3 September 2015


As we pray, especially today, for the bishops, priests, and seminarians of the Society of S Pius X and the laity whom they serve, I am minded to reiterate the point I have tried to emphasise in so many of my previous posts about the relationship between the Society and representatives of the Holy See (31 July was probably my most recent).

It seems to me that the thing on which both 'sides' appear to agree may in fact be the thing about which both 'sides' are most wrong: namely, the great and permanent importance of the Second Vatican Council, which (according to SSPX) needs to be noisily resisted or else (according to CDF) must be explicitly accepted in every detail. That Council clearly manifested itself as a pastoral Council concerned with hodiernum tempus; with Aggiornamento. But, as I have so tediously said so often, the hodiernum tempus of the Sixties is not that of our present decade; our giorno is not theirs. It is easy, with hindsight, to discern ... for example ... the flawed optimism of Gaudium et Spes; to understand that the mark which Stalinist persecution had left upon the Church is reflected in the ill-thought-out preoccupation with religious liberty in Dignitatis humanae. But we have moved on from the 1960s. The World no longer comes to meet us as a friendly potential partner in dialogue. And we have new and terrible problems and enemies of which the Sixties never dreamed.

It is unacceptable for anybody, including members of the Society, to deny, if they do, that Vatican II was an Ecumenical Council (every little bit as much as was the Council of Vienne). As Bishop Tissier's admirable biography demonstrated, Archbishop Lefebvre signed each one of its decrees.

And it is inappropriate for members of Roman dicasteries to demand, if they do, a degree of assent to the Concilar documents which fails to recognise their relativity: id est, that a number of passages are well past their sell-by date (just like the legislation of Lateran IV on repressing Judaism).

And de facto this is recognised on all sides.

Let me give you just one very simple example.

The Council decreed that all Latin Rite clerics must (unless, exceptionally, a priest has an individual dispensation from his Bishop) say their Office in Latin. Who, nowadays, condemns saying the Office in a vernacular (without individual dispensation) as failing to fulfill the Obligation, because it is in flagrant breach of the clearest possible words of an Ecumenical Council? Surely, what all sensible mainstream Bishops and Clergy instinctively feel is:
The Conciliar decree reflects the exact situation of the early 1960s, which was superseded and rendered irrelevant within a decade. A fundamentalist preoccupation with the words of an obsolete text would be an irrelevance (or worse) in the life of the Church of our own day.


Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Bless you, Farther, for this rational post. As an aside, ABS was reading the acts of the Vienne Council yesterday, which just goes to show, something...

O, and thanks for your repeated references to Dix' Shape of the Liturgy for it is owing to you that ABS purchased it and is loving reading it.

S Thorfinn said...

I am reading a book on saints from the 60's that deliberately appeals to the contemporary reader of the period. It has aged very poorly in several places as a result. It was, indeed, a different time, and the author apparently did not see the ensuing crisis coming as some other exceptional individuals did.

Highland Cathedral said...

Some questions.
I have no idea how it came about. Was there some sort of official decree over-ruling the requirement for priests to say the Daily Office in Latin? Or did this just come about in the same way as receiving Communion in the hand, the priest facing the people, etc.
Is any kind of official utterance required to over-rule a decision of an Ecumenical Council? Or can any individual decide that a particular decision no longer applies as far as he is concerned? Or is there some other way?
How can we tell which decisions/statements of the Second Vatican Council still stand and which ones are past their sell-by-date? Is there any way which applies to everybody?
Are all decisions/statements of the Second Vatican Council time-dated or are some to be accepted for ever? If the former how do we decide which ones may be time-dated and which ones are not? And who decides?
Given that no Vatican department enforces the decision of the Second Vatican Council that most of the Mass should be said in Latin why does the CDF insist that the SSPX accept the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in full, if that is the case?
If the SSPX is allowed to give limited assent to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, how should that limited assent be expressed? (If it is simply that they do not give full assent then they retain the freedom to decide which bits to assent to and which not. On the other hand, would making them explicitly state which bits they do not assent to be somewhat cumbersome?)

Liam Ronan said...

Let us for the sake of argument presume one is possessed of a 'tender conscience' and has availed of the SSPX for past and present spiritual succour.

When Bergolio’s Year of Mercy begins, will those who have previously confessed to an SSPX priest have to confess to their SSPX Year of Mercy confessor that they had confessed to an SSPX priest before the Year of Mercy commenced?

And further, would the penitent have to express a firm purpose of amendment to avoid all SSPX Masses, etc. in future and not frequent the SSPX confessional after the Year of Mercy has expired?

The Sybil said...

Does that then blow out of the water the theory that the Concillium of Archbishop Bugninni, did not implement Sacrosanctum Concillium, and the will of the Council Fathers, (who had not asked for a new Mass but rather simply permission to use the vernacular for the Liturgy of the Word, the opening and concluding rites and even the ordinary - whilst retaining the offertory and Canon in Latin,) as simply an issue of the 60's which is no longer relevant?

Cordelio said...

To the extent somebody in the SSPX needs to make decisions to effect a reconciliation, I do not think anybody in a position to make such decisions is adversely influenced by the consideration you mention. In fact, Bishop Fellay's insistence that complete repudiation of "the errors of Vatican II" by the Roman authorities was not a precondition of accepting some kind of canonical status was a major stumbling block for the SSPX "resistance."

This was not what prevented some sort of regularization under Pope Benedict. There were no doctrinal affirmations being required from the SSPX on things like religious liberty, ecumenism, etc. I believe the practical impediment was that the SSPX would not accept the legitimacy of the novus ordo rites (disclaimer - I do not think they should, either). It is not just freedom to celebrate the traditional liturgy that is at issue, but freedom from celebrating the new one. To the extent that this remains a condition, there will be no reconciliation.