Saturday, June 2, 2012


I've come to realize that many post Vatican II Catholics hate the SSPX. But they love Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and their non-Christian brothers and sisters. They work hard at ecumenical dialogue and interfaith warmth.

But when it comes to the SSXP, they shun this group and use the most vile descriptions for them. Yet, the SSPX is closer to the full communion of the Catholic Church than any Protestant denomination, Eastern Orthodox Church or other sect. They are like us in all things except the "spirit" of Vatican II and the style of liturgy most Catholics attend today; and they are not imbued with a "spirit of dissent" when it comes to the sacred; but have embraced the spirit of dissent when it comes to the papacy's promotion of Vatican II and certain documents of Vatican II. They are cafeteria Catholics of another kind but in a different direction than most progressive Cafeteria Catholics. They preserve the substance and style of the Church whereas their progressive counterparts seem to abandon it altogether while staying connected to the full-communion of the Church, which is a paradox and commentary in and of itself!

What is the difference? Many Post Vatican II Catholics are self-loathers. The SSPX reminds them of the way they were. Their hatred of the SSPX is style over substance. For the substance of the faith, the SSPX are more orthodox than most post-Vatican II Catholics and adhere to the faith and the moral teachings of the Church with an affinity that makes post-Vatican II Catholics squirm.

Post Vatican II Catholics feel more comfortable around Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and those of non-Christian religions. Why? There style is similar, but the substance diverges and tremendously, but if the style is good, substance doesn't matter.

If you show any person, Catholic, Protestant or non-Christian the picture below, it will elicit feelings of respect and wonder over what these groups of orders were able to accomplish in the last century. They opened and staffed hospitals, schools, agencies to assist the poor and built institutions that were rock solid. They did so with style and substance. No one questions that these sisters were the backbone of the Church. In the information and television age, Mother Angelica of the Poor Claire Nuns is right up there with this group.

In the Macon deanery well into the 1960's there were perhaps 50 Sisters of Mercy, of the Blessed Sacrament and the Presentation Sisters.At that time almost every man, women and child, Catholic or not, knew the sisters and saw them regularly in this community. Today there are only two retired Sisters of Mercy, one Dominican and four Daughters of Charity. The Daughters of Charity are younger in full time ministries.

In the metro Augusta area well into the 1960's there were at least 70 sisters between Augusta to Aiken of a variety of orders.These sisters were known by everyone and respected by everyone, Catholic or not and Catholic children certainly knew what a sister was and what a sister does. There was style and substance! The Catholic hospital had up to 19 sisters alone, Sisters of Saint Joseph. Today there are 2 retired Sisters of Saint Joseph and they have sold their hospital to a for-profit hospital corporation. There are three Franciscans, two of whom are semi-retired. That is it. For almost a decade, the Catholic children in our elementary and high schools have not seen or heard a Catholic sister and would be at a loss as to tell you what one is or does.

In my parish, our children now for almost one generation have no idea what a sister is let alone what a sister does and represents. They are totally clueless. There is no style or substance in their little psyches.

If someone saw the picture below, I'm not sure what sentiments this would inspire. They would think it is just a group of women gathered for a picture. I'm sure that each of these sisters in one way or another is continuing the legacy of the sisters represented above but on a much smaller scale and often divorced from the rank and file Catholics of their community. They choose advocacy for the poor, protests of the inequality they see in the Church and in society and usually live alone in apartments indistinguishable from any other single women in the world. There may be great substance of personal choosing but very little style and no corporate identity for Catholics and non-Catholics to see and be inspired in the ways of the faith and morals of the Church unless a Catholic happens to get to know them.

Is the hierarchy of the LCWR anti-Catholic when it comes to being pro-life? Is there something endemic in the LCWR leadership that promotes this kind of faux Catholicism and religious life? Are all sisters who belong to this umbrella organization in league with the sentiment expressed in the photo below? Inquiring minds need to know!

Are all SSPX Catholics, priests and bishops Holocaust deniers and do they endorse what Bishop Williamson endorses. Is this endemic to the SSPX? Inquiring minds need to know! Is the hierarchy of the SSPX indicative of rank and file SSPX Catholics?


ytc said...

I think what the post-Vatican II era in the Church, at least up till now, proves, is the absolute necessity of a stable and only very slowly changing outward identity. This era proves the necessity of an OUTWARD, see-able, perceivable identity for ANY organization.

An organization that wants to sustain itself for perpetuity MUST have a consistent outward identity. This is not limited to religious institutions; it extends to all institutions: clubs, governments, educational institutions, corporations, etc. An organization cannot possibly sustain its mission if it cannot sustain its outward identity. This has nothing to do with the Catholic Church in particular, this is more of an anthropological and sociological thing.

Look at any great institution that has fallen. (Intermission: I know the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. The survival of the Church is guaranteed. The health, well-being, size and potency of Her, however, are not.) Almost without exception, this always happens shortly after an identity crisis. Father, don't you have a degree in sociology or something?

This is not to say that the outward things in the Church like architecture, vesments, liturgy, etc., cannot change. They can. But we shouldn't even have to think about it! We shouldn't worry about it. It should be something that happens on its own, something that we don't screw around with actively. What gets us in trouble is saying, "Hmmm... how can we change this?" THAT, that, is where we screwed up. Let it be. "It" will change on its own through time, on its own course and to its own ends, whatever "it" is. The Holy Spirit and prudence will refine it and make it better naturally. When WE start worrying about stupid things like "liturgical reform," we get bastardized products like the "reformed" Missal.

It really just blows my mind how we squabble over things like liturgical "reform" and "the modern world." Sometimes I think the bishops at Vatican II were either really bored or were controlled closely by their modernist periti.

Let me say it again. As a young person, Vatican II means nothing to me. I have no personal, emotional attachment to it. If I become a priest, my professional life will not be based upon it. I would not care if it were consigned to bookshelves and history textbooks.

Doesn't it seem a little dumb that an Ecumenical Council, of all things, would concern itself with such petty matters as "liturgical reform?" Don't they have something better to do? Like, I don't know, fighting heresies and pronouncing anathemas? I guess subsidiarity wasn't the catch-word at Vatican II... I think Vatican II will be an historical testament to never have a "pastoral" council ever again. The dignity of councils is just too great to deal with peanuts. And that is a big problem. It'd be like the President trying to deal with county sales tax rates.

Sum: Outward identity cannot be screwed around with; this is basic. Sisters, liturgy, architecture of the past 50 years prove this. Secondly, councils have more important things to do than pastoral planning, I think.

ytc said...

Oh and for the record, Bishop Williamson is a nut. Everyone, even Bishop Fellay, seems to agree.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Yep, Williamson is a four-alarm head case...

Anonymous said...

I am always and every time incredibly stirred by images such as the first one.

Seeing these men in an act of total self-donation makes me want to be like that. It is so awe inspiring, and inspiring!

Seeing the clegy in front of them as they lay prostrate, seems as if the clergy are 'offering that donation up to God', as if they are vouching for them and pleading their case for them..not unlike in the Eucharistic prayer.

Any comments on my 'understanding' are appreciated.


Henry said...

"They [the SSPX] are cafeteria Catholics of another kind"

Hmm ... I wonder whether anyone can cite a specific Catholic doctrine that the SSPX does not accept.

Of course, no faithful Catholic is obliged to give carte blanche assent to any document of Vatican II. That is, independent of interpretation in continuity with the immutable doctrines of the Church, in which the SSPX supports Pope Benedict (as I understand it).

Syntactical attempts at moral equivalence--balancing different ends of some posited spectrum--simply doesn't work when there is no proportion to balance.

Anonymous 5 said...

I may have been hanging out with Marc too much ;-) but I simply must take issue with Fr. McD's description of SSPX as cafeteria Catholics. The difference? SSPX has raised serious questions of elementary logic and syntax about how four Vatican II pronouncements appear to contradict prior dogmatic teaching of the Magisterium. (This goes beyond the "spirit of Vatican II" to the much more serious problem of the wording of the documents themselves.) To date, Rome has seemed disinclined to engage SSPX seriously when it comes to explaining/reconciling these pronouncements except to refer vaguely to a "hermeneutic of continuity."

The problem is that if I say today that x equals y and I say tomorrow that x does not equal y, there can be no continuity between those statements except the continuity that truth is relative. That, in a nutshell, is what troubles SSXP about these four statements. (You can read a detailed description of the contradictions in my blog post here:

One approach--and I think the one that rests on the best authority deals the most satisfactorily with this problem--is to take the view, espoused by either Paul VI or John XXIII (I forget which; perhaps both) that Vatican II was a pastoral council and not a dogmatic one, so that the four pronouncements present no problem of doctrinal contradiction. But Rome today seems very reluctant to solve the problem by expressing that view, which is one thing that SSPX finds so unnerving.

In short, SSPX, unlike cafeteria Catholics, 1) believe the Church says what she means and means what she says, and and 2) is trying desperately to be faithful to that, even in the face of obfuscation by Rome on a question of authority that simply must be addressed if VII is to be squared with all previous councils. (Given these facts, it is easy for orthodox Catholics to sympathize with SSPX iven if disagreeing with its tactical decisions.)

Cafeteria Catholics, on the other hand, 1) either don't know or don't care (or both) what the Church has said AND 2) either negligently or intentionally pick and choose what they're comfortable with and what conveniently fits their lifestyle. As Fr. McD notes, this usually puts them a lot farther outside the Catholic tradition than SSPX is.

rcg said...

Must the exception be discussed as the rule? This is entirely a false premise and should be challenged in that manner. The inside of Williamson's head looks like a Squirrels' nest. But so do many of the noggins under miters that are in full communion. We won't even discuss the AB of Canterbury.

One of my favourite hangouts is an old bar with live music. It is almost constantly populated by old sisters, brothers, and priests who are barely distinguishable from the other Red Brigaders in attendance. They will lure you into a talk about politics but never about their faith. On second thought....

ytc said...

I'm sorry, rcg, I'm not sure that the Abp. of Canterbury is in communion with anything except his wife...

rcg said...

ytc, I was being inclusive, and thought I would include a Prot so they would not feel left out. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The SPPX, whatever the technicalities, is not in communion with the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. Unlike the Baptists etc., it KNOWS that it OUGHT to be in communion with him. This seems to me to be a reasonable, and for me true, explanation of warm feelings for nonmodernist Protesants and a sort of loathing and despising of the SPPX. How modernism whether or not the same thing as Pope St. Pius X condemned and fought has entered into the Church in the time after the Second Vatican Council is for me as for most commenters on this blog a matter of puzzlement and grief.

Anonymous said...

Here I am again as a post-Vatican II Catholic who has welcomed the post-Vatican II opening of the Church to other Christian denominations and other faiths.

I strongly believe in the value of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue and understanding. Does that make me some kind of wishy-washy, squishy-squashy liberal Catholic relativist? Perhaps.

But perhaps instead it makes me someone who, while firmly rooted in his own tradition, believes:

(a) that God has led others to a home in other traditions for His own inscrutable reasons that I am unable to understand completely,

(b) that trying to understand and come to know one another better in this fractious and often violently divided Babel of a world is a divine mandate, and

(c) applying the ideas of Thomist philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, that in a conversational dialectic among our different traditions, in which we each speak our truth to one another, God will reveal His Truth in His own time and in His own way that all will come to see.

If this does indeed make me a wishy-washy, squishy-squashy liberal Catholic, then I am guilty as charged I suppose. But I thought it was straight out of the Vatican playbook. Have I misunderstood?

BTW, I would love to see the nuns in traditional attire again. One of the great joys of my life has been getting to know the Cistercian community at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. What a wonderful witness both traditional nuns and traditional monks have to offer all of us.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm very much in favor of ecumenism and interfaith relations and doing works of charity together. I am puzzled though by those who love to be ecumenical with all the other denominations and faiths, but despise doing so with SSPX. That really is my point, that we should try to be as ecumenical with them since more than likely they will be returning to the full communion of the Church soon and if not, we should still try to be ecumenical.

Anonymous 5 said...

Anonymous at 5:12 PM:


Anonymous said...

My assumption has always been that for an ecumenical or inter-faith dialogue to be successful and fruitful, the participants must observe certain ground rules. In particular, they must bring certain virtues to the conversation.

One can start with the four cardinal virtues:

-- wisdom (both theoretical and practical, because knowledge of the truths of one’s faith and understanding of how they apply in a broken world are both needed, as is judgment about when to say what to whom and how),

-- courage (to speak one’s truth appropriately however difficult or unpopular it might be),

-- moderation (especially in the form of respectful civility),

-- justice (to give each position and participant their due, especially through attentive listening).

In addition, participants need the three theological virtues:

-- faith (trusting in God to guide the conversation and determine the outcome),

-- hope (that the dialogue will lead to greater understanding and a more just and peaceful world), and

-- charity (willing the true good of all who are involved or touched by these efforts).

To all these virtues one should presumably add the virtue of humility (for pride will get in the way of all the others).

Is my understanding correct or am I hopelessly idealistic?

I am no expert on the SSPX and thus need some clarifications. In principle, of course we should be in favor of ecumenical dialogue and efforts with them. Would they bring the above virtues to the ecumenical enterprise? If not, how should the Church best proceed in pursuing reconciliation with them?

Anonymous said...

St. Joseph Anonymous here.
Lighten up with your constant pointing at that whacky heretical Vatican II crowd and start thinking on how you may be putting others off of their pursuit of the true faith that is the Catholic Church.
Vatican II was a good thing - start talking about the great good in it!

John Nolan said...

Reference the first picture - why black vestments at an ordination Mass? And what appears to be a black tabernacle veil? Only asking.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I wondered the same thing when I saw the photo. Anyone know?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

SJA, Vatican II is wonderful, but its implementation, especially liturgically speaking has been a disaster. When you have 90% of Catholics attending Mass in the early 1960's and 20% in 2012 you cannot call that good and only a person in complete and total denial would. The loss of the sense of the sacred was being lamented in many circles as early as 1970, but ignored. If there is no sense of the sacred, while in the world would the majority of Catholics attend Mass?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5,

I have been on the link you provided. Thank you for that. It was very illuminating, and I learned much more about the points of disagreement between SSPX and Rome. I also found and read Father’s post on the same topic from about the same time (“Catholic Self-Loathing. . . .”). However, I need help with something.

Even assuming that the relevant Vatican II documents are doctrinally inconsistent with the earlier documents, why exactly is that a problem? I understand that the prior documents are magisterial. But aren’t all those prior documents, except the Constitution from Vatican I, papal encyclicals? Even if Vatican II was an infallible ecumenical council, and setting aside the Vatican I Constitution, isn’t there only a serious problem if the prior papal encyclicals are also infallible? Is the SSPX claiming that they are? And if so, how strong is that claim? Did those encyclicals, for example, repeat the position of prior infallible councils?

I am concerned that I must be missing something basic here, and that I will feel really silly when I find out what it is.

Can you or Father please clarify? Thanks in advance.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Anonymous, If, while observing the chaos in the Church and the loss of Catholic identity world-wide, you believe that Vatican II was "a good thing," you need to reconsider. It was a mixed bag at the very best...

To speak of "ecumenical dialogue" with the SSPX is flatly absurd.

Ecumenicism means that the Catholic Faith should cover the world. That does not mean that the faith should be watered down so that all denominations will feel comfortable in it.

The Church is in true crisis. Anyone who is a "moderate" and mealy mouths about "ecumenicism," how wonderful VatII was, and how we should accomodate to "modernist" thinking is abetting the enemy. It is unfortunate, but extreme times call for an intolerance of vacillation and negotiation. If you aren't with us, you're against us...

Anonymous said...

Fr. Allan said:
"SJA, Vatican II is wonderful, but its implementation, especially liturgically speaking has been a disaster. When you have 90% of Catholics attending Mass in the early 1960's and 20% in 2012 you cannot call that good and only a person in complete and total denial would. The loss of the sense of the sacred was being lamented in many circles as early as 1970, but ignored. If there is no sense of the sacred, while in the world would the majority of Catholics attend Mass?"

SJA reply: Father, you are changing the subject to "implementation" and "Mass attendance" - those are red herrings. My previous post was about you should begin regularly to point out the great good in Vatican II - for instance then Cardinal Wojtyla along with then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger made great contribution to Vatican II. Attract people to our faith - don't attack others to try to enlarge the flock. Remember the three theological virtues!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

true SJA, but blog posts are meant to foment discussion and reactions. Also one cannot just simply look at the healthy tissue surround a growing cancer and thank God for it while not excising the cancerous tissue. I had a small Basel cell carcinoma removed from the top of my lip right under my nose (and I ignored it for three years by the way) and they had to take good flesh to make sure they got all the bad flesh. Thus it is! :)

Militia Immaculata said...

Anonymous at 5:41am on June 3 --

Actually, the documents of Vatican II are all magisterial as well. Pope Paul VI said the following at Vatican II:

"In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statement of dogmas that would be endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the supreme ordinary Magisterium. This ordinary Magisterium, which is so obviously official, has to be accepted with docility, and sincerity by all the faithful, in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents" (emphasis added).

That same pope, years later, also said the following to Archbishop Lefebvre:

"You cannot invoke the distinction between dogmatic and pastoral in order to accept certain texts of the Council and to refute others. Certainly, all that was said in the Council does not demand an assent of the same nature; only that which is affirmed as an object of faith or truth attached to the faith, by definitive acts, require an assent of faith. But the rest is also a part of the solemn magisterium of the Church to which all faithful must make a confident reception and a sincere application" (Letter to Archbishop Lefebvre, Nov. 10, 1976).

(to be continued)

Militia Immaculata said...

To continue my response to Anonymous at 5:41am on June 3, I'm now going to copy and paste excerpts of a few posts I've made to a previous blog entry here regarding the teachings of Vatican II which the SSPX disputes . . . .

Some claim Dignitatis Humanae conflicts with Quas Primas or Quanta Cura. Actually, there's no conflict. Quas Primas and Quanta Cura were against the Freemasonry idea of religious freedom. That's what the Church teaches against, always has, and always will. Dignitatis Humanae was against COMMUNIST dictatorships that FORCED their people to be godless.

Do you remember the time of Dignitatis Humanae? Does the Soviet Empire tell you something? How about Catholic Poland, Catholic Lithuania under Communist slavery? Or millions of Christians in Ukraine, Vietnam, Cuba, Slovenia, etc. under Communism and official atheism?

It is extremely easy: Quas Primas and Quanta Cura were against Freemasonry states; Dignitatis Humanae was against Communist slavery that forced their people to live without God.

Actually, the Catechism of the Catholic Church harmonizes the teachings of Quas Primas, Quanta Cura, and Dignitatis Humanae very well:

2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,(37 Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum 18; Pius XII AAS 1953,799) but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right (Pius XII, 6 December 1953).

2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner (Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3). The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order." (cf Pius IX, enc. Quanta cura).

So you see? There's no moral freedom to choose a religion. All is about a political freedom so Communist states do not impose anti-God teaching.

"In order to be faithful to the divine command, "teach all nations" (Matt. 28:19-20), the Catholic Church must work with all urgency and concern "that the word of God be spread abroad and glorified" (2 Thess. 3:1). Hence the Church earnestly begs of its children that, "first of all, supplications, prayers, petitions, acts of thanksgiving be made for all men.... For this is good and agreeable in the sight of God our Savior, who wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1-4). In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church. (35) For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself. Furthermore, let Christians walk in wisdom in the face of those outside, "in the Holy Spirit, in unaffected love, in the word of truth" (2 Cor. 6:6-7), and let them be about their task of spreading the light of life with all confidence(36) and apostolic courage, even to the shedding of their blood." (Dignitatis Humanae).

(to be continued)

Militia Immaculata said...

Here's the last of my copying and pasting:

Ecumenism is another teaching of Vatican II that the SSPX questions. However, ecumenism in and of itself isn't wrong or bad. What the Church condemns is FALSE ecumenism -- the idea that it really doesn't matter what you believe just so long as you worship God. And Pope Paul VI reiterated the Church's condemnation of false ecumenism: "The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded" (Unitatis Redintegratio).

And then there's collegiality. Collegiality is the proper internal relationship for the college of bishops. It respects the authority of bishops as successors to Apostles and ordinaries of their own dioceses. Often, radical traditionalists will oppose it in favor of a headstrong version of ultramontanism, in which the pope is somehow more completely a bishop than other bishops. In reality, the pope is not higher than a bishop (he isn't ordained pope, his order is still episcopal), but is sort of the big brother and the leader among the bishops. Authentic collegiality respects the authority of individual bishops while still holding the pope as their leader. So, for instance, the pope rarely tells other bishops how to run their dioceses, but often makes overarching norms for how bishops should run dioceses. At times, though, when necessary, the pope may order another bishop to do something, but it's usually only after other things have been exhausted. The pope has the authority, but it's not necessarily right for him to abuse the authority, so he treats the bishops with collegiality.

rcg said...

Our Priest has, on at least two occasions, said in his homily that it was OK with him if a person was any other religion, he actually included Wiccan both times, but that being Catholic was for him. There seems to be a concern that Catholics are going to launch Crusades and burn down neighbourhoods of Protestants. Why not simply emphasise the peaceful nature of proper proselytization? I think the answer is no longer that we would carry torches into their churches, but they, offended, would carry them into ours and we would convert rather than fight. Remember King John.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Once again, RCG, find a new parish. Your Priest is a moron whom God happens to use on Sundays for His inscrutable purpose...