The proper attitude to the SSPX

Notes Father John Hunwicke:

In the relationship between the Holy See and the SSPX, there is one enormous fundamental problem, which is so obvious that few people mention it. As a member of an Ordinariate, Benedict XVI’s other and successful ecumenical endeavour, I have a natural interest in this question and pray for its resolution. That is the locus standi from which I ask the following question.

SSPX and the Vatican … is this a matter of Ecumenism or of Church Discipline? Is the SSPX a group of beloved Separated Brethren with whom we Catholics should, in accordance with the mandate of Vatican II, strain every sinew to secure unity … because, with their immensely rich spirituality, they have so much to offer the Catholic Church; or is it merely a portion of the Latin Church in an irregular canonical situation which needs to be thoroughly bashed around the head, like the Franciscans of the Immaculate, until it abjectly grovels?

Or, to put the same point (again) differently: Is it really Vatican policy to wait a millennium or half a millennium for Time to solidify and make ever more bitter the break between Rome and the SSPX, and, once the breach is sufficiently long-term, acrimonious, and definitive, then finally, but only then, to move on to all the sentimental and cuddly rituals of the Open-Arms Dear-Sister-Churches part of the ecumenical process? I know there is an old saw about Rome thinking in terms of centuries … but can that really be the plan?

(Hat tip to Jeff Culbreath, who I’m going to add to my blogroll.)

Protestant missionaries cause democracy

I’ve generally resisted the widespread belief that Protestantism is to blame for democracy, but here at Christianity Today is some evidence for it:  an alleged strong correlation between third world countries being evangelized by Protestants and becoming a democracy.

Dale Price on Vatican II-worship

Many thanks to Philip Blossser for sharing this piece by Dale Price.  The topic is a speech by Cardinal Maradiaga on the New Evangelization, but it addresses larger issues quite splendidly.  I particularly liked this:

1. Introduction: It is not possible to talk about the Church, or about the Church today, without referring to the crucial moment in contemporary history that Vatican II has been for her, both as an event of grace and a paradigmatic reference. ” [a quote from Maradiaga’s speech]

During a pre-conclave speech, the then-Cardinal Bergoglio issued a warning about what happens when the Church becomes “self-referential.” While Cardinal Maradiaga would no doubt disagree, his speech is loaded with one of the more common self-referential sins of modern Catholic churchmen: the endless appeal to the 21st ecumenical council.

Some of you are probably crying foul, itching to throw a yellow flag, but think about it–how do you think constant, self-praising references to Vatican II sound to non-Catholic ears?

“We gathered together, thought and talked about the modern world for three years and bam–I tell you! Wow, it just hit us! Now we know how this utterly unique and unprecedented modern world thing works! We even prepared several mission statements! Minds. Blown! Let me tell you humbly–it’s the most important event in our recent history, and we are just brimming with insights from our big meeting that we just gotta share! Let us hit you with some knowledge. Incessantly.”

Note that he says it is simply “not possible to talk about the Church” without referring back to it. And, my, does he ever refer to it. Over and over and over again. Let me humbly submit that constantly talking about your fabulous insights seems to be the dictionary definition of self-referential.

And we haven’t even gotten to the part where the Cardinal praises modernism!  Do read the whole thing.

What is the purpose of the Extraordinary Synod?

Why, to make communion available for unrepentant adulterers (but only those who also abandon their spouses), of course!  “But, Bonald, that’s not fair.  That’s not what the Vatican says it’s for.  They say it’s to brainstorm ways to better instruct Catholics on the Church’s teachings on marriage and family.  Given that you think the Church is doing such a crappy job of this, how can you not be pleased?”  I say in reply that it doesn’t matter what the bishops plan to do; the more important social reality is what the public expects them to do.  The word has gotten out that the situation of the divorced and “remarried” is now up for debate, and the hierarchy has done little to convince people that this is not true.  No doubt there are many among them who would love to silently retire Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage, just as the doctrines of male headship and the duty to render the marriage debt have been unofficially retired.  Such truths are not explicitly denied; they are just not mentioned at all, while positions incompatible with them are taken on related issues.  Yes, our shepherds would like to do the same with the indissolubility of marriage–that shocking idea that the marriage vows mean exactly what they say–but the pastoral care of the remarried keeps forcing the issue.  There must be some way to get around what the Gospel teaches.  If only we could find it!

As I said, though, we don’t need to assume that most bishops are really thinking these things.  Suppose they are all courageous and orthodox men.  Stop laughing.  Just suppose.  It’s still the case that we’re on course for disaster; hopes are being allowed to build up among the laity that cannot (or at least should not) be satisfied.  The best-case scenario is another post-Humanae Vitae debacle.  Remember what happened then.  For years, the laity and lower clergy had been allowed to build up hopes that the pope’s birth control commission was going to overturn perennial Catholic teaching so that we too could get in on all the consequence-free sex.  No doubt many married couples, told that the “rule” was on its way out, jumped the gun, and who could blame them?  Years with little or no sex is a pretty big price to pay for formal compliance to a rule about to be revoked and still on the books only because of bureaucratic inertia.  Sure enough, the wretches on the commission agreed that their job was to gut Catholic sexual ethics.  Then at the last minute the Holy Spirit personally intervened and prompted Pope Paul’s magnificent encyclical.  The Catholic world, seeing its hopes betrayed, was outraged and openly defiant.  This was to be expected.  It was predictable.  By the time the pope deigned to speak, he was already in an unwinnable situation.

We are recreating this same situation.

A dreadful thought: will there be no persecution?

I have been more than usually anguished by the state of the Church lately, and I feel a need to ramble.

The idea had been wiggling around in the back of my head for some time, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that it really struck me with its full awful plausibility.  There will be no persecution of the Catholic Church in the West.  We’re going to give in to the sodomites without a fight and then congratulate ourselves for our sophistication and pastoral sensitivity.  Take a good look at your bishop and tell me this is unlikely.

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The Catholic perspective, Part II: the sign of the cross

The key to understanding Catholicism is our attitude toward symbols.  In naturally symbolic acts like sexual intercourse or animal sacrifice we find the meaning to be partly embedded in the nature of the act itself and independent of the performers’ intentions.  The signification achieved is suprarational in that the performer needn’t be able to articulate fully the meaning of his act; nor need such a full articulation even be possible.  The performer need only affix his assent to the given meaning of the act; he is able to “say” more than he can think.  The signification of a natural symbol is also suprapersonal in that it is part of the public world rather than of the performer’s intentions, in some cases making it possible for others to affix their assent as well.  Even conventional symbols display this suprapersonal nature, e.g. so that a company saluting a flag is a single act of the company itself, whereas the interior patriotic feelings of each soldier are necessarily individual and incommunicable.  Thus, participation in these symbols allows a soul to transcend itself in a twofold way:  beyond its nature as a limited intellect and beyond its person as a single individual.

Catholicism also contains in its essence a central dogmatic claim:  that Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man, has, by his sacrificial death and resurrection two millennia ago, freed mankind from slavery to sin and opened the possibility of communion with God as His children.

Now, I don’t expect this dogma to sound attractive or plausible or even sane on a first examination.  Accepting it too easily means you probably haven’t understood it.  You’ll need to have a good grasp of the key words “God”, “sacrifice”, “sin”, and “children”.  Perhaps you don’t feel particularly in thrall to “sin”, or you don’t see why God has to be such a vindictive jerk about such things, or you don’t see how what happened to another person two thousand years ago could affect your spiritual state regardless.  If you are a fellow Christian of the Protestant persuasion, on the other hand, you will accept the above “core Catholic dogma” as your own, but you may understand it differently, and it is possible that we can learn from each other.

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