Feb 7, 2009

Right Hand Man

Sandro Magister of Chiesa.it writes the most complete and accurate analysis of the Vatican debacle on the lifting of the excommunication of the Lefebvrist bishops. Read the whole article here, but in short Magister’s points are;

This was a double disaster of management and communication.

The Lefebvrists were in schism with the Church, and “The lifting of this excommunication therefore did not by any means heal the schism between Rome and the Lefebvrists, just as the lifting of the excommunications between Rome and patriarchate of Constantinople … did not by any means mark a return to unity between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches of the East.

The media presented this as “the Church of Rome was simply clasping the Lefebvrists to its bosom.”

Both Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the congregation for bishops and cardinal, Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the president of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei, bear responsibility for not knowing that Bishop Williamson was a denier of the Shoah. Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the pontifical council for the promotion of Christian unity was out of the loop.

Currently the media is only blaming Castrillón Hoyos, and of course Pope Benedict, but Magister rightly concludes who should have been on top of this situation from the beginning, coordinating the various dicasteries.

Since Paul VI on, the secretariat of state has been the apex and the engine of the curia machine. It has direct access to the pope, and governs the implementation of every one of his decisions. It entrusts this to the competent offices, and coordinates their work. So then, throughout the entire affair of the lifting of the excommunications for the Lefebvrist bishops, the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, despite his highly active and outspoken nature, distinguished himself by his absence.

Magister writes that because “Benedict XVI has given up on reforming the curia … it is conjectured that he compensated for this non-decision by entrusting the leadership of the offices to a tough, dynamic secretary of state, Bertone.” But Bertone does most of his work outside of the Vatican, “in an endless round of conferences, celebrations, inaugurations.”

Bertone's personal devotion to Benedict XVI is beyond all doubt. Not so that of the other curia officials, who continue to have free rein. It is possible that some of them deliberately oppose this pontificate. It is certain that most of them simply do not understand it, do not measure up to it.”

* * *

In a related note, George Weigel writes that Bishop Bernard Fellay’s response to Pope Benedict may indicate the schism has not healed:

“For it is not easy to see how the unity of the Catholic Church will be advanced if the Lefebvrist faction does not publicly and unambiguously affirm Vatican Council II's teaching on the nature of the Church, on religious freedom, and on the sin of anti-Semitism. Absent such an affirmation, pick-and-choose cafeteria Catholicism will be reborn on the far fringes of the Catholic right, just when it was fading into insignificance on the dwindling Catholic left, its longtime home.”

13 comments :

Thomas Shawn said...

Alas, Fellay may be insane. He had denied the Shoah many times before and any time you mentioned that you preferred the Latin Mass this was beaten over your head.

Why did the SSPX send Fellay as their negotiator? Perhaps they are not so interested in union. They are becoming the dominant force in France at this point.

Does Fellay also deny St Maximillian Kolbe? Where does he draw the line?

My own take is that the SSPX is so right on Vatican II and Fellay is so wrong on all of history.

Luckily Vatican II defined no new doctrines (whew!) so there is nothing for Weigel to shove down anyone's throats.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Isn't that funny. When I read the Conciliar documents (which is every week), I see only truth, goodness and beauty. I guess we have different perspectives. My perspective is one of faith and is shared by Pope Benedict XVI, who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, explained in The Ratzinger Report that the problem is not with the documents promulgated by Vatican II but with their false interpretation under the guise of advancing "the spirit of Vatican II."

Let's not forget what the Church taught at the Council of Trent: "the Bishops who succeeded in the place of the Apostles belong by excellence to the hierarchical order, and are appointed by the Holy Spirit to rule over the Church of God" (Denzinger 960).

It was St. Ignatius of Antioch who said, "He that honors the Bishop is honored by God, he that does anything without the Bishop, serves the Devil" (Smyrn. 8, 1-2).

Where does that leave the SSPX? Or those who attack or ridicule an Ecumenical Council? Something to think about.

Michelle said...

The Holy Father has praised the Second Vatican Council as "Providential" and has said that the Council was not the rupture with the past that liberals say it was, but rather a "continuity" of church history.

You're right Thomas in saying that, "Vatican II defined no new doctrines." What then is the problem? Vatican II merely reaffirmed what the Church had always taught.

JayG said...

It's also my understanding that it was Williamson who revised the Shoah, I'm not aware that Fellay said anything of that nature. I think it was Fellay's father or grandfather who was killed in a Nazi concentration camp.

Williamson is a disturbed distration. The Rabbi has it right.

Thomas Shawn said...

Sorry, looks like I mixed up my Fellay and my Williamson.

"When I read the Conciliar documents (which is every week), I see only truth, goodness and beauty."

Paul - you see all those things but you also see no new doctrines.

So there's nothing on which to question anyone's Faith, on which to excommunicate anyone or really anything to talk about.

All Councils are equally valid (again, whew!)

Michelle said...

Thomas, you miss the point. Anyone who rejects Vatican II must reject previous Church Councils. The Council reaffirmed the perennial teaching of the Church.

You wrote, "My own take is that the SSPX is so right on Vatican II." The SSPX rejects Vatican II! By insisting that the SSPX "is so right on Vatican II," you are in effect rejecting Vatican II.

Your attitude is disturbing.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

I agree Michelle. Bishop Bernard Fellay has said that the SSPX "cannot accept" all of the Second Vatican Council. In fact, he has said that ther is "a dangerous spirit that runs through the whole Council." Such an attitude is very troubling since it is the Holy Spirit Who guides and protects an Ecumenical Council which has been promulgated by the Sovereign Pontiff.

As Father Hardon explains:

"Infallibility and Changes in the Church

It will be useful to look for a few minutes at one aspect of the Church’s infallibility that poses a problem to many Catholics.

If the Church is infallible, and if infallibility implies immutability, i.e., no change, then how explain the vast chain reaction of changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council?

In order to do justice to that question we first recall that the essential purpose of infallibility is to insure the preservation of the truth, as a condition for the mediation of grace.

Given this fact, we go on to ask what happens when the Church introduces changes that seem to contradict her unchangeable preservation of the truth.

One of three things happens on each of the three levels of the Church’s infallible teaching authority, or a combination of any two or three of them:

Regarding Belief

In matters of doctrine pertaining to belief, e.g., the mysteries of faith, there is such thing as development of doctrine. This means that while the substance of the mystery remains unchanged objectively, the subjective understanding or appropriation of what God has revealed can become clearer and deeper with the passage of time.
The “change” therefore is in the direction of greater clarity and depth of understanding, but no contradiction between what the Church had taught before and what it teaches now, e.g., children confessions.

Regarding Moral Conduct

In matters of morality, there is also development of doctrine and always an awareness of moral behavior as a means of meriting grace (for precepts) and of avoiding the loss of grace (for prohibitions).
Part of the Church’s development of moral doctrine is her awareness of the needs of the times, or of progress say in medicine or in social relationships—thus, e.g., the Church’s position on the social obligations of ownership. But always the substantials of moral truth remain unchanged.

Regarding Worship

In worship and ritual, the vast changes in the Liturgy and administration of the sacraments follow the same pattern. There has been development of doctrine, and there has been a divinely guided adaptation of the Liturgy to the needs of the faithful, infallibly assuring them of the communication of grace. Thus the dawn of the communications age has given rise to a greater consciousness of the faithful as community, of the Church as assembly of believers, of worshippers as a mystical body glorifying God together, and has found expression across the whole spectrum of Catholic liturgical life.

But always the faithful have the assurance that the essentials of revelation on the sacraments as channels of grace remain unchanged." (Source: http://www.
therealpresence.org/archives/
Church_Dogma/Church_Dogma_040.htm

If Thomas Shawn really agrees with the SSPX and Bernard Fellay on Vatican II, his attitude is anything but Catholic.

Thomas Shawn said...

Oh well, tell it to the Pope who seems undisturbed (to say the least) about critique of VII. This is about Williamson's nutbag views which only puts him on par with other USCCB superstars.

It was always an old internet chestnut that the SSPX priests and Bishops were illegit (no valid orders.) Funny how their current positions are not even in question by the Vatican. Many, many SSPX priests have simply transferred to dioceses all over Europe.

Michelle .. that's the rub .. there's nothing to reject .. there's no new doctrines.

Give a honest read to books like The Rhine Flowed into the Tiber by Hildebrand for example. It's a subtle issue.

The exciting thing is that the resurrection of the SSPX may usher in the suppression of orders like the Jesuits (not their first offence, either.)

Michelle said...

If the Pope is really "undisturbed to say the least" about criticism of Vatican II, then why has he gone out of his way on numerous occasions to stress the continuity of Vatican II with previous Councils while referring to Vatican II as "Providential"?

Paul Melanson posted the following quote from University of Notre Dame professor Ralph McInerny. I suggest you read it prayerfully and meditate on what he's saying:


"Contemporary accounts of Vatican II portrayed it as a battle between two forces, conservative and liberal, the hidebound and progressive. As a result, the documents of the council came to to be looked upon as the triumph of one side over the other. The good guys who had won were the progressives. That such a political division existed among members of the press who covered the council is undeniable. That a similar division could be found among the theological experts [periti] who advised individual bishops or national conferences of bishops is also true. And there doubtless were prelates who regarded the members of the Vatican Curia as obstacles to the renewal that John XXIII had called for. Does this mean that the council was a victory for one side and a defeat for the other? This question indicates the limitations of such a factional interpretation. The Church is not merely a human organization. She is a divinely instituted mystery whose life is guided by the Holy Spirit. Whatever wrangling went on outside St. Peter's, however much a partisan spirit might have been carried within, when the various schemata were argued over and revised, once they received a majority of the votes of the Fathers of the council and were promulgated by Paul VI, they could no longer be looked upon as the product or property of some party within the Church. Now they were regulative of the faith of all Catholics. No Catholic could presume to reject the council and think that he remained a loyal member of the Church." (pp. 150-151).

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Thomas, The Rhine flows into the Tiber was not written by Hildebrand (either Dietrich or Alice - who is a personal friend) but by Father Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D.

I would encourage you to read my latest post on Vatican II and so-called "traditionalist" Catholics who reject the Council all or in part.

God love you,
Paul.

Thomas Shawn said...

Paul -

You're right, I was thinking of
The Trojan Horse in the City of God: The Catholic Crisis Explained (Franciscan Herald Press, 1967)

"Rhine flowing into the Tiber" has a much more gentle ring to it, its a euphmism I always think of.

Trojan Horse is a bit more alarming and it is reflected in the work.

There's a pertinent article out there on this very subject and it highlights Weigel's questioning of the Pope:
http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009-0115-mershon-a_bad_year_for_the_neocons.htm

Weigel may be on the border of schism himself.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

The important thing to remember about Vatican II, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect for the CDF said in The Ratzinger Report, is that "It is..impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I, but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called 'traditionalism', also in its extreme forms...Every partisan choice destroys the whole (the very history of the Church) which can exist only as an indivisible unity."

Cardinal Ratzinger goes on to say that, "There is no 'pre' or 'post' conciliar Church; there is but one, unique Church that walks the path toward the Lord, ever deepening and ever better understanding the treasure of faith that he himself has entrusted to her. There are no leaps in this history, there are no fractures, and there is no break in continuity..."

We should always avoid attempts to politicize the Church. McInerny was right when he said, "The Church is not merely a human organization. She is a divinely instituted mystery whose life is guided by the Holy Spirit. Whatever wrangling went on outside St. Peter's, however much a partisan spirit might have been carried within, when the various schemata were argued over and revised, once they received a majority of the votes of the Fathers of the council and were promulgated by Paul VI, they could no longer be looked upon as the product or property of some party within the Church. Now they were regulative of the faith of all Catholics. No Catholic could presume to reject the council and think that he remained a loyal member of the Church.."

JayG said...

Thomas,
I think the Brian Mershon article you site has a mistake in it. Since I'm no theologian I'll simply call it the apples and oranges mistake. Mershon quotes Dietrich von Hildebrand:
"One can sometimes hear propounded the unfortunate thesis that opposite errors are equally dangerous. It is assumed that because something is false or exaggerated, because one renounces it as "extremists," that its opposite must be just as false and dangerous."
Mershon's point being that Weigle has made this mistake.
But Mershon's example of Weigle's mistake is "It is not easy to see how the unity of the Church will be enhanced unless the Lefebvrists accept Vatican II’s teaching on the nature of the Church, on religious freedom, and on the evil of anti-Semitism, explicitly and without qualification; otherwise, you get cafeteria Catholicism on the far right, as we already have on the left."

Weigle did not say too ideas were opposite, he was saying that the wrong idea was used by both the "left" and the "right" of the Church.
So I simply do not see Weigle critisizing the Pope, let alone promoting schism, because Marshon is fabricating a false dicotomy through his comparison of Apples to Oranges.