Rorate Caeli

SSPX-Rome: "We are back to square one"


An interview with Father Niklaus Pfluger, First Assistant General of the Society of St. Pius X, on the present situation of the Society.
Kirchliche Umschau: Just a few months ago, the Vatican seemed to be on the verge of granting canonical recognition to the Society. It seems now that all efforts were in vain. Bishop Müller, the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, suggested as much in several recent interviews.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: All efforts were not in vain, but an agreement in the near future is improbable. In both our estimation and that of the Curia, any agreement would be pointless unless we are on the same page about what the Faith really means. This common understanding was to be expressed in a “doctrinal declaration”, which we took ample time in drawing up, and in April 2012, Bishop Fellay, our Superior General, presented a preliminary, informal draft. But, to our great surprise, this text was rejected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. So we are back to square one.
Kirchliche Umschau: How do you account for Rome’s change of direction?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: In Rome there is a group strongly opposed to a canonical regularization for the Society. Such an official recognition would in effect be a sign that the post-Vatican II era is outdated and that a new chapter has begun. Of course, this would not suit the agenda of the Council’s supporters. For them, official recognition of the Society of St. Pius X would be not merely an insult, but also a questioning of the Council’s status, therefore a collapse. It appears that the Council’s adherents prevailed.

Kirchliche Umschau: Do you think that there could be a new development?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Not just think–I know! The facts are what they are. The Church everywhere in the world, with some rare exceptions, is undergoing a process of self-destruction, and not just in Europe. In Latin America, for example, things don’t seem to be any better. Where the economy is relatively strong, as in Germany, Swizterland, and the United States, the external structures remain. But the loss of the Faith can be seen everywhere. Now, without the Faith, there is no Church. In Germany, the bishops recently sent a clear message: the right to collect taxes from Church members is more important than 120,000 Catholics leaving the Church every year. We are witnessing a march to destruction unseen in history, a rising tide which not even the bishops can stem, using, as they do, tactics devoid of the spirit of Faith. Joseph Ratzinger, as a Council father 50 years ago, spoke of a Church, “imbued with the spirit of paganism,” which the Council did its part to usher in. I am convinced that this turn of events, on the one hand, will bring the bishops to a more sober frame of mind, and, on the other hand, will leave only the conservatives holding fast, meaning those who quite simply wish to believe as the Church has always believed, and to persevere in their Catholic Faith. With those holding fast, we will no longer need to argue. Agreement in the Faith will soon follow.
Kirchliche Umschau: You are insinuating that the tide of self-destruction will engulf liberal Catholics. But the liberals see things differently. They want even more reforms to assure the survival of the living Church.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: I am inventing nothing. I see events and where they lead. Which religious order or diocese has younger members to ensure its future growth, and which ones are dying out? We can observe that decline and dissolution are most apparent in those places where the so-called conciliar reforms are most eagerly followed. I don’t deny that, in the arena of public opinion–and on the parish level–the liberal approach is more acceptable. But the Church does not live by social acceptance or by human applause. She derives her energy from men and women who believe and practice their Faith, who are prepared to renounce worldly pleasures to become priests, monks, or nuns. These latter are conspicuously absent among the liberals, and that is why they now want to receive priestly ordination, but of course without celibacy, without any self-denial. And they naively expect to increase their vocations by lowering the standards!
Kirchliche Umschau: Do you foresee a new excommunication of the Society’s bishops, or even of the whole Society?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: There are many who might welcome a new excommunication, but during this pope’s reign, it seems highly improbable. How would they justify it? There is no “traditional heresy.” We do not belong to the sedevacantists. We fully accept that the assistance of the Holy Ghost is granted to the pope and the bishops. But from Rome’s standpoint, the Society was pronounced guilty of “disobedience” even when the excommunications from 1988 were later withdrawn. How would they justify new ecclesiastical penalties? For refusing the Council? In the Credo none of the articles state: “I believe in the Second Vatican Council…!” The imposing reality of the facts just mentioned should be more important than the discussions. We find today a new generation of young priests, who slowly but surely discover the Old Mass, and through it, the Catholic Faith in its entirety, and the authentic priesthood. But in many cases we find young Catholics interested in the Faith, who nearly always discover it outside of their parishes. These honest souls are very impressed by traditional doctrine and worship, even if they still attend the New Mass. They observe the Society, follow it with interest, seek to contact us, ask for our publications, and stay in communication with us. The same holds for the Ecclesia Deicommunities, and among diocesan priests, who, thanks to the Motu Proprio of 2007, have begun to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. We are more than just a Society with almost 600 priests; our influence is deeply felt in the Church, and particularly in those circles which have a future. If the Romans want to save face, they will wisely avoid an excommunication which they will soon have to revoke.
Kirchliche Umschau: So there is still a chance to regularize the Society, but it seems that the bottom line is to “recognize the Council.”
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Of course we recognize that there was a Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Lefebvre himself was a Council father. Nonetheless, we must admit that not only the post-conciliar reforms, but also certain texts of the Council itself are in contradiction with important doctrines already defined by the Church. Certain ambiguities and novelties are at the heart of the present dissolution taking place within the Church. For Rome, it is unacceptable that we speak of “the errors of the Council.” You see, we criticized the Council while it was everywhere being celebrated and when the Church enjoyed a deeper faith and vitality than it does today. Why would we suddenly make an about-face, when our warnings and criticisms have been vindicated over time? The sad reality is that, 50 years after the Council, Archbishop Lefebvre’s predictions were far from exaggerated. In the 1970s, due to the enthusiasm and naive optimism of the moment, nobody could have imagined that the Catholic bishops would rally in favor of homosexuality, the propagation of Islam, and the dissolution of marriage, which unfortunately is now the order of the day! The Vatican is faced with the ruins of the Church, which was at one time so beautiful and strong. But now there is no true renewal, no relief in sight. A realistic evaluation of new charismatic communities, which were extolled in the last decades as signs of vitality, should serve instead as warning signs. I don’t understand why there hasn’t been an honest and thorough investigation of the causes of the present situation in the Church. The Church is destroying herself, and silencing all discussion of the problem will not make the problem go away. Pretending that the Council is not to blame for the post-conciliar crisis is burying one’s head in the sand.
Kirchliche Umschau: Since you seem so little disposed to compromise, why do you still hold discussions with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Because the pope and Rome are realities inseparable from the Faith. The loss of faith in the Church’s structures—a loss of faith from which we have been spared, thanks be to God–is only one aspect of the crisis in the Church. For our part, we suffer also from a defect: the fact of our canonical irregularity. The status of the post-conciliar Church is imperfect, nor is our status the ideal.
Kirchliche Umschau: Are you referring to members of your community who refuse the discussions with Rome?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Yes, but they are few, very few. The prolonged period of separation has led certain members to confusion in theology. Deep down, these persons set faith in opposition to law, as if union with the pope, the primacy of the pope, were just a minor question of law.
Separating the legitimacy of the pope from the Faith, and reducing his legitimacy to a merely juridical question, is a sign of great danger. Finally, it comes from a Protestant view of the Church. But the Church is visible. The papacy belongs to the domain of Faith.
We ourselves, Catholics faithful to Tradition, suffer from the crisis in two ways. We participate in this crisis, albeit on a different and higher level, as I see it. There is no denying the obligation to take an active part in overcoming the crisis. And this combat begins with us, by desiring to overcome our abnormal canonical status.
Kirchliche Umschau: So we are back to square one. Why not just go along with Rome?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Because we cannot exchange an imperfect status for one that is even less perfect. Union with Rome is supposed to be an improvement, not a mutilation. Having to omit certain truths of the Faith, as well as being forbidden to criticize various doubtful and liberal positions: all this would be tantamount to a mutilation. We will not go along with that.
Kirchliche Umschau: The General Chapter was held in July. What position was taken by members of the Chapter?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: We laid down six guidelines to be met before any reunion with Rome. These were so many touchstones which restated the points to which we have always held fast. Our position was reinforced once more.
Kirchliche Umschau: On the Internet, there is a debate over this issue. Thundering condemnations are hurled at the Society’s leaders, who are accused of treason.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: You are quoting Bishop Williamson, who was excluded from the General Chapter by the great majority of superiors. That shows how strongly united we are.
Kirchliche Umschau: But you have a problem of communication. Judging by certain forums over the Internet, the situation couldn’t be worse.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: It is true that the Internet calls for, even requires, a new form of communication. We are obliged–just as the Vatican is–to go beyond the printed publications in use until now. But surely there are simple souls who are easily misled by sowers of discord, who themselves are widely misinformed by what they read on the Internet. Our priests appealed to the faithful not to go on these discussion sites which are often very rude, and not to let themselves be troubled and upset by the rumors and maneuverings found on the Internet. We will use the available means of communication from now on, including the Internet.
Kirchliche Umschau: Certain groups have targeted Bishop Fellay himself.
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Bishop Fellay has certainly done more for the cause of Catholics faithful to Tradition than all those who doubt him, criticize him, and even accuse him of treason. For several years, he has conducted relations with Rome prudently and skillfully; never did he act impulsively, nor did he let himself be provoked or lose patience. Today we have the Tridentine Mass available to any priest; we have seen the lifting of the “excommunications” which were inveighed against us in 1988; we have had the discussions on the problems of the Council. And, as an Austrian bishop admits, we have brought the Council back on the table for debate. Thus, as a result, the Council is no longer sacrosanct and its glory turns to dust. And all this remains true notwithstanding the litany of praises heaped on the Second Vatican Council by the 50 year jubilee.
Our Superior General has accomplished a great deal, because he persevered in the negotiations and faithfully presented our theological positions. On that score, I observe that he has only one aim in view in this crisis of the Church, namely to preserve the Faith and to serve the Church with our whole heart.
Kirchliche Umschau: One question remains. Why is it that Bishop Fellay seems to have done nothing against the smear campaign mounted against him these last few months over the Internet?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Patience, kindness, and generosity appear to many as weaknesses, but this is not so. Faced with repeated attacks and harassment over the Internet, we do not abandon our values and our principles. We deal with plotting and intrigues according to the laws of the Church. This may seem like procrastination which can be annoying to some, but it can’t be done any other way if we don’t want to betray our own ideals. I would like to make this clear: let no one imagine that he can criticize authority with impunity.
Kirchliche Umschau: What does this mean specifically?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: Bishop Williamson has been given fair warning. This is a sad moment in the history of our Society. If he continues his Internet campaign against the Society and its Superior General, then his expulsion from the Society cannot be avoided. Besides his false ideas, he has plotted under cover. The veritable tragedy is the fact that for years he has not accepted the authority of the Superior General, but has assigned to himself a God-given mission. Before the General Chapter, he rallied priests and faithful to rebellion. For a Catholic bishop, this is very serious.
Kirchliche Umschau: The Society’s purpose is not limited to negotiations with Rome. What other fields of apostolate do you envision?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: The West has lost the Faith. One reason for this loss is the fact that the Church is no longer presenting the Faith, no longer brings it to the world. Modern churchmen almost seem to be ashamed of their faith, which is why they campaign for the defense of the environment, the redistribution of wealth, and aid to development. We cannot just wait for them to come to their senses. We must be more active in society, have a greater influence in public, and rebuild Christendom with prudence, humility, and charity. As Our Lord appealed to those of His time: do not fear!
Kirchliche Umschau: Where do you see the important challenges to face?
Father Niklaus Pfluger: We witness presently a world-wide persecution of Christians in the East. Our task is to draw our attention to our persecuted brethren and to come to their aid. The General Chapter’s Declaration made this clear. In the Western countries, parents are having fewer and fewer children because family values are declining. The laws of the State pose greater threats to the family, the building block of society. One major task is aid to families. We must give our support to large families, lest they be marginalized by society at large. But our primary duty remains–as re-emphasized by the General Chapter’s Declaration in July–the defense and preservation of the Faith, and specifically the formation of truly Catholic priests. That is the best way we can be of service to the Church.
On the personal level, sanctification is called for. Prayer, religious instruction, and the distribution of the sacraments are one aspect; an exemplary life and fraternal charity are the other aspect. They go together. By accomplishing this task, we help to save our own souls and those of our neighbor. Yes, indeed, we have known such moments where we have a real foretaste of the harmony and happiness of heaven. Materialism, atheism, coupled with false religions: all these are standing more and more in the way of a healthy Catholic life. We are speaking here of a decisive mission for the Society: to help believers of good will to keep the Faith in times of difficulty, and to live that faith. This is our task at the present time, and a magnificent and sublime one at that, if we use our God-given talents to spread the fire of divine love to the ends of the earth. This is only possible through a deep and vibrant faith.
Kirchliche Umschau: Thank you for the interview, Father.
____________________________________

[In other news from the Society of Saint Pius X: Mr. Stephen Heiner, a layman who has long been close to Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, confirms his imminent removal from the Society of Saint Pius X.]

74 comments:

sam said...

The current Synod of Bishops for the new Evangelization in their declarations seem to be largely liberal-modernists, the same type that caused the discontinuity after the VII Council with Tradition.

So definitely for both the SSPX and the Catholics in a regular state with the Church, this Synod has returned us to ground zero.

http://212.77.9.15/audiomp3/00338959.MP3

Brian said...

Sadly, this was entirely predictable.

It is difficult for me to understand how our Holy Father and Bishop Fellay failed to recognize that their effort to attempt a formal reconciliation at this time was premature.

I pray that our Holy Father would simply declare that the SSPX sacraments are valid and licit and leave the rest in God's hands. What could be more fatherly?

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!

From the poem " Outwitted”
by
Edwin Markham

NIANTIC said...

This is an informative and clear picture of the current internal state of affairs in the Society, as well as relations with Rome at this time.
I think it is important for all of us who are encouraged by the work and life of the SSPX to continue to pray that justice be done to her. That her life and witness always may be a great blessing to the Universal Church. That Rome will finally come to her senses and returns to Tradition in all aspects.
Meanwhile we should only await and listen to announcements directly from the Society regarding any and all developments, whatever they may be. It can be nice to speculate and let of steam, and the internet is a perfect venue for those things. But we who love Tradition have a duty to build up rather than destroy. Have patience and pray and remember God is always in charge and will not fail His Church. Pax Christi!

Matt said...

Thank you, Father Pfluger. You speak so eloquently of the facts it is quite sobering.

Kirchliche Umschau, said, "You are insinuating that the tide of self-destruction will engulf liberal Catholics. But the liberals see things differently. They want even more reforms to assure the survival of the living Church."

This is what is so idiotic about liberals/modernists. They will continue to carry on in such ways which ensure destruction, dillusionment, and not to ensure "survival" of the Church but to destroy Her, whether they think so or not!

The Postmodernist said...

Nothing new under the sun - except the imminent ouster of Bishop Williamson. These turn of events is making me sad. More rosaries and sacrifices.

Matt said...

Maybe we are back to square one. With the present Magisterium, who knows whether there is even room for dialogue. It's okay for their liberal junk, but obviously not for Faith and Truth.

JabbaPapa said...

I actually saw some signs of hope for continued improvement in the Rome-SSPX relationship in Bishop Tissier de Mallerais' recent interview -- in which he declared the remaining important doctrinal difficulties to be three in number.

This is a great reduction in the number of difficulties of some years ago !!!

There are certainly some great political difficulties, and certainly some underlying pastoral ones too !!!

But if the Magisterium could clarify the teachings on Religious Freedom so as to remove any confusion concerning the interpretation and teaching of the related doctrines of human freedom and Christian duty, then I think the other two difficulties would not pose such a severe hindrance.

Shane said...

I ask this question sincerely, because I do not know what the Society's or other's responses are; so if someone could let me know, it would be appreciated. Thanks.

If an Ecumenical Council is protected from doctrinal error by the presence of the Holy Spirit, how can an Ecumenical Council proclaim something which is contradictory to the doctrines of the Church which came beforehand?

Gravitas said...

"I welcome this news. It will free up Bishop Williamson to continue to do what he does so well - preach the Gospel and wake Catholics out of complacency."

If that isn't Protestant at it's core, I don't know what is.

Matamoros said...

You just can't win. First the conservatives condemn the SSPX for supposedly claiming that outside the Society there is no salvation. Then these same people pour forth anathemas upon Bishop Williamson for envisaging a ministry outside the SSPX. What on earth is behind this hissy-fit theology of the Church?

Don said...

My Heart goes out to all the Catholic Priests (not in the sspx)that were hoping this would put the restoration of the TLM and sanity on the fast track.
The hope of communion in the hand and Altar girls becoming a sad page in the history books.
Instead
More Crosses all around.
God`s Will be done.

xavier rynne said...



This "division" will not be solved until the current generation of Vatican II obsessives go home to the Lord. They are simply too obsessed with elevating it to the status of a super dogma - - contrary to a former cardinal's statement - - to make any progress. At some point in the near future we will all stop worshiping Vatican II and the allegedly spellbinding things it did for the Church.

Luciana Cuppo said...

Re: Shane's question (16 October)

A council is protected from DOCTRINAL errors, i.e. from errors in matters of doctrine - the articles of the Creed, not social or political issues. Furthermore, a council must specifically state that a given point of doctrine must be believed; typically (any history of the councils will provide documentation for the previous 20 councils) this happens with the formula: "If anyone does not believe that... [the truth of faith follows], let him be anathema" (which means excommunicated, outside of the community of believers).
CVII made NO dogmatic statements of its own, though it repeated dogmatic statements of previous councils. This was the Council's own decision: Pope Paul VI declared in a speech that Vatican II intended to be "pastoral".
I have tried to sum up what is explained by Monsignor Gherardini in 'The Pastoral Nature of Vatican II' - and in other books as well, but the "Pastoral Nature" can be found online at: http://www.centreleonardboyle.com/PastoralCVII.html, and I am posting the link here.
Best, Luciana Cuppo

Adfero said...

Mailman, see the last paragraph of this post, we already reported this news.

Mike B. said...

There is a powerful agenda to preserve the spirit of Vatican II, which is a chapter whose day has come and gone. The appointments of hierarchy of recent years reflect the new day coming. Pope Benedict XVI has currently been frustrated in his message of his first Christmas as Pope. However, his appointments of authentic Catholic men as bishops is a sign of the era to come that cannot be stopped. SSPX will be part of that future.

In Jesus Name
Michael F Brennan
St Petersburg,Florida

Pioquinto said...

xavier rynne said...


This "division" will not be solved until the current generation of Vatican II obsessives go home to the Lord

Go home to the Lord??? I respectfully disagree. That is an ecumenical statement.

Chaimbeul said...

Fr. Pfluger said..."How would they (Rome) justify new ecclesiastical penalties? For refusing the Council?"


Well, no, not for refusing the Council of course, and it's not that simple, either.
But quite possibly there may be new ecclesiatical penalties for refusing to be under the authority and jurisdiction of the Catholic Church.

poeta said...

Father Pfluger's portrayal of the Church's situation is at once harshly realistic and surprisingly optimistic. But perhaps it is less an optimism than a confidence born of Faith.

May the oncoming fulsome eulogies of Vatican II soon be followed by a decent Christian burial.

Anil Wang said...

Luciana Cuppo,

If VII does not contain any doctrinal errors, just stupid or suicidal pastoral decisions, then there is absolutely no reason to choose to stay out of the Church other than pride. The SSPX should simply state that it accepts all doctrines expressed in VII, but reserves the right to condemn pastoral decisions as poisonous to the faith.

If Rome making stupid decisions was enough reason to leave or stay out of the Church, then God help us....Rome has a long history of stupidity which seems especially pronounced every 500 years or so.

Malta said...

If an Ecumenical Council is protected from doctrinal error by the presence of the Holy Spirit, how can an Ecumenical Council proclaim something which is contradictory to the doctrines of the Church which came beforehand?

Please read this I have no agenda in promulgating Gherardini except to proclaim the truth.

Vatican II contains some truth, but is not the Truth, which is contained in the True Faith!

Tom said...

Pope Benedict XVI and Father Pfluger agree upon one thing:

The Catholic Faith is in shambles in vast areas of the earth.

But here, in the most important way of all, is where they part:

Father Pfluger said that "pretending that the Council is not to blame for the post-conciliar crisis is burying one’s head in the sand."

His Holiness will simply not accept that argument.

Pope Benedict XVI will not accept the above view of Vatican II.

For the Society, it is all about the Council, Council, Council...in the negative sense.

For His Holiness, it is all about the Council, Council, Council...in the positive sense.

Each side agrees that the Church is in a state of collapse.

But each side is light-years apart as to the cause of said collapse.

Therefore, the wheel-spinning will continue between the Holy See and Society.

Tom

Apocalypto said...

"It was the final session of the Council, the most essential, in which the Pope was to bestow upon all humanity the teachings of the Council. He announced this to me on that day with these words, 'I am about to blow the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse.'"

-Jean Guitton, 'Nel Segno dei Dodici,' interview with Maurizio Blondet, Avvenire, October 11, 1992; qtd. in Atila Sinke Guimarães, Animus Delendi - I, Los Angeles, CA: Tradition in Action, 2000, p. 57.

Alan Aversa said...

I didn't understand this part:

"Faced with repeated attacks and harassment over the Internet, we do not abandon our values and our principles. We deal with plotting and intrigues according to the laws of the Church. This may seem like procrastination which can be annoying to some, but it can’t be done any other way if we don’t want to betray our own ideals."

Is he justifying the secrecy of the negotiations here?

Thanks

Alan Aversa said...

Honestly, why can't the SSPX be open and dispel the rumors instead of urging the "faithful not to go on these discussion sites" and thus not to "be more active in society" and "have a greater influence in public"?

JabbaPapa said...

Chaimbeul :


Fr. Pfluger said..."How would they (Rome) justify new ecclesiastical penalties? For refusing the Council?"

Against Williamson ?

It's just a matter of time after ~23rd, when he is no longer SSPX and starts making independent public speeches again, 'til commit some offensively excommunicable offense or other.

Transitionalist said...

"This "division" will not be solved until the current generation of Vatican II obsessives"

And the generations they taught to know nothing but Vatican II.

"The appointments of hierarchy of recent years reflect the new day coming"

Mike, we've been hearing the same thing since the 1980's. The fact of the matter is that many young conservatives wind up becoming old liberals.

Malta said...

Tom, you are a wise man; one Could argue that the Council (devastating as it was) was a symptom of a collapsing Church, long in the process.

Maybe the Church needs to almost collapse, to rise again like a Phoenix. Sad, but true.

GMMF said...

This is disappointing, but Fr.Pfluger seems, like Bishop Fellay, to be walking that difficult tightrope of resisting Rome, acknowledging their own situation is imperfect, and asserting the authority of the Pope as a matter of faith. This seems in contrast to other statements by SSPX officials, like Bishop Tissier's recently published ordination homily, where he claims a General Council convened by the Pope, who's decrees, declarations, and constitutions were them approved and promulgated by the Pope, to have zero authority. It's one thing to accept the authority, but resist some points one in good conscience cannot accept, and quite another to deny the authority in total--the latter seems to be a schismatic mentality.

Just to add regarding Fr. Pfluger's remarks on Bishop Williamson, I think Bishop Williamson is merely a fruit of his religion being grounded first in the SSPX. He is criticized here for resisting authority due to a belief in a God-given mission, but this is the reason for being of the entire SSPX. Fr. Pfluger says "let no one imagine that he can criticize authority with impunity," after going on and on as to why the SSPX as a whole must be able to criticize authority without impunity. It seems Bishop Williamson is merely being punished for applying SSPX principles to the SSPX.

Robert said...

Luciana Cuppo said: A council is protected from DOCTRINAL errors, i.e. from errors in matters of doctrine - the articles of the Creed, not social or political issues.

So, if the Council contradicts previous Church teaching on social and/or political issues, that doesn't mean the Council contradicts previous teaching that was integrally related to the Faith. If the Council didn't contradict previous Church teaching that was integrally related to the Faith, what's the SSPX's problem with "accepting the Council"?

There are many pronouncements the Church makes about social communications, economics, etc. that, unless I'm mistaken, wouldn't prevent the SSPX from making an agreement with Rome in good conscience.

tradical said...

GMMF,

+W is being punished for insubordination and disobedience.

imo, he has made a poor judgement of some of the core principles of the sspx.

One of these is a Catholic principle that provides guidance when one has an obligation to disobey a superior.

Andrew said...

Is it possible to read this doctrinal declaration anywhere? I think it is important that this document be made public. For SSPX supporters they should know exactly what the SSPX is proposing to the Holy See. For other traditional Catholics, the rejection of this declaration by Rome also provides important points of understanding for us as well. This document should be public.

David of Glasgow said...

Luciano Cuppo is wrong in asserting that an Ecumenical Council is protected from doctrinal errors. You will have to look very hard to find any binding statement that an Ecumenical Council in the totality of its documents and pronouncements is protected from doctrinal error.

In fact, Bishop Fessler (the Secretary of the First Vatican Council) in The True and False Infallibility of the Popes takes great pains to demonstrate that only statements that are declared to inerrant are to be understood as being inerrant. Of course, there are also the teachings of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, namely, those infallible teachings which are identified by having been taught "everywhere, always, and by all".

Doctrinal statements outside of the clearly circumscribed limits that indicate an infallible proposition are in no way protected by the Holy Ghost from error. Take the error of the Council of Florence concerning the matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders which was corrected by Pius XII in Sacramentum ordinis.

The reason for the on-going confusion about this is due to the equivocal nature of the word "magisterium" which can either pertain to an object viz the sum of the inerrant teachings of the Church or to a subject viz the teaching authority of the Church i.e. the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.

These two meanings are logically distinct and are only contingently related, that is, in those cases when the teaching authority of the Church engenders the charism of infallibility either through a dogmatic pronouncement (Extraordinary Magsiterium) or by reiterating perennial Catholic teaching (Ordinary and Universal Magisterium).

Those who say that we must give unconditional assent to every pronouncement of the "magisterium" without distinguishing which sense of the word is meant are in effect endowing the teaching authority with a per se infallibility that is found nowhere in authentic Catholic teacing.

poeta said...

I respectfully disagree with the notion that the draft doctrinal preamble proposed by either side should be made public before this matter is concluded. It would only enable partisans on each side to rally around a tentative and preliminary document as if it were an article of Faith or a boundary line.

A situation that is being kept fluid for good reason will not benefit from premature hardening.

Mirari said...

Thank you for this excellent theological summary. Recently my mind has felt as if it has been paralyzed by the Vatican II debate. A further question: What is the sufficient condition for a teaching to be considered taught by the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium? - eg, how many papal encyclicals, etc. must a teaching be taught in for it to qualify as an OUM teaching?

JabbaPapa said...

Andrew said...


Is it possible to read this doctrinal declaration anywhere?

Such a doctrinal declaration can only come into existence if and when agreement is reached between SSPX and the Holy See as to its contents.

Until such a time, it should be considered as non-existent.

LeonG said...

This process was ill-conceived in the first place. there never was any intention by The Vatican in the first place to cede anything on The Vatican Councils II. If we read all the pope's written works and observe all his public actions, it should be obvious he is only motivated by liberal moderniost ideologies with the concept of evolutionary "living tradition" fittingh within that paradigm.
The litmus test of this was Bishop fellay publicly stating The SSPX would not have to accept every part of The Councils documents. However, the pope signed to the contrary which was tanatmount to a public humiliation and exposure of Fellay's deep misunderstanding ofd who is is dealing with.
Personally, I am delighted The Confraternity remains independent but aghast alongside many of my Society friends and acquantances that Bishop Fellay is expelling those who are honest and reliable in their own understanding of the nature of liberal modernism and the state of the contemporary church. When all is said and done, the Superior General is supposed to work together with his fellow bishops and propagate the traditional sacraments. Archbishop Lefebvre never intended him to be a bishop himself or to put in jeopardy the unity and harmony of The Society.

LeonG said...

To accuse the priests expelled from The SSPX as sedevacantists and extremists is utter nonsense and demonstrates a total inability to comprehend what is treally taking place within the church and within The Society.

JabbaPapa said...

Mirari :


- eg, how many papal encyclicals, etc. must a teaching be taught in for it to qualify as an OUM teaching?

zero

The Ordinary Magisterium is exercised by the Church as a whole, by the College of Bishops in general and also by each Bishop individually, and by the Magisterium in its various Offices, by the Pope, and so on and so forth.

At the most simple level, the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is exercised by every single Catholic mother teaching prayer and the Faith to her children in the secrecy of their own private relationships with God, and in full and willing obedience to the pastoral and doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church.

---

You are confused about the differences between Ordinary Magisterium, Extraordinary Magisterium, and "The Magisterium".

Andrew said...

Poeta,

I think you make a good point. The situation is fluid, but I would like to know what is essential to accept from Vatican II as far as Rome is concerned. I think knowing exactly why Rome rejected the declaration.

Floreat said...

"Just to add regarding Fr. Pfluger's remarks on Bishop Williamson, I think Bishop Williamson is merely a fruit of his religion being grounded first in the SSPX


His 'religion' was grounded first in the Church of England. He then tried to join the Novus Ordo, spending several months at the Oratory and attempting to gain admission to the seminary at Wonersh.

Only when they rejected him did he approach Abp Lefebvre, in 1972. He was in his 30s by the time he became a seminarian at Econe.

Anil Wang said...

@David of Glasgow said
"only statements that are declared to inerrant are to be understood as being inerrant"


Grumble. Do you realize that this is exactly the same argument used by modernists to declare that Humanae Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis are non-binding since the Pope did not declare that the ban on women's ordination and contraception were infallible.

If your criteria for infallibility is that "this is infallible" is declared on every infallible statement, then very little of the faith is infallibly known.

"Take the error of the Council of Florence concerning the matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders which was corrected by Pius XII in Sacramentum ordinis."

What error? The Council of Florence declared that the action of touching the chalice and paten presented to the ordained was a part of ordination. Sacramentum ordinis simply said that this step not required. Where is the contradiction in this? Forms can differ and be changed. There are some rituals which are very different in the East and West so even if "we've always done some things one way", it does not necessarily mean that that way cannot be changed.

What it does mean is that unless it is declared to be otherwise, we must treat "the way we've always done things" as infallible unless corrected by new facts (i.e. a new rule from the Pope or council or a discovery that another tradition exists within the Church that has equal authority).

If there is no assent of the will and trust even when one has difficulties, there is no Church. Even armies have a similar understanding. Unless you can follow orders without questioning to understand the reasons behind every order, there is no army. There is simply no time for this sort of "I am my one authority" nonsense.

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

Poeta, I disagree with your disagreement. The faith is not reserved to anyone. That quality is reserved for certain occult sects.

Ever since this SSPX debacle started I have been contra the idea of “doctrinal differences”, call them what you will, being kept secret. Not sure whose idea it was, but the notion of secret doctrine, or doctrinal differences is anathema to me.

My faith is open, crystal clear and there for all to see. Also, I believe it is correct, since it has never changed one iota.

Bernonensis said...

I happen to be the world's greatest living composer (not really -- this is an analogy). It is beyond dispute that I can create works of undeniable beauty, music that every hearer, from the most refined aesthete and musicologist to the most uneducated tone-deaf grunter, recognizes as perfection in sound. In order to do this, I obey rules of harmony, judiciously employ dissonance, pay attention to tuning and temperament, work in recognizable formal structures. Why? Because the things that make sounds music do not come from me -- they are constituents of the universe as God has created it, and, for unfathomable reasons of his own, He has chosen me to produce things that sound forth the wonders of his creation. If I choose to make music without due regard for the rules I will produce rubbish, which some people will no doubt hail as sophisticated and avant-garde, but which will be rubbish nonetheless. If someone tells me I've created something worthless, he is not denying my ability; he is exhorting me to return to the rules that make my ability a reality.

Now, for me, substitute the magisterium, and for music, truth.

Vatican II casuality said...

"any agreement would be pointless unless we are on the same page about what the Faith really means. This common understanding was to be expressed in a doctrinal declaration"

There were two years of doctrinal discussions which resulted in zero mutual understanding on points of the faith. No doctrinal declaration or preamble could have achieved the "common understanding" that escaped two years of discussions by qualified theologians. There is a reason the preamble must be kept secret until a deal is accomplished. It will necessarily involve an obscuring and softening of the Society's stance.

I give the Holy Father credit for not sacrificing his principles in order to gain a deal.

Benedict Carter said...

My father, heart-broken at the collapse of the Church he joined in 1946 from Anglicanism, is 82 now and I had hoped that there would be an Agreement before he died. It may be that there will be; but it looks increasingly unlikely.

Father Pfluger is basically saying that the anti-Church and the visible structures of the Church have to rot some more before the Bishops will face reality; before the "demonic disorientation" described by Our Lady to Sister Lucia will lift away from their souls like a morning mist.

He is right. There is a long way to go.

The Synod currently discussing the "New Evangelisation" for instance is showing itself more and more to be like a talk-fest of the Presidium of the Soviet Union: the English Archbishop Longley's contribution was a roll-call of vatican II parrotisms which show there is life in the old Vatican II dog yet.

Solving the problems caused by Vatican II by using Vatican II as your main tool seems to me at least to be so much stupidity, but there you are. Our pastors are for the most part overwhelmingly useless, aren't they?

Yes, the collapse still has 20-30 years left in it.

If Our Blessed Lord has not done something about it through an extraordinary means before then.

Which I think He will.

Vatican II casuality said...

"The prolonged period of separation has led certain members to confusion in theology. Deep down, these persons set faith in opposition to law, as if union with the pope, the primacy of the pope, were just a minor question of law.
Separating the legitimacy of the pope from the Faith, and reducing his legitimacy to a merely juridical question, is a sign of great danger. Finally, it comes from a Protestant view of the Church. But the Church is visible. The papacy belongs to the domain of Faith."

Father Pfluger's analysis is a novelty in the SSPX. The Society always explained itself as forced to choose the faith over obedience and over the law, because the new orientation post VII contradicted the faith. It has never been held that obedience to the pope is "just a minor question of the law." Only the most devastating crisis in the history of the church was sufficient reason to disobey the pope, and it has been painful for the Society to do so.

Is Father Pfluger accusing the SSPX of having been Protestant for the past 50 years?

Vatican II casuality said...

"I certainly am not claiming that Bp. Williamson is a saint. The Good Lord knows. Nevertheless, it may be of some interest to note that St. John of the Cross was held against his will until he finally escaped from his fellow Carmelites to continue his work of reforming the order. It took physical force to get St. Theresa of Avila back into her monastery where the more worldly nuns fought to keep her out. St. Alphonus Ligouri was given the boot from the very order he founded. Padre Pio received ridicule and horrible treatment from a good number of his fellow monks. The list goes on and on.

And, of course, we read in Sacred Scripture, "that no prophet is accepted in his own country." It could well be argued that Bp. Williamson's "country" more than any other was where he dedicated so many years of his life: the SSPX."

A comment from Stephen Heiner's blog. It's good to be reminded that in the history of the church, condemnation and ill treatment by superiors or confreres does not necessarily equate with blame, and that human frailty often leads to erroneous judgments.

Vatican II casuality said...

"any agreement would be pointless unless we are on the same page about what the Faith really means. This common understanding was to be expressed in a doctrinal declaration"

There were two years of doctrinal discussions which resulted in zero mutual understanding on points of the faith. No doctrinal declaration or preamble could have achieved the "common understanding" that escaped two years of discussions by qualified theologians on both sides. There is a reason the preamble must be kept secret until a deal is accomplished. It will necessarily involve an obscuring and softening of the Society's stance.

I give the Holy Father credit for not sacrificing his principles in order to gain a deal.

Stephen said...

When aren't Catholics required to assent to the Pope's authority? Vatican II was attended by and promoted by all of the Popes since then till now. That's a fairly strong level of continuity, so you'd be hard pressed as a Catholic to NOT embrace the NO and Vatican II and still be in communion with the Bishop of Rome, correct??

NeelyAnn said...

There was an excellent post on Angelqueen regarding Bishop Williamson, Fr. Pfeiffer, et al. This post is right on target. These priests are were not punished and / or expelled because they disagree with the direction of the SSPX or an 'agreement', etc. They were punished/expelled for their disobedience, disrespect, and inciting of rebellion. It should also be noted that Fr. Pfeiffer and Fr. Chazal truly left on their own before being expelled. They started their own little group of priests, opened a banl account, stated thier plans for future growth, etc. Bishop Williamson has also chosen to leave on his own. He has not yet been expelled but already has Stephen Heiner out talking about his future plans and is already soliciting his own funds.

October 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Hark the Harold says:

The “purge” you speak of has been, and will be, nothing more than self-inflicted! A few priests and Bishop Williamson have chosen to ignore repeated requests for silence and a wait-and-see stance concerning the melee with Rome. Instead, they have repeatedly and publicly attacked their superiors for what they MIGHT do, not only on the internet, but also from SSPX chapel pulpits, forcing mass-goers to be subjected to emotionally charged accusations against the SSPX leadership. Couple this with Bishop Williamson’s unauthorized confirmations in Brazil (fully well knowing that another bishop is scheduled to do the same thing in December), his repeated attacks via his blog, and the video that went trad-viral where he says, “We’ve got to get rid of Fellay,” to Father Joseph Pfeiffer’s, “Fellay is evil, follow me, follow me” tour across the USA, to the formation of “The SSPX of the Strict Obedience” with Father P. voted in as their leader (no, I’m not kidding and yes, it sounds like it’s straight out of a Farside cartoon) – all actions based on what their superiors MIGHT do!!! Contrary to recent popular belief, the SSPX is neither a democracy nor a constitutional republic. Even if it was, would you expect a general to put up with repeated public insubordination and the inciting of rebellion from within his ranks without reprisal???!! I’ve watched as repeated opportunities have quietly been provided to allow all who have put themselves out on a limb to reel it in, and have been met with either arrogance or a deaf ear! The real shocker is that they were allowed to get away with this bull for as long as they have!!! The SSPX ain’t the Water Buffalo Lodge, but if it were, Fred and Barney would have been booted a long time ago!!!
Purged???!! You better believe it, but only by their own hands!!!

xavier rynne said...

JabbaPappa, you're partly correct. Each individual bishop only partakes in the ordinary magisterium when he teaches in communion with the Church. He does not enjoy an independent infallibility.

Joseph said...

The break-up of the SSPX is inevitable so long as it continues on its current course - just as the Protestants before them. The SSPX has done some good things for the Church and has the potential to do more if it entered full communion. However, pride and hubris have blocked this from happening (and in the case of Williamson and his devotees, outright lunacy).

My advice for SSPX priests who aren't caught up in insane conspiracy theories would be to leave the SSPX and join one of the regularized orders of priests to serve God and His Church from within. There is no higher honor or greater gift and, these days, no greater need. The alternative increasingly appears to be schism and Hell.

Matamoros said...

Floreat said: "(quote) 'I think Bishop Williamson is merely a fruit of his religion being grounded first in the SSPX'
His 'religion' was grounded first in the Church of England."

Then I suppose Archbishop Lefebvre's stance on the Pope and the post-conciliar Church- not different Bishop Williamson's - must be put down to the Church of England too. Here is another example of silly personal attacks. It's purely insulting and not just to him - the inference is that converts to the Faith cannot ever really shake off their previous religious beliefs or lack of them.

This opinion is actually quite liberal and not very Catholic because it implies that individuals cannot really will to do what is right but are always governed in the end by the circumstances that have surrounded them. The Faith on the other hand is always holding up the examples of people who have chosen well regardless of circumstances.

Those who have known this Bishop may either chuckle at his faults and eccentricities or they may hate him for them - as some seem to. At the end of the day what counts for normal people are his words and actions. During his last year as a professor at the Econe seminary, half the seminarians there had chosen him as their spiritual director (There were about ten preists available). There is a reason for this.

The endless specululation on this blog about the state of Bishop Williamson's soul is truly sickening. The worst example has been a message more or less implying that it might be better if he had never been born if he continues to have disagreeemnts with his superior, and that he risked hell fire. This appalling attitude is alas all too common among some Catholics, especially traditionalists. The very Catholic concern about one's own soul seems to generate an interest in that of one's fellow. But what goes on within another person's soul is not our business. His soul is his property. This kind of behaviour was never, never indulged in by Archbishop Lefebvre.

What goes on within the SSPX is their business and won't be fixed by some kind of voodoo consigning people we wish would do what we wanted to a fiery pit.

Can we restict our comments to questions to do with the Faith and the Church. By all means fight like cats and dogs -electronically of course -if it comes to that, but leave the interior of another man's soul to God.

Clare Polansky said...

Bernonensis, interesting post on analogy to music and magisterium, but please clarify final paragraph about substituting magisterium. Also, could you say more on your perception of differences between the sacred music-gregorian chant of our traditional latin Mass, and the cacophany of dissonance ringing forth since VII? How does this fit in with your analogy to the magisterium? And how do we address it with the two definitions or understandings of magisterium discussed in this thread?

Johannes de Silentio said...

How this whole episode reminds me of Whittaker Chambers's words, quoted by William F. Buckley. It is perhaps too pessimistic. But perhaps it is not:

"We can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury them secretly in a flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and truth."

Vatican II casuality said...

Matamoros, thank you for a charitable and clear correction. Yours is not the first attempt to rein in calumnious attacks against Bishop Williamson. Let's hope, however, that it will be the first attempt to succeed.

Jack O'Malley said...

In a very pregnant sense, square one had never truly been left.

With the declaration of the Decessor Petrinus that the motu Summorum was merely an act of toleration, a realistic man would have withdrawn from discussions with Rome. Though a charitable man would have, and in fact did, attempt to salvage a bad situation. Kudos to Bishop Fellay.

Add to that the refusal of the Holy Father to celebrate the TLM publicly and indeed frequently, and there is nothing fresh to be gleaned from the chaff of modernist and masonic Rome.

The True Mass must be restored ubique before the Faith can recapture the heart and mind of man. We shall have to wait for another time, in the fullness of time, when the Church will burgeon once again. That that time will come is a certitude, for we have the Lord's irrevocable promise. Albeit perhaps not in our lifetime on this side of eternity.

(Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with the FSSPX in any way but I would welcome the introduction of the cause of the beatification of Mgr LeFebvre.)

CPK said...

@Bernonensis: your musical analogy relies heavily on "the rules". But "the rules" as even Salieri knew them were very different from those obeyed by Mozart: just look at the "harmonies" in the string 5tet K614!

Let's face it, "the rules" are products of tidy human minds who come, sweeping up behind the great innovators, attempting - and typically failing - to describe the framework of the massive accomplishments their "rules" attempt to account for.

But let's preserve the musical analogy to this extent: who now remembers the great musical grammarians of the past, and their defunct "rule books"? And who remembers the great creators?

Mar said...

Robert said: "There are many pronouncements the Church makes about social communications, economics, etc. that, unless I'm mistaken, wouldn't prevent the
SSPX from making an agreement with Rome in good conscience."

That might look good on paper. But in practice certain decisions about "social communications", for example, lead to the kind of liturgy we saw recently on Rorate, the one that was performed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. And that is only one example...

I don't think anyone - SSPX or not - could in good conscience make an agreement with the authorities (sanctioned by Rome - there was a bishop present) about such a liturgy, and that means that there would be a duty to speak out against it. And were the SSPX to speak out about such things, the "social and/or political" factor in the Church would make itself manifest: those in power would silence organised resistance with the full force of their social and political clout.

And lest you are tempted to object that such a thing would never happen, think again; for many years there was a 'de facto' acceptance in the Church that the
traditional Mass had been abrogated. The social and political impact of this acceptance has been enormous, and has shaken the doctrinal foundations of the Church - lex orandi, lex credendi.

What's the "SSPX's problem"? Big problem!

B. said...

@Matamoros
Then I suppose Archbishop Lefebvre's stance on the Pope and the post-conciliar Church- not different Bishop Williamson's - must be put down to the Church of England too.

Archbishop Lefebvre's stance was different from Bishop Williamson's. Bishop Williamson even misrepresents and misquotes Archbishop Lefebvre in order to convince gullible people like you that he is following in his footsteps.

Just one example. In one of his latest Eleison Comments, Bishop Williamson wrote:

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

Here is what Archbishop Lefebvre actually wrote in that declaration:
This Reformation, born of Liberalism and Modernism, is poisoned through and through; it derives from heresy and ends in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. It is therefore impossible for any conscientious and faithful Catholic to espouse this Reformation or to submit to it in any way whatsoever.[...]
That is why, without any spirit of rebellion, bitterness or resentment, we pursue our work of forming priests, with the timeless Magisterium as our guide. We are persuaded that we can render no greater service to the Holy Catholic Church, to the Sovereign Pontiff and to posterity. [...]
By doing this, with the grace of God and the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and that of St. Joseph and St. Pius X, we are assured of remaining faithful to the Roman Catholic Church and to all the successors of Peter, and of being the fideles dispensatores mysteriorum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi in Spiritu Sancto.


Bishop Williamson's "refusal to have anything to do with the Newrome" appears absolutely nowhere in Archbishop Lefebvre's declaration. IMO the fact that Bishop Williamson openly misrepresents the late Archbishop in order to push his own agenda says a lot about his character.

JabbaPapa said...

xavier rynne :

JabbaPappa, you're partly correct. Each individual bishop only partakes in the ordinary magisterium when he teaches in communion with the Church. He does not enjoy an independent infallibility.

Well yes I most certainly agree with with you, but I was really trying to say something both more mystically profound, and strictly limited pastorally at the same time about the nature of "the Ordinary Magisterium" -- and I think I didn't express myself terribly well, because it's a difficult one.

I meant to say that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is manifest wherever the Truth of the Catholic Faith is accurately taught to others.

The special role of the Bishops in this Ordinary Magisterium is that it is their job and their responsibility to protect and proclaim this Truth in their dioceses so that it both flourishes and endures -- and to provide answers about the ordinary questions about the Faith that people ask themselves in the course of their lives.

All other questions concerning the Faith belong to the Extraordinary Magisterium or "The Magisterium" per se.

David of Glasgow said...

Anil Wang,

What an astonishing reply to my post! Where to start...

Do you realize that this is exactly the same argument used by modernists to declare that Humanae Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis are non-binding since the Pope did not declare that the ban on women's ordination and contraception were infallible.

If your criteria for infallibility is that "this is infallible" is declared on every infallible statement, then very little of the faith is infallibly known.


Did you not read what I said about the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (under which fall the teachings regarding women's ordination and contraception)?

What error? The Council of Florence declared that the action of touching the chalice and paten presented to the ordained was a part of ordination. Sacramentum ordinis simply said that this step not required. Where is the contradiction in this?

Actually, the Bull of Union with Armenians states the following:

The sixth is the sacrament of orders. Its matter is the object by whose handing over the order is conferred. So the priesthood is bestowed by the handing over of a chalice with wine and a paten with bread...

Sacramentum Ordinis, however, states:

Wherefore, after invoking the divine light, We of Our Apostolic Authority and from certain knowledge declare, and as far as may be necessary decree and provide: that the matter, and the only matter, of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hand

Now, unless the principle of non-contradiction has been revoked there is obviously a contradiction between the two. That was the whole purpose of the encyclical Sacramentum Ordinis: to correct an erroneous teaching that was taught by an Ecumenical Council but was not taught infallibly.

If there is no assent of the will and trust even when one has difficulties, there is no Church. Even armies have a similar understanding. Unless you can follow orders without questioning to understand the reasons behind every order, there is no army. There is simply no time for this sort of "I am my one authority" nonsense.

You are confusing two different acts of assent: (1) the assent of faith, which is of its nature unconditional since it is a response to truths revealed by God; (2) religious assent which is of its nature prudential and conditional since it is a response to the teachings of the authentic magisterium outside of the clear limits defined by the Church. To demand unconditional assent to non-infallible truths is to demand no less than the obedience of faith to creatures when it can, of its nature, only be due to the Creator.

It is incontrovertible that there have been instances where the teaching authority of the Church has contradicted itself such as in the magisterial document Ad totam ecclesiam (AAS 1967) which contradicts the prohibition against communicatio in sacris detailed, among other places, in Mortalium Animos.

We cannot be obliged to give assent to two contradictory propositions. To call withholding assent in such a case "'I am my own authority' nonsense" is an abuse of language and a manifestation of a mode of thinking proper to a totalitarian state or a religious cult.

dcs said...

Here is another example of silly personal attacks. It's purely insulting and not just to him - the inference is that converts to the Faith cannot ever really shake off their previous religious beliefs or lack of them.

No, the inference is that some converts may be influenced by the religious beliefs with which they were raised. Bp. Williamson acknowledges the existence of the Pope, but doesn't acknowledge his authority -- rather like a Protestant. I think it is safe to say that he did not get such ideas from Abp. Lefebvre.

The endless specululation on this blog about the state of Bishop Williamson's soul is truly sickening.

Could you give an example of such speculation? I've not seen any. Stating that His Excellency is wrong about certain things not the same as condemning him personally. If Bp. Fellay or the Pope himself can be criticized by Bp. Williamson, then Bp. Williamson is certainly not exempt from criticism!

Martyjo said...

Matamoros

I am perfectly happy to leave Bishop Williamson's soul to God. However, let it be understood from His Excellency's bitter fruits of rebellion that he can no longer seriously hope to remain part of the work of Archbishop Lefebvre.

And while on the subject of illicit judgment of souls, those Bishop Williamson admirers who have so wantonly attacked Bishop Fellay's integrity, calling him all manner of foul names and accusing him of all manner of treachery should remember the words of Our Lord, who said: "do not do to others what you would not have done to you." It cuts both ways.

Bernonensis said...

Clare,

Perhaps I made things more obscure by my last sentence, and for that I apologize. As you say, there are two definitions of magisterium in play here, and I hoped to suggest by my analogy that one of them is unworkable. The magisterium is the charism of proclaiming and and explaining divinely revealed truths and the other truths that necessarily follow from them. To say that "the Pope and the bishops are the magisterium" is an error, unless we mean this as an abbreviated way of saying that "the Pope and bishops are the people who are, by virtue of the offices they hold in the Church, the authentic and sole executors of the magisterium." Understanding it in this way, we can see that it does not follow logically that every statement issued by the Pope and the bishops, even a statement concerning faith and morals, is necessarily true, much less infallible. Truth is one, and the charism of truth cannot be present in any statement that contradicts previous teachings of the magisterium. Bear in mind that the Church's teaching office is not an end in itself; it is there to tell us what we must believe, what we must give our intellectual assent to. How could we possibly do this if the things proposed for our belief always stood in need of further clarification in order to be understood properly? So if the Pope and the bishops make a statement that plainly contradicts what has always been taught -- and some would argue that Vatican II is a case of this -- then we can know that they have not exercised the magisterium, even if they claim to have done so.

I wouldn't attempt to apply the musical analogy to the question of liturgical music because it would simply be too confusing. Besides music for the liturgy must not simply be good music, but has to be suitably conformed to the structure of the rites and this complicating factor would knock the legs out from under my analogy, which is limping along as it is.

PEH said...

Square One or State of Necessity or Diabolical Disorientation? I invite readers to view the latest update to my website at http://phaley.faithweb.com and decide for themselves. IMO any of the terms would apply.

Floreat said...

Matamoros said...
Floreat said: "(quote) 'I think Bishop Williamson is merely a fruit of his religion being grounded first in the SSPX'
His 'religion' was grounded first in the Church of England......."

Then I suppose Archbishop Lefebvre's stance on the Pope and the post-conciliar Church- not different Bishop Williamson's - must be put down to the Church of England too. Here is another example of silly personal attacks. It's purely insulting and not just to him - the inference is that converts to the Faith cannot ever really shake off their previous religious beliefs or lack of them.

Grow up, Matamoros and stop trying to spin a simple statement of fact into something to simulate outrage.

If you can't handle simple and accurate facts without shrieking 'calumny' perhaps you should go back to Ignis and carry on there.

Henry Balzsac said...

Jack O'Malley said:
"...the motu Summorum was merely an act of toleration,..."

A very good and insightful observation, in my opinion. Rome has never admitted that it was wrong about anything from the get-go.

"...a realistic man would have withdrawn from discussions with Rome."

Not sure I agree with that. The FSSPX had to try: it was the right thing to do. Kudos indeed to Bp. Fellay.

"Add to that the refusal of the Holy Father to celebrate the TLM publicly and indeed frequently..."

How about just once? I mean, is that too much to ask?

The Holy Father's (in)actions speak far more loudly than do his words.

Matamoros said...

B said (quote from Archbishop Lefebvre) "It is therefore impossible for any conscientious and faithful Catholic to espouse this Reformation or to submit to it in any way whatsoever".
The Archbishop is referring to the post-conciliar reforms. How is this different from Bishop Williamson's statement that the Archbishop was saying we must have nothing to do with "newRome"? The SSPX has always maintained the position that it remains faithful to the institution of the church, but refuses to follow in their modernism the men who largely make them up. Unfortunately we have to accept that TrueRome and NewRome co-exist and as long as this is the case there will be no peace. The citadell is still occupied by people greaty influenced by the ideas the Church has fought.

The SSPX has been over this often. Seeing only "NewRome" forces one into a position of sedevacantism. Piously imagining that we are governed only by "TrueRome" leads to blind obedience.

In his 1976 booklet The Masterblow of Satan, Archbishop Lefebvre states that the Church of the future could declare the conciliar Popes to have had no legitimacy. However he thought that this was a juedgement that was not his to make. I'm mentioning this not to encourage sedevacantism but to emphasise that Archbishop Lefebvre, like Bishop Williamson, had a very very low estimation of the orthodoxy of those governing the Church. Have they changed? That's another debate.

Floreat you don't agree with the SSPX full stop. Why single out Bishop Williamson as an ex-Church of England when as you know, his views on the conciliar Church are shared by Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX? Because for you, Williamson symbolises everything you dislike about the SSPX. This is the only fact here.

Maryjo, Bishop Williamson has not said of Bishop Fellay anything resembling the things which have been written about him on this blog. I don't think you need me to repeat them. It is not for us to judge what work he may do.

All the bishops of the SSPX have done a great job. I think you've got to realise that it's not always possible for individuals to work together in the same organisation. It doesn't mean anyone's going to hell or is growing bitter fruits etc etc. The judgement on whether to have peace with today's Rome is a prudential one. It's a difficult decision, and the evidence of that is that Bishop Fellay himself has obviously agonised over it. Archbishop Lefebvre also considered it. If, as Bishop Tissier de Mallerais said in Paris this year, we have an obligation to continue war with NewRome, then that is also a legitimiate opinion and if one day circumstances make it impossible for everyone to fit in one organisation, have no fear nobody could ever make them. But it's not the end of the world.

All these men have priestly vocations and will continue to do fantastic work. The problems of how to live as Catholics (and more particularly as Catholic priests) in a world where legitimate authority is held by men still at the service of illegitimate ideas will continue to bring different responses. Do not cast anathemas too quickly because all this is surely far from over. Leave that to the Church of the future.

Bernonensis said...

CPK,

I tried to address the problem of two definitions of "magisterium"; now you've introduced the problem of two definitions of "rule".

What rules did Mozart, to use your example, violate? The conventions of eighteenth-century counterpoint or Western European harmonic progression? Some imaginary taboo against syncopation or polyrhythms? There are whole worlds of music that pay no attention to these things, and I, for one, derive greater pleasure from some of them than I do from Mozart. I would happily burn every copy of the "Jupiter" symphony rather than lose "Raga Chandranandan",

The rules I was speaking of are not manmade conventions, but constants that derive from the physical nature of sound and the psychological aspects of hearing. One example is this: music requires audibility. This is why Cage's famous silent opus is not music; it is instead, a fine example of the application of conventions (a score, assembled musicians, a conductor) in violation of the true rules of music, and it is precisely the sort of thing I had in mind when I spoke of composing rubbish. The analogy was meant to be between these "revealed truths" of music and the revealed truths of Christianity. The conventions you speak of do not enter into the analogy.

I have to differ with you over the enduring fame of innovators. Frescobaldi retained a measure of fame among keyboard players, but Gesualdo passed largely unappreciated until the mid-20th century, and Luzzaschi still awaits his due recognition. Not exactly household names, but without them would we have ever heard of Mozart? And who's to say that in a century or two Mozart will be more than a paragraph separating the biographies of Monteverdi and Muffat?

St. Anthony of Padua, Hammer of Heretics, pray for us said...

Quote from "B":
Bishop Williamson's "refusal to have anything to do with the Newrome" appears absolutely nowhere in Archbishop Lefebvre's declaration.

"B" conveniently left out this part of ++Lefebvre's November 1974 declaration:

"We refuse on the other hand, and have always refused, to follow the Rome of Neo-Modernist and Neo-Protestant tendencies which became clearly manifest during the Second Vatican Council, and after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it."

Only two years later in July 1976: We are suspended a divinis by the Conciliar Church, the Conciliar Church to which we have no wish to belong! That Conciliar church is a schismatic Church because it breaks with the Catholic Church that has always been. It has its new dogmas, its new priesthood, its new institutions its new worship...The Church that affirms such errors is at once schismatic and heretical. This Conciliar Church is, therefore,not Catholic."

Clearly, Bishop Williamson is correct and "B" is selectively quoting!

St.Anthony of Padua, Hammer of Heretics said...

DCS said: "Bp. Williamson acknowledges the existence of the Pope, but doesn't acknowledge his authority."

You won't be able to provide a quote from Bishop Williamson to this effect because the statement is false. Like the SSPX as a whole, Bishop Williamson's position is that the pope is the pope and holds the supreme authority in the church and must be obeyed in all respects, except those which endanger the faith or are immoral.

Jack O'Malley said...

Henry Balzsac, you make a good point. I hadn't intended to imply that Bp. Felly was not a reasonable man, merely to emphasize that he continued out of charity in the course of reintegration. Clumsy wording on my part. Thanks, I agree with you disagreeing with me! ;-)

CPK said...

@Bernonensis: no, I did not introduce two definitions of "rule". (I did not introduce any.) In your post introducing the musical analogy, you wrote of "rules of harmony" - those were your words, and then you spoke of writing music "without due regard for the rules".

In your riposte you try to say that you meant the constants of physics, or the laws of logic (I'm not sure which). Then why did you not say so in the first place?

All I know is that meaningful dialogue is impossible if your terminological goalposts are as movable as you assume. I don't even know what it would mean to say that someone might write music without "due" regard to the constants of physics, or of logic. Why raise the issue of "rules of harmony" in the first place if that is not what you meant?

And another thing: why challenge me to provide an instance of a rule broken by e.g. Mozart? Do you imagine that that would somehow be necessary to reinforce my argument? My argument was that the "rules" of harmony are man-made attempts to describe what people intuitively recognize as harmonious. Exactly the same can be said about moral and logical rules, and even the laws of physics. Read TS Kuhn if you don't believe me on the latter.