Friday, June 15, 2012


I begin this post with a snippet from a recent item on Roccos Palmo's Whispers in the Loggia, which concerns Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of the schismatic "Society of St Pius X":

In an extended interview with the Society's official news organ released last week, the SSPX superior said that "Rome no longer makes total acceptance of Vatican II a prerequisite for the canonical solution" of the fraternity's return.
"[T]he attitude of the official Church is what changed," Fellay said. "We did not."

He added that the Society "were not the ones who asked for an agreement; the pope is the one who wants to recognize us."

This is disturbing on a number of levels, presuming it reflects accurately the mind-set of the Vatican officials (including Pope Benedict) with regard to the authority of the documents of Vatican II.  If the SSPX need not make "total acceptance of Vatican II" a criterion for good standing as Catholics, the fundamenal questions are 1.  why not?  and  2.  which teachings are now going to be regarded as "optional," and on what basis?

The flag-waving issue for this breakaway group has long been the Novus Ordo Missae, the revision of the Church's liturgy of the Mass made in 1969 under the authority of the Consilium set up to implement the Vatican Council's liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium.  If the issue is their permission to carry on with their preference for the older form of the Mass (presumably the 1962 edition of the "Tridentine Mass") then it seems they are only in line with the permission that has already been given by Pope Benedict with his motu proprio decree Summorum Pontificum (sadly, only in Latin and Hungarian on the Vatican's website) which gives great freedom for priests to celebrate the "Extraordinary Form" (aka, Tridentine Mass).

So what, then, are the aspects of Vatican II that Bp Fellay implies do not need to be accepted?  This is the worrisome part, for famously the SSPX rejected Vatican II not only for its (to them, unauthorized) changes in the liturgy, but also for their embrace of non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian religions (especially the Jews), and its advocacy of religious liberty.  While the pastoral constitution on the Church and the modern world Gaudium et Spes was certainly offensive to this group, other documents are far more problematic for them:  Nostra Aetate on the Church's relation to non-Christian religions; Unitatis Redintegratio on ecumenical relations with non-Catholics; and Dignitatis Humanae on religious freedom. 

Are there implications (not, at this point, anyway, denied or clarified by the Vatican) that one or more of these documents (or specific content in them) is now to be considered "optional"?

Beyond this, the idea that there can be a soft-pedaling of Church teaching in the name of reconciling a defiant faction is at least curious. 

More to come?  I hope not much more...

But as our observance of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II will begin later this year, in conjunction with Pope Benedict's calling for a "Year of Faith," Our Savior's Adult Religious Education will focus on precisely these Vatican II documents, along with special presentations on the issues by guest speakers.  Stay tuned (or see for updates.


  1. This is a truly interesting look at catholicism and the dialogues which seem to be happening - does the point of view of Bishop Bernard Fellay
    have anything to do with outreaches of ecumenism and the welcoming of
    certain factions of the Anglican religion?

  2. Well said. I for one would not welcome a personal prelature or whatever the Pope is proposing. I was interested that even a conservative traditionalist website is disturbed:


    The Superior General of the Society of St.Pius X (SSPX) could respond to the Vatican next month by saying that they accept Vatican Council II in accord with the Syllabus of Errors and the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    Since they reject the dead being visible to us and being exceptions to the dogma (1) and the Syllabus of Errors, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is acceptable in accord with the Syllabus and the dogma on exclusive salvation in only the Catholic Church.

    They can seek canonical status knowing that the Council indicates that all non Catholics are oriented to Hell unless they convert into the Catholic Church with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water (Ad Gentes 7, Vatican Council II ) (2), that all the members of Christian communities are also oriented to Hell without Catholic Faith (Ad Gentes 7) and though non Catholics are physically free they have a moral obligation, to enter the Catholic Church (AG 7, extra ecclesiam nulla salus).

    They could invite all Catholics including the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican and the Vice President of Ecclesia Dei, Vatican to affirm Vatican Council with its traditional values on other religions, ecumenism and religious liberty.

    The SSPX could seek the same privileges granted to the Priestly Fraternity of St.Peter ( FSSP) and the Institute of the Good Shepherd, however unlike them they could ask permission to freely express their traditional ecclesiology and evangelization.

    Since there are no known cases of the dead visible (Lumen Gentium 16) (3) they reject the ‘theology of religions’ and the ‘ecclesiology of communion’ of the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,Vatican, mentioned in two theological papers of the International Theological Commission.

    They reject all irrational and non traditional interpretations of Vatican Council II which have no citations from the Council.

    They reject a development of doctrine with no reference texts from the Church and which contradicts the Syllabus and the dogma.

    They reject Pope Benedict XVI and his Curia’s saying Jews do not have to convert in the present times. It is contrary to Vatican Council II ( Ad Gentes 7), Catechism of the Catholic Church (845,946,1257), (4) Dominus Iesus(20) (5) , Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX,(6) extra ecclesiam nulla salus ( Cantate Domino, Council of Florence 1441) (7) and John 3:5,Mark 16:16..Since this is a first class heresy (contrary to the Nicene Creed (8) a mortal sin, SSPX priests should have the right not to concelebrate Holy Mass with those who hold the heresy of Jews not having to convert in the present times.

    -Lionel Andrades

    1. Two points:
      #1--the Syllabus of Errors does not have the same authoritative status of ecumenical council documents, so it must be read in light of them, not vice versa.
      #2--"Extra Ecclesiam nullus salus" must also be interpreted in light of Vatican pronouncements, especially those which condemned Fr Feeney's similar view (1948); and those (eg, Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio) from the Vatican Council. Once again, they trump other statements, not vice versa.