6 November 2014

Excommunications all round! Bells, Books, and Candles galore!!!

In the Daily Telegraph of November 4 this year appeared a very jolly story about an Austrian woman who had incurred excommunication for purporting to have been ordained to the Priesthood (God bless her, she has retaliated by now claiming the Episcopate!!). The journalist began his story thus: "Excommunication is traditionally reserved by Catholicism for the very worst of sinners and is a sanction rarely invoked today".

Well, the dear old Torygraph has failed to keep herself up-to-date on that subject. Excommunication is, for some bishops, the Fashionable Fad in today's caring, compassionate Catholic Church of Pope Francis! Excommunication, even, just for going to Church!!! But enough of my vulgar slapstick. Let me get serious and simply remind you that only a few days ago an Italian bishop seemed to suggest, uncanonically, that lay people, even minors, attending SSPX chapels were excommunicated latae sententiae. Now an Argentine bishop, perhaps with a tadge more respect for the CIC, has threatened such "very worst of sinners" with penalties ferendae sententiae. 

As a recent 'convert' without much experience of the Catholic Church and with very little theological training or understanding, I have to say that her current practical* ecumenical policy seems to me to be ... er ... magnificently inexplicable. Unity, we all agree, is a Good Thing, but SSPXers (even children!!) are to be threatened with bell, book, and candle. Popes and Bishops are elaborately kind to schismatics who are doctrinally distant from the Church, but they are distantly pedantic (at best) towards the SSPX, which accepts every single dogmatic definition and anathema ever published by a lawful Ecumenical Council or by a Roman Pontiff. The SSPX is required to make the most precise submission to Conciliar and Papal Magisteria, while 'our ecumenical partners in dialogue' are invited to sit down at a table and work out together verbal doctrinal fudges which are then declared to be acceptable by Roman dicasteries (e.g. ARCIC). Have Roman ecumenists ever explained frankly to Orthodox and Anglicans that they also will, ultimately, have to accept every syllable of 'the Conciliar and post-Conciliar Magisterium' before Unity is consummated? If not, why not? I do not mean those as rhetorical questions.

IF Catholic ecumenists cannot even manage a settlement with a group as close to them as is the SSPX, THEN it will be obvious that 'Ecumenism' with communities separated from Rome for centuries by serious formal dogmatic disagreements as well as by deep-rooted cultural rancour, is nothing more than the pursuit of a pie-in-the-sky; a fine-sounding but meaningless Game. Remember the

                             PARABLE OF THE FINANCIER AND THE TWO BEGGARS.
The Ecumenical Policy* of the Catholic Church is like unto a Financier, who went down the street one morning with his pen, his cheque book, and a 50 pence coin. At the first corner, he met a Beggar who humbly knelt and called out to him "For the love God, guv'ner, give us 50p for a cup of tea". But the Financier passed by on the other side, offering him only some wise advice about how much more profound his self-abasement would need to become. At the next corner he met a Second Beggar, who did not kneel, but greeted the Financier with the easy familiarity of an equal. This man the Financier warmly embraced and kissed, and then gave him a post-dated dud cheque for £2,500,000; which the Beggar received with exclamations of great delight. And the Financier praised the Second Beggar, because he understood the Game.

________________________________________________________________________________
*This article does not question any Magisterial pronouncement, and its author ex animo accepts the teaching of Unitatis Redintegratio, Ut unum sint, Communionis notio, and Dominus Iesus.

11 comments:

GOR said...

In the case of Albano’s Bishop Semeraro what is of concern is that he is the secretary of Pope Francis’ ‘kitchen cabinet’ of Cardinals and therefore in frequent contact with the Holy Father.

Does this imply that – like Cdl. Kasper’s protestation of Papal approval for his stance - Semeraro believes he has the Holy Father’s blessing/approval for this?

Once again confusion reigns and no clarity is forthcoming from the Vatican. A correction and reiteration from the CDF would be appropriate.

Calling Cardinal Mueller…!

Long-Skirts said...

Fr. Hunwicke said:

"The Ecumenical Policy"

Brilliant, Father, you are a wonderful Alter Christus!

MIDDLE
CHURCH

In the middle of the Church
There’s a very safe spot
Where it’s not very cold
And it’s not very hot.

You can say a little prayer
In a Latin cant one day,
On another take the Host
Serve yourself, walk away.

It’s the middle of the Church
And a very safe spot
Where it’s not very cold
And it's not very hot.

There are no schools for minds
Or for little Catholic souls
But at least there are no fights
How to clean the toilet bowls.

For the classrooms they are empty
And the lavatories too,
No daily Mass, no Catholic class
For little Don and Sue

But it’s really very middle
In a very safe spot
Where it’s not very cold
And it’s not very hot.

Approved, they have their many
The New have many too
Like “full communion” governors
A Cuomo in the pew.

Approved brings in much money.
The New says “that is great!”
And priests who say both old & new
Can really celebrate...

For he’s really in the middle
In a very safe spot
Where it’s not very cold
And it’s not very hot.

Young priest says the Old,
Old priest says the New,
But middle Church and safe priest
Can accommodate the two...

For they'll keep you in the middle
In a luke warm spot
Where you’ll never fight the cold
And you’ll never fight the hot!

William said...

Nothing new there – Freud described the phenomenon some time ago. Der Narzißmus der kleinen Differenzen is alive and well, not least in the Church.

Священник села said...

IF Catholic ecumenists cannot even manage a settlement with a group as close to them as is the SSPX

That is, surely, the point: there *is* no proximity. Ecumenists across the spectrum have less in common with the faithful they are meant to represent, and more in common with other ecumenists.

rick allen said...

"Excommunication is traditionally reserved by Catholicism for the very worst of sinners and is a sanction rarely invoked today".

Surely this kind of statement misses the point entirely. Damnation is what is traditionally reserved by Catholicism for the very worst of sinner--that is unless they (we) (I) repent.

Excommunication is a declaration about one's relationship to the Church. It certainly can be a punishment--if one considers separation from the Church a bad thing, but only then.

In fact, very good and holy individuals can be outside of the communion of the Church.

Seesm like Catholic ecumenicism is very simple. Talk about other glasses as being half full rather than half empty. Participate in things like common prayer where not in conflict with the norms of the Church. Invite them in.

Also the situation with SSPX seems rather uncomplicated to me. More is expected of them because they claim to be orthodox Catholics. One doesn't expect so much from Methodists or Presbyterians. In retrospect, a lot of good came out of the Protestant Reformation for the Church. The Counter-Reformation cleaned a lot of stables that for centuries needed cleaning. But that doesn't mean that Protestants can enter into communion with the Church if they deny Catholic teaching, and if their clergy remain disobedient to the successors of Peter.

Jonathan Cariveau said...

It's not inexplicable, Father, it's completely obvious. When you strain Church teaching to the breaking point, or nearly, and turn around to see a significant number of priests who refuse to do so, irrational hostility ensues. The SSPX, merely by existing, are a challenge and a judgment against the Catholic episcopate. That they were formed as a direct response to the Event that set in motion ecumenical discourse with others excludes them ecumenical favor, because they threaten to undermine the entire project.

Athelstane said...

Hello Rick,

More is expected of them because they claim to be orthodox Catholics.

That's a fair point. But I think most of us also recognize that it's not what drives the real animus against the SSPX in the quarters in question.

Ferrara said...

"More is expected of them because they claim to be orthodox Catholics."

Really? But then why is "more" not "expected" from the legions of dissenters in the pews, the clergy and even the episcopate, as well as subversive neo-Modernist theologians like Kasper, all of whom likewise "claim to be orthodox Catholics."

Well, of course we know the answer: More is expected of the SSPX because they ARE orthodox Catholics, and their orthodoxy is viewed as unacceptable by the authorities. Such is the nature of the current ecclesial crisis, which rivals--nay exceeds--the Arian in scope.

Chris Ferrara
A great admirer of Fr. Hunwicke

Grumpy Beggar said...

. . . Very glad Rick Allen’s radar started sounding on that term the “very worst of sinners,” - my radar went off too (helps a lot to have the term bolded for us initially too – thanks Father Hunwicke ).

I might offer one other possible angle of interpretation – one other dimension to complete the view:
The term "very worst of sinners" ,when used by critics (and/or dissenters) of our Holy Catholic Church who , though virtually devoid of any practical knowledge, remain intent on trying to tell “our” story to the public (and sorely miss) , possesses a most insidious, er, quality. I prefer to compare that to an iceberg which looks semi-harmless enough on the surface - to the point where it could easily drift right by us causing hardly a ripple. But just below the surface it has this potential to do a hull of a lot of damage.

Peter Stanford’s wording in his article tends to portray the Holy Catholic Church more as the great Accuser, rather than the one Apostolic Church founded by our Blessed Lord who “presses sinners to Her bosom”. See what a change in context would occur if one were only to exchange the word sins for sinners :
"Excommunication is traditionally reserved by Catholicism for the very worst of sins and is a sanction rarely invoked today".

Even then, I would lean much more towards Rick Allen’s words : “Excommunication is a declaration about one's relationship to the Church. It certainly can be a punishment--if one considers separation from the Church a bad thing, but only then.”

Still though, what is most important to notice in that article, IMO , is what is not there (or what has not at all been made apparent) : That is, God’s Mercy – Divine Mercy , the same of which our Blessed Lord told St. Faustina Kowalska : “My Mercy is so great, that neither man nor angel could ever fathom it – even were they to contemplate it for all eternity.”

These half-baked journalists have already pronounced the final sentence on each soul – and this, without even considering God’s Mercy. And if we really understand what Holy Mother Church is doing, it is then we comprehend that even excommunication is a measure of God’s Mercy . . . a type of “wake-up call.”

When we factor in God’s Mercy to complete the portrait , we discover that the “worst of sinners” begins turning up in some very unexpected locations.

My dear brothers and sisters who benefit along with me so much from Father Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment :
I had not sought the very worst of sinners , but I did find him; please, let me tell you where : I saw him right there- looking back at me in the mirror. It appears that a well-formed conscience and a sound mind cannot help but conclude that, apart from God, no one knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. And I cannot claim to know any of my brothers or sisters in the same way as I know myself- where I might know their inner workings. It is thus natural, that subsequently, and in granting others the benefit of the doubt , I should ultimately concur with St. Paul :

“You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I myself am the worst.”
[ 1 Tim 1:15 ; NAB - St Joseph’s Edition, 1970 , Catholic Book Publishing Co. ]

Fred Brown said...

I’m quite sure the situation was explained in Unitatis Redintegratio, or some post conciliar document. The gist is that the screaming heretics, of whatever flavour, received their faith from their fathers whereas the SSPX are of the present generation and therefore have no excuse.

Lepanto said...

I was reading recently about the mass excommunication (in the 1950's) of persons present at the claimed Marian apparitions in Heroldsbach, Germany. People refused to sign statements, as required by the local bishop, saying that they had not seen Our Lady during the apparitions and were duly excommunicated (what a dilemma!). The excommunications were eventually lifted/reversed or whatever the correct term is.