A more eclectic version of the usual Friday offering.
Vatican Insider has a new story up with excerpts from a French-language interview with Bishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. In it, Pozzo discusses the possibility of full Vatican/Society of St. Pius X reconciliation. Here are two particularly interesting paragraphs from Pozzo:
The Holy See does not wish to impose a capitulation on the SSPX. On the contrary, it invites the fraternity to stand beside it within the same framework of doctrinal principles that is necessary in guaranteeing the same adhesion to the faith and Catholic doctrine on the Magisterium and the Tradition. At the same time, there is room for further reflection on the reservations the fraternity has expressed regarding certain aspects and the wording of the Second Vatican Council documents as well as some reforms that followed but which do not refer to subjects which are dogmatically or doctrinally indisputable.
. . . .
There is no doubt that the teachings of the Second Vatican Council vary a great deal in terms of how authoritative and binding they are depending on the text. So, for example, the Lumen Gentium Constitution on the Church and the Dei Verbum on the Divine Revelation are doctrinal declarations even though no dogmatic definition was given to them”, whereas the declarations on religious freedom, non-Christian religions and the decree on ecumenism “are authoritative and binding to a different and lesser degree.
The full French text of the interview is available online here.
This has been a very busy week for me, hence the brief posts. Now here’s another.
Over at Rorate Caeli you will find a provocative dispatch from Italian journalist Alessandro Gnocchi in which he states, “[M]ore than half the bishops present at [the Extraordinary Synod on the Family] . . . have already switched religion.” His primary basis for that claim is the unsettling voting tallies from the Synod which, perhaps, reveal that a high number of prelates are prepared to move ahead with radical new proposals which would undermine the Church’s teachings on morality and the Sacraments. Could be right? Is he just being an alarmist? Or is there more going on that we’re not yet aware of? Actually, the answer to all three questions could be “Yes”; and if so, what, if anything, will you do about it?
Gnocchi is right to note that schisms have happened over less. However, given that we live in an unserious age with unserious people committed to their unserious religion, I have a hard time imagining a forceful schism arising out of anything the bishops do or say. The neo-Catholic apologists will be on hand to whitewash over the obvious while an increasing number of traditionalists find themselves pondering sedevacantism. Meanwhile, the liberals will rejoice for a time as they preside over a dying remnant of what used to be the Holy Catholic Church. The Church, of course, will continue, but perhaps not in the way we suspect.
With this Sunday being the traditional day on which the Feast of Christ the King is celebrated, I thought it would be good to dedicate part of a series of pieces I am composing to the liturgical wreck-o-vation which was visited upon this great solemnity after the Second Vatican Council. Professor Peter Kwasniewski has beaten me to the punch, however.
So, let me encourage you to click on over to Rorate Caeli and read his interesting piece, “Should the Feast of Christ the King Be Celebrated in October or November?” From the post:
The very first expression of the Kingship of Christ over man is found in the natural moral law that comes from God Himself; the highest expression of His kingship is the sacred liturgy, where material elements and man’s own heart are offered to God in union with the divine Sacrifice that redeems creation. Today, we are witnessing the auto-demolition of the Church on earth, certainly in the Western nations, as both the faithful and their shepherds run away and hide from the reality of the Kingship of Christ, which places such great demands on our fallen nature and yet promises such immense blessings in time and eternity. The relentless questioning of basic moral doctrine (especially in the area of marriage and family), the continual watering down of theology and asceticism, the devastation of the liturgy itself—all these are so many rejections of the authority of God and of His Christ.
It’s taken some time for me to transfer information and posts from the old Opus Publicum onto here, but I am (slowly) trying to rectify that. One new link to the “Sites of Interest” section that I want to highlight is Noah Moerbeek’s apostolate, Alleluia Audiobooks. Catholics (and Orthodox!) — East and West — can find a treasure trove of free spiritual and catechetical materials to listen to at their convenience. Whose words would you rather have filling your car during a long commute? St. John Chrysostom’s or Terry Gross’s?
I am currently in the midst of several pieces on the Kingship of Christ. In conducting a bit of research beyond the “usual sources,” I took another look at Erik Peterson’s 1936 essay, “Christ as Imperator,” which can be found in his Theological Tractates (Stanford Univ. Press 2011), pgs. 143-50. While the social dimension of Christ’s kingship is rightly stressed by traditional Catholics, it should never come at the cost of its eschatological dimension. Here is Peterson:
Then we shall understand how Christ can be praised in hymn as king of the world to come, but how even now majesty and power are ascribed to him in the acclamations of the Church, how the historical and political world-picture of this Aeon, which makes the princeps [the leader] the executor of Tyche [Fortune] is overcome in bloody conflict by the martyrs, how the Eucharistic banquet that the Church celebrates is not only a mysterium but already has something of the eschatological banquet in it, which the Lord will celebrate with his own upon his return (Luke 19:30).
A number of false dichotomies often come to light when discussing traditional Catholicism, particularly with non-traditionalists. The most basic—and erroneous—distinction which is often made is between “obedient” and “disobedient” traditionalists. “Obedient traditionalists,” so the story goes, rejoice over the generosity of Summorum Pontificum (SP); “accept fully the Second Vatican Council” (whatever that means); and know to keep their traps shut with respect to concrete problems in the Catholic Church, particularly if those problems can be linked to certain shifts in mid-20th C. theology or ambiguous papal pronouncements. “Disobedient traditionalists,” on the other hand, will speak clearly, even forcefully, on the substantive superiority of the Tridentine Mass as compared to the Novus Ordo Missae. These same “disobedient traditionalists” are unashamed about pointing to problematic passages embedded in some of the conciliar texts while also standing firm against innovations such as the splitting of the pastoral from the doctrinal. In short, these traditionalists are “disobedient,” hence “bad,” because they attempt to exercise the right of open and frank discussion which, ostensibly, has been in play since the 1960s.
Since today is the day of Pope Paul VI’s beatification, I thought I might share a quote from his oft-neglected Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, issued in honor of the 80th anniversary of Leo XIII’s great encyclical Rerum Novarum.
We are witnessing a renewal of liberal ideology. This current asserts itself in the name of economic efficiency[.] . . . But do not Christians who take this path tend to idealize liberalism in their turn, making it a proclamation in favor of freedom? They would like a new model, more adapted to present day conditions, while easily forgetting that the very root of philosophical liberalism is an erroneous affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in his activity, his motivation and the exercise of his liberty.
Finer words on the matter of obedience have surely been penned before, particularly as it relates to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Psalter, the Holy Rosary. Out-of-synch with the recommended practice of recitation though I was, in praying the Joyful Mysteries this morning it occurred to me — and I assume many others long before my time — that each mystery carries several models of obedience, natural and supernatural alike. Indeed, the first Joyful Mystery — the Annunciation — opens with St. Gabriel carrying out his divine duty by announcing to a Jewish maiden that she, who was immaculately conceived, would bear the Savior of the world. In an act of obedience far more profound than St. Gabriel’s, the young virgin declares, Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. One might also extend their meditation on obedience in this mystery to the very obedience of the natural order itself to the will of God. For it was not by a man that our Queen and Mother conceived, but by the Holy Ghost.
In my earlier post, “Weekly Reading,” I made mention of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s (Russian Orthodox Church (ROC)) recent comments to the ongoing to the Catholic Church’s “Extraordinary Synod on the Family.” Instead of staying on point concerning the need for Catholics and Orthodox to hold a common front against modern secular culture, the good bishop of Russia used his address to attack the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) — a common theme for Russian prelates these days (see, e.g., here and here). An Orthodox friend of mine humorously likened Hilarion’s words to “a drunken best man saying something wildly inappropriate during the toast.” The Catholic web-log The Rad Trad posted a facetious agreement with Hilarion’s call to abolish “Uniatism.”
Regrettably, however, there still exists an unfortunate number of traditional Catholics (and some neo-Catholics) who have no compunction about fawning over the ROC and “Neo-Holy Russia.” Granted, there are some wonderful things about the ROC, particularly its liturgical patrimony and iconographic tradition. I have known — and still know — a good number of fine folks who belong to either the ROC or one of its “relative churches.” They may not see eye-to-eye with me on ecclesiastical and theological matters, but they are far from being promoters of xenophobia and bigotry. That’s true of many Orthodox Christians I know. As such, I want to make clear that when I write of the missteps, nay, idiocy of the ROC, I do not intend it as a swipe against faithful Orthodox believers. At the same time, however, it is necessary to make clear that the ROC is not a friend of the Catholic Church and will not be a friend of the Catholic Church until such time as it ceases its mad assault against our brethren in Ukraine. While we should hope and pray for the day when East and West, including the separated Oriental churches, are one, that is not a license for false romanticism. The ROC has drawn its line in the sand. Catholics now know where it stands without question. Are we sure we know where we stand?