25 November 2016

"Suspense of the Magisterium"?

Readers will have read the Letter of Bishop Schneider (Rorate), and observed the powerful use he makes of the parallels between our present problems; and the period of the Arian conflict, during which apostasy even reached as high as the man who at that time also occupied the Throne of S Peter. And readers will recall my own advice to study that self-same period, and to do so through the prism of Blessed John Henry Newman, for whose respectability as a testis fidei his recent canonisation vouches. I believe that it is important, especially for clerics and seminarians, to take this period and this subject very seriously, because we need some sound anchoring in reality and Tradition and in approved writers. It is not good enough to be angry or upset and to flail helplessly around without any bearings. That way lies the risk that the Enemy will trap us into unbelief or a heresy such as Sedevacantism. Mgr Schneider has led the way with his extensive quotations from the Fathers, especially S Hilary 'the Athanasius of the West', and from S Thomas Aquinas and B John Henry. I will now take up again the point which I explored last time I entered upon this topic: the thought of Blessed John Henry Newman which he encapsulated in a bold phrase: the "temporary Suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens", or, as we might say nowadays, "of the Magisterium".

Newman used this phrase as a historical describer ("as a matter of fact"). With the falling away of so many bishops from orthodoxy, it was, he meant, a matter of historical fact that their function of teaching the Truth was not being discharged. His words were misunderstood by critics ... he was rarely short of those ... as implying that the bishops had lost their capacity to function Magisterially: in other words, his statement was taken theologically. He carefully disavowed this dangerous notion, which, if you think about it, does possess some of the features of the modern Sedevacantist heresy. In fact, Newman carefully distinguished between Suspense of the Magisterium, meaning that the Magisterial officers of the Church were not performing their function, and Suspension of the Magisterium, which in his view would mean that they had lost their function. The latter he would never assert, and neither should we even think of suggesting it.

This is an extremely important distinction for us to make today. In my last piece on this subject, I suggested that Jorge Bergoglio's formal refusal to respond to the Five Dubia constituted a formal entry into a period of  Temporary Suspense of the function of his Petrine Magisterium. It is a suspense freely chosen by him which he can end at any moment he chooses by giving the clarifications called for, thus "strengthening his brethren" and "devoutly guarding and faithfully setting forth the Tradition received through the Apostles, the Deposit of the Faith". What joy, unalloyed joy, this happy event would cause; what cries of ad multos annos! Petrus per Franciscum locutus est!


Meanwhile, intelligent thought about the practical and theological implications of the present difficult situation seem to me very much in order. But not only thought.

Let us hope, and pray earnestly to our Lady of Fatima, our Lady of Victories, that we shall never have to adopt and adapt the agonised cry of S Hilary, cited by Bishop Schneider, "Anathema tibi a me dictum praevaricator Liberi!"

God bless and keep our Pope.

22 comments:

Paulmclarke5 said...

“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises, and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
“The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of My sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them.
“...Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able to still save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in Me will be saved.” akita 13th October 1973. A message coming true Fr

DMG said...

Amen!

Luke-Jr said...

You start off with a historical error: the claim that Pope Honorious was himself an Arian. Yet an honest study of history will show that is not the case: he was indeed condemned to be numbered among the heretics for his negligent silence, and it is forbidden for any to defend him in this, but as a matter of fact, there is no evidence he ever espoused the Arian heresy much less taught it himself.

Next you move on to making the accusation that "sedevacantism" is heresy. But you provide nothing to substantiate this claim at all. On the contrary, the principles of "sedevacantism" are based solidly on the teachings of Catholic theologians, which were formally defined by Pope Paul IV's Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, mirrored in the Code of Canon Law, and reaffirmed at the [first] Vatican Council.

Finally, you put before us some chopped up quotes by Bishop Henry Newman without any context, and provide your own commentary suggesting what essentially amounts to nothing less than Bishop Guérard des Lauriers's Cassiciacum Thesis, which is a popular theory among many "sedevacantist" clergy. Of course, since you provide no sources for these quotes, who knows if you are faithfully representing Bishop Newman's teachings...

But more importantly, you subtly hint that Amoris Laetitia is the first and only heresy taught by Francis. To any well-informed Catholic, this is clearly nonsense. It is well-known that he condemns capital punishment (while he may admit it is justifiable, he does not admit it is morally good as defined by Trent), that he teaches the heresies of Vatican II, etc. There is no argument for the suspension of authority to wait until Amoris Laetitia when he has been teaching heresy all along!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I am breaking my own rule of not giving publicity on my own blog to Sedevacantists, by printing the above; as an interesting example of what passes for thinking in some circles. Enjoy!

Woody said...

Here is the link to Prof. Buttiglione's recent explanation of the parts of AL questioned in the dubia. http://www.lastampa.it/2016/11/22/vaticaninsider/eng/comment/prominent-italian-philosopher-explains-his-response-to-doubts-surrounding-the-amoris-laetitia-PlkfDOSNRNHs8XoErKA5XJ/pagina.html

If memory serves he is generally correct about S John Paul's distinction between the objectively disordered act and the culpability of the agent. So if it really is this easy to explain those parts of AL, why has there been no such explanation from authority, such as the Pope or Cardinal Mueller? Why leave it to Rocco? This is where I disagree with him respectfully, there should be a response from authority, to help all of us faithful understand, indeed to confirm us in the faith.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Thank you Father for excellent guidance on this subject. As Doctor Anka-Maria Cernea said in Rome earlier this year one of the things we must do is study when faced with what is going on.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I did not vote in the Brexit referendum and thought that the see of Peter should have been left empty after the resignation. I fear events have, to a degree, vindicated my indolence.

The problem for the Church is the failure to understand proxy warfare. In particular, the role of the Jesuits and post-war German theology in the Church's destruction. It's pointless attacking Francis as his two immediate predecessors were proxies par excellence.

Sadie Vacantist said...

The recent episode in Dublin where Archbishop Martin withdrew his students from Maynooth is an example of what a "temporary suspension" looks like on the ground. It was a public admission by the most senior cleric in his country that he possessed neither the capacity nor the will to troubleshoot a failed institution. In withdrawing his students, he had voluntarily suspended or withheld his own teaching authority. He rose in my estimation as a result. Ad moltos annos Archbishop!

Matthew said...

"Bishop" Henry Newman?

William Tighe said...


A person (Luke-Jr) who can so ignorantly confuse the cases of Pope Liberius and Pope Honorius by that very fact discredits any opinion which he cares to utter on any subject pertaining to the papacy.

And even assuming - datum sed non concessum - that one wishes to argue the cogency of a Sedevacantist case, on what basis can one espouse it, any individual, that is, absent any declaration to that effect by an ecumenical council of bishops or, just possibly, the college of cardinals?

Orak said...

I really do NOT mean this as a heap debating point, but as a serious question. I am by no means a fan of this Pope, and miss Pope Benedict XVI greatly. Many of the critics of Pope Francis are very Marian and/or point to Marian predictions of the present troubles and the Rosary as a remedy. Yet Pope Francis is quite Marian and places emphasis on the importance of the Rosary. It strikes my as incongruous. Orak

Sadie Vacantist said...

Pope Francis is simply developing B16's part-time papacy model. When was Pope Benedict actually functioning as Pope? By his own admission not when publishing books. The ambiguity was already there.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Orak: Pope Francis spoke very uncharitably of a group of women who contacted to say they had recited a few thousand rosaries. One of the features of Pope Francis is incongruity. Take for example his most recent praise of Bernard Haering and insistence on discernment at the same time condemning casuistry when his concept of discernment is in fact casuistical. It is all part of the mess he advocates.

mark wauck said...

Sadie Vacantist is surely correct to point out the role that German ideology has played in what amounts to the current intellectual paralysis of the Church--with deep roots going back to late Medieval nominalism. This influence achieved critical mass at V2, and all subsequent popes have been (demonstrably) heavily under its influence in one form or another. In this state of paralysis when--despite the brave efforts of a handful of cardinals--it appears that there is no stomach for attempting the solutions envisioned by Bellarmine and Suarez, Lefebvre did show that the faithful need not simply succumb to this state of paralysis.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Woody: Thanks for that link to the Rocco article. Of course one can interpret Amoris Laetitia to be completely orthodox but unfortunately it can and is being interpreted as unorthodox. Rocco bases his argument on the extreme case where a party to a second 'marriage' is being forced into adultery by the other party and says then they may not be subjectively guilty of mortal sin. He seems to think such situations are common; I have no idea but tend to rather doubt such. But if this is the only case where communion could be allowed then why not say so rather than leaving everything vague and ambiguous. Hard cases make bad law. He further seems to underestimate the problem of the objective sinfulness of adultery and the scandal it causes and the bad example it will give to others causing many more marriage breakdowns with the attendant misery in particular for the children of the first marriage who have been consistently overlooked throughout this whole business. Further the whole of Chapter VIII is thoroughly tendentious in its tenor giving just one side of the argument. Further I fail to see why he thinks the Pope should not reply to the four Cardinals. I would have thought the reason he should is blindingly obvious. 'Feed my sheep' was Christ's final injunction to Peter and as so often with liberal clergy the sheep are just being starved.

Banshee said...

There's a big difference between "I wish to engage in Biblical commentary and speculation without declaring that it's the only way to interpret Church teaching" (the B16 way), and "I plan to say a lot of stuff for political reasons, without any care whether it is true and from God or not" (as many bad bishops do, and have always done).

It is not a matter of suspending the Magisterium. It is a matter of whether bishops can say stuff outside their office (yup, and nothing wrong with that). It is also a matter of whether bad bishops can also be false, lying teachers (yup, thanks to free will and human sinfulness).

A bad bishop or a foolish bishop is still a bishop. He has the Magisterium available to him. He just is not choosing to teach honestly, or is too foolish to say what he knows he should.

Christopher Boegel said...

My own sense is that Pope F and his "Team Danneels" intend division and confusion.

Woody said...

Nicolas, I quite agree with you and think that a proper response from authority in Rome should address the points you raise, as well as others. Of course, they could respond by simply incorporating the arguments put forward by Rocco or maybe His Eminence Graf Von Schoenborn, or someone else, which, while incomplete, would at least be some progress. If no response is forthcoming, however, we will be left to our own surmises, included amongst which will be, that such a free for all is what is intended. Or, as when my Anglican wife tired of hearing me and a well known Resistance figure complain about things in the Church, said, "Well, I am glad that I am a Protestant" To which our friend replied, "Edith, we are all protestants now."

Valdemar said...

One great concern I have today is the popularity of falling back on the "Ambiguity Defense" in order to justify what Pope Francis is doing, as if ambiguity in teaching is acceptable or even desirable {to support "diversity" or "tolerance" or "freedom of conscience"}. MANY Catholic commentators seem to have adopted the notion that supporting the acceptability of theological ambiguity in Pope Francis' writing and speech is preferable to criticizing him. Worse, it seems, many are using theological ambiguity in describing the mission and teaching of the Church in general.

Reliance on and formation of theological ambiguity is NOT a Catholic hermeneutic!

In fact, in the past, such as in the handling of the Synod of Pistoia, ambiguity was condemned in and of itself. Use of ambiguity for accomplishing effective change in Church teaching has been a ploy of the progressive hijackers of Vatican 2 for decades, so it really should come as a surprise that Pope Francis is utilizing it for full effect today.

Used by a Pope for what is increasingly an obvious strategic purpose, it becomes truly hideous.

CCC 1697 makes clear that CLARITY, not ambiguity, is essential in catechesis. Ambiguity in and of itself is worthy of sharp condemnation.

William Tighe said...


In response to, and support of, Valdemar, please see:

http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351423?eng=y

Nicolas Bellord said...

Woody: Having looked at Rocco Buttiglione's article again I think there is a serious hold in his argument.

The relevant sentence in Amoris Laetitia in paragraph 305 which refers to footnote 351 is:

"Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end. 351 "

The crucial word is 'may'. Pope Francis is referring to cases which may or may not involve subjective culpability. Rocco Buttiglione gives the example of somebody who is forced into sexual relations and therefore is not culpable anymore than any woman is guilty of a mortal sin if she is raped. He correctly points out that in that situation communion is possible. The problem however remains that Amoris Laetitia is also talking of people who may be morally culpable. Buttiglione does not deal with that situation so his whole argument is deficient in that respect.

Vince K said...

Dear Father,

Is the idea that the whole of his teaching office going forward is suspended until he answers the dubia or just with regard to Amoris Laetitia? If the latter, I don't see it as being *that* bold of a claim but if the former, it seems rather bold indeed.