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A Quarter Century of Schism Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 12 July 2013

Schismatic bishops have once more laid down the law to the Catholic Church. Abjure your teachings or we are never coming back.

The recent statement of the three remaining bishops of the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius (SSPX) puts even further off any hope that the Church will reconcile with them any time soon. Notice that I say the Church reconciles with them, rather than they reconcile with the Church, because for them the reconciliation is all one way.

In a statement released on the twenty-fifth anniversary of their schism, the three bishops insist the problem is not with any misinterpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, but with the documents themselves. They say the documents are quite clear and quite heretical.

Among the most important work of the last two pontificates was wrestling the meaning of Vatican II away from Church crazies and placing the documents strongly within the tradition of the Church. Benedict XVI insisted that they must be seen only through what he called the “hermeneutic of continuity.”

SSPX sees Vatican II through a “hermeneutic of rupture.” It says the Council initiated “a new kind of Magisterium, hitherto unheard of in the Church, without roots in Tradition.” It takes aim, as it has from the beginning of its outright revolt in 1988, at “religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality and the New Mass.”

SSPX insists that religious liberty is no more than demanding that God renounce His reign over man and is the “equivalent to dissolving Christ.”

Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue have led to a point where “a large part of the clergy and the faithful no longer see in Our Lord and the Catholic Church the unique way of salvation.”

SSPX also hates what it calls the “New Mass,” which “diminishes the affirmation of the reign of Christ by the Cross. Indeed the rite itself curtails and obscures the sacrificial and propitiatory nature of the Eucharist Sacrifice.” The SSPX bishops' statement says that the Mass destroys "Catholic spirituality."

There is some truth to the criticism of how things have sometimes spooled out in the Church since the close of Vatican II. Ecumenism has been a bust except where it has been practiced by faithful Catholics working with Evangelicals on social issues.

And for me there is no question that the Tridentine Mass is more beautiful in almost every way than the new Mass. It is also true that many Catholics today believe that all roads lead to God and therefore evangelism is not necessary. And you sure do wish that individual bishops would be stronger on their own and that reliance on episcopal conferences would fade.


        Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of Saint Pius X

But not all these problems are the fault of the Second Vatican Council. In several respects, the Council made the Church supple enough to withstand the cultural blows that have largely destroyed mainline Protestantism.

I wrote on this site more than two years ago that the talks between the Society and the Church would never really go forward for two reasons. First, because the Society is asking too much. It wants more than the universal approval of the Traditional Latin Mass. They want the Church to renounce the teachings of an ecumenical council. Then Cardinal Ratzinger said in the Ratzinger Report that if you reject Vatican II, you also reject Trent because you reject the authority of both, which is to say the teachings of the bishops of the world in communion with the pope.

The second reason SSPX will probably never come back is even more ticklish than the first. It is more than simply the rejection of Catholic teaching. There is also pride: dug-in pride, pride that will likely not allow for reconciliation no matter what.

Even if the Church renounced the Second Vatican Council and mandated the universal imposition of the Traditional Latin Mass, it’s likely that the hardcore SSPXers will never return. They are used to their own authority now.  And one of the hardest things is real obedience.

Return is improbable, but not impossible. Only a few weeks ago, a formerly schismatic group saw their seminarians laying facedown in a Roman Church as they were being ordained to the priesthood by a Vatican-based archbishop.  

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer were once closely allied with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of Saint Pius X. In fact, when they were founded in 1987 they went to Lefebvre for his blessing.

They lived in the ecclesial wilderness until 2007, when Pope Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which allowed for the universal use of the traditional Latin Mass. The group petitioned Rome for reconciliation. Visitations took place. Cardinal Levada of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei got involved. And the pope granted regularization a year ago.

But as might be expected, even though the group came back to Rome some of the individual members chose to remain separated in schism with the Society of Pius X.

For those who insist the Society is not schismatic, consider this: In the document regularizing this group, the official text mentions the ending of their “schismatic state.”

Traditionalist Catholics are not strange beings from another planet. They are our brothers and sisters who in many ways are as faithful as any Catholics in the Church – except for ecclesial obedience. Their energy, both physical and intellectual, is something to behold and to be admired, and they are much missed in the Church today.

Would that this energy was aimed at targets other than the Catholic Church.  

 
Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.
 
 
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, July 12, 2013
Bl John Henry Newman diagnosed the roots of such schisms, when he wrote, “they rely on things more than on persons, and go through a round of duties in one and the same way, because they are used to them, and because in consequence they are attached to them, not as having any intelligent faith in a divine oracle which has ordered them; and that in consequence they would start in irritation, as they have started, from such indications of that Oracle's existence as is necessarily implied in the promulgation of a new definition of faith.”

They often fall into the old fallacy of trying to define Christians by examining their tenets, or the Church by its teaching, whereas, for Catholics, the orthodox party in any dispute, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome. From the Nestorians to the Ultrajectines, it is the same story.
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written by Manfred, July 12, 2013
Some thoughts: The largest Roman Catholic seminary being built in the U.S. today is being built by the SSPX in Buckingham County, VA. Perhaps we should think of them as having the same status as the Eastern Orthodox and have an ecumenical outreach to them. Sr.Carol Keehan's Catholic Health Association just broke with the American bishops and accepted Obama's HHS Mandate. Is she, they, in schism? A Jesuit named John D. Whitney of St. Joseph's Church in Seattle just published a letter "Why I am in the Parade". He was referring to the Gay Pride parade, of course. Biden, Pelosi, the Kennedys, Sebelius, Gov. O'Malley, Mario and Andrew Cuomo (the list goes on and on) all support abortion and sodomite marriage. Are these people is schism? No, all of these people are mainstream Catholics who receive the Body of Christ each week and are in "good standing" as Catholics. In the 11th para. of their June 27, 2013 letter to Rome, the SSPX said they will wait until either the Church returns to "the Faith of the Ages" OR the Church allows the SSPX "..to publicly oppose the errors and the proponents of these errors, whoever they may be-which would allow the beginning of a re-establishing of order."
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written by Walt, July 12, 2013
"In several respects, the Council made the Church supple enough to withstand the cultural blows that have largely destroyed mainline Protestantism". I don't see this suppleness. Could you give "several" examples.
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written by Ray, July 12, 2013
Served as an acolyte in the Pre Vatican II Latin Mass. My first 20 years I lived attending that Mass. The next 48 years are post Vatican II years of my life. All those years were spent offering my body and my blood along with the celebrant to Christ during the Offertory, to do with as He would do with me. Sometimes I feel like the SSPX folks would have me believe the Consecration wasn't licit. At the end of all of it I will always believe I received, Jesus Christ, in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at each of the Holy Sacrifice of Masses I attended. Obedience to the Church hierarchy is necessary and the SSPX has lost sight of this requirement. Two thousand years of Church history is replete with heresies and Schisms. While I pray they come back to the fold I won't lose any sleep over their decision. Pope Benedict tried to accommodate them but their recalcitrant position remains untenable. Tough love is still love, and it may be time to deploy it.
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written by Meyrat, July 12, 2013
The representatives of SSPX make some legitimate complaints--as did Luther and other protestants half a millennium ago. The Catholic Church should listen to them, and make some changes to improve the quality of Catholic spirituality. Unfortunately, the determined defection of SSPX does little to alleviate the loss of tradition, marginalizing it into a clique with little aim to reform. It has radicalized these issues when it should have rationalized them. More than reestablishing the meaning of the liturgy, the SSPX has simply fostered liturgical snobbery among its members. For this reason, they are regarded--and sometimes regard themselves--as the hipster Catholics. Although most may find it difficult, people need to look beyond this image and look at the merits of their argument.

The Latin Mass is truly beautiful, and the Church has suffered a great loss in failing to preserve it. Most Catholics who have attended a Latin Mass will attest to this. Pope Benedict has done great work in allowing the reintroduction of the Latin Mass, but the bishops and priests need to encourage this as well. There is a desire for it. Traditionalists are right to say that the Mass shouldn't be a barrier to reverence and piety, but should facilitate these qualities. The vast majority of ignorant and lazy Catholics stems from the abuses and bad theology of Vatican II, which led to the replacement of the old Mass with the new one when it should have supplemented it instead. This sad reality threatens the vitality of the Church in a very real way: fallen-away Catholics make up the second largest denomination in the U.S., and a embarrassingly small percentage of Catholics attend Mass regularly and follow Church teachings. Whether this means the clergy should look to correctly interpreting the reforms made in Vatican II, or that Latin Mass should have a bigger presence, the problems of a watered-down gospel still remain and traditionalists have every reason to be skeptical about reform.

The best hope of reconciling with members of SSPX lies with mainstream Catholics themselves, clergy as well as laity. They should take these complaints of traditionalists to heart, and address them. The Church would be all the better for doing so: she would gain back former Catholics; she would become a more relevant presence in the world; she would restore her identity. The questions of liturgy and ecumenism need to consider what God commands, not what the world desires. Otherwise, the world will take over through complacence and lethargy (mainstream Catholics) or pride and defiance (SSPX and traditionalist Catholics).
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, July 12, 2013
When the August Emperors Gratian, Theodosius and Valentinian made the Catholic faith the religion of the whole empire, they defined it simply as “the religion now professed by the Pontiff Damasus.” Suitably updated to refer to a living authority, it is a test remarkably easy of application; just what one would expect of the criterion of a divine message, intended for all, regardless of learning, capacity or circumstances. Not documents of doubtful interpretation, but a living voice was to be the rule of faith,

Pope Francis should give the same answer to the SSPX that Pio Nono gave to Cardinal Guidi, “Tradizione! La tradizione son’ io!” – Tradition! I AM the tradition!”
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written by Achilles, July 12, 2013
Lucid Mr. Ruse, lucid and charitable!
Manfred, as usual, provides inane, unweighty and illogical material comparisons. Schism need not be publically recognized by Holy Mother Church. Those unfaithful to the Magisterium silently in their hearts are cutting themselves off from God just like the public heretics. I suggest you are caught up in the modern zeitgeist Manfred.
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written by Chris in Maryland, July 12, 2013
On the 4 issues:

1st - Religious Liberty – SSPX is gigantically devious on this point. It seems to have staked out a remote and elusive position by design, so that separation is inescapable. From where they stand, no man inside SSPX can reach out, and no man outside of SSPX can reach in. I have heard one SSPX friend put it this way: “Error has no rights.” Let the SSPX position be represented by John Salza, J.D., (writing in The Remnant, 2009), who argued that since no man has the “moral right” to religious error, therefore DIGNITATIS HUMANAE is wrong to recognize that man has a “civil right” to religious freedom, because exercise of the civil right may per chance lead him to “moral error” (i.e., practicing a faith other than The Catholic faith).

2nd – Ecumenism – I think Benedict XVI has the right idea on Ecumenism, and much of the Church seems adrift. The SSPX seem to define their own position against those in the Church who are adrift, not those like Benedict who are trying to do something concrete (have separated Catholics from Anglicanism, Lutheranism and Eastern Orthodox re-unite with The Church). If the point is not reuniting the Orthodox and Protestants separated from The Catholic Church, the whole thing seems to have little meaning or merit. Catholics concerned about the integrity of Catholic identity are legitimately skeptical about the ideology dialogue-for-dialogue’s-sake. SSPX just seemed to just use this “the dialogue faction” as pole to keep Benedict at arm’s length.

3rd – Collegiality – Again, in the polarity between the 2 extremes, the progressives (e.g., Kasper & Mahony et al) assert a new order of obedience (obey me, your Bishop/Boss, but don’t worry about obeying your Pope/my Boss), and the SSPX use this pathology as a barrier against reunion.

4th – The New Mass – Reform-of-the-Reform is held hostage by the “progressives” and the “traditionalists,” until the time, if ever, that their influence on The Church subsides. I think both the SSPX and The Church have made gigantic mistakes on this. Laszlo Dobszay has it correct – one can be of orthodox mind and heart, be in communion with The Church, and still admit/see that the Novus Ordo Mass, especially as implemented, is NOT culturally a Roman Catholic Rite. It is, as to The Church’s culture, a ”Neo-Catholic” rite, in large part emptied out of Roman Catholic cultural content. In its most common form of celebration, sustaining the suppression the Roman Canon (given lip service as Eucharistic Prayer #1), it is culturally almost entirely emptied out. As a result, our most important thing, our worship, lacks the stamp of identity that we once was shared with those who knew and loved our forebears in the Faith, and died for The Church, like “Linus, Cletus, and Clement” and “Agatha and Perpetua and Lucy.” Per Dobszay, The Church has made a gigantic mistake and diluted its identity. And per Dobszay, the SSPX mistakenly clings to a deficient form of the Roman Rite, a weak variant of a once larger, richer family of Roman Rites. As Louis Bouyer stated, in the manufacture of the “Novus Ordo” the progressives allied themselves with the “traditionalists” to prevent a reform, which was prudently desired (which ArchB. Lefebvre agreed was needed). And of course, since such large portions of those “in The Church” in fact don’t believe in what The Eucharist is, the SSPX use that pathology to assert that the NO Mass is illegitimate as to the sacrament of the Eucharist.

In sum, topics 2-4 are an attack against The Church by wielding The Church’s own pathologies against it. Topic #1 is the ultimate escape hatch though…in case the other 3 problems get resolved…the other is eternal…and SSPX knows that. That’s why it is topic #1.
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written by Mark, July 12, 2013
I have to agree with Manfred. That prominent Catholics publically contradict the teachings of the Church and then receive communion is a grave scandal.
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written by Seanachie, July 12, 2013
Matthew 16:18..."And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. " Does anything more need to be said to any disobedient (nominally) Catholic individual or group?
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written by Ib, July 12, 2013
Actually there are many of these schismatic groups. The Pius X Society joins a bunch of other ragtaggers in this disobedience/rebellion against the divine order of Christ's established Roman Catholic Church. Here's a partial list of modern schismatics:

Old Catholics (rebelled against The First Vatican Council)
French Catholic Church (begun by a French priest in 1831)
German Catholics (begun by a dismissed priest in 1845)
Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation (begun by a dismissed priest in 1989)

There are actually dozens more, but I only listed the ones I knew off the top of my head. All of them have insignificant numbers, and insignificant conversion rates (including SSPX). Alas, as St. Jerome wrote long ago,

... there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church.
(Commentary on Titus, 3.10).

Most of these have further fragmented and fallen into heresy, having lost the principle of unity, the teaching of the Holy See. It's inevitable that SSPX will follow them into obscurity.
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written by Chris in Maryland, July 12, 2013
Mark is certainly right about his amplification of Manfred's particular concern...and the Bishops, generally, (with some brave exceptions) couldn't show they care less.
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written by Manfred, July 12, 2013
Post Script: As I have stated previously, I am a layman in the FSSP, not the SSPX. What gives the SSPX enormous credibility is there are very substantial high Churchmen making their same arguments. One is Cdl Walter Kaspar who uses the term "compromise formulas" to explain inconsistencies in the actual documents of the Council. He is no friend of the SSPX. I would also cite Bp. Athanasius (doesn't that name set the tone?) Schneider of Kazakhstan(?) who is the author of Dominus Est, which severely questions, among many other practices since Vat II, the reception of Holy Communion in the hand. He has asked repeatedly for the POPE, as the "Supreme Magisterium", to officially state ex cathedra what the Church taught, if anything, at Vatican II. He insists that John XXIII never intended the ruptures we witness today.
Recall that the Traditional Mass of the Ages was abrogated after Vat. II and we would never have seen it again if it were not for Abp Lefebvre and the SSPX. Now it is past time to attend finally to all the other questions which some people have known for decades to exist.
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written by Austin Ruse, July 13, 2013
Manfred, there is little doubt that the struggle for the meaning of Vatican II goes on, as does the battle to set the Church aright. However, I am not aware that any of the Churchmen you have cited have led others into schism. Moreover, I am not aware that they have said the documents of Vatican II are in error. The Holy Spirit protects such a council. As Ratzinger said, if you reject Vatican II you reject Trent.
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written by Manfred, July 13, 2013
Austin: As the only two Churchmen I cite are Cdl Kasper and Bp. Schneider, and as both of them are calling for the Pope, as the Supreme Pontiff who possesses the charism to speak ex cathedra, to state with clarity, accuracy and finality what the teachings of Vat II, if any, are teachings of the Magisterium; I agree with your comment that neither of them are leading anyone to schism. Recall, the schism only occurred what Abp. Lefebvrs consecrated the four bishops as only the Pope may consecrate a bishop! The SSPx was still canonically correct. Canon Law was violated and the penalty incurred. Benedict lifted that excommunication and restored the validity to the bishops, so when you say Quarter Century of Schism you are technically incorrect. The authors of the sixteen documents of Vat II have all admitted separately that portions of the documents are deliberately ambiguous. They admit that a compromise was necessary in order to reconcile the integralist faction (we might call them traditional) with the modernist faction (which we might call the progressives). A quick example is the pyramid v. the circle with the pyramid having the Pope at the apex and the circle of ordinaries (bishops with dioceses)with each one the Pope of his diocese which we see today. When N.Y. mayor Robert Wagner wanted an annulment from his Fire Commissioner's sister and he was told he would be denied in the A'dioc of New York, he simply set up a "residence" in Brooklyn and Bp. Mugavero delivered (as he had on every other annulment request). When you reflect on the last fifty years since the Council, recall that many intelligent people of good will can make very, very strong arguments re Vat. II and its "Spirit". I hope this is helpful.
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written by Austin Ruse, July 13, 2013
Manfred, so you suggest the only way one can go into schism in by ordaining bishops without approval? I would just point out that the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, mentioned in my piece, were considered schismatic and they did not ordain any bishops without permission. What did they do then to be considered in schism?

I think if we are loyal sons of the Church we have to consider the Council to be the Holy Spirit's great gift to us in this age. That we cannot figure that out only means we cannot figure that out. But, the Council has been praised and promoted by six pope's in a row. I hold fast to the barque of Peter.
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written by John, July 14, 2013
"They often fall into the old fallacy of trying to define Christians by examining their tenets, or the Church by its teaching, whereas, for Catholics, the orthodox party in any dispute, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome."

With the caveats that I am as yet outside the Church, but am intensely interested in the Faith and seriously considering conversion, and that nothing I say now is meant to be polemical, nevertheless I find this statement from one commenter to be rather astounding. Doctrine and creeds are not merely ornaments of orthodoxy but are at the very heart of it, and communion with the bishops is urged because bishops are meant and assumed to cling fast to and transmit unadulterated the depositum fidei, handed to them, through the Apostles, by Christ. Bishops have in the past preached heresy and heterodoxy, some still do, and others will again in future, including a great many in communion with the Holy See. The Catholic recites and holds to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed and a great many doctrines and teachings, and not merely an oath of loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff (though obedience and submission thereto are, of course, part of the faith). Granted that the Magisterium is the interpreter of the scriptures and Tradition, yet this is neither license nor the power to interpret it in just any way whatsoever. The issue is about contradiction, about the apparent contradiction between what the Church had always and everywhere taught and done and what, in the past few decades, is now so often taught and done. Those horrible 'traditionalists' object, because this is a scandal not only to the faithful but also against reason, with which the Faith has always been held to be in harmony. Not even papal authority can resolve an apparent contradiction simply by fiat, any more than a Pontiff could declare that the sum of two and two is five. While papal authority cannot be rejected, and communion with the Holy See must be maintained (and because of this the recent declaration of the SSPX goes too far), the bishops of the Church, even the bishop of Rome, must hew to the objective content of the deposit of faith transmitted to them, unaltered, from Christ through the Apostles and all their successors. What is to be believed, and not merely in whom one is to trust and to whom one is to show religious obedience of the intellect and will, is vital to the Catholic faith, and the question of what is to be believed is an objective, not a subjective one. If one's response to any concern or criticism of apparent contradictions in the teaching and life of the Church is merely "Well, orthodoxy is determined simply by what the Pope or another bishop says", then not only is this to introduce a breathtaking subjectivism into the Faith (the content of the Faith becomes simply the personal prerogative of the Pontiff), but it seems, really, to be a species of Ultramontanism so great that Catholicism is reduced to "Popeism", just as its Protestant detractors have always claimed.

I was also struck by the comment of Mr. Ruse:

"I think if we are loyal sons of the Church we have to consider the Council to be the Holy Spirit's great gift to us in this age. That we cannot figure that out only means we cannot figure that out. But, the Council has been praised and promoted by six pope's in a row. I hold fast to the barque of Peter. "

Surely being in communion with the successor of Saint Peter, and visibly united to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church does not also include assenting to that proposition. The legitimacy and authority of an Ecumenical Council must be recognized, but I do not recall it being elevated to a doctrine of the Faith that the Second Vatican Council was the preeminent gift of the Holy Spirit to the modern age. The view that it is is something about which one may disagree, and as one has yet to see much in the way of the promised fruits of that Council--a proposition admitted even as early as Pope Paul VI's pontificate, and made more than clear by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI--I think we ought to have a considerably more critical and less sanguine attitude about the matter. Nor is it heretical or even schismatic to have serious concerns not only with the implementation of the Council documents, but with the documents themselves, especially when one considers their "pastoral" language and the caveats, made more than once, that the Council promulgated no new doctrines or dogmas and intended to alter nothing whatsoever but merely to clarify and to retransmit the same doctrine in new ways. If the Council defined nothing and all that it did was, under prudential judgment of the Fathers of the Council, seek pastoral ends, then criticism of the documents is very far indeed from being, of any necessity, an act of heresy or schism. To criticize the Council is thus not necessarily to throw oneself overboard from the barque of Peter.

I reiterate again that my purpose is not polemical, and if it seems that what I have said cannot square with the purpose, I apologize, for that was not my intent. I speak as one interested and concerned, nothing more. And, of course, in all that I have said, I may be wrong.
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written by Austin Ruse, July 14, 2013
John, I did not say "it being elevated to a doctrine of the Faith that the Second Vatican Council was the preeminent gift of the Holy Spirit to the modern age." I did not suggest this was a doctrine of the faith. I do have not have that authority. But, I do note it was the most important event of the universal Chruch since Trent. Moreover, it was attended by more Bishops and approved by more Bishops, in communion with the Pope, that any in history. That, plus the fact, that six popes in a row have asserted its authenticity could lead a faithful son of the Church to defend it rather than be indifferent or attack it.

You say the SSPX is merely criticizing the documents. In fact, they say the documents are in error, that an ecumenical council is in error.

Moreover, you suggest the "Council promulgated no new doctrines or dogmas and intended to alter nothing whatsoever but was, under prudential judgment of the Fathers of the Council, seek pastoral ends..." I would ask you: if the Council only dressed up old teachings in new language, then wouldn't rejection of the documents also be a rejection of old teachings? In fact, SSPX says the documents are in fact new teachings that are in error over and against the traditional teachings of the Church.

I think that the proper role of the faithful son is to understand the documents as the Church understands them and to carry them forward. This is always the role of the faithful son.
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written by Manfred, July 15, 2013
"But I do note it was the most important event in the Church since Trent." What about Vat.I? What about the Fatina apparitions of 1917 and its prophecies? Russia would become a great power and spread its errors throughout the world? That there would be a war greater than this one in which nations would be annihilated? The vision of Hell? The promise of "diabolical disorientation"? You are putting all your eggs in one very suspect basket. The Council simply can't carry the weight. The Church has collapsed as the evidence clearly shows. As Pat Buchanan wrote years ago- "Within five years of the end of Vatican II it was obvious we needed Vatican III".
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written by Austin Ruse, July 15, 2013
Manfred, The Church collapsed so quickly after the 1960's for a whole host of reasons including the general collapse of the family but also because the health of the faith of the 50's was built on sand. It would not have collapsed so fast if the foundations had been strong. Very clearly the Church period that so many revere, was deeply flawed in some way.
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written by Manfred, July 15, 2013
I don't mean to keep this conversation going indefinitely, Austin, as enjoyable as it is, but you are simply wrong. I lived through the last 60 years as a "cradle Catholic" adult and I remember very well what we were told from the pulpit and from parish committees-simply put, we had been CONNED, and we had been exploited by the Church leadership (simply pray, pay and obey). We were adults now and we had been educated and it was time we took our place in the world. Simply look at the statistics of 1960 and you call that "sand"? I see the statistics today and I see a "rotting husk". Don't forget that the outcry against Humanae Vitae was 1968 and Roe v. Wade was 1973. These, and sodomite marriage would have been CONDEMNED before 1960. You and I are both looking at corpses in a train wreck but only you, and people who think like you, see viability.
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written by jason taylor, July 16, 2013
"They often fall into the old fallacy of trying to define Christians by examining their tenets, or the Church by its teaching, whereas, for Catholics, the orthodox party in any dispute, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome. From the Nestorians to the Ultrajectines, it is the same story."

How else do you define a religion except by it's teaching?
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written by John, July 16, 2013
Some replies to Mr. Ruse, who kindly answered my first comment:

"You say the SSPX is merely criticizing the documents. In fact, they say the documents are in error, that an ecumenical council is in error... if the Council only dressed up old teachings in new language, then wouldn't rejection of the documents also be a rejection of old teachings? In fact, SSPX says the documents are in fact new teachings that are in error over and against the traditional teachings of the Church."

I first wish to address this, since I think that my first comment led to some misunderstanding. It is not my primary concern in any of this to defend or to criticize the SSPX. The issues are so much larger than the SSPX, and it is those that I care about.

No one should or does wish, I think, for the 'hermeneutic of continuity' to be demonstrated, adhered to, and pursued with vigor, as non-schismatic or non-sedevacantist 'traditionalists'. That said, it does seem very difficult to reconcile some parts of the Council texts (Dignitatis humanae, e.g., comes to mind immediately), and in these cases work needs to be done and clarifications made. And this is true in other areas and nothing about saying that much, that such clarifications are needed and that there are indeed problems with the way some of the texts are written, is schismatic or disloyal or heretical. Carindal Kasper and Bishop Schneider and the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have all said the same things, and I cannot envision that they are not, each of them, a 'faithful son of the Church.' There is a very great difference between such work and rejection of the authenticity of the Council, and there is also a very great difference between saying that the Council did not produce the results that had been hoped for and that this requires a lot of careful consideration, on the one hand, and 'attacking' the Council on the other.

"But, I do note it was the most important event of the universal Chruch since Trent. Moreover, it was attended by more Bishops and approved by more Bishops, in communion with the Pope, that any in history. That, plus the fact, that six popes in a row have asserted its authenticity could lead a faithful son of the Church to defend it rather than be indifferent or attack it."

I do not question its authenticity, or even its importance in the history of the Church, but I find it very suspect to think that one's loyalty to the Church and its teaching requires that nothing critical be said of the Second Vatican Council. And, indeed, how can the 'hermeneutic of continuity' be defended and elaborated upon when it is so often implied, or even stated outright, that the Council is the decisive starting and ending point of absolutely every discussion in the Church today, when one must constantly invoke the Council, and when even daring to criticize anything about it earns one the suspicion of schism? Does that attitude not of itself elevate the Council to a sort of 'super-Council', superseding all previous Church teaching and history, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once put it? That sort of attitude is just a no starter for doing what so needs to be done, viz. promoting and developing the 'hermeneutic of continuity.' The Council was a pastoral response to the situation in the world and Church as it seemed then, and since it cannot be a question of rejecting any doctrinal teaching--since the Council explicitly denied that it was introducing or altering any--it should be no great matter to say that things have changed and we need perhaps to move on, recognizing that this is not 1962 anymore, and that while a dogmatic and doctrinal Council is as valid today as it was whenever it was convened, an inherently pastoral Council (unique in Church history for that very reason) simply is not the same. We should study and learn from and consult the Council documents, but admit also that not all their pastoral and prudential content, nor even all their explications, meant to deepen understanding of the Faith, seem as tenable today. Nor is this to deny the infallibility of an Ecumenical Council. The Council was infallible in that, as an Ecumenical Council, it simply could not promulgate heresy or in any other way contradict Tradition and Church teaching on faith and morals. The Council simply could not have done that, and if anything about doctrine that it does say seems that way, it has to be interpreted otherwise, and the fault assigned to the kind of pastoral and expository language that the Council, true to its purpose, used. Pastoral and prudential decisions, or attempts to formulate the Faith in contemporary language, are most certainly not, however, infallible, and those can certainly be looked at critically now, half a century later, and in light of all that has happened in the Church and the world since 1962.

Altogether, I do not see how any of this is disloyal or schismatic, or how it is anything but an extension of the ongoing process of understanding that Council's documents and working out a 'hermeneutic of continuity'. Perhaps that bars me from ever being a faithful Catholic. I hope not. All I know for now is to keep wrestling with these and all the other issues. I again apologize if, in trying to discuss the matters, I've not very well formulated my thinking.

PS: It also occurs to me that there is, of course, a great deal that is not remotely problematic (for whatever reason), about the documents of the Second Vatican Council. That tends to get overshadowed in these discussions, but I want to affirm that it is so.
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written by Austin Ruse, July 19, 2013
Manfred, It was not the 60's Church that imploded in the 60's, it was the 50's Church.
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written by Gregory, August 03, 2013
Why would the SSPX even want to return? Chaput is selling off Church property all over Philly, there is no longer any Catholic hospitals in NYC and Dolan closes schools with a smile on his face. There have been close to a billion spent on sexual litigation. Imagine how that money truly could have been used. Yet in all of this, the SSPX is constructing a massive new seminary and actually filling it.

There is something fulfilling in their adherence to tradition. Imagine what went through the priests' minds and souls as the Communion rails were torn out and the laity took over a greater part of the mass after Vatican II. I am not old enough to have experienced this but I'm sure it affected parishioners the same.

I went to a tre ore mass at an SSPV chapel and I have to say it was beautiful. What a difference from the mass I regularly attend. I have never seen a nun in my church yet this chapel was filled with them. Listen to sermons on WFTS and it's like listening to Fulton Sheen.

The Vatican has promoted a nebulous form of Catholicism that seems open to interpretation by each individual priest and parish. What will eventually happen is that Catholics who are getting tired of society's lies and the accommodating nature of the post Vatican II church will flock to these "schismatic" groups because they are more in line with the teachings of Jesus. Or else, they will drop out as they have been doing in droves.

This is not a critique of your article because your stories on The Littlest Suffering Souls were some of the best things I've read in a while. The bashing of the SSPX and SSPV as schismatic groups just seems to me the same as when people call Opus Dei a cult. There truly is a goodness in these groups that should be embraced and not belittled.




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