Thursday, July 19, 2012


The Church's future may be predicted more by the SSPX than the LWCR. I report, you decide!

There are two extremes in the Church which are mirror images of each other. The first group which has been called to accountability for decades now by the Vatican is the SSPX. Their sin is that they want to be more Catholic than the pope and reject most of Vatican II and evidently do not see Vatican II as a part of the "teaching" magisterium of the Church. In rejecting Vatican II they perceive they are preserving historic Catholicism.

You can read Fr. Z's take on the SSPX latest communique by PRESSING HERE.

Then we have the Leadership Conference of Catholic Women (LCWR) who really want to reform the Catholic Church to be more Episcopalian than the Episcopal Church. They want to "re-imagine" the Church according to a deconstructionist model that rips away its historic roots in morality, doctrine, dogma, liturgy, and canon law. Yes, they want to be more Episcopal than the Episcopalians and have the temerity to believe they can reform the Church from within.

The Vatican has been more than patient with their heterodox and heretical leanings but recently has begun a process of accountability that once was reserved only for the SSPX. As with the SSPX, this accountability has nothing to do with the good works of either group but their questionable theology and positions as it regards the reform of the Church

You can read Catholic World Report on "Sister Pat Farrell, president of the LCWR, deflects, blames, and otherwise obfuscates" BY PRESSING HERE!

To be honest with you, SSPX has more to offer the Church in terms of future reforms than the LCWR. I think the handwriting is on the wall or in the blogs.


Marc said...

"Their sin is that they want to be more Catholic than the pope and reject most of Vatican II..."

This is inaccurate and untrue, which indicates a lack of understanding of the nuance and seriousness of the SSPX's position. Of course, downplaying their position makes it much easier to compare it to the utterly silly position of the Modernists and Liberals, which you seem intent on doing.

"[E]vidently [the SSPX] do not see Vatican II as a part of the 'teaching' magisterium of the Church."

What does "teaching" Magisterium mean? Is it not more accurate to say that, if anything, Vatican II is part of the "pastoral" Magisterium? Vatican II itself purports to explain pastorally previously defined doctrine while itself not defining that doctrine. There is really nothing to accept or reject other than the methodology, which can be summed up by asking: does this properly explain what we believe? About 95% of the time, VII does a pretty good job. The other 5% not so much. So, put away the bad 5% and look to the past. What is the problem with that?

"In rejecting Vatican II they perceive they are preserving historic Catholicism."

They reject portions of Vatican II: those that are out of step with the Magisterium. By doing so, they are clearly preserving historic Catholicism. That doesn't make them wrong.

Henry Edwards said...

Actually, I recall Bishop Fellay saying somewhere that they have problems with only 5% of Vatican II which they feel disagrees with Tradition.

If part of Vatican II actually did contradict Tradition, then we'd all have to have problems with it. Since the Church cannot fall into the error of contradicting previous doctrine, any interpretation of Vatican II documents contrary to previous doctrine is automatically wrong.

Of course, Pope Benedict has said that Vatican II has to be interpreted in continuity with Tradition. If and when this were done, nobody would have any basis for objecting.

I wonder whether the time is approaching for the Pope to act in his capacity as Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ on Earth, and without further discussion or "negotiation" simply command the obedience of the SSPX in whatever juridical structure he dictates for them.

Then, fully within the Church, they could help with the necessary reinterpretation of Vatican II documents--which I take it is what the Pope desires--rather than just complain from outside the tent.

Militia Immaculata said...

What does "teaching" Magisterium mean? Is it not more accurate to say that, if anything, Vatican II is part of the "pastoral" Magisterium?

They reject portions of Vatican II: those that are out of step with the Magisterium. By doing so, they are clearly preserving historic Catholicism. That doesn't make them wrong.

I've posted these quotes previously on Southern Orders, but I now see that that they need to be re-posted.

Let's start with what Pope Paul VI said about the Council:

"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).

Now consider what His Holiness said on May 24, 1976:

"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!"

In short, it is NOT our place to determine what is or is not in step with the Magisterium; the Church does that. When we start thinking we can make such judgments for ourselves, then we're no different from Protestants, cafeteria Catholics, etc.

Bill Meyer said...

The real problem with the documents of Vatican II, as Michael Davies ably explained is that they are in many places so vague as to be without real meaning, and this lack has been used and abused for years.

Compound that with the utter lack of real catechesis in many parishes, and is it any wonder the shape things are in?

Marc said...

Henry, I've seen your post there on Fr. Z and Rorate and the more I read it, the more I agree with your proposition. The SSPX stated explicitly that the Church is a monarchy. If the Holy Father really wants to finalize this situation, he needs to do exactly as you propose.

MI, I've said it before on this Blog and I can see it needs to be re-posted:

The Holy Father, who IS the living Magisterium, has told us how to interpret the Vatican II documents.

This statement indicates the documents are vague and therefore, not self-interpreting. The Holy Father has given us the tools to use in interpreting the documents: in continuity with Tradition. We know, therefore, that when questions arise as to the contents or interpretation of documents issuing from the Second Vatican Council, the statements must be viewed in the context of the Magisterium as it existed prior to the Council.

The divide here is that, despite the Holy Father's clear instructions, there are those who would tell the Church that a rupture exists: for the most part these are Modernists, who contend that doctrine can and should change over time.

The SSPX rightly points out that there are apparent differences in four key areas of doctrine as set forth in the Vatican II documents when compared with Tradition. In those limited instances in particular, it is necessary to interpret those apparent inconsistancies in the light of Tradition. To do so necessitates reading the prior pronouncements of the Popes. When that is done, we see that there is no change because there can be no change.

I agree it is not our place to determine what is the Magisterium: it is our place to believe it. As I have just shown, when we have difficulty understanding what the Church teaches, sometimes we must review multiple Church documents to gather a proper understanding. That is precisely what our Holy Father wants us to do.

In the case of the SSPX, their theologians have determined that the Vatican II documents appear to be unclear or apparently contary in four areas. Therefore, in accordance with the method set forth by the Holy Father for interpretation, they have looked to Tradition for an answer as to what the Church proposes for our belief. They propose, and I agree, that souls would be benefited by rejecting formulations that are vague or difficult to harmonize.

Finally, think a little more about the quotes you posted: the Magisterium should be accepted with docility. You are attempting to circumvent the very thing at issue: Can I accept with docility both Mortalium Animos and Unitatis Redintegratio? If I accept the former with docility because it is part of the Magisterium, do you contend that I am necessarily rejecting Unitatis Redintegratio? If so, is it not you that have fallen into error? If I reject Unitatis Redintegratio on the basis of it being an unclear statement of Catholic doctrine while remaining docile to Mortalium Animos, have I erred simply by noting that Unitatis Redintegratio is unclear? If I am wrong about it being unclear, but I still remain docile to Mortalium Animos, how can I be said to be out of step with the living Magisterium if Unitatis Redintegratio is to be read in light of Tradition? Moreover, since we know that Unitatis Redintegratio proposes no new doctrine, why does it even matter if it is unclear?

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - You do not properly understand the legitimate authority of the Church to change the liturgy, arriving at a connotatively false interpretation of various passages of Quo Primum.

You've read the QP passages, you've posted the QP passages here, but you do not read them within the larger tradition of the Church. Militia and I explained your error in understanding/interpretation.

Now you want to ignore - completely ignore - Unitatis Redentigratio, saying that it doesn't even matter because YOU can't understand how it fits into our Tradition.

Anonymous said...

What I'd like to hear you explain is where Mortalium Animos fits into our Tradition... Please, explan it to me. You're a priest: teach.


Henry Edwards said...

Most Catholics in the 1960s had no doubt of the Pope's authority to change the liturgy. Now, 40 years later, it is increasingly clear to many--from the present Pope, evidently, to ordinary pew sitters like Marc and me--that the exercise of that authority had disastrous pastoral consequences that previously would have been unfathomable.

Unfortunately, it is probably not so clear to anyone--however dogmatically people seem to speak in internet comment boxes--precisely how the Church is to extricate itself from the present predicament.

Because in the 1960s, most Catholics were so trusting that a billion-plus Church could change course abruptly, whereas that is no longer the case.

And the liturgy, where a consensus appears to be forming as to the general outlines of the needed reform of the reform, is probably the simplest of the areas in which a revitalization is needed.

Marc said...

I'm not sure my previous comment went thru... But, I have a bit to add anyway.

Fr. Kavanaugh, I invite you to point out my errors with reference to what I have written in this thread (that is, without reference to yours and my prior disagreements over Quo Primum).

Since it is apparently very clear to you how Unitatis Redintegratio fits into Tradition (which is surprising in itself since this question appears to escape even the Holy Father), I am hoping you can explain to me where it fits into Tradition. More importantly, though, I am hoping you can explain to me where Mortalium Animos fits into Tradition because I think that is the question that is more difficult for me to understand.

As you are preparing your response, I hope you will address the following two statements by, perhaps, setting forth precisely what the Church teaches about worship in ecclesial communities outside the visible Catholic Church. Since you are the head of the Diocese of Savannah Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations Office, I eagerly await your explanation.

“The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation.”

“It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects already mentioned, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation.”

I hope you will respond earnestly as I would really appreciate your input on this important subject. For my part, I promise that, if you provide an actual explanation with references, I will prayerfully consider what you have written. Frankly, these sorts of apparent problems cause me more anxiety than you may ever know. So, I really am hopeful you can provide a well-reasoned, Tradition-supported response because I cannot come up with anything other than what I have previously written (which is incorrect according to you).

ytc said...

PI, it seems quite a lot of people on both "sides" don't understand how UR or several of the other documents fit in with our Tradition.

To ask a question based on Marc's posts:

Given that Pope Benedict says that the entirety of the Second Vatican Council must be interpreted in line with Tradition, if I cannot understand Unitatis Redintegratio, can I not just ignore it and instead read Mortalium Animos?

Pater Ignotus said...

ytc - No, just because you can't understand UR does not mean you can ignore it. (I would suggest you CAN understand it with study and prayer.) I can't understand the set of rules that come with my 1040 form or my credit card agreement, but I can't ignore them just because I can't understand them.

Marc - You and I don't have a "disagreement" over Quo Primum. You have an erroneous understanding of it which Militia Immaculata and I have corrected. You can remain in your error, or you can acknowledge your error and accept the correction from two people who are more knowledgeable than you in this matter.

No, I will not addresss your lack of understanding magisterial documents without referring to your error in understanding Quo Primum. That would be like addressing Richard Nixon's presidency without making reference to Watergate.

You don't know how to read and understand magisterial documents. Reason One: You approach them with your mind made up, believing that anything in a document that does not agree with YOUR limited understanding of Church doctrine must, therefore, be in error. Reason Two: You believe that if a more recent document SEEMS to you to be in conflict with an older document, then the more recent document must be in error. Reason Three: You don't WANT to understand how UR fits into the Church's teaching tradition because you don't WANT to acknowledge the truth it contains. No amount of explanation will suffice to overcome that un-Catholic prejudice. Reason Four: You reject the legitimate authority of the Church's teachers (the Bishops) in favor of your own personal, private, and, at times, erroneous, understanding of UR and other documents.

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh:

I asked you a very serious question and was genuinely hoping for a response that addressed my legitimate concerns. I am not trying to trap you: I am actually hoping for a helpful response, as I pointed out in my post. I very frankly and publically admitted that these things cause me much anxiety.

You responded by insulting me and essentially calling me a schismatic (if not a heretic).

By the way, I have actually considered the points you raised in our prior discussion on Quo Primum, in addition to other research, and have concluded that I was probably incorrect in the way I cited that Papal Bull in the context of our discussion.

Based on that, I was genuinely hopeful that you might provide some good insight into this discussion. I see now that I was wrong to attempt to engage you in a meaningful discussion. Until you choose to speak civilly, as is becoming of a Catholic priest, I am no longer going to engage you.

Quite frankly, reading what you write and atttempting to speak with you on this blog is dangerous to my faith, not because it might be erroneous, but because of the tone. "By your fruits you shall know them." If you are the fruit of Catholic seminaries and who the Catholic bishop of Savannah is willing to place as the pastor of a parish, that is pretty compelling evidence against the Church, which for obvious reasons renders arguments about documents moot.

Anonymous 5 said...


I'm coming in late on this one. You state that Marc's interpretation of QP is erroneous. Could you here explain, or at least point me to the post, in which you describe that error in detail?

In all respect I believe that at least some of your criticisms of Marc are unfair. Particularly, it isn't older vs. newer with him--it's about the great weight of oft-repeated magisterial statements that happen to have been around for a long time versus an apparently (and highly) discordant statement that happens to be recent. For background to (and evidence of) this fact, please see my blog post at

Knowing Marc fairly well, I will vouch for him here. While he does have great disagreements with you, he means no disrespect (just as I mean no disrespect) and he is genuinely seeking your council on this point. Part of his traditionalism is to show deference to priests like yourself (though not to your ideas when he believes them erroneous). He would be delighted to (to use your phrase) "acknowledge the truth [UR] contains" if only someone would explain that truth to him in a plausible fashion with reference to other magisterial pronouncements on the subject other than to make vague statements about the hermeneutic of continuity.

I also imagine--and I haven't talked to him about this--that your casual label of "un-Catholic" has wounded him greatly. I have personally never known anyone who has striven more earnestly to be Catholic than Marc, but the current bishops (including the bishop of Rome) are doing a lot of bobbing, dodging, and weaving whenever he looks pleadingly to them for doctrinal, theological, and intellectual leadership and council.

I will further state that Marc is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, including matters of linguistic interpretive theory, and he's having a simple logical problem. The strict language of QP, when placed in equation with a large number of earlier and undoubtedly magisterial pronouncements, amount prima facie to the proposition that X does not equal X. It does not help his understanding, or mine, or SSPX's, or any reasonable person's for you (or for the pope, for that matter) to say vaguely that we have to accept the continuity when try as we might, we simply cannot see it. (God is beyond our ability to understand; human language is not.) That is why he is genuinely, with no sense of sarcasm, asking--even begging--you to explain. I think it unfair of you to have beaten him about the head and shoulders when he is reaching out to you for help. Casual statements from you that he misunderstands, shouldn't try to understand, and should simply obey QP evokes the dark ages of raw exercise of ecclesial power without regard to reason or truth--the things that I imagine you deplore about pre-Vatican II times. Perhaps the two of you should consider a beer summit. I will arrange it if you wish.

Respectfully submitted.

Gene said...

Ignotus is the very worst example of what Catholic seminaries can produce. He is not going to give us a meaningful response. It is a shame that he, and Priests like him, are constant temptations for the rest of us to sin by falling into the error of Donatism or by simply refusing to respect such Clever Clerics in Collars. I refuse to respect him and I'll take my chances at Confession...
BTW, Marc can take care of himself. He makes Ignotus look like a kid learning ABC"s.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I'm sorry. Your understanding of Quo Primum is wrong. Both Militia Immaculata and I clearly showed you why, but you refuse to accept the correction.

You cannot claim the blood-red cloak of the "martyr" here. Your insults and taunts against me and others have been numerous. Grow up.

I have said before and I say again, I do not call you a schismatic. I say that you are MISTAKEN. Understand the difference. Others here call people names, accuse them of heresy, call them "imbeciles," threaten to report them to the bishop,a threat that, as far as I know, remains tellingly unfulfilled.

I would suggest all sorts of sources for you to read that would help you understand the development of doctrine, but you have repeatedly said that you don't accept the idea of the development of doctrine, and that you will not read with an open mind any author who holds a position at odds with your own.

You are the cause of your anxiety; not the Church, not me, and certainly not Vatican II.

Anon 5- Marc maintains that the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum (1570) makes it impossible to change, in any way whatsoever, the liturgy. The "simple logical problem" is that the liturgy has been changed numerous times since 1570. In fact, there's nothing "logical" about it. Just learning the history of the changes in the mass shows reveals the error.

Marc - If the existence of people in the Church who do not share your personal preferences or your interpretations (erroneous and otherwise) of magisterial documents is a threat to your faith, you will never find peace except in the Church is Marc-ism.

Gene said...

Ignotus, you never answered Marc's questions nor gave the explanations for which he asked. You only perseverate about things you have already said. This is usually a substitute for knowing what you are talking about or being actually capable of responding appropriately to the question. You really should drop this clerical charade and run for office as a Democratic candidate for Congress. The Obamanites would love you!

Anonymous 2 said...

For those of us who profess no expertise in the reconciliation of apparently discordant magisterial documents, can we please take this one step at a time?

My first, fundamental set of questions is this: What is the authoritative status of the two documents Mortalium Animos and Unitatis Redingretatio? The first is a papal encyclical, issued in 1928 by Pope Pius XI; the second is the Vatican II Council Decree on Ecumenism, issued in 1964. In Marc’s 7:49 p.m. post on July 19 the first quote is from the encyclical, the second is from the Council. At this point I am not suggesting whether or not they can be reconciled. I am just asking about status. The Council Decree is not an infallible statement. Is the papal encyclical an infallible statement, in whole or in part? If the encyclical is not infallible, are the documents of equal status? If not, which one is of higher status, and why?

Once we get clear on this point (and perhaps it is itself disputed), it might then be appropriate to ask other questions, depending on the answers to these fundamental ones.

Anonymous 2 said...

I hereby withdraw the above questions. I have since done some research about Quo Primum and Mortalium Animos, and have become aware of the complexities involved in trying to sort through all this. I also read (or re-read) Father’s post on June 14 regarding dissent, and the comments. I agree with Father McDonald and Father Kavanaugh. Indeed, I have violated my own principles in even asking the questions I did. This sort of thing is, as I have put it before, “above my pay grade.” I am content to leave it to the Magisterium to sort out.

Although how to reconcile the documents at issue is not clear to me, one thing_is_crystal clear to me – it would take a great deal of training in the textual exegesis and hermeneutics of magisterial documents to learn what I would need to learn even to attempt the task credibly. Surely, if anyone can understand this point, those of us with a legal training can.

One other thing I learned in my research is how many without the proper training think they know the answers, or at least that there are serious issues regarding the compatibility of Vatican II with pre-Vatican II documents. I don’t count the SSPX among them; I assume their priests and theologians are all well trained. However, again, this is a matter for Rome and the SSPX to sort out.

I do have one parting question on this issue, though: Why do we, the ordinary laity, need to worry about all this? Why can’t we simply trust the magisterium to resolve the issues in the fullness of time and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? And in the meantime follow the guidance that we are currently given by the magisterium? Are our egos (mine included) showing? Or is there somehow a genuine concern that our eternal salvation is at stake? Regarding the latter, I would like to believe that we are forgiven any errors we might commit while following current magisterial guidance, given that the Borgias no longer control the Holy See =). But again, I am no theologian. Fathers, can you provide us with reassurance that we cannot go wrong by following current magisterial guidance?

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 2 - You will be told by Marc (and others) that the Bishops cannot be trusted, a view I do not share. You will be told my Marc (and others)that individuals Catholics have a right, nay, an obligation, to stand in judgment over the bishops and the magisterial documents that come from them, another view I do not share. You will be told my Marc (and others) that all it takes to understand the magisterial documents is the ability to read, a view I also do not share.

Anon 2 - I trust the Holy Spirit who, through the BISHOPS, not nay-sayers, malcontents, and marplots, maintains the Church in truth.

Does that mean that I always understand certain aspects or that I have a "comfortable" appreciation of how teachings fit into the magisterium? No. Consolation, not comfort, is a promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

Marc said...

Anon2 and everyone else,

I recommend reading the following article, which provides an interesting insight into some of the questions raised in this discussion:

On Adhesion to the Second Vatican Council:

Marc said...

Once you've read the previously linked article, you can see the abridged response from an SSPX theologian here:

Lewis said...

Is not an emphasis of VII on the edification of the laity, and the raising of their involvement within the workings of the Church, on fuller personal responsibility in knowing the Magisterial teachings of the Church? It would then seem to me, Pater, that the concern over understanding, even reconciling seemingly contradictory writings is something any of the laity should strive for. If this results in questioning the intentions of the Council or bishops, then are we not fulfilling the Council's desires? Aren't we called to scrutinize the bishops, to hold them to a higher level of accountability?

Pater Ignotus said...

Lewis - Were you and I imbued with the charismatic gift of teaching, we could and should stand in judgment of the bishops and councils. Until such time as we are so gifted, we can ask questions, we can seek clarification, but we cannot determine with any finality whatsoever what is or is not the authentic teaching of the Church.

Lewis said...

Insofar as any bishop possessing a charism of teaching, we learn by how we relate to the subject of study and to its teacher. In seeking to understand later documents or Church teachings, it behooves the student to understand older documents, and subsequently how the later documents then apply. Essentially, new documents/teachings can only best be understood when interpreted within the Tradition of the Church. If something is not understood, then let the bishops teach. As it stands, too many persons have formed their own personal religion around a Pastoral council, not a Dogmatic council. As such, pastoral implementations are subject to questons, even criticisms. The content taught by the bishops after VII should be the same as before VII. The places/instances where this isn't happening is also subject to questioning and criticism. Obedience is to truth, not to charismatics.

Pater Ignotus said...

Obedience is to bishops who, by virtue of the charism they are given, teach the truth. If one believes the bishops have erred in faith or morals, one has stepped away from the Church.

Lewis said...

And if a bishop, or a group thereof begin to espouse heresy? Where then does one's conscience enter in? Bishops are not infallible.