Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fr. Z Expects SSPX Reconciliation [Updated]

Headline says it all. Not much more. Acceptance of Vatican II -- all of it, including freedom of religion -- seems to be the quid pro quo.

Consensus of the woodland creatures.

For the record, the Bear accepts Vatican II. And also for the record, he believes it is hard to make out what it's all about. But he's certain that whatever it means, if anything, is binding on him, in a sort of pastoral way, at the very least, and possibly in the rigorous sense of anathemas, that is, if there were anathemas.


  1. From a doctrinal point of view, I have never seen the actual documents of Vatican II to be all that much of a deal -- the fuzzy points are fuzzy (use the fuzziness) and because the Council itself is more so about application of doctrine rather than doctrine itself, it is more a question of obedience rather than faith.

    Granted, if you are going to try to interpret Vatican II through a Neo-Thomistic prism, your life is going to be hard.

    Two quick points on Vatican II.

    1.) Vatican II has been course corrected multiple times over the years via magisterial doctrinal documents. Vatican II's issues on certain subjects need to be read in the light of pre VII and post vII documents that are doctrinal in nature. For example, issues on religious freedom MUST be read in the light of Dominus Iesus, which really corrects a lot of the "mistakes".

    2.) For those that don't know, there are not small problems with the translations of the official documents. The English translation that you are likely to find is the one by Austin Flannery. You want the BLUE cover not the GREEN cover.

    Bonus: Years ago, when I did my MA, I was taught that the footnotes, as they reference doctrine, are more important (supersede) than the actual wording of the VII text.

    1. Usually it would be considered bad style for the footnotes of a document to supersede the actual wording of the body of text. Stylistically, the footnotes should support the body of the text, not supersede it, right? Kind of thing they teach you in "Intro to Expository Writing," for first year college students, or in high school, or maybe in junior high. Is it okay just to point out the Council Fathers had bad style, or is that "disobedient?"

    2. Jesse -- this has to do with the hierarchy of assent that Catholics give to different grades of theological truth or to the type of magisterial document that is being cited. Even the different documents of Vatican II hold different ranks of teaching authority.

      This is easier to explain with the Catechism. The CCC is contained within the Apostolic Constitution FIDEI DEPOSITUM. This is the same category of magisterial rank as LUMEN GENTIUM.

      Here is what then Card. Ratzinger says in "Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church" page 25. "This does not mean that the catechism is a sort of super-dogma...The individual doctrines which the Catechism presents receive no other weight than that which they already possess. The weight of the Catechism itself lies in the whole. Since it transmits what the Church teachers, whoever rejects it as a whole separates himself beyond question from the faith and teaching of the Church. " Thus, the text of the Catechism exists as an authentic expounding of the magisterium of points of the Faith, but the authoritative weight of the particular expounded point lies in the authority of the cited source. The authority of the totality of the Catechism lies in the authenticity by which the document transmits the authority of the cited sources.

      Just as the Catechism of Trent represents the authentic mind of the Fathers of Trent, so too does the Universal Catechism and we can apply this principle of authority to Vatican II.

      Practically, what this means is that the cited sources are authoritatively more important than the mode of their explanation. The source contains the doctrine/dogma and the text is the pastoral expounding.

      Let us leave aside the question to whether or not the pastoral expounding of doctrine contains new doctrine or new definitions or just a different pastoral approach.

      Two neat points here.

      1.) Ratzinger is suggesting that one can disagree with parts of the Catechism even while accepting the totality of it. One can apply the same logic to VII.

      2.) It sounds like the way out of difficulties with VII and the Catechism is acceptance of the dogma/doctrine contained in the sources, acceptance of the authenticity of the teaching authority of the document, disagreement with the pastoral mode of presentation.

    3. Sorry for my sarcasm. But my point is much simpler. The church is producing some really bad prose. For purely aesthetic reasons they should be ashamed to let this stuff go to print. But begond that, "art" is a virtue. It involves craftsmanship and style. (The Bear demonstrates the virtue of art in his ephemera.) The virtues hang together; if somebody publishes a document that so radically lacks the virtue of art, it's a tell that something may be off in its manifesting faith, hope, and love as well.

    4. Well, when it comes to prose, the bible itself is far from a high work of "art". So I don't think that is a good criteria.

      Besides, Church Councils don't produce art, they produce sausage. Don't look too closely at it, unless you see the gristle, don't watch how the butcher makes it, unless you see the offal that goes into it.

    5. (I have to get a different picture.) Faithful owe some assent to all of it. They shouldn't play amateur theologian by figuring out just what degree they owe assent! Only safe answer for laity is to agree 100%. -- Bunny Rabbit

    6. I assent to hassenpfeffer - 100%

  2. Yes, I've seen how they use partial quotes to justify some proposition. God wants all men to be saved. End quote. But wait, what about and come to the knowledge of truth? Significant? Maybe, maybe not, but it makes me go hmmm.

    Since you seem to know what you're talking about, unlike me, would it task you too much to provide a half dozen new doctrinal propositions from Vatican II? Well, there's some ecumenism in there. Okaaaay... What does that mean for me? Yes, God loves everyone and each religion is a special snowflake, but wait: Satan is probably going to deceive you without the Church. And woah, even though those other religions might be good enough for those people, anyone who leaves the Church is flat-out going to Hell. In fact, the Bear's favorite joke is apparently only Catholics are liable to go to Hell. (Lumen Gentium.)

    Maybe my problem is that I read the docs like a lawyer, and see much circumlocution, padding, and ambivalence, but without that coin of doctrine.

    I have often wondered if the Holy Spirit has a fail safe that makes very clever men who want to get away with something fail to produce anything that is binding. How much of what Pope Francis has been up to cannot be in good conscience washed away by a single orthodox pope?

    I am sure you have read Trent. Cha-Ching -- anathema. Cha-Ching -- anathema. Not many doubts there. But Vatican II didn't want to use mean old negative anathemas.

    I might say to my kids. Children, God loves everyone, even crack dealers. Crack dealers are your brothers. Crack is fine for them, although you should stay away from it, unless you're encountering them, walking with them. But as loved as crack dealers are, they are probably going to be arrested and go to prison, or even shot down. But we're all brothers, and we must not look at them with suspicion. In fact, we ought to have some over for dinner. We have so much in common.

    I dunno. That might confuse kids. "Stay the Hell away from the crack dealers! If I catch you with a block of those crack dealers you are going to get anathematized on your butt with my belt. Got it, Junior?"

    Pretty clear, that.

    1. Depends on what your definition of "new" is. I am not trying to be flippant here, but there is "not articulated that WAY before", and "not articulated that way BEFORE" and "NOT articulated that way before".

      The reality is that Ecumenical Councils do say "new" things, both in terms of practice (Trent normalizing and unifying the discipline of the sacraments), splitting the baby between different theological positions, aka being vague, (Trent using the term "transubstantiation" but giving a non-Thomistic definition), and moving the Church in a different direction than where it had been heading (Trent puts the Church on a heading that is unifying and centralizing).

      Vatican II didn't invent the partial quote to justify a position, though it does do it in ways that are really unjustifiable.

      You seem to be touching on the issue of the "anonymous Christian", Rahner's invention, that wormed its way into Vatican II. Vatican II had people who were really for this idea, and people who were really against it. Since a good chunk of the purpose of VII is to deal with "what is the Church and its relationship to the world", the issue of "what is a Christian" also comes up. You can blame the contradictory vagueness on the inability of the prelates to agree.

    2. For the last several centuries, Catholicism was about 30-40 years behind in dealing with any issues that arose in Protestantism. Even Trent is 30-40 years after the proto-Protestants hashed things out over those same issues. Trent isn't so much anti-Protestant but rather the Church dealing with important issues that the Protestants dealt with decades ago. 30-40 years prior to VII, the Protestant communities were going through serious existential issues that came about from dealing with the aftermath of WWI. As a whole, the trend was to move away from confessionalism towards a more universalist theology. Vatican II finally deals with those issues from 30-40 years ago, and chooses a similar choice. The "Spirit of Vatican II" can be argued to be the move away from Roman Confessionalism towards a universalist position.

      However, Catholicism has a fail safe that Protestants don't. The universalism that got in will rot Protestantism all away. Catholicism, though, has Tradition. Tradition doesn't allow for the Deposit of Faith or sensus fidelium to be directly contradicted or evolved beyond. If someone does that, they are a material heretic. As the Church Militant rots, it will become more and more apparent as to where the faith is -- and faith is a virtue given by God.

      You have spoken of how you sense that God is bringing about something wondrous that we cannot foresee. Yes, but God is a refining fire and the dross will be burned away from the gold. The rot will consume the local churches that don't have Faith. Which is why I have mentioned that it is so very important to have your local priest's foot nailed to the floor. One cannot hide in a liturgically rigorous parish, the rot is there too, even if to a lesser extent. The floor that we must be nailed to is the Faith that has been handed to us -- Faith given to us by God and passed to us by the generations that have come before us. Nail your priest's foot to the floor along with yours else one day you might wake up and your local parish is no more.

      Vatican II really truly is not "the problem" but rather a symptom. We cannot go back to 1958 because the rot is still there, just under the surface.

      Very clever men rarely agree about anything -- too much pride and willfulness in the same room. I say this as a clever person. Now a bunch of farmers, or perhaps fishermen...The simple and meek shall inherit the Church.

      I have now officially gone on for too are right, a good Pope would fix a lot of the mess (also have a rebellion on his hands from the heterodox bishops). But what we can do is to spread the true Gospel message, which is not "God loves and accepts you for who you are" but rather "God loves you despite of who you are and wills that you be who He calls you to be".

    3. Really good comments Lurker, you could have gone for more as far as I'm concerned.
      But the Deposit of Faith is being tinkered with right now, and there are strong indications Tradition is being run over right now. Any thoughts on what might happen to correct this?

    4. Something wonderful. But after everything above the foundation is swept away, bulldozed, hit like a mobile home in a tornado gone.

    5. Kathleen~

      Humans desire utopia, the shinning city on a hill, eternal Rome, Paradise, etc. The drive to return to the Gardan is strong. However, God isn't taking us back to our mythic home, but He is taking us to His.

      So I don't think that a giant reset switch is in the cards nor even really a massive rewriting of the last 60 years. The Church will go on, she will endure and suffer greatly as she has all these countless years.

      The local experience of the Church will change. Great Bear sees the whirlwind that sweeps everything but the foundation away. I see the same thing as rot, rotting timbers, collapsing houses, ruined lives, a pile, a mess, a rebuilding from within the mess. Some may survive, many will be lost.

      As laity, we cannot do much but buy nails and nail everyone's foot to the floor, especially the priest's. Pray for God's mercy that we might be spared. If you are in a good parish, don't despise the people in then bad parish down the road. Many are trapped there, most will die there, difficult is their salvation. Pray for them.

      Tradition has been given to you to protect and pass on whole and intact. Do so. Don't let other people rob you or your children or your children's children.

  3. One can "accept Vatican II" only because of its imprecisions, which clearly are meant to be understood in the most liberal and anti-Trent sense, but can be easily clouded over for those who wished to believe that nothing had caged. Bergoglio has stated (I wish I could find a citation, but I can't) that he is finally going to realize VII. So there will be more challenges coming out.

    AL was pretty blatant (especially since it was already written 10 years ago by Bergoglio's bosom buddy, Tucho Fernández) and while there has been a lot of disturbance and comment from the laity, there have only been mild, uncertain murmurings from the people who are supposed to be the shepherds. So I think Bergoglio is emboldened now and we can expect a serious challenge, such as an oath of allegiance or something that will be completely unacceptable.

    That said, if Bergoglio is offering to let in the SSPX without their accepting certain thngs in the Council, this is only because he wants to (a) control them and (b) offer the same deal to the Lutherans at his love-fest with them. That is, they don't have to accept the Catholic Faith as defined by anything except their understanding of it. And he will point to the SSPX as another example of this arrangement.

    It's a trap.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Well Benedict is on record telling a Lutheran woman who expressed an interest in converting to Catholicism--that she should remain a Lutheran. Yes it's confirmed and not a rumor. Sad but true.

      As far as Frank's faggot buddy Fernandez, author of The Art of Kissing and ghost writer for Frank's encyclicals, I think we should respectfully refer to him by his official nickname: Smoochy.

      What a sordid lot occupies the Vatican
      these days.


    2. We keep thinking we've seen it all, and then here comes Smoochy, oh my word.
      I certainly hope the SSPX is smart enough to hold off. I wouldn't make any deals with Bergolio, there is absolutely nothing he has done that indicates anything other than he would like to be in charge of the order so he can dismantle it, or at least make them profoundly miserable. I cannot imagine they are not wise to this.

  4. FYI -- If anyone wants to go way down the VII rabbit hole

    Vorgrimler, Herbert, ed. COMMENTARY ON THE DOCUMENTS OF VATICAN II. 5 Vols. Trans. Lalit Adolphus et al. New York: Herder and Herder, 1969.

    Warning: Sausage Making. Sometimes it is best not to know the process of how things are made. This set of books is to be read along with the RHINE FLOWS INTO THE TIBER.

    1. RFItT is a great book, and respected by pretty much everyone. It is a sad story, though. I'll never forget reading about how they humiliated Cardinal Ottaviano by cutting his mic off in the middle of his speech (although he did run over, but still...)

    2. True, but prior to that Card Ottaviani, whose commission drafted the original schemas, was trying to play hardball and basically get the Fathers to rubber stamp the schemas in total. Card. Ottaviani was over-playing his hand and the result was the Latin American bishops uniting with the French and German bloc to swing the Council in the direction of aggiornamento/resourcement and away from the Old Guard Neo-Thomistic positions. It didn't help that the Old Guard's initial setup of the Council was dismissive to the Eastern Catholic Patriarch's ecclesial rank and theological positions. This allowed the anti-Old Guard to gain support from the Eastern Catholics and abuse Eastern positions for their own gain.(for example, mass in the vernacular).

      Rightly or wrongly, the Father were largely "done" with Card. Ottaviani by the time his mic was cut.

    3. Two more stories of sausage making.

      Card. Bea is responsible for saving the inspiration of scripture in Dei Veribum. It was going to be neutered.

      Card. Bernard Law was the one responsible for the fact of us having the Universal Catechism. Yes, that Card. Law.

  5. They will NEVER accept it. This has been part of their fight since the beginning, abandoning it would mean to betray their most important principles. It would make them the laughing stock of the resistance movement and the sedes.

    1. Bishop Fellay has already said that they accept 9 5 % of Vatican II.

    2. From what I understand, so did Bishop Lefebvre. I think he voted against the final version of only "Gaudium et Spes" and "Dignitatis Humanae."

  6. Vatican II is actually pretty clear. Archbishop Lefebvre had no problem signing the documents. The problem is you can either read the documents as if the Catholic Faith is true so it cannot contract anything before Vatican II (i.e. hermeneutic of continuity) or you can read it as if the Catholic Faith is our best attempt at truth but it can be improved and modernized since each age is unique (i.e. the hermeneutic of the world, the flesh, and the devil). If read properly, the bulk of what happened since Vatican II: from the Mass to the religious life to the vocation of the laity contradicts the prescriptions of the Council and it needs to be fixed by a courageous Pope.

    Once difficulty the council fathers faced was Pope John XVIII's call to present all the Catholic faith in positive rather than negative terms. The problem is, the Church didn't have much experience in doing this so it failed in many points. For instance try explaining the full doctrine of Hell positively. It can be done, but it's hard to express in such a way that it is both positive and you're concerned that you can go there because the mind is great at self-justification. So now we're left with the impression that few people go to Hell (since we're not Stalin or Hitler), and even if you did go, you'd be with all the "cool" people of history.

    IMO, it would have been much better if Pope John XVII commissioned a Universal Catechism rather than Vatican II. The same "positive approach" could still be attempted, but Catechisms could be amended as more experience.

    1. Sorry, you lost me with "try explaining the full doctrine of Hell positively…" Explaining scary things positively takes away all the scariness - and when you place 'luv' and 'murcie' before anything remotely scary you get what we got.

  7. Vatican II was just an excuse. They would have found another way to de-construct the Catholic faith if it never happened.
    There are men within the church who hate Catholicism and how it has been practiced for 2000 years. They wish to de-construct it and replace it with their vision of the church and the faith.
    They have been wildly successful. The only counter to it would have been a strong defense of Catholic identity, teaching, and practice, voiced by our clergy and laity, and that relentlessly.
    In comparison to the actions of the wreck-o-vators, it has been a whisper. That is obvious and yes, a profound disappointment.
    I'm no prophet. I have no idea what will happen. But it seems likely only divine intervention can take care of this situation.

  8. Bear thinks what he thinks about Vatican II and cannot give assent to documents he cannot understand. Maybe Bear is stupid and God will forgive him for failing to find unambiguous teaching in VII documents. A bony horse indeed. Bear is not a theologian, just a dumb brute.

    1. Great Bear isn't dumb, but, from what I have heard, was once a skilled lawyer along the journey of his long life. As a lawyer, Bear is very smart in not assenting to a document that he cannot understand. I would also believe that Bear is wise enough to know also not to deny a document that he doesn't understand, either.

      What gets me through trying times, whether it be reading some theological work that is very difficult for this former Protestant to agree with, dealing with the all to human aspects of the episcopate, or just sitting through another painful mass is Mark 9:24.

      Don't mean that I am going to sit there and take it though. I believe, or try to, but sometimes it is obvious, at least to me, that that which I believe in, and am praying to understand, isn't what is believed in by the other person.

      Consider also conditional assent -- believe in so far as the document teaches the Faith. Leave it up to others to hash out the "how so far".

    2. Conditional assent is exactly what I outlined in my half-joking explanation in the main article. The actual Vatican II documents are what they are, and very little impacts my life in any way. I actually enjoy a few Vatican II changes. I like my LOTH. Sure, no more heads shattered far and wide, but if I have a hankering for some MA Violence prayer, I always have my St. Meinrad Archabbey four-week cycle. Ironically, I notice in Christian Prayer, which is what we use, some of the language is actually behind where the Church has since gone.

      Religious freedom is odd. The Americans insisted. Isn't it really saying that everyone is encouraged to make possibly very poor choices about their eternal destiny while having very little knowledge of the state of things? That seems to treat souls a bit cavalierly, in the Bear's view. And it does smack of indifferentism -- just a bit.

    3. According to my instructor in "Advocacy and Argument," which I took my sophomore year in college, rejecting an argument you don't understand is precisely right -- I pass on my hugs, kisses, and little gold star that he awarded me on that occasion, to you, Bear.

    4. The "religious freedom" aspects need to be taken first from two aspects:

      1.) Religion, by its very nature, must be free to speak and engage within the public sphere without ANY hindrance by the secular state. The language is directed against the understanding of the relationship between Church and State present in Protestant countries (America), communist countries (Russia), non-Christian countries (Iran).

      Now, what is and what is not a religion? Is Islam free to speak or can a Christian state restrict its freedom? What about Protestantism? Judaism? Buddhism? Satanism?

      2.) The right of a individual believer to speak and engage religiously within the secular sphere without interference from the State.

      The modern world, especially during the 60's, was hell bent on making religion shutup about anything but social justice issues -- especially Christians.

      But yes, the language that is used ends up being confused and leaves the interpenetration that the individual has the freedom to choose whatever belief system that they would like. Not true. People have an ethical and moral obligation to become Catholic and practice the Catholic Faith. Again, Dominus Iesus corrects lots of the missinterpretations around "religious freedom". Yes, this is a dead horse that I will beat. People complain about VII and want it fixed...well there ARE fixes. Yes, things can be fixed more.

  9. I attend a sedevacantist independent chapel comprised mainly of former SSPX members who were afraid of this very thing. Archbishop LeFebvre wasn't a sedevacantist, but he believed in the possibility of sedevacantism. I wonder what he would think today.

    Seattle kim

  10. I actually think this is the pope to reconcile the SSPX precisely because he is so imprecise in language. He simply doesn't care about semantics - say whatever you want, interpret it however you want, and Fr. Lombardi will attempt to interpret it in light of the Catholic faith. Simply put, the SSPX can accept VII by interpreting the documents in any way that suits them, and the pope won't care. So long as they "accept" the documents, they are in. And on top of it, the pope gets a double bonus by being "merciful" and allowing the SSPX to have full faculties and licitly ordained priests and bishops. And this pope doesn't seem to put a lot of emphasis on a specific way to say mass - say it old school, say it new school, say it on a hoverboard, say it with a ukulele. All are valid to him. All of the standard reasons for the SSPX not to be accepted are gone - precise language and acceptance of certain ways to say mass. It is a perfect storm for both sides.

    1. I think you may be right in how you are characterizing Pope Francis: that he doesn't care what anybody thinks Vatican II means, so long as [or in order that] everybody can be nice together and get along. But, appropriately, the SSPX has too much respect for the Pope to use him in this way. They are clear that they will continue to speak about Vatican II as they always have - which is not "interpreting it as it suits them" but does involve critizing its ambiguities and novelties - and will allow the Pope the dignity to decide whether he will "regularize" the relationship by accepting them as they are without attempting to manipulate him with a vague or ambiguous compromise. In all of this, Bishop Fellay has been quite clear.

    2. And, because it considers the Church to be in a state of emergency, the SSPX considers itself to already have faculties and licit ordination under the terms of canon law. People can agree or disagree, but something like that is the SSPX's self-understanding. As a result, they don't see themselves as needing to negotiate; they don't see themselves as needing to take advantage of Pope Francis' willingness to make a utilitarian use of Vatican II's ambiguous language in order to get something in return. They see themselves in such a way that it positions them to treat Francis in a straight-forward, above-board manner.

    3. Yes, your comment is very clear. I agree that we are seeing something odd. Pope Francis is saying "hey come back, we love you, believe what you want, I'm happy!" And Bishop Fellay is saying "we have never gone away, so just give us the signal and we will carry on."

  11. Vatican II was a pastoral council intended for the people of the 60s. I was not even born, so I think it was not for me but for my parents. By the way they both became socialists for a while and even thought to join the South American guerrilla. Then they stopped thinking about it and came back to the Catholic Church. As my mother told me.

    1. FATIMA

      We battle for Mass
      Daily it’s said.
      We battle for schools
      Where God is not dead.

      We battle for books
      Published and read
      We battle for peace
      Retreats are priest led.

      We battle to shield
      Motherhoods’ plight
      To let her nurse child
      At home day and night.

      We battle for men
      Who quietly fight
      Support them in prayer
      To lead us to right.

      We battle for truth
      Professed in the Creed
      Say “NO” to the wolves
      Who twist it indeed.

      We battle for grace
      We drink it like mead
      It quenches our thirst
      Refreshed so to heed…

      All that is said
      By wolves wearing rings
      Corrupting the facts
      With traditional slings.

      But triumph is coming
      Heart Immaculate brings
      ‘Cause the war ain’t over…
      Till FATIMA sings!!

    2. Hello, Lady Long-Skirts. Regards from Mar del Plata. You are kind of a legend here.


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