Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Pope Francis must have approved of this, no?

Holy See puts Fellay in charge of trying one of his own priests

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Bernard Fellay
Bernard Fellay

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has appointed the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Lefebvre, to be the first-instance trial judge in the case against a Lefebvrian priest who is accused of a serious crime

ANDREA TORNIELLI vatican city He announced it himself during the course of a sermon at Our Lady of the Angels church in Arcadia, California, on May 10, 2015: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has appointed the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, as first-instance judge in a case involving a Lefebvrian priest. The former Holy Office is in charge of dealing with a number of “delicta graviora”. The one that pops up most frequently, is the one involving the sexual abuse of minors. Fellay presented this as an example of the “contradictions” in the Holy See’s approach to the Fraternity.

We are labeled now as being irregular, at best. “Irregular” means you cannot do anything, and so for example they have prohibited us from saying Mass in the churches in Rome, for the Dominican sisters who had their pilgrimage in Rome in February. They say, “No, you cannot, because you are irregular”. And these people [who] say that, were people of [Pontifical Commission] Ecclesia Dei.” 

Now, sometimes, unfortunately,” Bishop Fellay said, “also priests do silly things, and they need to be punished. And when it is very, very serious, we have to make recourse to Rome. So we do. And what does the Congregation of the Faith do? Well, they did appoint me as the judge for this case.  So I was appointed by Rome, by the Congregation of the Faith, to make judgements, canonical Church judgements on some of our priests who belong to a non-existent Society for them (for Rome, Ed.). And so, once again, a beautiful contradiction indeed.”

This is not the first time the SSPX has made recourse to Rome when it comes to “delicta graviora” and dispensations from priestly obligations. What is new in this case is that the former Holy Office headed by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller has decided to entrust the case to Mgr. Fellay himself, making him first-instance trial judge. An expression of attention. A sign that the path toward full communion with the Lefebvrians continues, as Archbishop Guido Pozzo confirmed in a statement to Vatican Insider. He archbishop, who is also Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, said: “The decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not imply that existing problems have been resolved, but it is a sign of benevolence and magnanimity. I see no contradiction here, but rather, a step toward reconciliation.”

Readers will recall that another important sign came last April, when the Archbishop of Buenos Aires gave the green light for Lefebvrians to be registered by the Argentinian government as a “diocesan association”. Also, a large group of SSPX pilgrims was allowed to celebrate the Eucharist in Lourdes Basilica.

So why does Fellay speak of a contradiction? His comment was in reference to last February’s pilgrimage to Rome, which saw the participation of 1500 faithful. The pilgrimage was organised by Dominican sisters with links to the SSPX. A request was submitted to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei for mass to be celebrated at the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. On this occasion, however, the heads of the Commission, decided that the celebration of a mass by a Lefebvrian priest before existing problems were resolved in view of canonical regularisation and full communion would have sent out the wrong signal. Nevertheless, Pope Francis gave his approval to a proposal for the requested mass to be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica but by an Ecclesia Dei priest and according to the old rite. Leaders of the Fraternity declined the offer.

Still, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s appointment of Fellay as first-instance trial judge, shows that progress is being made in terms of the dialogue between the Church and the SSPX.


Lefebvrian said...

His Excellency Bishop Fellay today issued a letter discussing the topic of "mercy." Hopefully this will reach a wide audience.

Angry Augustinian said...

Absolutely fascinating…like "Alice in Wonderland" or maybe Kafka.

John Nolan said...

Fr AJM and others

In the light of this, it might be a good idea to desist from referring to the SSPX as 'schismatic'. The Church needs the SSPX and she and they know it. Not necessarily in the UK and USA but certainly in France and the Low Countries.

They are a priestly fraternity and those faithful who attend their Masses are not Levebvrites, simply ordinary Catholics who appreciate sound liturgy and orthodox teaching and preaching. In fact, unless you have attended their services, read their literature, or talked to their priests, you are in no position to criticize them.

Anonymous said...

If anyone wants to look at everything that is wrong with the Catholic Church today, look no further than St. Anthony of Padua in Wilmington, DE. Not only are they more than likley going to "canonize" Beau Biden, but Obama is giving the eulogy!!!

Persecution...we deserve you

Anonymous said...

Schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him." [Code of Canon Law c.751]

SSPX is in schism for refusing to offer submission to the Roman Pontiff.

In a March 17 interview, Cardinal Castrillón affirmed once again publicly, "The Fraternity of St. Pius X is not a consolidated schism per se, but its history has included some schismatic actions..."

If a man commits "adulterous actions" is he not, then, an adulterer? I find Card Castrillon's comments disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

"In itself, this act [illicit ordination of bishops] was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience - which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy - constitutes a schismatic act" (John Paul II, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, 3).

"It is impossible to remain faithful to the Tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond [schism] with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ himself entrusted the ministry of unity in his Church" (Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, 4).

As for the “…simply ordinary Catholics who appreciate sound liturgy and orthodox teaching and preaching…": “In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church's law" (Ecclesia Dei Adflicta 5:C).

Lefebvrian said...

By the grace of God, I am united to the Holy Catholic Church, and I happily attend the Masses of, receive the sacraments at, and contribute financially to the SSPX.

rcg said...

This looks like an opportunity and great risk all in one. How about prayers for their efforts to be led by the Holy Spirit?

John Nolan said...

Lefebvrian, well said. QAA and EDA no longer apply - they were superseded by SP and UE. The parts referring to the SSPX represent the views of Cardinal Gantin and have, quite rightly, been questioned. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law consecration of bishops without mandate from Rome did not even incur the penalty of excommunication, let alone render those who did so ipso facto schismatic. As Dr Edward Peters has pointed out, the concept of latae sententiae excommunication has so many loopholes that it can be argued that Lefebvre and his bishops were not excommunicated anyway and the lifting of the said penalties by B XVI were not strictly necessary (although they remove any doubt).

You are either in communion or you are not - there is no such thing as partial communion. Those who claim the SSPX is schismatic are in fact saying that you can be in communion with Rome and at the same time in schism from Rome, which is both illogical and absurd.

Lefebvrian said...

Excellent point, John. We need to move past the ecclesiological error of "partial" and "full" communion. One is either Catholic or one is not.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Yes, Virginia, partial communion with the Church does exist.

For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. (Unitatis Redentigratio 3)

CCC 1271 - Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: ‘For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.’ Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.

Lefebvrian said...

There are three ways for a baptized person to cease being Catholic: heresy, schism, and apostasy.

Everyone who is baptized is baptized Catholic (one Faith, one baptism). Once a person reaches the age of reason and finds himself a member of a Protestant sect, that person is a heretic. And so such a person is no longer in communion.

There is no such thing as partial communion. Those who are "not in full communion" are, quite simply, not Catholic.

It is disconcerting that I, a layman, am having to explain this to a priest.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It is far more disconcerting that a layman such as yourself takes upon himself the responsibility of the Magisterium in determining what is and what is not the teaching of the Church. The Church teaches that partial communion is real and is the basis for continuing dialogue aimed at restoring unity to the Body of Christ. I will stand with the Church on this, not a disconcerted layman."

Further, the Church teaches that present day Protestants are not automatically heretics.

Card J. Ratzinger, "The meaning of Christian Brotherhood" wrote: "The difficulty in the way of giving an answer is a profound one. Ultimately it is due to the fact that there is no appropriate category in Catholic thought for the phenomenon of Protestantism today (one could say the same of the relationship to the separated churches of the East). It is obvious that the old category of ‘heresy’ is no longer of any value. Heresy, for Scripture and the early Church, includes the idea of a personal decision against the unity of the Church, and heresy’s characteristic is pertinacia, the obstinacy of him who persists in his own private way. This, however, cannot be regarded as an appropriate description of the spiritual situation of the Protestant Christian. In the course of a now centuries-old history, Protestantism has made an important contribution to the realization of Christian faith, fulfilling a positive function in the development of the Christian message and, above all, often giving rise to a sincere and profound faith in the individual non-Catholic Christian, whose separation from the Catholic affirmation has nothing to do with the pertinacia characteristic of heresy. Perhaps we may here invert a saying of St. Augustine’s: that an old schism becomes a heresy. The very passage of time alters the character of a division, so that an old division is something essentially different from a new one. Something that was once rightly condemned as heresy cannot later simply become true, but it can gradually develop its own positive ecclesial nature, with which the individual is presented as his church and in which he lives as a believer, not as a heretic. This organization of one group, however, ultimately has an effect on the whole. The conclusion is inescapable, then: Protestantism today is something different from heresy in the traditional sense, a phenomenon whose true theological place has not yet been determined.”

And further, CCC 818 states: "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272

Anonymous said...

Folks not to far away we will see the vindication of the S.S.P.X. and His Grace Archbishop Lefebvre, this madness is in my humble opinion coming to an end. Gone will be the dancing girls, altar girls, hand holding, kiss of peace, clapping, folk, mariachi, rock music, felt banners, polyester vestments, lay lectors male and female, communion in the hand, dinner table in the middle, dancing nuns, giant puppets, social justice nuns on the bus. Then when the new era of the Church begins we will see and hear the Gregorian chants, Polyphony, Mozart, Hayden, Palastrina, kneeling for communion at a rail, stunning Roman and Gothic vestments, BOYS only serving the priest, women with Mantillas and dresses, men in suits, Latin, incense, high altars and communion rails restored, this will come about the chaos and destruction brought on by Vatican II will be only a blip in history!!! Pray for the Holy Ghost to give us a savior in Rome.

Lefebvrian said...

According to you, when one reads the Roman Catechism and then recites its clear teaching, one has "take[n] upon himself the responsibility of the Magisterium in determining what is and what is not the teaching of the Church."

So far, you haven't provided any Magisterial teaching that there is such thing as "partial communion." Quoting something a cardinal wrote in a book prior to his becoming pope is not the same as quoting what "the Church teaches," as you claim in your last comment. Furthermore, you have compounded your error by claiming that the Church is in need of a "restoration of unity."

The Church's teaching on this subject is very clear. I hope you will take the time to read more about it and that you will come to believe the Catholic doctrine.

Anonymous said...

The SSPX have on their website the following:

"The episcopal power is a power of divine right which endows a bishop with a personal authority and gives him a legal and constitutional status which the pope can neither suppress nor modify.

A bishop is not allowed to confer episcopal consecration on anyone without papal mandate (Canon 953, CIC 1917). Whoever acts contrarily incurs an excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Holy See (Canon 1382, CIC 1983). The excommunication latae sententiae takes effect by the very act itself; it does not need to be decreed. In this particular case, the 1917 Canon Law inflicted only a suspension ("Ipso iure suspensi sunt, donee sedes Apostolica eos dispensaverit─They are suspended by the law itself, until the Apostolic See dispenses them" (Canon 2370, CIC 1917]).

It is only since the Decree of the Holy Office of August 9, 1951, that the sanction of the excommunication ipso facto most specially reserved to the Holy See was introduced for illegal episcopal consecrations. This was due, without doubt, to the tragic turn of the Church in the People's Republic of China. This sanction was later confirmed after the actions of the sect of Palmar de Troya in Spain."

So the latae sententiae excomunication was brought in according to that in 1951.

I have also read that under the 1917 Code of Canon law that any priest who was ordained by a bishop who was suspended under the Code of Canon Law 1917 the Masses of such priests were considered invalid.

That makes things tricky if you reject the current code of canon law and rely on the 1917 code of canon law because the SSPX priests are then in a much worse state. At the moment they are suspended a divinis - that is their masses are illicit but valid. Under the old canon I am told their masses were invalid.

I do wish the SSPX would reconcile for the sake of the Church. I would certainly attend their masses if they did so but - although I have sympanthy for many of the SSPX's positions - in conscience I can't attend a mass that is illicit and the priest suspended a divinis.


Lefebvrian said...

Jan, I think it comes down to what one considers to be an appropriate response to the current crisis in the Church. I think that people of good will can disagree about what the response should be. That is why I support the SSPX, as well as the FSSP and the ICRSS and the diocesan priests who are brave enough to offer the Traditional Mass and present the complete Traditional teachings.

Anonymous said...

Lefebvrian, yes, but the SSPX doesn't support the FSSP or the ICRSS and I read a comment from an FSSP priest recently who said that the SSPX priests are suspended a divinis which means that when they celebrate Mass they are committing a mortal sin, and that those who attend their masses are complicit in that sin. That to me is a serious reason not to attend their masses at the present time.

Pope Benedict said:

"Pope Benedict XVI made the situation clear in 2009.

The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church. – Pope Benedict XVI March 10, 2009".

While lay people are prepared to risk their souls by attending their masses maybe there is little reason for the SSPX to feel any compunction to be reconciled with the Church. I certainly can't see any reason why they can't reconcile when you have traditional orders who have reconciled. It seems to me that Bishop Fellay was prevented from doing so by an extreme group who didn't want him to. I don't expect the SSPX to ever reconcile in my lifetime and, therefore, it is pointless risking one's soul as there is plenty of evidence, if one is prepared to look, which shows that the SSPX arguments for not reconciling just don't hold water. A good article on the subject here:


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Lefeb - Quotes from Unitatis Redentigratio and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are authoritative. You choose not to accept that authority, thereby setting yourself as the judge of the Magisterium and claiming for yourself the right to determine what is and what is not the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Lefebvrian said...

Jan, again I think that it depends on what one thinks is a prudent way to handle the crisis. To my mind, the SSPX has a crucial role to play in the Church by standing fast in their current position. Not only would they risk going the way of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate if they were placed under the current modernist rulers in Rome, they would run into problems carrying out their mission in nearly every diocese because the local ordinary would prevent them. One need only look at the situation in most dioceses with regard to the non-acceptance of Summorum Pontificum to see this unfortunate reality.

So, while I think everyone, especially the SSPX leadership, would agree that being canonically irregular is a very big deal and is not ideal, if there is a commensurate level of necessity to carry out the mission of saving souls, then operating in such a situation is justified. Keep in mind that when the crisis ends, the SSPX would logically cease to exist -- they only exist for the good of souls and to carry on the priestly mission of saving souls.

Obviously, I disagree with you that assisting at SSPX Masses is a mortal sin. On the contrary, I believe that assisting at the Novus Ordo service is objectively grave matter. The level of crisis necessitates a bold stand against the modern errors and a turning away from complicity with those errors.

Lefebvrian said...

A catechism, being merely a compilation of doctrinal statements from other sources, is only as authoritative as its sources. Unitatis Redentegratio is not an authoritative statement of the Catholic doctrine on this topic since there are other Magisterial statements to which a higher degree of assent is required.

Believing the Church's teaching can be challenging, especially when it does not suit our particular preconceived ideologies. That is why we must rely on God to give us the grace to grow in the theological virtue of faith so we can accept the Church's teaching in its fullness.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

UR is authoritative being a document of a general/ ecumenical council approved by the pope.

To reject the authority of the pope to regulate the liturgy of the Church - "assisting at Novus Ordo service (sic) is objectively grave matter" - is some would say another act of schism

Lefebvrian said...

Unitatis Redintegratio is not a dogmatic document. While it is a document generated by a council, by its own terms, it does not claim to be dogmatic.

Why do you reject the Catholic doctrine? Aren't priests obligated to hold the Catholic faith?

Anonymous said...

Lefebvrian, I didn't say that assisting at an SSPX Mass was a mortal sin. Rather, a priest of the Fraternity of St Peter, when asked if someone could attend SSPX Masses, said that because they are suspended a divinis they - the priests - commit a mortal sin every time they celebrate Mass because it is an illict Mass and that those who attend are complicit with that sin. That is the problem. Who wants to be complicit in sin? Unfortunately, it stands to reason that if the priests of the SSPX are suspended a divinis then they are unlikely to be saving souls as they have no faculties. They can say what they like that they have this and that and the other reason for doing things the way the do but when it boils down to it they just have no authority, plain and simple. That is the reality of it.

You only have to look at the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney that was originally founded by de Castro Mayer. They reconciled in 2002. They have a bishop. All sanctions were removed from their bishop. This is what they say about their relations with the SSPX:

"In a May 2003 interview with La Nef, Bishop Rifan spoke of the Apostolic Administration's relations with the Society of St Pius X as follows:
We have tried to be as friendly as possible with the SSPX and its superiors, but after we had informed them that we had serious reasons for continuing our contacts with Rome, which they did not intend to keep up, they began to criticize us severely, attempting also to dishonour us by putting in doubt our intentions and trying to create divisions among our faithful. After our recognition by the Holy See, the SSPX leadership removed our name from the lists of traditional Masses and began to foster Masses in the areas where we celebrate. Does that mean that the traditional Mass is good only when it is cut off from the Hierarchy? But thank God our faithful distinguish between love for the traditional Mass from the evil attitude that makes the traditional Mass a banner to wave against the Hierarchy."

Tradition of course, is moving ahead without them and most Catholics prefer to attend a Traditional Mass in union with Rome than with the SSPX, for the reason that they have no faculties so no one is assured of anything - only what the SSPX tell them. But the SSPX have no authority. No more than you or I giving our views on something. What young man would want to go into their seminary and know that immediately on ordination he was suspended a divinis?

If the SSPX continue on as they are then I foresee the order will die a natural death. When you consider the growth in traditional Masses since Summorum Pontificum was introduced, by comparison they have remained static. I believe there are a body of priests who want to be reconciled with the Church. Why should they take the risk of their souls? Many have already left and joined other orders. How long will these priests be prepared to wait for these tardy bishops? They really need a good shake up. If people stop attending their Masses and attend other traditional Masses instead that may just be the shakeup that they need.


Lefebvrian said...

Jan, thank you for your response. I apologize for misstating your point. I don't think we are going to convince each other to change opinions on this issue. I would like to point out, though, that there is not evidence that the SSPX is dying any sort of death. In fact, it's growth continues to be remarkable, and I would expect that trend to continue so long as the current trends in Rome continue unabated.

It is also important to keep in mind that the Traditonal movement exists because of the SSPX, and remember that they have the only Traditional bishops in the world. I read them desscirbes as the Traditionalists' insurance policy -- people are comfy with the FSSP right now, it of they FSSP gets suppressed, where will they go? For that reason alone, I think the SSPX is very important, even if you don't attend their Masses.

Lefebvrian said...

Sorry about all the typos in my previous comment. I guess my iPad wasn't quite awake yet when I typed that.

I thought of one other point to add, anyway. I think that the SSPX would view their "suspensions" differently than a mere legalistic application of the law. First of all, those "suspensions" are imposed by people who are actively trying to destroy the faith. So, of course, they would suspend priests who are trying to propagate the True Faith. Secondly, there is a hierarchy of virtues, at the top of which are the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Obedience to the pope is further down the hierarchy of virtues, so it is subject to the higher virtue of faith. If a lawful authority orders one to violate the virtue of faith, then that order is suspect in itself. Finally, that being the case, it is the case that the salvation of souls takes a higher precedence during the present crisis than subjecting one's self to an authority (albeit lawful) who is basically ordering you to stop trying to save souls.

Lefebvrian said...

Sorry about all the typos in my previous comment. I guess my iPad wasn't quite awake yet when I typed that.

I thought of one other point to add, anyway. I think that the SSPX would view their "suspensions" differently than a mere legalistic application of the law. First of all, those "suspensions" are imposed by people who are actively trying to destroy the faith. So, of course, they would suspend priests who are trying to propagate the True Faith. Secondly, there is a hierarchy of virtues, at the top of which are the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Obedience to the pope is further down the hierarchy of virtues, so it is subject to the higher virtue of faith. If a lawful authority orders one to violate the virtue of faith, then that order is suspect in itself. Finally, that being the case, it is the case that the salvation of souls takes a higher precedence during the present crisis than subjecting one's self to an authority (albeit lawful) who is basically ordering you to stop trying to save souls.

Lefebvrian said...

And now I've posted the same thing twice -- I give up for today!

John Nolan said...

The Church is in a complete mess. JP II and B XVI attempted damage limitation with only limited success. I don't claim to be particularly devout but it says something if a cradle Catholic cannot attend a supposedly Catholic Mass in a supposedly Catholic church without being repelled and disgusted by what purports to be liturgy.

And yet the same progressivists who force it down our throats have the cheek to resort to legal positivism if they think it supports their case. A pox on the lot of them. I don't attend their services, I have zero tolerance for bad music and sloppy celebration, I neither need nor want the vernacular, and having had to put up with all the distortions of the past 50 years I intend to cleave to the Mass and sacraments of my childhood.

I have the opportunity to do so and quite frankly if the SSPX were the only people offering it I would happily resort to them. The Bishop of Antwerp (Johan Bonny) supports same-sex marriage and will probably be picked for Mechelin-Brussels where he can complete the destruction of Catholic Belgium so nobly advanced by Suenens and Danneels. I would not attend Mass in his cathedral even were it not in incomprehensible Flemish. Fortunately the SSPX has a thriving parish and school in that city which offers a Catholic alternative.

I am sick to the back teeth of hearing apologies for the post-Vatican II Church. Whether it was a result of the Council or a misinterpretation of it is irrelevant, since the whole outpouring of that Council is increasingly being seen as both ambiguous and irrelevant. I don't quarrel with ecumenism, better relations with Jews and even dialogue with non-Christians, but this could have happened without a Council which has inflicted more damage on the Church than did the Protestant Reformation.

A good thing about Pope Francis is that (unlike his two predecessors) he was not intimately connected with Vatican II and therefore does not constantly reference it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Lefeb - One of the most unfortunate qualities of Lefebvrite thinking is the misconception that the development of Catholic doctrine came to a grinding halt some moments before Pope Saint John XXIII called for an ecumenical council.

Traditionalist thinking is locked into a point in time with not much possibility of advancing. Priests who uphold Catholic faith and do not, if they are wise, subscribe to a false understanding of the ways in which doctrine evolves and develops over time.

Lefebvrian said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, your assumptions are incorrect. Actually, everything you wrote there is quite demonstrably not true.

Angry Augustinian said...

Kavanaugh is clearly a relativist and modernist when it comes to theology. He could probably safely be ignored except that we need to respond to him so others on the blog will not be taken in by his faux devotion and pop theology.

John Nolan said...

Evolution and development over time is one thing, revolutionary change is another. It used to be said that the Church thinks in centuries. Fr K's new Church, with a new theology, a new ecclesiology and a radically altered liturgy has a provenance of barely fifty years. Even female altar severs (ruled out by Paul VI and John Paul II and grudgingly allowed only twenty years ago) are seen by him as an example of doctrinal development (that they function as such by virtue of their baptism), something that the Church has never taught.

The problem with this approach is that it starts with a conclusion and works towards it, expecting that the Church will sooner or later 'catch up'. Unfortunately, on this as on other issues, the Roman authorities have spinelessly obliged.

In some ways it suits the Vatican to have the SSPX in an irregular situation. To legitimize them would put Rome on a collision course with the French and Belgian bishops. See what happens in the next fifty years regarding the traditionalist (for want of a better term) movements - Mass attendance, vocations and so on, as compared with the 'mainstream'. There is already a discernible trend. Why force the pace?

Lefebvrian said...

It's interesting to me how quick Modernist ecumenists are to label the Catholics schismatics or heretics when it suits their polemic -- a polemic only ever addressed to "reigning in" those who merely seek to believe and practice the Faith as it has always been believed and practiced.

It seems there is no greater sin for people like Fr. Kavanaugh than to not agree with the "doctrinal development" that has taken place since Pius XII. Of course, no doctrinal development has actually happened since then since there has been no doctrinal statement made (with the possible exception of Humanae Vitae, which was nothing new). But people like Fr. Kavanaugh don't seem to let that bother them since, after all, his sect didn't start until 1965...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Genesenist". You can be ignored altogether.

John - The rate of change is not constant. The Church adjusted the liturgy slowly when, in culture, all changes came slowly. But that is no longer the case. Changes can and do come rapidly in many parts of our culture.

Lefebvrian said...

Sometimes it seems like Fr. Kavanaugh is writing as if he were a caricature of a post-Vatican II priest, making ridiculous assertions just to illustrate their absurdity.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It's interesting to me how quick Lefebvrites are to label the Catholics "Modernists" when it suits their polemic -- a polemic only ever addressed to cast aspersions on those who merely seek to believe and practice the Faith as it is believed and practiced.

As for "ridiculous assertions," one might investigate "The Pace of Cultural Evolution" by Charles Perreault, or "Natural selection and cultural rates of change" by Deborah S. Rogers and Paul R. Ehrlich, or "Rates of cultural change and patterns of cultural accumulation in stochastic models of social transmission" by Aoki, Lehman, and Feldman.

Or, being a Lefebvrite, one might simply dismiss the fact that the rate of cultural change has accelerated or argue that the Church is immune to changes in culture. This is most unfortunate. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks notes, "The secularization of Europe, first in the sciences, then in the arts, then in politics and the structure of society grew directly out of the failure of religion to meet the challenge of change." (The Dignity of Difference, pp 10-11.)

Sacks goes on to note, "Faced with change, those who feel threatened by it turn to religion as a source of stability, an expression of the things that do not change." Lefebvrites, it seems to me, take that refuge-seeking behavior to an unreal extreme, arguing that religion - at least the form of religion they prefer - is immune to change or to changes in the rates of change.

"To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often." - W. Churchill


"People don't resist change. They resist being changed." -Peter Senge

Lefebvrian said...

Are you suggesting that doctrine, or the Church's teaching, changes in accordance with the culture, or stated another way, that there is some progress of the teachings in accordance with human cultural development?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Lefeb - Doctrine does not change "in accordance with culture," but is influenced by the culture in which it is formed. Our understanding of revealed Truth does "progress" in tandem with the progress of human culture. At times the progress is saltatory, at times incremental, at times questionable.

Human culture does not determine doctrine, but influences the development of doctrine.

The Church, as we know, is in the world, but not of the world. Some have suggested that the Church, in a sense, stands apart from human culture, but that is not a proper understanding of the incarnational reality of Faith. It is this mutuality that makes it possible for the Church to influence culture and, as happens, for the Church to be influenced by culture.

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote of this interplay, this mutuality if you will, in Fides et Ratio. "The importance of philosophical thought in the development of culture and its influence on patterns of personal and social behaviour is there for all to see. In addition, philosophy exercises a powerful, though not always obvious, influence on theology and its disciplines. For these reasons, I have judged it appropriate and necessary to emphasize the value of philosophy for the understanding of the faith, as well as the limits which philosophy faces when it neglects or rejects the truths of Revelation. The Church remains profoundly convinced that faith and reason mutually support each other" (#100).

Philosophy is an aspect of human culture which, as St. JP2 notes, can have a great impact on theology, on the way we understand doctrine, express doctrine, and teach doctrine. Faith without reason - a concern expressed by Pope Benedict in his Regensburg lecture - is a dangerous thing. When some in Islam, or any religion, understand that God can act unreasonably, the followers of that religion also can act unreasonably.

Angry Augustinian said...

There is a rather big difference between theology and doctrine. Check it out.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Cardinal Avery Dulles commented on the influence of culture on doctrine:

"The teaching of the nineteenth-century popes was not erroneous, but was limited by the political and social horizons of the time."

Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., "Religious Freedom: Innovation and Development," First Things (December 2001), 35.