Monday, October 19, 2009

One Week From Today

The doctrinal talks between the SSPX and the Vatican kick off on the 26th. The Vatican team consists of a Dominican, a Jesuit, and a guy from Opus Dei. You can get all their info from Rorate Caeli. Most interesting, though, is the stuff from an interview with Bishop Fellay, also from Rorate. Lots of outlets have been giving reports on the talks with a lot of negative spin, much of it emanating from Cardinal Schonborn of all people, who isn't even involved in the discussions.

Anyways, Bishop Fellay's attitude seems pretty good, if you ask me. Consider:

With the lifting of the decree of excommunication, the doctrinal discussions will be taking place between Rome and the Fraternity of St. Pius X. What is the goal of these discussions?

The goal that we wish to achieve with these doctrinal discussions is an important clarification in the teaching of the Church in recent years. Indeed, the Fraternity Saint Pius X, in union with its founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, had serious objections to the Second Vatican Council and we hope that the discussions will help to dispel the errors or the severe ambiguities that have since been spread with full hands throughout the Catholic Church, as John Paul II himself recognized.

No talk of revocation or repealing the Council. He's pretty clear that what is needed is clarification. What sort of clarifications? He actually gives an example further on down and throws some compliments Pope Benedict's way at the same time:

Collegiality has been a disaster for the Church. Can we not see in spite of everything, a slight "crack in the wall of collegiality" with the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI and more recently with the withdrawal of the decree of excommunication?

Indeed, these decisions are really his. There is a way to correctly understand true collegiality. Paul VI added a "preliminary note" to the document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, that collegiality is to be understood properly. The problem is that this note seems to be forgotten. The general idea that has been propagated and that falsely reduces significantly the powers of the sovereign pontiff is a real danger to the Church and makes governing it impossible. Thus, the various acts of the Pope given "motu proprio" are good signs of a willingness to govern the Church personally and not corporately.

And the crux of the matter:

For the first time in 40 years we see the supreme authority of the Church recognize that there are problems both theological and doctrinal. Does the Pope not realize that the "conciliar church" (to use the words of Cardinal Benelli), and its reforms are doomed and that a return to tradition is necessary?

I'm not sure everyone sees the doctrinal discussions in that way. I would say that for most of the hierarchy these discussions are necessary, not for the Church, but for us and our "return to full communion" to adopt the new ways. In fact, I feel that we are facing a very delicate situation. The reality of the crisis is acknowledged, but not the remedies. We say, and it is proven by the facts, that the solution to the crisis is a return to the past. Benedict XVI said the same thing: He emphasizes the importance of not breaking with the past (the hermeneutic of continuity), but he maintains the improvisations of the council as though they are not a break with this past. According to him the only ones which are wrong and break with the past are those which go beyond the council. It is a very sensitive issue.

As long as +Fellay continues to mirror Pope Benedict's language and frame the issues this way, I will remain optimistic about these discussions. The issues with Vatican II will be out in the open now. Everyone acknowledges there are doctrinal problems. Both sides are promoting "return to the past." Vatican II as "superdogma" should be pulled from the ecclesial worldview altogether. Positives all the way around, I think.

Let us pray for a successful outcome for all this.

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