Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, foolishness, General Catholic, huh?, Latin Mass, priests, Restoration, Revolution, sadness, Society, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.
I got sent a link to the following post this morning by reader TT. It’s an interview of the rather small German province of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the organization of priests dedicated to the traditional Mass that was founded by some who “broke away” from the SSPX at the time of the illicit consecrations of 4 bishops in 1988.
This interview is already being picked up as fodder for the endless (and tiresome) SSPX/FSSP debates that have been raging for almost 30 years. For those who already feel the FSSP is hopelessly compromised, the interview is being taken as proof of the correctness of that view. For those with internal knowledge of the Fraternity, as it is typically called, however, this interview only reiterates the divisions already well known within this society of priests.
I’ll add comments to the post I copy below, because I think there are some important things to clarify/note, but I’d like to make one point clear at the outset: every grouping of more than a few individuals is going to have disparity of belief. Once you get into the hundreds, like the FSSP, there is going to be a whole range of belief. Given that, generally speaking, both acceptance of a more stridently traditional outlook (or a certain, sometimes severe, hostility to Vatican II) and friendliness/sympathy for the SSPX varies inversely with the age of the priest and their closeness to the original point of division in 1988. That is to say, older priests in the Fraternity, especially those who were present in 1988 and made the decision to leave the SSPX, generally tend to be more accommodating towards the post-conciliar ethos and hostile towards the SSPX. Younger priests are generally more hardcore “traditional” and more friendly towards the Society.
This is not a universal rule and there is infinite nuance, even within individual priests!, but that’s probably the broad norm. I would also add that there is, as I understand it, a certain division of belief between priests of the Fraternity in the Americas, and those in Europe, with those again in Europe tending towards being the less ardently traditional, or the more accommodating. Having said that, I concur with a commenter at 1Peter5 that this is far from an inspiring interview. While I think the interview is being presented in a fairly negative light by Maike Hickson at 1Peter5, I think I can also say these are some of the most unhelpful comments I’ve seen from an FSSP priest in print, perhaps less for what they say (esp. on reflection) but for the sense they seem to convey of accommodation, of being (to quote some commentary I’ve seen) “modernist lap dogs who will do anything so long as they can continue to offer the ‘old Mass'”. Then again, I find myself defending the priest quite consistently below – I think that while he exhibits an attitude far different from what I’d like to see expressed, it’s not entirely surprising given his past.
So keep that in mind as you read the below, which many of you perhaps already have:
The usually cautious and reserved Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) has now given its current opinion concerning the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and on its possible formal re-integration into the structures of the Catholic Church. Father Bernhard Gerstle – the head of the German district of the FSSP – just gave a 24 April interview to the German Bishops’ official website Katholisch.dein which he explains many of the positions and opinions of his priestly fraternity. (Father Gerstle is the same priest who, in 2016, made a politely critical statement about the papal document Amoris Laetitia.) [An important note of clarification. Fr. Gerstle may be the head of the German district of the Fraternity, but I think it a great leap to derive from that that he is speaking for the mind of the entire Fraternity. Words of Fr. John Berg, former Superior of the entire order, in Latin Mass Magazine from 2015 (which I haven’t to hand) were far different and conveyed a far more traditionally Catholic understanding.]
Father Gerstle explains, first of all, that he himself split off from the SSPX because of the “illicit episcopal consecrations” in 1988 which, in his eyes, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tried to forestall. (Interestingly, and just in the recent past, there have been voices saying that Cardinal Ratzinger, as pope, later removed the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops because he realized that he had contributed to the intensification of that earlier conflict. Worth noting is that, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who has served as an official Vatican liaison to the SSPX, recently called this act of excommunication an “injustice.”) [This little aside causes me to wonder whether the author is not trying to inculcate a bit of doubt, even resentment, towards Fr. Gerstle. Sure “some voices” may say that, but lots of others say that the excommunications were wholly right and just. Obviously Fr. Gerstle is going to have a bias since he left the SSPX over this matter. I am curious as to why Hickson chose to introduce this seeming rebuttal right here.] In Gerstle’s eyes, the 1988 breach happened due to a “lack of trust toward Rome.” He also claims that many more priests within the SSPX had disapproved of the episcopal consecrations, “but did not make the final step.” Thus, there were “only a few priests and seminarians who left the Society of St. Pius X at the time [in 1988].” Gerstle explicitly says that the foundation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter happened “essentially due to Cardinal Ratzinger, [who was] then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” [For those of us who weren’t involved, I don’t think it is easy to comprehend the depth of feeling on both sides involved in the 1988 consecrations. This was an event so trying and so radicalizing I don’t think many today fully realize the effect these events had on the participants. As one who was directly involved and experienced that heart-rending time, I don’t find Fr. Gerstle’s comments out of place. There are many involved who share his views, and of course, many who don’t, but it’s not like he’s breaching some radical new concept no one’s ever said before, even those who are very attached to the traditional practice of the Faith.]
Father Gerstle further distances himself from those smaller groups within the SSPX – whom he calls “hardliners” – who “reject the Second Vatican Council to a large extent, for example with regard to religious freedom or as to the decree on ecumenism.” Some of them, he says, also doubt the validity of the new liturgy. Gerstle makes it clear, moreover, where the Fraternity of St. Peter stands with regard to the Second Vatican Council: [No, he gives his own opinion. Unless he directly stated he was speaking as the voice of the entire Fraternity as a matter of policy – which if he did, we can be certain Hickson would be trumpeting this from the rooftops – then he’s giving his opinion, which Hickson is taking to mean it is the policy of the Fraternity because of his position, but I can say from direct experience there are many Fraternity priests who do not conform to the views expressed in this para or the one below. As to the divisions within the SSPX, these are well known and I find pointing them out wholly unremarkable.]
The Fraternity of St. Peter, however, has accepted to study without prejudice the conciliar texts and has come to the conclusion that there is no breach with any previous magisterial statements.However, some texts are formulated in such a way that they can give way to misinterpretations. But, in the meantime, Rome has already made here concordant clarifications which the Society of St. Pius X should now also recognize. [Emphasis added] [I would say the situation now remains as it has been, vague, uncertain, and unclear. Some tradition-friendly individuals in the Curia have made clarifications, they have expressed their opinions, but that is far from saying there has been a wholesale clarification of the problematic aspects of Vatican II. Rome appears willing to say almost anything to get the SSPX regularized. But whether these stands hold after that occurs is anyone’s guess, but there remains a huge monolith of progressive-modernist opinion in the clergy and hierarchy that VII is perfect, the best expression of the Faith ever conceived, and that the Church was literally re-born in 1965. That remains an extremely dangerous ideology that has not been washed away by a few conciliatory comments from folks at the Ecclesia Dei commission.]
Additionally, Father Gerstle insists that for the FSSP, the new 1983 Code of Canon Law is the standard. In his eyes, the SSPX has here some more reservations. For the FSSP, explains Gerstle “there is not a pre- and a post-conciliar Church.” “There is only the one Church which goes back to Christ,” he adds. Gerstle also insists that the FSSP does not “wish to polarize or even to promote splits,” but that they wish to instill in their own parishes “an ecclesial attitude.” Certain (unnamed, unspecified) abuses in the Church should only be criticized in a “differentiated and moderate way.” [We are only getting very partial and bifurcated comments. I don’t read German so I can’t go to the original and Google translate is too unreliable in such fine points. Having said that, I find these comments disappointing and far too conciliatory towards the post-conciliar construct. Then again, we do not know what pressures the Fraternity is under right now, but I understand they are considerable and the dangers great from those who would like to do to the ED communities what has been done to the FI’s.]
Father Gerstle also distances himself from the concept “traditionalist” when he says: “This notion I do not like at all to hear. We are not traditionalists, but simply Catholic.” As Catholics, he says, “we appreciate tradition,” but without “completely blocking organic adaptations and changes.” [This one I have no problem with. Some of the most informed readers of this blog eschew the term traditional, and say that what we practice is simply the Catholic Faith as it has always been believed, understood, and lived. There is nothing remarkable about “organic changes” either. VII was wholly inorganic.]
The worthy celebration of the traditional liturgy, together with a loyal teaching of the Catholic Faith, is at the center of the work of the FSSP, according to Gerstle. “Salvation of souls” and “eternal life” are their Fraternity’s own concern. Unfortunately, adds the German priest, “the Four Last Things have been widely neglected in the Church, with the effect of a belittling and attenuation of sin and of a loss of the practice of sacramental confession.” [I would hope this is uncontroversial. In fact, one could take from this a tacit rebuke of the post-conciliar construct, where the Mass is typically deplorable and the “teaching” counterfeit.]
Father Gerstle sees that “one cannot simply introduce everywhere again the old liturgy and, so to speak, impose it upon people.” “Both rites thus [with the help of the “reform of the reform”] should enrich each other,” explains the priest. Certain elements of the new liturgy could be “enriching for the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.” [He’s just parroting PBXVI here, but I am personally extremely leery of any “enrichment” flowing from the NO to the TLM. I think there is virtually nothing in the NO that would “improve” the TLM.]
Moreover, Father Gerstle also explains that, in the German district, there are growing numbers of faithful who are interested in the traditional Tridentine Mass. Some of the FSSP Masses have “100 to 180 faithful” in attendance. He admits, however, that the FSSP has not too many vocations. “All in all we have a good number of incomers [16 new priests in 2016 and currently some 100 seminarians altogether], but it is not so that we are under pressure due to high numbers of vocations.” [The Fraternity is generally doing better in North America, where there is a certain pressure to grow the seminary. As for Mass attendance, the local FSSP parish is now attracting 1200+ on a typical Sunday. That is unusual, but the growth is consistent throughout, and I pray all the other tradition-oriented groups are experiencing the same or better.]
At the end of this interview, Gerstle explains that the SSPX faces a dilemma: either Bishop Fellay chooses unity with Rome and will have a split within his own organization, or he will choose unity within the SSPX and will not have unity with Rome. The German priest explains, as follows:
I think that the current Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, will have to decide between unity with Rome and unity within the Society of St. Piux X. The realists within the leadership will then hopefully realize that there is no alternative to a reconciliation with Rome.
I find the first part of this analysis to be insightful, but I think anyone who has followed the situation even as casually as I have has reached about the same conclusion. I also think the second part is right, though I continue to have doubts as to whether now, with Francis in charge, is the right time. The man has a demonstrated track record of deliberately targeting tradition-embracing groups for destruction. But may God’s will be done.
As for the interview, this is absolutely not what I would prefer to see from a leading Fraternity priest. But I’m not sure it confirms the fatal weakness of the Fraternity, either. Does having a regular canonical status involve some compromise? Absolutely*. And folks in the SSPX had better be FULLY cognizant of that fact when they sign their “deal” with Rome.
Well I don’t post for a week then you get a novella. Lucky you. Sorry folks, posting is going to be infrequent for the foreseeable future. I had a very unusual situation for first 76 months of this blog’s history but that period is definitively order. I probably would not have posted today if this matter hadn’t hit so close to home. We’ve had a nightmare bronchitis/pneumonia go through our family that takes weeks to get over. I’m still fighting it but am back at work but also playing lots of catchup. Hope to get another post out tomorrow but who knows.
*-but so far, only of a limited and generally unobtrusive (or undamaging) sort. The “gravitational pull” of an unreconciled SSPX probably plays a role in the limited nature of the compromises forced on the FSSP – which is why I fear regularization for the entire restoration of the Faith. But ultimately God is in charge and we have to want what is best for the salvation of souls, which everyone (not really, but lots) tells me is regularization. So it must be it.
Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, cultural marxism, different religion, disaster, error, foolishness, Francis, General Catholic, horror, persecution, Revolution, scandals, Society, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.
I chose the word imbroglio, because gambit felt a bit critical, and indult seemed off the mark, too.
For those who do not know, Francis, Bishop of Rome, extended another “indulgence,” or a faculty with no formal juridical structure, to the SSPX, this time concerning marriage. Readers will know that since Advent 2015 the SSPX has had faculties to hear Confession granted from Francis himself. Originally intended for the Year of Mercy, those faculties have been extended indefinitely. A few days ago, Francis, through the CDF and Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, granted permission to local ordinaries to grant faculties for the Sacrament of Marriage, as well, under some rather odd circumstances. The “normal” means of doing this would be to have a Novus Ordo priest perform the actual marriage sacrament, or to oversee it somehow?, with the nuptial Mass following according to the ancient Rite and conducted by a Society priest. But in addition – since this would surely be a huge burden to already overtaxed (or so we are told) diocesan priests – there is also a caveat allowing faculties to simply be granted without the involvement of local clergy.
That’s admittedly a rough summation of a fairly complex initiative but you can read all the details at the Rorate link. The point of this post is not to haggle over details of this initiative, or whatever it is, and to talk aboutits implications.
I have seen two general reactions to this, and they have followed in line with sentiments folks hold towards SSPX regularization overall. Some, like Rorate, are convinced that both this latest indulgence by Francis, and the overall process of regularization that now seems coming close to fruition, are unalloyed goods and something every faithful soul should be really excited about. I would like to present some text confirming this optimistic view, but Rorate seems to have shifted much of their focus to Twitter and while I’ve seen tweets confirming their excitement at this development, such as this: “This is clearly a final step towards full regularization that will go away when the papers are signed. It’s a good thing.”
Others, like Michael Matt below, are far more skeptical. In fact, in my very narrow experience, it seems a lot of folks who have had a long time association with the Society of St. Pius X are among the most skeptical of both this latest grant of faculties and the overall process of regularization. The Remnant video:
“They are wrecking the Church, they are enabling heretics everywhere……They are raping our kids, physically and spiritually, and then they have the audacity, to demand obedience. Oh so pious. To demand OBEDIENCE, and to hold the threat of schism over the heads of little old ladies to prevent them from in any way standing in opposition to their diabolical agenda.” Great rant.
Former Catholics are now the second largest “denomination” in the country. 70% of those baptized in Catholics in the US have fallen away. 80% of even those remaining American Catholics never go to Mass (and I bet it’s at least slightly higher than that). Even the vast majority of “practicing Catholics” are heretics of one form or another. Almost all of them support the use of contraception, and a large majority do not believe in the Real Presence, the very core, the essence, of our Faith. And these statistics from the US are much better than one would find in Europe and other locales, the Church’s ancient home.
Matt brings up a key point and one that I have gradually, over the years, come to accept, not as a metaphysical certitude but as being supported by the preponderance of the evidence: that “full communion” is a term much bandied about by those who have wrought the destruction of the Church in this world while demanding obedience from all to go along with a project they can easily see is causing nothing but devastation for souls. I am not sure what meaning that term means when bishops “in full communion” can declare, with the full backing of the pope, that adulterers can freely receive the Blessed Sacrament, re-crucifying our Blessed Lord over and over and over again in a horrid sacrilege. Given what is going on in the Church and world, as evidence by those statistics above and what we see and read every day, the arguments over the canonical regularity of the SSPX seem like a tempest in a teacup. Even worse, these same Church leaders who constantly appeal to obedience while snarling at and denigrating all those who strive to practice the Faith as it has always been practiced are the very ones who have placed the Church in the direst straits of her 2000 year history!
Not that the canonical status of the SSPX is a hill I’m prepared to die on, nor something I’m overly concerned about. I know there are fervent partisans on both sides, and I’ve always struggled to stay out of those endless squabbles where partisans stack up enormous piles of books and quotes from Fathers, Doctors, and Saints to support their favored side. It just seems to me, practically speaking, all this concern over and focus on the canonical status of the SSPX is just not a huge issue, compared to all else that is going on. The Church has fallen into the worst crisis of her history and the ostensible imperfect canonical status of the 0.05% of the Church (nominally speaking) associated with the SSPX just doesn’t concern me that much.
I do continue to be very ambivalent regarding this apparently unstoppable ongoing process of regularization. I’ve been catechized to believe that this must and has to be a very good thing, but something – my own lack of faith, the temptations of satan, worldly experience, natural cynicism, something – keeps shouting in my interior spaces that this is a grave, grave danger, not just to the SSPX but to all the Ecclesia Dei communities and the entire human aspect of the Church. It is also an opportunity, yes, but given how easily communities like the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been completely crushed by the modernist powers, it seems like the opportunity is far outweighed by the dangers.
If regularization comes to pass part of me will be happy and I’ll pray like mad – as I already have been – that everything will turn out for the best. In the grand, grand scheme of things I know it will, that the Church will be restored and Christ’s reign recognized by all, but I cannot get over my concern for the millions of souls who will continue to fall into hell so long as the Church persists in this disastrous crisis. Whether SSPX regularization will ultimately be a massive turning point in the restoration of the Faith, or simply another grim milestone in the chronicle of the Church’s long demise prior to the parousia, I do not know. None of us does. So I’ll just keep hoping and praying that God will have mercy on His Church and raise up the leadership and laity we so desperately need, and not that which we and the world deserve.
If you want an even more detailed critical take on this initiative, sent in by reader D, read this. I am concerned that it seems like the leadership of the SSPX is giving evidence of an attitude of appeasement towards the overwhelmingly modernist hierarchy in the Church and not rocking the boat, which bodes ill, I think, for their role in the Church after regularization, but we shall see.
Posted by Tantumblogo in different religion, error, Francis, General Catholic, persecution, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Rorate Caeli, with all the good work they do, continues to hint strongly that an accord regularizing the SSPX is very close to being finalized. Rorate has also long indicated their unqualified support for this regularization to occur, even, or especially?, under Francis. The great hope, I believe, is that regularization of the canonical status of the SSPX will introduce a great leaven into the Church, strengthening the cause of Tradition all around and hastening the much longed for restoration of Holy Mother Church. Of course, most feel there is much to be desired in regularization as an end to itself, as something that is very necessary for the good of the souls within or associated with the Society of St. Pius X.
I have not been so wholeheartedly in favor of this regularization, at least not now, under Francis, because I see the man as having a very clear agenda to wholly remake the Church, and that does not include long “permitting” recalcitrant recusants like the SSPX and others who hold to the great Tradition of our Faith to remain even a minor annoyance. Many in the Society seem aware of the potential for danger, even what might be called a “betrayal,” in the regularization, for the same penalties and attempts at co-opting made in the 70s and 80s seem to be at least quite possible in the present-day Church environment, but some tend to brush these concerns aside, claiming that if the Society could “escape” the post-conciliar milieu once, they can do it again. It is this kind of thinking I’d like to address in this post.
But before I do, at what cost will the regularization be granted? I am supremely doubtful that Francis regularizing the SSPX without any changes in thought, practice, or behavior on their part is simply one of his patented acts of mercy. Indeed, some believe there already exist hints that the Society IS changing in response to the potential for regularization. An anonymous priest recently levied the charge that the SSPX has been noticeably quiet in response to many of Francis’ errors and attacks on the Faith. A brief review of the SSPX website covering articles going back a month or so does not reveal any specific criticisms of the present pontificate, even though there are continuing general explorations of the problems of the post-conciliar Church and even the notion of papal heresy considered generally. Those who follow the SSPX more closely than I do (which is hardly at all) may rebut this particular claim. Even still, I would find it remarkable if this pontiff would really regularize the SSPX without some kind of quid pro quo. And let’s consider this, even if there is no quid pro quo demanding SSPX silence on certain matters, is it not human nature to want to play it safe during periods of delicate negotiation and subsequent “re-entry” into the full, regular life of the Church?
I’d also like to note that I am not entirely comfortable with the sense of fear and trepidation I have over regularization now, under Francis, while I certainly desire it as an overall objective to be realized. Part of me desires to see the SSPX enjoy full canonical recognition/regularity instantly, which would largely simply recognize their reality as being Catholic and part of the Church. I have a certain measure of guilt over my sense that this accord, if it occurs, will be supremely dangerous to the cause of Tradition and could even set it back decades, erasing all the small gains made in recent years and pushing whatever tiny bit of tradition remains to the extreme fringes of the Church, if not wholly outside it. But I completely understand the “regularization now is the only acceptable stand” arguments and on many levels wish I could share them.
But regarding regularization and then some kind of betrayal, could the SSPX simply “go back?” We have to look at the history. Archbishop Lefebvre did not set out to create a canonically irregular body “separated” from the Roman authority or somehow at odds with it. He simply wanted to preserve some semblance of the traditional practice of the Faith amidst the insanity of the immediate post-VII years, so he started a seminary to continue training priests in the pre-conciliar ways. As was inevitable in Church of the 70s, most bishops and powers in Rome were overtly hostile to this new priestly society. It didn’t take long before charges of disobedience were levied and refusals to abandon the traditional practice of Faith – the Catholic Faith – resulted in a certain ostracization from the “mainstream Church.” Eventually the issue was forced by various matters, especially the consecrations of 1988, for which Lefebvre, the four consecrated bishops, and others directly involved were excommunicated. Some of those excommunications were lifted by Pope Benedict XVI, but the canonical irregularity has remained.
The reason I go over this very complex history, admittedly very briefly, is because it is critical to understand that what happened then is radically different to what would have to occur if the SSPX is regularized, finds its situation intolerable, and then tries to revert to its present status. What occurred very gradually and under very different circumstances then – a gradual process of alienation between the SSPX and the authorities in Rome – would have to occur suddenly, almost violently, should the Society be regularized. Back in 1974, say, no one knew what would develop 5 or 10 or 15 years later, what the “end point” would be. But today the situation would be inverted, where all would know exactly what was in the offing and what the final destination would be – more excommunications, loss of canonical status, etc. This is huge.
Then there is the factor of human nature. After fighting a long, lonely struggle for decades, and finally achieving fully regular canonical status, would the wherewithal really exist to separate themselves again should things go south? It took an enormously charismatic, convicted figure in Archbishop Lefebvre to create and hold together the SSPX during its initial, very trying period of formation and then alienation from authority. Does such a figure exist today? Again, it is so important to note that everyone now knows where another irreconcilable dispute between Rome and the SSPX will lead to, instantly, this time. None of that was certain or known when Archbishop Lefebvre was treading these choppy waters decades ago.
From a psychological perspective, for a very long time, the Society maintained that they did not need to “return” to the Church, but that the Church needed to return to herself, and then reconciliation would occur naturally. Almost, in a sense, “Rome” coming hat in hand to the Society begging forgiveness for having lost its collective mind in the 60s and 70s and asking readmittance to the Church the SSPX had maintained. Whether that notion was ever realistic or not, the point is, Rome has not changed. In fact, under Francis, it has gotten far worse than it’s been in decades. Will a return at this time not entail a certain surrender of the vital, animating focal point of the Society’s existence?
Our experience in recent years with other, admittedly much more secular organizations, is that those who have resisted the secular pagal progressive zeitgeist for years, even decades, and then surrender on some key point – like the Boy Scouts – quickly surrender on all or many points of vital import. Resistance becomes totally untenable. They become co-opted, as it were, by the process of accommodating whatever it is the powers that be demand of them.
I’m sure people within the SSPX ,or closer to it than I am, have hashed over these matters in far more detail than I can. Indeed, the SSPX-SO split off because they see regularization as tantamount to surrender. I’m sure they’re aware of the risks. At least, I hope they are. Because I fear what is at stake in this process is far more than the canonical status of the SSPX, but possibly the entire traditional practice of the Faith, extending to the Ecclesia Dei communities, tradition-embracing religious orders, and even Summorum Pontificum and the ability of some diocesan priests, under friendlier bishops than we’ve had here in Dallas, to offer the TLM. All of these latter entities either came into being as a direct result of the SSPX’s existence, and the pressure that existence exerted on the Church. Indeed, many of them were created or allowed to exist both as a form of pressure on the SSPX (keeping people who otherwise might have associated formally with the SSPX from doing so) and as a carrot to lure them “back.” If the SSPX is regularized and back within the fold, then what purpose do those things serve anymore, from a realpolitik point of view? None. How long will the be permitted to continue to exist?
These men in power today in Rome, they do not fool around, and they despise all things traditional to a degree many readers would find unimaginable. Is this a leap of Faith, trusting in God’s Grace to prevail in the end, or a leap into the abyss? On a cost-benefit ratio, do the benefits come close to equaling the dangers here?
Anyway, those are my concerns. Some will think this makes me a bad Catholic and short on faith, but I simply see so much danger here, and we have the example of the Franciscans of the Immaculate to guide us. I’m also less and less sure what real meaning canonical regularity has in a Church where adultery is praised and fornicators are held up as virtuous examples for the rest of us, while being a faithful soul is excoriated as the very worst kind of person to be. With this kind of rank (and mass) moral inversion ongoing, the finer points of canonical regularity seem like arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, different religion, disconcerting, episcopate, Francis, General Catholic, Latin Mass, priests, Restoration, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.
There have been growing pronouncements from both the Vatican and the SSPX leadership that the two camps – if that is the right term – appear close to a formal accord regularizing the SSPX’s canonical situation. Just today, the Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, said full communion is near:
We are working at this moment in the completion of some aspects of the canonical frame, which will be the Personal Prelature.” Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei commission, charged with dialogue with the Society of Saint Pius X, confirms [SSPX Superior-General Fellay’s words] to Vatican Insider that the stage of full communion with the Lefebvrians is near. The accomplishment of the agreement is now in plain sight, even if some time is still needed
I am of two minds over this: I have prayed for this for years, and there would be tremendous potential for great benefit to the Church by this successful regularization. However, I am exceedingly troubled that it is occurring during this most perilous of pontificates. Outbreaks of persecution against Tradition seem to be growing around the Church. More and more regions are implementing Amoris Laetitia, and thus radically changing both public belief and practice, along the lines of Francis’ own interpretation of that document. This means a crisis over doctrine appears to be inevitable. While it would be wonderful to have the SSPX back in full, regular canonical status and thus adding a great voice to the defense of the Faith (not that they are not already doing this), I have great trepidation for the future.
I am curious what people affiliated with the Society think about this. I am an outsider looking in, but I do have a great deal of interest in this matter, as I am convinced that there will be strong impact on the Ecclesia Dei groups no matter how SSPX “reconciliation” turns out. Is there an element of regularization at any price in this? Is this the pontificate under which it would really be optimal, even sensical, for regularization to take place? What happened in Campos? Was the SSPX-SO critique basically accurate, then?
What will the impact be to the Ecclesia Dei communities? Once the SSPX is regularized, a major reason for their existence would seem to have been removed. If Summorum Pontificum is truly under threat, as many feel, is it beyond reason to envision a perfect storm settling not only on the availability of the TLM but on the entire traditional movement? After the rape of the Knights of Malta and the crushing of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, is the risk in moving at this time warranted?
The question is not whether this is desirable. Of course it is. The question is whether this is wise now, with this pontificate, with this most underhanded and authoritarian of men wielding ultimate power in the Church? Bishop Fellay and some of his close associates maintain that if there is any kind of double-cross, the SSPX can simply return to their current status. Perhaps. But that entire structure required a very unique personality (Archbishop Lefebvre) and a very particular series of events to evolve to the current status quo. I am not entirely certain the personalities and the potentialities would be prevalent for a repeat. In fact I tend to think they simply will not –after all, +Lefebvre did not set out to wind up in a canonically irregular status when he founded his seminary for training priests back around 1970. He wanted to remain within the structure of the Church, but was forced by conscience, circumstance, and frequent bungling, even ill-will, on the part of Church authorities to arrive at the destination arrived in 1988. That is, my read on this whole history was, none of it was premeditated, the arrival at a canonically irregular position was achieved by circumstance. But to leave after regularization would mean to premeditatedly return to irregularity (or whatever one wants to call it).
Plus, moral surrenders – if this be one, and I’m not certain that it would be, but it has potential to be one – are (humanly) impossible to recover from.
I am more or less convinced that should this regularization take place, there will be no going back, for good or for ill. I also badly fear the example of the sons of Bishop Castro-Mayer in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil. Many feel a near total capitulation to the post-conciliar ethos has transpired in that odd subset of a diocese.
Again, I’m especially interested to learn what people with a close association with the SSPX are thinking, but all comments are welcome on this most complex of topics.
Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, different religion, episcopate, General Catholic, history, reading, Restoration, Saints, Spiritual Warfare, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
Several of the chief complaints against the Society of Saint Pius X is that they have been involved in the illicit (not papal-approved) consecration of bishops, that they “invade” other dioceses without permission of the ordinary, and refute beliefs held by the great majority of bishops and priests in the Church today, even to the point of being excommunicated for certain acts. These are frequently trotted out to “prove” the SSPX’s persistence in disobedience/error/schism/etc.
However, Michael Davies – certainly one who was very friendly towards the SSPX, and a frequent apologist for them – claims, citing Blessed John Henry Newman as his principle source, that there is a very strong precedent for exactly the types of behaviors that have earned the SSPX so much ire, from the Church’s Tradition, and that they involve the only crisis/mass heresy that comes close to emulating that in which we are currently embroiled, the Arian heresy. During this period, Saint Athanasius, among others, based on history reported by Blessed John Henry Newman (citing more ancient sources), routinely consecrated bishops and ordained priests while he was enduring his enforced exile, even doing so outside the normal realm of papal approval and against the wishes of the local bishops. He did this to preserve orthodox Catholicism when almost the entire Church went over to this most noxious heresy. He was not alone, either. Several other bishops, all Saints, also did so, as attested by Saint Basil and others, who apologized for these acts, and for the “illicit” country Masses offered by orthodox priests, because the faithful could not be expected to worship with heretics, and the heresy was so widespread that even the Roman Pontiff briefly fell into it, though under severe duress.
The similarities to the situation in the Church today are certainly marked, are they not?
Davies summarizes his argument below, from pp. 42-3 of his book Saint Athanasius: Defender of the Faith:
What the history of this period proves is that, during a time of general apostasy, Christians who remain true to their traditional faith may have to worship outside the official churches, the churches of priests in communion with their diocesan bishop, in order not to compromise that traditional faith; and that such Christians may have to look for truly Catholic teaching, leadership, and inspiration not to the bishops of their country as a body, not tot he bishops of the world, not even to the Roman Pontiff, but to one heroic confessor whom the other bishops and even the Roman Pontiff may have repudiated and even excommunicated. And who would they recognize that the solitary confessor was right, and the Roman Pontiff and the body of the episcopate (not teaching infallibly) were wrong?
The answer is that they would recognize in the teaching of this confessor what the faithful of the fourth century recognized in the teaching of Athanasius, the one true faith into which they had been baptized, in which they had been catechized, and which their confirmation gave them the obligation of upholding. In no sense whatsoever can such fidelity to Tradition be compared with the protestant practice of private judgment. The fourth century traditionalists upheld Athanasius in his defense of the faith that had been handed down; the protestant uses his private judgment to justify a breach with the traditional faith.
In The Development of Christian Doctrine, Newman refutes the opinion that interference by one bishop in the diocese of another necessarily constitutes schism. Faithful Catholics have a duty to divide themselves from schismatic or heretical bishops, and where division is a duty it is not a sin. An orthodox bishop does not sin by interfering in a diocese where the bishop is guilty of separation from the faith by heresy or even de facto schism. “If interference is a sin,” wrote the Cardinal, “division which is the cause of it is a greater; but where division is a duty, there can be no sin interference.”
[The key evidence……] St. Athanasius did not cause division when he entered the dioceses of Arian bishops. He was interfering in order to uphold tradition and sustain the faith of true Catholics as a legitimate response to the division caused by the schism of these bishops. The first loyalty of every bishop must be to the Church as a whole. During a period of schism and heresy, their duty to defend the integrity of tradition extends beyond any single diocese. Cardinal Newman illustrates this by pointing out that Saint Athanasius, St. Epiphanius of Salamis, and St. Eusebius of Samosata, all fierce opponents of Arianism, had ordained outside their dioceses, and in the case of St. Eusebius it is certain that he consecrated bishops. “St. Athanasius,” wrote Card. Newman, “driven from his Church, makes all Christendom his home, from Trier to Ethiopia.” This was an indubitably legitimate response to a state of emergency or necessity within the Church.
OK, at the end there, using some obviously “Lefebrvrist” language. But the book does demonstrate both that “illicit” Masses were held to escape Arian bishops and their errors, and that priests were ordained and bishops consecrated outside the normal line of authority in the Church.
On both sides of this issue of whether the SSPX acts/has acted rightly or wrongly, there are numerous supports. Whether the stack of evidence on one side or the other is slightly taller or shorter I really don’t know. From my experience, one’s tendency to accept evidence for or against the SSPX tends to align almost precisely with whatever pre-existing notions one has held on the subject. I have long occupied the muddled middle, neither fully embracing the SSPX nor holding any hostility towards it, while being thankful that it exists so that I, among many, can enjoy the benefits its existence has brought (like the return of the TLM in numerous dioceses, the existence of the FSSP and other groups, etc). I have to say, though, that this latest book has swayed me somewhat in a pro-SSPX direction.
I can also say that my own independent research has shown that there certainly was a reaction against Arian dominance in the 4th century and that several Saints report that a certain number of souls did stop going to their local parish and started worshiping out in the country, often in abysmal weather, under the tutelage of faithful priests in unofficial or impromptu Masses. That much at least did occur, and was at least somewhat widespread. I tend to believe that priests were ordained in an “unofficial” or “independent” manner, and probably a few bishops, too.
It is interesting to note that every time he had an opportunity (that is, the heretical emperors allowed him to do so), he would return to his diocese and to a “regular” position in the Church, while fervently maintaining his orthodox beliefs. When the persecution would start up again and he would be exiled, he would go back to doing what he was doing, keeping the Faith and spreading it to as many as possible.
Perhaps, in this last bit, there is some encouragement for those who fear the impact of a reconciliation between the SSPX and the Roman authorities.
Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, different religion, episcopate, error, Francis, General Catholic, persecution, Restoration, Revolution, scandals, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
An interesting addendum to the already widely reported interview of Archbishop Pozzo of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei; after previously opining that a breakthrough with the SSPX is perhaps tantalizingly close, he also made some very revealing comments regarding Vatican II, arguing that some or even most of the documents are not-doctrinal or non-dogmatic in nature and are not binding on conscience.
Of course, many, many Catholics, most all attached to the traditional Mass, have argued this for years. There are entire books on the subject (see Msgr. Brunero Gharardini’s books) In fact, even Paul VI at least once described Vatican II as a strictly pastoral council. Of course, where Vatican II repeats dogma already solemnly defined, it is dogmatic in that sense. But in the novelties – which is of course where the crisis has always laid (lain?) – its binding authority on conscience has always been at least highly debatable, if not non-existent.
Archbishop Pozzo seems to argue for the latter, relevant excerpts from One Peter Five below, I add some comments:
There is a section in the interview that is especially worth noting, inasmuch as it may facilitate proper doctrinal discourse among a wide range of conservative and traditional Catholics. In it, Archbishop Pozzo explains why it may be possible for the SSPX to be fully integrated into the structures of the Catholic Church without their previously accepting some of the documents of Vatican II, namely Nostra Aetate, about interreligious dialogue; the decree Unitatis Redintegratio, on ecumenism; the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, on religious liberty; and, finally, other texts relating to the question of the relationship between Christianity and Modernity. [Such as, say, Guadium Et Spes, especially #12] While saying that “the Council is not a pastoral superdogma, but part of the completeness [sic]of tradition and the continuous Magisterium,” Pozzo makes clear that there are some texts of the Council that are not doctrinal and are thus not binding on the Catholic conscience. Pozzo stresses that “the Church’s tradition is developing, but never in the sense of a novelty – which stands in contrast to the previous teaching – but which is a deeper understanding of the Depositum fidei, the authentic deposit of the Faith.” Pozzo continues, by saying that
In this [same] sense, all [the] Church’s documents have to be understood, also those of the Council. These preconditions, together with the obligation to affirm the Creed, the recognition of the Sacraments and of the papal primacy are the basis for the magisterial declaration which the Fraternity has been given to sign. These are the preconditions for a Catholic, in order to be in full communion with the Catholic Church……….
…..With regard to the earlier-mentioned documents above – Nostra Aetate about interreligious dialogue; the decree Unitatis Redintegratio on ecumenism; and the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae on religious liberty – Pozzo explicitly says:
They are not about doctrines or definitive statements, but, rather, about instructions and orienting guides for pastoral practice. One can [thus legitimately] continue to discuss these pastoral aspects after the [proposed] canonical approval [of the SSPX], in order to lead us to further [and acceptable] clarifications.
When asked by the journalist as to whether the Vatican has now come to the idea that the varied Council documents have different dogmatic weights, Pozzo very importantly states:
This is certainly not a [later] conclusion on our part, but it was already clear at the time of the Council. The General Secretary of the Council, Cardinal Pericle Felici, declared on 16 November 1964: “This holy synod defines only that as being binding for the Church what it declares explicitly to be such with regard to Faith and Morals.” Only those texts assessed by the Council Fathers as being binding are to be accepted as such. That has not been [later] invented by “the Vatican,” but it is written in the official files themselves. [In point of fact, numerous histories present this – and I fully believe the facts bear this out – as being a critical selling point in gaining approval for documents like Nostra Aetate and Dignitatis Humanae, even with the other shenanigans that went on, like losing the 400-odd petitions submitted on time to further amend DH in order to get the document approved as it was. Paul VI put very heavy pressure on the Council Fathers to gain those near unanimous approvals he so coveted, but, to do so, he had to confirm on various occasions the pastoral nature of these documents. That the liberals would turn even pastoral documents into all-conquering super-dogmas should perhaps have been foreseen, but it’s easy to say that in hindsight.]
In response to a possible critique that important Council declarations such as Nostra Aetate could thus be more fully and openly denied, Pozzo declares:
The secretary for the Unity of Christians said on 18 November 1964 in the Council Hall about Nostra Aetate: “As to the character of the declaration, the secretariat does not want to write a dogmatic declaration on non-Christian religions, but, rather, practical and pastoral norms.” Nostrae Aetate does not have any dogmatic authority, and thus one cannot demand from anyone to recognize this declaration as being dogmatic. [This is the key. And I would certainly agree. Unfortunately, most of the hierarchy does not, and continues to treat every document of Vatican II as a super-dogma trumping everything that came before. There remains bitter division among cardinals, bishops, etc., as to what degree of authority these documents have.] This declaration can only be understood in the light of tradition and of the continuous Magisterium. For example, there exists today, unfortunately, the view – contrary to the Catholic Faith – that there is a salvific path independent of Christ and His Church. That has also been officially confirmed last of all by the Congregation for the Faith itself in its declaration, Dominus Jesus. Therefore, any interpretation of Nostrae Aetate which goes into this [unfortunate and erroneous] direction is fully unfounded and has to be rejected. [my emphasis added]
Well, tragically, tell that to Cardinals Koch, Marx, Maradiaga, Schoenborn, and many others, all of which have tried to pretend that Jews still have a valid covenant and path to salvation outside of Jesus Christ.
As gratified as I am to see Archbishop Pozzo’s comments, and certainly agree with them, the fact remains, they remain in the distinct minority in the Church today. Most high-ranking prelates and local ordinaries hold strongly to the belief that every document – every jot and tittle, so to speak – of Vatican II is not only dogmatic, but supersedes and replaces all that came before.
The ONLY way this matter will ever be settled, as a good local priest said recently, is for a future pope or pope/council to settle it. That’s the only way to overcome the division and endless argument that has been the status quo for 50+ years.
Even then, it will be a bitter struggle to overcome the deeply entrenched, deeply erroneous views held by so many in the Church today, from the “lowest” lay person to the most powerful cardinal. It will require a pontiff who is a truly great Saint, a Pius V or someone similar, with the enormous depth of faith and clarity of vision to overcome the resistance that will surely develop.
But, in human terms, we seem light years from that at present. In fact, we seem headed away from Restoration fast, and deeper into the endless darkening maze of Revolution. God does have a way of working tremendous surprises and unprecedented comebacks, however. Prayer and penance remain our most important weapons in this struggle.
h/t reader TT. Many thanks for all the good leads.
Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, different religion, Ecumenism, foolishness, Francis, General Catholic, huh?, Society, SSPX, Tradition.
This is after he exhorted World Youth Day goers – which one commenter who attended one in the past likened to a Catholic orgy – to be a “A humanity that rejects hatred between people, one that refuses to see borders as barriers.” Imagine there’s no countries…..and no religion too. Groovy. Right on. Make love, not war. Peace Now. Leave your first wife for a Japanese freak and break up the most overrated I mean greatest rock n’ pop band ever.
More substantially, Francis emoted, when pressed, that he did not criticize islam as the source of the hatred that led to a Catholic priest being beheaded, because, if he did that, he’d have to criticize Catholic violence, too, because sometimes baptized Catholic steal or do other bad things:
“I don’t think it is right to equate Islam with violence,” he told journalists during his return from a trip to Poland [on July 31].
Pope Francis defended his decision not to name Islam when condemning the brutal jihadist murder of a Catholic priest in France in the latest of a string of recent attacks in Europe claimed by Islamic State (or Isil).
“In almost every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. We have them too,” he said.
“If I have to talk about Islamic violence I have to talk about Christian violence. Every day in the newspapers I see violence in Italy, someone kills his girlfriend, another kills his mother in law, and these are baptised Catholics.” [Source
] [Does it even have to be said how dumb and false this comparison is? It literally makes no sense, it’s comparing apples to Chevrolets. I’m surprised he didn’t mention the Crusades]
This statement is akin to that made by John Kerry the other day, that use of flourocarbons poses a greater threat than ISIS, calling for a total ban of a substance that plays a critical role in numerous areas of modern life, not the least of which is providing a safe, non-poisonous refrigerant for all manner of air conditioners and industrial chillers. Apparently he proposes we return to using ammonia as a refrigerant, which has the slight downsides of being incredibly poisonous and prone to exploding. Either that, or is proposing that we plebes be denied the right to air conditioning in the very near future. Both statements, from Kerry and Francis, are similar in that they are totally divorced from reality and appear quite insane to anyone not steeped in their shared ideology.
Remember, he also attributed attacks like the one last week to things like poverty, lack of jobs and opportunity, and frustration at current political events. That is to say, wholly materialist reasons – which, at least, would be consistent.
So this is the man who is going to “regularize” the SSPX? I’m having a hard time getting excited over Msgr. Pozzo’s interview, he’s said the same thing many times before. Way back in 2012/3 we were told that an agreement was just seconds from being signed, and then the whole thing suddenly exploded. He admits doctrinal issues remain. Well, the entire SSPX “situation” has hinged on doctrine all along, hasn’t it? So what exactly has changed? Sure, Bishop Fellay seems to think that a personal prelature could work for the Society, but he’s said that for years, too. Some people claiming inside knowledge – like the link – seem to firmly believe it’s different this time, but have offered little firm evidence.
As for my opinion, should it be true, I’m of two minds. Predominately, I want the SSPX to be fully regular and to be able to continue their present work without the nagging doubts of canonical irregularity hampering the good they do, which is not inconsiderable. At the same time, I have a nagging voice that tells me to fear regularization with the current conditions in Rome, especially under this Pope. The example of the traditional Catholics of Campos is something to bear in mind. And the dangers spread far beyond the SSPX – there is no question the FSSP and other Ecclesia Dei groups exist in “full regularity” because of the pressure the SSPX exerts on the Church. Should that pressure go away, will the Ecclesia Dei groups be persecuted, or forced into moral conundrums?
Nevertheless, if the situation is ever going to be resolved, it’s going to take a huge leap of Faith by all involved. Surely there are long, sharp knives waiting for an “exposed” Society to be made vulnerable to them, but we have to trust in Our Savior and His promises. May God’s will be done.
Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Restoration, scandals, secularism, self-serving, sickness, Society, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
I’ll just preface this post by stating this is not an endorsement of the SSPX or their current canonical situation in the Church, I have no relation with the SSPX, never been to one of their chapels, the sum total of my interaction with the SSPX was a few hours spent with one of their priests who wrote a very good book (it was a pleasant afternoon), blah blah, etc, etc.
Having given the obligatory caveats, commenter Missy Farber kindly provided this link to the Society’s position on proper Catholic principles for voting at my request. It’s been a while, because I haven’t heard anything from any of the local Fraternity priests yet this cycle (while hoping that comes soon), but from my recollection the direction given below is in accord with what I’ve heard from Fraternity priests in the past.
It’s important, because it makes plain that, at best, support for Trump could be permitted for reasons of prudence, but that his belief set falls far outside what is required to make supporting him a moral obligation, on pain of sin. I would also add that, given that there is an alternative, Trump’s stand on various issues, including a continuing tendency to flip flop a bit on pseudo-sodo-marriage/transgender rights/etc make supporting him more morally problematic than some other non-Hillary alternative.
Important points below, then I hope to leave the subject alone for a while (my emphasis and comments):
Voting, as well as involvement in political campaigns, must have as its ultimate motive these higher, supernatural principles, that the law of God, the Ten Commandments, and the rights of the one true Church be acknowledged publicly in society.
Manifestly, we are presently very far removed from achieving these aims. It does not mean that we should do nothing. It does mean, however, that whatever we do will necessarily involve the toleration of many evils, which we in no way desire or will. However, it can be permissible to tolerate the lesser of two evils for a proportionate reason, and such toleration can be for the common good, precisely because it is the lesser of two evils. Thus it is possible to vote or even campaign for a candidate whose platform contains evils with which we do not agree. Everything depends upon a hierarchy of the most important values and issues taking priority over lesser ones.
For a Catholic, there can be no doubt that the issues that take the highest priority must be the moral issues, and not personal or economic issues. The whole continuation of society as we know it depends upon this, and those who deny the most basic principles of the natural order are bringing about an unheard of perversion.Consequently, it is permissible and prudent to vote on the one single issue of proscribing abortion, or forbidding same-sex marriages, or putting an end to euthanasia, or freedom of the Catholic Church to run educational institutions. All of these issues are of the utmost importance. Consequently, it would be permissible and prudent to vote for a candidate who promotes an unjust war, on the basis of one or other of these issues. Consequently, it is likewise permissible to vote for a candidate who is known to be a Freemason, although Freemasonry is an evil society condemned by the Church and opposed to the Catholic Church, if he maintains an important principle of the natural law such as the evil of abortion. [But what if both major party candidates support a whole range of grave moral evils? Is proclaimed opposition to abortion, set against a lifetime of being a pro-abort, and at times a pretty radical one, sufficient justification to vote for such a candidate? On the basis of his extreme squishiness on “same-sex marriage,” I find it very hard to vote for Trump.]
Lesser issues are also of moral importance, such as the justice or injustice of a particular war, or the paying of a just wage to employees, maintaining the right to private property by limiting government intervention, and so on. All other things being equal, one could vote on the basis of such issues. However, it would be wrong to vote for a candidate who has a correct position on one of these issues, but a perverse and wrong position on a more important issue………[Immigration, building the wall, restoring the economy, closing the Fed, etc., would also fall under these matters of lesser importance]
……..Voting in local and national elections can only be considered a moral obligation when the candidates propose a solidly Catholic, non-liberal platform that truly promotes the Social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not obligatory to vote for a lesser evil, but simply prudent and permissible. However, it would certainly be obligatory to use the democratic process in place in the unlikely event that it could be used to introduce Catholic candidates who do not accept the propaganda of modern liberal democracy……….So we have Darrell Castle, who is 100% pro-life from conception to natural death (and has a long record of being so), opposes pseudo-sodo-marriage, subscribes to a much more Catholic view of subsidiarity/federalism, and should be a candidate in every state ballot, even though he has no practical chance to win. Now he’s not an outwardly Catholic candidate completely in line with the Doctrine of the Faith – he does hold some errors – so perhaps voting for him is not a moral obligation as outlined below, but it can certainly be argued that Catholics should support him given that both major party candidates hold views that are offend gravely against the moral order]
………Clearly, we are no longer in the circumstance of having to choose between Catholic and non-Catholic, morally upright and liberal representatives. All the alternatives are liberal, [but Castle is much, much less so than any of the others] the deception and the manipulation of the public by the media is rampant. In practice, it generally comes down to the question of whether or not it is permissible to vote for an unworthy candidate (e.g., a candidate who only approves abortion in cases of rape or incest), for he would at least (we suppose) be the lesser evil. In such a case, there can be no obligation to vote, for all the reasons mentioned by Pope Pius XII that could oblige, no longer apply. Nevertheless, it is still permissible to vote in such a case, provided that one can be sure that there truly is a lesser evil, and that there is a grave reason to do so (e.g., to avoid abortion on demand, or promotion of unnatural methods of birth control), and one has the good intention of providing for the good of society as best one can. This is called material cooperation. However, it can never be obligatory.
Consequently, in the rare case where there are informed Catholic candidates who publicly support the teaching of the Church, there is a strict moral obligation to vote, under pain of mortal sin. Where there is a clear gain possible from the correct use of a vote for some other candidate, it can be recommended or counseled. However, when there is no clear advantage it would be better to abstain, so as not to contribute even to a material participation.
I think that sums up the Catholic view beautifully.
Morally speaking, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle is by far the least questionable alternative. If he were a Catholic espousing a visibly Catholic platform, voting for him would be morally obligatory irrespective of his chances of winning. But, he’s not. He’s also not a viable candidate.
I’m not certain how important that latter distinction is. Basically, support for Trump by practicing Catholics (versus Castle or any other alternative that might emerge) hinges on his electability. He’s not the most morally attractive candidate, he’s the least morally offensive candidate that has a shot to win.
Is that enough? For me, the electability of a candidate is immaterial, because decades of allowing expedient choices to be foisted on us is a large part of how we got into this mess in the first place. Last election I heard a great deal from some of you about how exhausted you were supporting mediocre candidates, and how you were going to stand on principle and vote for the best candidate, period, irrespective of his chances of winning. What is it about Trump that has caused people to swing 180 degrees in this election? Even more, from a Catholic moral standpoint, I’m not sure how much electoral feasibility enters in.
Anyway, I hope this breakdown helps. I did me, and also reminded me how awful my memory is, because I knew all of this before, but it had become much muddled in my mind in the intervening four years. I think the crux is, it may be morally acceptable to vote for Trump, but a Catholic is certainly not obligated to do so, even if there is no alternative – viable or otherwise – on the ballot. I fear in future, as the moral order in this nation continues to decay, our options are only going to grow worse – barring some unforeseen miracle. For which I pray.
Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, error, General Catholic, Papa, Restoration, Society, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
10 years ago, when I was first becoming an active, committed Catholic (or trying to), I found the books of John Salza to be immensely useful. His “Biblical Basis” series was an excellent resource to help bring me from erroneous protestantism to a solidly formed Catholicism.
Since then, Salza and I have both become committed trads, him probably more so than me. Salza is now definitely in the SSPX camp, and doesn’t have too many kind words for the Ecclesia Dei communities. So while you could say I disagree with him on some points now, I remain very thankful to him for the role his works played in my conversion to a more robust practice of the Faith. I still think he’s one of the best, most thorough, most orthodox Catholic writers around. I have a great deal of respect for his views.
I say the above to provide a bit of context of where I’m coming from with respect to the videos below. They contain an interview of Mr. Salza by Brother Andre Marie of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the brother’s Reconquest internet radio show. In general, I found Salza’s analysis below spot on. At any rate, he is a serious scholar of theology and ecclesiology and is worth listening to, even if you don’t agree with every conclusion he makes. I would also note the irony of Salza appearing on this particular radio show, with this particular host, since the Slaves are often lambasted as “Feeneyites,” seemingly every trad-group’s favorite whipping boy. That’s something I admit I’ve never quite understood (I get the root error, but they profess to no longer maintain it). So here you have an SSPX-supporter dashing sede vacantism on a “Feeneyite’s” radio show!
A reader had asked me to summarize the content below. I wish I had the time today to do so, but I’m just about out. It took me 4+ hours to finish the post below, as I had so many interruptions (how can that nasty old work ever get in my way like that!?). For those who cannot watch the below for technical reasons, or because they don’t want to invest the nearly two hours, I’ll try to work on a summary, but these guys cover a lot of ground, including much of the 710 page content of Salza’s book on this subject (which I have not read)! That is to say, summarizing this long interview would be no easy task. But, I’ll see what I can do.
The interview, in two parts:
If you have comments on the interview, I’d love to see them. Thanks and God bless you!
Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, episcopate, Francis, General Catholic, Interior Life, Sacraments, Spiritual Warfare, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
Beats me. Nothing would surprise me anymore. It has long been said of Cardinal Mahony that while he is crazy liberal, he operated his diocese in a kind of “do what feels good” manner that also permitted some freedom of action even to orthodox Catholics. Perhaps Pope Francis is the same. While the below does not come from an unbiased source – it comes from the leader of the SSPX, Bishop Bernard Fellay – it is now reported that Francis intends to extend the faculties of the SSPX for Confession beyond the scarifying Year of Mercy:
Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, celebrated the Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday with his two Assistants General.
A few days earlier he had met with Pope Francis during a very positive meeting which strengthened ties between the Holy See and the Society founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Despite the publication of the Post-Synodal Exhortation, which “makes us cry,” he revealed some “happiness” from the interview
The Pope confirmed that the SSPX was Catholic in his eyes
He confirmed that he never would condemn it
He confided that he wishes to expand the faculties of the SSPX, starting with the authorization of its priests to validly hear confession.
Finally, during the talks in Rome, Bishop Fellay was encouraged to establish a seminary in Italy.
Are heads exploding among the SSPX-SO? I have no idea. If Francis is succeeded by a similarly progressive pontiff, will he be as inclined to a go-go mentality? The concern of the SSPX-SO has always been that any “deal” with “modernist Rome” would inevitably lead to an undermining of the SSPX’s mission and immediate attempts at co-opting by the forces of modernism. Given the experience of Campos, that’s not a totally unfounded fear, but we’re still miles away from that. I have heard from a number of folks, however, who wonder if it might not paradoxically take a very liberal pope, one not “hung up” on doctrinal definitions and issues of authority and mission, to bring about a reconciliation with the SSPX.
Wonders never cease, I suppose. Or weird stuff happens. h/t reader Tim