Nameless? No. Theologians? Well, some of them.

Marco Vervoost complains on his blog about the Cathnews story “Theologians launch Vatican II petition”. Among his complaints is the fact that the oft cited “group of European theologians” behind the Petition for the “For the full recognition of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council” “shall remain without name!”

Well, in fact, if you go to the online petition website you will see several lists of all the people who have signed this thing so far. And there are quite a few people with “DR” in front of their name. But any man and his dog can put his name to this signature – you don’t have to show your theological qualifications before signing. Nor, in fact, do you even have to be Catholic.

Here is the text of the petition, with my comments:

“For the full recognition of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council”

The papal cancellation of the excommunication of bishops from The Society of St. Pius X signifies the reception into full communion with the See of Rome those who have consistently opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. [WRONG. These boys have a long way to go before we can say they are in “full communion” with the Holy See. Their relationship to the Holy See is much like that of the Orthodox Churches. Not excommunicated, but not in full communion either]

Regarding the anti-Semitic remarks and the denial of the German national-socialist persecution of the Jews by Bishop Richard Williamson and his followers, we share the indignation of our Jewish sisters and brothers. Moreover, we state that the SSPX’s attitude towards Judaism does not correspond to the Council’s understanding of and commitment to Jewish-Christian dialogue. We support the recent statements of Bishops’ Conferences, and others, all over the world, on this issue. We also welcome the recent statements made on these matters by Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican’s Secretariate of State. [Well, that’s nice. I agree fully. It should be pointed out that the statements by the Pope came before the statements of the Bishops’ Conferences.]

We believe that the close correlation between the excommunication’s cancellation and the 50th anniversary of the calling of a General Council of the Church by Blessed Pope John XXIII gives a clear indication of the direction which the present Papacy wishes to take. [Absolutely. He wanted to say to the SSPX boys: See? The acceptance of Vatican II is essential for your full communion with the Holy See.] We sense a desire to return to a pre Vatican II Church with its fear of openness to the breath of the Holy Spirit, a positive appreciation of ‘the signs of the times’, and the values of democratic institutions. [We sense a sense of paranoia on the part of the authors of this petition.]

We are very concerned that this act of rehabilitation heralds a turn-around on important documents of Vatican II, for example, the decree on ecumenism “Unitatis Redintegratio”, the declaration on non-Christian religions “Nostra Aetate”, the declaration on religious liberty “Dignitatis Humanae” and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, “Gaudium et Spes”. [Again. Paranoia. It indicates the exact opposite. There might, of course, be some correcting of the popular misconceptions about these documents in a direction that is more faithful to the Council itself, but why should anyone be afraid of that?] Such an act will have a disastrous effect on the credibility of the Roman-Catholic Church. [What act? The “act of rehabilitation”?] For Catholics who love their Church, the price is too high! [Is that a battle cry I hear?]

The Pope hopes this act will help unify the Church. [Yes. The unity of the Church remains the central concern of the Holy Father’s papacy. The problem for these writers is that the Pope’s ecumenism is the “wrong ecumenism”.] However we think it is particularly outrageous that the Vatican’s renewed overtures to a schismatic traditionalist movement have been undertaken without the imposition of any conditions whatsoever. In June 2008, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Levebvre’s excommunication, the SSPX rejected the invitation of the Holy See towards theological reconciliation. Likewise, the fraternity rejected the invitation to sign a five-topic declaration containing conditions for its re-integration in the Roman Church. [Well, is that quite true? The June 2008 communication from Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos made it quite clear that five conditions in reference to Papal authority would have to be fulfilled for their excommunications to be lifted, and while the SSPX let the deadline go by, a new appeal and expression of loyalty to the Petrine Office was made by Fellay in December 2008 – see Andrew Rabel’s story here.]

A return to full communion with the Catholic Church can only be made possible if the documents and teachings of the Second Vatican Council are fully accepted without any reservations, as requested by the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” on the topic of the Tridentine rite. [Quite correct. As pointed out, these guys have a long road to walk before they will be accepted back into full communion.] It is also imperative that the papal ministries of Blessed Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI are recognised and accepted. [Also true. There is no need to petition the Holy Father on these matters. He and his Secretary of State have made it quite clear themselves.]

The Church of Rome, perceived as the Barque of St Peter, lists heavily as long as the Vatican:

• only rehabilitates the “lost sheep” at the traditionalist edge of the Church, and makes no similar offer to other excommunicated or marginalised Catholics [what “other excommunicated” Catholics do they have in mind? I don’t know of any liberal theologians who have actually been “excommunicated” for their ideas recently? Disciplined, yes. Excommunicated? No.]

• persists in preventing progressive theologians from teaching [From teaching what? the Holy See would be more than happy for “progressive theologians” to teach the faith of the Church.]

• refuses dialogue with all movements in the Church. [The Holy See does this? First I knew about it. As far as I know, the Church encourages and blesses all authentic “movements” in the Church for the sake of the New Evangelisation.]

So all in all, not much of a petition, wouldn’t you agree? It is obvious these petitioners have an axe to grind, but they would grind it on any stone they found – the SSPX stone just appears convenient at the moment. And it really isn’t right to compare the Pope’s gesture to the SSPX with the acts of discipline against those who falsify the teachings of the Church in the Church’s name. The SSPX was excommunicated and has now been invited to the table of dialogue. Long way to go still. The disciplined theologians (and really, there are only a handful compared to the hundreds of thousands of SSPX followers) haven’t been excommunicated – they have simply been informed that if they wish to have the right to teach the faith of the Church, then they ought to teach the faith of the Church. Not too big an ask. As far as I know, all these disciplined theologians still have access to the sacraments. In fact most – all? – of them who are in holy orders are still able to exercise their ministry in full communion with the Church. So I don’t really know what their beef is.


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13 responses to “Nameless? No. Theologians? Well, some of them.

  1. Kiran

    I think they must be thinking of those who attempted ordination of women, and those women who attempted to get ordained. That is the only thing I can think of

    panon: The act of a camera in focussing on something else.

  2. Schütz

    Hey, Kiran, welcome to the SCE combox. Please come often.

    I visited your blog, and will add it to my blog roll. Always great to meet another Australian Catholic blogger.

    I also very much appreciate your poetry. I’m personally a fan of the metaphysical poets, but I find the combination of disciplined metre and eccentric versification make an exciting combination – your poems sound very beautiful read aloud – which is what poems should do.

    In particular, this one caught me:

    “All day, today, the sun shone
    Upon purple, and pink, and blue,
    and miscellaneous shades of green,
    and yet, revealed nothing as true
    as the splash of amber on your stones.”

    Because in Melbourne for the past week, the Sun has been “amber-grey”, dulled by the smoke in the air, and making the concrete paths look quite eerie in pink hues.

    And thanks for playing the word verification game!

  3. Joshua

    Isn’t it mean and nasty, that these people have no charity for those driven more or less out of the church – the SSPX bishops, priests, associated religious, and lay followers?

    They have made Vatican II (or rather, their false hermeneutic of rupture, truly their superdogma – if not in itself a heresy) into their god: hence their hatred of those refusing to bow before their idol.

    The SSPX must accept the Council in continuity with Tradition – which is what all Catholics must accept: that there have been 21 Ecumenical Councils, some whose decisions have been more important than others (e.g. Nicaea vs Lateran V), and that the one Church of Christ has down all the ages guarded the deposit of faith and still does (quiet, PE, your turn later – I can hear you wanting to burst in already): after all, if that isn’t true, the whole thing’s a pack of lies.

    The SSPX, yes, must accept the Council – that is, the official documents thereof, of which as I recall even Lefebvre signed all but a few. They must accept the official teachings of Rome, each according to its degree of importance (e.g. doctrinal statements are obviously more solemn and binding than rulings on disciplinary matters, which may prudently be questioned for good reasons). They have no need to accept all manner of postconciliar nonsense – nor does any Catholic. Neither must they adhere to a pretended parallel magisterium of puffed-up professors.

    Parallel this with the Orthodox: what would be required of them to accept should the happy day arrive for them to be back in communion with Rome, and Rome with them? Obviously, the answer would not be to kowtow to some “spirit of Vatican II” balderdash that would frighten and scandalize them!

  4. Joshua

    What the lefties don’t like is that the SSPX – and in Latin Mass circles one already can find persons just about SSPX in their views, but who are happily in the Church attending approved Masses without any schismatic intent – and all likeminded Catholics will be recognized as accepted, and will be emboldened to criticise leftist nonsense and aCatholic garbage: for the left cannot endure to be assailed and mocked. What they have dished out to their enemies will be served up to them, and of course they won’t enjoy this – well, tough. (I speak roughly, of course wishing that all will exercise every Christian charity: I think of two grumpy old Franciscans, one of whom was asked by a wide-eyed novice after hearing their arguments, “Fr, do you love Fr X?” – and got the answer, “In Christ!”)

  5. Past Elder

    Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

    Hermeneutic of continuity is an absolute charade.

    It means this: we believe there is a continuity, therefore we will do what it takes to find one.

    An absolute bogus process wherein what is allegedly demonstrated was in fact built in from the first. What was proven or demonstrated was first assumed.

  6. Kiran

    Schutz, thank you kindly. And if you will excuse the complete tangent of this comment, it is rare to meet someone who notices metre and versification, though I write mostly by setting myself little challenges in both.

    We have had rain almost continuously for about a week, ending yesterday. On that day, there was some sun early in the morning.

    I shall continue to visit your blog. I like your takes on things. The game is good fun. Feel free to comment (or not, as you please) on my blog too, by the way.

    [Back on track:]
    PE, I accept the second part of your statement (beginning with therefore) but the first does not follow. A lot of our conclusions are based on what we have assumed. Indeed, with Augustine, we have to believe so that we may understand. This doesn’t somehow invalidate the process of reasoning, or make it “bogus”. All valid syllogisms involve unrolling what is implicit in the premises.

    stelligh: star-like and brillig.

    proin: take something which belongs to a professional.

  7. Past Elder

    God bless me sideways.

    First parts rarely follow second parts.

    There is nothing rational whatever in assuming something is there, and then determine that everything else either confirms that or if not I must not be seeing it right.

    But, it is the only way to get Catholicism out of the liberal dissent from Catholicism that took over the name — not to mention bank accounts and real estate, and all the period costumes — at Vatican II.

  8. Schütz

    PE said: An absolute bogus process wherein what is allegedly demonstrated was in fact built in from the first. What was proven or demonstrated was first assumed.


    I think all Christians (all people of faith?)act like this to some degree pretty much all of the time.

    Take such a simple case as this:

    The Bible.

    We Christians (at least the orthodox ones among us – I don’t think any Christian reader of this blog would disagree) assume the Scriptures are the word of God.

    (Well, again, maybe “assume” isn’t quite the right word: we are convinced of it through our experience of reading and hearing it).

    In apologetics, we try to convince others that it is the Word of God. We are trying to demonstrate (“prove” isn’t the right word, I don’t think you can) that what we assume is in fact correct – or at least reasonable.

    Or take the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. Again, we are convinced of this already. In apologetics, we are simply trying to demonstrate that this is a reasonable belief.

    Now, with regard to the Church, if I believe that the Church was established by Jesus Christ upon the “rock of Peter”, that his Spirit leads it into all truth, that it is the “pillar and bulwark of Truth” as St Paul says, then of course, in apologetics, I am going to try to demonstrate that whatever it is or does or teaches today is in continuity with what it was, did and taught in the past. Any evidence to the contrary will be treated in exactly the same way as any evidence counter to my faith that the Scriptures being the Word of God or Christ being Divine – I will try to “explain it away” or show how the negative conclusions drawn from such “evidence” are false.

    That might seem daft to a non-believer, but is a perfectly reasonable way for a religious believer to behave. It will, of course, be regarded as self-delusional by unbelievers. Check out Dawkins some time. He thinks we are all delusional!

  9. Kiran

    PE, nobody is denying (or at least I myself am not) that liberal dissent did take hold of the Church in more than one way after Vatican II (and even in some sense, during it), BUT, it is a huge claim that the Church has ceased therefore to function, and Christ’s promise to Peter doesn’t hold. It is contrary to that very Catholicism in whose name you condemn the post-Vatican II Church. Further, either that Catholicism you mentioned has completely ceased to exist, in which case, you and I cannot understand it or even intelligently or usefully speak about it, or it can still be recovered because there is something of it remaining and this is what the Pope is trying to build on, and the hermeneutic of continuity is about: We can only understand things by seeing something of them. Of what we cannot see, we should not talk.

    Also, most human activities (not just faith) involve some sort of reasoning backward from a conclusion already reached. Else we shall go insane from trying to comprehend the maddening detail of the world.

    heeze: a faint sneeze.

  10. Past Elder

    The “huge claim” is that “Christ’s promise to Peter doesn’t hold” has anything whatever to do with the Roman Catholic Church.

    Vatican II was as much a rejection of the Catholic faith as if the Arians had won at Nicea.

    But it happened. Nouvelle theologie reigned supreme. Catholicism lost. And now, the more moderate wing of the “new theologians”, of which Ratzinger is a part, seeks to consolidate its power position over the more extreme wing, and co-opt those trying to maintain Catholicism within an institution that denys it at the same time.

    Hermeneutic of continuity is a lie: its only basis is the great god Rome — it must be the same because it says it is the same and since it’s the same it’s right about being the same. Utter garbage.

    By way of welcome, Kiran, I might add something that may be not clear jumping in — I do not now believe any more the “Catholicism in whose name” I condemn Vatican II. But I know what it is. And the liberal dissent from it that took over the name at Vatican II is not it by any stretch of the imagination. I was taught Catholicism when “Catholicism” as it became at Vatican II was liberal dissent from it, by the same church which censured most of the leading lights of what is now that church.

    This implosion was so severe that it invalidated the Catholicism which lost to me, and Christianity in any form. Twenty some years later, I found an answer. I am not here to argue for what I believe now, or to argue that real Catholicism is as false as the bogus charade now operating under its name, or even to say the catholic faith of Christ is entirely absent from either real Catholicism or the Vatican II parody of it.

    Just to say that if Catholicism is true, which I no longer believe it to be, then Vatican II religion is false. I’m not a Marxist either, but I know what it is.

  11. Past Elder

    Most of the time, Kiran — just posted under the funny hat thing. Sometimes the whole hilarity of “Catholic” by any definition is too much to pass up from where I am now!

  12. Joshua

    Sorry to use bad language, David –

    but for PE to write that Vatican II was as if Arius had won at Nicaea is a load of sh_t! (I am an Aussie, after all…)

    I’ve read the documents, and I have read theology from before the Council (indeed, I prefer it), and there are NO doctrinal contradictions – indeed, the very Council was explicitly not one that made doctrinal definitions, but “pastoral” (whatever that means) – the largest and most difficult difference is that concerning religious freedom, but I don’t believe that arguments in that area are as important as those over the Divinity of Christ.

  13. Kiran

    If Catholicism, and what you claim has taken its place, are both equally false, then why does it matter to you so much? Why bother? If Catholicism is untrue, then it is just another error which has met its fall.

    If Catholicism is true, then one could understand being indigignant about its destruction. Or rather, it simply couldn’t be destroyed. If it is not, so much the better for its being destroyed.

    And my point about the continuity of Catholicism applies just as much to Marxism. If nothing of it existed today, it would be as impossible to critique it as it is for us to know anything about, rather like Democritus’ philosophy.

    kind of
    haiku composed
    by a Romanian