Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Roberto de Mattei has been suggesting that a schism may occur if things continue as they are, I am told that it is buzzword going around some Italian journalists. Poles mindful of the alienation of JPII's magisterium at the last session, I am told are also using the 's' word.

For me, I am not sure what 'schism' means today, in fact is it a term that can be used any longer? The much Patristic principle of 'unity in diversity' or Vatican II's 'subsidiarity' and 'localisation' or 'enculturation' would suggest that they obvious shift in the Church was from the centre to the peripheries. Good theology would agree with Cardinal Marx when he said the German Bishops are not a subsidiary of Rome. The problem is that so often bishops have been seen as 'delegates' of the Bishop of Rome, appointed or dismissed at will. It is worth comparing the laborious process of the CDF's discussions with Bishop Morris of Toowoomba under Pope Benedict compared wit the overnight 'resignations' of the various 'trad' bishops under Francis. Toowoomba was much more in line with VII than Francis' no nonsense approach, which probably might appeal to conservatives. I would be very interesting to see what would happen if those bishops sacked by Francis simply said, 'No'.

What would a more diverse Church, a less Rome centred Church, look like? Why should Rome appoint Bishops, should they not be chosen locally by diocesan presbyterates, with the other local bishops join in their ordination, if they recognised and approved of their election? And if bishops are appointed locally, why should doctrine not be defined locally, whilst holding on to principles praxis can vary to accommodate local situations. The German bishops hold to the dogmatic principles 'life is sacred' and 'life begins at conception', but the seem to have their own particular pastoral praxis to safeguard these principles. It is interesting that not paying Church Tax in Germany cuts one off from Communion but holding onto heresy or living in lifestyle contrary to the Gospel doesn't.

Under such circumstances we could all hold the same doctrines but legitimately have totally different pastoral approaches.

One can see this diversity already exists in the liturgy, compare  these photgraphs
Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI in Los Angeles with Cdl Mahoney

Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI at Brompton Oratory and elsewhere

In all the pictures the celebrant would regard themselves as being 'faithful' to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal: same Mass but a different praxis.

The problem is that the Catholics attending these Masses and the priests too, already have difficulty in recognising, not the 'validity' of the sacrament confected, they just don't have much in common in their understanding of priesthood, of Church, even possibly of Revelation and of the Incarnation. Praxis forms theology, we might indeed be able to agree a common set of words on the Holy Eucharist, for example, but is the actual belief the same?

What is there in common? Presumably all can recite the Creed, all look to the Pope as the touchstone of Communion. but what does that mean? Converts are required to say "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God." Again what does that mean in a diverse Church? I remember the notorious occasion when one of our Bishops was required to write a pastoral letter correcting his error on Confession in a previous pastoral letter and then had to write another letter correcting the errors in the correction, in a more diverse Church  if his own presbyterate failed to do so, no-one would be there to correct him.

I remember Bishop Fellay suggesting that his priests accepted 95+% of all that VII put forward but then their communion is 'impaired', whilst many who would score much, much lower are in full communion, like the bishop who couldn't get his head round round Sacramental Confession.


Just another mad Catholic said...

Historically I think that Bishops were chosen by their fellow successors to the Apostles and Rome merely recognised this, much the way that often times a new Pope might have been elected before the Bishops of a far flung diocese heard of the death of the previous Pope; It would make sense in the days before near-instantaneous communication.

The difference between then and know is that the overwhelming majority of Bishops held unswervingly to the Faith and even if the link to Rome was remote in practise, the heart of the Bishop was very much with the heir to St Peter.

The vast differences in the praxis of the Novus Ordo is precisely why the Mass of St Pius V is so rigorous in that it prescribes WHAT to do, rather than what CAN be done, Indeed the sheer number of variations across Europe (in reformation times) was what prompted the reform of the Roman Missal in the first place.

Physiocrat said...

Catholics have a right to a standard "product". Thinking of it as a world "brand", you should be able to rely on what is "in the tin".

Like Coca Cola, for example - people would stop buying it the tins were liable to contain anything from sweet fizzy water to sour lemon juice.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

Unanimity has become a very elastic idea - broken, fragmented. Its like the Church was a flaming asteroid that hit something bigger than it and shattered and now all those little comets are little churches with little magisteriums, until they burn out, because a comet, like and asteroid is just a tumbling fireball, however rock-like.

The concept of One and Universal, and Holy and Apostolic has been blown to smithereens by 'better' conceptualizations of Christ-consciousness.

You are right. The authorities have created a 'church' where there can be no 'crisis' because such things as schism, as heresy, as Israel the 'harlot' are anachronisms, which truth, if they ever carried any, and who can say? are dead.

Or not. It could simply be that those who cheer the broad way are more effectively demoralising those who cleave to the narrow way in the media (and these days that includes the parish).

However, the True Church will always care for immortal souls in the way prescribed by her Founder.

PS. As least care more about immortal souls than cat-juggling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bGVT4-1DBU

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

PPS. "It is interesting that not paying Church Tax in Germany cuts one off from Communion but holding onto heresy or living in lifestyle contrary to the Gospel doesn't."

I used to live in a part of England that required a tax - small - based on the 'doomsday' requirements, even though the diocese is now Church of England - heresy and currency and authority seem to be able to sit down to brunch without much ado.

Nicolas Bellord said...

A diocese or group of dioceses decides that marriage is dissolvable and announces that it will no longer recognise the Pope or magisterial teaching on this point. They call themselves Katholics.

A diocese or group of dioceses decides that marriage is dissolvable but claim that they still recognise the Pope and call themselves Roman Catholics.

Are both in schism? I would predict that we will see more of the second than the first - indeed we already have the second.

Nicolas Bellord said...

As an ordinary lay Catholic I understand that the essence of my religion is to love God and keep his commandments. I hope I can work out what those commandments are. If my Bishop says something different, such as saying that the morning-after pill is okay after rape (to which you referred) I would treat such with due respect to my Bishop but my conscience would tell me that he was wrong and I would ignore him on that point. End of story. His praxis be blowed.

JARay said...

Bishop Morris in Toowoomba was/is, a heretic. He should have been gone long before he was finally evicted. The role of the Pope is to be the ultimate authority on what is/is not, the authentic teaching of the Church. Unfortunately it is possible to have a Pope who fails in this respect but, as I understand it, he will never be allowed to promote heresy as being authentic Catholic teaching. He has the power to make infallible proclamations but God will not allow him to do so if his proclamation is false.
A schism occurs when someone cuts himself off from the authority which emanates from Rome. Archbishop Lefebvre defied the clear injunction from Rome not to consecrate some priests as bishops. Such a defiance was schismatic and resulted in his excommunication. A schism is a defiance of authority, heresy is a defiance of religious truth. They are not necessarily the same thing.
If, somehow, it becomes accepted to allow those living in adultery to receive Holy Communion then this would be a complete denial of Church teaching over two thousand years and those who would then proclaim their objections to this would be rejecting the authority of whoever made the decree and this would be a schism from that authority.

Father Spike said...

We have seen all this before: it's simply our version of Anglican churchmanship: High, Low, Broad, with various permutations. All parties in Anglicanism used the texts of the old Book of Common Prayer but with such differences of praxis as could suit outright Papalists, quasi-Puritan evangelicals, or near-Unitarians.

Even the differences in praxis on the "high" end of the Roman Catholic spectrum recall the C of E a few decades ago: some of us want to go back to the traditional Roman Missal (that would be like the Anglo-Papalists and Dom Gregory Dix and the Society of Ss. Peter & Paul), while some of us are "reform of the reform" (similar to what used to be called Prayer Book Catholics and followers of Percy Dearmer, who wanted to stay within the bounds of the Prayer Book, as authorized).

In Pope Benedict's book, "Church, Ecumenis, Politics," the then-Cardinal quotes the Rev. William Ledwich (then an Anglican clergyman, later a member of the Orthodox Church): "That Catholicism is a party within Anglicanism no one can realistically deny... But it remains true that Jesus did not found a Catholic party in a cosmopolitan debating society, but a Catholic Church to which he promised the fulness of truth... A body which reduces its catholics to a party within a religious parliament can hardly deserve to be called a branch of the Catholic Church, but a national religion, dominated by and structured on the principles of liberal tolerance, in which the authority of revelation is subordinate to democracy and private opinion."

That is the point at which we ourselves have arrived, as well. The proposals for the Church's reform, being now put forward at the highest levels, suggest a papacy that would be the Archbishop of Canterbury writ large. We can see how well that form of primacy has served to keep the Anglican Communion united! We can expect similar results in the Catholic Church, if we choose to go the route of churchmanship, regional autonomy, and honorary primacy. It's all been done before. I am amazed at the triumphalism of liberal Roman Catholics who think that one can act like Anglicans and not have the same results in the end.

Sitsio said...

Thanks for this post Father Ray, it really made me think.

It made me remember that the Catholic Church is by no means simply “the western church of the Latin rite”; rather, it’s a network of dozens of churches, all unified by their association with the Pope, who acts as a physical point of unity for the Church. The simplest working definition of a Catholic is a Christian who is in communion with the bishop of Rome. This reality has been revealed more clearly to me since the Ordinariate was created. I have found myself attracted to the beauty of the liturgy and the orthodoxy of the teaching in a group well used to fighting the forces of moral relativism.

Jacobi said...

It was many years, some nasty fighting, some five popes before at least in Catholicism, that the term Protestant Reformation was fully recognised and accepted.

In today's Catholic Church, the term “schism” is being used as a polite word for reformation, Modernist or Secularist, which has existed since Pius X introduced the Oath against Modernism, 1910. Nothing could be clearer. Paul VI used the term schism in Holy Week, 1969.
Sadly Father the word has been used long before de Mattei and Polish journalists took it up.

It is very likely that the issue of a false concept of pastoral mercy, that is if people who are objectively speaking in a state of mortal sin are permitted by Church authorities, either regional i.e., in the Germanic countries, or generally by some form of permission from Rome, to receive Holy Communion, that this will finally cause the “silent schism” to become a formal split.

JARay said...

It is obvious to "blind Freddy" that if this Pope introduces a "get out" for those who are living in mortal sin then:-
A) he is contradicting the teaching of Jesus himself.
B) he is going to split the Church. Call it what you may.
This Pope is an utter disaster.

Dr Frederick Jones said...

Im pretty sure I accept more than 95% of the Faith as taught in your blog Fr Blake but cannot in conscience accept the full text of Pastor Aeternus. I therefore have not joined you, much as I would wish to do so.I wonder if there are many in my position? I wonder also at the position of those in full communion with the Holy See who seem to believe much less than I do.

John Nolan said...

The photo of the Oratory Mass shows the Extraordinary Form (note the altar cards and the position of the missal). That said, their Solemn OF wouldn't look much different.

Anonymous said...

"It is interesting that not paying Church Tax in Germany cuts one off from Communion but holding onto heresy or living in lifestyle contrary to the Gospel doesn't."

Indeed. Marx once said of the Church of England that it "would give up 38 of its 39 articles rather than one-thirty-ninth of its income". The German bishops have the same mentality.

Crouchback said...

JARay said that Archbishop Lefebvre defied the clear injunction of Rome not to consecrate Bishops. As I understand it Rome had already agreed thatArchbishop Lefebvre could go ahead and consecrate (a bishop but Rome shilly shallied about when this could be done ) The Archbishop was already ill and it could be assumed that Rome was playing for time, hoping he would eventually be too ill to carry on. In any case Google his sermon on the occasion of the consecrations he quite clearly foresees apostasy from the faith some time in the future by Rome if they kept to the path they were on at that time.

Prophetic or what...???

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