Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Letter about the SSPX: the weekness of charity

Those of you who have read what seems to be the leaked letter of the Holy Father on the SSPX should be impressed, it sounds like an apostolic epistle, pleading, exhorting, admonishing.

It does indeed underscore the Pope's understanding of his ministry to gather in the lost sons and daughters of the Church.

Often those who comment on this blog suggest the Pope should "kick a*s*", that is not the nature of Benedict XVI, nor really the nature of the Papacy. The Church is not held together by the strength of military discipline but by the weakness of the charity of the disciples of Christ.

Schism, breaking communion with the Church of Christ is worst than heresy. Avoiding schism on the right or the left is central to his theology. It is not the role of the Pope to drive those who misunderstand, whether deliberately or not, away from Christ. As Christ's shepherd his role is to bring the lost sheep into communion with their Lord.

This is an ecumenical Pope who desperately wants to enlarge the visible Communion of the Church. Today the immediate issue is the reconcilliation of the SSPX, tomorrow it is TAC, the Traditional Anglican Communion, in the future it is reunion with the various Orthodox churches. The urgency that he talks about in the letter concerning reconcilliation of the SSPX, is simply that he wants ecumenism to be more than gestures and empty words, before his death he wants a definite monument. He wants to set up models for the Eastern Churches, and for his successors, that demonstrate the plurallity that Rome is willing to embrace.


Annie said...

God bless our Pope! :)

Fr Ray Blake said...

The Great, the Good!

Brian said...

'The weakness of charity'

God bless Christ's vicar.

gemoftheocean said...

I bet he does charity on a monthly basis too. :-D

PeterHWright said...

This is a most interesting post.

Presumably, the Pope realises that reunion with the East would mean Rome accepting a somewhat looser federation. After all, the Orthodox Churches are autocephalous, and the Ecumenical Patriarch is no more than primus inter pares. The Pope could not realistically expect to exercise immediate and universal jurisdiction over the Orthodox Churches.

Rome is of course already in communion with various sui iuris Churches (although I would agree this is a slightly different thing).

But this raises the fascinating question : how far is the Pope prepared to go to avoid or heal schism in the West ? Are we to see, for instance, more apostolic administrations like Campos ? More personal prelatures after the model of Opus Dei ?

It would, I think, be a sticking point in their discussions if the SSPX were to pereceive Rome is more interested in healing schisms than in extirpating heresy.

And the Orthodox, ever suspicious of Rome, would not look favourably on a Church which seemed to tolerate heterodoxy.

Pluralism ? That's another question surely.

Ma Tucker said...

Glad the Pope issued this letter. From what I've read so far it strikes just the right levels. I hope we all can take onboard the message. God bless our great Pope.

Terry Nelson said...

I love the Pope - he is Peter. Full of charity. The version of the letter I read certainly does read like an Apostolic Letter.

mafeking said...

This is a good letter much more strongly worded than before but unless it's backed up by action it will be ignored just like all the rest. I think Pius X in Pascendi says something like "for a moment they bow their heads, but then they raise it more arrogantly than before" - and this I think could be what happens here. Actions speak louder than words and unless somebody actually does something nothing will change.

I'm in the kick a** camp I'll admit but B16 has a completely different personality to me. He has to do things his own way and I hope he gets it right. It's easy after all from a safe distance to be an armchair Pope; it's quite another thing when you are in the firing line.

St. Peter, pray for us, and pray especially for the Holy Father.

georgem said...

What a great man our Pope is. Only the truly strong are willing to reveal human frailty to the world. This is a man who writes from the heart, strips away the pretending veil of authority and omnipotence and is willing to say he has been wounded, not from without the Catholic Church but within - “ingratitude more strong than traitors’ arms”.
What is so overpowering is his subtlety, his nuance. I think this is what so many misunderstand and perceive as dithering. They want a pugilistic pope. Instead, they get a man who puts into action what he preaches and it is love. You have to ask: What part of love is it that they don’t understand?

“Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sinne.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d any thing.

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah, my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I ?

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame ?
My deare, then will I serve.
You must sit downe, sayes Love, and taste my Meat:
So I did sit and eat.”

George Herbert 1593-1633.

USLawStudent said...

This is why I love B16!

Viva il Papa!!

On a lighter note -- some of you might find this funny:

I hope this isn't inappropriate!

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

I think Pope Benedict is drawing inspiration from Pope John Paul, who was never afraid to show his vulnerability as he grew more and more frail, which is part of what made him so loved and admired.