4 December 2009

Anglicanorum coetibus and SSPX

The views of a Fr Scott of the SSPX are brought to my attention by a reader. I agree with most of what he actually says. Where he is off-centre is in simply knowing nothing whatsoever about us. His doctrinal comments are particularly inapposite. We are not heretics. Unlike the Orthodox, whom Fr Scott interestingly thinks are hardly heretics at all, we fully accept all that the Magisterium of the Church has defined de fide, including the decrees of Trent, Vatican I (and Vatican II where it is de fide ... mind you, I think there would be no harm in having one or two clarifications about the Vatican II decree on Religious Freedom; I hope Fr Scott will not condemn me out of hand as a dangerous liberal for this). Is it so wrong for us to accept the Catechism CC as a useful popular compendium of what is taught authoritatively as de fide in the primary Conciliar and Pontifical dogmatic documents and by the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, and to treat things in it which are not so based with the appropriate obedient respect (obsequium) that falls short of acceptance by divine Faith?

I know SSPX has resolutely defended the use of Latin in the Worship of the Western Church, and I admire them for their long and often lonely act of witness. I myself say the Tridentine Mass, in Latin, several times a week. I am aware of other Anglican clergy who are learning it and will use it with enthusiasm. But - just suppose the Holy See authorises for us a version of the Tridentine Rite in 'Tudor' English. Would this really be so terrible? There are examples from before the twentieth century of the Roman Rite being allowed in East European languages. However glorious the Latin language is, is it doctrinally unthinkable for the 'aloud' bits of the rite to be vernacular? Did not the admirable Mgr Lefebvre sign the Conciliar decree on Liturgy which allowed the possibility of some use of the vernacular?

As far as Orders are concerned, Fr Scott may not be aware that since the 1930s, schismatic Dutchmen called 'Old Catholics', whose orders Vatican praxis has always accepted, have been taking part "as aequi-principal consecrators" in Anglican episcopal consecrations. Secret archives which I have seen make clear that this practice was introduced precisely in order to ensure that "even the strictest RC" would not be able to question Anglican Orders in the future (a fact not made public at the time out of a desire not to give RC controversialists evidence for saying "even the Anglicans are doubtful about their own orders"). The Dutch, as they did the Touch, have said, in Latin, that formula from the Tridentine Pontifical which, before the twentieth century, was regarded among commentators and manualists as the form (Fr Scott can rest assured that the Bugninified post-Conciliar Roman Pontifical has not been involved in this process). But in any case, I do not know of any Anglican Catholic bishop or priest who would not be willing to have any doubts about his status set aside by a new 'ordination'. This is what happened, decades even before the Dutch Touch began, when Newman (whom Fr Scott appears to view with approval) went to Rome; he was not convinced that Anglican Orders were invalid - and he records that nobody else in Rome was either - but he submitted to a 'reordination' when he was assured that it was, in the mind of the Church, conditional, although its liturgical form did not make this conditionality explicit.

If we can make the Apostolic Constitution work ... and if SSPX sorts itself out with our Holy Father ... I will be very happy to recommend to my PCC that we welcome SSPX to our altars. Especially Fr Scott. He will not find much evidence of Dr Bugnini in S Thomas's.


AndrewWS said...

"Is it so wrong for us to accept the Catechism CC as a useful popular compendium of what is taught authoritatively as de fide in the primary Conciliar and Pontifical dogmatic documents and by the Ordinary Universal Magisterium ... ?"

No. It can't be. For what other purpose would the Church have gone to the trouble of compliling it, publishing it, and encouraging the faithful to buy it, read it, mark it and inwardly digest it? What else are books for? If the ordinary man in the pew who isn't a theologian can't find out what the Church teaches from its published Catechism, then where on earth is he meant to?

Michael McDonough said...

If the response you are referring to, Fr. H, is the one on "Angelqueen", I notice that it is introduced to that forum thus: "Father Scott provides us with critical information and sound reasoning to form a proper sensus Catholicus regarding the Pope's latest effort to unite Catholicism with heresy."

Latest effort to unite Catholicism with heresy.... I suppose the first was his dialogue with the SSPX group?

Michael McDonough said...

WRT to "catechism". Please not that Fr. Scott refers to "the definition of the Church in the Catechism", and a couple of paragraphs later refers to the CCC as "this 1993 Vatican II catechism", which he finds ambiguous.

So, for Fr. Scott "the Catechism" is the Catechism of Pius V, or the "Roman Catechism", which is truly a very good catechism, if a bit dated. And the Church is no more, and no less, than it is as defined in that Catechism, to wit, "the Faith, worship and sacraments" which are absolute.

These unfortunate people fail to see the irony that both they (SSPX) and you (Anglo-Catholics) may be reconciled to the Catholic Church by means of provisions of the Code of Canon Law of 1983 (you know, all that bad People of God stuff), based on desires expressed at Vatican II that such provisions be made!

In the wee back of my mind there is an image of Fr. Scott meeting the Holy Ghost in person, and being asked, "Well, Fr. Scott, who is running this Catholic Church, Me or you?"

Joseph Shaw said...

SSPX polemicists too often make the SSPX seem far more off-beam than they really are. Happily their days of importance are over. The real theologians of the SSPX are having their talks in Rome and they are capable of greater subtlty.

Let us pray these talks are successful.

Gideon Ertner said...

Hello, Fr Hunwicke. I have been following your blog for a couple of weeks. You strike me as a marvellous and learned person and I cannot wait to be in full communion with you. That being said, and I truly mean no offence - when you say this:

"Fr Scott may not be aware that since the 1930s, schismatic Dutchmen called 'Old Catholics', whose orders Vatican praxis has always accepted, have been taking part "as aequi-principal consecrators" in Anglican episcopal consecrations."

you are aware that this practice is rather useless unless the consecrand is beforehand also ordained to the presbyterate by someone with valid episcopal orders and using the valid form, do you not?

I am certainly prepared to accept that some Anglican priests and Bishops today possess arguably valid orders, but it seems to me that not enough care has been taken to ensure a systematic application of the bestowing of orders - one cannot receive the order of Bishop if one has not already received the order of presbyter. Accordingly, arguing that all Anglican orders are valid becomes, I am sorry to say, more than a bit tenuous.

(On another note: do you really want the Low Church clergyman who throws the 'leftovers' of what you believe to be the Blessed Sacrament in the bin to have valid Orders?)

Joshua said...

Previous commenter:

Ordination "per saltem" (by a leap) is perfectly valid - for instance, St Gregory the Great was never a priest: he was a deacon who was directly ordained bishop.

By the same argument, it seems perfectly valid, if somewhat untraditional (!), to ordain someone a priest without him having ever been a deacon; or even to ordain someone a bishop who was but a layman.

After all, the canonical requirement, at base, for holy orders is to be a baptised layman (confirmation is necessary only for liceity): and hence a man could be ordained bishop per saltem straight from the lay state.

Otherwise, one gets the mad idea that the only valid matter for episcopal ordination is a priest!

Joshua said...

Oh, and the poor SSPX (who in their seeming pride and lack of charity do tend to appear rather Jansenistic, and rather parallel the "Anglo-Jansenists" of the Continuum) have understandable reasons for being so suspicious: they have stood up more really for doctrinal purity than even for the liturgy (that's why Summorum Pontificum wasn't enough, it didn't cut to the heart of their protest). I don't like them, but I can appreciate why - as can Anglicans! - they display a rather schizophrenic attitude to Rome, always suspicious of her corruptions and doctrinal wanderings, and denouncing regular Catholics for their irreverent liturgy and complete doctrinal confusion.

Maurice said...

No communion. No orders. It's as simple as that. 'Valid' orders, in Roman terms, can only exits when they're in communion with Rome. All else is hot air. On what else might 'validity' be judged? No Church. No orders.

Joshua G. said...

That is simply untrue. According to the RCC, the Old Catholics, the Polish Nationals, and most importantly the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox all have valid orders, none of whom are in communion with Rome. Such an attitude is characteristic of the Orthodox, who tend to doubt or deny the orders (and baptism) of anyone who is not in communion with them, but the RCC has a more nuanced approach.

Unknown said...

Bp. Fellay, SSPX Superior General, weighs in:


“Das ist großartig. Das ist eine große Freude.” “That is awesome. That is a great joy.” Even Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX says the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus is a great thing.

Courtesy of:


Kiran said...

Joshua, the problem with (at least that wing of) the SSPX is not just that they are standing for "doctrinal orthodoxy" but that they have a quaint idea of orthodoxy.

Thus, Pope Benedict stands condemned for not being completely opposed to Biblical studies, or evolution. I imagine too that anyone who does not toe a Thomist of the manuals would likewise would be verboten.

Joshua said...

You're quite correct, Kiran.