In my last post, I quoted Archbishop Muller’s sense, which one can reasonably assume is shared by the Holy Fathers – both emeritus and present – for the condition upon which reconciliation with the SSPX hinges:
“They [SSPX] need to accept the complete doctrine of the Catholic Church: the confession of faith, the Creed, and also accept the magisterium of the Pope as it is authentically interpreted.”
Setting aside for the present discussion what constitutes magisterium “authentically interpreted,” he went on to clarify what this means with regard to the Council, which is, after all, the real sticking point:
“Vatican II is an official ecumenical council, and all that was said in the Council is therefore binding for everyone, but at different levels.”
Though many will find no cause for concern in this statement, when considered carefully it’s a ridiculous proposition. Think about it this way:
I, and presumably most of you, enjoy “full communion” in the Catholic Church. In order to persevere in that full communion, are we required to embrace the idea that “all that was said in the Council is binding” at some level or another? Is anyone required to acknowledge as much in order to maintain, or attain to, communion? The answer is no, of course not.
Since when is pledging lockstep submission to a text that many, including Cardinal Kasper, plainly acknowledge as admitting of multiple conflicting interpretations of Catholic doctrine the newly required Oath that one must swear in order to attain to “full communion?”
The very idea is ridiculous, and even a disinterested atheist can see why as a matter of simple logic:
– The doctrine of the Faith was “presumably well known and familiar to all” as the Council began (John XXIII – Opening Address, Oct. 11, 1962)
– The Council did not, and had no mandate whatsoever to, change the doctrine of the Faith (Affirmed by every pope since)
– Concerns about the weight of the conciliar decrees arose even as the Council met, and the Secretary of the Council, Abp. Pericle Felici, answered, saying, “The sacred Council defines as binding on the Church only those things in matters of faith and morals which it shall openly declare to be binding.” The Council made no such declarations. None.
– Therefore, he who embraces the doctrine of the Faith as it was articulated and understood prior to the Council is necessarily in full communion, or at the very least, as a matter of justice, has the right to be treated as such.
– Maintaining said communion requires one to reject anything that conflicts, either explicitly or implicitly, with the doctrine of the Faith, no matter what the source may be, “even if an angel from heaven.”
– No one, not even a pope or a valid council of the Church, has the authority to bind anyone to any such conflicting propositions.
That’s simple logic. That’s the unassailable Catholic truth.
Simple enough? It should be, and yet, so many sincere Catholics struggle and contort and twist their logic, all but abandoning the gift of reason just to avoid the obvious; namely, the Council is flawed, and what’s more, so too is the magisterium that suposedly sought to clarify it.
Look, I get it… The idea that successive popes, and just about every high ranking member of the Roman Curia since the Council, have been abusing their authority for decades now by proposing to bind upon the faithful (the traditionalist faithful at any rate, unlike the heretics who bathe in the light of full communion while thumbing their nose at the doctrine of the Faith) even the most ambiguous and misleading text of Vatican II as some kind of litmus test for communion, is a bitter pill to swallow for many.
It’s like growing up and coming to terms with the fact that your Mommy and Daddy weren’t perfect. Not easy for some. Why? Because it destroys the unrealistic image of the people they trusted the most. I get it.
The good news is Holy Mother Church is still alive and well; the bad news is that many of her current spokespersons have for some decades now so watered down their presentation of the Faith as to invite deviation from it. It has happened before, and if we survive this crisis, it will happen again.
Tough though it may be, it’s time for responsible grown-up Catholics to pull on their big boy and big girl pants and come to terms with the fact that the shepherds of the Church since Vatican II, including the popes, have done and said any number of things that have done immeasurable harm to the Church, her children and the world, and the text of Vatican Council II has largely served as the manifesto for their irresponsible behavior.
I’ve been asked for a concrete example of the Council’s failure, and this will be the topic of the next post.