Rorate Caeli
concerning the remission of the excommunication
of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre

Dear Brothers in the Episcopal Ministry!

The remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without a mandate of the Holy See has for many reasons caused, both within and beyond the Catholic Church, a discussion more heated than any we have seen for a long time. Many Bishops felt perplexed by an event which came about unexpectedly and was difficult to view positively in the light of the issues and tasks facing the Church today. Even though many Bishops and members of the faithful were disposed in principle to take a positive view of the Pope’s concern for reconciliation, the question remained whether such a gesture was fitting in view of the genuinely urgent demands of the life of faith in our time. Some groups, on the other hand, openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed, whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment. I therefore feel obliged to offer you, dear Brothers, a word of clarification, which ought to help you understand the concerns which led me and the competent offices of the Holy See to take this step. In this way I hope to contribute to peace in the Church.

An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately suddenly appeared as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the Council had laid down in this regard to guide the Church’s path. A gesture of reconciliation with an ecclesial group engaged in a process of separation thus turned into its very antithesis: an apparent step backwards with regard to all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews taken since the Council – steps which my own work as a theologian had sought from the beginning to take part in and support. That this overlapping of two opposed processes took place and momentarily upset peace between Christians and Jews, as well as peace within the Church, is something which I can only deeply deplore. I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news. I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility. Precisely for this reason I thank all the more our Jewish friends, who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust which – as in the days of Pope John Paul II – has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to exist.

Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects individuals, not institutions. An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope. Consequently the Church must react by employing her most severe punishment – excommunication – with the aim of calling those thus punished to repent and to return to unity. Twenty years after the ordinations, this goal has sadly not yet been attained. The remission of the excommunication has the same aim as that of the punishment: namely, to invite the four Bishops once more to return. This gesture was possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council. Here I return to the distinction between individuals and institutions. The remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" – the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope – to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes. The collegial bodies with which the Congregation studies questions which arise (especially the ordinary Wednesday meeting of Cardinals and the annual or biennial Plenary Session) ensure the involvement of the Prefects of the different Roman Congregations and representatives from the world’s Bishops in the process of decision-making. The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

I hope, dear Brothers, that this serves to clarify the positive significance and also the limits of the provision of 21 January 2009. But the question still remains: Was this measure needed? Was it really a priority? Aren’t other things perhaps more important? Of course there are more important and urgent matters. I believe that I set forth clearly the priorities of my pontificate in the addresses which I gave at its beginning. Everything that I said then continues unchanged as my plan of action. The first priority for the Successor of Peter was laid down by the Lord in the Upper Room in the clearest of terms: "You… strengthen your brothers" (Lk 22:32). Peter himself formulated this priority anew in his first Letter: "Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses "to the end" (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.

Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith – ecumenism – is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light – this is interreligious dialogue. Whoever proclaims that God is Love "to the end" has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity – this is the social dimension of the Christian faith, of which I spoke in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

So if the arduous task of working for faith, hope and love in the world is presently (and, in various ways, always) the Church’s real priority, then part of this is also made up of acts of reconciliation, small and not so small. That the quiet gesture of extending a hand gave rise to a huge uproar, and thus became exactly the opposite of a gesture of reconciliation, is a fact which we must accept. But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who "has something against you" (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation? Should not civil society also try to forestall forms of extremism and to incorporate their eventual adherents – to the extent possible – in the great currents shaping social life, and thus avoid their being segregated, with all its consequences? Can it be completely mistaken to work to break down obstinacy and narrowness, and to make space for what is positive and retrievable for the whole? I myself saw, in the years after 1988, how the return of communities which had been separated from Rome changed their interior attitudes; I saw how returning to the bigger and broader Church enabled them to move beyond one-sided positions and broke down rigidity so that positive energies could emerge for the whole. Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?

Certainly, for some time now, and once again on this specific occasion, we have heard from some representatives of that community many unpleasant things – arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions, etc. Yet to tell the truth, I must add that I have also received a number of touching testimonials of gratitude which clearly showed an openness of heart. But should not the great Church also allow herself to be generous in the knowledge of her great breadth, in the knowledge of the promise made to her? Should not we, as good educators, also be capable of overlooking various faults and making every effort to open up broader vistas? And should we not admit that some unpleasant things have also emerged in Church circles? At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.

Dear Brothers, during the days when I first had the idea of writing this letter, by chance, during a visit to the Roman Seminary, I had to interpret and comment on Galatians 5:13-15. I was surprised at the directness with which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: "Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." I am always tempted to see these words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in Saint Paul. To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this "biting and devouring" also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians? That at the very least we are threatened by the same temptations? That we must always learn anew the proper use of freedom? And that we must always learn anew the supreme priority, which is love? The day I spoke about this at the Major Seminary, the feast of Our Lady of Trust was being celebrated in Rome. And so it is: Mary teaches us trust. She leads us to her Son, in whom all of us can put our trust. He will be our guide – even in turbulent times. And so I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many Bishops who have lately offered me touching tokens of trust and affection, and above all assured me of their prayers. My thanks also go to all the faithful who in these days have given me testimony of their constant fidelity to the Successor of Saint Peter. May the Lord protect all of us and guide our steps along the way of peace. This is the prayer that rises up instinctively from my heart at the beginning of this Lent, a liturgical season particularly suited to interior purification, one which invites all of us to look with renewed hope to the light which awaits us at Easter.

With a special Apostolic Blessing, I remain
Yours in the Lord,


From the Vatican, 10 March 2009


  1. Anonymous11:33 AM


  2. A splendid comment. what a deeply humble pastor.

  3. Anonymous12:25 PM

    This is one of the best statements on Ecumenism that the Vatican has made since Dominus Iesus. May God abundantly bless the Holy Father for his love and faithfulness to the mission he has been entrusted with as the Successor of Saint Peter

  4. Anonymous12:25 PM


  5. A false and misguided declaration, blaming the SSPX with:

    1) being a "radical fringe" group;
    2) a Society with "unhealthy" elements;
    3) a Society which allegedly is not Roman Catholic for failing to accept (non-dogmatic) Vatican II;
    4) for insisting Archbishop Lefebvre lead the lead to a near-schism and claiming the "excommunications" were incurred.

    Also, the explanation of a common goal (Light, Lucifer) for interreligious dialogue in a diversity of "different images of God" smacks of religious indifferentism.

    No word about missionary witness, about mission, conversion.

    He is pleading for a pluralist multi-religious "journey" to "the Light".

    The letter, with all its diplomatic efforts to save Benedict XVI's face and that of the Vatican in the media hysteria about auxiliary bishop Richard Williamson's dissident Holocaust revisionism, is a clear lash-out against the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and is reason enough to see, that good-will and mutual respect is not to be expected from the modernists in occupied Rome towards honest (even if sometimes polemical) traditionalist Roman Catholic clergy.

    It is a dishonest letter.

    Despite the naive papolatry and euphoria in some comments, the letter - if studied closely - is an attack against the SSPX and the life-long work of Resistance against Neo-Modernism of Archbishop Lefebvre, in favour of Roman Catholic Tradition.

    This Letter of Benedict XVI is meant for the media.

    The only thing which could absolve Ratzinger, would be if Cardinal Bertone had created this letter.

    It is the same "continuity" in the Vatican as always: no criticism of Vatican II, no concession of contradictions, and putting the blame on the SSPX and faithful Roman Catholics who are already being demonized by the media.

    Benedict XVI even concedes that the SSPX were initially a "radical fringe" group, and that the reintegration in the "wider" (pluralistic!) Conciliar Church is meant to stop the "radicalization" of the SSPX. This pure neutralization politics.

    Not a victory for Roman Catholic Tradition.

    It is a Pyrrhus "victory" (these liftings and this letter) for the SSPX, like 'Summorum pontificum' (2007) was not a true victory for the apostolic, traditional Roman liturgy, but rather a dogmatization of the Novus Ordo Missae (Bugnini rite) to the status of 'Ordinary form', still making the 'Tridentine' Mass a secondary status liturgy.

    I hope there are sane and intelligent traditionalist Roman Catholics left who will see through the Vatican church politics trying to save their own spiritual child of Vatican II.

  6. Anonymous12:45 PM

    To Stanislaw -

    I do not understand why you are reading so much into this letter? Why no charity? As far as I'm concerned, Benedict is being guided by the Holy Spirit with very good intentions for the entire Church. Do not be so bitter sir, please pray for the Holy Father and settle your discontent. The information you put forth carries legitimacy, but now is not the time to be stubborn and cynical.

    May God continue to bless our Dear Pope through the intercession of our Blessed Mother!


  7. Anonymous12:45 PM

    +UIOGD Well Stanislaw, while yesterday I remained hopeful, I sadly had to agree with your commentary this morning. As I read the letter, I was reminded that Rome is still Rome, and in the spirit of Vatican II the SSPX is still viewed as lepers instead of the remedy to restoring Holy Mother Church. Viva Cristo Rey! Margaret

  8. Anonymous12:50 PM

    although I prefer the ancient curial style it is evident that with the humble tone of this letter Benedict XVI steals the thunder of the ideologues.

  9. Dear friends,

    The problem is here described in a nutshell or should I say nutshells:

    Quote In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church. Unquote

    Quote….in order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church. Unquote

    Quote …it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" – the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope – to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes. Unquote

    So, His Holiness is saying : “the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes.” But what is it about acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes that differs from what the Church has always taught, held and professed to be true, Your Holiness? The SSPX has publicly proclaimed that they accept all that the Church has always taught, held and professed to be true. So, what is it that separates them? It is my humble opinion, that you must answer this question, Your Holiness, else reconciliation is not possible.

    With all due respect these words have been spoken over and over again : “You must accept the council and the magisterial teachings”(sic) but never has it been defined in that statement what differs from what Holy Mother Church has always taught, held and professed to be true. This is, Your Holiness, in technical terms a “closed loop” – that is an unending circle of logic from which there is no escape or, perhaps better said, no next step or process. Closed loops have driven software engineers crazy because sometimes they are hidden in what seems like perfectly fine software. Can this also be the case with the papal letter? Methinks so.

  10. Anonymous1:09 PM

    Yet another reminder of how fortunate we are to have Benedict XVI as Pope. May God prosper and defend the Holy Father!

  11. I notice the first two paragraphs of my recent post are duplicates. Please write it off to my advancing age. Thanks.

  12. It is now clear that a formal regularization of the SSPX will not be occuring anytime soon, short of a miracle.

  13. Anonymous1:27 PM

    It is not appropriate to refer to Benedict XVI as 'the Great', howeversomuch we might like him. This is a very unCatholic thing to say. Only a few rare popes (one Gregory, one Leo, one Nicholas) have earned the title and then only many decades after their respective deaths.

    Pray for us, Pope St. Gregory the Great and this the day of thy Commemoration.


  14. Anonymous1:35 PM

    Another word on propriety:

    There IS no Benedict or Pope Benedict, except in Heaven. That is properly the title only of Pope Benedict I (and then only before there was a Benedict II). This abbreviation of correct form is another media insult against our Pope: they assert a familiarity to which they can lay no claim.

    He is Pope Benedict XVI or just 'Benedict XVI': in both formulations, with the number always included.

    He is the Pope; he is the Holy Father, he is His Holiness or 'H.H.'; he is the Supreme Pontiff; he is the Vicar of Christ; he is the Patriarch of the West (even if he refuses to use the title); but he is not some 'Pope Benedict'. There is no such person. And he is not 'Benedict' as if he were a gardener down the street having that name.


  15. Anonymous1:36 PM

    Can you please update to my new blog? Many thanks..

  16. God bless and keep His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI!!! Please pray for him.

  17. I should say that in respect to my comments on faculties I would hope Pope Benedict XVI would grant faculties on a temporary basis while the discussions with the SSPX are ongoing but I do not believe he will do this because he wants the SSPX to accept some doctrine or post-conciliar magisterial teaching that is yet unspecified. And so, we have to rely on the fact that faculties are supplied where the salvation of souls is at stake. Or, to use the phrase: ecclesia supplet.

    This is a particularly insidious tactic, it seems to me, to fail to state what it is that is expected of the SSPX with specificity, not generalized statements that can mean different things to different people. It seems to me that Pope Benedict XVI wants the SSPX to agree with the post-conciliar interpretation of ecumenism and religious liberty which have never been part of the Church's tradition prior to Vatican II. But, he also wants them to believe he is standing foursquare in favor of Tradition with a capital "T" and that just won't cut it, my friends, at least from my perspective.

  18. Anonymous2:28 PM

    Do not dispair...

    The all important part of the Letter as far as the doctrinal discussions is concerned is this:

    "But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

    So, as the Pope has said over and over again, there is a correct interpretation of the Vatican II Council and a false one.

    Clearly, the SSPX cannot be required to accept an interpretation of the Council that is erroneous, an interpretation that, the Pope himself said it, stems from an hermeneutics of rupture, of a view according to which the top part of the tree is separed from its roots.

    So, the SSPX will only be required to accept that interpretation of the Council that, according to the sovereign judgement of the See of St. Peter, is the authentic interpretation, one that takes account of the whole history of the Church, of the entirety of her Deposit of Faith, in a nutshell, one that stems from an hermeneutic of rupture.

    So, clearly, the Pope is not going to disallow the Council -- and that is why He properly and rightly insists that the SSPX must show acceptance of the Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium -- but the words quoted above also means that the Society will not be required to accept --- and that those who pass as great defenders of the Council are wrong to promote --- an hermeneutic of rupture.

    To sort those matters out the doctrinal discussions will be held --- as promised in the Decree of Remission of the Excommunications. And it is precisely for that reason that the PCED will be integrated under the umbrella of the CDF.

    So, hopefully, after the doctrinal discussions there will be a docrinal clarification (either a Holy See document or a joint declaration), and that document will help shed better light into the right interpretation of the documents of the last Council, adressing, with the authority of the Holy Roman Church, some difficult points concerning the compatibility of some of the Council's teaching, rightly interpreted, with the prior Magisterial acts, rightly interpreted.

  19. Anonymous2:30 PM


    In my previous post, the part: " a nutshell, one that stems from an hermeneutic of rupture." should read: " a nutshell, one that stems from an hermeneutic of CONINUITY".

    As the context itself indicates.

  20. Anonymous2:41 PM

    When Pope Benedicted surrended before the Austrian heretic Bishops on the Wagner affaire, I stated in this blog that his Pontificate was over Many critiziced me for this.
    Now this letter is nothing but a confirmation of that idea. Benedict is afraid of the Bishops, of the power of "collegiality", and is unwilling to speak "yes yes, no no", unmasking the enemies from within and from outside.
    He prefers to stress the "problems" of SSPX, problems which are fictitious, or that have been created by Rome and not by the Society.
    This letter is not humble, but humilliating of the Papal authority. The relatively short impact of the Motu Proprio will definitle dwindle as from now. Progressives are encouraged by the weakness of the Pope. They now they are in charge.
    God bless the SSPX, and lets pray that Mns. Fellay open his eyes, recants, ask the forgiveness of mns. Williamson, and rejoin the battle for Tradition, now more fiercer than ever.

  21. Anonymous2:47 PM

    I am sorry. I meant that progressives KNOW now that they are in charge.
    Mahony can still conduct satanic liturgies, and the diocese of Linz may still be proud of its fornicating and heretic priests.
    The problem are the "doctrinal issues" held by the SSPX. And the Pope want "peace" in the Church. But Aquinas taught that peace is "tranquility in order", and order is essentially linked to Truth. SSo unless the Pope starts saying the Truth an the whole Truth with no ambiguities, no matter how suffering that may bring upon him and his flock, no order and no PEACE will be achieved. Otherwise, we would be deluding ourselves with a naturalist peace, a peace of the cementeries and of cowardice.

  22. His Holiness speaks of "arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions" in connection with some in the Society.

    Unfortunately - with all due respect - I think that is precisely what we see on display in the posts here by Stanislaw Wojtiech. Which is part of this impression among more extreme elements of the Society that they, and only they, are proper interpreters of the Magisterium - unfortunate because there are many worthwhile and wonderful things we can say about the Society and what it can contribute to restoring the Church's sense of her true self.

    And: "no criticism of Vatican II, no concession of contradictions" - and yet this very Pope has made such critiques himself on numerous occasions; but what he focuses on here are the untenable "Spirit of the Council" readings by progressives who would see the Council (whatever its flaws) as a real rupture in the Church's continuity and tradition.

    A little more charity is called for. And no, charity does not have to be inconsistent with Truth.

  23. The fact that I am alleged to be a Radical fringe person and a Rigid person, exemplary of how "rigid" the SSPX is, is an honour to me.

    Especially as it comes from persons, who suffer either from false Papalatry not even healthy during the pontificate of the great Pope St. Pius X or from blindness to the doctrinal contradiction between the Vatican II religion and the Roman Catholic Church pre-1958.

    It is not that I am the good interpreters of Tradition or the Magisterium. Far be it from me.

    But if the current Vatican II "magisterium" declares that the pre-1958 or pre-Vaticanum II Magisterium was wrong on the Syllabus etc., why should I ever adhere to the current "magisterium" and its alleged infallibility of Vatican II? Why? If truth is subjective and changes, as modernists will claim, I see no reason for this?

    I only adhere to the Magisterium of Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII and their clear encyclicals.

    If the current "magisterium" can reject their encyclicals, teachings, and even dogmatic definitions of ecumenical Councils like Florence (on salvation, on the Old Testament being superseded by the New Covenant), if they can invent "newer teachings" (as John Paul II explicitly admits in Ecclesia Dei of 1988!) despite the fact that Pastor aeternus (1870) rejects "new revelation" and new teaching, I am an orthodox Roman Catholic by accepting all Catholic dogma, and the Holy Roman Church's primacy and infallibility of the Pope.

    But the persons of John XXIII until incl. Wojtyla and Benedict XVI are highly suspect to me. Their personal theology. Quran kisses, Judaism as "elder brothers", prayers asking St. John the Baptist to "bless Islam" (2000), etc. etc. worry me.

    Call me a rigid person and a narrow-minded man, but at least I am not rigidly stuck in 1960s euphoria, in totalitarian subjectivism and interreligiosity, to which even Benedict XVI long ago (in 1963) succumbed.

    Rather a narrow-minded Catholic, than a Neo-Modernist!

    Most of you only know about the liturgical question. Nothing about the doctrinal contradiction and theological dispute.

  24. Anonymous4:00 PM

    I think that it is manifestly unfair to accuse the Pope of political calculation in this letter. The Holy Father is obviously sincere and his letter is heartfelt; it is clearly a very personal letter.

    That said, I also believe that the Holy Father is under the thumb of the rabbinical establishment. He is in much need of our prayers.

  25. Anonymous4:01 PM

    Hey Mr. Wojtiech, there was someone else in history who found it to be an honor when he was considered "a Radical fringe person and a Rigid person" when it came to disobedience to the Pope. His name was Luther. He thought he interpreted scripture and tradition better than the Church, as you clearly do. And if he isn't self-righteous enough for you, there is always Calvin, that monster of a man, that you could emulate. Maybe you could take over Geneva and kill off all the Catholics there to?

    Its all good timing, really, since the protestants are dying out. Maybe you and your dissenters can become the new protestants! Just like the old ones, you can act like the Church has never had problems before the current problems, and not had to work through them with patience and obedience, even to the point of persecution and death. You guys can even have your own little slogan:

    "Sola Lefebvre"

  26. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Pope Points to Francis Xavier's Missionary Example

    Pope: like the missionary, the Christian should feel "the urgency" of bearing the word of God

    That should shut the mouth of Pharasaic "Traditionalists"!

  27. Athelstane,

    Do you think Ratzinger's letter accusing the SSPX of harboring "askew" and "sick" (German: Krank) elements is a sign of charity and an opened hand?

    To me it is rather proof that the (very moderate, and nót Küng-like radical) neo-modernists in the Vatican are conducting a divide-and-conquer strategy to absorb the SSPX in order to devour and thus neutralize it - taking away any public questioning of the Vatican II errors and post-Vatican II (heretical) erroneous teachings and scandalous acts. Like John Paul II kissing Quran, lighting Zoroastrian candles, like Cardinal Dias lighting candles to Ganesha (an idol) in a Hindu-Christian Congress on Cosmology.

    The SSPX may not capitulate to the One World Church of all Confessions and Religions.

    Anna Katharina Emmerick saw this "Church of Darkness" in Rome. "Pray that the Church of Darkness leave Rome." This "Church of Darkness" she saw, had space for all entering it: "Catholics, Evangelicals [Lutheran Protestants in Germany], and others." Indifferentism, false ecumenism, interreligiosity and international religious subjectivism.

    The SSPX is objectivist. Clear. Thomist. That is the problem. I hope the SSPX remain firm.

    It is not about the liturgy alone.

    The Byzantine Ukrainian liturgy is orthodox and not Protestantized like the Novus Ordo, but Cardinal Husar and his new post-1990 hierarchy (except for a few silenced former successors of the Ukrainian Byzantine Greek Catholic Martyr Bishops) still promote Vatican II ecumenism and ecclesiology.

    What did the neo-modernist Vatican do? It confirmed Fr. Basyl Kovpak's excommunication in a public manner.

    Such "charity". I do not need such false "charity".

  28. Prof Basto,

    The "continuity" of Ratzinger is not identicity or same-ness, but rather "continuous evolution of doctrine", without cutting the basis. Not radical liberalism, but a moderated revolution by evolution.

    It is the same Modernist theological axiom though.

    And not even one good element in this letter, can cover up the attacks upon the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre's Work by Benedict XVI.

  29. Okie,

    How weird.

    If Archbishop Lefebvre (who rejected Luther's Mass, as he called the Novus Ordo Missae of Paul VI, 1969) is a "new Luther", then the Vatican of modernism would have no problems.

    Then we'd have a "Common Declaration" like that of 1999, which betrayed the Council of Trent's condemnation of Protestant heresies.

    I am not "Sola Lefebvre". Lefebvre was a heroic person, but not infallible or correct on secular matters.

    I am Sola Ecclesia Catholica Romana Apostolica Sancta.

    "Pray for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome!"

  30. If only the SSPX would reject only Humanae vitae (1968), they would become Cardinals, like Danneels and Schönborn (Mariazell Erklärung of 1968, still in force in Austrian churches).

    God bless you all, and despite this crisis and obscurity since almost 50 years, may we remain faithful sons of the Holy Roman Church, built upon Saint Peter and all of his legitimately elected and orthodox Catholic successors.

  31. Stanislaw said:

    To me the model of the Empire of Austria-Hungary under the Habsburg dynasty (hated by Hitler and the Nazis) is the Catholic solution of tolerance, monarchism and philosemitism.

    I tend to agree - while I think there is also something to be said for the Venetian Republic as a workable mixed form of confessional state government - although we should note that even Austria Hungary was not perfect: The emperor had the right to nominate bishops, and bishops effectively had no control over Catholic schools.

    One of the few points of actual "progress" by the Church in recent years has been its success in putting an end to ius patronatus in most countries.

  32. Anonymous4:14 PM

    You misunderstand me.

    YOU are a new Luther. Lefebvre had his reasons, and I admire the man, even though I think what he did in '88 undermined everything right he stood for. But no matter how wrong I think he was about certain things, I could not imagine having to live through that era as a Shepherd of souls.

    No, I am saying that you are one of the little Luther's that, without any charity or obedience, openly mock the Holy Father, whether you agree with him or not. It is one thing to be saddened by what Popes do, especially when they do it wrong. I can only imagine how much more difficult life was during the great Western schism for the faithful. However, open mockery and a defient unwillingness to read what the Holy Father has to say in Charity, and furthermore, an unwillingness to check for splitners in our own eyes first, there is no excuse for that in the Catholic Church. It is, however, the MO of Luther.

  33. Anonymous4:21 PM

    I am glad the pope stuck it to all sides in this letter...the liberals and the SSPX...the liberals who think the Church began in 1962 and the traditionals who can't see beyond 1962! Both camps are so damn whiney!!

  34. Anonymous4:31 PM

    Please--- someone tell me what a private mass is???

    I was told one could not attend SSPX masses until the Society was regularized. But I was also told that one could in the meantime attend a "private mass."

  35. Anonymous4:54 PM

    I'll admit that the letter was a little ambigous in parts but what the Pope had to say about fellow Catholics hating the SSPX was quite clear. This Pope needs our prayers to support him!

  36. Anonymous4:56 PM

    To Pharasaic "Traditionalists" one more time:

    "In our days, when in vast areas of the world THE FAITH is in danger of DYING OUT like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present IN THIS world and to show men and women THE WAY to God. NOT JUST ANY god, but THE GOD who spoke on Sinai; to THAT GOD whose face we recognize in a love which presses "to the end" (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God [THE One True GOD] is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.

  37. "The SSPX may not capitulate to the One World Church of all Confessions and Religions."

    Is Stanislaw Wojtiech a sedevacantist? If not, what is the difference?

    That is, will we see the SSPX split into its sede and non-sede factions, with the non-sede faction eventually reconciling with the Holy Father, and the sede faction eventually electing its own Pope, I suppose?

  38. Anonymous5:34 PM

    I find it funny that a particular group of so-called "traditionalists" and the concilliarist liberals have so much in common when it comes to their arrogant belief that they have more authority than the Pope. As an ultra-montanist, I think it is especially funny that they quote Pius IX to rectify their positions. It all seems to fly in the face of Vatican I...or do you hate that council as well? I know, I know, "papology" you call it. That is exactly what the Gallicans said at the time as well. Have fun being in that deplorable company.

    It seems to me that there is a magisterium, which is a living thing, that beyond its infallible statements obviously has to "grow" and "develop" in some sense(for instance, Thomas Aquinas was condemned as a "modersnist" if you will for a time until the magisterium came around to its funny that some act as if St. Peter was a Thomist). Obviously, its not that the truth grows, but our understanding of it and our prudential application of it in history. They were initially imprudent about Thomas, and then they rectified their judgment. Perhaps the same can be said about Vatican II, but it is a council, and we must make sense of it.

    On the other hand, there is what I can only call the "magic-sterium" of folks like Mr. Wojteich, that somehow, the Neo-Scholasticism-in-amber circa 1925 is the bona fide teaching of the apostles, as if St. Paul dictated the truth in full to the ear of Garrigou-LeGrange, and he wrote it out verbatim. Look, I like G-L, but he is not the magisterium. And even he couldn't speak to everything we must face now.

    Look, don't get me wrong, I think Vatican II was unfortunately and tragically vague, that the devilish "spirit" of the 60's used it for very much evil, and I myself am a "Leonine Thomist" for what that is worth, who does not appreciate much of its language. But stop acting like the Deposit of Faith is something akin to the Koran, revealed in its entirety by an Angel. It is so much more than that. It is the living faith, that cannot be changed, but that can speak to all ages. Even Leo XIII had to clarify the Syllabus of Errors because of their somewhat odd format (that we must negate the affirmations presented in the syllabus...but what would that negation look like? etc...)
    The problem with Vatican II is not that it changes the Deposit of Faith, but doesn't listen to it very well.

    So even when it is hard, let us believe that the Holy Spirit guides the magisterium, even through a hard 50 years, and know that the ship will steer back on course if it ever floats off. Let us not act like there was a nineteen hundred year golden age that simply poofed away into mid-air. Let us not believe in the "magic-sterium."

  39. Anonymous5:39 PM

    See how we hate one another! Such love. Such understanding. As a traditional for the last twenty-one years, I am tired of being your whipping post.

    I get the impression that even Pope Benedict regards us as some kind of necessary evil to be endured because, well, we can hardly be avoided.

    Let's face it. We're hopelessly divided. We don't understand you nor can you comprehend us.

    I am angry. I am tired. I am worn out. Over forty years of this nonsense, and it's worse today because we have several generations who have no knowledge of what the Church was once like.

  40. Anonymous5:42 PM

    Dear New Catholic, I fear that the preponderance of bitter, sedevacantist, and, quite frankly, dim-witted commenters on this blog is seriously lowering its tone. I should much prefer some intelligent comments from you!

  41. Anonymous5:48 PM

    "He has once again ignored that the SSPX asked for two pre-conditions to doctrinal discussions and the efforts of the faithful in the Rosary Crusades for those two pre-conditions."

    WHY should he even bring that up to HOSTILE bishops which would make it seem like the Pope was OBEYING the SSPX and under the thumb of the "integrists"?!!

    The Pope is obeying Christ by being as "wise as serpents and simple as doves" recalling what he said at his election recalling Christ's words: "Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves." (Matthew 10, 16-20)

    Again the Pope recognizes the many good points of the SSPX... that is why he is joining the ECCLESIA DEI commission to the CDF; so the DOCTRINAL Clarifications may take place as per the SSPX's request!

    This Pope KNOWS how the Church administration works and he is trying to restore the FAITH without having 3/4 of 'Catholics' abandon the Ship of Peter because of the horrible crises of Faith of the last 40 years.

    This Pope IS "The GLORY of the Olive"!

  42. Vatspy,
    Amen to your comment. And welcome to the world of Rad Trads, where they are right and the whole of the rest of the church is in heresy and error. I understand and applaud the Pope's gesture. But I have long believed it was a wasted one.

    The tone of the comments on here merely reinforces my view that most of the followers of the SSPX are materiel schismatics. They are Rome's Old Calendarists who daily are slipping further and further into their dark world of masonic plots and sedevantism. Note in many of their posts they do not even refer to H.H. by his correct name or title, a courtesy that even I (a non Roman) extend. The insulting and harshly judgmental tone of their attacks on the First Hierarch of their church is breathtaking.

    Under the mercy,

  43. Anonymous6:09 PM

    The intensity of the hate displayed by some catholic cardinals, bishops and priests against the reconciliation act of Benedict XVI stands at the same level of the intolerence and hate displayed by islamic fundamentalists.

  44. Anonymous6:39 PM

    Does not most of the church hierarcy display more charity towards the Orthodox Church (who do not believe that Benedict XVI is a Vicar of Christ) than to the SSPX?

    A.M. LaPietra

  45. Bishop Fellay has answered the letter with his typical grace and acumen, to wit:
    "Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this Tradition which Saint Vincent of Lérins defined as that "which has been believed everywhere, always, by all" (Commonitorium), without rupture and in a perfectly homogeneous development. It is thus that we will be able to contribute efficaciously to the evangelization asked for by the Savior (cf. Matthew, 28,19-20)".

    So, all of us who are supportive of the SSPX position should act accordingly.

  46. A.M. LaPietra,
    Does not most of the church hierarcy display more charity towards the Orthodox Church (who do not believe that Benedict XVI is a Vicar of Christ) than to the SSPX?

    The relationship between Orthodoxy and the Latin Church has grown more cordial in recent years. The improvement in relations is in no small part the result of the very considerable respect accorded Pope Benedict by most Orthodox. Our serious theological differences notwithstanding, I think you will find the charity you refer to largely reciprocated on our side of the fence.

    Is it not odd when a church which has been at odds with yours for nigh on a thousand years seems able to show more courtesy and respect to the Pope than many of the followers of the SSPX and self proclaimed champions of "Catholic Tradition?"

    Under the mercy,

  47. Anonymous7:25 PM

    This is a letter that is unique in modern papal history.
    I don't remember another Pope writing a letter to complain, whine, and take some measure of self-pity.

    As the Pope he should care less what the world thinks and he should use his monarchial power to set the Church and bishops straight through action and governance.

  48. Anonymous9:04 PM

    Hello. I am new to this site and now attend an SSPX chapel after 33 years of being a traditional catholic 'home aloner'. We were fortunate to have an old holy independent priest come to our home and say the Mass only about once or twice a year. It took me two years of studying the validity of the SSPX before I finally attended a Mass there.
    I am not a sedevacantist as I have no authority to proclaim such. I believe it would take a 'general council' after the fact to decide the matter. That being said, I do not like many of the Holy Father's actions towards modernism. In the ten commandments our Lord commanded us to 'Honor' thy Father and Mother. He purposely did not use the words 'obey'. He knew our fathers and mothers may influence us to sin. I recognize the Pope as my Father but I must disobey when his actions encourage confusion and sin. This is not being a radical traditionalist, this is safeguarding my soul and the souls of my family. I too believe in time that the SSPX talks with the Vatican will be the initial catalyst for the return to the teachings of all time. Yes, the Pope has been very generous to the SSPX. However, the pessimist side of me sees that he is forced to as he knows he would be a hypocrite if he embraced religious brothers outside the Church, yet snubs even His own traditionalist stepchildren. No, that wouldn't look good. For now I watch and wait with cautious optimism. So, I pray for my dear Pope to be brave and fight the good fight. I am patient. We know how the story turns out in the end my 'dear friends in the faith'. Our Blessed Mother Mary, Enoch and Elias will have their say. In the meantime, I am at peace knowing I can still receive the sacraments at the SSPX chapels.

  49. It is mere hypocrisy that an Eastern Orthodox person in schism wants the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), which neither doctrinally nor juridically ever left the Holy Roman Church and its fidelity to Papal Primacy and Infallibility of all (legitimate) Popes, to regularize now and accept the Second Vatican Council.

    The so-called Orthodox are not polite and respectful at all towards the Holy See. They demonize Pius XII and the historical Latin Church, and claim all Latin Rite sacraments are invalid mostly.

    It is really hypocritical. I think John (Ad Orientem), the Orthodox, is a former Catholic now trying to teach faithful Roman Catholics from the SSPX how to "behave" and accept ecumenist interconfessionalism of Benedict XVI, because the latter is perceived as more pro-Orthodox.

    Unfortunately, the SSPX is approached by numerous Orthodox (incl. Russian Orthodox) bishops in secret, who want to come to Union with Rome and the universal Catholic Church according to the decrees of the Council of Florence and Ferrara (and its glorious but shortlived Unions with all Eastern dissident separated churches, including the former Nestorians and Monophysites). The Vatican refuses them, the SSPX respects the liturgical fidelity, the liturgical life, and the doctrinal mysticism of the Eastern Orthodox hugely, without compromising with them on matters of Holy Catholic Dogma.

    There is a difference.

    Patriarch Alexey II, the late patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church of Moskva and All Rus', secretly praised the SSPX, admired Archbishop Lefebvre (except for the latter's anti-Soviet anti-Communist stance, I know), and admires the traditional Roman Liturgy more than the other Byzantine Eastern schismatics of the past, who often ridiculed the ancient Latin liturgical rites of the West (in their Medieval diversity) as "invalid" using "Jewish bread" (unleavened as in the Roman Rite, while the Byzantines all use leavened).

    The SSPX is clear and succinct, like the Russians and Greeks want it. With decorum and eloquency, like Bishop Fellay and Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais (the latter of noble French descent!) have. But without German federal political correctness or thought police. And without British seriosity posing as "humor".

  50. Wouldn't it be nice if the Holy Father held all bishops to accepting the teachings of the Church instead of letting nutjobs like Mahoney and his like run around without punishment?

    I mean, why the double standard? Mahoney et al have made "schismatic acts" as well as indications of pure heresy.

  51. Anonymous1:12 AM

    Yet again a beautiful and masterful statement from our glorious Pope! Truly he is a man of whom St. Josemaria would say "This man reads the life of Jesus Christ."

    It is also most fitting that the P.C. "Ecclesia Dei" be placed under the auspices of the Holy Office.

    Who has cause to fear the Holy Office? Neo-protestant revolutionists, sedevacantists, Feeneyists, anti-semites? Yes. Righteous men of good will? No.

    Submit. Obey. Rejoice. It's quite simple really.

  52. Mr. Perkins:

    The present Holy Father is Pope Benedict, the sixteenth of that name. The numbers are useful to distinguish Popes in historical references, but while His Holiness is still alive and reigning there is no question as to who the present "Pope Benedict" is.

    We do not have prayers "pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto decimo sexto." Dropping the ordinal number does not imply a lack of respect.

    I agree with your underlying point, however, that the media will disrespect the Holy Father in every way they can. And certainly, if they think they are slighting him by omitting the number, they will continue to do so with regularity.

  53. Anonymous4:28 AM

    It is the doctrine of the Church that everything that God does or permits is for his greater glory. God is what it's all about.

    We are commanded to love the Lord our God with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength.

    The Jesuit motto was: ad majorem Dei gloriam.

    The Carmelite mystic Elizabeth of the Trinity called herself The Praise of [God's] Glory.

    Do you see in the Pope's letter much concern about God, or for his glory? No: it's all about man; man in the Church, and outside the Church, but man. The Pope's motto is not ad majorem hominis gloriam; but it could be.

    (Is your answer that all that stuff about God goes without saying. Then why didn't the authors of the scriptures and St. Augustine and St. Ignatius and Elizabeth of the Trinity think that it went without saying? And if the Pope thinks that religion is dying out, shouldn't he himself talk more about the object of religion, which is God?)

    The turn from God to man is the essence of the spirit (and much of the letter) of Vatican II, and of the words and deeds of the current conciliar pontiff.

    So it is not at all surprising that the Pope insists on the SSPX's acceptance of Vatican II.

    Nor is it surprising that Bishop Fellay, with the ink barely dry on the Pope's letter, has declined to do so except to the extent that Vatican II teaches what the Church has always and everywhere taught, and can be seen as a homogeneous development of what the Church has always taught.

    The acts of Vatican II that meet those criteria would fit in a very slim volume, and it would contain none of the things for which the Council is noted by friend and foe.

    If you think otherwise, you need to go to school to the SSPX. Read what's on their websites; spring for 15 bucks for the Angelus Online and access to back issues of the Angelus. Read the books from Angelus Press. If you understand them, come back and perhaps we can make some progress.

    A lot of you think you're some steps ahead of the SSPX; in fact, most of you are some steps behind. But don't take my word for it; figure it out for yourself.

    Sedes sapientiae, ora pro nobis.
    Mater consilii, ora pro nobis.
    Sancte Gregorie, ora pro nobis.

  54. Anonymous4:46 AM


    If Monsignor Escriva was so big on the life of Christ as a yardstick, why do we find him creating a new "secular" asceticism about 1900 years after the gospels were written -- an asceticism that requires us to passionately love the world, instead of hating it, as Jesus taught us?

    The Holy Office? There hasn't been a Holy Office since before most of the contributors to this blog were born. And nobody has anything to fear from its successor (of sorts), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, except the tiny pool of particularly obscure, friendless and intemperate dingbats from which it pulls someone to discipline every ten years or so.

  55. Anonymous6:20 AM

    To all those who invoke charity and then proceed to bash "traditionalists" of all stripes I would say this. Show charity in your behaviour, not your words.

    Put yourself in the shoes of those who for many difficult and weary years have fought to uphold the perennial teachings of the Church when the only gratitude they received was to be scorned, derided and treated like lepers by those who preened and prided themselves on being pillars of respectability in the "mainstream" church.

    Now the tide is turning. Now it looks as though their struggle was not in vain. Now it looks as though finally the elephant in the living room is becoming visible, and intelligent debate about Vatican II will have some chance of coming out from the furtive fringes and taking place in the centre of the Church instead. This is a tremendous good.

    So, are you going to be one to ride on the coat-tails of those who have succeeded in bringing things to this point by refusing to give up, yet in the meantime whipping them and castigating them?

    Or are you charitably going to give them some space, recognising that it is easy to go astray when fighting in darkness and confusion and fear, and that God will in His good time heal the hurt, the mistrust and the bitterness?

    As for me, in this instance I feel like a cock-eyed optimist which I'm usually not. There is a dangerous and delicate operation going on. As courtly gentlemen of the best catholic tradition the two protagonists are finessing. My suspicion is that they both already know the outcome of this finessing and are doing it mainly for the benefit of the onlookers, so as to give all concerned a chance to assimilate and absorb the momentous event that is coming to pass. God willing.

  56. Adeodatus wrote:

    "Who has cause to fear the Holy Office? Neo-protestant revolutionists, sedevacantists, Feeneyists, anti-semites? Yes. Righteous men of good will? No."

    "Feeneyists" may hold to Father Feeney's theology. He did not incur the trouble that fell upon him through his theological opinions.

  57. Anonymous10:32 PM


    It's a little hard to square the doctrine of the Church with the denial of baptism of blood and baptism of desire. The fact that the Feeneyites nonetheless haven't been called on the carpet by Rome is not surprising, given that any number of more popular heresies are permitted to run riot.

    The conciliar Church authorities that "reconciled" Father Feeney didn't much care what he believed, as long as he signed something. Nor is there much doubt that he was non compos mentis when he signed.

    The attitude of the SSPX towards Feeneyism is interesting. One of its priests wrote a a book (now in its second edtion) demonstrating that Feeneyism is balderdash; but in general, I don't think the Society can take Feeneyism very seriously. Father Feeney was an amateur and (to put the matter kindly) eccentric theologian and personality. Furthermore, his doctrine shows no signs of spreading in the U.S., much less to anywhere else. The traditionalist wing of the Feeneyites has a Loreto Press publishes some very good books, and the Angelus Press often distributes them.

  58. Anonymous11:59 PM


    Thank you for making a valid point which I had neglected but your main response is mistaken.

    There is one crucial exception in proper usage. In FORMAL PRAYER, the Pope becomes 'Pope Benedict', the Queen becomes 'Queen Elizabeth' a Patriarch also loses his number, Bishop John Smith, who is always Bishop Smith in ordinary use becomes 'Bishop John' (He also signs by that affective title).

    But in all other use, this is completely wrong and deeply insulting. When I was growing up, the Pope was always called 'Paul VI' in common sentences or else 'the Pope' &c. and never 'Paul' or 'Pope Paul'. This rude form was invented by journalists, who are responsible for much of the impropriety we now endure.

    Bishop John Smith is 'Bishop Smith' and ONLY Bishop John in formal prayer. A secular priest named John Smith is Fr. Smith, never 'Fr. John'--except in formal prayer. (Religious priest, in contrast, take a forename with the title.)

    In formal prayer, our Sovereign becomes 'Queen Elizabeth'. In all other usage, we call the Sovereign 'the Queen' or Her Majesty, or Ma'am (in address) or Elizabeth II but NEVER 'Queen Elizabeth' or 'Elizabeth'. Queen Elizabeth is (was) the Queen Mother. Before 1952, 'Queen Elizabeth' was also a correct name for Elilzabeth I because there were no other Sovereigns of that name; similarly, thre is only one 'Pope Benedict' and that was Pope Benedict I and only until the election of Benedict II.


  59. Mr. Perkins: Poeta is not wrong, sir; you are. You are veering perilously close to the sanctimonious in your occasional lectures on etiquette, a subject on which you evidently have little knowledge and so speak as loudly as you can to give the appearance of authority.

    I am older than you and have been a Catholic longer than you. I am certain that no disrespect or contumely is necessarily intended or shown in speaking of the present pope in the third person as Pope Benedict or even simply Benedict. On the other hand, contumely can be contained in a statement in which even a pedant would find nothing to cavil at.

    Your adoption of the longsuffering pose of the wise man raising the unwashed from the mire even though his shoes get dirty in the process is unworthy of you, especially during Lent, when you should be looking to amend your own faults—as should I, of course, but I'm defending others here; not myself.

  60. Anonymous1:40 AM

    Dear Mr. Claudel:

    Whether or not anyone intended offence in calling Benedict XVI 'Pope Benedict' I cannot say. That it is contrary to proper usage and good manners to call him that, I am sure. He is 'Pope Benedict' only in formal prayer, in the Mass and Office; it is an affective usage there and has been for centuries. It was secular journalists who tried to extend this usage elsewhere in their usual attempt to imply an overfamiliarity which is inappropriate and objectively rude. They have done exactly the same thing in regard to the Queen, for example. This is the same impulse under which people will address complete strangers by their first names.

    Again, outside the liturgy, he is Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict XVI, the Pope, or the Holy Father. He is never 'Pope Benedict' or 'Pope Ratzinger'. Is it so hard to say 'the Pope'? Is it too much of a strain to say 'Benedict XVI'? That's what we've said for my whole (fairly long) life. Why abandon this now?



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