Saturday, 3 September 2011

The End of the Affair? What next for the SSPX?

Everybody and his dog now knows that Bishop Fellay will be received by Cardinal Levada on 14 September this year, and Bishop Fellay has sketched out what the meeting will be about:

The truth is that Cardinal Levada has called me to Rome and it appears that it will be around the middle of September. That’s the only thing I know. It’s about the discussions we had with Rome. After these discussions, it had been said that “the documents will be given to the higher authorities.” These are the exact words. That’s the only thing I know about the future. All the rest is made up. Please don’t run after these rumors.

Dici, the SSPX's information outlet, gives more details here about the meeting which, it says, will aim 'first to make an assessment of the theological discussions conducted by the experts of the Congregation for the Faith and of the Society of Saint Pius X over the past two academic years, and then to consider the future prospects' (emphasis in the original).

With our baby due imminently and a new job just started, I won't have time to blog about this nearer the date, so these few lines are simply to reflect on what this meeting might signify.


******************


Nobody knows yet exactly what the talks have covered, apart from the basic topics. For all we know, the papers are unlikely ever to be published. What we want to know, however, is what is going to happen now. The SSPX stipulated quite some time ago that no practical agreement with Rome was possible without there being a serious discussion of doctrine. Indeed, while this stipulation might have been couched in rather diplomatic language, the real meaning of these talks for the SSPX was that they would show Rome what the errors of the Council are, i.e. what the errors of the current incumbent of the Holy See and those under him actually are.

This is an important nuance to grasp. While he believed there were errors in the Council, Archbishop Lefebvre talked about the possibility of understanding the Council 'in the light of Tradition'. Bishop Fellay and the SSPX's theologians have believed for some time now that understanding the Council thus is not even possible since the least admixture of error with truth unavoidably harms the truth. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais has even talked before about erasing the Council from the history of the Church.

Now, - and I realise I'm going on a dangerously speculative limb here! - if we take it for granted that the SSPX's dream solution is not about to be realised by the highest authorities of the Church, and if we likewise take it for granted that the SSPX is not about to change its tack and admit that Rome has the final word on matters of doctrinal dispute, what else might happen at the end of these discussions which are by their very nature surely unique and unrepeatable? Several possible scenarios spring to mind:

1. Absolutely nothing. The SSPX are not about to change their modus operandi, their interpretation of the Council or their rejection of Vatican II with all its works and pomps. The Vatican, for its part, is known to be gifted at the long game and may choose simply to let things be until a new generation takes over the leadership of the SSPX - one not directly and personally implicated in the episcopal consecrations of 1988. The problem with this solution from Rome's point of view is that, sooner or later - probably within the next ten to fifteen years - the SSPX will again consecrate its own bishops. It is already operating with only three of its usual four, and none of them are getting any younger.

2. A CDF analysis and condemnation of the SSPX's theological position. In spite of the culture of admonishing rather than condemning, over the last few decades the CDF or the Holy Father have issued analyses and condemnations of various theological positions, notably liberation theology, the theology of Jacques Dupuis, the various ethical theories condemned in Veritatis Splendor and in other encyclicals, etc. The CDF is now in a better position than it ever has been to explain and analyse the SSPX's theology, so why not tease out exactly what has gone wrong with it? Indeed, why not use such an analysis to highlight what they have got right? The problem with this eventuality is that the traditionalist movement is a hodge-podge of views, and such a clarification might only be able to hit certain targets. I also doubt the Pope's willingness to have recourse to such a step if it were judged that most of the SSPX's followers would simply ignore the condemnation anyway. And as Pope Benedict knows, when it comes to condemning theological errors, there are many bigger fish out there to fry.

3. The transformation of the FSSP into an ordinariate. I am told that the SSPX has already said no to an ordinariate as a purely practical solution of their situation. Well, if that is so, why couldn't Rome grant to the FSSP the same status, with bishops and canonical self-sufficiency, by way of launching the traditionalist lifeboat that the SSPX has already said no to? It is not so long since Rowan Williams woke up to find the tanks of the Vatican parked on the lawns of Lambeth Palace. It would be entirely in keeping with Pope Benedict's ability to hatch dramatic coups to offer to the FSSP what the SSPX have already turned down and look like they will never accept, unless it is on their own fanciful terms. The problem with this is that it would signify a clear break with the body of estranged traditionalists in France (not to mention Germany), many of whom regard the FSSP as a gang of spineless ralliƩs. I'm sure the Pope is intent on trying to recuperate as many people - to rescue as many sheep - as possible from this sorry mess, not least because the SSPX's priests could be an immense force for good in a Church where error, ignorance and irregularity can be found from Poland to Brasil. Surely, there would also be opposition from within the Church to this eventuality. Solving the SSPX's situation is about solving a tangible division; boosting the FSSP's position might look like undue favoritism.

****************

Well, those scenarios far from exhaust the possibilities. Who knows eventually what will happen except for God? My certainties are

1. that the SSPX will not change or even mollify their position and,

2. the Vatican will not throw out the Council.

And so, we come back to the endgame which I wrote about in February. This clash of wills cannot be resolved except by a solution which allows for the Holy See to serve the Church as it is meant to: by having the final word. There is no other solution attested by history:


The final criterion is what it has always been: the final criterion is the faith of the Church of Rome articulated by the Bishop of that holy, ancient See. This is not primarily a juridico-canonical category - though it is that - so much as the corollary of a charism which the Church perpetually needs. We are not talking about a production line of infallible statements here, but just the practical acceptance that the Magisterium of the Pastors (notably of the chief pastor) has priority over the Magisterium of the Theologians (be they in the SSPX or Tubingen); it is the practical acceptance that all charismatic action in the Church (which we might kindly interpret the SSPX's action to have been) must be subject to the hierarchy. Under that umbrella there is immense freedom to criticise, debate and discuss. With that umbrella, indeed, we can have a thumping great debate about the new liturgy, religious liberty and ecumenism, as long as the rules of charity, honesty and patience are observed.

But without that umbrella there is never ANY endgame to ANY doctrinal discussion. Without that umbrella, discussion is only over when I, me, moi, your truly - or every individual from Bishop Fellay to Hans Kung and Mrs Miggens of The Tablet - say it is over.

In other words, without that criterion in the Church we are condemned to fragmentation. This is the lesson of history.


****************

BY WAY OF A PS

I have just read another Dinoscopus letter from Bishop Williamson talking about the Vatican Insider's view of the outcome of the doctrinal talks. Therein Bishop Williamson again repeats his view that the issue is one of Catholic Truth. According to his rather threadbare metaphor, the SSPX believes 2+2=4; the Vatican believes it equals 5. Bishop Williamson repeats this ad nauseam and never seems to show the least sign of realising that he is turning the theological differences between Rome and the SSPX into a blackbox the inside of which we cannot examine.

So let us take just one example and try to explain the complexity of the issues to the good bishop and those who agree with him:

1. There is no definitive Magisterial teaching which condemns the New Mass. Fact.

2. Everyone who finds fault with the New Mass must therefore make a theological argument based on other teachings about the Mass and apply those teachings to the New Mass.

3. Where there is a theological argument, there is room for individual error and there is the potential for theological disagreement.

4. When there is theological disagreement in the Church, and this disagreement reaches critical proportions, it is the Holy See which has the final say.

5. The final say on the Catholic character of the New Mass rests with the Holy See.

THEREFORE

It is entirely a misrepresentation of the problem to reduce it to some simple mathematical equation.

25 comments:

David Werling said...

It is "doctrinal questions" not the SSPX's "theological position" that has been the focus of the talks. There's a big difference between the two, and the rest of the problems with your analysis is the result of not recognizing this distinction.

Ches said...

No, David, they do not simply have doctrinal questions they want answering; they have categorical positions which generate their questions which they pose because they cannot conceive of how they could possibly have made a mistake.

Crouchback said...

Well said Ches, I'm sorry that I didn't know that you've been bloging again until I read your post on Fr Z this morning. I received the latest Dinoscopus last night at 6 O'clock and answered in my own poor way at 19.47 pm....the first time I've ever posted a reply to Bishop Williamson.

I see a settlement with the Pope and the Society....talking to one experienced person after mass this morning he put it at 60 / 40 in favour of a rapprochement..but there does seem to be a depressing tendency in some to want endless conflict, in order to keep the ghetto fires burning....here is the e-mail I sent to Bishop Williamson.


Date: 3 September 2011 19:47
Subject: Re: Dinoscopus 3 September 2011
To: dinoscopus@gmail.com


Please . . .enough of the two plus two equals five routine . . .after all these years can we have simple plain words . . .as to where the disagreements are . .exactly . .then we laity can make up our minds as to who we are going to support . . should God forbid the Society split . . . .it's happened before . . Nothing to say it cant happen again. Yours

_ said...

I agree with much of your analysis, but wonder why you are so certain that "the SSPX will not change or even mollify their position". A break-up of the Society, reflecting Archbishop Lefebvre's own varied attitudes to Rome during the course of his life, seems more likely to me.

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

Let me ask you: Has Rome really given the final answer on the matter of the doctrinal discrepancies? Why is that after 45 years of vehement controvery has not the pope dogmatically defined the teachings of Vatican II that are of such vehement controversy? Is not this what the Church has done in the past when faced with attacks on doctrine?

But I know the answer. Rome will never ever dogmatize the controversial teachings of Vatican II because the Holy Ghost will never allow it! These teachings are clearly a break from the pre-Vatican II Magisterium.

Ches said...

You seem to be suggesting that we only need accept doctrines that have been solemnly defined (dogmatized?). You also seem to be suggesting that the Council is all of the same dogmatic note, which it is not.

Ultimately, my position is that I accept what the Church teaches with the assent which it calls on me to give. I likewise accept the authority of liturgies which have been promulgated or recognised by the Holy See as being manifestations of her perpetual charism to sanctify her children. When I see discrepancies between such things and my understanding of the faith, I make them a matter of prayer and study, always giving the benefit of the doubt to the Church. I also always distinguish between what I am enjoined to adhere to and what I am free to reject.

The Church is a visible institution; not a theory or a dogmatic treatise.

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that, despite repeated attempts throughout the past five decades to explain the meaning of the teachings of Vatican II without being convincing to many Catholics who hold legitimate concerns, the Roman Pontiff at this point should be using his supreme Apostolic authority to finally settle the matter. This is what had been done many times in the past whenever doctrinal controveries arose. Ask yourself: why has not Benedict XVI done exactly this yet? He attended the Council as a peritus, then consecrated a bishop, then made a Cardinal, and now pope. He has been through it all. There is no reason for him not to use that supreme authority if he is so convinced of his position regarding the Council.

I am convinced that he will not because the Holy Ghost will not allow it.

Ches said...

No, the solemn magisterial authority is not there to be used on every doctrinal dispute. That is not, for example, how Feeneyism was sorted out. In any case, whether that authority should be used is finally a matter for the Supreme Pontiff, not for me and you or any theologian. Personally, I would welcome a number of clarifications, but I'm not going to hold a metaphorical gun to the pope's head to get them. In the end, the Church is a visible institution and we either believe it is a 'truth-telling thing' (like Chesterton) or we don't.

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

You cannot compare the case of Fr. Feeney with the revolution that has occurred in every aspect of the life of the Church since Vatican II.

I am not holding a metaphorical gun to the pope's head. However, we can respectfully ask for him to dogmatically clarify the matter. When Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre asked Pope Paul VI to dogmatically define the New Mass, Paul VI refused or at least did not respond. This is a case of one who refuses to put his supreme authority behind what he says and does.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a similar manner, has been derelict in his duty to definitely clarify the Vatican II doctrines of controversy. And I will stick to the position that he cannot because the Holy Ghost will not allow it. The pre-Vatican II Magisterium condemns the conciliar teaching. If you want to admit otherwise, then words have no meaning, so it does not matter what this pope or another pope says now or in the future. We are then caught in a vicious circle of subjectivism, the fundamental tenet of modern philosophy.

Ches said...

Fr Feeney's case is very apposite because a lot of his followers regard his condemnation as one of the first signs of modernism in the Vatican. It wasn't.

I have never heard Paul VI was asked to define the New Mass dogmatically. The fact is that very few theologians definitively dispute the orthodoxy of the New Mass, although there are strong criticisms which can be made of it. In any case, when it is taken in the context of his Credo of the People of God, it is very clear that Pope Paul promulgated the Missal with a Catholic understanding of the Mass.

Benedict XVI will not dogmatically define the New Mass or religious liberty or ecumenism because none of them are part of the deposit of the Faith. The pre-conciliar teachings do not condemn the Conciliar teachings; rather, some theologians argue that they are irreconcilable, but that is a different thing altogether. To admit otherwise is unconsciously to erect a theological argument into a binding injunction which catches one in a vicious circle of privatised theological authority.

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

Once again, we cannot place the condemnation of Fr. Feeney's doctrines on the same level as the doctrines that arose out of Vatican II. To do so would be making a mountain out of a molehill.

The pre-conciliar condemnations (e.g., Syllabus of Errors) are not part of the Deposit of Faith, strictly speaking. I agree. However, the Syllabus, for example, solemnly condemned those errors because they can easily lead to the rejection of those truths that do form part of the Deposit of Faith. However, I did not mean to restrict myself to condemnatory pronouncements, such as in those of the Syllabus. I meant to say that the teachings of the pre-conciliar popes that do form part of the Deposit of Faith say something different than some of the teachings of Vatican II. For example, the Vatican II teaching that the "Church of Christ is present and operative in non-Catholic Christian communities" is a novelty. The Church has never spoken in this manner. This has given credence, in principle and practice, that salvation can be had outside of the Catholic Church. And we know that it is a dogma that "outside the Church, there is no salvation".

"Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘Catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II."
(Walter Cardinal Kasper, quoted in the February 26, 2001 edition of the Italian Journal ‘Adista’)

Ches said...

I wasn’t making a comparison of Feenyism to Vatican II teachings. I was suggesting that Fenneyism found the Vatican to be modernist, much like the SSPX finds the Vatican to be modernist. Feeneyism wasn’t condemned in some solemn magisterial definition, but merely by a note from the Holy Office.


I think the way you represent the Vatican II teaching on the notion of partial communion is not accurately phrased. One of the aims of the notion of ‘partial communion’ is to explain how graces which cannot be separated from the Church can be present in other ecclesial communities. This is the case for the sacraments, for example. In any case, this is an issue which has been clarified by ‘Dominus Jesus’.


As for quoting Kasper, we all know his star went into decline with Benedict’s papacy. Indeed, the Anglican Ordinariate effectively shows the best of what ecumenism can mean: the realisation of unity without the rejection of a community’s entire past.

Enoch said...

The FSSP do not want nor need an ordinariate or their own bishop. they do not want to ever be in the position as the SSPX - with the ability to consecrate priests. They prefer to find bishops who will consecrate priests and give confirmations. They've always been able to find bishops who are willing to do this (at least here in the U.S.). The FSSP exists to provide the TLM and traditional sacraments. And also to uphold Church teaching, all of which they do a very good job of.

David Werling said...

"No, David, they do not simply have doctrinal questions they want answering..."

So, uh, you know more than the CDF, who has stated on numerous occasions that these talks are about "doctrinal questions" and have never characterized the talks as being concerned with the "SSPX's theological position"?

And exactly how does the SSPX have a theological position? Do the Dominicans or Franciscans or Carmelites have theological positions? No. Theologians have theological positions, not orders or priestly societies.

You are misconstruing the content of the talks, which was to determine whether or not the SSPX was corporately in agreement with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. This is not theology. If the theology of one or more of the SSPX priests would impair communion, then the Jesuits would have been out of the Church decades ago!

Contrary to your opinion, it is extremely probable that the CDF will find that the SSPX is in agreement with the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and the Institute of the Good Shepherd provides more than enough precedent to allow reservations concerning various aspects of the Second Vatican Council.

The only real impediment is "the Vatican II impediment", which can be summed up as the position of many in the Church that every Catholic must accept that Vatican II is the stopgap litmus test of obedience, that Vatican II changed everything, and that everything that Catholics do and think must be shaped by the Vatican II documents. You can't get me to do that, let alone the SSPX. However, this impediment is everyday losing more and more traction simply because the sanity of the traditionalist critique is finally starting to sink in.

David Werling said...

"...they cannot conceive of how they could possibly have made a mistake."

How many SSPX priests do you actually know and converse with? Zero, I'm guessing.

You obviously don't interact with these men, whose humility and intellect may surprise you. Your low opinion of the SSPX is the accepted official position of the conservative mainstream. It is an unfair caricature crafted by the less than humble mainstream/novus ordo conservatives who can't for a moment conceive of the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they are the ones wrong about the VCII impediment.

Ches said...

Well, I’ll be glad of a precise reference that shows me that this massive distinction you are trying to establish between the doctrinal questions and the SSPX’s theological positions on various questiones disputatae is indeed as substantial as you are trying to make out. But in any case, nobody asks questions without already making fundamental assumptions about the matter in hand. And those fundamental assumptions represent the things which we don’t question.

Of course orders and societies can be associated with theological positions; the Jesuits and the Dominicans differed famously over the question of grace. In the case of the SSPX, they have de facto taken up a very clear theological position which holds Vatican II itself to have been a rupture in the Tradition. I hardly know what you are trying to do in disputing that this is a position which charcaterises not only their thinking about the rest of the Church but their own modus operandi.

You appear to be struggling with what constitutes theology. Theology is a science which discusses (-ology) Revelation. Therefore, theology is precisely the means by which is established the concordance of any of our opinions with the faith of the Church. Any definitive decision on that question falls to the Magisterium of the Pastors and not to the Magisterium of the Theologians (to use a distinction cited by St Thomas). But theology also ranges over a wider field which includes those things that can be deduced from the content of Revelation by human logic. And some of these deductions are solemnly defined.

This 'Vatican II impediment' is not half so simple as you make out. Indeed, the impediment as you describe it is not the impediment that the SSPX are most concerned about. For them, the Council’s interpretation has been often wrongheaded (and many of us would agree) but they also hold the Council itself to have made several fundamental errors. It is these that are the object of what they see as their attempt to bring Rome to its Catholic senses.

I truly hope you are right that Rome allows some space for them to operate in the mainstream. Whether they are prepared to accept the conditions which that implies is quite another matter.

David Werling said...

It's apparent that you simply don't understand the particulars of the traditionalist critique, and there's no reason for me to write lengthy responses here when it has already been done elsewhere.

To get a better understanding of this critique, please see this link below which has, in turn, links to the debate that mostly took place at Sandro Magister's site.

http://arsorandi.blogspot.com/2011/06/my-recent-column-in-remnant-newspaper.html

God bless!

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

Ches,

I don't think I agree with your assessment regarding Cardinal Kasper. Fr. Joseph Ratzinger made a similar statement on page 73 of in his 1966 book "Theological Highlights of Vatican II":

"A basic unity – of churches that remain Churches, yet become one Church – must replace the idea of conversion, even though conversion retains its meaningfulness for those in conscience motivated to seek it."

Furthermore, he praised Cardinal Kasper for his work as President of the Pontifical Council when the Cardinal retired.

Regarding "Dominus Iesus", further to this document, under the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, the Congregration of the Doctrine of Faith in 2007 tried to clarify the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the Church. One of the more troubling statements for me is this:

"It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them."

I have a hard time reconciling this with the teaching of the pre-Vatican II Magisterium. There should exist such a teaching according to Pope Benedict XVI because "according to Catholic doctrine" presupposes that this Vatican II teaching is consonant with the teaching of the pre-Vatican II popes. Please tell me where I can find a teaching of the papal Magisterium prior to Vatican II that parallels this VII teaching.

Ches said...

Br Anthony,

What Ratzinger is talking about is aiming to encourage a model of uniate reconciliation (as with certain Eastern schismatics who were reunited with Rome corporately) rather than reconciliation by piecemeal or individual conversion. It is a strategic difference, and I think a wrongheaded one, but it is not an attack on the unity of the Church, nor is it advocating a situation in which communities are considered as reunited, even when they do not share the same beliefs.

Praising Cardinal K on his retirement is a Roman diplomatic nicety, not a total vindication of his career, views and competence.

As for the quotation from Dominus Jesus (DJ), this is a deduction from thoroughly well established Catholic teaching. DJ states that only the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ. The problem then is to explain how there can be effects that properly belong to the Church outside of her visible boundaries. For example, we acknowledge the validity of the Eucharist in Eastern schismatic Churches. Insofar as this sacrament is an effect of the Church (since the sacraments do not exist separately from the Church) then the Church is present (not substantially but in a limited way) where they are found. Take as an analogy the idea that God is present everywhere. That does not mean that everything is God but that His effects are seen everywhere since he holds all things (even evil ones) in being.

Pre-Vatican II teachings all acknowledged the validity of such sacraments in schismatic churches, as long as orders were preserved. Vatican II’s explanation simply links this validity (which is a sacramental notion) to the Church (for such graces are part of the New and Eternal convenant).

Ches said...

David,

Which bit of it don't I understand?

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

Ches,

I must respectfully disagree with your interpretation regarding Fr. Ratzinger's meaning of "churches becoming one church". He well knew what "conversion" (to become a member of the Church) entailed as he criticized the scholastic definition of "member" (baptism, one faith, under the rule of the pope) of the Church as being too stringent. Therefore, the use of the term "convergence" provided an opportunity to speak about a union without requiring a "conversion", unless one was motivated in conscience to do so. Furthermore, en masse conversion requires conversion of each individual, so your point is moot.

Nevertheless, this is not my main concern. Understanding and explaining how the sacraments exist and operate in non-Catholic communities did not begin with Vatican II. The topic had been addressed before that. The difference is that Vatican II looked upon the administration of the sacraments in non-Catholic communities in a postive light. Nowhere did Vatican II condemn their use in these sects as sinful and that they had no right to administer them. Furthermore, pre-Vatican II theology differentiated between the validity of a sacrament and its fruitfulness.

Nonetheless, what you provided above does not answer what I am looking for. DJ explains things in a manner different than the pre-Vatican II Magisterium in such a way that the pre-Vatican II teaching is placed in doubt. I challenge you to find a pre-Vatican II papal encyclical, bull, constitution, etc. that contains language that parallels the language used in DJ in that "the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them."

Ches said...

Can you say how Ratzinger critized the scholastic definition of 'member'? I would not in any case lend too much weight to the precise interpretation of an individual word like 'convergence' unless we are talking about the original German text. And I find it strange that you are taking this text as Ratzinger's position when it has been contradicted clearly by his later actions sauch as the establishment of the Ordinariate.

Can you also say where the Church addressed exactly how the sacraments work outside the visible Church prior to Vatican II? Vatican II is trying to deal with the non-Catholic communities in a way which faces up to the fact that there are very few formal heretics or schismatics among them. I would agree entirely that using the language of 'elements of sanctification' without the notion of 'impediments' alongside it was a grave weakness, but one which the experience of the last fifty years has effectively confronted.

If you're looking for a bull that uses the same language as Vatican II, that's very revelatory. I have explained how this concept of presence is perfectly coherent with previous Catholic teaching. To limit this coherence to a matter of words, however, would be to adopt a nominalist methodology at the very least.

Thank you for preserving the proper courtesies of debate, Br Anthony. It is much the best way.

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

"The first schema of 1962 still clung to the traditional scholastic formula which saw membership in the Church as dependent on the joint presence of three prerequisites: baptism, profession of the same faith and acceptance of the hierarchy headed by the Pope. Only those who met these requirements could be called members of the Church. Obviously, this was a very narrow formulation."
(Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, ‘Theological Highlights of Vatican II’, pg. 65, 1966)

Ches,

The onus is on Vatican II and its defenders to tell us how VII's teaching that "the Church of Christ is present and operative" is consonant with Tradition. The clarification from the CDF clearly says "according to Catholic doctrine". If it is truly according to Catholic doctrine, then there should be ample evidence from the 1960 years of Church history to defend this teaching. The fact that VII, yourself, or other defenders of VII cannot present me with this evidence goes a long way to show that this teaching is a novelty. In the post-conciliar encyclicals, etc. you will rarely find references to the pre-Vatican II Magisterium because much of what is presented cannot be declared to be "according to Catholic doctrine".

Furthermore, the elaborate explanation that you (and not just you) gave me regarding the meaning of the "the Church of Christ is present and operative" I have yet to find in post-conciliar papal teaching. I may have missed it. Perhaps you can direct me to a source.

Ches said...

But what Ratzinger is talking about here is firmly attested in the practice of the Church. Even though the same faith, hierarchy and sacraments are required to make one a member of the visible Church, the Church still acknowledged that there was a kind of membership which is brought about simply by baptism. Indeed, this is why during the Reformation the Church claimed authority over heretics and schismatics, precisely because of their baptism! Membership was also understood to be possible through union with the Soul of the Church (Catechism of St Pius X, Q29). Thus, within limits it is justifiable to criticise an overly narrow formulation of what constitutes membership of the Church.

I’m at a loss to help you further concerning the consonance question. I have argued that it is consonant, but it seems that what you want is not consonance but repetition. But surely, you are aware that the language about the Church as the Body of Christ was muted until its revival in the early twentieth century and then in the writings of Pope Pius XII. During the medieval and early modern period, ecclesiology was coloured much more strongly by a juridical understanding of the nature of the Church; membership as defined by baptism, faith and hierarchy (from St Robert Bellarmine) is just one example of this. Now Pope Pius XII’s emphasis on the Mystical Body is in fact a throwback to the understanding of the Church which can be found in the Fathers. Ratzinger’s subsequent work on Saint Augustine’s ecclesiology was one of the intellectual sources which informed the writing of Lumen Gentium.

As for references to previous Magisterial documents, Lumen Gentium includes supplementary notes from the following popes or councils: Pius XII, Leo XIII, Vatican I, Pius XI, Benedict XV, the Council of Florence, St Clement of Rome, the Council of Trent, Pius X, Pope Gelasius, Nicea II and Pope St Leo the Great. Furthermore, it includes notes citing works by St Augustine, Saint Irenaeus, St John Damascene, Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, Saint Methodius, Saint John Chrysostom, St Thomas Aquinas, Saint Cyprian, and others. Since it is Lumen Gentium’s presentation of doctrine that you have cited here, have you actually read the document? If you have, you should know how dependent this document is precisely on a wide range of theological sources.

In post-Vatican II teachings an explanation of the difference between the subsistent Church of Christ (the Catholic Church) and those communities which enjoy some partial communion with the Church is contained most particularly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Ches said...

Indeed, Paragraph 8 of Lumen Gentium, which is the most controversial refers to the following sources in the supplementary notes:

(12) Cfr. Symbolum Apostolicum: Denz. 6-9 (10-13); Symb. Nic.-Const.: Denz. 86 (150), coll. Prof. fidei Trid.: Denz. 994 et 999 (1862 et 1868).

(13) Dieitur. Saneta (catholica apostolica) Romana Ecelesia .: in Prof. fidei Trid., 1. c. et Concl. Vat. I, Sess. III, Const. dogm. de fide cath.: Denz. 1782 (3001).

(14) S. Augustinus, Civ. Dei, XVIII, 51, 2: PL 41, 614.