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Debate: Have the SSPX-Vatican talks been a waste of time?

Or are they a crucial step along the way towards unity?

By on Friday, 25 February 2011

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the SSPX, blesses families in Ecône, Switzerland (CNS photo/Denis Balibouse, Reuters)

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the SSPX, blesses families in Ecône, Switzerland (CNS photo/Denis Balibouse, Reuters)

High-level doctrinal talks between the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) and officials at the Vatican started about two and a half years ago, in September 2009. Now, according to Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, the negotiations are almost over, and nothing concrete appears to have been achieved.

Bishop Fellay says that the aim of the talks was to make the faith “understood in Rome” – yet he accepts that the Vatican participants have not changed their minds about any of the disputed issues. Another SSPX bishop, the disgraced Bishop Richard Williamson, described it as a “dialogue of the deaf”, in which neither side went into the discussion with any notion of compromise or of budging on their positions.

On the other hand, Pope Benedict XVI is determined to heal the divisions within the Church. In his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, he wrote that every effort must be made to achieve unity. The SSPX and the Vatican talking to each other brings the prospect of that unity closer than if there were no dialogue at all. Bishop Fellay himself says the talks were of “capital importance” – even if he is only interested in persuading Rome that he and his SSPX followers are right.

So, were the negotiations a waste of time? Or were they an important step on the long road towards unity?

  • DBMcGinnity

    The Voice of one Crying in the Wilderness

    I have no idea what Christ did, or if he even existed. I refer to his teachings because they are synonymous with Buddhist teaching where there is no Deity. To me Jesus is like the Buddha where everyone interprets their own sense of Goodness (God). Remember, Jesus said “the Kingdom of God is within you” in Luke 17:21. It makes sense to me. I do not need to look “high up and far away” to find God in some obscure text. God is with me wherever I am and whoever I’m with, and whatever I’m doing.

    I have never heard of or read Liberation Theology in my life and I would not know where to look, It is forty eight years since I read Theology and I only got an M.A., for that (I called it the study of myths), hence, mythology. Largely, I have no idea what you are talking about, or what points you are trying to make. I do not give one damn about the past, or who said this or that about what, I live in the “here and now”, and I enjoy the present. I have spent hours listening to stuffy old theologians discussing the Filioque Controversy when I should have been laughing and making love with friends. Life is for living to the full.

    I take your word that these Liberation People are dead, but I never killed them and had nothing to do with it. I think that Jesus preached the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5 – 6 – 7 but, I might be wrong and it might have been someone else who looked like him. I am an Ivy League Man and I am familiar with Dartmouth College motto: “vox clamantis in deserto”, the voice of one crying in the wilderness (Gospel of John and the Book of Isaiah).

    I have been blessed with the gift of imperfection, and I am frequently wrong, on all matter of things, and I would not want it otherwise. It enhances humility and humanity. That is why I do not refer to myself as Doctor even though I am entitled to do so with a Ph.D. Intellectualisation is a bit pompous and boring.

  • Dr Russell J Berry

    Excellent…here we are, then…united in prayer…and that is all it will take to ‘move mountains’

  • Dr Russell J Berry

    You wrote: ‘I have been blessed with the gift of imperfection, and I am frequently wrong, on all matter of things, and I would not want it otherwise. It enhances humility and humanity. That is why I do not refer to myself as Doctor even though I am entitled to do so with a Ph.D. Intellectualisation is a bit pompous and boring.’

    You rejoice in your imperfections as though they are not to be remedied, as though you have no need to perfect what you would call your imperfections. You would no want it otherwise? If so, well and good. Your confess ignorance of major theological trends in the Roman Catholic Church and in essence you say ‘what care I for my lack of knowldge?’

    You presume to speak of ‘humility and humanity’ as though you had written the best-seller on them and then you offend and insult me. Well and good but, for your better information, I use the title and the name in tribute to one whose intellectual shoes I am unfit to clean and for those imprefections of mine that make me unfit I am most heartily sorry.

  • DBMcGinnity

    God is with me wherever I am and whoever I’m with, and whatever I’m doing. I learned this from Andrew M Greeley who wrote about the meaning of Mystical Experience. His book: Ecstasy: A way of Knowing by Andrew M Greeley Prentice Hall (1974) ISBN 0-13-234948-5

    Like you, I probably have read, studied and debated most of the theological, philosophical and Catholic Church dogma at sometime or other, but I am pleased to say that I have forgotten most of it because it was irrelevant, superfluous flummery.

    My conversion, to reality was not as dramatic as that of St Paul. It was in a country church where a mission was being held by The Passionists (The Congregation of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ). The Priest was talking interminable nonsense about Holy Purity and Mary the Mother of God. He explained her genealogy and God’s plan for her to sleepy disinterested country farmers. He deliberated about Our Lady’s early life experiences. He even commented on her diet, that she liked to eat fish. Each time he mentioned the word Jesus, he lifted his hat. And the people dozed off in dozens.

    In the congregation there was a little girl about 3 or 4, and she was just bored as to distraction just like everyone else. To deal with her boredom she commenced to give her own rendition of “Little Donkey”. She had the melody perfect, but she used some of her own lyrics. It was wonderful. The pompous, supercilious, idiotic old priest with a large crucifix stuck in his belt like a sword became annoyed and called for the child to be hushed or removed from the church. The people suddenly woke up, literally and metaphorically.

    Then I thought, What the hell an I doing here? There was more Godliness in this little girl singing in tune and formulating her own rendition to a song, than in all the pseudo piety and histrionics of a silly looking old man talking nonsense about something that has no logical basis and never happened. I got up there and then a walked out, and so did several of the congregation. What he preached had nothing to do with God, or Jesus Christ.

    I did not insult you, I think you are right to use your well deserved academic designation and I have not shown disapproval, all I have said is that I choose not to. If you read (as I am sure you have) “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. He says that an insult is a subjective experience, and it is impossible to insult anyone if they do not acknowledge it. When I worked in mental health I was insulted many times (sometimes by the patients’), and I took no notice.

    I live in the “here and now” and I base my life on my own personal life experience. I refuse to live by proxy and through someone else’s experience, and that includes the Pope and all religious leaders of any kind. To me the major theological trends in the Roman Catholic Church are not worth a light, just like the Passionist Missioner, who talked nonsense about “made-up theology”. I have diligently studied these subjects for many years (too long) and it does nothing for me. But I do not deny anybody the right think and to practice, any religion, Christian or otherwise. But living by proxy is not to be recommended.

    Finally, Humility and being humble are not the same thing. Humility is relative insofar that we recognise and accept that there are great wonders, mysteries and miracles going on within us and around us, that we do not understand. This is the opposite of arrogance and self-aggrandisement. Now as for being humble (umble) like Uriah Heap? Not on your life! No one is any better than me, regardless of their status, title, background, wealth etc. I will not bend my knee to anything or anybody (when sober) because it is undignified. You can if you wish. As you acknowledge there is ONE who is greater than you

  • Dr Russell J Berry

    Dear DBMcGinnity

    There is indeed one who is greater than us all, taken individually or all together.

    I find your posting more than interesting and hope, perhaps, to read more.
    Most certainly, I take your words most seriously and believe they require thought and reflection.

    I am so very happy you are not in any competition with Uriah Heep. My skin crawls whenever the persona comes to mind. Perhaps like you, I have met my fair share of people who (unconsciously?) seek to aggrandise themselves. For reasons known to some on this blog I have to say that Mr Toad comes swiftly to mind. “Down with Toad! Down with Toad! Down with the popular successful Toad”…The Mr Toad of my memory did not grasp how much unanimity there was in the minds of all those who chanted the words during a pantomime. ‘Pride goeth before a fall’ – that was absent from ‘my’ Mr Toad’s mind for many a year until he was (shall we say?) deposed and humbled by the very man from whom he had expected to receive preferment. If you want to encounter a walking and breathing example of quite unintentional but totally exasperating pomposity I would recommend this aquaintance. My belief – from your writing – is that you would find it a most diverting and amusing experience.

    Thank you for your reply. It really is most appreciated.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Dear Doctor Berry
    Thank you for you graciousness.
    Martin Jarvis is in my opinion the best Uriah Heap I have seen, he makes my flesh creep too, but I suppose God loves people like him too. I believe that people need to be loved most when they least deserve to be. It is usually easy to love good, well behaved people, however dull they may be.

    It is strange that you should mention Mr Toad, because I knew him well. A patient I knew a long time ago was experiencing manic-depressive-psychosis as it was called then; now it is called bi-polar syndrome. This gentle-man was given the sobriquet Mr Toad because his conduct was not dissimilar to Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows” character.

    One evening he was inspired by Saint Joan of Arc that Barking Town had been removed from the Isle of Dogs, and it must be returned immediately. He blamed Most Rev. Dr Donald Coggan the Archbishop of Canterbury for this outrage. “ Mr Toad” was a very intelligent man with a double first at Oxford and he ‘hotwired’ a car and drove to London. By cunning, connivance and name dropping of very important persons he managed to convince Lambeth Palace staff that the Archbishop was expecting him, and was admitted.

    He remonstrated with the Archbishop about this terrible thing and wanted the Archbishop to accompany him to Barking to bring back “Barking Mad” to the Isle of Dogs. The Archbishop said “Of course dear boy, it will be returned, but can it wait until tomorrow”. When I got there to bring him back , he and Dr Coggan were in deep debate and with deep respect for each other views on the philosophy of “Being and Time” by Martin Heidegger. That was my Mr Toad, and I loved him. Sadly, one day he thought he could fly off Carfax Tower, like superman, he didn’t make it. I love imperfect people because there is so much to learn, especially about one’s self. They make us think about, just how sane we are. That is, if we are sane..

  • Dr Russell J Berry

    Dear Dr. McGinnity

    As you and I know ‘graciousness’ either flows quite naturally or it floweth not convincingly. Nobody could read your posts and be anything other than intrigued and surprised. You have an capacity for encouraging thought and reflection. Your readers might feel unsettled by your remarks. Being made to feel unsettled can be, I am sure you agree, a unique opportunity for thought and learning. It is often tantamount to a challenge and there may be some, here on these pages, who will not find themselves reacting very warmly to it.

    For my part, pray continue to unsettle and to challenge….we often do not think nearly enough.

    RB

  • DBMcGinnity

    I am from the old school where rhetoric and debate were compulsory. It was common that a student had to fervently and passionately argue the opposite point of view to his own beliefs. Now it is called Lateral Thinking, Gestalt, NLP, or some other term. The objective was to enable empathy, understanding and identification with opposite opinions to our own. The philosophy purported that the human mind has a tendency to be lazy and arrogant and to settle for the easiest option. We were taught to think and reason objectively and to look at and examine alternative points of view to our own, like any good research student

    Such academic discipline and rigorous attitudes now seem to be dead, in many cases, and reasoning is sadly ‘dummed down’.in several universities. Even Maynooth is being closed down in academic disgrace.
    I despise snobbery of any sort, but I wholeheartedly invite academic reasoning and rational thinking of any sort, from any source. Some of the reasoning expressed in this Catholic Herald are in my opinion facile, insofar that there is evidence to show that passionate emotions and religious zeal have clouded rationality, reason and logic. Some opinions expressed seem to be offensive and a bit hateful and meant to wound.

    That is why I refer to Marcus Aurelius and Bede Griffiths who saw the danger of subjective emotional reactions, sometimes called self-righteousness. We see it almost every day now in some sorts of Muslim fundamentalism. This sort of passionate fury can destroy all logic, reason and and even life itself.

    If I seem to be unreasonable, it is because of my intolerance for “Disneyland” logic. The Pope has only been infallible since 1870, prior to then he was vulnerable and prone to errors, just like anyone else. If Catholic teaching was a success, then the world would not be in such doctrinal and cultural chaos .

    Anyhow, like Bede Griffiths, I am going off to India to live, and to die (not just yet). So I will sign off in the love of Jesus Christ, and leave the world to those who have yet to experience it. God life it is fun, honest!

  • M19games1

    ” It is time to ditch all the Mitres, superstitious apparel, fancy vestments and all other ecclesiastical accoutrements and throw them in The Tiber, The Thames, The Seine etc., Jesus never wore a mitre in his life and would probably have thought the vestments looked ridiculous and hideous, and he would have burst out laughing. ”

    You sir obviously know nothing about the ancient Jewish rites of passover, as would have been observed by Christ in the Upper room during the Last Supper. It is highly probable that Christ would have performed the rites fully vested, much as traditional Catholic priests vest for mass today. Everything in the old testament is mirrored and fulfilled in the new, including the rites of passover. There is an exhaustive study conducted by a Fr. Meagher and printed in the early 1900′s that deals with this subject. The book is called “How Christ said the First Mass” and it will show what fallacy is displayed in your comment above.

  • DBMcGinnity

    I will not take any lessons from you about Jewish Rituals

    Let us not speculate on fantasy. I believe in Jesus and the Last Supper. And that he told the apostles to “Do this in memory of Me”. They were eating, so he told them to feed the hungry people of the world. That was the message of Jesus. The Mass was not practised until after 320 AD and it is the continuation of the Sol Invictus Ritual where little boys and virgin girls were raped and sacrificed and eaten by the Roman Elite. That is why the Roman Catholic Church still has a pathological preoccupation with virginity, martyrdom and child sexual abuse. You mention “highly probable” That is not good enough these days.
    It is definite that the Roman CatholicChurch was, and still are engaged in barbaric child abuse rituals.

    It is Friday night I am on my way out to a Jewish supper (Shabbat) so, I will not take any lessons from you about Jewish rituals, thank you very much. Like the Pope I am wearing my Kippa (Yarmulke)

    I have the book you mention on my shelf

    How Christ Said The First Mass; Or The Lord’s Last Supper: The Rites And Ceremonies, The Ritual And Liturgy, by James L. Meagher. The Forms Of Divine Worship [Hardcover] Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, (July 25, 2007) ISBN 13: 978-0548256060 Also: Man, the mirror of the universe: Or, The agreement of science and religion by James L. Meagher.: explained for the people [Hardcover]

  • Johannim

    Wouldn’t it really piss off the hierarchs of a gay liberal 1960 mindset if the Vatican and Fraternal Society of St. Pius 10th with her 800 Orthodox priests nuns and monk and millions of equally Orthodox Catholics came to an agreement and the Society was allowed to operate in EVERY diocese throughout the World.What a shot in the arm to Catholicism in all her glory and a death knell for every liberal cardinal, bishop nun and laity out there. Actually liberalism in the Catholic church is an endangered vicious species. AND IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

  • Johannim

    Dr. is suppose to be impressive drop the label i can say the same as an anthropologist but don’t wear it for effect. The novus ordo missae and all the crap that came out of the mess that was the misinterpretation of Vatican two IS PROTESTANT Mr. russell berry, Archbishop anabale bugnini the INVENTOR of the venacular bloody mess was a freemason and a protestant mr. berry. I was born and raised an evangelical baptist protestant Mr. berry, I know what it is ,how it sounds and smells and what they believe and the Society of St. Pius 10th IS NOT A protestant sect mr. berry. Really try to get a life mr. berry are u really really that insecure in ur little novus ordo service.

  • Johannim ben elan

    know you are Christian by your love , sounds good mr. berry as to arrogance u lack none of it in ur prolific babbling, my sweet dear friend, if thats your yardstick for measuring a persons Christianity WE ARE IN TROUBLE mr. berry. Happy truth your arrogant elitist ilk are passing away to oblivion and millions of Catholic youth are dumping the PROTESTANT post vatican two happy clappy service for the real thing the Tridentine Liturgy codified at Trent in the 16th century and going back to the 2nd and 3rd century in it’s essence, that mr. berry is the archeological truth about the early ancient Christian faith and her mode of worship lex orandi lex credendi ever hear of it mr berry if not ask a good traditional Catholic or Eastern Orthodox priest what it means Dr. sir berry??

  • Johannim

    Awesome paulpriest direct blunt to the point and piss them off Good Pope Benedict is our last best change and with the King of the Universe he will bring God’s Holy Catholic church back to prominence. Your a Good man PaulPriest keep up the fight. There are may out here (young Catholics) that would gladly help you to shove out some of the arse discharge that liberalism seeded in the Catholic church since Vatican 2 Shalom BRo the stink of hell is in fact dissipating in the church.

  • Poulettictac

    Thnak you Johannim for your posting.

    I fear you have misread the situation and this can only be because you have no read my postings. I may well ‘pass away’ as you joyfully suggest and wish but it will not be ‘to oblivion’ but to an eventual blessed and greater life with Christ, my Lord.

    I am delighted if, as you say, ‘millions of Catholic youth are dumping the protestant post vaican two happy clappy service for the real thing etc’. That is as I would wish it and as I pray for it, Johannim, and you would have understood as much had you read what I have written, here.

    Your posting is not coherent and your vicious and malicious attack on me is very un-Catholic but God bless you, Johannim, and me too (if you will allow such a thing)

  • Dr Russell J Berry

    Thank you Johannim for your posting.

    I fear you have misread the situation and this can only be because you have not read my postings. I may well ‘pass away’ as you joyfully suggest and wish but it will not be ‘to oblivion’ but to an eventual blessed and greater life with Christ, my Lord. Maybe I will see you there, somewhere?

    I am delighted if, as you say, ‘millions of Catholic youth are dumping the protestant post vatican two happy clappy service for the real thing etc’. That is as I would wish it and as I pray for it, Johannim, and you would have understood as much had you read what I have written, here.

    Your posting is not coherent and your vicious and malicious attack on me is very un-Catholic but God bless you, Johannim, and me too (if you will allow such a thing)

  • Dr Russell J Berry

    My sweet, dear friend!

    How nice of you to call me so! Thank you, dear brother in Christ.

    They – the protestants, the heretics, the Modernists, the Mohammedans and all the rest shall, indeed, know us as Christians by our love for each other and we shall be indeed in deep trouble is we behave like them, shall we not?

    You wrote: ‘Happy truth your arrogant elitist ilk are passing away to oblivion’ and I answer “Praise Jesus and His Most Blessed Mother for nothing could be to the greater good of us all. You have grasped entirely the wrong end of the ecclesial stick, my sweet, dear friend. I am a traditionalist and no ‘friend’ to the enemies of Holy Church.

    You wrote: ‘Catholic youth are dumping the PROTESTANT post vatican two happy clappy service for the real thing the Tridentine Liturgy codified at Trent in the 16th century and going back to the 2nd and 3rd century in it’s essence, that mr. berry is the archeological truth about the early ancient Christian faith and her mode of worship’ and I reply ‘Great’ – once more, you have grasped the wrong end of the stick.

    Finally, you wrote: ‘lex orandi lex credendi ever hear of it mr berry’ and I reply that such is all I have ever been saying, here and elsewhere – wrong end of the stick again, my dear sweet friend.

    God bless us all, Johannim

  • Hermeneutic of Reform

    For Anyone Who Has Found This Page:

    Instead of reading this antagonism, go to Christ for ten minutes.

    Yours,

    The Hermeneutic of Reform