More on the Motu Proprio

Dr. Blosser links to latest–being an interview in Le Figaro with Vatican Secretary of State Bertone.

The merit of the conciliar liturgical reform is intact. But both [for reasons of] not losing the great liturgical heritage left by Saint Pius V and for granting the wish of those faithful who desire to attend Masses according to this rite, within the framework of the Missal published in 1962 by Pope John XXIII, with its own calendar, there is no valid reason not to grant to priests in the entire world the right to celebrate according to this form. The authorization of the Supreme Pontiff would evidently preserve the validity of the rite of Paul VI. The publication of the motu proprio which specifies this authorisation will take place, but it will be the pope himself who will explain his motivations and the framework of his decision. The Sovereign Pontiff will personally explain his vision for the use of the ancient Missal to the Christian people, and particularly to the Bishops.

So. It appears it will happen. It is a step beyond Ecclesia Dei. It is a sign of hope and of peace to the SSPX.

But the big question, unspoken by any, is what will be done regarding the SSPX’s rejection of the Vatican 2 declarations on religious liberty (Dignitatis Humanae) and the Jews (Nostra Aetate)? Is the SSPX right? Was it just a “pastoral council” and do these decrees have no force? No real meaning? Will they not be defended by the Vatican and the Bishops? And what of the point of the SSPX that these decrees contradict clear Catholic teaching (e.g., Quanta Cura, by the recently beatified Pope Pius IX, which reaffirms the Church’s rejection of religious liberty)?

Let us note clearly: the Bishops of the SSPX were not declared schismatic and excommunicated because of their rejection of religious liberty and their statements on the Jews. The 5 May 1988 Protocol between Lefebvre and Ratzinger which was intended to resolve their situation said nothing about the doctrinal issues. They were ultimately disciplined for violating procedure.

I think this focus on issues of procedure and authority was a tragic mistake.

The motu proprio is going to open up a can of worms greater than the presenting issue of liturgy. Those of us who love and respect the teachings of the Council as expressed in Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate may find the climate cooling on those teachings. We’ve seen that happening already.

13 thoughts on “More on the Motu Proprio

  1. Bill,

    SSPX has to accept all of Vatican II. If they continue to hedge and deny the validity of Vatican II while accepting ‘another’ peace offering from the Holy See, let SSPX fall into oblivion.

    Remember the ‘Old Catholic Church’ going their own way after Vatican I? Well they now accept priestesses and bless homosexual couples.

    I do like SSPX, but the more obstinate they get, the less sympathy they will receive from me.

  2. >>Those of us who love and respect the teachings of the Council as expressed in Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate may find the climate cooling on those teachings. We’ve seen that happening already.

  3. If the Vatican were to wish for the SSPX to fall into oblivion then all they would have to do is suppress them like a pope way back when did to the Jesuits.

    Plus, if the SSPX is not legit… then all Rome would really need to do is ignore them.

    Makes you think…. why is Rome giving such credence to the SSPX?

  4. Hi MW — did you mean to say more than that? I’m thinking of the backpeddling that took place after the release of “Reflections on Covenant and Mission,” for example.

  5. For our part, we need to be careful not to read Dignitatis Humanae as possessing a “spirit” contrary to the text of teachings such as Quanta Cura; as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out recently, such a “hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church”.

    Fr Brian Harrison’s “Religious Liberty & Contraception” (pub. John XXIII Fellowship) is a good example of how to go about demonstrating to the SSPX that religious liberty as taught by the actual texts of Vatican II is entirely compatible with prior papal encyclicals.

  6. Its funny that it never occurs to some people that if your interpretation of a Vatican II document is similar to the SSPX interpretation, maybe you should rethink your position.

  7. Francis, I think you’re going to have some elaboration to do–it sounds like this fellow is addressing a totally different point, namely, whether the Council’s teaching about religious liberty and conscience led to moral laxity. That’s not the question. The Church said prior to VC2 that religious liberty was an error, that Christian teaching must become the law of the land and that a nation with a Catholic government had no obligation to give civil rights to minority religions–and it had a track record through history demonstrating that this was indeed the Church’s position. This changed. It was a 180. I think we have to acknowledge that the SSPX is right–this was a case of discontinuity. Some of us think it a good change–the SSPX does not. But a change it was.

  8. You’re right, I should have elaborated! Despite the odd title, Harrison’s book is about precisely the point you raise. If I remember right, he wrote it in response to an argument being made by certain Catholic moral theologians that “since the Church’s teaching on religious liberty ‘did a 180’ at Vatican II, its teaching on contraception could do so in the future”; Harrison sets out to demonstrate that religious liberty as affirmed by the council was actually entirely consistent with prior papal condemnations.

    He’s done the same thing in a less extended fashion elsewhere, too; see this piece for Catholic.net, and his review in Living Tradition of Michael Davies’ book on religious liberty. (Incidentally, Davies’ book comes to the same conclusion as you re: an apparent discontinuity.)

  9. Well, I’ve taken a look … and it will be a while before I respond. It’s a very dense and careful argument. So look for something in a week or two. 🙂

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