Thursday, June 14, 2012


One form of Catholic dissent about to be allowed?

And another form of Catholic dissent who want the same privileges at the SSPX allowed for dissent but in different areas of Church teaching?

I'll take is the Hierarchy abusive question first and let John Allen via the NCR and quoting and essay by Jesuit Fr. Giandomenico Mucci answer the question. What is interesting is that so many post-Catholic (Christian) Catholics today (those who would read the NCR and much of what is on the Praytell Blog and certainly the LCWR are really secularists) buy into the following two presumptions of our post-christian culture:

A. The supreme religious authority is the conscience of the individual, not any institution;

B. An empiricist and rationalist understanding of divinity, according to which the transcendent can only be investigated by reason.

(From John Allen's article) Civilità Cattolica is usually described as a "quasi-official" or "semi-official" Vatican organ, because though the bimonthly journal is published and edited by the Jesuits, it's read by the Vatican's Secretariat of State prior to publication.

While that doesn't mean that every word carries a stamp of approval, it does suggest that in a big-picture sense, Civilità Cattolica is usually a reliable guide to the thinking of officialdom.

That makes an essay in the June 16 issue especially interesting, published under the deliberately provocative headline, "Is the Church's Hierarchy Abusive?"

The essay, by Jesuit Fr. Giandomenico Mucci, is not a reflection on specific alleged abuses by the hierarchy, such as its handling of the sexual abuse crisis or the Vatican's recent crackdown on a nuns' group in the States. Instead, Mucci argues that the hierarchy of the Catholic church necessarily attracts scorn and resistance, quite apart from its specific policy choices, because it cannot help but seem "abusive" to the basic presuppositions of the post-modern world.

The result, Mucci asserts, is that the media is fascinated by dissent, and exalts the dissenters as the "true, mature Catholics," as opposed to the church's power structure.

First of all, Mucci claims, the secular mind finds it hard to accept "the central position that the Catholic church and its head continue to occupy in contemporary history, despite all the broadsides launched against them."

Secularism felt it had consigned religion to the sphere of a purely private affair, Mucci argues, and therefore resents the fact that "religion has returned to a protagonist's role all across the West."

That rubs secularists especially wrong, Mucci writes, when it comes to politics: "The secular world has only one non-negotiable value," he says, "which is the secular nature of the state."

Futher, Mucci writes, the secular understanding of religion is rooted in two basic philosophical convictions:

The supreme religious authority is the conscience of the individual, not any institution;
An empiricist and rationalist understanding of divinity, according to which the transcendent can only be investigated by reason.

In such a mental world, Mucci claims, the hierarchy "can only appear to be a foreign body."

Finally, Mucci says, secular thought can only conceive of the relationship between the hierarchy and the laity of the church in "juridical" terms, along the lines of the relationship between labor and management in the economic sphere.

Secularism, Mucci says, cannot understand a "sacramental" and "communitarian" view of the church, in which the hierarchy and the laity "are equally active, despite the diversity of their roles, in pursuit of common ends."

To be sure, Mucci avoids the question of whether actions by the hierarchy, either historically or of more recent vintage, have contributed to this impasse. His case instead seems to be that even when the hierarchy is on the side of the angels, it's got an uphill fight to be seen that way.

Finally John Allen's article quotes once again the following concerning the dissent of the SSPX and it being allowed by the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI:

"Today's Vatican statement, released in Italian, French and English, also said Fellay was presented with a draft document proposing the creation of a personal prelature, a sort of non-territorial diocese status currently held only by Opus Dei, to incorporate the traditionalists."

My Comments: This will sent cold chills down progressive spines in the Church and they will become apoplectic but should they? Is this good news for progressive Catholic dissenters?

I think, from what I have read, that the SSPX cannot say that Vatican II was in error in terms of ecumenism, religious liberty and interfaith dialogue, not to mention the document on the liturgy, but that SSPX is allowed to dissent from this or that point of non-infallible teaching in these areas.

So does this then give impetus to progressives who dissent from Church teachings and have become cafeteria Catholics in the process to have hope that they can be like the SSPX in picking and choosing various teachings of the Church?

For example after Vatican I, which defined Papal Infallibility, a whole group of the Church went into schism over this and formed what is today knows as the "Old Catholics" who did not accept all of Vatican I.

What doors are open now to particular dissent from non-infallible teachings of any council for progressive minded Catholics?


Henry said...

What doors have ever been closed to particular dissent from non-infallible teachings of any council by good and faithful Catholics?

Many prudential judgements of past councils have turned out in retrospect to have been inadvertent. And more susceptible than most councils might be a council largely restricted to pastoral considerations in a time of societal chaos and change.

Templar said...

I know I've been told I'm wrong in this belief, accussed of being "protestant" in fact, but I believe that all Catholics have the right to dissent from teaching which is not infalliably proclaimed, or does not have the weight of Tradition behind it (400 years of practice).

So, SSPX, lawful dissent; LCWR unlawful dissent. The former are obedient to the Faith that was handed to them; the later are obedient to no one but their desires and urges.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But then what about extraordinary papal infallibility when acting alone outside an ecumenical council? The definition of this wasn't made until the First Vatican Council in 1870, so can we dissent from it and thus from the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption both of which were defined as dogma under papal infallibility as clarified by Vatican I?

Templar said...

I would say No you could not dissent. Although declared as Dogma at Vatican I in 1870, the Tradition of Petrine Infalliability goes back much further than that, and is "Tradition". Likewise Immaculate Conception and Assumption, both have "Tradition" on their side going back way before their Infallible Declarations, do they not?

Carol H. said...

There is a huge difference between SSPX and LCWR.

When SSPX perceived in V2 what they understood to be a change in previously defined Catholic doctrine, they stuck to the previous definition.

LCWR erroneously uses V2 to replace Catholic doctrine with secular, new age, and other non-Catholic and non-Christian beliefs. Instead of bringing Christ to the world, they are replacing Him with the world.

SSPX only dissented from a few loopholey statements in a single document. LCWR is dissenting from the whole of Catholicism. SSPX only wishes to preserve the Faith, LCWR is trying its best to destroy it. To place them both into the same basket is unfair.

Henry said...

"But then what about extraordinary papal infallibility when acting alone outside an ecumenical council? The definition of this wasn't made until the First Vatican Council in 1870, so can we dissent from it and thus from the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption both of which were defined as dogma under papal infallibility as clarified by Vatican I?"

I don't understand this question, either its meaning or its assumption. Surely, no faithful Catholic can dissent from any doctrinal declaration of any pope or any council (including Vatican II).

Anyone with an orthodox Catholic education (including Thomism) knows the sharp distinction between doctrine and dogmatic declarations, on the one hand, and pastoral judgments and recommendations, on the other.

Cardinal Ratzinger has said that Vatican II was purely pastoral, and made no dogmatic definitions at all. If that is so, then everything in the Council documents is subject to discussion, except for reiteration of previous doctrine. (Perhaps his only needs to be reiterated in the present SSPX context, because of the fog of misunderstanding--Vatican II as "supercouncil"--that has prevailed in recent decades.}

For instance, it seems to me that of all the liturgical recommendations in Sacrosanctum Concilium are merely prudential, not doctrinal, and therefore debatable.

Marc said...

We need to get past this idea that the "Spirit of Vatican II" is the problem. There are problems with the documents themselves. The SSPX is not alone in pointing out these problems in the four areas of ecumenism, religious liberty, ecclesiology, and collegiality.

In my opinion, to maintain otherwise falls into some sort of false piety that the Church cannot make errors in these documents. To point out that there are problems with the documents is intellectual honesty. The fact that one or more canons of a Church Council happens to be erroneous (to varying degrees) does not change the divine nature of the Church although it apparently causes some people to go into some sort of pious tailspin.

Where the documents seem to say something different than the Church has always taught, we simply disregard them. They cannot be infallible in that regard because they lack on of the necessary characteristics for infallibility - conformance with Tradition.

This is the SSPX position: ignore these four "changes." This is the Pope's position: view these "changes" in continuity with Tradition. Think about this really hard for a second - what is the difference between these two positions? Really? They both come to the same conclusion - ignore the Council on these points because either the documents are wrong (which is fine) or they are at the very least misleading. To clarify the teaching, let us look in continuity to a time when the teaching was proclaimed in a clearer manner. And there you have the commonality between the Holy Father and the SSPX. It is really quite simple.

As for the pious tailspin and the denial that the documents are wrong - consider the Second Lateran Council and the First Council of Lyon. Those Councils did nothing and we never need to discuss them these days. Also consider the First Council of Nicea, which very clearly condemned kneeling at the Sunday liturgy. Are we haggling over how to reconcile that with our current practice of kneeling for half of the Mass (or how about the recent former practice of kneeling for nearly the entire Mass)? My point is that conciliar documents being wrong, disregarded, or later abrogated (for purposes in accordance with Tradition) need not make us doubt our Holy Mother the Church.

Cor Iesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis

Marc said...

By the way, a few months ago, I wrote a more detailed analysis of the things I suggested in my last post. If anyone would like to read it, go here:

Pater Ignotus said...

"Where the documements SEEM to say something different than the Church has always taught, we simply disregard them." (caps mine)

This is an exceptionally dangerous claim for historical, theological, and juridical reasons.

Historically, arguments about what council documents say/mean have been part and parcel of the Church's existence since the first Council was held. If a Catholic were free to dissent from what to him/her SEEMED different, there would be no unity of Faith.

Theologically, the bishops, and the bishops alone, can tell us what the documents say/mean. We are not free to judge what SEEMS to be different, especially if we have little or no training in the historiography of magisterial documents and their interpretation.

Juridically, Catholics are bound to assent to magisterial teaching, infallibly proposed or not. We are not free to say, "This teaching on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary SEEMS to me to be out of kilter, therefore I disregard it." That is precisely the path that has led us to the scandalous division in the Church today.

And Marc, as you "look in continuity" at the questions you raise, remember that Vatican II and the theological development that came for 100 years before that, is part of that continuity.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'd have to agree with PI here as I think a theology of dissent from ecumenical councils and the ordinary magisterium of the Church is a very slippery slope and it has been going on in official circles, meaning bishops, since Vatican II and not just conservative minded bishop like Archbishop Lefebrev but also progressive bishops who question the Ordinary Magisterium of the papacy in terms of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. An encyclical is the highest form of papal teaching apart from an infallible bull.

Anonymous said...

Follow me here, if you will.

Is Mortalium Animos infallible when teaching on ecumenism? If yes, then it is part of the Magesterium and we must profess it. Is that the Tradition in which Unitatis Redintegratio should be read? If yes, then they must profess the same belief on ecumenism.

Therefore, if I disregard the later because the former is a clearer exposition of the Faith, I necessarily profess the same thing you profess by professing Unitatis Redintegratio.

Is that not the definition of this hermeneutic of continuity we are supposed to buy into? What is the problem here?


Anonymous said...

Also, the Pope determines which portions of Councils are infallible. Pope Paul VI said the Council wasn't infallible. As far as I'm concerned, you both are being inconsistent and overly attached to this Council which is necessarily causing you to disregard infallible teachings of the Church. Whereas, I am being faithful to the Magesterium in its entirety.

I don't understand how this discussion implicated Papal Encyclicals as no one is questioning their infallibility here. Although, I could question many modern priests' adherence to Papal Encyclicals like Mortalium Animos vis-a-vis so-called interfaith gatherings, for example.


Father Shelton said...

Henry said, " seems to me that of all the liturgical recommendations in Sacrosanctum Concilium are merely prudential, not doctrinal, and therefore debatable". Good point. For example, SC requires that the faithful be taught their parts of the Mass in Latin, and that priests recite the Divine Office in Latin. If a congregation has not been so taught, and its pastor does not even have a Latin copy of the breviary, is the pastor in dissent?

Henry said...

I doubt that anyone here is supporting dissent from magisterial teaching. However, as I understand it, many or most parts of the documents of Vatican II do not constitute magisterial teaching. Indeed, Pope Benedict has called, in his December 2005 address and perhaps in the current matter, for definitive interpretations to determine their doctrinal content. Until it has been determined precisely what is the magisterial content of Vatican II, it seems reckless to throw around accusations of dissent when legitimate questions of content and correct interpretation are raised.

Militia Immaculata said...

I think this calls for re-posting a couple quotes from Pope Paul VI that I've posted here before.

"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).

"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" (General Audience, Jan. 12, 1966).

"There are those who, under the pretext of a greater fidelity to the Church and the Magisterium, systematically refuse the teaching of the Council itself, its application and the reforms that stem from it, its gradual application by the Apostolic See and the Episcopal Conferences, under Our authority, willed by Christ . . . It is even affirmed that the Second Vatican Council is not binding; that the faith would be in danger also because of the post-conciliar reforms and guidelines, which there is a duty to disobey to preserve certain traditions. What traditions? Does it belong to this group, and not the Pope, not the Episcopal College, not an Ecumenical Council, to establish which of the countless traditions must be regarded as the norm of faith!" (Allocution to the Consistory of Cardinals, May 24, 1976).

Henry said...

The quote from Pope Paul VI does not address the problem mentioned in my preceding remark. Of course, one must accept whatever is taught definitively by any pope or council, as determined by the Magisterium of the Church; for informed faithful Catholics, this goes without saying.

But in the case of the most recent council, many parts of its documents are indecisive as to their precise meaning, and still lack definitive interpretation--while some may have been generally misinterpreted--as Pope Benedict has pointed out). Until their magisterial teachings have been established definitively, even those who by principal would not reject any teaching of Vatican II, still cannot know precisely what they thereby accept.

In short, for faithful Catholics who by assent of will reject nothing, the question is not whether to accept the teachings of the Council, but what are those teachings that are to be accepted because they are magisterial.

Marc said...

Henry, you've made my point in a much more succinct way than I did. The logical extension of what you've posted is that the vagueness of the documents of the Council necessitates a fallback to much clearer pre-Conciliar documents. In other words, because we do not (and cannot) understand precisely what the documents say, we simply revert to prior, more clearly stated expositions of the doctrine.

To believe in the "reverted version" of the teaching is not a problem because the Conciliar documents by necessity must say the same thing that the pre-Conciliar writings say about these matters of faith.

If the pragmatic approach that I have set out (latching onto Henry's exposition) is not workable, then the very idea of a hermeneutic of continuity falls apart. I would go further and say that if what I have suggested as a practical approach is unworkable, then the Church has shown herself to be fallible and therefore, not Divine. This is the protection of the Holy Ghost interceding to abate the mistakes of the human element of the Church, which can (and certainly has) erred.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - The problem is this: you argue from a "specific" to a "principle" - and this is backwards.

You have conluded that Unitatis Redentigratio is wrong in whole or in part (a specific), from which you conclude that a Catholic may disregard a magisterial teaching that he/she finds "unclear" or "not in continuity." (a principle)

The same backwards reasoning could be used, for example, by a priest who finds Summorum Pontificum wrong in whole or in part; therefore he is justified in disregarding it altogether. Or, a priest could conclude that the use of a three year cycle of readings for mass is "not in continuity" with the Church's liturgical tradition; therefore he could disregard it.

And there is the question of who put you in a position to be the "decider" on what is or is not in continuity with former teaching. The Holy Ghost (sic) is not granted to you as a Catholic individual to determine what is and what is not part of the Church's doctrinal tradition.

And Henry, there is not yet a "definitive interpretation" or a "precise meaning" of Vatican I's Pastor Aeternus. So, by your reasoning, it, too, may be disregarded.

Regarding the latter, some have adopted a maximalist interpretation, believing that PA established the papacy as an absolute monarchy. However, in 1998 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated "That (PA) does not mean however that the pope has absolute power."

This non-maximalist interpretation is supported by previous papal teaching. That the pope is not an absolute monarch was the position of a collective statement by the German bishops in 1875, in which they stated, "It is a complete misunderstanding of the Vatican decrees to believe that because of them 'the episcopal jurisdiction [the jurisdiction of a bishop in his diocese]has been absorbed into the papa,' that the pope has 'in principle taken the place of each individual bishop,' the bishops are now no more than tools of the pope, his officials without responsibility of their own.' (Denzinger 3115). This position was twice given official approval by Pope Pius IX, once in an apostolic brief (Denzinger 3117) and a consistorial address (Denzinger 3112).

That there is no "definitive interpretation" of PA does not free Joe or Jane Catholic 1) to make his/her own determination of PA's validity or 2) to disregard it entirely.

Anonymous said...

Father Kavanaugh, you've misunderstood what I wrote. I did not say we are free to disregard the entire document because a portion is in contradiction. We must, however, note that any contradiction is necessarily only apparent and therefore, we revert to more clear expositions for the limited portions which appear contradictory.

You have raised a good issue, though. How is my disregarding portions of Vatican II any different than your utterly disregarding Summorum Pontificum?

Also, what does "Holy Ghost (sic)" mean? Is this not the name of the third person of the Blessed Trinity?


Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - By your reasoning you claim that a Catholic is free to disregard Unitatis Redentigratio in its entirety is he/she finds it to be, in its entirety, not in continuity with the Church's former teaching. Or, by the same reasoning, a Catholic would be free to disregard the parts of Unitatis Redentigration that he/she finds not in continuity with former teaching.

Both asseretions are wrong, precisely because an individual Catholic is not competent, for a variety of reasons, to judge magisterial positions. That role is reserved to those who have been given the charism of teaching, the bishops.

And even an individual bishop, who has been given that charism, must teach only in concert with the other bishops and the Bishop of Rome.

(sic) is an abbreviation for "sic erat scriptum" meaning "thus it was written" indicating that the original writer, not the person quoting the original writer, is responsible for the words quoted.

Henry said...

"And Henry, there is not yet a "definitive interpretation" or a "precise meaning" of Vatican I's Pastor Aeternus. So, by your reasoning, it, too, may be disregarded."

Now there you go again, PI. I did not say anything at all from Vatican II could be simply "disregarded"--nor anything else that could be so interpreted. Nor do I, as a devoted though traditionally minded Vatican II Catholic, disregard any conciliar or papal documents.

To the contrary, I've studied many or most of the Vatican II documents and subsequent papal documents, trying to gauge (as a simple pew-sitter) their meaning and implications for my own spiritual life. Of course, being retired now, I have more time for this than during my professorial career, but I wish that more Catholics had the time to find out what conciliar and papal documents actually say, or heard more of it from the pulpit.

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, the use of quotations indicated that you were quoting me. Your use of (sic) indicates you disagree with naming the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity as "Holy Ghost" [as the use of (sic) indicates an error in the original quotation].

As for your "arguments," I fail to understand your point: is it not true that a later infallible document necessarily cannot contradict an infallible former document in meaning? If so, how can I possibly fall into error by relying on the former document. For example, am I a "bad Catholic" in your estimation for relying on the Catechism of the Council of Trent instead of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church? My point is that the documents cannot be in contradiction with each other both prospectively and retrospectively - therefore, we should be able to view the each of the documents as setting forth the Tradition properly.

Unfortunately, the Vatican II documents, in some ways, fail to properly set for the doctrine (at least insofar as they are unclear, which is evident from the very fact that we are having this discussion). So, we analyze them retrospectively by looking to a time when the very same doctrine was proclaimed clearly.

Analyzing the faith is indeed my role as an individual Catholic insofar as I have a mission to engage people and priests like you who appear to be hell-bent on distorting the Faith. You are correct that I do not have a teaching office in the Church, but I am bound by an obligation of fraternal correction out of charity and instructing the ignorant is a work of mercy. I believe, as the Church teaches, that there is a Hell and people go there for believing incorrectly.

I will await your response explaining why you feel it your prerogative as a priest to disregard the Holy Father's instruction in Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae... But, I know I will be waiting forever because you cannot give a straight answer as to why you refuse to offer the Tridentine Mass at the parish where you are the pastor.

Henry said...

Certainly no Catholic (lay or clerical) is free to disregard papal instructions like SP and UE, and no Catholic is free to question the validity of any liturgical form sanctioned by the Church. But not every priest is well qualified to offer both forms. I certainly know ones who appear not to be qualified to celebrate the OF well, and I personally would prefer not to see them attempt the EF. Though I can hardly speak for or about Fr. Kavanaugh, to whom your question was addressed.

ytc said...

I don't understand why some of you (Fr. K) are assuming that because we are on this blog comments section discussing whether we should ignore Vatican II's "silly four statements," as I call them, that we are going to do so on our own whimsy.

On the contrary, we are simply speaking in principle, and we are waiting for the day in which we will be "allowed" by the hierarchy to do so. (Whether or not we already are "allowed" is another question...)

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - You have established a principle (I suggest it is utterly invalid) that an individual Catholic may determine what magisterial documents, in part or in toto, are "not in continuity" with earlier teaching. You apply this principle to certains aspects of Vatican II, disregarding what you find "not in continuity."

A priest (and I am not speaking of myself), using your principle, is free to determine that Summorum Pontificum (or any other magisterial document) is, either in part or in toto, "not in continuity." He is, according to your reasoning, free to disregard the document.

If, then, a priest does not celebrate the EF because he finds SP "not in continuity," you have no complaint. He is simply doing what you do.

Henry, you said that if a person finds that magisterial documents "are indecisive as to their precise meaning, and still lack definitive interpretation" then the teaching is not binding because the Catholic cannot know precisely and definitively, what he/she is to believe. A Catholic, in your reasoning, who is not sure what is or is not "magisterial" may conclude, on his own, that a teaching is not binding.

One can apply that to virtually any magisterial document.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Dissent from the Magisterium even on vague issues and no matter from which ideological perspective is a very dangerous and precedent slippery slope. Stick with Rome and the bishops in union with them in interpreting what Church teaching is, even if it is not defined in an infallible dogmatic way, because most of the Church's doctrines, small and large do not have the "stamp" of infallibility thus making them immutably dogmatic or "dogma." All dogma is doctrine, but not all doctrine is dogma.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I should also add, that the Magisterium may clear the way for a broader interpretation of Vatican II's documents if and when the SSPX are made regular and under their own "prelature" (similar to Opus Dei). So, the Magisterium may well clarify for them and for us what is permissible and not permissible as it concerns the documents of Vatican II and subsequent teachings and practices. In terms of Interfaith dialogue and prayer, we already see Pope Benedict modifying how the papacy approaches this and in fact, he does not pray in common with them, because "them" have different gods and different awareness, beliefs and practices of prayer. That make perfect sense to me. How about ya'll?
Even in an ecumenical Christian prayer service, I think most Protestants, except for a few, would not pray with Catholics when the prayer is directed to the BVM or one of the saints and a Catholic in an ecumenical setting probably should forgo that kind of prayer.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Catholics should not "tailor" their prayer for the benefit of not making protestants uncomfortable. Protestants should be made uncomfortable when confronted with the beliefs and devotional life of the True Church so that they may be led to investigate the Church and possibly convert. Again, the goal of proper ecumenism is that protestants be brought into the Catholic Church...without diluting the Church to make it "comfortable. Most of what passes for ecumenism today is just feel-good nonsense.
I think everyone is missing Marc's point, possibly deliberately on PI's part. Fr. is careful not to encourage dissent among readers, which is proper, but I do not believe what Marc is trying to say, if properly understood, represents dissent at all. It is simply a way that Catholics can be sure of "continuity" without falling into the endless wrangling over Vat II.

Marc said...

Yes, but how can one "stick with Rome" when it is unclear what Rome has taught? That is the underlying problem I am getting at. I think your advice to stick to Rome with excellent advice for Catholics who haven't devoted a lot of time to studying these things. Unfortunately, to my detriment, I have studied them. Therefore, I need a bit more clarification from Rome so that I can know what I am supposed to believe (as well as the grace to be obedient in believing it). In fact, at this point, I simply say that "I believe what the Church teaches even though I really have little idea what that is at this point."

Neither priest posting here has been able to refute my assertion that the principles of the hermeneutic of continuity provide a basis for disregarding Vatican II either in whole or in part. The point is that given a hermeneutic of continuity, which presupposes a relation of current documents to former documents, we can necessarily look to the former documents because if we looked at the current documents we would have to look to the former to understand them anyway.

Fr. Kavanaugh, I am not even suggesting that individuals Catholics have to make a judgment call on the fallibility or vagueness of the Vatican II documents. I would argue that we can do the same analysis whether the documents are vague or not.

Keep in mind, this is the Holy Father's principle of analysis for these documents, not my own. I am simply pointing out the logical conclusion to which his analysis tends.

Finally, Fr. Kavanaugh, I am still waiting for you to tell me why you, an individual priest, under your own volition have failed to comply with the Holy Father's Motu Proprio.

I've just seen Fr. McDonald's new comment while typing this response, so I'd also like to comment on that.

There is no problem having non-Catholics join Catholics in prayer, assuming the non-Catholics are not leading the prayer in the Catholic setting. That is the definition of ecumenism - getting people to become Catholic. Of course, the Assisi gatherings went further than that, but that is another topic for another day.

The problem is when Catholics attend the prayers of non-Catholics. Even assuming that conduct is not sinful (which I believe it to be based on the writings of the Popes), it is dangerous because it can put one's faith in danger.

As for the broader interpretation of Vatican II and other Church documents, I see that as a huge problem for the Church. The idea that visible unity with the Pope is more important than doctrinal unity is a slippery slope. In my estimation, the Church existing under a banner that includes both the LCWR and the SSPX viewpoints is not even in Communion with itself. So, to the extent the hierarchy is attempting to create a Church with mere visible unity, I disagree that his tactic is the best one.

Marc said...

Gene is exactly right about my point. I am giving the perspective that I have and the logic that I apply to these difficult problems in the Church (brought about by the Second Vatican Council's deliberate ambiguity on certain matters).

Frankly, it is only this explanation that I have been explaining that keeps me in the Catholic Church. Otherwise, as I mentioned before, the Church shows herself to be inconsistent on supposed infallible matters and therefore, fallible. In my opinion, either you believe that VII was fallible in some way or you no longer believe the Church is the Church. That is the difficult proposition to which I have presented a coherent logical explanation that actually promotes the infallibility of the Popes - a point you can explore more by reading my blog post I posted earlier in this thread.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, the slippery slope you are on is that most of the positions of the Church have a hierarchy of truth or validity and some of the positions of the Church are time constrained. It is up to theologians (certified by the Church) as well as the Pope and Bishops to help the Church at large discern what can change, what can't change and what is changing. That is not up to the lay person to decide, accept or reject, independent of the Pope and the lay person's bishop. So the problem you are having has everything to do with progressive dissent and fierce "protestant" individualism and wanting to determine everything your way and in a personal way independent of the institution of the papacy and the bishops in union with him and your own bishop. They decide, not you, but I fear you have fallen into a false egalitarianism and projected democratic ideologies upon your personal preferences. So, for example, the Holy Father determines the Order of the Mass and promulgates that--that is normative for lay Catholics even if it goes against their better discernment. Keep in mind may scholars believe that Pope Paul VI abrogated the 1962 missal when he published his own and so they question Pope Benedict's decision to readmit the 1962 missal in a broad way. They are doing what you are doing for other things that tickle your fancy in that regard.
The same is true of moral teachings, such as social encyclicals from previous centuries, the principles remain valid although the reasons for the encyclical certainly have changed over the course of time and political situations change.
So my recommendation is to leave it to the Holy Father and the bishops in union with him to determine how Catholics today approach doctrines, not infallibly proclaimed as dogma, and thus subject to be taught in new ways, especially as it concerns the order of Mass, ecumenism, etc. That's their job, yours is to be obedient to the Magisterium of the Church, the living Magisterium, meaning the Holy Father and the bishops in union with him.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - You said: "Where the documents seem to say something different than the Church has always taught, we simply disregard them."

Now you say: "I am not even suggesting that individuals Catholics have to make a judgment call on the fallibility or vagueness of the Vatican II documents."

In statement one you have set yourself up as the arbiter of Tradition, competent to make a global judgment on an entire magisterial document, if you find the entire document "not in continuity."

In statement two you seem to want to reverse yourself, realizing the absurdity of claim one and its implications.

Marc - A priest, using the principle you have asserted in statement one, who declines celebrating the EF of the mass cannot be faulted by you for doing so, because he is following your own principle.

And praying with Christians of other denominations is not a sin, no matter what you, individually, have concluded.

Good Father, the abrogation was done: “Mass, whether in Latin or the vernacular, may be celebrated lawfully only according to the rite of the Roman Missal promulgated 3 April 1969 by authority of Pope Paul VI.” The emphasis on the word “only” (tantummodo) is found in the original. “Ordinaries must ensure that all priests and people of the Roman Rite, “notwithstanding the pretense of any custom, even immemorial custom, duly accept the Order of Mass in the Roman Missal.”
“Conferentia Episcopalium” (Oct. 28, 1974).

Marc said...

I appreciate your patience in responding to me, Father, but I still think you've missed the point of what I've written.

I want to be obedient to the Church - I simply do not know what the Church is teaching in some areas (and this is not about liturgy). It is not Protestantism or egalitarianism because I am not attempting to substitute my own thinking. It is not democratic principles because I do not agree with that line of thinking. It is pure confusion about what the Church teaches... an honest, intellectual confusion.

For me personally (and I am not suggesting this for any Catholic, lay or otherwise because it was a mistake on my part), I have read the VII documents and I have read the prior encyclicals. As I said before, it is intellectual honesty to recognize that in some limited areas, they appear to contradict each other. Therefore, since the Holy Father himself has instructed us to view the VII documents in continuity with Tradition, I read the prior encyclicals and try not to confuse myself with understanding VII on these points that appear to be contradictory.

Now, maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean by egalitarianism, Protestantism, and democracy here. I genuinely do not see that I am falling into error with this logic. If there is an error, I would sincerely like to know what it is.

Perhaps the good priests here are thinking that the error is that I am using my individual intellectual capacity to determine that there is ambiguity in the VII documents. But, again, I don't think that is the case - I doubt the Holy Father himself would have set forth his hermeneutic of continuity construct simply because I, a singular Catholic, was confused about some points of these Conciliar documents. Therefore, I think any informed Catholic recognizes that there is ambiguity.

The way I see this discussion, I am being completely faithful to the continuing Tradition of the Church (which encompasses all 2,000 years), whereas the priests commenting are being limited by only looking at the documents of the last Council (which again was not infallible). I also point out the Holy Father is on my side in that regard...

Perhaps I am falling into error by not giving even fallible Church instruction due regard. I am aware of the different levels of teaching in the Magesterium and the level of assent required of each level. In this particular case, the fallible nature of Vatican II does not, as others have pointed out, mean that we can disregard the entire Council as we owe religious submission of intellect and will to the Council even in the areas that are fallible.

I respond, however, that we owe full assent of faith to previously dogmatically and infallibly defined doctrines - a greater level than that owed to the confusing portions of Vatican II. Take the teaching on ecumenism, for example. Because we owe full assent of faith to Mortalium Animos, due to its being infallibly defined, we can be sure that by holding that belief, we are in line with the Tradition of the Church.

I honestly do not see the problem here and am a bit surprised at the resistance being mounted against my schema, which is very in line with the ideas set forth by the Holy Father on this difficult issue.

Marc said...

Let me step back for a minute and clarify something: I have read the Vatican II documents and find many of them to be an excellent exposition of the Catholic Faith. Personally, I think every Catholic should be required to read Lumen Gentium's discussion of the role of the laity in order to better understand their role in the world and the goals of the spiritual life. I have likewise read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and find much of it to be well-organized and helpful. So, I am not proposing that we revert entirely to the Council of Trent as Vatican II set forth much of the Faith in a very clear and elucidating manner.

However, an informed person cannot simply disregard the problematic portions of these documents even though they are exceedingly small portions when viewed in the context of the entirety of the Constitutions. I remind our priest commenters (and everyone else) that portions of the documents were controversial at the Council: Remember that Part III of Lumen Gentium required a special Preface explaining the content and this was a discussion going on as the documents were being drafted! This proves that sometimes things aren't as clear as we would like them to be...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Oh, good PI, Pope Benedict, the living pope of the living Magisterium has changed the boundaries and he may well do it again with the SSPX reintegration into the Church--we have a living Magisterium, PI, not a dead one and things do change, develop, are overturned and created anew! So get with it an get with SP! You're beginning to sound like Marc! :)

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

FR's. Let me try it this way:

A=Infallible Church doctrine pre Vat II.

B=Infallible Church doctrine post-Vat II.

C=All that is controversial in Vat II (which produced nothing infallible).

Now, here is Marc's equation:


Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I remind you that all councils have included controversy. This is not something that was found only at Vatican II. Nor is Vatican II the only council that was followed by degrees of "lack of clarity" regarding just what the Council taught.

Read the reports of the angry, loud, and heated discussion regarding Pastor Aeternus at Vatican I. Read the statements of the German Bishops that followed the promulgation of the dogma of papal infallibility.

The documents of Vatican II were WRITTEN in continuity with Tradition by the bishops who are given the charism to teach in the name of the Church. Unless, of course, you continue to claim the unique authority and competency to judge the bishops and the popes who drafted, wrote, argued about, and promulgated the documents.

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, my two statements that you have quoted are not contradictory. Moreover, it is clear from my posts that I am not attempting to set myself up as an arbiter of anything. I have explicitly written multiple times that I simply want to believe what the Church teaches.

At any rate, you have unwittingly set out a very good example of the conundrum that I am attempting to resolve using the Holy Father's exegetical schema: that of the so-called abrogation of the Tridentine Mass.

We know from Tradition that the Mass could not be abrogated (from Quo Primum) and yet a later Papal document proposes to do just that. Therefore, in applying the Holy Father's hermeneutic of continuity, what conclusion must we draw? That the later attempted abrogation is ineffectual in light of the former definitive statement. Indeed, this is the conclusion reached by the Holy Father in Summorum Pontificum.

Therefore, I continue to see my belief in full continuity with the Church. You, on the other hand, seem to be out of conformity with the entirety of the Tradition because you are essentially only relying on one Church council (a fallible one) and three Popes. Your position is dangerous both practically and logically because it prevents you from explaining aberrations like Pope Honorius (the excommunicated), the Avignon Popes, and the stuggle of saints like Athanasius and Catherine.

I am dismayed that I, a layman with no formal theological training, am in a position where I am having to debate this very simple principle with a priest in "full communion" with the Church. I am also dismayed at your utter inability (or outright refusal) to answer a very simple question about your decision as a pastor to not conform with the Holy Father's wishes in his Motu Proprio. As a result, Fr. Kavanaugh, since I have been gracious and patient in responding to you multiple times, I will no longer respond to you until you answer my question about why you refuse to comply with Summorum Pontificum.

Marc said...

In the spirit of my friend Gene, I'll sum this up with a poem (with tongue only mildly pressed in cheek):

I follow the Council of Trent,
You follow Vatican Two.

Only the Prots question my Council,
So what does that say about you?

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - You want to believe what the Church teaches, but only according to how YOU understand it. That's convenient, as you DO set yourself up as the authoritative interpreter.

We know from Tradition that liturgical law (as expressed in Quo Primum) is mutable. It always has been and always will be.

And it is also very convenient to "take your ball and go home" because you don't can't make the rules.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Ignotus, You need to answer Marc's question, which has also been asked of you by others, including Adlai and myself. Why do you not make available the TLM in your parish...

Marc said...

Pope St. Pius V: "This ordinance applies henceforth, now, and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world, to all patriarchs, cathedral churches, collegiate and parish churches, be they secular or religious, both of men and of women - even of military orders - and of churches or chapels without a specific congregation in which conventual Masses are sung aloud in choir or read privately in accord with the rites and customs of the Roman Church... Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."

Yeah, that has the tone of mutable liturgical law... Ridiculous.

Gene, Fr. Kavanaugh will never answer the question. He says I've taken my ball and gone home when he never even brought a ball to the game. Again, he's ridiculous.

And yet, I'm made out by the priest commenters as the heretical schismatic in this debate. Fine with me. If being "in communion" with a "priest" like Fr. Kavanaugh is what being in "full communion" means, I can firmly state that no, I am not "in communion" with him. I hold the Catholic faith. I have no idea what he holds.

Militia Immaculata said...

Hold it!!!

Where did Pater Ignotus (or Fr. McDonald, for that matter) say he doesn't follow the Council of Trent or relies solely on Vatican II?

Militia Immaculata said...

Marc, you said:

Pope St. Pius V: "This ordinance applies henceforth, now, and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world, to all patriarchs, cathedral churches, collegiate and parish churches, be they secular or religious, both of men and of women - even of military orders - and of churches or chapels without a specific congregation in which conventual Masses are sung aloud in choir or read privately in accord with the rites and customs of the Roman Church... Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."

Yeah, that has the tone of mutable liturgical law... Ridiculous.

Actually, the phrase beginning with "Therefore . . ." and ending with ". . . Peter and Paul" was merely a conventional legal formula in papal documents of the day, not something binding on future popes. So what about phrases you quoted in Quo Primum like "now and forever," "no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice . . .," etc.? Such phrases mean that they are to last indefinitely, that no specific date or time is set in advance when this will automatically lapse. Thus it will remain in force until subsequently modified by legitimate authority. That legitimate authority is in fact future popes. For example, Clement XIV wrote Dominus ac Redemptor in 1773 which suppressed the Society of Jesus, and he declared that this measure should be "perpetuo validas;" but this in no way prevented his successor Pius VII from reestablishing the Society of Jesus anyway in Sollicitudo Omnium of August 7, 1814. The mere use of "perpetual" or similar terms did not mean that a subsequent Pope no longer had the authority to revive the religious order which the previous Pope had dissolved. Such terminology merely means here until some further legitimate enactment is carried out by a sovereign Pontiff.

In addition, Marc, as a fellow follower of Christ, I must rebuke you for the attacks on Fr. Kavanaugh you've made in your most recent comment but also in others related to this post. You would do well to heed what God the Father said to St. Catherine of Siena:

…[It] is my intention that [priests] be held in due reverence, not for what they are in themselves, but for my sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these ministers fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my ministers are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of… my Son’s body and blood and of the other sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good.

…[Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not my will because they are my Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I have given them.

You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy… You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears.

Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them
(taken from The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena).

Pater Ignotus said...

From the website of Catholics United for the Faith, a very conservative group:

Dogmatizing Discipline:Papal Authority, Modifying the Mass and The Truth About Quo Primum

Issue: When Pope Saint Pius V issued his apostolic constitution (Quo Primum) that promulgated the venerable Tridentine Rite of the Mass in 1570, could he bind all future Popes from modifying or superseding this rite?

Response: No, because the rite of the Mass by its nature involves much changeable discipline, as opposed to simply unchangeable doctrine.[1] Consistent with previous and subsequent Popes, Pope Saint Pius V used ecclesiastical terms like “forever” and “in perpetuity” to safeguard the liturgy. But these terms do not bind future Popes from altering the disciplines, who themselves would have “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power” [2] in their respective pontificates. This fact is well known among canonists and liturgists. The Tridentine Rite itself was based on previous rites and, by the time Pope Paul VI issued his apostolic constitution (Missale Romanum) that promulgated the Missale Romanum in 1969, several Popes already had modified the Tridentine Rite several times without controversy.

To a person untrained in 1) canon law, 2) the history of the liturgy and its changes, or 3) liturgical theology, Quo Primum may SEEM to be the final word. It is not.

I don't say you are an "heretical schismatic.' I simply say you are mistaken.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, you've just now made my point about the abrogation of the 1962 missal by Paul VI and its reintroduction by Benedict the XVI--it is no the same basis, but of course the 1962 missal was never completely abrogated as Paul VI allowed it for elderly priests and then John Paul II expanded it to others who wanted it and then Benedict XVI expanded its extraordinary use to almost anyone. The next pope may well make it the standard missal--time will tell.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Militia, when has Marc been abusive to Kavanaugh? I suspect that, if you removed Kavanaugh's collar, you would simply have a Millies. Each of them is the other turned inside out. Marc is no schismatic and, I dare say, he is far more devout and diligent in his search for clarity and understanding than are many on this blog, including Ignotus. Ignotus and Millies represent two distinct sub-groups within the Church...the modernist, apostate Catholic laity who remain in the Church either for aesthetic reasons or to try to change/destroy it, and the modernist Priest who doubts the Church and, perhaps, has belief issues of his own and wishes to make of the Church a social work organization. Although the Priest serves in persona Christi at times, both of these types are enemies of the Church just as surely as if they were marching down Poplar (or Anystreet USA) with torches and staves. If you do not believe that, then you have not been paying attention.

Militia Immaculata said...


In my book, calling Fr. Kavanaugh "ridiculous" and referring to him as a "priest" (note the quotation marks) aren't exactly non-abusive. Now, to be honest, there have been several priests I've come across to whom I've had the urge to say similar things (and I admit to having said similar things ABOUT the priests in question -- not saying I should have, though). But while I agree that priests who have embraced Modernism in any way, shape, or form are enemies of the Church (and that their influence must be resisted), I once heard it said somewhere that there's no such thing as a bad priest, only a priest who isn't prayed for enough. Do we pray for our priests regularly? Note that I say "we," as I include myself in that.

Moreover, I never said Marc was schismatic or anything of the sort.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Militia, No, you have never said Marc was schismatic, but others have implied it. I pray more for Ignotus' parishioners than I do for him, I must confess...

Marc said...

M.I., I pray for priests, but I also am not afraid to call them out when they are being ridiculous or spouting off things that are incorrect.

Pater Ignotus intentionally comes across as dense in an effort to set forth some sort of agenda (although I can't say with certainty exactly what that agenda is). Moreover, he does so anonymously, never deliberately revealing that he is, in fact, a priest. Finally, in this particular discussion, in addition to being intentionally dense in failing to grasp my arguments and confront them with any logical rebuttal, he has utterly failed repeated requests from myself to disprove the illogicality of his statements contra my position with regard to his refusal to offer the TLM at his parish.

Just because someone is a priest does not mean that they are immune from being ridiculous. It is honestly quite juvenile to think otherwise. Also, priests need our prayers, true, but they also need our correction and discussion. I hope that these discussions I have with Pater aid him in his spiritual life to the same extent they aid me. The discussions and debates certainly help me to grow in the faith.

All that being said, I have met Fr. Kavanaugh in person and he is a very pleasant individual to converse with. Of course, if he and I were having this discussion in person, I, like everyone else on the internet, would handle it quite differently. But, I would still battle against him until the sun came up because I firmly believe he is wrong and I am right.

Ask yourself this, though, why is it bad for me to say he's wrong and I'm right when it is apparently not wrong for him to say I'm wrong and he's right? No one is rebuking him except me!

I don't know where that leaves us except that we will both keep commenting and disagreeing with each other. And, well, that's fine with me because, as I said, I believe I am right and he is wrong!

To Fr. Kavanaugh: I apologize for my sarcastic use of quotation marks when calling you a priest. The heat of the debate got the better of me and that was not an appropriate thing to write.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I have revealed my identity on this blog at least three times. Here's (at least) number four: Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh.

I am not "dense" and I do not "fail to grasp" your arguments. I simply don't agree with them and/or I simply don't find them persuasive! Is it beyond reason to think that 1) you err, or that 2) you lack the necessary background and experience to hold forth on certain matters?

I will accept correction from someone who knows whereof he/she speaks. In many cases, you don't, as evidenced recently by your claim that Quo Primum forbids forever any changes in the liturgy. In this claim you are simply wrong. As I am Militia Immaculata have pointed out, you misunderstand the style of language being used (the Literary Form), and reach erroneous conclusions based on that misunderstanding.

People can disagree, even on matters theological, and remain equally Catholic and Redeemed.