Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Days Like This...

...make one really hate the Vatican.

Two pieces of terrible news today, really. First, the SSPX reconciliation will be "ongoing." Meaning the CDF decided not to fast-track it. A resolution by the end of May no longer looks in the cards (unless the Pope overrides everything), and it will drag on and on. Maybe, though, they're doing this to shore up unity within the SSPX to try to prevent the three other bishops from going into schism. Perhaps after the leak of those correspondences, it was best to move slower. It's disappointing, though. 

It should be so easy to tell the SSPX "You are not heretics, so we are willing to accept you just as you are and let you be part of healthy debate and discussion within the Church." No one can accuse them of heresy, so this "obsequium religiosum" idea is really getting annoying and, I think, misused.

Second, the head of the Vatican department for the Eastern Catholic Churches has come out encouraging Eastern Catholics outside their patriarchal homelands (and specifically in the United States) to "embrace celibacy." This continued policy of married priests not being allowed outside Eastern Catholic homelands without dispensation has been an embarrassment, an ecumenical barrier, and represents everything that is wrong with the current regime of celibate ultramontanism.



Young Canadian RC Male said...

Hey Sinner,

on issue 1. WHY THE HECK STALL THIS!!! At the very darn least, make a proclamation that all sacraments currently given by the SSPX are VALID and LICIT and any Catholic can receive them!

On issue 2. THis stupic celibate ultramonism is the biggest reason why I will never want to become a priest in the Latin Rite. I value my right to marry and my desire for a family and children so much and how unfair that the major rite of 98% of Catholics forces this "discipline" onto its priests, which any pope can undo with the stroke of a pen.

Turmarion said...

As to the second issue, I agree fully.

As to the first; well, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and the Transalpine Redemptorists were all able to break with the SSPX and return to Rome with relative ease. That plus the fact that so many of their bishops seem recalcitrant to the point of possible schism indicates to me that there are some really severe issues behind the scenes. If they can't get their act together, as other formerly SSPX groups did, with Vatican in many wasy bending over backward even when it nets them negative publicity in the mainstream media, then what's the tragedy? If they really, truly want reunion (and I'm not so sure that a lot of them actually do), then they'll do what's needed, right?

As to the obsequium religiosum, I suspect that Rome doesn't want to have the SSPX return only to turn into a sort of thorn in their side, denying directly or by implication the legitimacy of Vatican II. A small, localized group such as the Feeneyites can be allowed to keep their (horrendous) view of extra Ecclesiam and to more or less by implication thumb their noses at Rome with a sort of implicit "ha, ha, we won and Rome knuckled under!" attitude, because they're really under everyone's radar. A big organization that was excommunicated by the Pope himself and that has been very high profile in regard to these negotiations, though? I think for obvious political reasons that Rome isn't going to let them back in unless they're d*** sure they won't rock the boat. Which I'm inclined to think the SSPX is not going to promise to refrain from; so it'll be a looooong process indeed.

Turmarion said...

This quote, from this article by John Allen, expresses what I was trying to say in the last post, but far better, with my emphasis:

An even blunter warning came from Franciscan Fr. David Maria Jaeger, speaking on the council’s document Nostra Aetate, concerning non-Christian religions. Jaeger serves as a judge on the Roman Rota, the Vatican’s primary court.
Jaeger criticized “a tendency … to look with indulgence on marginal groups with an exaggerated media profile who truly denounce the doctrine of the council.” He expressed “the lively hope that “we won’t settle for quasi-adherence which is only a sham, accompanied by obvious verbal and mental reservations.”

The SSPX has had thirty years to consider all aspects of this, Benedict has bent over backward for them, and they've been in intense negotiations for over three years now. If the SSPX was really that eager for reunion, something would have happened. As it is, Fr. Jaeger is exactly right that they have "obvious verbal and mental reservations", which is why obsequium religiosum is definitely in order here regardless of the lack of heresy.

A Sinner said...

Depends what we're talking about. Their reservations are based on an adherence to Pius IX and Pius X!

If the SSPX is willing to say that the "Vatican II position" on, say, religious liberty is at least "not heresy," then that should be enough.

A dialectic whereby both positions are recognized as non-dogmatic and non-absolute, with both sides arguing their own...would be good for the Church, and represent a reconciliation with Her own past.

What was sacred yesterday can't be condemned today; Pascendi and Lamentabili can't be outright condemned, that's for sure.

Nor do I think they can be definitively limited as "historically contingent"; I think they probably are, but that wasn't the intent at the time, and I don't think the Church can really say, "Well, maybe understandable then, but this is wrong for now" definitively. Or if it does, ironically, that same logic leads to the idea that you can't condemn the Medieval church for its historically contingent burning of heretics, etc. If an idea is a historically contingent prudential question, you HAVE to allow for debate, every single day, about whether the current approach is still the best...otherwise how is the adaptation to fit current circumstances ever to occur?

I think they're utterly naive about pushing for Christendom given the state of the world today. But we need a voice taking that position in the Church, if only as a foil.

Turmarion said...

If the SSPX is willing to say that the "Vatican II position" on, say, religious liberty is at least "not heresy," then that should be enough.

Frankly, I don't think they're willing to do even that--and the fact that all the bishops but one are threatening to schism indicates that. Even if they did, I think it would be prudent for the Church to discern whether or not they were doing so with a boatload of mental reservations.

As to "historically contingent", the Church could just say, "Hey, we were wrong"--which on a non-binding issue is possible. All available evidence is that the Pii certainly thought they were promulgating definitive, binding dogma, though they didn't speak ex cathedra; but the Vatican II reversal of their teachings in this areas shows that whatever they were, even if you want to argue contingency, they weren't definitive. Or course, most of this gets back to whether one thinks Church doctrine can change, how continuity works, whether infallibility means what it's generally construed to mean, and so on, which is a can of worms in itself.

The Church isn't going to say "we were wrong" regarding Pascendi and Lamentabili, anyway, which is ironic as hell given that in effect they're going to insist that the SSPX admit that they've been wrong about clinging to those encyclicals. Go figure....

Young Canadian RC Male said...


Um what did you think of my thoughts/opinions. Seems Tumarion took over centre stage for a bit.

A Sinner said...

"As to 'historically contingent,' the Church could just say, 'Hey, we were wrong'--which on a non-binding issue is possible."

To do so on something like the relation of the Church to the State would be rather ridiculous, though. There really isn't "right" or "wrong" answer here, so much as a question of what is most prudent in any age or context.

No particular political or economic order is God's Own. The Church cozying up to pluralist democracy is, thus, as much of a harlotry as when it cozied up to feudalism and absolute monarchy. Making a doctrine out of the principles of political liberalism (in the classical sense) is just as wrongheaded as making a doctrine out of the principles of monarchy. We should have learned our lesson the first time.

"All available evidence is that the Pii certainly thought they were promulgating definitive, binding dogma"

I'm really not so sure. How could condemnations of ideas like, "the decrees of the Apostolic See and of the Roman congregations impede the true progress of science" or "the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization" ever be, in themselves, dogmatic??

They're way too historically contextualized to be part of the deposit of faith.

But it is pretty clear they promulgated these things "authoritatively," expecting obsequium religiosum, which makes expecting that people suddenly renounce that and embrace the contemporary "world-friendly/democracy-friendly" stance...seem rather schizophrenic. Surely a pronouncement at the same level of authority is not MORE authoritative just because it came LATER in history.

I think the best you can do now is say, "Neither is dogma, neither is heresy; debate what's most prudent amongst yourselves." And that's what this SSPX issue SHOULD clear up for us all.

A Sinner said...

Young Canadian RC Male: I think you're spot-on.

dominic1955 said...

As to celibacy and the Easterners, a completely dense move. They've been allowed to follow this tradition for centuries and the various Patriarchates/Churches are sui juris, I fail to see how the Latin Church custom should dictate Eastern custom even if Eastern Catholics (still under their own Eastern Ordinaries and not Latin ones) end up in Latin lands.

As to the SSPX, I think practically everyone who considers themselves any degree of Trad have plenty of "mental reservations" around problematic passages from Vatican II. Unfortunately, I think its a political issue more than anything. Bringing in Traditional Anglicans and then the SSPX are a booster to the Conservative/Traditionalist cause. The pope doesn't put forth that kind of effort with looney leftists-supposedly Catholic or not because he knows its a waste of time. However, all the Spirit of Vatican II folks that still hold various positions of power do not want a group like the SSPX given official sanction. Its bad enough for them that the various trad groups exist (Campos, FSSP, ICRSS, etc.) but the SSPX is a lightning rod.

I think the 19th/20th Cent. encyclicals did promulgate authentic Catholic teaching, not ex cathedra, but such is not necessary. A development of such doctrines can not be an about face, which unfortunately was attempted. The relgious liberty issue, for instance, would have been much more deftly handled ala Pius XII who would allow for a practical universal tollerance of false religions considering the state of the world today. Trying to pussyfoot around the fact that heretics and infidels do not have an actual right to practice their errors and instead emphasizing the fact that Catholicism cannot be forced to be accepted gave rise to confusion and false liberties rather than clarity or peace.

A Sinner said...

Although, in spite of the obvious influence of Murray, I've argued before that Westerners are rather conceited to think that the emphasis on religious liberty was about renouncing the Middle Ages and embracing what had already been a fiat accompli in the West for 200 years.

There was almost certainly a concern for the freedom of CATHOLICS behind the Iron Curtain and in China and such. But it wouldn't have done much good if we had said, "Catholics have a right to practice our faith because we're the true religion!" That wouldn't have convinced the Reds, obviously, but nor would such a phrasing have gotten us much sympathy from America.

I think phrasing it in the modern language of human rights (for people generally) has obviously been problematic, but I think it was probably motivated much more by a concern for CATHOLIC freedom than people in the comfy non-persecuted West realize.

If it came down to a choice between us getting OUR religious freedom, even if under the guise of all religions' freedom...versus accepting OUR oppression for the sake of theoretically agreeing with the suppression of all the other religions (while trying futilely to argue for ours alone)...I'd still take the former over the latter.

dominic1955 said...

I'd agree, it almost certainly has to be that way. However, no one ever says it that way, that the reason that this "change" in doctrine is really a development and not a change is that we're not changing the principle but rather focusing on the temporal reality in order to work for our own people's freedom from a secular atheist State to practice religion.

I'm all for these sorts of practical solutions, especially when the toothpaste is out of the tube (I don't see another Christendom coming any time soon in which the State could actually suppress false religion). However, we need to be able to make sure our own principled underpinnings are in line and no faithful and thinking Catholic should for a second get the impression that the Church has gone back on what it said before or actually changed doctrine/dogma.