Filed under: Books and Movies, Catholic Liturgy, Culture and Catholicism, Vatican II | Tags: Benedict XVI, Brunero Gherardini, Catholic church, Enrico Maria Radaelli, liturgy, Romano Amerio, Sandro Magister, SSPX, Vatican II
You already know this. You’ve been through it before. You rejoiced when the Vatican released Redemptionis Sacramentum and you sat back and waited for your local parish to clean up its liturgy. You waited for the confessional to be open on a regular and convenient basis associated with mass times, you waited for the Blessed Sacrament to be moved back to a place of reverence in your church, and you waited for the eucharistic ministers in short skirts and high heels to retire, as Redemptionis Sacramentum asked. You’re still waiting. Rome spoke, and no one listened – -just like usual. And no one’s checking, either. (Maybe that’s why no one’s listening.)
And everyone’s talking about how reverent the Holy Father’s masses are, kneeling to receive communion, receiving on the tongue, suitable music. Unfortunately, in your parish they’re not imitating him.
Still, you have these hopes that when the talks between SSPX and the Vatican are finished, firm directives will be issued that will stop once and for all the kidnapping of Catholic identity by aliens. People will get fired, or denounced, or excommunicated in certain cases – -and that’s how it should be.
Think again. Check out vaticanista Sandro Magister’s take on the situation, at Chiesa.com. He first discusses the most recent theological assaults on the stealth doctrine transmitted by Vatican Council II, and then draws a disturbing but not entirely surprising conclusion.
He begins by discussing Brunero Gherardini. Thomist theologian, Canon of the Basilica of Saint Peter, professor emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University and director of the magazine “Divinitas” Brunero Gherardini, in his The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion, asks the Holy Father to reexamine the documents of Vatican Council II in order to clarify once and for all the doctrine contained there.
Gherardini’s work joins that of Romano Amerio’s great Iota Unum, another definitive theological commentary on the doctrinal mischief of Vatican II. So we have, besides the work of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and others, these heavy volumes, the life work of two of the greatest Catholic intellectuals of the twentieth century, that defy the empty axiom that ‘the Council is innocent,’ that it was only the ‘spirit’ of the Council that was faulty.
That this misinformed ‘spirit’ already has been exorcised by the spattering of directives like Redemptionis Sacramentum constituting the ‘reform of the reform’ is the official line, apparently, for the flurry of reform has ceased, and the Vatican has moved on to World Peace. These painstaking textual analyses establish on the contrary that the error truly is at the doctrinal level, buried in the ambiguities of constitutions of the Council themselves. Gherardini in particular forcefully discredits Benedict XVI’s ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ regarding the Council and calls for a full-on vetting of the constitutions themselves.
And Gherardini calls urgently for the Holy Father, having finally understood the theological implications of Vatican II, to fix it, to re-state unambiguously the Truths of our Faith regarding the liturgy, the nature of the priesthood, the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the value of baptism and Catholicism, our relation to the secular state, the historicity of Christ, the unlawfulness of sodomy, the indissoluble nature of marriage, the existence of both heaven and hell, and the primacy of God, and the other distortions or destructions of Catholic doctrine.
The thing is, there’s a little problem with the fixing, and Magister has fished it out. Apparently the pope doesn’t do that anymore, and furthermore, speaking only of doctrine and not the role of the papacy now, post-Council, although Benedict XVI is called a traditionalist regarding the liturgy, Benedict simply doesn’t agree with their findings, and he has already said so. Magister reports on Amerio’s most recent (and as yet untranslated into English) work, Zibaldone, a lifetime collection of aphorisms, stories, and commentaries on events of the day, which raises this question: fix it how? According to the afterword of Amerio’s disciple, Enrico Maria Radaelli, who edited his work, the fix must not consist of more of the same ineffective “pastoralism” from Benedict XVI that is characterized by weak suggestions without any concern for follow-up, but rather with a dogmatic proclamation ‘ex cathedra’ that strikes with anathema those who do not obey.
According to Sandro Magister, however, this is what they aren’t going to get. Although both Gherardini and Amerio considered Benedict the XVI to be ‘a friendly pope,” Magister says that there is no chance that he will grant either of their requests. Magister writes, “On the contrary, both on the whole and on some controversial points, Pope Joseph Ratzinger has already made it known that he does not at all share their positions” on the important doctrinal issues they have raised.
Both the theologians, for example, question extensively the use and implication of the formula “subsists in” regarding the primacy of the Catholic Church vis a vis other religions, when the traditional formula says, not that the Catholic Church ‘subsists’ with other religions in a greater church larger than all of them, but that the Catholic Church is the greater church. In changing that formula, both Gherardini and Amerio, not to mention very many lesser theologians and not to mention SSPX, have argued a profound alteration of tradition, but in the summer of 2007, the congregation for the doctrine of the Faith asserted that the council had correctly “developed, deepened, and more fully explained it,” an answer that truly strikes terror into the hearts of those who understand the significance.
Furthermore, writes Magister, in explaining the declaration on religious freedom found in the constitution “Dignitanis Humanae” Benedict himself has written that it recovers “the deepest patrimony of the church,” another statement fully understood and fully lamented by traditionalists, who interpret that phrasing as a way to rationalize the change it clearly represents from the popes of the previous century especially, who taught forcefully that the call for religious freedom was a siren song opening the door to relativism and ultimately to the victory of the secular state over Faith. The previous century was not different in substance from our own. We have faced the same conditions in the world since the Reformation. This teaching changes the Church’s orientation, from one of non-conformity, to the secularized, protestantized, conformity to it .
Magister has been right about Benedict before, according to commentators like “Foreign Policy” magazine, writing about his correct calling of Benedict’s coolness toward the Islamic community. Thus, Magister’s cautionary comment on the after word to Amerio’s recent work is very daunting, although it makes one remember, and put in perspective, Bishop Fellay saying, regarding the talks between the Vatican and SSPX, that ‘it could take 100 years.’ (It was comforting that he spoke of it so calmly.) In any case Magister quotes and interprets with no small authority these two pertinent proclamations; furthermore, Benedict XVI’s writings on homosexuality (please see “Holy Smoking Gun” here on the home page for links to the texts) are couched in the same ambiguous pastoral language as the council itself, and have done their part to bring the Church to the precipice before which we stand. It may be terribly true that Benedict XVI is not the pope friendly to tradition that, because of his writings on the liturgy and because of his actions toward SSPX and the traditional mass, he is seen to be (the expurging of the excommunications and Summorum Pontificum may both be seen as strategic, ultimately in service to modernism, however much one may wish not, a way to lessen the pressure of growing traditional congregations by giving them the traditional mass at their very own home parish, but lessening the doctrinal aberrations not at all).
Apparently the afterword by Radaelli addresses as well a profound mystery: the obedience of men being asked to jump off a cliff. For all that he agrees with SSPX point for point doctrinally, Gherardini rails at them for refusing ‘to live with the negative consequences of the Council’! (40) Nor does Amerio, who unequivocally condemns the Council, more so than Gherardini, advocate for the kind of separation chosen by Archbishop Lefebvre, even though he firmly believed, according to the afterword, as Magister writes of it, that Vatican II was not infallible because it was not teaching ‘ex cathedra’ as a doctrinal council. But even on matters not taught ex cathedra, the Church still must be obeyed, even to the point of death. Because to act otherwise is to say that the Church has lost the truth. And if the Church has lost the Truth, the Church is lost. We are lost. We will have lost the sacraments, we will have lost the priesthood, we will have no priests even to hide in the attic. Melchizedek’s line on which Christ laid hands will finally be broken. It is unspeakable.
Are end times upon us, then? This is the mystery, for here we are, it is July, the sun is shining, birds are singing, corn is growing, babies are being born (although so few).
SSPX answers that above all one must be obedient to Tradition itself, and that this is an extraordinary time and the most serious crisis the church has ever faced, and one must not jump off the cliff. That is the advice any mother must give. It’s a pity that Amerio’s and Gherardini’s mothers forgot to remind them of that before they left the house: if they ask you to jump off a cliff, son, don’t do it.
But nevertheless, what will we do, when Benedict fails to speak, as Magister warns? Will the last traditional Catholics finally all go with SSPX–but SSPX will need new bishops long before a hundred years of discussion has passed, even if the healing clarification is enforced. Will they consecrate others? After mass, sitting over coffee in the basements of their usually second rate facilities, one senses the deep distaste with which SSPX faithful view this conundrum as the road out of exile disappears into the next century.
So then we must pray, and mortify ourselves, and remain patient and find love among the ruins. It is nothing more than the life of Christ, and the life of all Catholics since the Church began, and anyway they aren’t disemboweling us – – yet. Still, one has sympathy for that group of young people that met the Holy Father on the dock at Malta earlier this year. “How are we to live?” They repeatedly asked him in their embarrassing little play. Indeed.
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