Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Somebody got taken to the CDF woodshed

The Diocese of Richmond has done a total about-face:
  • • Our former Holy Father, Benedict XVI, never personally declared that doctrinal differences stand in the way of regularizing the canonical status of the society; nonetheless, the regularization has yet to take place.
  • • The Masses offered by priests of the society are valid. Other Sacraments celebrated in the chapels of the society are considered valid, with the exception of Penance and Matrimony, which are, at best, doubtfully valid.
  • • It is not clear that the society is in schism, and it is not properly called a “sect.” In recent years the Holy See has recognized the society’s expressed desire for regular communion with the Roman Pontiff and the Church he shepherds, and the Holy See’s dialogue with the society since 2009 demonstrates the Church’s commitment to unity.
  • • It is necessary to distinguish between the priests, brothers, and sisters of the society, on the one hand; and the lay faithful who attend Mass at society chapels, on the other hand. The former are clearly in an irregular status. In regard to the lay faithful who attend Mass at society chapels, there has never been a statement by the Holy See that these people are in schism. In fact, the Holy See acts toward them as it does toward all the Catholic lay faithful.
  • • It’s also necessary to distinguish between acts that are invalid and those that are illicit. Acts are illicit when they go against the Church’s law. Still, acts that are canonically illicit may be valid, and, in the case of the society, the ministerial acts of their priests may be illicit and still be considered valid by the Church.
  • • Finally, a comment should be made regarding the Sunday Mass obligation of Catholics. The faithful do not properly fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation in chapels of the society, as the celebration of the Eucharist presupposes not only communion with the Lord, but also communion with the Church He founded, and the hierarchy who govern the Church by Divine mandate.
Rorate noted that the Church has been extremely schizophrenic on the last bullet point. To be sure, it's not ideal to fulfill one's Sunday obligation at an SSPX chapel. Whether it fulfills the obligation or not seems to depend on whoever happens to be on duty at PCED the day inquiries arrive.

The SSPX is an unusual case. Juridically they are not in schism, though they may be declared formally schismatic if they consecrate new bishops before they are fully regularized in the life of the Church (and Mnsgr. Fellay et. al., aren't getting any younger.) It's bizarre to hear so many progressives gravely pronounce "They are being disobedient to the Holy Father," before they get back to work writing op-eds about how the Church is wrong to oppose contraception and gay "marriage." Likewise, a certain priest blogger for whom I have enormous respect sometimes writes pieces where he urges the SSPX bishops to crawl on their hands and knees across St. Peter's Square and kiss the pope's feet with much sobbing and wailing until he fully reinstates them. One wishes a considerable number of bishops who are ostensibly in full communion with the Church would do likewise, begging God and the Holy Father to forgive them for transferring child abusing priests from parish.

Thanks in large part to Pope Benedict XVI, the SSPX no longer has a monopoly on the Traditional Latin Mass. Traditionalism may have focused on the liturgy when it began, but Traditionalism is much more than the Mass. Likewise, Traditionalism is no longer bound up with the fate of the SSPX which is a good thing in my view. To be a Traditionalist is to believe that the old Mass is a positive good which formed countless saints, martyrs, Doctors, confessors and popes, and should not merely be preserved but actively promoted as a means to renew the life of the Church. To be a Traditionalist is to believe that the lives and writings of the saints are the most helpful means for an active healthy spiritual life. Traditionalism means not being blind to the spirit of compromise and muddleheadedness that has pervaded the Magisterium for the last fifty years, nor the failures of leadership  from the hierarchy or their actions which deviate from official teaching. Traditionalism means agreeing that the Church was more successful in her mission and her members more faithful then than they are now.

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