Thursday, 15 September 2011

Doctrinal preambles: a question of methodology

The events of yesterday, covered so well elsewhere, are very heartening. We can only pray that the next few weeks or months will bring about a substantial change in the situation of the SSPX.

Of course the secrecy that now surrounds the doctrinal preamble spoken of in the Holy See's communiqué is rather frustrating but entirely proper and correct: in fact it is the only means by which negotiations can carry on in the serene atmosphere in which alone the voice of the Holy Spirit can be heard.

From another perspective, however, we already know what the DP contains and the communiqué said it out loud:

This preamble enunciates some of the doctrinal principles and criteria of interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary for ensuring fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and to the sentire cum Ecclesia, while leaving open to legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of particular expressions and formulations present in the texts of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium that followed it.

In other words, the doctrinal preamble is a methodology; a set of rules which legitimise conclusions. Ontologically, it is the doctrines that matter; logically, it is the method by which one arrives at them which matters. I would not believe in the Gospels if the Church did not tell me they were true, says St Augustine (or something to that effect). The quid, the what of his belief is the Gospel; the quo, the by which of his belief, is the Church's teaching. The means by which we arrive at our conclusions and the importance we accord to them, are crucial when it comes to theology and faith.

In making the DP the condition of any recognition by the Church, Rome - imposing its own conditions after meeting the conditions of the SSPX - is saying that before the SSPX is approved, it has to recognise that the Holy See is the final criterion for judging whether something is in accord with the Faith. It's the methodology! The final criterion is not theological expertise, individual memory or the positivist comparison of past and present teachings.



Back to the hospital now. Thanks for the various messages of prayers. Mrs Ches is well and I hope there will be news later on.

1 comment:

Rick said...

I share your hope for full regularization, but am less optimistic.

The SSPX has indicated it believes the Vatican needs to convert to Catholicism, and this was the stated purpose for the talks, in SSPX communiques.

There are wheels within wheels here, and of course the SSPX has its own "schools" if you will.

My guess- and of course, like everyone else's, it is only that- is the the preamble embodies the principle of the hermeneutic of continuity.

This principle has been explicitly rejected, repeatedly, in SSPX communiques.

Perhaps the SSPX will be wise enough to reconsider, since the hermeneutic of continuity is the only way forward for the Church, in the face of the utterly appalling post-conciliar devastation of the vineyard across the entire world.

I certainly hope so.