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The pope moves towards the SSPX and against all those radical feminist nuns. The old ‘reactionary’ back again? No: those liberal clichés are as silly as ever they were

Joseph Ratzinger has always said ‘no’ to heresy: but only so the Church could say ‘Yes’ to God

By on Monday, 23 April 2012

Last week, rather to my surprise, Pope Benedict became, at 85, the oldest pope in the last 110 years. He is, furthermore, one of only six to reign past 85 in the last 500 years. Last week was an interesting week for him: if you had just reported it as though the last seven years hadn’t happened, it might have been taken as a confirmation of what many expected on his election: that he would be, in the words of one commentator, a “ruthless enforcer” of orthodoxy.

Firstly, the possibility emerged that there really might be an agreement to heal the rift between the Holy See and the SSPX, possibly by establishing it as a prelature, along the lines of Opus Dei. Seven years ago, any such possibility would have been explained by many as a confirmation of the Pope’s unyieldingly reactionary temperament. Nobody says that now. The second evidence of the Pope’s rottweiler remperament would have been last week’s crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the main umbrella group of women’s orders in the United States. This was after a three year doctrinal assessment by the CDF, as a result of which Cardinal Levada declared that there was a situation of “crisis ….characterized by a diminution of the fundamental Christological center”. There was “a prevalence of … radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith …. theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father … including commentaries on ‘patriarchy’ which distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.”

So: at the same time as a convergence with the SSPX, a crackdown on all those non-habit-wearing radical religious: absolutely typical, no? Well not quite. As the liberal commentator John L Allen pointed out in the National Catholic Reporter

If we take the last seven years into view, not just the last week, the picture changes considerably. Quite often, the most intriguing feature of this papacy isn’t how Benedict has confirmed expectations, but rather how he’s confounded them.… Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the great “Doctor No” of the Catholic church in his quarter-century as the Vatican’s doctrinal czar, has actually turned out to be the pope of what I’ve termed “Affirmative Orthodoxy.” It’s an approach to church teaching that emphasizes the Catholic “yes” — putting the accent on what Catholicism supports and affirms rather than what it opposes and condemns.

Allen illuminatingly quoted the Pope himself:

Firstly, you have to know what we really want, right? Christianity, Catholicism, isn’t a collection of prohibitions: it’s a positive option. It’s very important that we look at it again because this idea has almost completely disappeared today. We’ve heard so much about what is not allowed that now it’s time to say: we have a positive idea to offer … I believe we need to see and reflect on the fact that it’s not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: all cultures know this. As far as abortion is concerned, it’s part of the fifth, not the sixth, commandment: “Thou shalt not kill!” We have to presume this is obvious and always stress that the human person begins in the mother’s womb and remains a human person until his or her last breath. … But all this is clearer if you say it first in a positive way.

All this took me back to the astonishment that greeted Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, in both the Catholic and the secular media. The Guardian’s report, I see from my files, was headed “Pope surprises Catholics with warm words on power of love”. It was written by Stephen Bates, the Guardian’s religious Affairs correspondent, himself a liberal Catholic, and its tone of gratified amazement reflected the general reaction among Catholics hostile to the overall direction of the pontificate of John Paull II, and particularly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its supposedly cold-hearted former prefect. “Pope Benedict XVI thawed his previously chilly image yesterday” wrote Bates, “by producing as his first message to his worldwide flock a notably warm rumination on the nature of love. Deus Caritas Est … was greeted last night with some astonishment and relief among senior Catholics”. The encyclical’s message, opined Bates, “was far from the finger-wagging ‘thou shalt not’ tone that characterised some of his predecessor’s pronouncements and contrasted with Benedict’s stern reputation…”.

True enough: the tone of the encyclical did, as we all vividly remember, belie the Pope’s “stern reputation”: but where, it had to be asked, did that come from? The answer is that the cold-hearted “Panzer-Cardinal” Ratzinger of former times was from beginning to end a media construct. But what the press constructs, the press can deconstruct: and there followed a media makeover unequalled since Dickens published the final instalment of The Christmas Carol, and mean old Ebenezer Scrooge, transformed by the Spirit of Christmas, astonished and slightly terrified the Cratchit family by turning up on Christmas day with a huge turkey (the encyclical was signed on Christmas Day). “There never was such a turkey”; wrote Dickens: “there never was such an encyclical” almost wrote The Tablet.

So: what was going on? Monsignor Andrew Faley, the assistant general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said “We are seeing the substance of the man as a pastor and shepherd of the flock. A cuddly Benedict? Well, well”.

The fact was of course that the pope was being just as pastoral as prefect of the CDF when he said “no’ to some new heresy. As for being “less prescriptive”, Deus Caritas Est was just as prescriptive as anything the former Panzer-Cardinal ever published, prescriptive exactly as Our Lord was prescriptive when he gave us his “new [ital] commandment [end ital], to love one another as I have loved you”.

This was no soft-centred “cuddly Benedict”; the pope still had a spine, as we have seen over the years that followed. He was exactly the same Joseph Ratzinger as he had always been. There was no contradiction: as he wrote as Prefect of the CDF in 1993, “Christianity is at its heart a radical ‘yes,’ and when it presents itself as a ‘no,’ it does so only in defence of that ‘yes’.” The secular world does not, of course, WANT a radical Christian “yes”; it wants a “yes” not to the love of God but to our own “personal choices”; and so, it has to be said does the secularising fifth column within the Catholic Church (including the American Leadership Conference of Women Religious).

There was always a limit to the Pope’s new cuddliness. There was no change in direction, as that old curmudgeon Hans Kung correctly diagnosed at the time. Thus, having praised the encyclical’s “solid theological substance” he also grumbled that the pope had failed to mention the charity the church should show toward loving couples who use contraception, and those who divorce and remarry. Poor old Kung, he didn’t get it then, and he doesn’t get it now; he knows what he believes and has stuck to it through thick and thin. But so does the Pope; and so, the Lord be praised, has he.

  • teigitur

    Mr Allen is about the only sane commentator on that awful rag. There is nothing ” Catholic” about it.

  • Benedict Carter

    One can only applaud the overtures to the SSPX, who the Pope desperately needs to restore in time some sort of orthodoxy in a Church gone mad doctrinally and morally. 

    I applaud too the action against the American “sistas”. These so-called “nuns” long ago went horribly wrong and cannot currently be given the title of ‘Christian’ let alone ‘Catholic’. Yet my applause here is muted by the fact that the Vatican has dealt with them unbelievably leniently. By any measure the LCWR is rotten to the core and should have been suppressed entirely. That action may well come as the sistas resist any correction. Disobedience lies at the core of their stance. Their religious vows (all three of them) have been so badly trashed that I think we will see the LCWR opt for being released from canonical status and become just a lay pressure group (which it already is in fact).

    As far as this Pope goes in general, in my view he is a tragic Gorbachovian figure. Like Gorbachev, who sincerely thought he could reform Communism, Pope Benedict thinks it is possible to reform the current state of the Church without jettisoning the baggage that has caused the catastrophe in the first place. That is a concerted doctrinal and moral rebellion on the part of many clerics, at the highest levels as well as the lowest, and many, many of the laity. 

    It is the doctrinal innovations of the last fifty years (ecumenism, conciliarism and current teaching on religious liberty) which have caused revolution and chaos. He of course is one of the key figures in that Revolution and cannot give it up entirely, for which History will judge him harshly I am afraid to say, much as I like his liberation of the Old Mass.

    Some of his episcopal appointments have been disasters, with Bishops openly teaching heresy (I can give several examples). John Paul’s appointments were disastrous enough, but one had hoped that generation would be improved by Benedict’s appointments. Not so. 

    You can’t turn a Trabant into a Rolls Royce by adding a couple of go-faster stripes and leather seats or making the language of the English Novus Ordo a bit more sacred. We have to return to the true springs of renewal: bring back the Old Mass and the other Sacraments, abrogate the neo-protestant Novus Ordo; restore the ancient theology and soul of the Church.

    Sister Lucia of Fatima:

    “Let people say the Rosary every day, Our Lady has repeated that in all of Her apparitions, as if to fortify us in these times of diabolical disorientation, in order that we not let ourselves be deceived by false doctrines … Unfortunately, in religious matters, the people for the most part are ignorant and allow themselves to be led wherever they are taken. Hence, the great responsibility of the one who has the duty of leading them”.

    “It is a diabolical disorientation that is invading the world, deceiving souls! It is necessary to stand up to the devil.”

    Then there is Pius XII’s famous linking of the Fatima message to apostasy in the Church, which validates what traditionalist Catholics see as the problems of the Vatican II revolution. While serving as Secretary of State under Pope Pius XI, in 1937 Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli said:

    “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul. I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.”

    In short, we await the Pope who will restore all things in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • aearon43

    Wasn’t it always so? Vatican II itself is fine, nothing really controversial there unless you really believe that all non-Catholics are going to hell. There’s always been varying levels of corruption — how pure do you really think the Church was when she had a hand in every royal marriage and political intrigue in Europe? Aren’t we better off without all of that? You risk “immantentizing the eschalon” with statements like this: “we await the Pope who will restore all things in Our Lord Jesus Christ.” No pope will ever do that. Even Peter denies Christ in the Gospels. Don’t expect the pope to do what only Christ can do.

  • Benedict Carter

    Your first sentence is such rubbish Aearon43 that I hesitate to reply at all. It is NEVER been the Church’s teaching that ” … all non-Catholics are going to hell”. As you clearly do not know what the Catholic Church actually teaches on the matter, you will forgive me ignoring the rest of your post.

  • Nat_ons

    Sadly, there are many in the SSPX who – while espousing orthodox practice – seek to be more that a devotional society in the service of the church catholic: Jesus Christ, himself. In this their spirit is as heterodox as that of the more wild-eyed Aquarius Age feminist/ my own Spirit-Of-The-Council sisters. That is, disobedience to their call, ministry and purpose – up-building the body of Christ in love (a divine gift which does not exclude discipline and obedience but lives in the structure these give to it .. or is not charity at all).

  • Desertwatch333

    The ‘sistas’ radical disobedience doesn’t even make any sense in a secular world.  I would imagine that every major Corporation would have ‘assessments’ every once in a while to make sure they’re all on the same page and on the right track. Anyone refusing to participate would be fired…the ‘sistas’, especially joan chittister and Keehan are too full of themselves and of a sense of their own importance and indispensability.  Same thing with the heads of so called ‘Catholic’ Universities and Institutions…for too long have them been permitted to retain the title “Catholic’ as have so called “Catholic” politicians who publicly mock the Bishops and defy Catholic teaching and urge others to follow them rather than the Bishops…

  • Benedict Carter

    This is a myth, at least at the two SSPX Chapels (Fatima in Portugal and Nairobi in Kenya) I regularly attend. In fact, the opposite is the case. There is a humility and a trusting patience on display, no histrionics at all; just quiet fidelity to the Church’s age-old teaching.

  • aearon43

    Right, so what’s wrong with the actual documents of Vatican II? (as opposed to the “spirit” of it)

  • Benedict Carter

    Ok, that’s a fair question! Here is a summary of the key problems of Vatican II (please note that in accepting without demur 95% of Vatican II, the SSPX accept MORE than do most Bishops and priests in the world today):

    There are four points:

    The doctrine on religious liberty, as it is expressed in no. 2 of the Declaration ‘Dignitatis humanae,’ contradicts the teachings of Gregory XVI in ‘Mirari vos’ and of Pius IX in ‘Quanta cura’ as well as those of Pope Leo XIII in ‘Immortale Dei’ and those of Pope Pius XI in ‘Quas primas.’

    The doctrine on the Church, as it is expressed in no. 8 of the Constitution ‘Lumen gentium,’ contradicts the teachings of Pope Pius XII in ‘Mystici corporis’ and ‘Humani generis.’

    The doctrine on ecumenism, as it is expressed in no. 8 of ‘Lumen gentium’ and no. 3 of the Decree ‘Unitatis redintegratio,’ contradicts the teachings of Pope Pius IX in propositions 16 and 17 of the ‘Syllabus,’ those of Leo XIII in ‘Satis cognitum,’ and those of Pope Pius XI in ‘Mortalium animos.’

    The doctrine on collegiality, as it is expressed in no. 22 of the Constitution ‘Lumen gentium,’ including no. 3 of the ‘Nota praevia’ [Explanatory Note], contradicts the teachings of the First Vatican Council on the uniqueness of the subject of supreme power in the Church, in the Constitution ‘Pastor aeternus’.

  • TeaPot562

    As a follow-up of this, will we begin to experience “Catholic” universities NOT awarding honorary degrees to politicians who advocate abortion?  That would be a major improvement.

  • theroadmaster

    The pope and his confreres in the CDF and other Vatican congregations have a major task on their hands, to surmount the widespread theological dissent, doctrinal rebellion and basic ignorance of the Faith, that is emanating from considerable sections of the theologians, priests, religious orders and laity in  Western nations.  The pope has certainly proved himself to be more than a “caretaker” pope, merely keeping St Peter’s seat warm for a more populist choice.  Benedict XV1′s laser-like intellectual power has shown itself to great effect in his talks, published works and encyclicals regarding  the definition. analysis of and spiritual framework for resolving the socio-political and moral problems of our modern age.  His quiet demeanor disguises a robust mind of great capacity, which possesses the necessary will to see through steps to guarantee the truth and integrity of Church doctrine and practices, despite the furore and bitter recriminations that it may cause within predictable circles in the short to medium term.

  • Antoine Khoury

    Without claiming to be much of an expert on the subject, are you then claiming that the entire council is invalid, and if so, how could a ecumenical council of the Church teach falsehood?  Or is your position that the points you mentioned are ‘pastoral’ in nature and therefore do not define doctrine?

  • Benedict Carter

    John XXIII said explicitly before the Council that it would teach no doctrine. Paul VI said the same. No Vatican II document claims infallibility. 

    You ask good questions. I am not an expert either, but it seems to me that a non-dogmatic Council can be repudiated in its problematic areas without difficulty. 

    The same was done with the famous “Robber Council” of Constance I believe. 

    Yes, the four areas of doctrinal contradiction HAVE to be sorted to enable the Church to back out of the alleyway She’s gone off down. She’s reached the end and is staring at a grimy brick wall. 

    Time to turn round. It’ll come. Vatican II is no longer a Sacred Cow that we cannot even mention without panting in adoration.

  • Antoine Khoury

    I think this is the key issue for many traditionally minded Catholics regarding the SSPX – probably because they are not well versed in such matters – they do not understand how a society claiming to be Catholic can repudiate Catholic teaching (though I understand the point you are making in that it is not actually Catholic at all).  I think that perhaps if less invective was used in the debate more generally, there might be greater understanding of the real issues which rightly concern all Catholics given the problems in the Church following Vatican 2 (and probably more support for the positions of the SSPX).  I have always been impressed (with admittedly limited knowledge) by the manner in which Archbishop Lefebvre made his points – he seemed to speak the truth in love as he saw it.  However, I must admit that I have been put off by the tone of some SSPX commentators which has not always been as magnanimous as that of the Archbishop. And thanks for the clarification, that is interesting food for thought which I shall read up on some more.

  • Benedict Carter

    That’s an extremely gracious post and I thank you for it. I will say this: after the hoped-for reconciliation, it WILL take some time for SSPX people (including myself) to lose the suspicion that 40 years of villification and siege mentality have produced. That’s true. But with good will it will be quick I hope!

    I would buy and read several times ++ Lefebvre’s “Letter to Confused Catholics” as a starting point, and the other absolutely essential book is “Iota Unum” by the Italian Vatican II peritus and philosopher Romano Amerio.

  • Richard A

    However, the bark of Peter is also the ark of salvation. Any ‘baggage’ ‘jettisoned’ (to use Benedict Carter’s rather uncharitable usage above) from a major corporation can find another major corporation, or start her own. There aren’t any alternatives to Roman Catholic church, and Pope Benedict rigthtly prefers to keep our wayward ‘sistas’ in, for the sake of their own souls, which have their own worth however wayward some of them may appear to be.

  • Benedict Carter

    “Baggage” in my post refers to doctrinal innovations, not human beings. How is that uncharitable?

  • Desertwatch333

    I have always been impressed (with admittedly limited knowledge) by the manner in which Archbishop Lefebvre made his points – he seemed to speak
     the truth in love as he saw it.  : for myself, I have seen videos of Arch. Lefebvre viciously declaring that P.John Paul II was a devil and excoriating all that came with Vatican II and after as being works of satan..I so admired the gentle way Pope John Paul tried to reach Arch. Lefebvre but Arch. Lefebvre was determined to have his way and he drew so many away from the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Was it pride? Only God can judge. Remember, Christ said that there would be scandals but that His Church, the Church founded by Him would go on until the end of time. There have always been ‘scandals’ – Luther left the Church to start his own in the face of scandal; Arch. Lefebvre left the Church founded by Christ to start his own…Pope Benedict is, like Pope John Paul, being as open as possible to the followers of Arch. Lefebvre because he wants to welcome those who left back into the fold, into the arms of the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  But God gave us free will…I admit that there were and are many who misinterpreted Vatican II and caused great scandal.  Pope Benedict is not one of them nor was Pope John Paul.

  • Desertwatch333

    You’re right Richard, but the difficulty is that those who are openly and aggressively standing against the Church’s teachings are leading many astray…this I know for a fact.  If those ‘sistas’ believe they are following faithfully the teachings of Christ’s Church then why not welcome the representatives of the Church?? If they are aware that they are not only defying Church teachings but are bringing others to stand with them against the Church, then something needs to change. And Institutions who stand against the Church and teach their members to do the same should not be permitted to keep the title Catholic.  For instance, parents send their children to ‘Catholic’ schools believing their children will be taught the Catholic faith and help to grow in that faith.  But when their children go to that school, they are led away from the faith.  Pope Benedict has given and will continue to give every assistance to those who truly seek to live and to teach the faith; but there comes a point when the defiant ones will have to make a choice. 

  • Benedict Carter

    “I admit that there were and are many who misinterpreted Vatican II and caused great scandal”.

    Please don’t use the past tense. The scandals go on daily.

  • JByrne24

    William Oddie writes: “Firstly, the possibility emerged that there really might be an agreement to heal the rift between the Holy See and the SSPX, possibly by establishing it as a prelature, along the lines of Opus Dei.”

    If this, or something similar, did happen, I think that, in the course of a shortish time, there would be another group like the present SSPX breaking off again.
    There is a view in SSPX (from former Opus Dei people) that Opus Dei itself “went native” and the best of it was distilled into SSPX.
    I don’t believe that they’re right about this.   
    They are both rather nasty organisations and they both damage the Church.

  • Benedict Carter

    Catholicism, dangerous?

    “What Catholics once were, we are. If we are wrong, then Catholics through the ages have been wrong. We are what you once were. We believe what you once believed. We worship as you once worshipped. If we are wrong now, you were wrong then. If you were right then, we are right now”.

    Robert DePiante

  • Oconnord

    Hey Teig..

     Can you explain to me what would happen if the women religious simply defied the CDF? I don’t understand the “politics” in this article and know next to nothing about either group. It seems to conflict, on one hand the church seems to have rejected the SSPX but now wants to welcome it back. But on the other the other it might reject the LCWR. Could the LCWR carry on without vatican support? How did the SSPX do so under the same circumstances?  Is it a question of direct funding? If the LCWR held out would the church look to negotiate in the future? 

    Sorry if I seem a bit thick on these issues…. But that’s cause I am quite thick on these issues! And who are the SSPX? ( I could of course google it, but I’d rather have a catholic view first).

  • aearon43

    Sorry, when I said “wasn’t it always so?” I meant there have always been dissenters, heretics and various decadent elements. It’s a little over the top to characterize the present day Church as uniquely imperiled in that respect. I do understand there are problems with some statement in Vatican II as you say.

  • JabbaPapa

    Have you been reading that Dan Brown again ?

    You better be careful what you say in public — you don’t want a visit from the albino monks now, do you…

  • Antoine Khoury

    Interesting – do you have any links to the videos you are talking about?  I did confess to having limited knowledge of the matter…..

  • teigitur

    Mmmmn Where to start. I m not at all sure what would happen if these silly nuns ignored the Vatican. Orders tend to be self funding and regulatiing( or not as these). Though they must accept the “visitors” from HQ in Rome. If they choose to ignore these, who knows. But to an extent it does not really matter in the longterm as they are mostly dying out and being replaced by younger, more faithful sisters.
     The Society of Saint Pius the tenth( SSPX). Was started by Archbishop Lefebre in France after the second Vatican council, which it totally rejected. He, and they, were excommunicated by JP 2 around 1988 for ordaining Bishops. Valid but illicit. Talks have been coming and going since and it seems like they may be re-admitted. They celebrate only the pre -V2 Latin Mass. They are doing well with plenty of vocations and have a presence in many parts of the world, including Dublin. Where they have a Church in Mountown. Hope that helps.

  • Patrickhowes

    Well Done Richard for reminding Benedict that the concept of “Savings Souls” is the crux to the existence of the Church”.We must be forgiving and in the present world show the wonders of the virtue of redemption.I understand the feeling of hurt of those within the SSPX but lest us not forget that a certain SSPX Bishop demonstrated a high degree of moral confusion by almost denying the degree of Nazi atrocities.So we are fallibleIt is also true that His Grace Archbishop Fellay quickly chastised the Bishop concerned.He showed himself in the same light as the Holy Father.He would make a wonderful Cardinal and even better to lead the College of Cardinals which is currently led by a ery misguided Angelo Sodano

  • Patrickhowes

    Neither are dangerous organisations.Both produce high quality priests and people with strong conviction.I remind that with Opus Dei there has been not one incidence of sexual abuse.Some of their methods historically have not always been right as they sought to grow through pressure rather than grace!This is evolving.My five boys went to an Opus Dei school and it was first class.The quality of the Catechism was superb!.Weekly confession and Mass daily if required.ery supportive of families both fiancially and morally.
    I used to go to Mass at the SSPX Parish and the quality and the dedication of the priests was superb.

  • Alan

    I write as one who joined the Church after Vatican II, and who would not have joined beforehand.  I would never want to return to the days of the “anti-modernist oath” and “error has no rights” and the like.  This seems to be a basic difference between people like you and people like me.  I want an “inclusive” Church, embracing the likes of both of us, whereas I get the impression that you would like people like me to get out.
    I would also ask: if you think there are contradictions between Vatican II and earlier pronouncements, why do you assume it is necessarily Vatican II which is wrong?

  • Benedict Carter

    Error STILL has no rights at all. Not even Vatican II can change that. 

    As to your charge that you have the impression I would like you out of the Church – well, this is just your imagination at work, isn’t it?

    When a whole series of Popes consistently and over a very long period give the Church authoritative teaching, and then we are given the opposite, which is directly opposed to the original teaching not only in content but in spirit, any Catholic has the right to know what the hell is going on. 

    Scripture itself tells us to flee from any teaching not handed down, doesn’t it?

  • Benedict Carter

    Agreed, Patrick – very high quality priests. 

    With an SSPX priest (in my experience) you get orthodoxy as a given, reverence, learning, great good humour and a high degree of approachability. 

    The ones I know are clearly men rooted in prayer and concerned only for the Salvation of Souls.

    Not politics, not global warming, not homosexual “rights”, not bidding prayers for Madge’s holiday pictures, not anything else except God and the Church.

  • Alan

    “Error has no rights” (repudiated at Vatican II) referred, I believe, to the rights of non-Catholics in “Catholic” countries to worship in their own ways.  Are you suggesting that the state should not allow this?  Like in Saudi Arabia, where Christians are not allowed to worship publicly?
    I should be interested to know which specific teachings of Vatican II you object to.

  • Benedict Carter

    Assisi I? And many other episodes …..

  • Benedict Carter

    “Error has no rights” is a philosophical term that Vatican II had no authority whatever to “repudiate”.

    As I have already said, Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty, as it is expressed in no. 2 of the Declaration ‘Dignitatis humanae,’ contradicts the teachings of Gregory XVI in ‘Mirari vos’ and of Pius IX in ‘Quanta cura’ as well as those of Pope Leo XIII in ‘Immortale Dei’ and those of Pope Pius XI in ‘Quas primas.’

    I strongly advise you to read up on what IS the constant Catholic teaching on religious liberty before you start criticising it. 

  • Patrickhowes

    You touch upon a very interesting subject when you mention the degree of autonomy that congregations have within the current Catholic structure.What happens when they are loose canons.Surely this was the case with the Sisters and with Marcial Maciel.They were able to entrench themselves within their own ramparts, that it made it almost impossible for Nuncios and Bishops to intervene.Under current conditions a Bishop cannot overrule the head of a congregation!Only the Pope can do this!.If you visit the website lifeafterrc,I recommend you read how Msgr Justo Muñoz the Nuncio in Mexico attempted to intervene with the Legion of Christ.The Nuncio in union with The Archbishop should be able to yield more power.Msgr Edward O Birein did this in Baltimore by banning the Legion in his own diocese(Now a favourite of the Pope and would be a marvellous successor)!There must be more closer supervision of orders.We are by nature deemed to get things wrong so we need a bit more humility and spiritual direction.The fact that Mons Lefbevre ran a tight but loving ship,has meant that his congregation has weathered the storm of time!

  • Patrickhowes

    No Alan,You belong in the Church as much as anyone!We are all sinners and must always remember to just the Sin and not the sinner and I think that this is what Benedict is trying to explain.Vatican ll in its essence was good.John xxlll wanted to open the shuttered doors of the Vatican to the world.I believe his intention was to reform an institution.What happened was that the baby was thrown out with the bath water.All that gace us identity as Catholics,orthodox,universal and True was thrown away.We had beautiful liturgies.We  had patronised the arts for centuries,enabling musicians like Mozart and Palestrini to come to the fore.There was a strong relationship between the religious and families.People had a greta deal of devotion towards God and the Sacraments.What perhaps was wrongwas that morally the Church was trying to put the roof on before the foundations.The bar was raised so high that people had no chance of jumping over it.People evole spiritually and are capable of extraordinary things once they are able to accept Faith as a certaintity and attain a state of grace.

  • Patrickhowes

    the article by Msgr Justo Muñoz is here
    and is entitled why the Legion must disappear.

  • Oconnord

    Did help. Sorry need to get back to my sandwich. Thanks, it helps when things are explained simply.

  • Alan

    I would repeat my question: do you think that a “Catholic” country should, through its government, seek to suppress any kind of non-Catholic worship?  That is what “error has no rights” meant, as I understand it.
    As regards the alleged contradictions between Vatican II and previous teachings (and language is a flexible thing), you seem to be making a “private judgement” that the earlier teachings were correct and the later false, rather than the other way round.  You are entitled to that private judgement, but you cannot expect others to necessarily agree.  Simply stating that what is earlier must be correct is not good enough.
    Not that I accept there is any contradiction, as far as authoritative teachings valid for all time are concerned.

  • nytor

    Indeed. As someone who is an attendee at the 1962 rite, but who is not SSPX, I grieve greatly at the SSPX’s separation from the Church, and I blame both sides – the liberals who will give the SSPX no room to breathe and the SSPX itself for failing to pursue reunion with any enthusiasm. I hope now that the SSPX has made this move, and under this pope who will help them back into the fold, that the reunion will come, for we need them as a bulwark against the modernists. What we do not need, however, are the crazy fringe elements. The faithful bulk of the SSPX is what we need.

    I hope that they will seize this opportunity, now, whilst this pope lives, for who knows whether his successor would be as accommodating.

  • Simon Ho

    Actually, the statement should be the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church, as in in the interpretation and application of canon law, the salvation of souls is the supreme motivation. The crux of the Church’s existence is Jesus Christ; at the heart of the Church is a person, not an idea.

  • Benedict Carter

    Yes, I must agree. There are one or two “crazies” but they genuinely are a small number and I think even they will calm down in time. Let us pray the negotiations are fruitful very soon. Next couple of weeks will tell us.

  • Benedict Carter

    You are doing the same again – inventing a scenario that is based on your ignorance of what the Church taught always (until Vatican II). Therefore no response from me, especially as the space to write has shrunk to 2 inches. Hope we will have an article soon where I can write about what the Church always taught. 

  • theroadmaster

    It looks like you have overdosed on Dan Brown and a whole host of other writers who write fantastical tales about spurious claims concerning the Church and dress them up as fiction.

  • Patrickhowes

    No Simon.If you believe that we are made in God´s image and that the Godhead is in all of us,then Human Life is about finding God in all of us.At the heart of the Church is  a belief in God and God is not a person but a Being

  • bauerfam

    The Holy Father reached out to Anglicans too. He asked the college of bishops to be generous. He published an Apostolic Constitution, and it seems that he is the only Roman Catholic willing to be “generous” in its application.
    Those lesser lights in the bureaucracy seem to be concentrating on contemplation as a passive defense against generosity. Next month will mark the 12th month since I, as an Anglican Priest, submitted an application to the CDF as asked. There has been no response.

  • Benedict Carter

    Dear Bauerfam, can you not simply pick up the telephone and talk to the Ordinariate? Perhaps your letter has been lost. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Do we see here Maritain’s incredibly damaging “integral humanism” rearing its very ugly head? God knows its done huge damage to the Church. 

  • JByrne24

    No, I haven’t been reading pulp fiction. But I do have direct familial experience of both of these organisations.
    I note that my point about further fission being only a short step away was not taken up.
    The quotation (Benedict Carter) from the late Robert DePiante is full of non-sequiturs, and I do not accept it.