Saturday, January 24, 2009

Will the real Roman Catholic please stand up.


Who is really Catholic?
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Today from Rome - Pope Benedict XVI Saturday revoked the 1988 excommunication of four clerics who lead a breakaway ultra- traditionalist Catholic group, the Vatican announced. The pope signed a decree lifting the excommunication of the four Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) bishops who broke with Rome over Church reforms introduced in the 1960s through the Second Vatican Council. - Source
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Reunited.
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Concerning the matter of lifting the excommunication on SSPX bishops, one blogger wrote:
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"In both Rome, and in chanceries and in the rank and file of the SSPX, people must open their hearts and not just their minds.
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It is possible for people of good will to disagree on very hard questions and still be in union."
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Fr. X
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I think I know what the blogger meant. But I have to wonder if dissidents other than those sympathetic to the SSPX would?
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What about the so-called Obama Catholics? Or the alleged statement by the President to the Holy Father in regard to abortion 'rights'; "We have to agree to disagree." Are they in union?
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What about couples who practice contraception, or are divorced and remarried? Can they be in union?
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What about homosexuals who are sexually active, or want to 'marry'? Are they in union?
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What about married priests or those who oppose celibacy requirements and keep a mistress - or a mister? Are they in union?
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What about women who claim valid ordination to the priesthood? Are they in union?
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It begs the question.
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See what I mean? Dissidents all say the same stuff, traditional or progressive. Their focus seems to be locked in on their own issues, personal ambitions and goals. It seems to me when Catholics of influence publicly enter these debates, they may not always be helping the cause they support. They may simply be adding to the confusion.
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Consider the source.
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After all, there are people in Rome who are appointed and authorised to deal with such matters. Of course that doesn't mean one is not permitted to express an opinion - but consider the source as well as the subject of those opinions. Especially since before today's events, as the excommunications are reported to be officially lifted, some bloggers had posted information claiming the excommunications had been invalid from the start - for whatever reason, and that they never included the "rank and file". Confusing, don't you agree?
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Now, on the other hand, Bishop Fellay of the SSPX came out with a statement concerning one of the 'formerly' excommunicated bishop's beliefs regarding the Nazi holocaust. I was struck by the following statement in the communique:
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"The Society of St. Pius X will not renounce its intention to bring the true Catholic faith and sacraments to Swedish Catholics who have a right to both." - Bishop Fellay
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The bishop's statement strikes me as a bit rash and raises some rather divisive issues. Had the Catholics in Sweden been offered a false Catholic faith before the SSPX came along? Were the Catholics who remained faithful to Catholic teaching as taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI in error? Have Catholics in Sweden been living without licit sacraments since the liturgical reforms of Vatican II? Are the Catholic bishops of Sweden heretics? Is the Chair of Peter vacant?
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As for me and my household...
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But I'm just a simple guy, I don't know much. Although I have to admit that SSPX people have always been better Catholics than I am - many may be more Catholic than the Pope, as some were wont to say. Indeed, the ordinary TLM Catholics are much more devout than I am, as is any daily Mass-goer. I know many progressive Catholics are far better Christians than myself because of their charity and generous efforts promoting the works of peace and justice. I know the Catholics who belong to groups such as Opus Dei, or religious third orders and the like, are way better than I am in the practice of virtue and piety. I also know pro-life Catholics can rightly condemn pro-choice Catholics, and other public sinners. I honestly know this.
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As St. Francis DeSales, whose feast it is today, wrote: "It is our duty to denounce as strongly as we can heretical and schismatic sects and their leaders. It is an act of charity to cry out against the wolf when he is among the sheep, wherever he is." Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Chp. 29 Slander.
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Nevertheless, I'll continue to listen to the Holy Father and the bishops in union with him. Please pray for me as I prepare to make my confession today.
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Thank you.

9 comments:

  1. Ter: Excellent post. I could not agree more. Dissent is dissent. Period. Just because one side may have an appearance and positions that is more personally palatable to YOU does not mean they are in full communion as is proper.

    I will be spiritually in the Confessional line with you. I'll be going today myself. I'll pray for you, my friend.

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  2. Thanks so much Cathy - I didn't mean to make this so long and involved though. I'll be untied with you too.

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  3. Terry, you have raised some interesting points to ponder.

    About the SSPX, my question is, did they have to make any concessions; agree to anything, in order to get the excommunication lifted?

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  4. michael r.2:42 PM

    I had to pause a moment this morning when I read, "It is possible for people of good will to disagree on very hard questions and still be in union." Father is right of course. There are certain theological truths which are not open to debate or compromise. There are others which are not so firmly fixed yet in the deposit of faith. Dissent is not dissent is not dissent. The Holy Father understands the difference. To be certain, he is interested in Christian union wherever it is possible.

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  5. "It is possible for people of good will to disagree on very hard questions and still be in union."

    I had to read that several times before I decided that there was some truth to it. The word "question" rather than "doctrine" is what gave me pause. The bottom line for me is whether you follow the teachings of the church.

    I knew that some SSPX's would simply say that the Holy Father can't lift the excommunication because it never happened. I listened to years and years of that nonsense.

    Please do not say that because of their outward appearances the people of the SSPX are holier than thou. Some may be but a whole lot are not.

    In the end we are going to be judged on how we treated our fellow man. And in that regard many of them, in particular their priests and bishops, failed miserably.

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  6. Terry - "untied" or "united"? nyuk nyuk

    Great quote from St Francis de Sales. I think I'll be adding that one to my own blog.

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  7. You bring up some excellent points here, Terry. You highlight just clear cut (or complex) the whole issue of dissidents/ traditionalist thing is in relation to unity and adherence.

    I must confess, at the risk of sounding misanthropic, that I find Obama Catholics repulsive.

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  8. SSPX are probably better Catholics!? I think not! Going against Rome because you cannot tolerate change, personally I am glad that they are reunited, but they went against our church--they deserved the excommunication! They were no longer in union with Rome--our Pope. And I also think they thought the WERE better then everyone else--snooty--they separated themselves from the rest of our church--for THEIR way. Sorta like what all the Protestants did--they were in serious error!!!

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    ReplyDelete


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