Rorate Caeli

The Pope to Chinese Catholics

Today, May 24, liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians -- who is venerated with great devotion at the shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai -- we celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. My thoughts turn to all the people of China. In particular I greet the Catholics of China with great affection and I exhort them to renew on this day their communion of faith in Christ and of fidelity to the Successor of Peter. May our common prayer obtain an effusion of gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that unity of all Christians, the catholicity and the universality of the Church always will be deeper and more visible.

Benedict XVI
May 24, 2009

Please refer also to our earlier post on the Compendium of the Pope's 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics. Picture comes from the New Liturgical Movement


  1. Anonymous5:25 PM

    This subject is crucial. Nevertheless, I alert bloggers here to the possibility of a statement regarding the TAC this week. Thursday is the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury in the Traditional Rite. He landed in England in 604 to evangelise England (except for the Celtic Church, which was already there). Wednesday is his feastday in the New calendar, and I've just found out that the Anglican calendar celebrates him on Tuesday! This sort of disunity is exactly what needs to be overcome, although I am sure that they will be allowed to keep their own calendar. But it speaks symbolically to a history of division. I think that Benedict XVI would like to end that.


  2. Anonymous5:49 PM

    His Holiness writes this:

    "Today, May 24, liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians -- who is venerated with great devotion at the shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai -- we celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Church in China."

    As I have remarked before, this Pope loves significant dates. The lifting of the excommunicaitons came during the Octave of Unity established by his namesake and favourite modern Pope, Benedict XV. S.P. came on the numerically memorable date of 7-7-07.

    So I'd pray for something regarding the TAC during this week, on which is celebrated the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury both by us and by the Anglicans. I realise that this is only a possibility but it's something to pray for.


  3. Anonymous8:33 PM

    On this entire issue of the Patriotic Association, I have now read the Letter of 2007 and the entire Compendium, including all the footnotes. My conclusion, also keeping in mind Cardinal Journet's analysis of jurisdiction for various Sacraments, is that the Pope is not conferring jurisdiction ex cathedra in the case of Chinese bishops and priests who are not in communion with him. Instead, he is publicly recognising cases of supplied jurisdiction.

    To answer my own earlier question here, jurisdiction in the case of Penance depends on the needs of the penitent, not the rights of the confessor; in fact, the rôle of the confessor is to come to the aid of the confessor as an act of charity and even rescue. Hence, when it is impossible or gravely inconvenient for a penitent to seek absolution from a priest having jurisdiction, the Church supplies jurisdiction to other validly-ordained priests to meet such needs. The Pope ends by pointing out that what constitutes grave inconvenience is necessarily determined by an honest penitent. I mean that the penitent cannot lie to himself--a sin--and turn a frivolity into a necessity.

    One could say that there is also a case of grave inconvenience for the Society supporter and that this must also be ulitmately determined by such supporters' *honest* assessments of the situation.

    Hence, from the Pope's words in the one case, we can at least examine if there is a parallel in the other, a parallel which would justify the S.S.P.X's position.

    What is critical in all of this is not whether or not there is supplied jurisdiction granted here or there. That is always debateable, even if it is often a debate one has with oneself. What is critical is that, in the case of China, the Holy Father is publicly endorsing the view that such cases apparently exist given the repression suffered there.

    Why would he make such an admission? It is for the good of souls, which is the end of his own authority.

    More to come in the next posting.


  4. Anonymous8:34 PM

    To continue from my last posting:

    This raises the question of whether or not the Pope might make a similar declaration in regard to the S.S.P.X. The Pope recognises that the members and supporters of the Society are Catholic, and that the law does not presume any particular one of them to be a schismatic (whereas some Catholics in China clearly are schismatics, at least in the case of some clerics).

    One problem I see here is the general perception (however mistaken) that the Pope is in some way legitimating communist schismatics but not tradiionalist non-schismatics: justice, to be whole, must not only be done but must also be seen to be done.

    Moreover, the Society has demonstrated good faith by entering into discussions with the Holy See and by recognising the authority of the Pope and local bishops. In contrast, the communist schismatics in China (some of them) refuse to contact the Holy See and refuse to acknowledge a de fide teaching regarding papal supremacy, even if they do not positively deny that teaching.

    It is arguable that, for the good of souls once again, His Holiness should make some unilateral gesture to bind the Society more surely to the See of Peter. It is a act of good faith for the Society to sit down and discuss doctrine while, at the same time, admitting that the Holy Father's Sacred Magisterium has jurisdiction to determine that doctrine. This is not a discussion between two equals; rather, one of the players is approaching the referee for a decision. The other player, the liberal, just continues his nefarious work in the mean time. What is crucial here, however, is the fact that the Society party admits this situation; it admits that the Pope is the referee and not just another player.

    The end of the Holy Father's jurisdiction is the salvation of souls. How can this best be satisfied here? Would it be best for His Holiness to allow this limbo to continue into the next pontificate and the one afterwards? That's what the Society bishops are happy to do. After all, they are much younger than he! But the next pope and the one after might have different attitudes towards tradition. In the mean time, may the Pope be solicitous for the needs of the faithful who have an honest attachment to the S.S.P.X, whether they be correct about that or no.

    So I call upon the Vicar of Christ to do the following: (a) publicly recognise that Society Masses fulfil the Sunday obligation so as to dispel massive confusion at this point, even if this recognition be accompanied by a warning and a negative recommendation in their regard; (b) grant faculties to the Society ex cathedra by first of all withdrawing its 1976 suppression and then simply extending its reach under an apostolic delegate who would also regulate norms for celebrating Traditional Masses and Sacraments worldwide. Indeed the present function of the P.C.E.D. to regulate the Articles of S.P. could be transferred to such a delegate while doctrinal functions are put under the Congregatino for Doctrine. The Pope could exercise his authority for this through papal nuntii where concordats require this; otherwise, it could be exercised through an apostolic delegate at Rome.

    It can be done.


  5. Iakovos2:38 AM

    Regarding one of several of "Anonymous"' comments here, viz., "... the Society has demonstrated good faith by entering into discussions with the Holy See and by recognizing the authority of the Pope and local bishops."

    This is simply a misleading statement, it is not true in fact or spirit. Generally, they regard most bishops with contempt, you should hear some of the sermons; and most still consider Benedict XVI better but still a "Counciliar Pope" (an epithet that also reveals their contempt for Vatican II; they have responded to Rome's efforts for peace with them with very transparent deal breakers over the years, a kind of canon law, doctrinal brinksmanship, not really dealing in good will. The point of sympathy from Rome for some schismatics, Orthodox Christians, e.g., and not others like the SSPX could make for an interesting discussion; but it won't get off the ground with such irresponsible statements, and others, such as quoted above.

  6. Anonymous2:34 PM

    Dear Mr Perkins,

    I thought I would share part of a letter I received from the PCED in response to my query that I had asked of the Commissio.
    I asked if assistance at an FSSPX chapel on Sundays and Holy Days fulfills the Sunday and Holy Day Obligation.

    I received this letter on 20 March, 2009 from the Pontifical Commision Ecclesia Dei and it is signed by Rev Msgr Camille Perl.

    The first part of the letter quotes the Holy Fathers letter of 10 March to the Bishops of the world on the fact that the FSSPX at present, does not possess a canonical status based not on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons, etc.

    But the pertinent information is at the end of his letter and I quote:

    "Our response is that it is possible to fulfill the obligation to assist at Masses of priests of the Society of St Pius X on Sundays and Holy Days, but until such time as their situation is regularized in the Church we cannot recommend your doing so."

    "Let us pray that this situation will be brought to a happy conclusion.

    With prayerful wishes I remain,
    Sincerely yours in Christ

    Rev Msgr Camille Perl
    Vice President"

    I see we have our answer on this matter.

    God bless

    PS, To Iokovos,

    Your statement, at least at the FSSPX Chapel that I assist at is untrue.

    The pastor there, frequently praise's the two Ordinaries of my state whenever they have issued statements condemning abortion and supporting life.
    The FSSPX pastor has on several occasions read letters to the faithful from the Diocesan bishop and he has also participated with the Ordinary in several Marches for Life and catechesis seminars.

    He also frequently praise's Pope Benedict XVI courage and leadership in standing up to the wolves in the Church.
    God bless.

  7. Iakovos4:01 PM

    To Dan Hunter: Thank you for reporting on this good news from your chapel. I can speak only generally and from my experience. I do think the "base" of the SSPX, leadership downwards to the followers over the years, have been energized with certain slogans and mantras -- "you can't trust Rome" -- "Modernist Bishops and Modernist Rome" -- as well as the example of being radically independent spirit v. unity -- that this is enough to justify my response to "Anonymous", at least in this context.

    Glory to Him forever!

  8. Anonymous5:05 PM

    Dear Iakovos:

    In fact, I agree with some of your statements. I particularly agree with your use of the term 'deal-breaker'. I sometimes use the term 'deal-killer' to express the view that hardliners in the Society simply ask for things which they know in advance Rome will not or politically cannot grant.

    However, the term 'bargaining in good faith' is a legal one. It really just means that a party has entered into a de facto agreement and has not broken that agreement. The Society did pose two pre-conditions for discussions with the Holy See. Bishop Fellay said in an issue of "The Angelus" that "Summorum Pontificum" did not entirely fulfil the condition of freeing the old Mass, and I agree with him that *so far*, Rome has not implemented S.P. adequately to achieve that end, although Article 1 does provide the scope for Rome to take further measures. Anyway, Bishop Fellay said that S.P. was 'good enough' for the Society, even though it has not yet completely freed the old Mass. So he has not tried to kill a deal here.

    The second pre-condition was the lifting of the censures of excommunication. Again, Fellay has accepted the Decree of 21st January, even though hardliners in his Society have rejected this on the grounds that the Decree did not declare the 1988 penalty to be null and void but only lifted it. You must appreciate the fact that Bishop Fellay had to expel Fr. Basilio Méramo, an influential Society priest, over this. In other words, the Society has had to risk fracture to accept Rome's responses.

    The Society said from the beginning that it would not accept a canonical structure until Rome resolved doctrinal difficulties. The two parties have now entered into discussion 'in good faith', meaning that they have not violated promises and are taking a joint action to resolve problems.

    Whatever some local Society priests may say about this has no bearing on 'good faith' negotiations, just as what some liberal miscreants, like Cardinal Baloney, say, also has no bearing on the matter.


  9. Anonymous5:19 PM

    Dear Mr. Hunter:

    I have received a similar letter from Msgr. Perl but did not report on it on-line because he asked that I not disseminate the information. I decided to respect his office, and so I have never published the letter he sent to me.

    But several people have reported this answer now and it has even appeared in full on Fr. Zuhlsdorf's site. A response to a clarification from Una Voce, dated 2003, has also appeared on-line. This is hardly surprising, since Msgr. Perl has been admitting this in private letters now since 2002 (and I also have the original letter on the matter from the one who first asked and then immediately published it all. In fac, I have several letters such as yours downloaded from the net and printed.)

    More recently, I asked him simply if what applies to the S.S.P.X Masses also applies to Masses of indepdenent priests. His answer has been affirmative: Masses of independent priests also fulfil the Sunday obligation but Rome cannot recommend our attendance at them. By 'independent' priests, I mean those who are not affiliated with Rome or the S.S.P.X. or with any other group--'loners'. This has very great implications because there are far more unaffiliated priests saying the Traditional Latin Mass in the U.S.A. (e.g.) than there are Society priests.

    To my recollection, Msgr. Perl did admit in one of the letters to someone that, by now, the news is out and is therefore not a secret. Whether or not he wrote that, it certainly is the case, which means that Rome could reveal the information publicly together with a statement that Rome cannot recommend attendance at unapproved Masses. In fact, it is arguable that Rome should do so simply to resolve widespread confusion on the true status of the S.S.P.X. Most faithful are not canonists and there are now people asking if this means that one can go to Confession at a Society chapel, etcetera.


  10. Anonymous5:40 PM

    Mr Perkins,

    Pertaining to the last part of your last posting, I agree fully.

    My father in fact, quite recently, went to confession to an FSSPX priest.

    He normally goes to a diocesan priest, but was visiting my wife and myself and we went to an FSSPX Mass this past Sunday.

    I have told him and my mother that the Society has not at present time been granted faculties to hear confessions.

    He is a good and simple man who did not understand what that means, so he went to confession before Mass because he saw a priest go into a confessional and people form a line outside the confessional and he assumed that he could stand in that line and go to confession, like he has done for seventy years.

    Most people just want to have their sins forgiven sacramentally and like my father, who is as honest and simple as they come, do not know from faculties or jurisdiction.

    This must be cleared up for them.

    Doesn't God Will that all men be saved?

    God bless.

  11. Anonymous9:32 PM

    Dear Mr. Hunter:

    Yes, I agree entirely. The Pope could simply grant faculties to the Society priests ex cathedra, using his universal and immediate plenary and supreme authority. If this means making an exception for Bsp. Williamson, so be it. W. wouldn't mind. Relying on supplied jurisdiction, for him, is a badge of honour--and the exception would enable Bsp. Fellay to 'prove' that, even if thankful for the Pope's grant--the Society has not chosen to rely on it for now.



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