice that I write these lines and ask that the terms of the discussion in act be modified. If the opposite happens, nobody will be able to take away our right to defend ourselves and we will find ourselves faced with painful controversies, but perhaps they will be purifying.

(Riscossa Cristiana, Feb. 7, 2012 - Author: Prof. Roberto de Mattei - Translation and contribution: Francesca Romana)

21 comments:

Knight of Malta said...

Erudite and elucidating!

I once had a priest, now a Msgr., literally wag his finger in my face, telling me that questioning Vatican II was heretical! LOL!

That particular Msgr. needed to dust off his theology books from seminary!

Show me one new dogma in Vatican II? Even Avery Cardinal Dulles, in his intro. to the Documents of Vatican II, said that just because such-and-such document of Vatican II says, "Dogmatic", does not mean it is dogmatic. In fact, there are no new, newly-defined Dogmas in Vatican II (though you will find plenty of previously defined dogmas).

I know that FSSPX thinks VII a valid council, but does that fact make it excused from criticism? The Bible and Dogmas, alone, are immune from fallibility (some councils, such as Trent, were dogmatic, VII was not one of them), but Vatican II is full of error.

In various places it teaches that those outside the Church may be saved. This violates the dogma, EXTRA ECCLESIAM NON SALUS.

It might take centuries to sort these things out, as it did to sort-out the true nature of Christ. But FSSPX is on the right side of history, and is right to be cautious with Modernist Rome.

Gratias said...

Modernists tolerate many things they know to be against Church teaching. One example would be the massive disobedience of most bishops to Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae.

Brian said...

Prof. Roberto de Mattei asks an interesting question:

It is no surprise that Mons. Gherardini’s positions are loathed by the progressive front. But why is there such aversion from the part of one who is not progressive? Why is there so much focus on the one who defends Tradition instead of unifying all their forces in order to fight those who deny Tradition?

Then Prof. Mattei answers the question:

The great merit of Mons. Gherardini is actually that of demonstrating that a serious and objective criticism of some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council can be done, remaining fully inside the Catholic Church.

No wonder "neo-conservative" Catholics, such as Fr. Piero Cantoni, hate him; he threatens the theological ground under their feet.

Luciana Cuppo said...

From the comments to Part One: 'In other words, is it possible that a good Catholic can hold the belief that some, perhaps even much of conciliar and post-conciliar teaching expressed Catholic teaching inadequately, and that pre-conciliar popes provided amore clear and prudent explication of our Catholic Tradition?'
On this crucial issue there is on youtube a videoconference by Brunero Gherardini (in Italian): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAUys . An English translation of the same lecture is online at: http://www.centreleonardboyle.com/PastoralCVII.html .

Eriugena said...

Luciana,

"The URL contained a malformed video ID."

Any chance of re-posting?

Phillepus said...

Prof. De Mattei claims that "the extraordinary Magisterium has never made any declaration and the conditions required by Vatican I for the infallibility of the ordinary Magisterium are missing. Thus, discussions here, are free and wide open."

I find it very hard to believe that one could be called Ultramontane, who defends such a serious error regarding the Catholic's duties of obedience to the Magisterium:

For it is not true at all that when the Church does not teach with strict infallibly, such teaching is open to discussion! A very un-Traditional notion, that one, proclaimed here by the otherwise much laudable Professor.

As un-traditional, in fact, as the errors (to the say the least) of Vatican II pointed by Gherardini and De Mattei himself.

Wasn't it precisely for a congress of serious historians who, however, gravely erred in theology, that Pope Pius IX wrote Tuas libenter?

Peter said...

I think Phillepus is onto something here, I'm afraid.

While I'm certainly very admiring and respectful of Msgr. Gherardini and those voicing serious thoughtful concerns regarding Second Vatican doctrinal teaching, it seems we cannot say that there is no Catholic obligation to give any kind of assent and strong benefit of the doubt to an official authoritative teaching simply because it has not been formally and infallibly defined.

Questioning the council's doctrinal novelties has to be pursued along other lines. And it may not be all that pretty.

Knight of Malta said...

...it seems we cannot say that there is no Catholic obligation to give any kind of assent and strong benefit of the doubt to an official authoritative teaching simply because it has not been formally and infallibly defined.

Peter, therein lies the rub. What do you do when doctrine contradicts doctrine. Which do you choose: a doctrine taught--possibly infallibly--by a Pope and held for centuries or a novel doctrine taught by a pastoral Council?

Was St. Athanasius duty-bound to believe in Arianism just because it was an almost universal doctrine in his day?

PEH said...

After the last 50 years anyone who thinks that we can co-exist with the modernist hierarchy being in charge of things is simply being childish. Time and time again we have seen traditional priests being disciplined for simply being traditional. It's one thing to be in Rome with a bunch of theologians and quite another to be charged with the salvation of a group of souls clinging to Tradition while their bishop permits all sorts of novelties in liturgy and practice. Frankly, it is a dichotomy that cannot last.

Spero said...

Peter and Phillepus, you have a point, but I am not sure that it applies to Msgr. Gheradini. Having read a translation of one of his books, I saw nothing in it which would indicate a violation of "religious obsequium of intellect and will." In fact, the whole work rather simply pointed out the confusion (the apparent contradictions), without pretending to make definitive judgement. Rather, it appealed to the Holy See to examine and clarify the situation by giving the theological notes of the Conciliar teaching.

This methodology suggests a will which is oriented toward obedience and respect for the Magisterium and even for the Council itself. I think Professor de Mattei, in saying that discussion is open, is not suggesting that everyone can start spouting their mouths against the Council. I think we have to understand him in the context of what he is defending. Gheradini is a serious theologian. He is not just some loose canon spouting his mouth about personal preferences. Neither is he leading a revolt against Vatican II. He is doing theology, "faith seeking understanding." He is saying it is time to stop the anti-intellectual starry-eyed optimism and start trying to figure out what is going on. His suggestions of what he thinks might be going on may or may not be correct. However, they certainly do not seem to constitute a rebellion against the Church, and really, not even a rebellion against the Council.

Being unable to read Italian, perhaps I have missed something. But I see nothing in de Mattei's defense or in the one Gheradini book I have read which suggests that it is okay for every layman and cleric of the Church to start passing judgement on non-definitive acts of the Magisterium.

But if no one ever applied their intellect to difficulties and questions surrounding non-definitive magisterial teachings, wouldn't the tree of Catholic doctrine still be an seedling? How does the Holy See become aware of things that need to be addressed if no one is allowed to think and discuss?

Spero said...

Knight of Malta wrote: "What do you do when doctrine contradicts doctrine?"

You do exactly what Gheradini is doing. You respectfully point out the apparent contradictions, and ask the Holy See to clarify.

K Gurries said...

Apparent contradictions can be overcome....and need not lead to a rejection of the Magisterium of the Church.

===============================
Where there exist "difficulties in understanding the continuity of certain Conciliar Teachings with the tradition, the Catholic attitude, having taken into account the unity of the Magisterium, is to seek a unitive interpretation in which the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the preceding Magisterial documents illuminate each other." (Msgr. Ocariz)
================================

So there really is a simple equation or formula at work in regards to the Magisterium. This is how Pope St. Pius X put it in the Catechism:

THE CATECHISM OF ST. PIUS X
Q. Can the Church err in what she proposes for our belief?
A. No, the Church cannot err in what she proposes for our belief, since according to the promise of Jesus Christ she is unfailingly assisted by the Holy Ghost.

Phillepus said...

I only meant to point out the problem with that one particular statement I quoted, which seems to me to underlie Prof. de Mattei's whole argumentation here, and is really indefensible, I think.

I never meant to say that Msgr. Gherardini agreed with that unfortunate statement. Actually, I'm pretty sure he does not, in view of the following quote of Msgr. Gherardini's book on Vatican II, made by K. Gurries in the combox to the previous installment:

"Someone has even gone further and has asked if an Ecumenical Council can fall into error in Faith and Morals...It is my opinion that this might be able to be verified, but in the very moment it is verified, the Ecumenical Council ceases to be such."

Actually, I think that the "last Roman theologian", as some call Msgr. Gherardini, is right both in the above quote and in pointing out that Vatican II did in fact err in matters of faith and morals, with regard to religious liberty for instance.

K Gurries said...

Phillepus, Gherardini does not say that the council taught errors against the faith. He says he does know....and hopes that the Holy Father can resolve it. But he also says that if it does contain errors against the faith (or heresy) then it could not be a true or legitimate ecumenical council at all. Again, that is the basic argument of the SSPX -- that the "pastoral" council was not a true act of the Magisterium -- even though it presented itself as such.

Tradical said...

Hi Gurries,

re: THE CATECHISM OF ST. PIUS X
It is important to note how an ecumenical council proposes for belief.

In this case (referring to V1) - it didn't.

That leaves us with the other 'lower' levels of assent.

From my perspective (fallible as it is), when the sense of the faith is attacked as it has been, when people who adhere to the Tridentine Mass are considered a problem, when all the various 'approved' alterations undermine the faith ... what is a Catholic to do? Sit back and watch the statues being dropped into the Atlantic ocean?

I don't think so.

What many of us have done is sought a port in the storm.

That is what the SSPX has been during the years in the desert for many of us.

Even now as the storm seems to be abating, they are still that harbour between two opposing views.

P^3

Phillepus said...

K. Gurries, I understand that, but I'd also add that in the same article by Msgr. Gherardini quoted here by Prof. De Mattei where the Roman theologian distances himself from the SSPX's multiple usurpations of authority (like annulment tribunals!), Msgr. Gherardini also says, regarding the Society's chief theologian Fr. Gleize's 2009 study “The Living Magisterium and Tradition”, that,

it lacks, however, the explanation of the Ordinary Magisterium as distinct - and why, and in which sense, it is distinct - from the solemn and supreme Magisterium. Hence, the [SSPX] exposition seems to depart from that Romanness that he [Fr. Gleize], however, wished he were affirming and defending.

Knight of Malta said...

@Spero: Knight of Malta wrote: "What do you do when doctrine contradicts doctrine?"

You do exactly what Gheradini is doing. You respectfully point out the apparent contradictions, and ask the Holy See to clarify.


Then Cardinal Ratzinger said Gauduim et Spes is a Counter Syllabus to Bl. Pope Pius IV's syllabus of errors.

Fair is foul, and foul fair in the Modernistic, modern Church.

Fra Roderic, F.I. said...

Just to set the record straight. Not everyone at the Franciscans of the Immaculate agrees with Mons. Gherardini, Prof. de Mattei and Fr. Lanzeta. One of the main arguments that they use to justify their ongoing resistance to to the Hermeneutic of Reform is the address by the Pope on Dec 22 2005 where they claim the Pope invited discussion on the matter. Fr. Angelo Geiger, F.I. addresses this point at AirMaria.com, pointing out that the pope did not invite said discussion. Please comment.

K Gurries said...

Fra Roderic, thank you for that clarification. I also find it interesting that many consider the forward to the book given by Cardinal Ranjith as an unqualified endorsement of the contents of the book. If one simply reads the forward he will see that the Cardinal points to Pope Benedict's 2005 speech on the "hermeneutic of continuity" as the solution to the problems raised in the book.

Fra Roderic, F.I. said...

K Gurries, I will have to read that section carefully. Thanks. Ave Maria!

Crankster said...

FRFI,

And for those who do not and cannot accept the contents of the December 2005 curial address, that it does not give sufficient due to traditionalist teachings and beliefs, then what?