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?