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Traditionalist group granted formal status within the Church after a four-year wait

By on Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The community pictured yesterday, the day of their canonical erection (Photo courtesy of Brother Martin Mary)

The community pictured yesterday, the day of their canonical erection (Photo courtesy of Brother Martin Mary)

A traditionalist group based on an island in Scotland has been formally established as an institute within the Catholic Church.

The Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as the Transalpine Redemptorists, was erected today, on the feast of the Assumption, as a Clerical Institute of Diocesan Right.

The community, which has about 15 members, has been in limbo since 2008 when it announced that it wished to enter into full communion with Rome.

The group’s decision was a response to Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which allowed priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass freely.

Previously, the community had been a part of the worldwide Society of St Pius X (SSPX), the estranged traditionalist group currently in dialogue with Rome.

Next Wednesday evening, August 22, the community are to make a public profession of vows at their home on Papa Stronsay, a tiny, windswept island in Orkney, off the north-east of Scotland. The profession will be celebrated by Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB of Aberdeen, who, as their diocesan bishop, granted them canonical recognition.

Bishop Gilbert was ordained as Bishop of Aberdeen exactly a year ago, taking over from Bishop Peter Moran, who had retired.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Here’s a taster to get you going.

    ‘The Council of the Vatican declares … that the right to religious liberty has
    its basis in the very dignity of the human person. (Dignitatis Humanae, #2)”
    This dignity consists in the fact that man, gifted with intelligence and free
    will, is ordained by his nature itself to know God, which he cannot do if he is
    not left free, (Dignitatis Humanae, #2). The argument is this: man is free;
    therefore he must he left free. Or again: man is endowed with free will;
    therefore he has the right to freedom of action. You recognize the absurd
    principle of all liberalism, as Cardinal Billot calls it. It is a sophism: free
    will is located in the domain of BEING; moral liberty and the liberty of action
    stem from the realm of ACTING. It is one thing what a man is by his nature, and
    it is something else what he becomes (good or bad in the truth or in error) by
    his acts! The radical human dignity is indeed that of an intelligent nature
    capable therefore of personal choice; but his final dignity consists in adhering
    “in act” to the true and to the good. It is this final dignity, which merits for
    each one the moral liberty (faculty of acting) and the liberty of action
    (faculty of not being impeded from acting). But to the extent in which man
    adheres to error or attaches himself to evil, he loses his final dignity or does
    not attain it; and nothing more can be founded on it!

    ‘They Have Uncrowned Him’,
    p. 192-193.  Archbishop Lefebvre.

  • Sweetjae

    The error is due to your flawed interpretation of Tradition and although some documents of VII are indeed ambiguous….but it doesn’t necessarily follow it has errors. Good example is the Holy Scripture, it has very ambiguous verses on the Immaculate Conception, Infusion by Grace etc., does it mean the Holy Spirit is confused or not the Author of Scripture? NO!

  • Sweetjae

    I already answered your question about the allegations that VII ambiguous and contained errors above. But to add, if what you say is true that a duly convened and legitimate Council of the Church with the Supreme Pontiff presiding can promulgate errors then why do we still stay as Catholics? If a legit Council is teaching under the name of Christ can not protect the Church, then why should we not believe that the previous Councils had taught errors too? Maybe not so obvious but still contained errors too? Then how do you know with certainty that your interpretation of both the Bible and Tradition is right? Who is going to decide? Is it the you, the SSPX or the Church with the Pope?

    Is it men or God as SSPX frequently asked?

    Martin Luther once said in his disobedience and rebellion against the Authority of the Church, that valid Councils can err too!

  • awkwardcustomer

    Give me an example of my so-called flawed interpretation of Tradition, rather than just repeating the same old accusations.

  • awkwardcustomer

    You will not find a single, concrete example of Mass facing the people in the early Church. 

  • awkwardcustomer

    We stay Catholic by recognising that the Church cannot err, but that the men of the Church can.  Pope Paul VI declared Vatican II as pastoral and non-dogmatic, ie non-infallible, as discussed above.  As such, the documents of Vatican II require the ‘religious assent’ of Catholics, but Catholics are not ‘bound to believe’ them.  But if those documents contain error and ambiguity, what is a Catholic to do?  The answer given by those who question Vatican II is – let Tradition judge, let the 2000 year Magisterium of the Church decide. 

    You mentioned Pope Honorius earlier.  Well, Pope Honorius (625-638) was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Constantinople in 680 and excommunicated for holding the Monothelite heresy that Christ had only one will as opposed to a Divine will and a human will. The men of the Church, even Popes, can err, but their errors cannot be binding on Catholics and neither can a Catholic be required to assent to them.

    The individuals who claim that the documents of Vatican II contain error and ambiguity are simply Catholics who have taken the trouble to study the documents in the light of the 2000 year Tradition of the Church.  Their arguments are available for all Catholics to read.  You can condemn them for being Martin Luther, and throw the same legalistic arguments at them if you choose to.  But until you study what they are actually saying, you cannot know whether or not they are right.  You must think it impossible that a future Council of the Church, a dogmatic and non-pastoral Council, would condemn Vatican II.  The history of the Church shows that this is by no means impossible. 

  • Saunders9

    I’m so happy the Sons of the Most Holy Redemer have come within the umbrella of the Church. I met one of the priests in London and they are very traditional. However, DIVERSITY is be welcomed. Personally, I prefer the vernacular Mass, however, I welcome the tradionalist catholics because I believe the Church needs a ‘spring clean’ and to return to basics rather than a brand of liberalism that exists in large areas of the Church. 

  • Dr John Smythe

    They cannot.

  • Daclamat

    Jabbawocky has had a field day. Exultemus et laetemur. What on earth does “Sons of the holy redeemer” mean? A lot of silly old men calling themselves Mary are best kept out of sight on an island. There aren’t enough of them to get a rugby team together, yet they have hogged the headlines. I’m glad they are a diocesan institute of clerical right- far far right.

  • steve5656546346

    All truth is God’s truth; and all falsehoods are of someone else…lower…

    I know that many good Catholics believe that they should be “loyal” in a human, almost political, sense to Christ and His Church:  but spin and distortions NEVER honor God.

    It is just a fact that there was a move to make the mass, and much else that is distinctively Catholic, more Protestant in appearance–and by attending, you can see that is the case.  I don’t know any knowledgeable person who denies that:  that’s not the issue.  The issue is whether to do so was prudent or not.  It seems to me clear that it was not prudent.

  • 12Maria34

    Nice … I hope the rest will come home … to Rome …

  • 12Maria34

    Exactly!!! …

  • chinwuba

    Well come home. 

  • Basil Loftus

    Wow, this has really woken up the nutters!

  • Daclamat

    I thought you were a Universe man. Still, we could do with a few heavy hitters.
    This lot make conservative look like looney lefties.

  • Daclamat

    Do you have a season ticket?

  • Daclamat

     How does the Holy Spirit let us know what is or isn’t error? Popes are infallible if they tell us they are, their predecessors are not if their succeesors say they’re not. The most fallible are those who thought they weren’t. To be on the safe side and not end up like Bruno Giordano act as though they’re all infallible so long as the sun goes round the earth, which is flat.

  • Meyrat1977

    Good for them. I was about time to return to the Catholic fold now that the SSPX is embroiled in an internal struggle against the Sedevacantists.

  • Boanerges

    “Mass facing the people was never the practice of the early Church.”
    Oh, yes? Go to the great basilicas in Rome, and see which way the altars face.

  • Alexander VI

    They look like something out of a Dracula  movie……..

  • awkwardcustomer

    I’ve been to the great basilicas in Rome.  Their layout was based on that of the temple in Jerusalem – altar in the west, doors in the east so that at dawn the doors could be opened to admit the rising sun.

    In the basilicas, the priest stood behind the altar, facing the doors, which meant facing east.  However, the people did not face the altar, but stood in the side aisles and, at the moment of consecration, they too turned to face the east.  After the Emperor Constantine built the basilicas, the arrangement for new churches was adopted which lasted until Vatican II – doors in the west, altar in the east with both priest and people standing before the altar ie facing the same direction.

    Misreading the basilica form is a very common, modern habit. 

  • Winjanefish

    Dom Gregory Dix answers many of the liturgical questions raised in this many branched thread – in interesting and surprising discovery – in his splendid, timeless Shape of the Liturgy – from his rather uncomfortable Anglican ambience.

  • JabbaPapa

    Have you ever read a single argument of the SSPX regarding Vatican II?

    Yes I have, I’ve even read a very detailed theological analysis of those positions by a specialist.

    One has to be careful not to confuse the arguments of the SSPX of themselves, and the far less conservative positions of many SSPX supporters or individual clergy.

    Viz :

    Arguing about infallibility v non-infallibility, religious assent or not, pastoral Council or dogmatic, misses the central question.  If the documents of Vatican II contain error and ambiguity, which they do, then they cannot have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, because the Holy Ghost does not teach error and anbiguity.

    You see, this goes OTT.

    And it is also to misunderstand the doctrine of Conciliar Authority.

    The alleged, potential, or even real presence of individual errors of formulations inside whichever documents promulgated by a Council quite simply does NOT contradict the fact that all Councils are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    Doctrines are not made of the words that are used to promulgate them, but they are made of the meanings that the Authority intends.

    The requirement of all Catholics is to accept the Vatican II Documents as a whole ; and if one has good reason to doubt any particular contents within any of those documents, to request doctrinal clarifications and to posit one’s particular doubts concerning those particular contents.

    Oh and you’re WRONG that the Holy Spirit never teaches ambiguity, in fact many catholic doctrines are defines as Mysteries or imponderables, about which a multiplicity of sometimes contradictory interpretations is acceptable. The doctrine of the Trinity itself is imbued of a certain degree of ambiguity.

    I’ve been reading and writing a lot about Authority in past days — concerning the SSPX discomfits with the Vatican II teachings on Authority, first I’ll say that the SSPX position is actually perfectly licit doctrinally on the basis of the Vatican II teachings, second I’ll say that Vatican II contradicts no previous doctrines that had to be held de fide in the first place !!!

    Papal Authority has not been dismantled nor destroyed, and it seems to be that what the SSPX is mostly worried about is that Vatican II dismantles the 19th century vision of episcopal and clerical authority that they seem to cherish a little too dearly, except that it was both excessive and unjustified.

    There have only been two periods in the Church where people have attempted to create this sort of very authoritarian Catholicism, both stemming from France, in 15th century from the Sorbonne, then in 18th-19th centuries as a reaction against the French Revolution ; but it has never been central to the nature of catholicism, and the notion that vatican II has contradicted catholicism in this respect is quite simply a false one.

  • JabbaPapa

    When the Church prvides a teaching that is not in error, it will explicitly state this fact.

    This can be done in the ocument declaring the dotrine ; it can be done at a later date by the Magisterium, whether via the Pope, the CDF, or a Council doesn’t really matter.

    A doctrine which goes blablabla … blablabla … blablabla … and all Catholics hold it to be true that XYZ …. blablabla … blablabla is a doctrine that has infallibly declared the truth of XYZ, but NOT that of any blablabla elements.

    Although it is extremely likely that all of that blablabla will still need to be adhered to as authoritative teaching.

    The difference being, if you say the Church is wrong about blablabla, you’re just disagreeing with the Church ; if you say XYZ is wrong, you’re putting yourself out of Communion with the Church.

  • JabbaPapa

    Pope Paul VI declared Vatican II as pastoral and non-dogmatic, ie non-infallible

    No !!! This is wrong, you still don’t understand, sorry !!!

    That Pope declared that the Council declared no infallible teachings — but this does NOT mean that the Council itself is non-infallible !!!

    ALL Councils of the Church are imbued of the Charism of infallibility, despite the fact that NOT all teachings of all those Councils are infallible themselves.

    Vatican II as a whole MUST be acepted by catholics as an infallible teaching of the Church — *despite* the fact that very few of the doctrines taught by that Council are themselves infallible ones, and the vast majority of these are new expressions of doctrines declared infallible prior to Vatican II;

    You are also ignoring the fact that paulVI was speaking at a particular point in time — whereas the Magisterium has in fact since declared that several new doctrines taught by Vatican II should be considered as being required beliefs de fide.

    By no means any majority of those new doctrines, but Pope Paul VI’s declaration very simply non obstat. That Pope’s declaration that Vatican II proposed no new infallible teachings is NOT in itself an infallible teaching !!!


    You are however *absolutely rght* that the Magisterium will determine both the truth and the proper interpretation of these questions in the light of Tradition.

  • awkwardcustomer

    You said:  ‘The alleged, potential, or even real presence of individual errors of formulations inside whichever documents promulgated by a Council quite simply does NOT contradict the fact that all Councils are inspired by the Holy Spirit.’

    This is an incredible assertion, one that you have repeated in various ways above. Why on earth would the Holy Spirit inspire a Council which produced ‘individual errors of formulations’?  To confuse everyone?  Really?  Is that what you mean?  You then go on to say:

    ‘Oh and you’re WRONG that the Holy Spirit never teaches ambiguity, in fact many catholic doctrines are defines as Mysteries or imponderables, about which a multiplicity of sometimes contradictory interpretations is acceptable. The doctrine of the Trinity itself is imbued of a certain degree of ambiguity.’

    I don’t know which Holy Spirit you’re referring to.  The Spirit of wisdom and truth?  From your assertions, this is impossible to ascertain.  And you keep saying that Catholics must accept the Council.  Must, must, must, accept a Council which you insist was inspired by your version of the Holy Spirit, which is capable of teaching ambiguity. 

    I think I understand now why I’ve always preferred the term Holy Ghost, aside from the fact that the term Holy Ghost seems more mysterious and powerful somehow.  Becasue the term ‘Spirit’ conjures up in my mind something that people tend to get drunk on and lose their reason.  Must be the explanation for your insistence on having it both ways.  That is, Catholics MUST accept the Council because it was guided by the Holy Spirit.  If there are any errors and ambiguities in the Council documents, which you admit there may be, then this doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire those documents because the Holy Spirit is sometimes ambiguous.  Besides, it’s the law. 

    Let’s face it.  We’ll never agree.

    Oh, and again you’ve avoided discussing any of the SSPX’s actual arguments.  Claiming to have consulted some ‘specialist’ on the subject isn’t good enough.  Go to the sources.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Here’s what the then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his book ‘Principles of Catholic Theology’, p381 (Ignatius Press, 1982).  He was referring to the Vatican II document ‘Gaudium et Spes’.

    ‘If one is looking for a global diagnosis of the text [of Gaudium et Spes] he could say that it (along with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) is a revision of the ‘Syllabus’ of Pius IX, a kind of counter-Syllabus …..’

    No doubt you are aware that Pope Pius IX’s 1864 Encyclical ‘Quanta Cura’, with its attached ‘Syllbus of Errors’, condemned the Liberal errors of the Modern state that were becoming increasingly fashionable throughout the 19th century. 

    In Cadinal Ratzinger’s own words, then, the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes is a ‘counter Syllabus’.  The Cardinal continues:

    ‘…. the text [of Gaudium et Spes] plays the role of a counter Syllabus to the measure that it represents an attempt to officially reconcile the Church with the world as it had become after 1789 ….. it permits us to understand the meaning of this new relationship between the Church and the Modern World.’

    According to your arguments, it seems that the Holy Spirit can change His mind.  In one century the Liberal errors of the Modern state are condemned.  In the following century those very condemnations are countered and the Church enters into a new relationship with the Modern world. Help.

    By the way. Can you name another Council of the Church which was declared from the outset to be ‘pastoral’?

    And since when was it the role of the Holy Ghost ‘to officially reconcile the Church with the world’?

    And you still haven’t read any SSPX arguments!

  • JabbaPapa

    You said:  ‘The alleged, potential, or even real presence of individual errors of formulations inside whichever documents promulgated by a Council quite simply does NOT contradict the fact that all Councils are inspired by the Holy Spirit.’This is an incredible assertionMaybe, but it’s STILL the truth — I *do* actually realise that this goes completely opposite the broadly Oxonian intellectual tradition, and is utterly incompatible with anyting resembling Protestantism, but there’s nothing at all shocking about such a statement in the intellectual traditions of Latin Europe.Accepting the whole of something does not mean that you have provided your 100% detail assent to every single one of its most minute particulars.Saying that you like the first Star Wars film doesn’t require that this should mean that you like it when Greedo shoots first.Try and look at it this way — it’s only by being inside the Church that you can validly object to some of her teachings insofar as this is permissible ; but if you just outright reject en masse an entire volume of teachings just because you disagree with three or four contents found therein, then you’re de facto setting yourself outside the Church by rejecting the hundreds of other teachings that you have no valid cause to reject.It is NOT the lay person’s job to interpret the truth of doctrines that have been disputed !!!This is the job of the Magisterium, and the Magisterium ALONE.I don’t know which Holy Spirit you’re referring to.  The Spirit of wisdom and truth?  From your assertions, this is impossible to ascertain.Oh please !!! If you imagine that Wisdom can never be ambiguous, then you’ve just completely lost track.Let *alone* all of those completely ambiguous teachings from the Christ Himself !!!And you keep saying that Catholics must accept the Council.Well I’m not going to keep saying anything other than the truth, am I …I think I understand now why I’ve always preferred the term Holy Ghostshrug, I’m happy with both expressions — though I personally prefer either Spiritus Sanctus or Saint Esprit …Oh, and again you’ve avoided discussing any of the SSPX’s actual arguments.  Claiming to have consulted some ‘specialist’ on the subject isn’t good enough.  Go to the sources.
    What, apart from my pointing out my opinion that I think that their objections are in fact compatible with Vatican II and Church teachings, and that these positions are therefore ultimately licit and valid ?If I’d wanted to argue AGAINST the positions, you can be sure that I would do so — except that I’m not doing that.I’m disagreeing with the rejection of many SSPX supporters of the Council in toto, for the given reasons.There is NO doctrinal basis whatsoever whereby it could ever be considered licit to reject the entirety of a valid Ecumenical Council (the fact that some illicit and unapproved Councils have been rejected in the past is of no relevance).To do so would be straightforwardly schismatic.

  • JabbaPapa

    And you still haven’t read any SSPX arguments!

    Look, simply claiming that does not make it true.

    I’m sorry if you expect me to look at the SSPX arguments with the detail that you think they deserve, but not only am I very unwilling to have an argument about something that as a lay catholic I have absolutely no authority to make doctrinal declarations about, given their disputed nature, but I’m also not even arguing against those particular SSPX positions in the first place !!!


    And here we are again with the Syllabus of Errors ?

    By definition, a list of doctrinal falsehoods CANNOT constitute doctrine. It most certainly CANNOT be considered as being anything at all like infallible or authoritative !!!

    Obviously, what the Cardinal meant when he wrote that, was that Gaudium et Spes tries among other things to declare the positive doctrines that counter the negative statements in the Syllabus.

    It would, again, be COMPLETELY erroneous to imagine that the good doctrines that one should cleave to are just the falsehoods in the syllabus switched around in the 180° opposite direction.


    More metaphysically, God, being omnipotent, naturally has the ability to change His Mind if He should feel the need to do so.

    Do you seriously imagine that something that all of us can do on a routine basis should be impossible to God ?

    Some hardline Protestants as well as the Muslims claim that God cannot change His Mind — this is a straightforward Error in their dogmata.

    That does not mean that the Holy Spirit actually *has* changed His Mind in this instance — no, it simply means that your interpretation of the Syllabus of Errors is erroneous. Which is quite ironic, of course…

  • Boanerges

     The practice of the congregation turning East in antiquity is irrelevant – the fact is that the Mass continued to be celebrated from behind the altar in the basilicas LONG AFTER people stopped turning to face the East.

    It’s for that reason that “versus populum” celebration is EXPLICITLY ALLOWED FOR in the Tridentine Missal – in Ritus Servandus V.3 .

  • awkwardcustomer

    Only in the case of the basilicas. And the term ‘versus populum’ cannot always be translated as ‘facing the people’, as the following explains:

    ‘The expression versus (ad)
    populum seems to have been used for the first time by the papal master of
    ceremonies, Johannes Burckard, in his Ordo Missae of 1502 and was
    taken up in the Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae of the Missale
    Romanum that Pope Saint Pius V issued in 1570. The Ritus servandus
    deals with the case where the altar is directed to the east and, at the same
    time, towards the people (altare sit ad orientem, versus populum). This
    is indeed the state of affairs in the major Roman basilicas with the entrance
    facing east and the apse facing west. Here versus populum is to be looked
    upon merely as an explanatory appositive, namely in view of the immediately
    following directive that in this case at the Pax Domini the celebrant
    does not need to turn around (non vertit humeros ad altare), since he
    already stands ad populum anyway…….”….When these
    texts use the phrase versus populum, they do not necessarily mean a
    visual connection between the people and the sacred action at the altar. It is
    by no means suggested here that nothing should limit, let alone block, the
    faithful’s view of the ritual acts of the celebrant. Such an interpretation
    would have seemed alien to the understanding of the liturgy that was common from
    Christian antiquity until well into the Middle Ages and is still found in the
    Eastern Churches. Thus it is hardly surprising to find that even with altars
    versus populum the sight was significantly restricted, for example, by
    curtains that were closed during certain parts of the liturgy or already by the
    architectural layout of the church.’


  • Boanerges

    So your point is that that the phrase “versus populum” was used to clarify “ad orientem” in Ritus Servandus V.3? I agree.

    But Trent, as I recall, forbade heavy curtains and encouraged the use of altar rails rather than the (superior, IMO) rood screens, so the effect is that the people could, in many cases, see what the priest was doing at the altar unhindered (particularly when the altar was elevated).

    So in fact, the priest facing ‘versus populum’ does not necessarily lead to liturgical abuses, as is often claimed.

  • awkwardcustomer

    No, that is not my point.  My point is that the basilica form is a special case, which Trent  recognised, and it cannot be used to claim that Mass facing the people was the practice of the early Church, as many modern liturgists tend to do.

  • Sweetjae

    The objections you had mentioned!

  • Sweetjae

    I just did!

  • Maggie_McC

    Bravo and welcome! I am so glad to see such wonderful priests again fully in the Church and celebrating the glorious Tridentine Mass. I only wish I lived near so I could attend your Mass. Alas, I am near New Orleans, half a world away…thanks to God for you and bless our Holy Father for welcoming you.

  • Maggie_McC

    You may be interested to know that here near New Orleans, in our parish, the Catechumens DO leave before the Sacrifice. Our catechist leaves with them and has to come to another Mass for her communion.

  • Maggie_McC

    As a convert 14 years ago, I was shocked and dismayed to see how much like Protestant services the Mass had become since I was a teenager before Vatican II. Now I always attend a Tridentine Mass when I can. The reverence is palpable. With the N.O. People lining up with hands thrust out made me feel sick. It looked so assembly-line.

  • Maggie_McC

    Well, despite being appalled at the NO, I still converted: for the Eucharist. Nowhere else can you receive the Body of Christ.