Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Five Conditions: Act Like Grown-ups

By Patrick Archbold

Andrea Tornielli reports on the five conditions set forth for the SSPX to return to full communion. Translation by Fr. Z.
I have gotten hold of the letter (written in French) which Dario Card. Castrillon Hoyos wrote with the five conditions sent to [Bp.] Fellay in view of a return to full communion with Rome. Contrary to the first leaks, there is no mention of acceptance of the Council or the new Mass: they are prior general conditions. In fact the Holy See, showing a great generosity, asks that they not attack the person of the Pope. [Bp.] Fellay asked Benedict XVI for the revocation of the excommunication, so the request to respect authority without first pretending to be the recipients of a a "superior" Magisterium to that of the reigning Pontiff seems to me to be a commonsensical condition! This is the text of the letter which bears the signature of the Cardinal President of Ecclesia Dei:

Conditions resulting from the 4 june 2008 meeting between Dario Card. Castrillon Hoyos and Bishop Bernard Fellay:

1. A commitment to a proportioned response to the generosity of the Pope.
2. A commitment to avoid any public speech which does not respect the person of the Holy Father and which can be negative for ecclesial charity.
3. A commitment to avoid the pretense of a Magisterium superior to the Holy Father and to not put forward the Fraternity [SSPX] in opposition to the Church.
4. A commitment to demonstrate the will to behave honestly in full ecclesial charity and in respect to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
5. A commitment to respect the date – fixed at the end of the month of June – to respond positively. This will be a required and necessary condition for the immediate preparation for adhesion to have full communion.
Noticeably absent is any repudiation of the concerns of the SSPX. The articles are only requesting that the leadership of the SSPX act like grown-ups. If they cannot to commit to this reasonable behavior, then they really show their true colors. They would do well to remember 1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, [1] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; [2] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


Brian Kopp said...

These 5 conditions could be seen as a simple request to Bishop Fellay to rein in the hysterical rhetoric that comes not infrequently from Bishop Williamson's pen and tongue.

Bishop Fellay recently called the Pope a "perfect liberal" in a sermon, as mentioned at the link to Fr. Z's post. But otherwise Bishop Fellay's rhetoric has been measured and mostly prudent.

On the other hand, Bishop Williamson's rhetoric is continuously caustic and frequently in violation of the principles laid out in these five conditions.

Bishop Fellay has no valid reason to refuse these simple requests/conditions.

A refusal on his part would indicate he fears internal schism within the SSPX more than continued irregularity within the Church.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Patrick Archbold has now published a new report about the five points. I thank him for it. They are not at all what was predicted by these rumourmongering journalists.

Here is what I think is happening. It is very close but not identical to my recommendations in the past. First, Rome wants to proceed to Step Two, which is a withdrawal of the declarations of excommunication. She is taking this one step at a time, as is the Society. To achieve this, Rome wants a letter or a signed agreement which shows a charitable and prudent response to the Pope's answer to the first Society pre-condition. That papal response was "Summorum Pontificum", of course.

What Rome is asking for is even less than I had recommended. I had written on here that the letter should contain the following elements:

1. A public statement of appreciation for "Summorum Pontificum".

2. A statement of regret but not remorse for the unapproved consecrations of 1988.

3. An agreement to discuss troubling conciliar documents 'without polemics'.

The five points demanded by the Cardinal for 28th June of this year are really all variations on only my third point here. But my main contention is proved correct. It is that Rome wants a positive response to S.P. from the Society. In negotiation, one party cannot make a second concession or grant until the other party has shown its good will by accepting the first concession or grant. So the excommunications will be lifted only if the Society writes a polite and public letter to show this good will.

It would seem (if we can trust Tornielli) that Rome wants the Society to sign these five points (hereunder) by Saturday of this week. If and only if the Society signs them, Rome will probably withdraw the excommunications and all the other penalties, and she will probably do so between 30th June and 7th July, since three significant anniversaries fall in that period.

The next question is whether or not Rome will, at that point, clarify the status of Society Masses. Can they fulfil the Sunday and holyday obligation? I realise that this has been answered by the P.C.E.D., but the answer has been contested at the highest levels of the Church. A clarification is needed by one having the competence to issue it. It is possible that Rome will issue such a clarification when she withdraws the declarations of penalty. Why? Because it is reasonable for the faithful to know where the Society stands at that point.

I hope and think that the international structure is coming fairly soon, and this does not mean a stupid 'prelature'; it means an exempt international and 'personal' diocese or apostolic administration into which the S.S.P.X and others, as societies of apostolic life, can be incorporated. An Opus Dei - style personal prelature, subject to Canon297, would be a disaster and will not be offered. R

Rome can erect an international diocese or a.a. with or without Society co-operation, since a group of non-Catholics, headed by a bishop and including other bishops as well as priests, deacons, and laics, has applied for admission so as to offer the old Mass exclusively. But it will take time for Rome to work out the details on this. Nobody knows how far along the proposals for this have been taken. We need to wait and pray on it.

Still, I think that the next step after this one will be Rome's erection of the new structure. Rome can then invite the Society to be regularised as part of it; it would be incorporated into it. If the Society does not co-operate, it will face some serious 'competition' from those who do--in addition to the competition it will increasingly face from "Summorum Pontificum" diocesan Masses.


Anonymous said...

I think that Mr. Brian Kopp's analysis is quite good. Yes, the comment about the Pope being 'a perfect liberal' is echoed in these demands.

Once again, Rome is looking for a gesture of good will. She is looking for something known in law as 'bargaining in good faith'.

Secondly, Mr. Kopp is also right about how reasonable this is. I think that Rome might be offering to withdraw the declarations of penalty without making the Society agree to all the dispositions of Vatican II.

Fellay quite wrongly rejected the international structure in 2000. Will he now make a second huge mistake and reject this generous offer?


David L Alexander said...

I would agree that the SSPX could lose a significant number of its adherents in the next year or so. But I don't think Fellay or Williamson will be among them. For one thing, they'd have to answer to someone besides themselves. That's a huge adjustment even if the spirit is willing. Witness the number of times the two parties have come close to accord, only to have one of their bishops proceed to leave the negotiating table and whip their followers into (yet another) frenzy over one thing or another. Maintaining a "state of siege" mentality has been essential to the cohesion of the Society up until now. Losing it would force them to adopt another modus operandi. Why do that, when it's easier to keep the one that's working?

As to the structure erected to accommodate them, I agree with Mr Perkins that a "personal prelature" is a bad idea. Such an entity is meant to be permanent, whereas if the goal is to re-integrate traditionalism into the life of the Church (and that is the distinct impression Pope Benedict is giving here and elsewhere), a more temporary form of jurisdiction -- like an apostolic administration or other form -- would accomplish the same thing, yet be subject to revision as the need arises.

People tend to forget that Archbishop Lefebvre signed every document of Vatican II. If he was wrong, then the SSPX has a bigger problem than any quarrel they have with Rome. But if he was right, and the case can be made that the Council can be interpreted properly in the light of tradition, then the only thing preventing the SSPX from full communion with Rome is...

...well, pride.

Warren Anderson said...

Yes,... pride. Let's hope this opportunity is not passed up or over by the SSPX. They have to understand that the pseudo-magisterial attitude has to cease. Otherwise, they are no different from any other group, liberal or traditional, that places itself above the Holy Father and the authentic Magisterium of the Church. Let's pray for a joyful return of the SSPX to the one true fold.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand and never understood the Vatican II Council and it's decision (or grave error) to modernize the Church! St Pius X warned of the dangers of it and the Church leaders of the sixties fell into the trap! With no tradition, the Church will fall into disarray, like we see today with abuses of the Liturgy in a massive way! Pope Benedict, you have so little time to bring the Church back to Holiness!

David L Alexander said...

"I don't understand and never understood the Vatican II Council and it's decision (or grave error) to modernize the Church!"

You can start by knowing that it didn't.

As a legitimate ecumenical council -- albeit pastoral in nature, as opposed to doctrinal -- it was free from error in matters of faith and morals. At least Archbishop Lefebvre would have thought so, or he wouldn't have signed every one of its documents.

When viewed in the light of tradition, the Council can be properly understood. If not understood, it wouldn't have been the first time. The years following such Councils have often been accompanied by considerable rancor. Benedict was there. He is the right man for the right time. For the Gospel reading today, we were reminded: "Tu es Petrus." After all, the promise of Christ was not given to the guy who wears the most lace.