Thursday, July 10, 2008

"...[VII]...was very successful at taking apart and exposing ... that old 1950s Catholicism..."

By Brian Kopp

On the eve of WYD 2008, some "religious" commentators in Australia are having a fit over the return of traditional Catholic piety:

Concerns old Catholic traditions could repel youth

This is a transcript from PM. The program is broadcast around Australia at 5:10pm on Radio National and 6:10pm on ABC Local Radio.

EDMOND ROY: As the Catholic Church's leadership attempts to deal with modern day problems, the upcoming World Youth Day celebrations has highlighted the revival of some of the Church's older traditions.

One of the more unusual practices has involved the bones of long-deceased Italian saints that are now on display for pilgrims at two Sydney churches.

While some Catholics are revelling in the presence of these relics, others are raising concerns the emphasis on older traditions could repel younger Catholics from the Church...

PAULA KRUGER: The worshipping of relics has surprised Rod Blackhurst, a lecturer in philosophy and religious studies at La Trobe University.

ROD BLACKHURST: The cult of relics and so forth is very specifically Catholic, and many people thought that the second Vatican Council had effectively marginalised or done away with a lot of that, but there seems to be revival of those things.

PAULA KRUGER: Why would that be making a comeback in this day and age?

ROD BLACKHURST: Yeah, that's an interesting problem and an interesting question. I'm really not sure. But, one thing is certain is that contemporary religion seems to be very polarised between liberal elements and a return to more conservative and traditional elements.

And so we are seeing a return to those more traditional forms of worship, what you would effectively call medieval forms of worship, side by side with more liberal and modernising elements.

PAULA KRUGER: The Second Vatican Council or Vatican II was an attempt to modernise the Church and move away from the biblical literalism of the past. So the young Catholics of today may not be aware of some of the older traditions that existed before the 1960s.

Dr Paul Collins is a former priest and author of Believers: Does Australian Catholicism have a Future?

He says many Catholics have grown up with a greater emphasis on social justice than saintly relics.

PAUL COLLINS: Well, they certainly haven't seen them I'd say, especially if they went to Catholic schools where the emphases would be quite different. I do think to some extent that this reflects much more the kind of religiosity of the organisers of World Youth Day, rather than the mainstream Catholic Church.

They would claim, you know, in their defence, that they were doing … that they were kind of maintaining the emphases that came through from Pope John Paul II, who I suppose is essentially the founder of World Youth Day.

But nevertheless, I think for Australian Catholics, and I think for Australians generally, these are kind of, you know, odd things that are different that people find a little hard to fit into any context and don't make much sense to them.

PAULA KRUGER: But Rod Blackhurst says the resurgence of relic worship and more pious ceremony may be what some Christians feel they need.

ROD BLACKHURST: The liberal agenda of the Second Vatican Council was very successful at taking apart and exposing the limitations of that old 1950s Catholicism that people from that generation would know.

But they weren't particularly good at replacing it with things. And so that there's a yearning amongst young people to go back and experience those things which they felt that had been lost and that perhaps were valuable.

PAULA KRUGER: So, a kind of spiritual element or a mystic element?

ROD BLACKHURST: Yeah, certainly a mystic element and a less of an emphasis on sociological and political religion. More mystical as you say and more devotional, yeah.

PAULA KRUGER: The relics of the Italians saints and blesseds aren't a permanent fixture in Australian religious life and will return to Italy after World Youth Day festivities.

So..."the emphasis on older traditions could repel younger Catholics from the Church..."

Wasn't that the tired cliché they pulled out just prior to and following the publication of Summorum Pontificum? The same one that has been proven wholly incorrect by the enthusiastic attendance at Gregorian Rite masses by our youth, and the swelling of traditional religious orders by those same younger Catholics?

Time: Could the Pope Aid an Anglican Split?

By Brian Kopp

In a classic Time Magazine/ MSM spin on the situation, David Van Biema and Jeff Israely ask,

Could the Pope Aid an Anglican Split?

They try to make it sound as if the Pope is helping to create a schism within a co-equal religious "Communion," working with the Anglican "schismatics" and "dissidents":

Would they actually leave? This is where the Pope comes in. For an ordained clergyman to depart his cradle faith is a lonely endeavor, done individually. But that is probably not how things will roll out in this case. A Catholic Church official explained to TIME that the last time a situation like this arose (when the Church of England voted to allow women to become priests), "some 400 [dissidents] became Catholic priests or bishops." The issue, he says, is "whether there is some way for [the current crop] to come into the Catholic church in a corporate way, [with] their [congregations]." Along those lines, he notes, there are so-called "Anglican Rite" groups in the U.S. that maintain Anglican ritual, but recognize the Pope's authority and count as Catholics.

In fact, in a letter to the newspaper The Catholic Herald on Wednesday, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Eversfleet, announced his intention of converting to Catholicism — along with his diocese. According to the Herald, Burnham and another traditionalist Bishop have been discussing the migration of Anglo-Catholics with Cardinals William Levada and Walter Kasper, two of the Vatican’s most powerful prelates. Burnham’s letter requests "magnanimous gestures by our Catholic friends, especially the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity." According to the Herald, Burnham has been requesting a dispensation whereby Anglicans could remain in their parishes guided by Catholic bishops.

Terry Mattingly, for years an acute observer of the Anglican scene as founder of the popular religion blog, and a religion columnist for Scripps Howard says, "I expect some of the old-school Anglo-Catholics to pack up and go to Rome, period." But if Benedict were to sweeten the pot by allowing an Anglican Rite Church in England, "that's gotta be huge." And when Mattingly says "huge," he doesn't just mean for the Anglo-Catholics. Rather, he believes that an exodus of that size could affect the worldwide Communion after all, by giving other dissidents, with entirely different grievances, a model with which to unravelling the fabric of Anglicanism.

Mattingly points out that — more so than in other religious groupings — one of the things that holds the Anglican Communion together is the simple belief that the Anglican Communion must hold together. The case can be made that a dutiful sense of global unity, represented by four "instruments" — including the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams — is stronger than any Anglican doctrinal agreement. Mattingly suggests that the departure of 1,300 priests and bishops from the English mother church could act as a kind of spell-breaking moment, the first time during the Communion's current round of troubles when a significant number of Anglicans "are saying, 'I'm no longer in communion with Canterbury.'"

Such a defection, as it played out in terms of theology, finances and British law, would be a kind of seminar for all possible schismatics on how to break with the Communion, without the world ending. Other dissidents might then feel freer to go their own way.

And it could happen a good deal sooner than almost any other version of schism, primarily because it would take the key decision out of the hands of the Anglicans, who, as Mattingly puts it, "have a special knack for not making decisions." Rome, he notes, "doesn't usually act fast, either. But Rome — and especially, it seems to me, Benedict — has a knack for acting with clarity more than Anglicanism."

Mattingly's argument — which he would admit is only a possibility, not a prediction — may underestimate Anglican desire to stay Anglicans; or overestimate the willingness of the Roman Catholic Pope to play spoiler in the disintegration of another centuries-old international Christian body, even if he has his differences with it. But in this sour Anglican year, it is difficult to guarantee that the head-cradling, hair-pulling and weeping of the mother church might not become a worldwide epidemic.

Talk about headlines that eclipse our own struggles with so-called "schismatics." This imminent unraveling of Anglicanism makes the Church's internal discussions with Trads in irregular juridical situations pale in comparison. No wonder all the news about PCED "clarifications" and SSPX negotiations have all but evaporated; Rome has bigger fish to fry at present.

Anglicans: Let 'em sink or let 'em swim?

By Brian Kopp

There is an interesting perspective posted on one of the blogs by Gerald Warner:

The barque of Peter should not pick up Anglican boat people

On the other hand, a bit more hopeful and helpful post comes from Fr. Dwight Longenecker at the Standing On My Head blog:

Checklist for Anglican Tiber Swimming


Fr Tim Finigan at The Hermeneutic of Continuity Blog has a great summary post with lots of links regarding the Anglican impasse:

Come on in.... it's awful!

RorateCaeli has a post with quotes from another Anglican leader who is less enthusiastic about the prospects of swimming the Tiber:

"That remains a problem for me..."

ZENIT weighs in:

Anglican Bishop Asks Pope for Magnanimity

And Damian Thompson has both a blog post,

The Fellowship of St Gregory the Great

as well as an article in The Catholic Herald,

Ex-Anglicans will bring new life to our Church

in which we find the meat of the matter, most relevant to us Catholics:

The situation now is very different. Pope Benedict XVI is an old friend of conservative Anglo-Catholics in England and America; he shares their dismay at the shoddy state of the liturgy in many churches, and he is seeking to renovate the vernacular Mass by exposing Catholics to the treasures of pre-1970 Latin worship. All this would have been inconceivable in 1994, as would a Ratzinger papacy, and old-fashioned "Sandalista" liberals are still hoping to wake up from their bad dream. The cheering from the Anglo-Catholic sidelines at these developments has been hearty and loud - much louder, I'm sorry to say, than that from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. Yet it is now looking less likely, thank God, that our diocesan bishops will dig in their heels and refuse to allow special measures for former Anglicans. Roma locuta est, I suspect - quietly and diplomatically, but decisively. (One thing I do know, though it is a different issue, is that Ecclesia Dei has instructed the English and Welsh hierarchy to implement the Motu Proprio.)

So what might an agreement between Rome and former Anglo-Catholics look like? Here are some informed guesses:

1. Rome will set up an "apostolic administration" under a Catholic bishop to offer pastoral care to former Anglican priests and their parishioners.

2. The ex-Anglicans will form an umbrella organisation called something like the Fellowship of St Gregory the Great. The Fellowship, under the guidance of their new Catholic bishop, will consist of former Anglican priests who have been ordained into the Catholic priesthood. Their parishes, though open to anyone, will consist largely of ex-Anglicans.

3. Some Fellowship parishes will occupy their former church buildings, though this will require an unprecedented degree of co-operation with the Church of England.

4. Former Anglican communities may - if they wish - be allowed to use parts of the Book of Common Prayer adapted for Catholic use, as in a few American parishes. In practice, there will be little demand for this concession, I suspect.

5. Former Anglican priests will undergo an accelerated programme of study allowing them to be swiftly ordained. (Conditional ordination is unlikely to be on offer.) Marriage will be no bar to ordination, but no actively gay priest will be knowingly ordained, and this will be strictly enforced.

6. However there will be no question of married lay former Anglicans becoming priests, since this would effectively abolish the rule of celibacy in the Western Church.

7. There will therefore be no Uniate Anglican-Rite Church; there is not enough demand for it, and it raises too many questions about celibacy and jurisdiction.

8. That said, there could well be a future for the Fellowship of St Gregory once its original supply of ex-Anglicans has died out. The treasures our new brethren will bring with them - a poetic and contemplative spirituality, glorious prayers, fine music - will permanently enrich the Catholic Church in England; they belong to us all.

As I say, these are just informed guesses. I have only one plea to the Vatican and the Catholic bishops:

Please, get it right this time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fruits of Summorum Pontificum

By Brian Kopp

Fr. Henrique Fragelli was ordained on July 3, 2008 in Florence, Italy by His Excellency The Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICK.)

Fr. Fragelli celebrated a low Gregorian Rite mass this morning at the chapel of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns, Monastery of St. Therese of Lisieux, Loretto PA:

Here Father Fragelli imparts the First Blessings (with the Plenary Indulgence for those who venerate the hands of the newly ordained priest) to those in attendance after Mass:

(My two sons had the honor of serving this mass. Pictures posted with Fr. Fragelli's permission.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Is God Offended By African Christian Worship?

By Patrick Archbold

The editor of the Catholic Information Service for Africa, Henry Makori, reminds us about what liturgy is really all about. Us.
As an African Christian, one of my greatest joys is to listen to the Word of God proclaimed in my mother-tongue. To hear God speak in Ekegusii, to celebrate our indigenized mass, connects me to Pentecost.
But the Church came attired in a foreign culture and spoke in a strange tongue. Soon, however, there was a new Pentecost. The missionaries working with Africans learnt local languages, wrote them down and translated the Scriptures, prayers and hymns. But the mass, or liturgy, remained in Latin, 'the language of the Church'.

Another Pentecost happened at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). A new mass which allowed use of vernaculars was introduced. The faithful could also express themselves in worship according to local custom. The evolution of the mass in Africa since then has been tremendous!

Through unique songs, chants, dances, gestures, processions and other expressions inspired by our cultures, histories and geniuses, African Christians today worship God with their entire being! We can speak confidently of an African liturgy, essentially universal but enriched with our own distinctive responses to the invitation of Jesus Christ.

Not everyone is rejoicing with us, though. Visiting Kenya this March, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, Nigerian-born Cardinal Francis Arinze, spoke at length on liturgical abuses. He emphasized strict adherence to the norms of sacred worship set out in the official texts, which should be studied "in the original Latin editions." Cardinal Arinze has for some time been scandalized by liturgical "inventions of the fertile imagination".

Saying, however, that the Church is a living entity - it "does not live in the Vatican Museum" - Arinze granted that the liturgy could be retouched in accordance with pastoral needs. But he proceeded to outline a veritably impossible procedure that basically discourages anyone from contemplating change to the rubrics.
Why the weeping and gnashing of teeth over this. Because of the fear of the return of the dreaded Gregorian Rite.
Arinze spoke months after Pope Benedict XVI allowed wide use of the hitherto restricted Latin (or Tridentine) liturgy of pre-Vatican II. Subsequently, the pope has praised the old mass. And last week, a senior Vatican official said the pope would like to see parishes around the world celebrate the Tridentine mass. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said the Vatican was writing to all seminaries to ask that future priests be trained to celebrate the old mass.

Looks like the authorities are generally unhappy with the evolution of the mass since Vatican II and want to return to the Latin liturgy. Will this not destroy our unique African liturgy that connects me to Pentecost? Or has God all these years been offended by our worship?
No, I don't think that God is offended by your worship over these years. However, he might be offended that you use such hyperbole and fear mongering to denigrate something that sanctified Catholics worldwide, including Africa, for 1500 years.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summorum Pontificum First Anniversary articles (con't)

By Brian Kopp

Thomas E. Woods Jr. weighs in on the Summorum Pontificum First Anniversary:

Long Live Pope Benedict: The Motu Proprio, One Year Later


The pope's initiative has already borne much fruit, and interest in the Extraordinary Form continues to grow despite the cold if predictable indifference of so much of the episcopate...Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Worship, has said that those bishops who obstruct the implementation of the motu proprio are allowing themselves to be used as instruments of the devil. And reaction among the bishops has indeed been mixed: Some have been cooperative, aware of how intent Benedict is on seeing this through. Others have attempted to block Benedict's move by tendentious interpretations of certain phrases in the relevant documents. The pope's observation that the celebrating priest should have some competence in Latin has been used as the basis for making priests take Latin exams prior to receiving authorization (the very concept of episcopal authorization being at odds with the document's intent) to offer the Extraordinary Form. The Latin original suggests only that priests, at a minimum, be able to pronounce the words -- though, naturally, the more Latin they can learn, the better.

Summorum Pontificum's reference to a "stable group" of faithful making a request for the Extraordinary Form has been transformed in some dioceses into a requirement (in terms of numbers of faithful, etc.) that is extremely difficult to satisfy and that has disqualified countless lay inquiries. On the other hand, we learn from Castrillón Cardinal Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and former prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, that a "stable group" may consist of as few as three or four people, who need not even be from the same parish. With a clarifying note on Summorum Pontificum expected from the Holy See at any time, some observers are convinced that Cardinal Hoyos's comments reflect the contents of that forthcoming document...In recent weeks, Cardinal Hoyos has made clear just how ambitious Benedict's expectations are. The cardinal made headlines when, in response to a journalist's inquiry as to whether the pope wanted to see the Extraordinary Form in "many ordinary parishes," he replied, "All the parishes. Not many -- all the parishes, because this is a gift of God." "This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful," he said.

Also, Zenit has posted Part 2 of Fr. Z.'s interview:

"Summorum Pontificum" One Year Later (Part 2)
Father John Zuhlsdorf Analyzes its Effects


For so long the ecclesiastical establishment looked down on and marginalized more traditional Catholics, shoving them to the back of the bus because of their attachment to our tradition. Some of the more benign saw them as being like our family’s nutty but harmless aunt up in the attic.

On the other hand, many traditionalists, perhaps out of the deep hurts and disillusionment they felt after all the changes in the Church, the silly season of illicit innovations, the ash-canning of our beautiful churches, music, vestments, statues, devotions, you name it, wound up with an enormous chip on their collective shoulder.

As time went by, many of them knew no other way to “negotiate” with bishops and priests but simply to get in their face, make pushy demands, and arrogantly tell them what to do. It got to a point where even clerics who were open and sympathetic started to wince and back away whenever traditionalists approached. And so the waters of good relations froze.

Now, because some of the pain and alienation is starting to melt away in the hearts of many traditionalists, now that they can simply have what they should have been able to have all along, now that a little warm sunshine is being beamed in their direction by the Holy Father and others who share his vision, pastors of souls are starting to unclench as well.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Those rumors about the reform of the Novus Ordo don't seem so outrageous any more

By Brian Kopp

Pope guarantees the authentic faith that comes from above, Spanish cardinal says
This is simply an orthodox Catholic statement, one that should not raise any eyebrows.

But in this case, it comes from the Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera.

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera is rumored to have been chosen to be the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, according to RorateCaeli.

Here's a Google translation of biographical data from the Spanish press link:

LD (AP) was born in Utiel Cañizares (Valencia), October 15, 1945 and was ordained in 1970 in Sinarcas (Valencia), by Archbishop Jose Maria Garcia de la Higuera. In 1992, he was appointed bishop of Avila and in 1997 he was Archbishop of Granada. On October 24, 2002 he was appointed archbishop of Toledo by Pope John Paul II and takes possession of the Toledo headquarters on December 15, 2002.

He was appointed cardinal, with the title of San Pancrazio, by Pope Benedict XVI, in the Ordinary Public Consistory March 25, 2006 and is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

In the Spanish Bishops' Conference has played numerous positions, including that of vice president. Currently, a member of the Standing Committee of the Executive Committee and Council presidency.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, founded in 1908 and named after Pope John Paul II in 1988, is responsible for everything related to the liturgy and the sacraments. The current prefect of this dicastery is Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze.
Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera has ordained priests for the ICK and is said to be a supporter and promoter of the Gregorian Rite. See the photos at this post on Fr. Z.'s blog.

Now just imagine having Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments -- with Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don continuing to serve as Secretary.

Those rumors about the reform of the Novus Ordo don't seem so outrageous any more in such a context, now, do they?


RorateCaeli has a subsequent post:

It's certain
According to the most well-informed Vaticanist in this pontificate, Andrea Tornielli, Archbishop Angelo Amato, SDB, current Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Tornielli even mentions the probable day of publication of this indication: next Wednesday.

This means that the list of those who may be picked by the Pope for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (Prefect) is reduced to two names: Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, Archbishop of Toledo, and Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, current secretary of the same dicastery.

If the Rumors Are True...

By Patrick Archbold

about the reform of the Novus Ordo. I have the marketing campaign all ready to go.

Please note, the above link is my attempt at a little humor on the topic.

C of E & "the possibilities opened up by the Motu Proprio"

By Brian Kopp

Damian Thompson has a very hopeful post up on his "Holy Smoke" blog:
[C of E] Bishops plan conversion to Rome
Of course, there is an angle to this regarding Pope Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum (i.e., another of its fruits):
It's no surprise that the Anglican bishops are talking to the CDF, where the former Cardinal Ratzinger always lent a sympathetic ear to potential converts - and also expressed his appreciation of the Anglo-Catholic tradition. His warm personality, his intellect and his programme of liturgical renewal are tremendous incentives for traditionalists to take the plunge.

If there is a deal between Rome and the departing Anglican bishops, what might it look like? I'm working on an article for the Herald on that subject: I think one key to understanding the situation is a grasp of the possibilities opened up by the Motu Proprio, which the English bishops have ignored at their peril. But, however extensive the Vatican's concessions, we are still talking about Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics. There is no half-way house between Canterbury and Rome, as more and more Anglo-Catholics are now aware.
Fr. Z. has a related post: The Telegraph: Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit


Damian Thompson has another blog post regarding this ongoing saga:

Liberal Catholic bishops kept in the dark over secret talks

Summorum Pontificum First Anniversary articles

By Brian Kopp

Fr. Z.'s essay regarding the First Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum:

"Summorum Pontificum" One Year Later (Part 1)
Father John Zuhlsdorf Analyzes Its Effects


Q: The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is reportedly preparing a document to clarify some ambiguities related to implementing "Summorum Pontificum." What have been the main difficulties thus far that such a document should address?

Father Zuhlsdorf: The document will probably clarify some terms in the letter issued "motu proprio" that have been used by some diocesan bishops and priests to block what the Holy Father is trying to accomplish.

For example, "Summorum Pontificum" says priests must be idoneus, "capable, competent" to say Mass with the older book. Idoneus, a technical term, refers to the minimum requirements for competence, not to expertise.

Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, a distinguished canonist in his day, correctly stated that idoneus, as far as the Latin language is concerned, means that the priest must be able to pronounce the words properly. That is the minimum.

Of course we hope for far more than that. But some bishops are subjecting priests to exams in Latin before they determine whether he can exercise his right to say Mass using the 1962 Missale Romanum, or even in Latin with the Novus Ordo, that is to say, Mass in his own rite, as a priest of the Latin Church.

Another issue is how large a group, a coetus, making a request for the older Mass must be before the parish priest is required to act in their favor. Those and other questions pertain to the interpretation of the "motu proprio."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bishop Williamson manages to violate all Five Conditions in one blog post

By Brian Kopp

In a surprise move nobody anticipated, Bishop Williamson of the SSPX manages to violate all Five of Rome's Conditions in one short blog post.

So much for reining in the rest of the SSPX leadership and at least abiding by the spirit of the ongoing dialogue, huh Bishop Fellay?

(Yeah, well, maybe he didn't really violate all Five of the Conditions. We might need a canon lawyer to parse it and get an accurate count.)

Update [By PA] A taste of Williamson's vitriol.
On the other hand, the Cardinal did not proceed to any further official exorcism of the Society, but – reportedly – declared that he had never intended his text of June 5 to be an “ultimatum”. And so the situation returns to where it was before. I think we may expect the loving son to continue to try to get close to his leprous mother, the leprous mother to continue to try to hug him, the loving son to continue to jump back, then try to get close again, etc, etc.
The leader of the Traditional Redemptorists based in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland, who has just led as many of them as will follow him back into the embrace of Conciliar Rome, writes ecstatically of how “sweet” it “tastes” to be once more in “peaceful and undisputed communion” with the Vicar of Christ. Good luck, dear Father, with avoiding the leprosy! But at least you must be giving some consolation to Cardinal Castrillón! What confusion!

Q&A; with PCED about SSPX, schism and sacraments

By Brian Kopp

Fr. Z. has posted a very illuminating article by Brian Mershon:

PCED Confirms Officially: Society of St. Pius X within the Church, Not in Formal Schism; Catholics Commit No Sin nor Incur Any Canonical Penalty for Mass Attendance

Here's the money quotes from PCED:

Stating that the Society of St. Pius X “is not in formal schism” is to say that there has been no official declaration on the part of the Holy See that the Society of St. Pius X is in schism. Up to now, the Church has sought to show the maximum charity, courtesy and consideration to all those involved with the hope that such a declaration will not eventually be necessary.”

“The bishops of the Society of St. Pius X are excommunicated according to the prescription of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law which states that “A bishop who consecrates someone a bishop without pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.” Archbishop Lefebvre was duly reminded of this before his conferral of Episcopal ordination on 30 June 1988 and the Holy Father confirmed that this penalty had been incurred in his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei, #3 [cf. AAS 80 (1988) 1495-1498; English translation in L’Osservatore Romano English edition of 11 July 1988, p. 1].

“The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but suspended, that is prohibited from exercising their priestly functions because they are not properly incardinated in a diocese of religious institute in full communion with the Holy See (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 265) and also because those ordained after the schismatic Episcopal ordinations were ordained by an excommunicated bishop.

“Concretely, this means that the Masses offered by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are valid, but illicit, i.e., contrary to Canon Law. The Sacraments of Penance and Matrimony, however, require that the priest enjoys the faculties of the diocese or has proper delegation. Since that is not the case with these priests, these sacraments are invalid. It remains true, however, that, if the faithful are genuinely ignorant that the priests of the Society of St. Pius X do not have proper faculty to absolve, the Church supplies these faculties so that the sacrament is valid (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 144)

“While it is true that participation in the Mass at chapels of the Society of St. Pius X does not of itself constitute “formal adherence to the schism” (cf. Ecclesia Dei 5, c), such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality which separates itself from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church. While we hope and pray for a reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” cannot recommend that members of the faithful frequent their chapels for the reasons which we have outlined above.

Can't get much clearer than that. This is the official position of the Church*: one can fulfill one's Sunday obligation at SSPX chapels, but their bishops are excommunicated, their priests are suspended, their masses are valid but illicit, and their sacraments of Penance and Marriage are definitively invalid.


This is the official position of the Church*

*Unless...the official position of the Church is further clarified soon, or this letter turns out to have been misrepresented, or it is simply nullified by a non-private document or statement from a higher/more competent Church authority...or, if it is made completely pointless by the lifting of the SSPX excommunications, for which I am praying and sacrificing daily.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"a “Novus Ordo” that the SSPX could accept without theological reservation?"

By Brian Kopp

There is a very encouraging report making its way around the blogs. RorateCaeli posted about it here and Fr. Z. here. Translation by Gregor Kollmorgen of NLM.

Here's the substance of the report:


The rite of the Mass [Rorate: i.e. the Mass of Paul VI] could change. According to some indiscretions, Benedict XVI has charged the Congregation for Divine Worship to study some modifications in the liturgy. In particular, the Pope is said to have the intention to restore Latin for the formula for the Eucharistic consecration within the Mass in the "vernacular language", i.e. the one celebrated in the different national languages. The same could happen to the formulae of Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and of the other sacraments. In addition, the exchange of peace among the faithful during the Mass, which today takes place prior to the distribution of the Eucharist, could be anticipated (as in the Ambrosian rite) to the offertory so as not to disturb the recollection that precedes Communion.

These would be changes which would be added to the changes in the liturgy and regarding sacred vestments which the Pope, together with his Master of Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, has made in recent months, to recover ancient traditions: the restoration of the crucifix at the center of the altar, the distribution of Communion to the faithful in the mouth while kneeling, the recovery of the pastoral staff of Pius IX (the ferula), the changing of the style of pallium (the strip of white wool with red crosses worn by the Pope), the restoration of the papal throne used in the Consistory and the celebration of Mass with the back to the assembly, as happened in January in the Sistine Chapel.
A poster on the thread at RorateCaeli made an astute observation:
I recall a video on You Tube by Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX. It was from May of 2007 from their chapel in Oregon; he was giving a conference. At the time, he was not to confident that there would even be the motu proprio which came, thanks be to God, not long thereafter.

However, in this lecture he said, if I can paraphrase, “about a year ago spring 2006) I was made aware that a high-level panel was in secret, working on a new Missal for the Novus Ordo to repair the damage and make it more Catholic."

Essentially, it involved fewer options, though one option would be using the “Offertory” from the 1962 Missal in the vernacular in the Novus Ordo and the
suppression of all Eucharistic Prayers except EPI, the Roman Canon, and EPIII.

The three year lectionary would remain.

If this were to happen, it would make sense and it would coincide with the new Vox Clara Commission translation including the “pro multis.”

Could this then be true?

Could we also be on the verge of the elimination of the indult for Communion in the hand and a strong push or even mandatory ad orientem celebration?

If the above happens, would that not be a “Novus Ordo” that the SSPX, while not required to celebrate, could accept without theological reservation?
Certainly worth hoping and praying for.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summorum Pontificum First Anniversary articles

By Brian Kopp

As the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum approaches on 7/7/08, there will be plenty of editorial comment on the impact of this document in many outlets.

Shawn Tribe at The New Liturgical Movement is leading the way:

Time to begin reflecting; A First Pass of One year ago

In a year Pope Benedict XVI has reshaped the liturgical landscape - Catholic Herald

We'll try to keep up a running list of the more pertinent articles here.

More good news! (Saner heads prevail...Part 2)

By Brian Kopp

Once again, RorateCaeli has the latest developments:

Castrillón satisfied with SSPX answer
SSPX will give heed to the five points

From the blog of Andrea Tornielli (Vatican correspondent for Il Giornale):
I have learned from secure sources that, contrary to what has appeared in certain articles, the response of the Fraternity [of Saint Pius X - FSSPX/SSPX] to the letter of Cardinal Castrillón has not in fact been negative. The Cardinal is satisfied with it, has responded to Fellay, and has promptly delivered the letter of the Fraternity to Benedict XVI. After the deadline of the end of June, the Lefebvrists [sic] ask for time but - it seems - they will respect the five points.
Labels: Decision 2008
(Bishop Fellay says the SSPX will respect the five points!!! I sincerely hope the more extreme elements among the SSPX supporters have lots of duct tape...wouldn't want their heads to explode with all these positive developments on the part of Bishop Fellay ;-)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"...undisputed communion! It is a pearl of great price..."

By Brian Kopp

Awesome news from Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R., and the Transalpine Redemptorists (hat tip to Fr. Z and Rorate):

Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Canonical Good Standing

1 July, 2008
Feast of the Precious Blood

My dear friends,

I am happy to inform you that last June 18th, before Cardinal Castrillon and the members of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in Rome, I humbly petitioned the Holy See on my own behalf and on behalf of the monastery council for our priestly suspensions to be lifted.

On June 26th I received word that the Holy See had granted our petition. All canonical censures have been lifted.

Our community now truly rejoices in undisputed and peaceful posession of Communion with the Holy See because our priests are now in canonical good standing.

We are very grateful to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for issuing, last July, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which called us to come into undisputed and peaceful Communion with him.

Now we have that undisputed communion! It is a pearl of great price; a treasure hidden in the field; a sweetness that cannot be imagined by those who have not tasted it or who have not known it, now for many years. Its value cannot be fully expressed in earthly language and therefore we hope that all traditional priests who have not yet done so, will answer Pope Benedict's call to enjoy the grace of peaceful and undisputed communion with him. Believe us, the price to pay is nothing; even all the angry voices that have shouted against us and calumniated us are as nothing when weighed in the scales against undisputed communion with the Vicar of Christ; others have died for it; what are raucous voices?

We publicly thank all those souls who have prayed for us over the last months; some of you have truly stormed heaven for us. You have kept us afloat. We are deeply grateful. Especially we thank that priest who was unknown to us, until June 16th when he wrote in fraternal support. Where did he come from? Why us? But he told us of the number of Masses, Offices, prayers and sacrifices he had personally said for us; he had also enlisted the prayers of contemplatives and Third Order societies and had a great number of people fervently praying for us with an abundance of prayers. We were amazed! Thank you Father! Thank you also to that brave person who, so kindly wrote to us to say that if he said any more prayers for us he would be floating! What wonderful people! Thank you!

Looking to the future, the next stage will be to have our community canonically erected. So please, dear friends, keep praying for us, there will be many crosses to bear; but they will be yokes sweetened by the grace of these last days.

We assure you all of our very best wishes.
Your devoted servant,

Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R.
Vicar General

Posted by Transalpine Redemptorists at 17:19

Saner (SSPX) heads prevail...

By Brian Kopp

RorateCaeli has a "Breaking News" report:

I.Media: SSPX asks for removal of excommunications

Fr. Z. also has news of hopeful developments:

Behind the scenes SSPX things are brighter than they may seem

Thank you, Lord, for answered prayers.

Now would be a good time to review what RorateCaeli has dubbed The One-Two-Three Strategy:

"the Fraternity of Saint Pius X remains faithful to a line [which has been] clearly expressed and regarding which it has not wavered:

- obtaining the two preconditions, which are the withdrawal of the decree of excommunications and the freedom of every priest to celebrate the Mass of Saint Pius V;

- the resolution of doctrinal questions;

- the search for the most adequate canonical solution."


According to RorateCaeli:

Swiss news agency APIC adds the following: " 'The letter is on the Pope's bureau,' it [the Pontifical Commisson Ecclesia Dei] has indicated, noticing that 'discretion' should be kept in this affair."

Meanwhile, the official SSPX news agency, DICI, has published the first official communiqué of the Fraternity on current events

Here's a translation of SSPX media outlet DICI's official communiqué from RorateCaeli:

On the matter of the ultimatum of Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos

On June 4, 2008, at the request of Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Superior General of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, went to Rome, along with the 2nd Assistant General, Father Alain-Marc Nély.

In the course of the meeting, a memorandum, in the form of an ultimatum, was given to him, being an answer demanded by the end of the month of June. On June 23, contrarily to custom, Italian daily Il Giornale revealed the existence of this ultimatum and published its content, on the next day, in its electronic edition. The information was picked up in the following days by the entire international press. Therefore, in addition to the urgency of the ultimatum, there was media pressure.

The document of Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos included five demands: besides a positive answer asked for before the end of June, the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, in the person of its Superior General, should commit (1) to "a response proportionate to the generosity of the Pope"; (2) "to avoid every public intervention which does not respect the person of the Holy Father and which may be negative to ecclesial charity"; (3) to "avoid the claim to a Magisterium superior to the Holy Father and to not propose the Fraternity in contraposition to the Church"; (4) to "display the will to act honestly in full ecclesial charity and in respect for the authority of the Vicar of Christ".

It should be noticed that the very generic, not to say vague, character of the proposed demands contrasts remarkably with the urgency of an ultimatum. These conditions seem to aim the achievement of a climate favorable to an ulterior dialogue, rather than being precise commitments on exact points. The Fraternity of Saint Pius X wishes that this dialogue be situated at a doctrinal level and take into consideration all questions which, if evaded, would run the risk of turning obsolete a canonical position established in haste. It considers that the prior withdrawal of the decrees of excommunication of 1988 would favor the serenity of such dialogue.

The Fraternity of Saint Pius X does not claim to exercise a Magisterium superior to that of the Holy Father, neither intends to oppose itself to the Church. Following its founder, it intends to transmit that which it has received, that is, "that which has been believed always, everywhere, and by all". It makes its own the profession of faith which Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre addressed to Paul VI on September 24, 1975: "It is to His Vicar that Jesus Christ entrusted the mission to confirm his brothers in the faith and that He demands to watch so that every bishop will faithfully guard the deposit, according to the words of Saint Paul to Timothy."

It is in this sense that Monsignor Fellay responded to the ultimatum in a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, on Thursday, June 26, 2008. Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos simply noticed the reception of this response on the following day.

Until further information is available, no other comment will be made.

Father Alain Lorans

Monday, June 30, 2008

Malfeasance, abuse, victimhood - and the rocky relations between Rome and the SSPX

By Brian Kopp

"And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God."
-- James 1: 19-20


When the priestly sexual abuse crisis broke in 2002, one of the underreported aspects of the story was the way the Church had persecuted and silenced those who came forward with reports of abuse. In the 1960's, 1970's, and even into the 1980's, the local diocese would often counter sue the parents of the victim to intimidate them into silence. Even in those cases in which the victim reached an out of court settlement, there was always a gag order. Victims could never discuss their cases in public, so abusers went unnoticed and undisciplined. Those who coddled and shuffled the abusers did so with impunity and rarely if ever paid a price for their collusion in the abuse.

I first met a victim of priestly abuse in a mental institution. The individual had attempted suicide after a motor vehicle accident resulted in a repeat DUI charge, and he was facing jail time. He had led a self-destructive lifestyle of alcohol and drug abuse and homosexuality. Decades later, as his life fell apart following the DUI, he finally told his mother about the abuse he had suffered at the hands of a visiting priest in the parish church, and later at the priest's home.

She was put in touch with me via a mutual friend, and I talked extensively with her and her son about his case and his life before and after the abuse. He had been a normal teenager and altar boy prior to the multiple episodes of abuse. He had had a steady girlfriend. His mother could never understand why he changed so much in his mid teens. The priest had plied him with drugs and alcohol prior to abusing him. He never recovered from those repeated episodes of abuse. Looking into his eyes and hearing his story was horrifying. He had no reason to make it up, nothing to gain. He told a matter-of-fact tale of abuse and subsequent debauchery, and his eyes were cold and empty. He was broken and without faith.

I sat with his mother through a meeting with the local leaders involved. They seemed incredibly kind, generous, and eminently pastoral during that meeting. Over the coming months and years, his mother told me they failed to keep their word on any of the promises they had made in that meeting. It was all turned over to the lawyers and the insurance companies, it eventually went to court, and all pretenses of being "pastoral" went out the window.


In all the recent discussions about the SSPX and negotiations with Rome, there has been a truly frightening level of vitriol from both SSPX critics and SSPX supporters. The former can be found in the posts and comment boxes of Catholic forums, blogs and websites all over the internet. The latter is limited to a small handful of outlets, most notably Angelqueen.

It is hard to understand the level of anger and outright hatred expressed towards the leaders and supporters of the SSPX -- unless one spends a fair amount of time reading the more extreme rantings of some of the leaders and supporters of the SSPX. It is also hard for any Catholics on the outside of the debate to understand the level of anger and outright hatred expressed by some of the leaders and supporters of the SSPX towards Rome -- unless one comes to grasp the fact that most SSPX defenders have been liturgically and spiritually molested by the post-conciliar Church itself, and told to shut up about it, for forty years now.

AngelQueen forum itself began as a refuge for members of a conservative political forum,, who had been banned or censored for unapologetically expressing orthodox and/or traditional Catholic views. (I was one of the "founding members" of Angelqueen and served a long time as a moderator, and have always been a prolific contributor.) Though its founder is an attendee at an SSPX chapel, Angelqueen was not then and is not now an "SSPX forum," though that has become the majority viewpoint.

One of the most anti-Catholic, vitriolic, and hateful posters on the FreeRepublic forum went by the screen name "Chancellor Palpatine." His level of invective was simply inexplicable. No Catholic discussion on FreeRepublic was left unmolested by his poisoned keyboard. Eventually someone figured out that he was a plaintiff in a priestly molestation case down south. Afterwards, it was easy to understand the source of his rage. But an explanation is not an excuse; I often pointed out to him that being a victim did not confer upon him the right to verbally victimize others.

Victims of abuse often get over the abuse and get on with relatively normal, productive lives. They also, quite often, become bitter, angry and even hate-filled over the injustices done to them. Victims are quite often very unpleasant individuals to deal with on a personal basis. They can be terminally narcissistic, and they often turn their status as a victim into a cudgel with which to attack anyone perceived in any way to be associated with their abuser.

I count many friends among the members of AngelQueen, and I truly admire the contributions the SSPX has made to restoring traditional Catholicism. But after Bishop Fellay mischaracterized this Pope as a "perfect liberal" I knew I had to dissociate myself from their forum. The victim mentality, and the anger and vitriol that goes with it, runs rampant. Even John Grasmeier, the owner, has been posting cynical and sarcastic editorials that go way beyond the pale; abuse seems to be one of those gifts that keep on giving.


Many of the decent Catholics who have sought sanity, safety and refuge within the SSPX did so because of the sheer lunacy, and often heresy and apostacy, that accompanied the reforms enacted in the name of Vatican II. They were victims of the liturgical abuse that universally accompanied the reforms. They were victims of a new theology so far removed from everything they knew and loved as to be seen as a "new religion" altogether. And they were spiritual victims of the same priests whose personal lives were so intrinsically disordered they could not possibly pass on the Catholic Faith whole and intact. For every altar boy that a homosexual priest molested, entire parishes were robbed of Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxis. For every bishop who looked the other way, entire dioceses went astray.

The Church has yet to deal justly with those within the hierarchy who coddled the homosexual molesters and advanced their careers, let alone address the true homosexual nature of the abuse crisis. The Church has yet to admit the wholesale and almost universal victimization of the entire laity in the post-Vatican II era. The Faith was diluted and orthodox theology was eclipsed. The liturgy was gutted, and the people left bereft of the consolation and succor that came from traditional pious practices.

If those within the SSPX do not trust Rome to fix the problems, they are not wholly to blame, and they do not deserve much of the scorn heaped upon them of late. If they are still angry, it is often just anger. The Church has not apologized to the millions of scandalized Catholics. The scandal was not due to "pedophilia," it was due to the widespread malfeasance of its religious, priests, and hierarchy.

Just Anger

There is such a thing as just anger. Victims rightfully experience just anger, and search for justice. Abuse victims were denied justice and therefore sought it in lawsuits. The SSPX is searching for justice and restoration of that which was lost and/or stolen from the Church, and use the court of public opinion to plead their case.

Those who have been scandalized and/or victimized must constantly reflect on their motives. Only the Saints' motives were pure. Even the SSPX can harbor mixed motives.

We all must recall James 1: 19-20:

"And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God."
-- James 1: 19-20

The time for words of anger, even just anger, are past. The acts of Archbishop Lefebvre, up till the consecrations of 1988, were those of a just man attempting against all odds to preserve traditional Catholicism. The final arbitration of what happened in 1988 is still to be seen; it could be resolved overnight with the stroke of a pen.

But the anger -- just anger -- is going to have to be put away now, so that the greatest number of souls can be saved. The culture of victimhood must be rooted out. The Pope does need the SSPX, and the SSPX must realize now that they are nothing without the universal Church. The Church will move forward in its role of saving souls with or without the SSPX. If one must choose between allegiance to Pope Benedict XVI and allegiance to the bishops of the SSPX, there can be only one choice. It is no more "papaolatry" to muster behind this embattled Pope than it is Fallay-olotry or Williamson-olotry to support SSPX bishops.

The Church does not subsist in the SSPX, and the SSPX bishops do not now and will never have the charisms of the Papacy. This is not 1975, nor is it 1988. This is 2008, and this Pope has done what no "perfectly liberal" bishop would ever do: he has freed the Traditional Latin Mass and admitted it was never abrogated. This Pope of 2008 is not the theology student of the 1950's, nor the Fr. Ratzinger of VII, nor even the Cardinal Ratzinger of Pope John Paul II's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He loved Pope John Paul II, but he is not beholden to nor petrified by the false sense of collegiality that marked his predecessor's pontificate. He is truly a courageous man who is trying to restore the Faith, and in the process (in my opinion) do reparation for the spiritual malfeasance of the post-conciliar era. He is a man of the VII council, so he will never pose the issue in those terms, but his actions belie that he sees the shipwreck that 40 years of experimentation caused.

The post-Summorum Ponstificum age

Twenty years is long enough. Yes, the SSPX leaders, priests, and supporters have suffered. Yes, they've been victimized. Yes, their anger was often just anger.

But the time for that is over:

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child."1 Corinthians 13:11

The SSPX is no longer the child of the 1970's or the 1980's; the Church of 2008 is not the Church of the VII Council. The post-conciliar age is past. We are living in the post-Summorum Pontificum era.

Trust in the Lord. Be at Peace. Just as the abuse crisis, in the Time and Providence of God, could no longer be kept quiet, the issues that the SSPX rightfully raises can and will no longer be kept quiet. Summorum Pontificum guaranteed that as nothing else has, including even the valiant efforts of the SSPX itself.

This is God's Church, not ours. God is in control. Trust him, and come back into full communion with His Church.


By Patrick Archbold

For the record from Father John Zuhlsdorf:
Before reading this, I am getting it second hand and also I have no way to get separate confirmation. So, we have to take this for what it is worth. It’s up to you.

Here is one sentence of the three sentence message I edited it to fix the English:

I´m back from Econe. I spoke with some people. Rome has accepted a response and wrote back positively. All is going well … this was said by Castrillon.

Remember that Card. Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei gave Five Conditions to Bp. Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX.

Read the rest >>>>

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's Not Over 'Til It's Over

By Patrick Archbold

From Rorate:
The Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, granted today an interview to Gino Driussi, of RTSI (the Italian-language Swiss public radio), providing some very enlightening answers:

[17:45][Fellay:] Perhaps it is false to say, in such a way, directly, that I reject, that I propose a total rejection [of the conditions], that is not true. Rather, I see in this ultimatum a very vague, confused thing. But, in fact, I have already written a response and we will see how Rome will react.
[18:53] [Fellay:] For me, this ultimatum has no sense, because we have relations with Rome which go forward in a certain speed, which is truly slow. And it is true, on the other hand, that both the Cardinal [Castrillón Hoyos] and the Holy Father would wish for a rather accelerated speed. For me, the only meaning of this ultimatum is the expression of this desire of Rome to give it a little bit of hastiness. Therefore, for me, it is not a reconsideration of all our relations.

[Interviewer:] "Then, you expect to continue in the dialogue, thus?"

[Fellay:] Yes, yes, it is possible that there will now be a time of more, of coolness, but, frankly, for me, it is not over, no.