Friday, April 13, 2012
Deadline: Low Sunday
This coming Sunday, Low Sunday is the deadline for the reply of the SSPX to the the Holy See's Preamble. On it hangs either a schism or reconciliation, if schism then presumably there will follow further excommunications and a change in gear to any dialogue. If there is reconciliation then within the Church there will be groaning from the Liberal elements within the Church and cries of "the Pope rejecting Vatican II".
Interestingly Bishop Fellay says the SSPX accepts 95% of the teaching of Vatican II, which is perhaps far more than most "orthodox" bishops and clergy accept.
I must confess I do not understand the problems the SSPX with VII, I admit there are difficulties, a few contradictions in the Council documents with previous Magisterial statements, the Pope has been quite clear, and the Council is quite clear, that no new dogmatic teaching was presented in the Council's teaching and the Council must be read in a hermeneutic of continuity not of rupture. The nature of the Church too demands that the Council is read in the sense of continuity.
John R. T. Lamont has a very interesting analysis of the situation.
The problem seems to be the secret Preamble and as Lamont says the ultimate question, which is: what is the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church on the points that are in dispute between the SSPX and the Holy See?
What is in the Preamble and why is it secret? If it is merely concerned about religious liberty, collegiality, ecumenicism etc. these issues per se are discussed pretty freely by clergy "in good standing", so presumably there is something else. The more specific criticisms of the SSPX in the past concern the Assisi events, the toleration of dissent, the relationship of conscience to the Magisterium, the use of Collegiality, and the Liturgy. Indeed the SSPX when pushed would seem to say it is not so much the specific documents of VII that are a problem, except where they contradict the Magisterium, it is the interpretation.
I cannot help wondering whether their criticism is directed to both the Holy See and specifically to the person of the Pope, or at least to the post-Concilliar Popes. Is the SSPX really claiming that the last four Popes, and the Curia, have acted in a spirit of rupture towards the Magisterium?
Obviously examples might be seen in some of the strange actions of the Blessed John Paul; for example, being exorcised by a pagan priestess in Penitential rite, or praying with pagans, or venerating the Koran. Popes tolerating dissenting bishops, and even appointing known dissident priests to the Episcopacy is another example, so too bishops allowing publicly dissenting politicians to communicate and remain in good standing with the Church. As far as collegiality is concerned, the SSPX has criticised the rise in national Churches, with a localised theology, at the expense of unity with the Universal Church.
The problem is that reconciliation of the SSPX, and satisfying their demands will result in a narrowing and tighter definition of what it means to be Catholic. Benedict XVI has spoken a great deal about the hermeneutic of continuity but is he willing to following the logical follow on from this understanding of Vatican II, the pastoral demands of this policy, by a crackdown on dissent? His has always been a policy of "both, and" rather than "either, or", of wanting to include and win by arguement rather than dictat.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake