Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The reforming monk who tried to teach the pope a thing or two, Martin Luther

Catholic reformer, Bishop Bernard Fellay, who wants to teach the pope a thing or two

The Holy Father gets it on all sides. The ultra-conservative, neo-schismatic St. Pope Pius X Society disagrees with Vatican II altogether, not just the reforms of the liturgy. Pope Benedict has been trying to reconcile this group to the Church, but progress is stymied by the intransigence of this ultra-conservative group's leader, Bishop Bernard Fellay.

John Thavis of Catholic News Service writes the following from Bishop Fellay:

"Is Vatican II really a stumbling block? For us, no doubt whatsoever, yes!" he said. "Until now Vatican II was always considered as a taboo, which makes the cure of this sickness, which is the crisis in the church, almost impossible."

Fellay said the society has presented its doctrinal arguments in writing to the Vatican, followed up by theological discussion. "It is really a matter of making the Catholic faith understood in Rome," he said.

At Praytell Blog, Fr. Anthony got into a spat with me when he accused me in a comment I made over there that people should stop complaining and just implement the new translation which we must on the First Sunday of Advent of this year. He wrote that I was telling people to stop talking which I never did, since his is a blog and people are writing, not talking, and how in the world could I get people to stop talking, I mean writing, anyway on a blog that is meant to generate liturgical discussion on the progressive side of things and in which I am allowed to participate? In a way I felt like I was being silenced! (In other words there was a strong case for him projecting on to me what he does with people of my ilk and that is "silencing the discussion." But I digress.)

At any rate, Fr. Anthony had been involved in developing the new translation of the Mass. He was outraged when the 2008 translation which was approved by the American Bishops and then accepted by Pope Benedict XVI subsequently underwent a rather secretive adjustment changing some of the 2008 translation in some rather weird ways. Who gave the authority to do this and why was it not done in a more open way. These are good questions that really haven't been answered to my knowledge in any satisfactory way. The bishops themselves seem to be mum on this too. I wonder if they are puzzled if not angered by these changes from "on high."

Fr. Anthony now has an agenda to change how the Church exercises authority but doing so from the bottom up. This is what Fr. Anthony wrote in challenging something I wrote:

"The issue is not simply the quality of the translation. The issue is a broken system of church leadership. The translation is but a symptom of a larger problem."

In other words, like Bishop Fellay, one could say that one of Fr. Anthony's goals is to make Vatican II understood in Rome.

Two very differing attitudes about the exercise of Church authority and the interpretation of what and how the Church should be the Church. What's a pope to do? What are the laity to do?

For my part, I'm a papist. Maybe administration isn't a strong suit of the Church or of many bishops in union with the pope, but at least union with the pope is at the center of Church unity. But ironically enough the papacy has always been a lightening rod for disunity. But I think Jesus was too.

(update to this post, I read the following written by Fr. Anthony Ruff on Pope Benedict and his reform. I was pleasantly surprised by it because it is actually rather flattering of the Holy Father and certainly it is very accurate in terms of what the Holy Father has done and is doing. You can read Fr. Anthony's post on it HERE FROM THE PRAYTELL SITE!)

In a sense, you can see that come hell or high water, Bishop Fellay is going to do his thing and if Rome doesn't see it his way, well, Bishop Fellay is going his way. You know what you are getting with Bishop Fellay.

With progressives in the Church, they prefer a more "in house" subversive approach, like the bottom up kind of letting Rome know who's in charge. One's never sure who's in charge and who's doing what with this sneaky approach. They are more stealthy.

However, the progressives think that if it worked in Egypt and maybe in Libya, it will work in the Church. Progressives are really secularists at heart, aren't they?


pinanv525 said...

The tail cannot wag the dog. Something's got to give.

pinanv525 said...

One of my favorite Luther quotes: "Priests are the fleas on the fur coat of God." That is from his "Table Talk," stuff recorded by his students and visitors to his home.

Anonymous said...

I think you vastly overstate Fr. Anthony's intention. It might be helpful if you would ask HIM if it is his intention to "make Vatican II understood in Rome" rather than to assume that you understand his goal.

Frajm said...

Perhaps I did overstate Fr. Anthony's intentions. In fact I did ask him on Chant Cafe if he would lead become the bishop of the left-leaning schismatic movement to fix the exercise of authority issues in the Church. He said no. I suspect too that if he said yes, he would have said no to the Cappa Magna. His comments on his blog very seldom take to task those on the left side of the spectrum who comment in the most shrill, negative and hateful ways but his reaction from someone on the right saying anything that appears to be mean spirited, he lambasts them or engages in a diatribe with them. Now his article on Pope Benedict isn't that way at all and for me creates an atmosphere of mature dialogue where I feel there is respect for the office of the papacy in general (and that of bishops) and this Holy Father, Pope Benedict in particular.

Kent said...

So what if Bishop Fellay is right?

Frajm said...

Kent, one might ask if Martin Luther was right. I suspect he was on many points, but separating from the Church as though he had a mandate from God to do so wasn't right. Bishop Fellay certainly sees some of the problems that the misinterpretation of Vatican II as done, but being schismatic is wrong. He's almost gnostic in that sense, as though he knows something no one else knows.

pinanv525 said...

We also have to remember what happened when the enemies of the Church used Luther for their own purposes and ran with it. They saw this as a great opportunity to weaken the Church's moral influence, to take Church property, and to diminish the Church's teaching role in the schools and universities. Luther never intended this to happen, but he started the ball rolling.
Any division in the Church today will be used (already is being used) to weaken her moral influence and diminish her presence in our daily lives. This is also true of the larger divisions within Christianity itself. This is why we should pray for Christian unity and that more Protestants will come home to the Catholic Church. We should also get angry and fight back aggressively. I still do not believe Catholics take seriously the deliberate and aggressive attacks on the Church through political action, government and media propaganda, and subtle anti-Catholic/anti-Chritian attacks from academia. This is why I am suspicious of a lot of what goes by the name of "ecumenism." The secularists already have the majority of Protestant denominations in their pocket, so any "ecumenism" that advocates compromise with them is a loser for the Church. Pray, but keep your theological and doctrinal powder dry!

Anonymous said...

If one assumes that either Luther or Fellay are correct the question begged is if they went about their change on the proper way. Many of Luther''s objections have been reconciled and it appears Vatican II is being studied and much of what the followers of both held so dear are being adopted.

In my previous job we had a phrase called 'followership'. The goal was to follow the leader interactively communicating the good and bad effects of his decisions so he could evaluate his decision as well as his instructions for execution. It seems that in many cases it is the desire of the rebel leader to be in a leadership position that he is too impatient or unskilled to gain otherwise. He then gets his wish to the detriment of his followers who now have an obstruction between them and the Church and God. It is clericalism on steroids.


SqueekerLamb said...

pin, you are SO RIGHT!
Some efforts are overt and openly against the church, and some are covertly insidious..and those are the more dangerous ones. Name the issue/topic andyou'll quickly realize what I mean.
I takes courage to speak up for the church and what's right..ready, aim, FIRE!

pinanv525 said...

RCG, Awww!!! A corporate encounter group! How hip...

Kent said...

I think it is unfair to compare Luther's rebellion with what is happening today with the Society of St. Pope Pius X. Luther, though it may not have been his original intent, started his own religion. The SPPX are adhering to teachings of the Church which have been proclaimed by councils before Vatican II including the Council of Trent and Vatican I. Luther's action spawned a council; the actions of SPPX are in response to a council. Many of the topics of discussion in the Catholic blogoshpere today revolve around Vatican II and it's interpretation including communion in the hand, ad orientum posture, EHMC's, Latin, etc. These seem to be some of the the same issues associated with SPPX. The Church must think that there is something to their arguments or they would not be conducting talks today. What if Pope Paul VI was right when he said in 1972 that "smoke of Satan has entered the Church"? So I still wonder "What if Bishop Fellay is right?".

Frajm said...

Kent it is one thing to disagree with the spirit of Vatican II and to disagree with Vatican II altogether. Who made Bishop Falley Pope? He did evidently. Martin Luther didn't intend to form a new denomination, his followers did. That is what is occurring with Fellay, although is schism is more like the Orthodox Great Schism. They don't accept any councils after the Great Schism.

pinanv525 said...

Kent, Luther did not start his own religion. A splinter Christian church arose from his disagreement and defiance of the Pope. Luther never considered himself anything other than a Catholic Priest who got in trouble with the Church. He never called himself Lutheran or Protestant.
It was with Calvin, a generation later, that Protestantism reached its culmination. Calvin is the one who drew the lines so systematically and finally between Protestantism and the Catholic Church.
I sympathize with your conservative and traditionalist stance. But, I rather hope that Benedict can bring about "reform of the reform" without further splintering or dissent. We do not need to divide our forces in the face of a powerful enemy.

Anonymous said...

And here's another story about a group of Australian priests who are more Catholic than the Pope . . .


Vianney1100 said...

Yes, Fr. Ruff is fair in his analysis of our pope's ideas regarding the Council and the Liturgy. His mistake is giving equal weight to those who disagree with the pope such as Fr. O'Malley.

O’Malley concludes: “When both genre and vocabulary are taken into account they convey
a remarkably consistent message. The message is that a model-shift has occurred, or better, is
struggling to occur”.
"If Vatican II is the fundamental innovation that O’Malley believes it is, then it is to be expected that the liturgical reform would introduce great changes and innovations."

Great changes did in fact occur and the dissaster that has resulted is being dealt with by our pope. This is not a return to the past, as Fr. Ruff keeps saying but a correction of mistakes. Long live Pope Benedict XVI!

Kent said...

I think you give Luther more credit than he is due. Among other things, he edited the Bible to his liking and renounced the priesthood and his celibacy vows. He was excommunicated from the Church and never reconciled. The excommunication of the SPPX has been lifted. Luther was schismatic in that he refused to accept the legitmate authority of the Church. In refusing to accept a decision of legitimate authority, the SPPX was disobedient. (Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, Fr. Yves Congar, O.P.) We have all been disobedient to the church but few of us have been schismatic. So I still wonder, "What if Bishop Fellay is right?". And by the way, I am a full blooded papist if ever there was one. :)

R. E. Ality said...

First a caution. Let's each be careful not to use the word "deomination" in such a way that suggests the idea that the Catholic Church is a denomination. Only the split-offs are denominations.

We have to know who we are; otherwise we cannot hope and expect Protestants and fallen-away-Catholics to come home. Whatever one can say about Fellay, he is presently “outside” of the Catholic Church. Were there some snakes in the woodpile at Vatican II? I think there were. They succeeded to a large degree, much to the glee of “ecumenists,” in protestantizing the Church. The fallen away Catholics who remain nominally within the Church are the real danger, planting their IED’s: in sermons, theological studies, in an academia freed from the strictures of the Faith – yes even in blogs.

That being said, the Holy Spirit was/is in charge. In spite of the mischief that was spread and continues to impact the Church and her identity, we have to believe that the Holy Spirit remains always in charge. We have Jesus’ assurance that the gates of Hell shall not prevail, but He didn’t say what amount and length of Hell on earth that the Church would go through.

Did Vatican II, particularly Gaudiem et Spes, result in many Catholics becoming too much like the Culture instead of Catholics countering the secularism and relativism of the culture? Considering the CINOs whom Obama has gathered unto himself and the other CINOs who are in the Congress, the “American Catholic Church” is in shambles, the Church has taken a terrible hit in the last 45-50 years. Thanks to the aforementioned and to the useful idiots cheering them on, it appears that for many the socialistic-materialistic god of government has replaced God.

Anonymous said...

Kent, The point I was making before being personally attacked by the blood-thirsty and thin-skinned Paleo Pin was that the good follower figures out HOW to get it done. On one hand you have a group that can't figure out how to make it happen so is banging their spoons on the high chair; another group doesn't want to figure it out and is using the parts they like out of context to make changes that aren't there.

Now I'm going to find a quiet corner and go cry. Tissue?


pinanv525 said...

Kent, I cannot find a reference for Luther formally renouncing his vows. He was excommunicated, and he did marry, but priests and former monks had married before. His Bible was primarily a translation from Latin into German with only a few liberties, some of the more earthy and matter-of-fact renderings being actually preferable to the later English translations. LOL! It isn't really fair to say he "edited the Bible to his liking." Anyway, I do not want to enter into an overly vigorous defense of Luther. Nearly everyone involved in the fracas from Pope Leo on down to Eck, Tetzel, and Luther were eloquent, fiery, and mule headed. A snowball got started at Worms and rapidly grew out of everyone's control...unintended consequences and all that.
It has been a while since I studied Luther. If you can show me a reference for his renouncing his vows, I need to be corrected on that.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Bishop Fellay is trying to teach anyone anything. He is simply repeating many things that have been sated for years and centuries in the many acts of the Magesterium. If someone finds themselves on the other side of that then something has changed. ANd really with all the ambiguity that comes out of Rome as to whether they are in schism, then just committed a schismatic act, then outside the Church, then inside, but not fully, then faithful allowed to attend Mass as long as it is not in disobedience to the Holy Father, how can one really know where they stand or what is really going on. There was much humiliation to the Society that put them in this position to begin with. I have never attended their Masses nor do I follow too much about what they do except following the reconciliation process, but I think if many in Rome would simply be humbled enough to apologize for past actions publically then much of this would go away. But no, that can not possibly come from Roman Bishops or Cardinals, so they have to use the back door. This is the stuff that turns many Catholics off. I pray the Holy Father has the strength to find a way to recognize them formally and Bishop Fellay has the humility to accept. How or what road they will use I have no idea and really don't care too much. It would just be better for the Church if it was over.

R. E. Ality said...

When is a schism not a schism? The short definition os schism in the CCC is: "Refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff, or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him (2089)2089)."

We have many examples of that in the Church, particularly here in America. So, why have some schismatics been excommunicated and not others?

Kent said...


According to Wikipedi, Luther renounced his vows about the year 1525 . As far as editing the Bible, I think it was Luther who added "alone" behind the word "faith" to justify his thesis that Christians are saved by faith alone. I think that removing books from the Bible could also be considered editing as Luther did with 2 Maccabees (and others) probably because it supports the doctrine of purgatory.

pinanv525 said...

Thanks, Kent. I had missed or forgotten that somewhere along the way. I'll double check...Wiki is not always the best source, but that is probably correct.