Friday, July 23, 2021

Pope Francis’s scarlet letter

Consider two groups of Catholics:  First, divorced Catholics who disobey the Church’s teaching by forming a “new union” in which they are sexually active, thereby committing adultery.  And second, traditionalist Catholics attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (i.e. the “Latin Mass”), some of whom (but by no means all) hold erroneous theological opinions about the Second Vatican Council and related matters.  In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis radically altered the Church’s liturgical practice in order to accommodate the former group.  And in Traditionis Custodes, he has now radically altered the Church’s liturgical practice in order to punish the latter group. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter famously portrays an unmerciful society in which adulterers are forced to mark themselves off from others by wearing a scarlet A on their clothing.  Pope Francis clearly would disapprove of such cruelty, and rightly so.  Yet the cruel treatment of the community of those attached to the old form of the Mass – the innocent majority of them no less than the minority with problematic theological opinions – amounts to something analogous to the affixing on them of a scarlet letter: the letter T for “traditionalist,” the one group to which the pope’s oft-repeated calls for mercy and accompaniment appear not to apply.

Accompanying adulterers?

Let us consider just how radical each of these papal moves is.  The Church has consistently taught that a valid sacramental marriage does not end until the death of one of the spouses, and has condemned as gravely sinful any sexual relationship with anyone except one’s spouse.  Hence those in such a marriage who divorce a spouse and then form a sexual relationship with someone else are guilty of grave sin, and cannot be absolved in confession without a firm resolution not to continue the sexual relationship.  This is grounded in Christ’s teaching on marriage and divorce in passages like Matthew 19:3-12 and Mark 10:2-12.

The gravity of this teaching cannot possibly be overstated.  Christ acknowledges that “Moses allowed” for divorce.  But then he declares: “And I say to you” that divorce is forbidden.  Now, the law of Moses was given to Moses by God himself.  So who has the authority to override it?  Who would have the audacity to declare: “Moses allowed” such-and-such but “I say” differently?  Only God himself.  Christ’s teaching against divorce is therefore nothing less than a mark of his very divinity.  To put ourselves in opposition to that teaching would thus implicitly be either to deny Christ’s divinity or, blasphemously, to put our authority above even his.  It would be to declare: “Christ said such-and-such, but I say differently.”  Absolutely no one other than God himself, not even a pope (whose mandate is precisely only ever to safeguard Christ’s teaching), has the right to do that. 

If the teaching in question sounds “rigid,” blame Christ.  His own disciples thought it so, going so far as to opine that if that is how things are, it would be better not to marry (Matthew 19:10).

Now, no Catholic in a state of mortal sin is permitted to receive Holy Communion until he is validly absolved in confession.  And no Catholic can be validly absolved who is aware of the Church’s teaching on marriage and divorce, violates that teaching by having a sexual relationship with someone other than his spouse, and refuses to end this sexual relationship.  Hence no Catholic who refuses to end such a relationship is permitted to receive Holy Communion. 

This teaching too is extremely grave, grounded as it also is in scripture, specifically in the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29.  According to St. Paul’s teaching, to take Holy Communion while refusing to end such a sexual relationship is nothing less than to profane Christ’s very body and blood and therefore to bring judgment upon oneself. 

These doctrines are as clear, consistent, and authoritative as any Catholic teaching is or could possibly be.  They are as ancient as the Church herself, are presented by her as infallible and absolutely binding, and have been unambiguously reiterated again and again and again.  This is, of course, why Amoris Laetitia was so controversial.  For it seems to allow that, in at least some circumstances, those who refuse to stop engaging in adulterous sexual activity can nevertheless take Holy Communion.  To be sure, Pope Francis has not explicitly rejected any of the teachings summarized above.  But he has also notoriously refused requests from several of his own cardinals (in the famous “dubia”) explicitly to reaffirm that traditional teaching, and thereby decisively put to rest any worries about the consistency of Amoris with that teaching. 

That the Holy Father himself is aware of how grave the issue is, and has even had his conscience troubled by it, is evident from a conversation recounted by one of his defenders, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.  Crux magazine (not exactly a traditionalist outlet) reported:

Schönborn revealed that when he met the Pope shortly after the presentation of Amoris, Francis thanked him, and asked him if the document was orthodox.

“I said, ‘Holy Father, it is fully orthodox’,” Schönborn told us he told the pope, adding that a few days later he received from Francis a little note that said: “Thank you for that word. That gave me comfort.”

End quote.  Note that the pope himself had at least some doubt about the document’s orthodoxy – enough that he took “comfort” in being reassured about it – even after it had already been finalized and published!

My point here is not to rehearse all the details of the controversy over Amoris.  The point is simply to note the extreme lengths to which the pope was willing to go to try to accommodate the weaknesses even of those who obstinately refuse to obey the teaching of Christ and St. Paul.  Even if you think Amoris itself does not cross the line of heterodoxy with regard to that teaching, it cannot be denied that the document is extremely gentle with and accommodating to those who do cross it. 

Shaming traditionalists

The contrast with the treatment of traditionalist Catholics in Traditionis Custodes could not be more stark.  Note first that, in the accompanying letter explaining his decision, Pope Francis claims that attachment to the old form of the Mass “is often characterized by a rejection… of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’” 

The first thing to say about this is that, even if it is true that some people attached to the old form have this attitude, it is by no means true that all of them do.  On the contrary, as Pope Francis himself notes in the same document, his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI affirmed that many who are attached to the old form “clearly accepted the binding character of Vatican Council II and were faithful to the Pope and to the Bishops.”  All the same, Pope Francis’s severe restriction of the old form of the Mass punishes these innocent Catholics along with the guilty.

Secondly, we need to consider the precise nature of the purported heterodoxy and/or schismatic tendencies of which some of these traditionalists are accused.  There are, of course, some extreme traditionalists who deny that we have had a valid pope for decades (namely the sedevacantists), and others who are in some less radical way in imperfect communion with the pope (such as the SSPX).  But precisely because they are not in regular communion, the errors of these groups are irrelevant to the intended audience of Traditionis Custodes – namely, traditionalist Catholics who are in regular communion with the pope (such as the FSSP, and attendees at Extraordinary Form Masses offered at ordinary diocesan parishes). 

By definition, the latter groups are not in schism.  And though there are no doubt some among this small group within the Church who might nevertheless be said in some sense to have a “schismatic mentality,” the same is true of the untold millions of liberal Catholics who casually dismiss the pope’s authority to tell them what to believe or how to act – including the adulterous Catholics the pope accommodated in Amoris.  Clearly, the pope feels no urgency about dealing with the schismatic mentality among countless liberals.  So, why the urgency in dealing with the schismatic mentality of a small number of traditionalists?

Then there is the question of what it means exactly to “reject” Vatican II.  Typically, with those traditionalists who are in full communion with the pope, what this means is that they reject some particular teaching of the Council, such as its teaching about religious liberty.  Now, I disagree with those who reject that teaching.  My view is that Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty can and should be reconciled with the teaching of the pre-Vatican II popes on the subject.  (My favored way of doing so is the one developed by Thomas Pink.)  But for one thing, the teaching of Vatican II on this subject is not one that has been proposed infallibly (even if, of course, that does not entail that we do not owe it assent); and for another, how exactly to interpret it in light of traditional teaching has been a matter of controversy among theologians faithful to the Magisterium.  So, if the pope is going to be gentle and accommodating with those who obstinately defy the ancient and infallible teaching of Christ and St. Paul on marriage and Holy Communion, then how can he reasonably be less gentle and accommodating with those who have problems with a non-infallible teaching that is only a little over fifty years old?

So, the offense of which the traditionalists to whom Traditionis Custodes is addressed are accused is (a) not one of which all of them are guilty, and (b) manifestly less grave than that of Catholics who reject the Church’s teaching on marriage, divorce, and Holy Communion.  Yet those who reject that teaching are shown mercy, whereas traditionalists, the innocent as well as the guilty, are shown harshness. 

And the punishment is very harsh.  The pope aims to banish the Extraordinary Form of the Mass from ordinary parish communities, to restrict future ordinations of priests interested in celebrating it, and effectively to quarantine from the rest of the Church those communities which are still permitted to use the old form of the Mass until such time as they are prepared to adopt the new form.  As Cardinal Gerhard Müller observes, “the clear intent is to condemn the Extraordinary Form to extinction in the long run.”  The pope is essentially telling traditionalist Catholics attached to the old form of the Mass that as individuals they are suspect, and as a group they are slated eventually to disappear.  As Cardinal Müller writes:

Without the slightest empathy, one ignores the religious feelings of the (often young) participants in the Masses according to the [old] Missal… Instead of appreciating the smell of the sheep, the shepherd here hits them hard with his crook.  It also seems simply unjust to abolish celebrations of the “old” rite just because it attracts some problematic people: abusus non tollit usum.

This is bad enough when the harm done to traditionalists alone is considered.  But it is the whole Church that suffers from this decision, not just traditionalists.  For one thing, Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that the preservation of the Extraordinary Form was by no means a matter merely of catering to the needs of a certain group within the Church.  Rather, it had to do with reestablishing the connection of the Church as a whole with her own past in the liturgical context.  That is why, though Benedict too hoped that there would in the future be only a single form of the Mass, he wanted the old form to exert an influence on the new no less than the new would exert influence on modifying the old.  This was part of Benedict’s general insistence on a “hermeneutic of continuity.”  Traditionis Custodes shows no sensitivity whatsoever to this dimension of the issue.

For another thing, while the pope says that he took this decision in order to foster greater unity in the Church, it is manifestly likely to foster instead only greater disunity.  That is inevitable in any family when a father shows a double standard toward his children.  Indeed, it is precisely this double standard, and not the old form of the Mass, that has generated the disunity of recent years.  What has done more to lead some traditionalists to question Pope Francis’s orthodoxy?  The fact that they hear the Latin Mass every week?  Or Amoris Laetitia and the pope’s refusal to answer the dubia?  To ask the question is to answer it.  Traditionis Custodes will not put out the fire Amoris started.  If anything, it will pour gasoline on it.

He is still the Holy Father

Some will say that the pope is merely acting like the father in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).  The resentful older son in the parable, on this interpretation, represents traditionalists, whereas the prodigal son represents Catholics who do not obey the Church’s teaching on marriage and divorce.

But the analogy is ridiculous.  For one thing, the prodigal son in the parable repents and explicitly declines special accommodation.  He does not say “I intend to keep living an immoral life, but I demand some of that fattened calf anyway.”  For another, the father does not treat the older son at all harshly, but rather gently reassures him that he loves him no less than he loves the prodigal son.

All the same, the pope is, when all is said and done, a father – indeed, he is still the Holy Father of all Catholics, traditionalists included.  And while the Church permits criticism of popes under certain circumstances, this cannot properly be done except with humility, respect, and restraint.  The pope is not some politician or corporate executive whom we might see fit to mock or to fire or vote out of office.  He is the vicar of Christ, and he has no superior on earth.  We may respectfully urge him to reconsider some course of action, but if he refuses, then we have to leave it to Christ to resolve the problem in the manner and at the time he chooses. 

Moreover, because he is the pope, we must in this case even more than in any other follow Christ’s command to turn the other cheek and pray for those who harm us.  We must be willing to embrace the suffering this entails and to offer it up for others – including for Pope Francis himself.

Related posts:

Pope Victor redux?

Aquinas on bad prelates

Do not abandon your Mother

The Church permits criticism of popes under certain circumstances

Papal fallibility

Two popes and idolatry

The strange case of Pope Vigilius

Some comments on the open letter

Popes, heresy, and papal heresy

Denial flows into the Tiber

240 comments:

  1. Dr. Feser,
    What you said about divorced Catholics who disobey the Church's teaching on divorce is correct. However, today, unlike the situation that existed 50 or 60 years ago, it is fairly easy in most dioceses to get a marriage annulled. But that is a whole other topic.

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    1. It could be reasonably argued that marriage tribunals are often endorsing mortal sin. But it can also be reasonably be argued that many people today are simply incapable of truly contracting a valid, sacramental marriage in the first place due to insufficient understanding of what they are doing. My guess is that it's some mixture of both.

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    2. TN, how do you figure "incapable"? They're incapable of understanding those vows they publicly make? They're incapable of really intending to enter into valid marriages? B.S. Edward Peters makes some good distinctions relevant to this kind of thinking here: https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/the-missing-middle-term/

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    3. David McPike,

      Because a life of comfort seeking and ignorance do not prepare a person for understanding what a covenant is. If that is not the case, I guess Modernism isn't a problem after all.

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    4. Anybody who tries to make understanding what a covenant is into something that is just too hard for most people is confused. There's nothing remotely difficult about it. People enter into covenants all the time and no one (excepting extreme sociopaths?) would want to do without them. Lots of people want to do without the marriage covenant. But for those who do get married, this evidently does not apply (in the vast majority of cases -- lying sociopaths do get married sometimes too). Marriage is a natural institution and human beings are naturally disposed to understand and enter into marriage covenants. They are also prone to rationalizing their desire to break their covenants when things get tough, but that's not because they don't understand what a covenant is. It's because they lack virtue, especially moral virtue.

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    5. @ TN:

      "Because a life of comfort seeking and ignorance do not prepare a person for understanding what a covenant is. If that is not the case, I guess Modernism isn't a problem after all."

      Nonsense. It doesn't prepare people for *living out a covenant*, but they can still *understand what a covenant is*.

      @ Daivd McPike:

      "There's nothing remotely difficult about it. People enter into covenants all the time and no one (excepting extreme sociopaths?) would want to do without them."

      Yep. Plenty of people are able to understand the concept of, e.g., a binding legal contract.

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    6. David McPike and Gaius,

      Really? Everything has to be a war doesn't it?

      I've known plenty of people who are very immature and think that getting married would be really cool because they'd have someone to masturbate with and split the rent. Then they later find out marriage is actually hard work--which they are not down with--so they suddenly talk about how they have "grown apart" (or some such expression).

      Or maybe the woman gets pregnant so they feel like they should get married even though they might be completely unready for it.

      Or some such scenario.

      But you want to say that this type of immaturity and lack of understanding doesn't exist, so OK whatever.

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    7. @TN:
      So you're saying these people don't just lack moral virtue. They actually don't understand what a covenant is? And are moreover incapable of understanding what a covenant is? Hm! Well who am I to judge?

      There are two points to mention: 1) Marriage prep! 2) In the absence of marriage prep, we can assume an absence also of canonical form, and thus no valid marriage (between baptized Catholics) to speak of in the first place.

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    8. David McPike,

      I guess it’s just the pretentiousness of philosophy blogs and the need to sound hoity-toity; it’s really just not that hard to understand.

      Suppose two baptized Catholics go through marriage prep rolling their eyes and use the church as a backdrop for their wedding pictures and they get married with the intent to contracept. Have they fully understood their actions? Ever looked back on your past choices and lamented the stupidity of some dumb move you’ve made? Human psychology is not a math equation.

      To enter into a contract requires sufficient knowledge, competent parties, and consent of the will. Every marriage tribunal on the planet exists to determine if these elements (and others) were present. I guess you think the first requirement is spurious because no one could ever lack sufficient knowledge.

      It’s just easy to understand for anyone who isn't just trying to play word games.

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    9. @ TN:

      According to Church teaching, even a heretical priest who thinks that the Church (or "true Church") teaches a Zwinglian symbolist view of the Eucharist can still validly confect the sacrament, if he's been validly ordained, says the right words, and intends to do what (he thinks) the Church teaches he does. Ditto somebody who thinks that baptism is "just a symbol", provided he says "I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The level of understanding required to validly confect a sacrament is very, very basic.

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    10. So as long as I roll my eyes when reading the terms of and signing a contract, then that means I don't understand the contract and am not bound by the terms of that contract. (It's just easy to understand for anyone not trying to play word games? Well... who am I to judge?)

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    11. Gentlemen!:D Pius IX endorsed the teaching on the possible salvation of the "invincibly ignorant" who follow some extra-ordinary grace and he also said the possible existence of such persons is not to be used as a reason to NOT preach the Gospel to the non-believers. He also said trying to find out who is invincibly ignorant & saved among that lot is a vain pursuit as that can only be known by God alone.

      Now if we take this wisdom from the Holy Father and apply it here I propose the following. It doesn't matter wither or not invincible ignorance applies to the poorly theologically educated in some fashion as a justification for their annulment.

      The local Church has a clear responsibility to better instruct the faithful about the permanence of marriage and the inviolability of the sacrament. We must do that and the later point can be debated by the theologians and the CDF and or the Pope can rule on it in the future.


      Can we all agree on this?

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    12. As long as this point Edward Peters makes doesn't get lost: "ignorance and/or error about something like ‘permanence’ does not nullify marriage unless it sufficiently damages an individual’s will to enter marriage." So say you feel like you didn't fully understand the permanence (for example) of Christian marriage before you got married? That's okay! That doesn't invalidate your marriage!

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  2. What Catholic teaching says is: "Mortal sin requires *full* knowledge and *complete consent*." It also says: "The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders." There's actual Catholic teaching in the Catechism.

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    1. Not sure what your point is. Suppose a Catholic living in an adulterous relationship really didn't know what the teaching of the Church is. This is hard to imagine, since everyone knows what it is, including those who reject it -- that's why they reject it, after all, because they know full well what it is but just don't like it. But let's pretend such a person has been living in a cave somewhere and really doesn't know. But then he has it clearly explained to him -- by his confessor, say -- what the doctrine of the Church is and how grave it is. He now has full knowledge. And thus, if he continues to commit adultery, he meets one of the conditions for mortal sin.

      As to complete consent, the factors from the Catechism that you cite come into play at the moment at which a person faces temptation and succumbs to it. They do NOT come into play at some time well in advance of the moment of temptation. One cannot use the teaching of the Catechism to say: "It's going to be very difficult to resist temptation in future, so I'm not even going to form the intention to try to resist it." That attitude entails lack of firm purpose of amendment, and thus makes valid absolution impossible. It's one thing to worry that one's efforts not to sin in the future will fail; it's quite another to decide not even to try to make the effort in the future, or even to intend to commit the act in the future. That is, as St. Jude says, to turn the grace of God into license.

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    2. Dr. Feser,
      For God's sake, don't hate Francis for this. He did the right thing, gave the Bishops the authority to decide about the Latin Mass. Though that French Archbishop of Dijon did wrong, most American Churches have granted dispensations to the FSSP, and even ordinary Parishes to celebrate TLM.

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  3. If an abandoned wife looks at her economic circumstances and realistically feels her children are not going to properly fed, educated and healthy unless she accepts another relationship, then (as the Catechism says) her freedom to choose has been diminished, and whether complete consent (or sufficient consent) exists is now a matter for discernment.

    If, for example, someone tells you "never eat food that has been cut into triangles", it is useless to say that the meaning of the words is completely clear, so you necessarily have full knowledge of what they mean. Without an explanation of what the whole purpose of the rule is, full knowledge is radically lacking. Sometimes -- perhaps even often -- people lack a full knowledge of what sacramental marriage is.

    Where full knowledge and complete consent may be lacking, discernment is needed.

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    1. A good man can offer any reasonable amount of support without insisting on carnal knowledge.

      A good woman should never agree to shack up to benefit her children any more than she should seek an abortion.

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    2. And this,dear students, is what we call rationalization.

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    3. The issue is not one of distinguishing good from evil: it is one of distinguishing mortal from venial. Aquinas says: "Nevertheless a sin which is generically mortal, can become venial by reason of the imperfection of the act".

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    4. If, for example, someone tells you "never eat food that has been cut into triangles", it is useless to say that the meaning of the words is completely clear, so you necessarily have full knowledge of what they mean. Without an explanation of what the whole purpose of the rule is, full knowledge is radically lacking. Sometimes -- perhaps even often -- people lack a full knowledge of what sacramental marriage is.

      So I guess only theologians can get married, huh?

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    5. An imperfect act is one which is indeliberate - at least that is the main line in Thomas, albeit one could bring certain kinds of intentions to bear, and even certain kinds of ignorance of fact. One could make a dubious but plausible case that sudden acts of fornication or adultery could be venial sins (Thomas would not agree without severe qualification of such a position), but one would absolutely fail to make the case that a person who reads divorce and remarriage condemned in all four Gospels and has this reiterated and explained by any approved catechism (among numerous other reliable resources), and not only decides not to pursue the legitimate legal process but doubles down in an intention to continue in illicit behavior, is not guilty of grave sin. The individual acts flowing therefrom would not even sins of weakness, but would be sins of certain malice, due to the vicious habit itself. (That's Thomas... feel free to disagree, but know that you would be disagreeing.)

      My old rector used to say "full knowledge" and "complete consent" are matter for angelic intellects and wills - for humans, what matters is what is merely sufficient. If you really want to follow the line that Thomas takes, well, take a look at how he deals with the knowledge of the natural law, and especially how he treats of matrimony and adultery. He is not with you on this.

      If you want to talk about difficult cases, etc., for which I personally have much sympathy (but I hope not more than Christ), it is best to get the basics right. People given difficult crosses must not whittle them down and pretend they are doing God's will. Any number of pressures exist which thrust people into necessary heroism - it is an opportunity for the glory of the Cross, through the grace of Christ. The two go together - Christ and the Cross.

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    6. Your example of the abandoned wife doesn't work well. Full consent may be lacking when there is a lack of deliberation. For example, a teenager may sometimes lack full consent when committing a particular act of masturbation, if his passion is strong enough to prevent him from deliberating and making a fully deliberate choice. The point is that passion sometimes can make us do some choices on the spot without thinkink thoroughly. It happens too quickly and then when we regain our senses it is too late.

      However, the abandoned wife has presumably enough time to ponder whether accepting the advances of a man in exchange of money. It's not something that happens "on the spot" or "by accident". It is a deliberate choice that implies full consent in nearly all cases. And the Church always clearly taught that if we have to choose between dying and committing a mortal sin, we ought to choose death. That's why, in the early persecuted Church, Christians who had verbally apostatized in order to escape death were banned from communion until full repentence.

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    7. If your old rector said that, then he was, at the least, being rash.

      Good or evil resides in what has been *chosen*, not in what things may go along with it. The Church allows us, in cases of good necessity, to borrow money from a usurer, without thereby being complicit in the sin of usury. One can *choose* to borrow the money for a good and necessary purpose, when there is no other source. As Aquinas says, "Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention."

      Discernment has to be used to examine all choices, to see what was actually chosen in freedom, and what was not. I'll say again, an abandoned mother choosing to feed, educate, and keep her children healthy by the only means she sees as possible (a new relationship) has not necessarily made a free choice to sin. Discernment is always required, for every choice.

      And (to Zui's point), for the abandoned mother, time is not the issue. She can delay and ponder, but that may do nothing at all to change the situation, and will not add any freedom to her choice. As a mother she has a divine obligation to feed, educate, and keep her children healthy.

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    8. Would this same discernment apply to this mother working as an “escort “ for the economic benefit of her children? I see no justifiable discernment in either case, both requiring the same conclusion if one is intellectually honest.

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    9. Okay... Rash... I see.

      1 - "Choice" is precisely the problem. You are focusing on "intention" rather than choice. As to "double effect," from Cajetan onwards (found especially clearly in De Lugo if I recall) it is quite possible to ruin an act by a bad choice - e.g. fornication or adultery - in favor of obtaining some great good. It's even there in Thomas (but PDE has some problems as a "formula," some of which might be at stake in this very question).

      2 - "Discernment" is a concept deriving chiefly from St. Ignatius principally about things outside the clear demands of basic virtue, which chastity certainly is. Find me a Jesuit before the 1900's talking about "discerning" whether to sleep with a non-spouse. One "discerns" during the Exercises and in making great prudential and spiritual choices, not about whether to commit adultery, at least in the Ignatian sense, from which this application of language comes.

      3 - To wrap it all together, a mother might "choose" to feed and clothe and do all kinds of nice material things for her kids by all kinds of terrible deeds. Everyone has good intentions in all actions, even the devil. All agents act for an end under the aspect of that end's goodness.

      4 - Most people can't even explain why adultery or fornication are immoral - they would usually appeal to psychological wounds. There are deeper things at stake - at a minimum, principles of justice in one's relation to the community and one's children, closely linked to the respect for a critical office of nature which quickly begins to erode when one simply dispenses oneself from what is presumed to be a life-long commitment because "it's better for me and my kids" - maybe it is in many senses, but there is a whole world in which you live that cannot function that way. This is why Thomas does not even allow for the rich to fornicate - too little stability.

      5 - I challenge you to find anything in Thomas which directly supports the decision to continue to choose to commit adultery in order to gain anything - even one's own life.

      6 - The order of charity demands love of God and one's own soul first, before anything else, even the souls of others (let alone their bodies). God is the Master of life and death - He does not need sin in order to work out His goodwill for the innocent, the poor, the widow, or the wayfarer.

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    10. "'Discernment' is a concept deriving chiefly from St. Ignatius..."

      That's one concept. I have used 'discernment' in the more ordinary, and much more common, sense of 'careful thought about complex moral issues'. (And, in this set of comments, concentrating as best I can on discerning mortal from venial, rather than good from evil.)

      "Everyone has good intentions in all actions, even the devil."

      Though, "good" in what you say there may either refer to what is *actually* good, or what *seems* good to the person. None of the devil's intentions are actually good.

      "I challenge you to find anything in Thomas which directly supports the decision to continue to choose to commit adultery in order to gain anything - even one's own life."

      I already gave an example when I referred to usury. Thus, analogously to usury: An abandoned mother may come across a man who in effect says: if you let me sleep with you, then I will feed, educate, and ensure your children are healthy. If the woman decides that she cannot fulfill her divine duty to her children any other way, can give the requested opportunity to the man, in exchange for the good of her children. (So here, the man is the usurer, the lending the usurer provides corresponds to the children's care, and the woman is someone who uses the usurer for a good purpose.)

      Now certainly, real life is very much more complex than the simple example I give here. Nevertheless, the passion that any mother feels for her children could easily reach the level necessary to reduce the sin to venial rather than mortal.

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    11. Paul Connors,
      Your example does not work at all.
      First, for all the abandoned mother knows, someone else might offer her the means by legitimate work or by charity to feed and educate her children. Second, she would be mis-educating her children in matters far more important than reading/writing and arithmetic; she would be teaching them that adultery is not that big a deal. She would be more concerned about her children's learning to read/write than about their eternal destiny.

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    12. A good man can offer any reasonable amount of support without insisting on carnal knowledge.

      A good woman should never agree to shack up to benefit her children any more than she should seek an abortion.


      True, but I would make it more direct: A good woman should never agree to have unmarried sex with a man for money, for this is prostitution. (And this is, exactly, the scenario Paul Connors suggested.)

      I already gave an example when I referred to usury. Thus, analogously to usury:

      No, Thomas is clear on this: the borrower is not committing the sin, he is the VICTIM of the sinful usury. In accepting the terms that require repayment with interest, he is permitting an evil be DONE TO HIM by another: for the loan itself is not evil (which is in his PRIMARY argument on why usury is wrong). Whereas with the abandoned mother, she is not merely "permitting" the man to have sex with her, she voluntarily entering into the sex acts with him (or it would be rape, just not violent rape).

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    13. (To Finlay)

      The scenario I set up was: "If an abandoned wife looks at her economic circumstances and realistically feels her children are not going to properly fed, educated and healthy unless she accepts another relationship, then ..." If work or charity was available, she should of course take it. But if not, she still has to feed her children, which is part of her divine duty.

      In any case, we are not trying to distinguish good from evil: we are trying to distinguish mortal from venial. Catholic teaching is clear: "The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures" A mother finding that her children are going to starve can very easily fall into this category.

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    14. (To Tony)

      "...and this is prostitution."

      In the case of a mother finding her children will starve, the label applied to the act doesn't matter. Her feelings and passions are already clear ground for the potential to discern her act as venial, and not mortal.

      "No, Thomas is clear on [usury]" To be precise, Aquinas points out that the borrower can sin in providing the usurer an opportunity to commit usury, unless there is some good need for the borrowing. So the analogy with the mother holds: she may be providing the opportunity for the man to (perhaps) sin, but is doing it for a good need. (And, of course, her maternal feelings and passions in any case supply grounds for reducing mortal to venial.)

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    15. "Now certainly, real life is very much more complex than the simple example I give here. Nevertheless, the passion that any mother feels for her children could easily reach the level necessary to reduce the sin to venial rather than mortal."

      You're right - if the fear is so great as to impede the use of reason altogether, or even to a significant enough degree, the will is not fully engaged.

      But this is not what happens in such a case. An acute moment of panic is one thing. It is another to think things through in such a way that one is estimating electricity bills vis-a-vis your kids living in the new house you are looking at moving into. A few seconds pass, and one either has retained control, flowing from the engagement of the higher intellect in evaluating the potential exterior act in terms of eternal types, and then one consents fully or rejects the proposal, or if the higher intellect has failed to do so, one is either mentally ill (its own issue) or sins simply by failing to bring the higher intellect and will to bear when possible and binding. Once a habit is formed, such a sin of weakness becomes a sin of malice.

      The issue of tolerating nonconsensual sex to derive other benefits is worthy of consideration - it does happen - but in such a case, the woman needs to be looking for every possible reason to avoid such acts and to escape the situation. But these are not normal cases.

      What is really going on in practically every case is a perverse inclination to care for one's children before one's own soul. Which happens all the time, in fact, in any number of ways (think skipping Sunday Mass to go to soccer practice, dishonesty at work to get more money for college, etc.).

      What is forgotten in these discussions usually is the rights of the putative spouse - conjugal rights included. Imagine Fr. Merciful being confronted by an angry man or woman after Mass one day - "Why is my wife/husband waltzing up for Holy Communion with this other woman/man and my kids? Don't you know they pretended to get married?" It happens. (The primary issue with the public distribution of the Sacrament in such a case, by the way, is that it teaches people that such arrangements are okay - which they are not. And this bad teaching - among others - is quite well diffused.)

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    16. (To CRS)

      "An acute moment of panic is one thing."

      An abandoned mother faced with caring for her children does not have just a moment of panic. The panic lasts until the children are cared for.

      "But these are not normal cases."

      I think what is normal will vary from place to place, time to time, and society to society.

      "What is really going on in practically every case is a perverse inclination to care for one's children before one's own soul."

      God requires mothers to care for their childrens' lives. God requires particular uses of sex. It is not at all clear that one of these requirements is always more important than the other. In those cases where it does not seem possible to obey both, full knowledge is lacking. Hence (depending on the details that discernment will look for) an action that might usually be mortal may instead be venial.

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    17. To be precise, Aquinas points out that the borrower can sin in providing the usurer an opportunity to commit usury, unless there is some good need for the borrowing.

      True. But my point still applies: according to the nature of the act, the borrower does not inherently sin by entering into a loan that has usurious interest. There are three fonts of morality that decide whether an act is moral or not: the object (determined by the nature - species - of the act), the intention, and the circumstances. A defect in any of them can cause the act to be sinful. With accepting a loan for usury, the borrower permits an evil be done to him: it is not INTRINSICALLY evil to so permit, (i.e. by the species of the act itself) and therefore whether it is sinful in a specific case then falls to the other two fonts: the intention, and the circumstances. If the borrower has an adequate good intended (greater than the evil of the usurious interest is evil), and if the circumstances permit, then the act would be morally good in the concrete case.

      So the analogy with the mother holds: she may be providing the opportunity for the man to (perhaps) sin, but is doing it for a good need.

      Not correct: the object of the act, given by its species, is still that of adultery, which is evil in its very species. This means it is inherently disordered. The fact that she has a good intention, and extenuating circumstances, cannot overcome the inherent disorder of the object. This was the explicit teaching of JPII in Veritatis Splendor, that a good intention and good circumstances cannot morally "save" an act that is intrinsically disordered in its object.

      And, of course, her maternal feelings and passions in any case supply grounds for reducing mortal to venial.)

      Either her ignorance or her feelings of "necessity" and "being forced" may indeed reduce her culpability to that of venial sin. I agree. But the act itself, considered of its own nature, is grave - it constitutes matter for grave sin. And the context of her decision certainly gets involved. The problem is that the context (at least in our usual conditions of Western nations) is such that she does indeed have at least some element of free choice about the matter. For instance, rarely is a man explicitly telling her: unless you sleep with me outside of marriage, I won't give you any assistance." The possibility of engaging assistance is (typically) rendered more plausible in the context of her having some degree of an affective relationship with him in which he WANTS to help her along with him wanting a more "extensive" relationship with her...and she reciprocates to some degree or other. (This is why it's not out-and-out prostitution or rape.) That reciprocation on her part is a moral feature of her choice that should make her at the very best uncertain that her choice is only venial rather than mortal.

      (By the way, her (typical, even if partial) reciprocation in feeling is VERY OFTEN similar in kind to that of unmarried young women in relationships with guys, when they agree to sex not primarily because they want to have sex for the fun of it, but because they like the guy and want to "keep" him and the guy is leaning on her to sleep with him. This scenario has the species "fornication" EVEN THOUGH her main reason for consent (i.e. her intention) is to "keep her guy" rather than the pleasure of the act. And gets its base character from that species, which is intrinsically disordered.)

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    18. Paul Connors,
      If all you are claiming is that the extreme circumstances make the woman's adultery less blameworthy than it would be under usual circumstances, I have no issue with that (it is still something she has to repent of). But if you claim that she has not sinned, I disagree.
      To Tony, you write, "she may be providing for the man to (perhaps) sin, but is doing it for a good deed" which suggests she may not be sinning at all. Do you agree that she has sinned?

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    19. Why stop with venial sin? Maybe you could say it's not really sin at all, after all, there is a difficulty, and a good to be gained!

      Look. If you want to make the argument that anyone with pressure to care for other people is automatically severely cognitively disabled for long periods of time when that ability is threatened - years and years of severe cognitive disability, where one cannot possibly even make the internal movement to bring the will to bear upon it - I guess you can. I don't think anyone should take you seriously. You will not find support in any classical (or even newer) manual, any of the Fathers, etc. You keep quoting Thomas as if he is on your side - he is not. Short of a severe cognitive disability, one is talking about mortal sin. (The question of tolerating violence is a slightly different question.)

      If one must hate father and mother for His sake, and lose one's life to gain it, one must certainly not sleep with a non-spouse in the HOPE it will somehow redound to material benefits for others. It is not a good take, and the slope slips quickly.

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    20. (To Tony)

      "the object of the act, given by its species, is still that of adultery"

      "This was the explicit teaching of JPII in Veritatis Splendor, that a good intention and good circumstances cannot morally "save" an act that is intrinsically disordered in its object."

      I think a bit of extra precision is needed around this subject. Veritatis Splendor explains: "By the object of a given moral act, then, one cannot mean a process or an event of the merely physical order". Acts can't be intrinsic evils: it's the intention to commit them where the evil takes place. In some of what you said, you seemed to refer repeatedly to *physical* acts, leaving me uncertain how to respond. (For example, I would point out that the physical fact of the abandoned wife sleeping with someone else doesn't of necessity mean that adultery has taken place. Intentions must be looked at. Nor is non-resistance to an act by someone else necessarily a sin.)

      "For instance, rarely is a man explicitly telling her: unless you sleep with me outside of marriage, I won't give you any assistance."

      I'm going to disagree with you on the rarity of that. Perhaps some men won't *explicitly* say that, but it can all too easily work out that way.

      "That reciprocation [of an affective relationship] on her part is a moral feature of her choice..."

      I would guess that it would be very hard for a mother not to reciprocate some affection to any man who is willing to help feed her children. So, the existence of reciprocated affection might easily not demonstrate anything.

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    21. (To Finlay)

      "...that the extreme circumstances make the woman's adultery less blameworthy than it would be under usual circumstances, I have no issue with that (it is still something she has to repent of)"

      Though, venial sins do not have to be declared in Confession, and they are not a bar to receiving Communion.

      "Do you agree that she has sinned?"

      I think there are two ways in which she can be found not to have sinned. Firstly, if some specific circumstances can reduce mortal to venial, then there is nothing preventing some more specific circumstances from further reducing the guilt to zero. (As the Catechism says: "Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.")

      Secondly, to decide that a sin has been committed, it's never sufficient to point to particular *actions* having taken place. We always have to discern what the *intentions* were. Given an appropriate set of circumstances, and their surrounding necessities, it is possible that no sin is committed by her, if her intentions were completely unrelated to the sex act.

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    22. (To CRS)

      "If you want to make the argument that anyone with pressure to care for other people is automatically severely cognitively disabled for long periods of time when that ability is threatened"

      I haven't made any such argument.

      Suppose someone attacks a mother's children: she is allowed to kill the attacker, if necessary. But somehow she can't sleep with someone, if it came to that, in order to save the life of her children?

      "the slope slips quickly

      You've shown nothing of any slippery slope. There are still things a mother cannot do in order to save the life of her children.

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    23. Paul Connors,
      Tony and CRS have shown several difficulties with your position. In addition, your position seems to presuppose a consequentialist or utilitarian approach to ethics rather than a natural law approach. Consequentialist ethics are catastrophic.

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    24. Paul Connors
      "Suppose someone attacks a mother's children: she is allowed to kill the attacker, if necessary. But somehow she can't sleep with someone, if it came to that, in order to save the life of her children."
      She is not allowed to murder or to commit adultery in order to save her children. Murder and adultery are wrong, no matter the motive. Murder involves the killing of an innocent human being. The one who is attacking her children is not innocent, so her action would not be murder. The woman can sleep with her husband to save the life of her children (or lots of other motives) but she may not commit adultery to do so. To say otherwise is to promote a consequentialist/utilitarian ethic which is against Catholicism and against traditional Protestantism.

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    25. Paul Connors
      Just to clarify, I should have written "but she may not commit adultery to save her children."

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    26. (To Finlay)

      "Murder involves the killing of an innocent human being."

      I think you are clearly correct in saying that. However, since the Commandment actually says "Thou shalt not kill," you need to provide some rational basis for showing the complete compatibility of your definition of murder with the flat prohibition expressed by the Commandment. What is it?

      If someone says to a woman "Unless you let me have sex with you, I am going to kill you", then the woman can legitimately permit this to save her life. (This is old and consistent Catholic teaching.) But somehow you seem to be saying that she cannot permit this in order to save the life of her children. How do you resolve your inconsistency?

      God does not have a set of arbitrary requirements that he imposes on us. His requirements fit together into a buildable, linked, rational and reasoned system, because He is Reason.

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    27. Paul Connors,
      I wrote a longer reply earlier but it was lost in the internet ether somehow.
      Some translations do have "You shall not murder" instead of "Thou shalt not kill." The relevant Hebrew word, ratsach, has a narrower semantic range than the usual word for kill, harag. More importantly, the literary setting of the Torah makes clear that certain types of killing are permitted and the Decalogue should be interpreted accordingly. Is that a good enough rational basis for you?

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    28. Paul Connors,
      Are you talking about a rape at gunpoint to which a woman submits (that would legally be called rape), a hostage situation involving her children which again for which the man would be criminally liable and which would not normally be called adultery, or a situation in which the man is not using threats of force but simply offering financial salvation for her children if she commits adultery?

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    29. (To Finlay)

      "The relevant Hebrew word, ratsach, has a narrower semantic range than the usual word for kill, harag."

      That's a common claim. However, that Hebrew word is also used to describe the act of unintentional killing (Deu 4:41-2), and an act of legal killing (Num 35:27), and the act of a court imposing a death sentence (Num 35:27), none of which seems to match your chosen meaning for "murder". And there are other places where that Hebrew word cannot specifically mean 'murder'. So, your proposed translation for 'thou shalt not kill' doesn't really work.

      The Roman Catechism of the 1500s took care to defend the allowability of lawful killings, by explaining why it did not contradict the Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill". It did not do this by claiming that 'kill' somehow really means 'murder' -- instead, it gave a proper defense as to why it did not contradict 'Thou shalt not kill'. Are you claiming that the Roman Catechism was wrong to defend the Commandment this way?

      "Are you talking about a rape at gunpoint..."

      I think the scenario I proposed is clear enough without all the additions you layer on.

      If someone credibly says to a woman that he will kill her unless she allows sex, then she can submit without any fault on her part. (Do you agree with that?) But if a man (either directly, or in so many words) says that he will not feed the woman's children (though they need feeding, to avoid their starvation), unless she agrees to sex, you say she would definitely sin if she submitted (Have I understood you correctly there?)

      It just seems to me that there is a clear contradiction there, and I don't understand what your resolution is going to be.

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    30. I foresaw the issue of double-effect as a "formula" coming up - unfortunately, in my opinion, Vertiatis Splendor is more of a complicating factor than a real help to understanding what Thomas actually means by the terms VS employs. For Thomas, acts are DEEPLY hylomorphic - more so than substances. Steven Long comes as close as anyone on this point (and goes after the PDE "formula" pretty hard), but he ends up missing a critical point about per se order being linked directly with the substances chosen/targeted for action. This is the start of the solution to untying the Gordian knot, but there are some other pieces (specifically with self-defense). Anyway... I digress...

      Paul Connors - Frankly, it seems to me that you are really tying a lot of unnecessarily complex knots, so I am planning on making this my last reply.

      You've talked about "discerning" the character of an act, in retrospect. That's not phraseology that's really used by anyone, not even the more progressive Jesuits - discernment is about the present and future, even for the pro-Amoris crowd.

      You've tried to argue that long-term sexual favors with a non-spouse in exchange for the possible material benefit of one's children is
      possibly venial sin due to distress, but then you not only throw out the only qualifier which could save your position from utter incoherence (severe cognitive disability preventing the higher intellect and will from being brought to bear directly on agency), you shift the goal-posts to a hostage scenario, which has already been admitted as containing different moral characteristics, and which you will not find much resistance on. The case of tolerating sexual acts long-term has also been addressed, at least by myself, which you did not bother addressing in response.

      Then you also appeal to the use of self-defense, as if there were not a significant difference between disabling a live threat without any desire to kill the threat and initiating an adulterous act in the hopes that a material good contingent upon someone else's will is coming in the future, and THEN you challenge someone to show how self-defense squares with the 5th Commandment.

      You have cited the Catechism on self-abuse (a problematic but plausible paragraph), yet you see these as "circumstances" - VS would not call these circumstances. (It seems Thomas would - practically everything is a "circumstance" for him except the "whole act" and the intended end, even the object - but that's a separate issue, as you do not seem particularly aware of how his action theory really works and certainly are not trying to use this paragraph as an example within the Thomistic action theory framework - it seems rather that you are just grab-bag proof-texting.)

      Cont'd...

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    31. Cont'd...

      You have used the word "intention" as a foil to "circumstance" and "object," but then you most recently appeal to "intention" vis-a-vis "circumstances" as if it is a magic wand that excuses material sin from formal guilt (again, without addressing the question at hand, namely, the will and higher intellect being brought to bear). If the "intentions" were "completely unrelated to the sex act," what on earth is an intention to begin with? If one does x to get y, y is related to x, even if "per accidens", by one's one initiative/desire/will (as opposed to an intrinsic/"per se" ordering, like lighting a tree on fire and turning its wood to ash).

      The issue of the public reception of Holy Communion is not at all a question of individual moral status (though it is not unrelated), it is about scandal of various types. The literature on this is abundant - check out Dr. Ed Peters' cache of resources.

      The issue of taking the initiative to approach the ecclesiastical courts has not even been raised.

      It's just too much to address beyond this. I have to wonder if it is a personal issue for you. (It is a reality in my own relationships - friends and relatives... It is difficult to admit one has dug a deep hole that needs to be escaped, but Christ really does provide the grace to do it. The Council of Trent insists that we have sufficient grace to follow the Commandments.)

      I think you should spend more time getting the basics down on fundamental moral theology and Thomas' treatment of chastity and marriage.

      God bless you,
      -CRS

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    32. Paul Connors,
      I have had another long reply disappear so I shall make this short. Regarding the substantive issue of adultery, see the two comments by CRS.
      Regarding interpretation of Exodus 20:13 and parallel in Deut 5, I never claimed that ratsach always meant murder, merely that it had a narrower semantic range than harag, which it does. I specifically said that the more important part of the argument concerned the larger context of Torah. Ratsach, like many Hebrew words, can have different senses. God would not prohibit in Exodus 20:13 actions he specifically permits elsewhere in Torah. Therefore ratsach in this passage has a narrower meaning than it does in some other passages. One problem with the English translation "kill" is that, unlike ratsach, its semantic range includes the extinguishing of life of the lower animals. Some have misused Exodus 20:13 to claim that to be pro-life you must be vegetarian. What God is prohibiting in Exodus 20:13 is murder, not all slaying of life.

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    33. (To CRS)

      "You've talked about 'discerning' the character of an act, in retrospect. That's not phraseology that's really used by anyone, not even the more progressive Jesuits - discernment is about the present and future, even for the pro-Amoris crowd."

      I don't know why you say that. Amoris uses it in the sense I do. As does Familiaris Consortio. As does, e.g., Liguori.

      "..the only qualifier...severe cognitive disability..."

      I don't know how to reconcile what you say with Catholic teaching. There are plenty of other qualifiers. For example, if the mother decided that she was faced between a choice of evils (letting her children starve, or allowing illicit sex acts) and could not decide which was worse, Liguori says that she could pick either, and would not sin at all.

      "If the 'intentions' were 'completely unrelated to the sex act,' what on earth is an intention to begin with?"

      There is a distinction between intending and allowing. God allows many evil acts which He does not intend in the slightest. It's that distinction that can potentially apply to the mother's situation. What is wrong with that?

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    34. (To Finlay)

      "I never claimed that ratsach always meant murder"

      "What God is prohibiting in Exodus 20:13 is murder"

      I'm presuming that you reason from the uncertainty of the first of those statements, to the certainty of the second, by means of "the larger context of Torah"? It's definitely important to always take into account the context of Torah, but now I don't know exactly what you mean by 'murder'. You do say:

      "Murder involves the killing of an innocent human being.

      but that moves the problem around, because now I don't know exactly what you mean by 'innocent'.

      Me, I take the Commandment as saying something as simple as "Don't kill human beings'. And then (just like that official Roman Catechism) I reason that those apparent exceptions (that lead to you want to use words like 'murder' and 'innocent') are in fact actually obedient to that simple form of the Commandment.

      "Regarding the substantive issue of adultery, see the two comments by CRS."

      I don't think CRS is necessarily leading you to the most wonderful of places, so you might usefully spend some time thinking about the scenario I asked you about.

      Plus, to prevent replies from disappearing into the ether, you could prepare your response in a separate program beforehand, and then cut, paste, and publish it when you're finished. It works well.

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    35. Alphonsus agrees with you, Thomas agrees with you... you just have to move goalposts around. Several times you have failed to address the distinction, made by a few of us, of tolerating something being violently done to oneself and actually acting oneself. It’s a world apart... and it’s just not what Amoris is on about... see the Fernandez article in Medellin. He is the ghostwriter. I am happy to go through the problems with the article but you have to drop the idea that any of us are disagreeing about tolerating evil done to oneself.

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    36. I also think a perusal of the Theologia Moralis or even the Praxis Conessarii in their respective treatments of chastity should be enough to make it clear just how “conservative” Alphonsus is... in fact, I would even cautiously suggest he was a bit too demanding, in particular on near occasions to sin...

      If the issue is only about passivity, okay, it’s just a matter of how best to escape. But it’s not what Fernandez, Coccopalmerio, Malta, Buenos Aires, etc. have in mind.

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    37. Paul Connors,
      The massive 8 volume Dictionary of Classical Hebrew gives as the usual semantic range of ratsach "murder, commit manslaughter." It is the word used for a subcategory of homicide which is not an execution or a legitimate act within a holy war. The word ratsach rather than harag is used in Modern Hebrew as the standard word for murder. In the Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts (Dead Sea Scrolls) such as the Damascus Document and the Temple Scroll, ratsach means murder. No sectarian manuscript at Qumran has a meaning other than murder. In the Hebrew Bible, ratsach is not used for the legitimated destruction of enemy peoples in holy war. Nor is it used in the execution narratives. It is more restricted in semantic range than just any killing of a human being, let alone the semantic range of "kill" in English which includes that of the lower animals. This is not particularly controversial.
      Regarding Catholic doctrine on adultery, CRS and Tony seem to know more than you do.

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    38. (To CRS)

      "Several times you have failed to address the distinction, made by a few of us, of tolerating something being violently done to oneself and actually acting oneself."

      I have actually been replying to that, but plainly not clearly enough. It's that introducing the idea of violence all too easily obfuscates the principles. It's possible to allow an evil act to happen to oneself, while not in the least intending it to happen, even aside from acts of violence. E.g. usury. It's easier to see in cases of violence, but violence is just not an essential feature.

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    39. (To Finlay)

      "The massive 8 volume Dictionary of Classical Hebrew..."

      The discussion over Hebrew of "murder" and "kill" has been going on for many centuries. I think it unlikely that a dictionary is going to end the discussions.

      "Regarding Catholic doctrine on adultery, CRS and Tony seem to know more than you do."

      I agree with that: seem

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    40. Paul Connors,
      Do you actually know Biblical Hebrew? I teach it for a living. I cited a lot of evidence in addition to the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.
      I could cite a lot more. Do you concede that the Hebrew word ratsach has a narrower semantic range than the English word "kill"?

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    41. (To Finlay)

      I most certainly agree that your overall expertise in Hebrew is much greater than mine. I could agree that ratsach has a set of usages that do not map in a simple way to 'kill'. The choice of translating the Hebrew into the English 'kill' or 'murder' can be any of: (a) arbitrary; (b) dependent on the Hebrew context; (c) dependent on what context the English is read in; (d) dependent on the context of the translator. Sometimes translations are chosen that are overly dependent on (d). But beyond the translation, we are looking for the meaning.

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    42. Lol... what a disaster. If you want to try to save face after discovering your interlocutor is a professional linguist, you might consider asking more questions.

      As for adultery, evidently you are only concerned about a very precise kind of situation that doesn’t really involve much significant disagreement over principles, at least not from me.

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    43. Paul Connors,
      Thank you for that concession; now we are getting somewhere.
      I agree that several factors affect translation choice.
      In Matthew 19:18, Jesus cites several of the commandments.
      Both the King James Version and the Douay-Rheims Bible read “Thou shalt do no murder” there, despite reading “Thou shalt not kill” in Exodus 20:13. “Thou shalt not kill” (I think, anyway) has more dramatic punch and reflects better the brevity of the Hebrew than “Thou shalt do no murder.” The latter reading likely aims to depict more accurately the action that is being prohibited.
      As you rightly point out, more important than how a word is translated is what it means in a given context. The generally recognized top Greek lexicon of the New Testament, BDAG (Bauer, Denker, Arndt, and Gingrich) gives “you shall not commit murder” as the meaning of Matthew 19:18. The Louw-Nida Lexicon assigns a Louw-Nida number representing a semantic domain to every word in the Greek New Testament according to what it means in that context. Thus, the same Greek word will sometimes have different LN numbers in different passages according to its meaning in those passages. The Greek word kosmos (roughly “world”) has a different LN number in John 3:16 than it does in 1 John 2:15, for example. The Greek word phoneuo has a LN number of LN 20.82 in Matthew 19:18. The semantic domain for this number is “to deprive a person of life by illegal, intentional killing; to murder, to commit murder.”
      The point that I was trying to make was that a woman killing a man while acting in self-defense or in defense of her children would not have been considered to have committed the action prohibited in Exodus 20:13.

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    44. (To Finlay)

      "BDAG (Bauer, Denker, Arndt, and Gingrich) gives “you shall not commit murder” as the meaning of Matthew 19:18."

      But BDAG gives the basic translation of the Greek word as "murder, kill". So we have the same problem in Greek that we have in Hebrew (e.g. there two usages of that Greek word in Proverbs which don't easily mean 'murder').

      "The point that I was trying to make was that a woman killing a man while acting in self-defense or in defense of her children would not have been considered to have committed the action prohibited in Exodus 20:13."

      I don't disagree at all with that as a correct statement -- as a correct end-result of some line of reasoning. The question I am raising is: Has the translation been chosen to suit the end-result? Or similarly, has the translation been chosen so as to suit a particular way of arriving at the end-result? (Such choosing could be conscious or unconscious, and often as a result of the translator's own context.)

      For example, in the case of self-defense, Catholic teaching would be that one is not allowed to intend to kill an attacker. It may happen, it may inevitably happen, but it is not ever a legitimate intention. Where that teaching derives from is the Commandments (where else?). So a translation such as 'thou shalt not kill' would not be problem for Catholics, and they would reach the end-result (the legitimacy of self-defense) by a different line of reasoning.

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    45. Paul Connors,
      Now you are suggesting that the reason the Douay-Rheims translation (Catholic) and the KJV translation (Anglican/Protestant) both translate the relevant section of Matthew 19:18 as "Thou shalt do no murder" is "to suit a particular way of arriving at the end-result" rather than because they know the original languages. Sorry, I don't buy it, and neither should anyone else reading this thread. You simply don't know what you are talking about.

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    46. Paul Connors,
      I have checked some Jewish translations of Exodus 20:13. The 1917 Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures reads "Thou shalt not murder." The 1985 Edition of Tanakh reads "You shall not murder." Everett Fox's Translation of The Five Books of Moses reads, "You are not to murder." These translations were made by experts in Biblical Hebrew.

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  4. Ed, you are way, way, way overthinking things and expending too much energy toward rationalizations.

    The relevant considerations are these:
    1) Pius X condemned speaking with ambiguity in matters of the faith as Modernist heresy.
    1a) Vatican II is filled with such ambiguities that need to be violently examined in order to be explained away
    1b) however, we are not permitted to "close the logical gap" and declare Vatican II is heresy. If this is problematic or seems contradictory, note the doctrine of EENS implies Catholics must believe their Protestant friends are damned, yet Catholics are forbidden, even, from uttering such to their Protestant friends, for judgment is ultimately reserved to God. The best a Catholic can do is cite the doctrine when questioned, but they cannot explicitly complete the logical deduction.

    2) The fruits of Vatican II are manifest. There is nothing that needs to be added here. Don't overthink things.

    Perhaps some older Catholics are stubborn in admitting the truth for personal psychological reasons. For example, suppose one's parents (or close friends, or close pastor) went along with the new Mass in the 1970s and died before returning to tradition. It is a natural human reaction to feel a familial or brotherly loyalty to such, and to wish to rationalize their error. It is natural to wish to avert facing the reality of the possibility they are among the damned. But this impulse is contrary to reason and must be overcome.

    Or there maybe less noble psychological impulses. For example, those who find pleasure in the pursuit of knowledge, are subject to having such pleasure corrupted by pride, for they may come to acquire a sinful taste for improper pleasure from attaining knowledge which few or none know; "look at me, I figured this out when so few did". Just as pride is sinfully inflamed when encountering pride in some, so would such persons be bothered, when they discover others have clung to truth in a great minority and in the face of scorn, for their entire lives. They beat them to the punch.

    There were holy priests, very obscure but if you weren't around you would not know of them, who continued to say the Mass of Paul V quietly in disobedience to Rome even in 1970 when the tiny backlash hadn't begun. That is to say, they persisted in saying the Mass of Paul V even while there was no external evidence whatsoever that the Mass of Paul V would even survive. Indeed, records of communications by Paul VI indicate he saw it as a foregone conclusion that the Mass would disappear quite soon. One such priest I know held 9 doctorates, none of them honorary. The reason no one knows his name, I suspect, is because he saw the temptation to pride if he should self promote. Such a priest's actions in persisting with the Mass of Paul V anticipated, implicitly, the struggle that was to come. How could he have known what the fruits would be of the Vatican II liturgy? The 9 doctorates probably helped, but ultimately, such clarity of vision, such prescience, at such an early time long before Lefebvre or others, is evidence of inspiration by the Holy Ghost.

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    1. 1. Ambiguity is only one mark of modernism; but not all ambiguity is necessarily modernism. You've committed a very basic formal fallacy.

      1a) Not really. Everything in V2 can be interpreted from the standpoint of previous doctrine and common orthodox theological opinion.

      1b) This interpretation of EENS is not definitive. Protestantism as such is a formal heresy; the average individual Protestant can only be certainly judged as *materially* heretical. And therefore *might* not have culpability for their material grave matter.

      This has been a commonly accepted, orthodox interpretation of EENS since at least the School of Salamanca.

      We can't "close the logical gap", because it's epistemically uncertain, not because we simply refuse to use logic...that smacks of the Avveroesian heresy condemned in the 13th century.


      2) "Don't overthink things"--said no Scholastic theologians ever.

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    2. So those who attend the Novus Ordo (or "go along with the new Mass", as you say) are damned according to you? Are you freaking serious?

      And no, EENS doesn't imply a rule according to which Protestants are damned. Most Protestants today, in all reasonable estimation, are only materially heretic.

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    3. "Most Protestants today, in all reasonable estimation, are only materially heretic."

      That is quite a claim.

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    4. And a reasonable claim at that, CRS. Might be true, might not be, but you seem to find something self-evidently outrageous about it that's lacking.

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    5. Yes, I think it’s pretty out there to claim the mantle of the presumptive reasonable position on that. It’s extremely debatable.

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    6. Your comment is interesting humanly speaking, but one has to conclude 1. You have underthought 2. Vatican II is lucid and not ambiguous. 3. Vatican II, one mightsay, has not really been tried, like the Gospel. 4. A liturgical reform is more than new rubrics. 5. Liturgical reform must be seen as an ongoing thing. Sloow but sure. After Vatican II there was a key moment, but it doesn´t all stop there. 5 Liturgical reform is at once a progress and a return to tradition.

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  5. "...and pray for those who harm us"


    What would be the content of that prayer? I feel resentful.

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    1. It's natural to resent injustice. Nothing wrong with that. The key, though, is not to let it fester into bitterness, and not to let it prevent one from sincerely willing the good of the one who causes unjust harm, e.g. by praying that he will stop doing it and find repentance.

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    2. I'm going to pray for him as you say, today.

      Thank you.

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    3. To add: some of the saints gave us quite explicit examples of asking God to forgive their very executioners, during their deaths. St. Junipero Serra, though not martyred, had in a letter to his superiors an explicit request that IF here were killed for his Christianity, not to punish them for it.

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  6. Section 2342 of the Catechism:'Self mastery is a long and exacting work.One can never considered it acquired once and for all."

    I am Catholic, age 70, and have been married since I was 40. There is perfect contrition, sorry you have offended God, and imperfect contrition or attrition,the fear of eternal damnation. The latter will suffice when sins are confessed. I was in the military, I traveled the world, I worked in Vegas for yrs. I liked the ladies and they liked me. I was raised as a strict Catholic and I went to confession regularly to confess my sexual sins. I frankly told my confessors it was very difficult for me to remain chaste. They told me I should try my best and gave me absolution. Eventually, I married in the Church. My blessed wife brought an end to my wayward youth.

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  7. The interpretation that "except it be for fornication" does not mean adultery after marriage is false. "It only means if you accidentally married your sister" is a braindead interpretation and this is where the Vatican shot itself in the head.

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    1. What do you make of this?

      10 To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. (1 Cor 7:10-11: NRSV)

      ?

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    2. You are unlikely to marry a relative by accident these days - but be careful about projecting modern Western social structures onto the ancient Near East and Mediterranean.

      It is also not the only orthodox interpretation available - another could be infidelity before consummation.

      I am sorry if it's a personal challenge for you. It is difficult to come to terms with the Lord's teaching on marriage - which is why the apostles reacted as they did. "Better to stay bachelors!" Yes - but without the "benefits."

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  8. Francis clearly thinks that at least some of RadTrad are aiming toward schism, which is pretty serious. Do you think his concerns are well-founded?

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    1. Hi John,

      If we're talking actual, literal schism, then no, I don't think they are well-founded at all. First, most trads inclined that way are already either associated with the SSPX, or sedevacantists, or what have you. So they aren't in the first place the sort of people who would even want to attend a TLM offered by either the FSSP or at a regular diocesan parish. In fact, people who love the TLM who attend these Masses do so precisely because they do not want to be schismatic. In my experience, the vast majority do not approve of the SSPX, much less of sedevacantism, precisely because they have a horror of schism. They want to go only to a Latin Mass that the Church approves. And now, for this obedience, they're getting kicked in the teeth.

      Second, even though there are certainly oddballs and cranks and people with a "schismatic mentality" (whatever exactly that means) even among these Church-approved Latin Mass communities, they are in my experience clearly a minority. There are far more people whose attitude is "Why do these weirdos have to make trouble for the rest of us?"

      So, no, the concerns are not well-founded. In fact, it is precisely the pope's move that makes schism more likely, because it will make people who have been trying to be obedient feel deeply insulted and desperate. And that the pope's biggest defenders are now looking on gloating ("Yeah! Kick 'em again, merciful Holy Father!") doesn't help.

      I hope and believe that the vast majority of people who love the TLM will not make this mistake, but will instead accept the suffering the Lord is asking of them for the time being. But I fear that there will indeed be some who will now become embittered and break off communion with the Church. As Msgr. Charles Pope has written, the pope is "using a cannon to kill a fly," and there is bound to be collateral damage.

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  9. Catholic Answers attempts to justify Amoris Laetitia by saying that one party to the illicit union wants to stop the sexual relationship but cannot because it will anger the other party. This puts the Church in the position of endorsing serial rape.

    Francis has unwittingly agreed with the extremists he purports to be opposing: he is implicitly agreeing that the “old” form and the “new” form are exclusive of each other.

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    1. Francis has unwittingly agreed with the extremists he purports to be opposing: he is implicitly agreeing that the “old” form and the “new” form are exclusive of each other.

      Yes, I always get strong celebration parallax* vibes from discussions of the Catholic liturgy.

      * celebration parallax, n.: the phenomenon whereby one and the same claim is treated as either true and good or false and scurrilous, depending entirely on who's making it.

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    2. Francis has unwittingly agreed with the extremists he purports to be opposing: he is implicitly agreeing that the “old” form and the “new” form are exclusive of each other.

      I thought the very same thing, TN. The only reason Francis could be dead certain the old mass cannot co-exist with the new mass would (seemingly) be some view that the old mass and the new are fundamentally incompatible with each other. Somehow. Or something like that. In fact, he is rather ambiguous about just why (well, THAT'S hardly anything new, is it?)

      He is also probably wrong in such position, but at least he is directly in opposition with Benedict's point of view on the matter. Benedict clearly thought the Novus Ordo had signally failed at least part of the mandate given by the Council in reforming the mass, and also clearly thought that ultimately the "standard" form of the mass - as it should be eventually and then stablely - needed to be something that was "informed by" both masses, and (to speak very broadly) some fusion of the two. If that were ever to happen, or anything else that successfully carried out the ENTIRETY of the mandate of reform called for by the Council, both the mass of the 1962 missal, and the mass of the 1970 missal, could (both) pass away into history. But not necessarily by someone putting a STAKE through their hearts, for crying out loud.

      The Church has allowed several different "uses" in the Latin Rite without complaint, for many hundreds of years. These uses don't disturb the unity of the Church. The Church could, also, allow the 1962 missal "use" to co-exist with the 1970 missal "use", without complaint. As long as there were no sede vacantists and SSPX in schism (or "near", or "approaching", or "in irregular status"), this variation and diversity would be simply the NORMAL STATE of the Church. Nothing wrong at all. The notion that there must be one single "unique" version of the Latin Rite mass, has been already debunked by 700 years of practice.

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    3. None of that. AL says that pastors should treat people in a pastoral way which does not reduce everything to mere external observance, which listens to people, which does not stick its nose into people´s bedrooms. Al the forms of rigorism in regard to matters of the 6th commandment are in fact forms of unchastity.

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  10. So much for “collegiality” and “synodality”. How is it that Rome would know more about whether or not a newly ordained priest meets the criteria for saying the Extraordinary form than the local bishop? And if said newly ordained priest was an extremist of the type Francis means to expunge, why would he bother getting ordained in the new rite anyway?

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  11. "And the punishment is very harsh."

    And yet I wonder, to what degree is this harshness just a replay of what Francis's saintly predecessors (Paul VI and JPII) wrought? Can Francis appeal to a "hermeneutic of (post)-Vatican II continuity" here?

    I also wonder, is the SSPX really schismatic? They don't seem to think so. And if they are, how much are they to blame? In general they certainly seem much closer to embracing the fullness of the Catholic faith, and to sincerely wishing to do so, than the vast majority of people who attend/preside at NO mass. So again, who is more deserving of 'mercy' (as they say), or pastoral solicitude and understanding? The SSPX is certainly in a "canonically irregular" state, but it seems an open question as to where the blame for that mainly lies.

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    1. Bingo

      Why did this Pope destroy the Franciscans of the Immaculate? They were canonically regular.
      He's coming for them all now.

      St. Francis of Assisi prophesied that another "Francis" would come, that he would destroy everything he could.

      This Pope is in fact schismatic. He makes you chose between Truth and Authority instead of using Authority to defend Truth. Same as Henry the Eighth. He rebels against his predecessors (both living and dead). He holds one non-infallible council above the other 20 infallible ones. He rebels against God and the Faith by rejecting the Deposit of Faith and its Author. He rejects Scripture with Amoris Laetitia (among so many other things), and tradition by Traditionis Custodes.

      Everybody who goes to a Tridentine Mass is now about as irregular as the SSPX, which is really no more irregular than any Catholic was before Popes like this had a "council" (non-binding synod) to their liking.

      That council was the French Revolution in the Church. Liberty, Fraternity, Equality.

      Religious Liberty, Collegiality and Equality of Creed (False ecumenism)

      Quo Primum forbids new Rites of Mass.

      Can't wait to hear what Vigano has to say.

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    2. The blame lies with Paul VI and the Vatican. He's the one who foisted a revolution on the church no one wanted and no one was asking for, except maybe the most left-leaning element in the hierarchy. What is happening now is just a replay of what he did in 1970 to Catholics all over the world, only then they had reason to give Paul VI some benefit of the doubt. How can one say the same now about Francis? Is there any doubt the post-conciliar revolution has been a disaster (unless you're a communist)? With a half century of hindsight, we can see what chaos the reforms have made for us. Even if Paul VI couldn't, we can today. So what is Francis' excuse? If Paul VI meant well and didn't forsee the fiasco that would result from his actions, how does Francis justify doing it again?

      This isn't producing unity, it isn't even rational. A sane person would have to realize this beligerence isn't going to win friends or influence anyone. It will just embitter people and push them farther apart. Is Francis an idiot or just a selfish bully? I don't know. I believe the man is spiritually toxic. Pray for his conversion, otherwise avoid him and his reach. If you feel you can do that safely at a diocesan TLM parish, great. FSSP or SSPX, super. Sedevacantist chapel, terrific. I don't care. I'm not here to judge anyone. You need to save your soul, not satisfy what I think a good Catholic is.

      What has been happening to the church my whole life is not your fault, it's not my fault, it's not Archbishop Lefebvre's fault, or Micheal Matt's fault, or Dr. Feser's fault. It is, at the very least, the fault of Paul VI. Maybe John XXIII. One might argue Pius XII at least opened the pandora's box with his butchering of Holy Week. But this is unquestionably the result of post-war pope's and their Vatican aparatus.

      God save us all from busy-bodies who think they know better than anyone who lived before them.

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    3. I also wonder if Church leaders are sometimes the "schismatic" ones in their attitude towards the SSPX, in the second sense of schism, namely, refusal of communion with the (SSPX) members of the Church subject to the pope (see CIC 751). Could even the pope unreasonably refuse communion with certain members of the Church who are subject to him and thus be guilty of the sin of schism? If he rightly sees himself as an absolute dictator, then, no, he has no obligations to anybody; but if he rightly sees himself as a servant of those who serve Christ, then yes. (This would parallel arguments about the possibility of the pope being a heretic.) Food for thought from Edward Peters: https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/a-note-on-the-other-kind-of-schism/

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    4. @ David:

      I also wonder, is the SSPX really schismatic?

      The normal phrase is "not in full communion", which never really made sense to me -- surely you're either in communion with the Pope or you're not?

      There's also the fact that Francis confirmed (granted?) SSPX priests' faculties to celebrate marriages and hear confessions. I'm not sure of any precedent for Popes granting actual schismatics faculties for celebrating the sacraments, and the idea that he could do so seems theologically suspect to me (albeit I'm not trained in this area of theology).

      Could even the pope unreasonably refuse communion with certain members of the Church who are subject to him and thus be guilty of the sin of schism?

      That's an interesting thought. If one takes the attitude that excommunications are declarative in nature (i.e., the excommunicated person has already excommunicated himself by virtue of his own actions, and the pope/bishop is just making this official), then I suppose it would be possible for a pope to pass a sentence of excommunication on one who had not in fact excommunicated himself. But I'm not sure I accept that view of excommunication, since it seems to lead to various paradoxes (e.g., if you consider someone like Nancy Pelosi, who publicly flouts Church teachings and would therefore be a prime candidate for self-excommunication, then either you'd have to maintain communion with her, i.e., with a schismatic, which is sinful and possibly schismatic in itself; or you'd have to refuse communion, which would be schismatic under Canon 751).

      @ Tim:

      St. Francis of Assisi prophesied that another "Francis" would come, that he would destroy everything he could.

      Interesting, do you have a source for this?

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    5. This isn't producing unity, it isn't even rational.

      What if Francis doesn't believe that adultery and divorce are wrong, doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate who died for our sins and rose again, despises people who do believe those things, wishes to stamp such belief out of the Catholic Church, and doesn't really care if the Church continues to exist after his death so long as secular progressivism prevails?

      In that case, what he is doing *is* rational in a sense, inasmuch as he's doing things that could logically be expected to attain his goal given his premises.

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    6. Gaius:

      The prophesy is in his memoirs The Works of the Seraphic Father.

      Seems I miss remembered the part about the destroyer being named Francis. The prophesy could actually refer to John XXIII who called the council, or more likely Paul VI who actually implemented it along with the New Mass and started suppressing everything. Francis is just the end stage, the perfecting for the process. Here's a video to get you started.

      LiPmH28Edeo

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    7. The normal phrase is "not in full communion", which never really made sense to me -- surely you're either in communion with the Pope or you're not?

      Gaius: I am no theologian, but I have looked into this a little: to be FULLY AND FORMALLY GUILTY of the sin of schism, you would have to (more or less) knowingly refuse obedience to the pope (or to the Church) on a matter that YOU UNDERSTOOD the pope (or the Church) had authority to command you. In the case of the SSPX priests, they believe (with some decent arguments) that there has NEVER BEEN a valid command issued by the pope to stop saying the old mass. Hence they are not KNOWINGLY disobeying a valid command.

      There's also the fact that Francis confirmed (granted?) SSPX priests' faculties to celebrate marriages and hear confessions. I'm not sure of any precedent for Popes granting actual schismatics faculties for celebrating the sacraments, and the idea that he could do so seems theologically suspect to me

      The Church has taught for many centuries that a priest in the state of mortal sin still validly confects the Eucharist when he says mass, and he validly absolves in confession, when he "intends to do what the Church intends". A pope could - for the sake of the faithful - grant even schismatic priests the authority to hear confessions and witness weddings. Indeed, Canon Law prescribes that ANY priest (whether schismatic, or whether he never received faculties, or even if he has been laicized (removed from the outward status of the priesthood) validly absolves if the penitent is in danger of death.

      But in fact, the Vatican does not call individual priests of SSPX "in schism", because of the difficulties in establishing that the formal conditions of it are actually applicable. (Some of them may be in schism because of their internal assent against unity with the Church, but if those actions are not manifested by clear and unambiguous outward actions, no tribunal could determine formally that schism had occurred. Ambiguous actions don't prove it.)

      It was ONLY Archbishop Lefebvre and the 4 bishops he consecrated that were excommunicated - the rest of SSPX priests were not infected with their act. (At least, not directly.) In addition, as I understand it, these 5 men were excommunicated, because their actions were schismatic in their material nature. They were not formally condemned as "in schism". (The distinction I am indicating is technical, and I am not positive of it, but: there is no doubt that HE DID the act of consecration, and the act of consecration (against the orders of the Vatican) is materially a schismatic act: such a judgment is a judgment of the action with respect to its outward dimension. No judgment was made that Lefebvre, himself, had that interior mental state in which he formally became a schismatic.)

      That's an interesting thought. If one takes the attitude that excommunications are declarative in nature (i.e., the excommunicated person has already excommunicated himself by virtue of his own actions, and the pope/bishop is just making this official), then I suppose it would be possible for a pope to pass a sentence of excommunication on one who had not in fact excommunicated himself.

      Only SOME declarations of excommunications are merely declarative of a condition that already holds. That is, only SOME of the excommunication-worthy offenses in Canon Law, and the canons that deal with them, prescribe that a person "excommunicates himself" by the mere sin itself. Most other cases require the act of the competent authority (usually a bishop, sometimes the pope).

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  12. Why is Francis cruel toward the traditionalists any indulgent toward the adulterers? Oh, I don't know. Could it be that he loves sin and heterodoxy, and hates piety and orthodoxy?

    And here's a hypothetical question for all the Vatican II-traditionalists out there. Assuming for the sake of argument that Francis were a formal heretic, would he be a valid pope?

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    1. To be a formal heretic Pope Francis would have to formally join another religion. He hasn't done that and if in his soul he where as wicked as Pope Alexander VI he is still Pope. Sin does not un-Pope him. Dontanism teaches Clergy loose their offices thru sin not orthodox Catholic teaching. You radtrad Sedes yer a bunch of Protestants with Rosary beads. Yer not Catholic. Yeh fidelity to tradition isn't digging up old heresy my high church Protestant friend.

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    2. Join another religion? He's the pope of another religion!

      Alexander VI held the Catholic Faith. Therefore, he was a true pope.

      Also, you keep calling me a protestant, Ya'Kov, and it doesn't make any sense. I think schismatic is the term you're looking for.

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    3. @ Son of Ya'Kov:

      To be a formal heretic Pope Francis would have to formally join another religion.

      No, he'd just have to deny a magisterial teaching.

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    4. Clarification: Suppose a man was validly elected pope and became the actual pope. Then suppose he interiorly decided to firmly and obdurately adhere to a proposition that happens to directly contradict a dogma that a former Council had officially and dogmatically defined. But he did not know that a Council had already defined a position, or that there was an already settled Church teaching on it. He would then be a "material" heretic, in holding a thesis that is a heretical thesis, without KNOWING it was against Church teaching. He would not be a "formal" heretic because his will would not be willing to "hold what I know contradicts the Church's teaching." Hence he would not have the SIN of heresy on his soul.

      If he never did anything overt to state his thesis to others, this material heresy would never become known, and it would not impact his remaining pope.

      Now, (scenario 2) suppose he actually knows that the matter has been dogmatically defined, and still firmly adheres to the heretical position. At this point, he would contract formally the sin of heresy. But still, he does nothing and says nothing that indicates his thesis, and nobody knows his interior condition. He would still remain pope and his sin would not affect that.

      Scenario 3: suppose he mentions to others that he believes his (heretical) thesis, but he does not attempt to "teach" it as if it were something "the Church teaches". Does he thereby become not pope? It might seem so, but:

      Scenario 4: he not only mentions it to others, but he attempts to teach it to others, such as in his Sunday sermons. After a while, when it becomes clear that he really does hold this horrible thesis, which is against Church teaching, others come to him and remonstrate with him. Theologians and bishops write to him and beg him to reconsider his position. After some time, he changes his mind and adheres to what the Church has taught.

      If you think that his adhering to, and publicly trying to teach a thesis that is, materially, a heresy, means that he immediately ceased to be pope, you would be unsupported by past practice: this is EXACTLY what happened to John XXII. (He thought that saints had to wait until the Final Judgment before they enjoyed heaven.) But nobody at the time or after indicates that he had lost his papacy by revealing publicly that he privately had held a heretical thesis, or by trying to teach it publicly.

      Scenario 5: add to scenario 4 that after he is corrected by others, he rejects their correction, and firmly asserts his thesis over again. Eventually, the bishops gather and confront him and demand that he answer: does he adhere to the dogmatic definition, or to his own thesis, and he says "the latter: I reject the Council and claim my own position is the true one." The bishops declare to the world: "this man has clearly elicited for public view not only that he is a material heretic, but he has formally become a heretic, for he has obstinately refused to assent to a dogmatically defined truth." Thus he has been "formally declared" a heretic.

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    5. According to some authorities (including St. Robert Bellarmine, who was a consultor to the Holy Office and a Doctor), the status of being formally declared a heretic would be one that tells the Church "this man has ceased to be pope, since a man loses his papacy if he is a formal heretic." He would be considered to have lost his office by his own obstinate choice, not by the bishops' declaration of it.

      You see the different senses of "being" a heretic in play here. Nobody thinks that a pope loses his office if he is a material heretic but commits no formal sin of heresy by NOT KNOWING that the Church teaches the opposite. Some might think the pope loses his office if he has the (interior only) formal sin of heresy, even though it is not known to others, but no authority in the Church has ever taught this because - by being in the internal forum only - the governance of the Church could not cope with the mix-up. And nobody has thought that if a pope initially taught heresy, but then accepted correction, he lost his office merely by expressing (and teaching) it publicly, because by not ADHERING to the heresy, but instead reverting to the dogmatic teaching, he OFFICIALLY AVOIDS the censure of a formal condition (and declaration) of "heretic" by not OBSTINATELY refusing correction (which is one of the conditions).

      Hence, it is only Scenario 5 that would ever get to a situation where the pope would lose his office (once validly held) by heresy. And EVEN THAT claim is hotly contested: many hold that no God would not permit a pope to become a formal heretic (i.e. one declared so), so there could never be a Scenario 5. Some even say that a pope could never even commit formal heresy reserved in the internal forum, God would prevent this too. But either way, clearly the notion that a pope would lose his office EVEN BEFORE the bishops undertook a formal correction that would force him into a definitive choice, reeks of impossible dangers to the governance of the Church, and is incompatible with how the Church treated John XXII.

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  13. I guess that one of the worse parts of the whole situation is that the pope was motivated by a survey whose results are not public. The TLM folks are getting punished while not even knowing the reason.

    That only serves to create more suspicion and ressentment, i hope that he does show the results of the survey eventually.

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    1. I suspect he's not going to for the same reason Big Tech giants practically never explain their reasons for censorship. The decision was in fact an arbitrary exercise of power to oppress people he hates. The survey exists only as a fig leaf you're not allowed to see, because actual transparency would make that undeniable. Orwellianism and Kafkaesque show trials are intrinsic to the "progressive" impulse.

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    2. Well, i would not go that far, but i could see the pope getting a lot of information about the TLM folks from the more extremists ones you see online. Maybe his assistents(i doubt that he reads online much) passed more unrealible informations and thanks to this he reacted as strong as he did to the survey results.

      Pope Francis temperament is one that easily clashes with the more traditional guys, so maybe some bad informations could had helped push him to see the trads as a problem.

      That is why it would be cool to see the results, at least to see what caused the situation.

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    3. Diane Montagna said that according to her sources, only 30% of bishops answered the survey, and more than half of those who answered said that the TLM had good or neutral effects.

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    4. zui, I would wonder at Diane Montagna's claims: I like the tenor of them, but strongly doubt that she has any reliable source for them.

      This is symptomatic of the entire problem: EVERYBODY's information is only anecdotal. Nobody has EVER done any statistics on this, so all we can go on is "what I have observed, heard, seen, and discussed with others who mention what they have heard..." (which latter is hearsay.) The pope says that he requested information from the bishops. What he does not suggest is that the bishops had anything OTHER than the same anecdotal information I have. (Maybe the bishop has gotten more FEEDBACK than I have, (e.g. irate letters), but I guarantee that the bishop has not been party to the vast majority of conversations and comments made between and around old mass lovers. If he is going by IRATE LETTERS, of course he has a skewed view of the matter. If he is basing it on talking to his priests, then he is getting the skewed views THOSE PRIESTS get from incomplete information.

      By far the majority of bishops in the US (I don't know as much about other countries) harbor antipathy to the old mass and traditionalists, and have grudgingly given support and approval for TLM parishes, or combined TLM + Novus Ordo parishes. They have this antipathy without any SOUND FOUNDATION for it: it is a prejudice. There have been a few (small, tiny, handful) of bishops that have given full-throated support, and THOSE bishops have gotten a LOT of full-throated feedback supporting a favorable view of TLM.

      The same thing has been happening at the Vatican: Pope Francis has an exceedingly dyspeptic view of "tradition" and traditionalists, and no sympathy for the old mass whatsoever. His appointments to the Vatican, and to cardinal's hats, match his own views FAR, FAR more than was true under Paul VI, JPII, or Benedict. Hence, the bishops' reports are going through a filter of antipathy to TLM and its partisans. (And probably, in not a few cases, bishops know that visibly being in support of TLM will get them NEGATIVE review from the Vatican, so they probably down-play any good reports into neutral-ish terms that are void of any emotional impact for TLM. I.E. Some bishops being self-curtailing of good reports on TLM.)

      All in all, I find it highly likely that the Pope can manage to read into whatever summaries he has gotten on the matter a clear disfavor of TLM, without any conscious effort to "color" or exaggerate the negatives. I also cannot imagine ANY MECHANISM (likely to have been employed in the entire process) that would have resulted in clear, unbiased representation of the truth.

      Without the pope (or someone in the Vatican) explaining the methodology in detail, I don't know why we should credit his account of it as anything stronger than anecdotal evidence. There is a reason scientific papers clearly detail their methodology of collecting data. Out of charity, I should be willing to see the pope's claims as the truth as he sees it. I don't think charity requires me to think his method of collecting information was likely to have been a sound one, or that the information collected was used soundly in forming a judgment - not in light of his obvious long-standing prejudice.

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    5. Exactly; Tony, it is hard to see the survey giving good enough information or our today clergy generally more liberal temperament not being a bit biased with the TLM.

      It would be cool to see what happened indeed.

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  14. In Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, in its discussion of the pope’s universal jurisdiction, says that the pope is bound “by divine law alone. This demands that the Papal power, in consonance with its purpose, should be employed for the building-up of the Mystical Body of Christ, not for its destruction (2 Corinthians 10:8). The divine law, therefore, is an efficacious brake on arbitrariness.”

    Given this, do you think there are circumstances in which we, like St. Paul, are called to resist the Pope to his face (Galatians 2:11) if he is going against divine law and working for the destruction of the Faith?

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    1. John B,

      Yeah, resist him "to his face" all you want . . . as long as you avoid sin yourself and recognize **his** universal jurisdiction is not your universal jurisdiction.

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    2. But would not John B, in resisting the Pope, make himself a Protestant?

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    3. Stephen,

      No. See the last 3 posts from Feser on this blog.

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    4. Those 3 posts seem more focused on scandalous and wretched behavior of degenerate predates than the doctrinal taint and confusion of the Pope.

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    5. Stephen,

      Thinking the pope is wrong and calling him out for what you think is wrong, is not the same thing as denying he has the authority to be wrong.

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    6. The authority to be wrong...where does that come from, and what does that mean? Authority is based on truth, and if any bishop undermines or contradicts truth, he undermines his authority.

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  15. Miguel CervantesJuly 24, 2021 at 3:08 AM

    I think this post's reference to the SSPX is way off target. The Society is in communion with the Pope (Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos stating "it was never a real schism"). Its canonical status is another issue, but not one that affects the issue of communion. Nor can it be alleged that it hosts heterodox ideas or tends towards sedevacantism. This issue was one of the first to be cleared up by the SSPX, back in the mid-seventies. There is simply no interest in this error among its membership or leaders.

    On the other hand, whatever the motivations and errors of the latest motu proprio, it was right in one thing: its targeted audience, the Ecclesia Dei communities, is indeed affected by schismatic tendencies. It might not be true of all, or even most of them, but Vigano, The Remnant, Skojec Kwasnewski etc have become focuses of error and schism in the full and true sense of the word.

    Many of the "moderate" Eccelesia Dei spokesmen have fallen into the trap of trying to prove that the Pope doesn't have the authority to rule on the liturgy as he does, full stop. At the same time, they reject the real motivation for the rejection of the liturgical reforms of Paul VI (by Archbishop Lefevbre and the early traditionalists): that it was the liturgical expression of erroneous tendencies that came with Vatican II. The two things are linked, and the conservative effort to separate them is now doomed by the motu proprio.

    If Pope Francis has indeed devised the motu proprio with caricatural Jesuitical cunning in order to get his worst conservative enemies (especially in the US) to leave the Church by their own desire, he may succeed spectacularly.

    By saying no to the Pope and his liturgical rule, not in the name of doctrine, (as Archbishop Lefebvre did) but in the name of a new and false notion of the very constitution of the Church that downgrades the Papacy, such conservatives will find themselves emphatically out of the Church, while Pope Francis will be just where he is.

    The earliest traditionalists, who made the sacrifices that have allowed the Tridentine Mass to flourish until till today, and compelled the Vatican to approve it again under Pope John Paul II in order to bring them to heel, didn't make the argument "the Pope can't change the Mass" their banner. The fortitude to say no to the Pope could never come from liturgical preference, sensibility or beauty, but from a commitment to doctrine. The Pope cannot oblige us to accept reforms which are doctrinallly tainted.

    Now many here may consider this position, held by the first generation of traditionalists, and which is that of the Society of Saint Pius X and many other bodies, too difficult. The emerging alternative - justifying resistance to Rome in the name of "local autonomy" "exorcising the spirit of Vatican One" (Kwasnewski), quibbles about the legal wording of the motu proprio etc., DOES show a schismatic spirit. If the faith is not affected through the Church being in lock-step with Vatican II and the Novus Ordo, how on earth can Catholics disobey the Pope?

    In my opinion, given that it is no secret that this Pope has little affection for US conservatives, it will have been a masterstroke on his part to get them to scatter by throwing this stone into their pond.

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    Replies
    1. Miguel,

      You are correct that the SSPX is not in schism, which is why I followed the common practice of contrasting "regular communion" with their "imperfect communion." But I agree that these terms are not ideal either. The situation of the SSPX is unusual and difficult briefly to characterize. My point was merely to emphasize that the communities to which the motu proprio is directed (e.g. the FSSP, or local TLM communities at diocesan parishes) are, unlike the SSPX, all in perfectly good standing with the pope and the rest of the bishops of the Church.

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    2. Miguel, regarding the claim of doctrinal taint as the basis for resistance or rejection, is this not the same stance as the Orthodox vis a vis the Papacy lo these many years? It is a very old issue. Who gets to decide? On the one hand, you have, since the time of Pope St. Stephen, the Bishops of Rome declaring that "none can judge the Holy See." On the other hand, you have other bishops, clergy and laity declaring that, if it is not found in the public prayer life of the Church (liturgy as the First Theology), nor in consistent teachings of the majority of Church fathers (as expressed in councils, encyclicals, homilies, etc), it probably isn't dogmatic.
      If you accept the claims since Pope St. Stephen, how can you in any way resist or object to anything from any Pope? This is the conundrum facing so-called Catholic Traditionalists. I say so-called because they, like their progressive counterparts, are only too happy to support a Pope if he is "their man" and demand full obedience from all, but obfuscate and dodge when it's the other team's "man" in charge; but this reduces the office of the Papacy to merely a political plaything, and indeed an engine of innovation, as we have witnessed not just since Vatican II, but indeed across the centuries.

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    3. @Prof Feser

      Cardinal Burke thinks the SSPX is in schism and I agree with him(more proof I am not a mindless Feser Fanboi ;-) :D). I don't think there is such a thing as "imperfect communion". It is like being pregnant, you either are or you are not.

      CARDINAL BURKE: SSPX NOT PART OF ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH & HAS SCHISMATIC POSITION!
      http://thesplendorofthechurch.com/2021/05/10/cardinal-burke-sspx-not-part-of-roman-catholic-church-has-schismatic-position/



      Pope Francis is unclear so I don't know what to believe. The SSPX should just stop fooling around and return(which I am sure we both agree on).

      This sucks for Trads but there is no excuse for Schism.

      Cheers boss.

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    4. Regarding religious liberty and the SSPX, I think it would be worthwhile to consider the fact that, apart from the text of Dignitatis Humanae itself, there have been other doctrinal loci since then, including the response Rome gave to Msgr. Lefebvre’s dubia dutifully submitted by him, which, among other things, and apart from likely standing in need of further clarification (figures, huh?..), contains statements like “the state has absolutely no competence in religious matters” (that would seem, as is, to preclude even the recognition of Catholicism as the true religion).

      As Dr. Pink himself recognises, to my great sadness his is not the interpretation generally presented to the public, as well as, clearly, the Society. In this and generally despite repeated pleas the Vatican has failed to specify precisely what and in what sense Catholics have to accept despite principled, argued dubia and related difficulties.
      Weaponised ambiguity has been with us for half a century at this point.

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    5. @Dr. Feser

      Regarding religious liberty and the SSPX, I think it would be worthwhile to consider the fact that, apart from the text of Dignitatis Humanae itself, there have been other doctrinal loci since then, including the response Rome gave to Msgr. Lefebvre’s dubia dutifully submitted by him, which, among other things, and apart from likely standing in need of further clarification (figures, huh?..), contains statements like “the state has absolutely no competence in religious matters” (that would seem, as is, to preclude even the recognition of Catholicism as the true religion).

      As Dr. Pink himself recognises, proh dolor his is not the interpretation generally presented to the public, as well as, clearly, the Society. In this and generally despite repeated pleas the Vatican has failed to specify precisely what and in what sense Catholics have to accept despite principled, argued dubia and related difficulties.
      Weaponised ambiguity has been with us for half a century at this point.

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    6. Stephen, it's got nothing to do with the Orthodox schismatics who don't recognise the prerogatives of the successors of St. Peter in the Church as constituted by Christ. That there is no judicial authority that can judge the Pope is indeed certain.

      But to say that the Pope cannot lose the faith doesn't mean he can't harm it by his actions. Popes often have. While Vatican II and the Novus Ordo don't contain heresies, they are tainted by a modernist spirit that has done much harm.

      Those well-known sections at Vatican II concerning religious liberty and ecumenism can't be reconciled with previous papal teaching as they stand, though the Church of the future will no doubt clarify such matters (the confusion following the Council of Constance was just as bad). The Roman rite as reformed by Paul VI, while it could have had a different interpretation in the eighth-century, in 1968 and 2021 has the unavoidable stamp of modernist mentality. Symbols are conditioned by their times. While the post-Tridentine liturgy emphasised everything that was denied by Protestantism, the symbolism of the 1968 reform did the opposite. We can't pretend that we live in the early Church. We live in the age of the Council of Trent and its battles have not been resolved yet. A change of a certain type in given circumstances has a symbolism of its own. Could the NO have another symbolism when conducted like the Tridentine Mass, in a world full of Catholic believers? Possibly. But then why go to the trouble of changing it. If all this was about getting the laity involved, all they had to do was fix the music - by restoring Latin rite musical culture to its people they could again participate properly (Pius X was on the right track). Polyphony and "concerts" kill this culture because, by definition, "the people" can't take part.

      Archbishop Lefebvre, when referring to the objectionable features of Vatican II and the NO, rather than claiming they were heretical, preferred the formula "coming from and leading to error". The spirit animating all of this was consistent with the people who thought up the changes and the ideas influencing them. To say all this is not the same thing as claiming the Church hierarchy has abandoned the faith. But it does explain its current general weakness and confusion in the face of worldly ideologies.

      So, to refuse to obey when something may be harmful to the faith is not tantamount to rejecting the authority that proposes it, or a declaration that the authority espouses heresy. Taint and tendentiousness are something else, for all the damage they can do. It's true that this situation is unprecedented, but the crisis has not put the constitution or truth of the Church under question.

      But people can only act as they see best; most have grown up with the NO. It's probably true that the motu proprio will draw the attention of many in Catholic countries to the Tridentine liturgy and to the defects of Vatican II. Good.

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    7. MP: ...contains statements like “the state has absolutely no competence in religious matters” (that would seem, as is, to preclude even the recognition of Catholicism as the true religion).

      But then it also seems to preclude the state's having any principled relationship with religion(s) whatsoever. It thus seems to imply that the state should effectively pretend that religion doesn't exist. It thus precludes any state recognition of rights to religious freedom. But it obviously can't mean that, so there must be a narrower reading. So what is that narrower reading? (Got a link to the cited document?) And is it capable of ultimately not foundering on the shoals of the fundamental incoherence of liberalism? (For V2 boosters, the only answer is: who cares? just 'submit' or else! E.g., Card. Mueller: "In Traditionis Custodes, the pope rightly insists on the unconditional recognition of Vatican II." Right, that's helpful. Recognition of what exactly?)

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    8. Miguel, au contraire, Orthodox in fact do recognize the prerogatives of the successors of St. Peter in the Church as constituted by Christ, and these extend to all bishops who maintain and teach sound doctrine. Catholics believe the same thing, as demonstrated when you pray in the collect for the Chair of St. Peter "Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nullis nos permittas perturbationibus concuti, quos in apostolicae confessionis petra solidasti." It is that doctrinal confession of Peter which you yourself have identified as being tainted by the current occupant of the See of Rome. And Arch. Lefebrve may have used the words you quote, but he also used choicer words about modernism and the Church, as I am sure you know. So let's not water down the good and saintly Archbishop, who I would not be surprised will be recognized a saint in the east long before he is in the west.

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    9. @David McPike

      The document (in French) is available following this link (see the pdf's):

      http://jesusmarie.free.fr/fspx_reponse_aux_dubia.html

      The precise quote I had in mind is this:

      "il n'est pas de la competence de l'Etat en tant que tel de discerner la verite en matiere religieuse (a part en ce qui se rapporte a la morale naturelle, a ce qui peut limiter, comme on vient de le dire, les manifesttions portant atteinte au bon ordre public)" (p. 28)

      I'd like to than you for your query, as this occasions a (at least a slight) correction on my part: what this says is that the state as such has no competence in -discerning the truth- in a religious question.

      This is, moreover, listed as one of the principles to keep in mind when discussing the relations to be established between Church and State.

      I'm a native Russian speaker and I had to rely on the generousity of others to reinforce and check my comprehension. It is possible that I'm missing something, but as far as I can see, this does not look good at all; apart from this, this clarification is far from being altogether clear.

      If I'm not missing anything, sadly, the response to the dubia of Msgr. Lefebvre seems to cohere more with what the venerable archbishop took to be the pernicious sense that occasioned the dubia in the first place, rather than orthodox interpretations like that of Dr. Pink.

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    10. P.S.

      To be fair, the document does later allow for the recognition of Catholicism as a religion of the majority of the population, or even as state religion, as well as privileging the Church in various ways (note the sequence). It also at one point equates the imcompetence bit with the state's lack of competence in directing supernatural acts (by quoting the 19th century Popes talking about exclusive comptenecies and mixed matters).
      What it doesn't mention – and it is crucial for the archbishop, as I undertand him, as well as pertinent given the previous quotation – is that the state can establish Catholicism as the -true- religion.

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    11. other doctrinal loci since then, including the response Rome gave to Msgr. Lefebvre’s dubia dutifully submitted by him, which, among other things, and apart from likely standing in need of further clarification (figures, huh?..), contains statements like “the state has absolutely no competence in religious matters” (that would seem, as is, to preclude even the recognition of Catholicism as the true religion).

      I think it is highly likely that the Vatican, after VII, engaged in a long series of decisions and statements that did not constitute doctrinal statements that must be adhered to with even "religious submission". The Vatican state department seems to have led a crusade against Catholic confessional states, strongly supporting state constitutions that sever ANY ties between the state and the Church, other than purely nominal ones (at best). None of these actions were required by Dignitatis Humanae, and were (so far as I am aware) not doctrinal.

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    12. @Tony

      I concur; the document discussed here in more detail, however, is an official response to the dubia by CDF, and is of obvious doctrinal importance.

      Importantly, both it and what happened after VII generally should, I think, enter in one's assessment of the various positions, including the one held by the SSPX. It's all too easy to dismiss it upon finding some solution akin to that of Dr. Pink; however, they do not remove the unfortunate circumstance that the Vatican has been, in effect, bamboozling the faithful and the world via mental reservation of a kind not seen before for half a century now.

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    13. I don't know the precise canonical terms for this, but in general decisions by the congregations (e.g. responses to dubia) may or may not constitute "doctrinal" statements. Or perhaps they can constitute "high" or "low" intensity doctrinal statements ;-). The ones that were specifically and positively affirmed by the pope in detail, i.e. to which he PERSONALLY lent his authority, are "high" in doctrinal weight. The ones issued generically under the pope's broad authority by the congregation's general assigned scope of authority, with the pope's pro forma approval, are "low" in doctrinal weight. I simply do not know if any of the decisions we are talking about here had high doctrinal weight, but I suspect not.

      If none of the GENERAL determinations (like response to dubia) had specific, personal affirmation by the pope as being authoritative, I would suggest that the Congregation was simply in error in its interpretation of DH. If all the general ones CLEARLY must be taken with a hole boatload of unstated qualifiers and conditions to even appear to make sense, then we can qualify-to-smithereens any appearance of conflict with prior doctrine. In neither case do I think it necessary to imagine the Vatican officials secretly laughing behind their hands as they push out one document after another that they know will be taken to mean something other than what they understand to be true. The fact that, in the very same time frame, the Vatican clearly issued one decision after another on other matters that was clearly NOT well compatible with Vatican II (and I) or with general prudence, which suggests that they were not very sound, and probably had a lot of mess-up officials. The fact that virtually ALL state departments in the Western world have been the same crazy condition over the last 60 years trends toward the same conclusion.

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  16. For Bergoglio, there is no contradiction that “the offense of which the traditionalists to whom Traditionis Custodes are accused… [and of which] not one of which all of them are guilty, and [is] manifestly less grave than that of Catholics who reject the Church’s teaching on marriage, divorce, and Holy Communion, since he regards the former as obstacles to his vision of a Catholicism transformed into a vehicle at the service of modernity and the global Left. All his rants against rigidity, his punitive and vindictive movies against orthodox prelates and religious orders, and his berating of perfectly orthodox Catholics who love the traditional Latin Mass reflect, in fact, the same Leftist mindset espoused by his close associate Fr. Spadaro in his ill-informed and intemperate Civilità Catholica 2017 attack on the fruitful ecumenical association of conservative Catholic and evangelical Christians in the United States: “La parola «ecumenismo» si traduce così in un paradosso, in un «ecumenismo dell’odio». L’intolleranza è marchio celestiale di purismo, il riduzionismo è metodologia esegetica, e l’ultra-letteralismo ne è la chiave ermeneutica” (The word ‘ecumenism’ thus translates into a paradox, into an ‘ecumenism of hate.’ Intolerance is the celestial trademark of purism, reductionism is the exegetical method, and ultra-literalism is the hermeneutic key) [https://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articolo/fondamentalismo-evangelicale-e-integralismo-cattolico]. Like so many on the Left today, these people deal in caricatures, systematically defaming all those who differ in their political, cultural, or religious visions. Anyone or any group opposed to their relativism (Fr. Spadaro: “2+2 in theology can make 5”) and skepticism (Fr. Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits and another Bergoglio’s allies on the historicity of the Gospels; “No one had a tape recorder to record his [Jesus] words”) is regarded as a justifiable target. This is the gravest crisis in the long history of the Church, for the enemy is of kind immune to rational argument and appeals to authentic dogma and tradition, which they seek to subvert.

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  17. Part of the issue with Pope Francis is that he just doesn't seem to be very smart. Everything he says seems very shallow and he seems genuinely surprised by the outcomes he creates by his own choices.

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  18. Traditionis Custodes reeks of desperation, and it will have the opposite effect Francis hopes for. A lot of people have now heard of the TLM who never had any idea there was anything out there other than their local guitar and bongos Novus Ordor. The fact that a Pope who claims his calling card is mercy would clamp down so harshly only piques people's interest. Maybe they will check out the local TLM and find, like the one near me, that it isn't populated by Vatican II haters but with people who accept V2 but also appreciate the beauty and glory of the thousands of years of Catholic tradition before it.

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    Replies
    1. David T,

      I think you're probably right.

      Delete
  19. Here’s what a true pope said about those who validly hold the same office:

    “The Pope has the divine promises; even in his human weaknesses, he is invincible and unshakable; he is the messenger of truth and justice, the principle of the unity of the Church; his voice denounces errors, idolatries, superstitions; he condemns iniquities; he makes charity and virtue loved.”
    (Pope Pius XII, Address Ancora Una Volta, Feb. 20, 1949)

    If someone were to try to come up with a description that was the exact opposite of Francis, I don't think he could better than those words right there.

    But for those who still want to accept Bergoglio as pope, here is a reminder of your filial duties toward your Holy Father according to St. Robert Bellarmine:

    "The Pope is the Teacher and Shepherd of the whole Church, thus, the whole Church is so bound to hear and follow him that if he would err, the whole Church would err.

    "Now our adversaries respond that the Church ought to hear him so long as he teaches correctly, for God must be heard more than men.

    "On the other hand, who will judge whether the Pope has taught rightly or not? For it is not for the sheep to judge whether the shepherd wanders off, not even and especially in those matters which are truly doubtful. Nor do Christian sheep have any greater judge or teacher to whom they might have recourse. As we showed above, from the whole Church one can appeal to the Pope yet, from him no one is able to appeal; therefore necessarily the whole Church will err if the Pontiff would err."
    (De Romano Pontifice, Book IV, Chapter 3)

    "That if he would err, the whole Church would err." That is the obedience due to the pope. It is those who understand this, and also hold the Catholic Faith, who can never accept a manifest heretic as pope. They're not rebels. They're not weirdos. They're just serious human beings, who are willing submit their consciences to the constraints of logic.

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    1. Now you know how Orthodox have been feeling vis a vis the Bishop of Rome for well nigh a thousand years. It is a very similar dynamic.

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    2. The point, of course, being that historically few Orthodox have felt anything towards the Pope qua such.

      Most Orthodox peoples, corporately, had at one point or another entered into union with Rome (the Eastern Empire with her ecclesial enclaves, the Rus), even if this had later been reversed through the intervention of secular powers (e.g. the Ukraine and Belarus).

      If we were to discuss high ecclesiology, the inter-Orthodox differences currently on display (as well as in the history of theology) hardly warrant generalisations of the sort presented above.

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    3. But here's the rub; all these arguments apply just as well to sedevacantism and the constraints of logic compel the conclusion that (at least some of) the claims to authority by the Popes are simply false.

      You judge Francis as not the Pope due to his false teaching. Yet, if he were the Pope, you wouldn't be allowed to judge the truth of his teaching, according to your quote from Bellarmine. Thus, to even get there, you have to assume the conclusion.

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    4. George R, your account of a pope who errs does not fit with the actual situation of Pope John XXII, who held error, tried to teach it, and was corrected by those in the Church. The "correction" was informal (from inferiors to superior) but was real and SUCCESSFUL. You talk as if no inferior has ever managed to change their superior's mind - which is obviously invalid. (St. Paul's example with St. Peter also shows it is possible.) These were not JUDGING the pope, in a formal sense of putting him on trial and sitting as judge over him, but they still addressed him as in error and needing correction.

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    5. Tony,
      Your argument is not with me, but with St. Robert Bellarmine and Pope Pius XII.

      I'll address John XXII a little later.

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    6. Tony,
      Trotting out John XXII as proof that the teachings of the holy popes are not to be implicitly trusted by the faithful, but that their words ought to be continually sifted for any possible error, is not very effective; for in reality the case of John XXII actually goes a long way toward proving the opposite.

      First of all, the theological opinion he held was a permissible one at the time, albeit a minority one, at the time he held it. In fact, Saint Bernard had held to the same position. Secondly, he did not teach it as a doctrine of the Church, but merely as his own opinion. In a letter to the King of France, he declares that the Holy See had come to no judgment on the issue. Therefore, there was no question of his teaching an erroneous doctrine to the faithful as a judgment of his as the head of the Church. It was merely a theological opinion. I don't think there were many men then or today who would consider such opinions to be protected by papal infallibility.

      Nevertheless, the fact remains that he did preach an error. Therefore, papal preaching should not be trusted, but ought to be critiqued, right?

      Well, let's look at it this way. Before John XXII, there had been a continuous succession of popes for 1300 years. Can you give one example of any of those popes preaching error? And after him came another succession of popes for over 600 years. Again, can you provide another example of erroneous preaching? No, John XXII alone is infamous as the only pope who ever preached error. Even though such preaching is admittedly fallible, it is evidently in practice virtually infallible. So obviously reliable are all the theological teaching of the popes that prudence alone would dictate that we should accept them all with filial obedience and docility -- just as prudence alone would dictate that we not so much as listen to the insane ravings of that deranged modernist currently presumed to be Pope of Rome.

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    7. Pius XII would not endorse Sede nonsense.

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    8. John XXII is a red herring. He never made any attempt to bind the Church to his opinion.

      But either Popes CAN err in their official teaching (i.e. in the Ordinary Magisterium) or they CANNOT err. If they can err, they cannot point to "filial obedience" as a reason why I should ignore it if I have a good reason to think they actually have erred. For I simply cannot be bound to assent to an error. If they cannot err, then any proven error is an empirical disproof of the claims of Catholicism.


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    9. But either Popes CAN err in their official teaching (i.e. in the Ordinary Magisterium) or they CANNOT err.

      They can. This is Church teaching.

      If they can err, they cannot point to "filial obedience" as a reason why I should ignore it if I have a good reason to think they actually have erred.

      The teaching on filial submission DOES NOT require you to "ignore it" if you have a good reason to think they actually have erred. The point of "religious submission" is that it is DIFFERENT from the unreserved assent given to infallible teachings. It is (because it is not "unreserved" assent), a "reserved" assent. I.e. one "qualified" by reservations: e.g. that "it might turn out to be in error".

      Furthermore, where you have a good reason to think they have erred, you have a duty to also seek further help. E.G. Go to your bishop and say "this teaching seems, to me, to be in error. Please eludidate, for my spiritual welfare." I actually did this once, and the response was (in effect, paraphrasing here) "the teaching you thought maybe required religious submission does not require religious submission, it is only a prudential judgment of the pope."

      That is to say, while you are in the process of SEEKING further enlightenment, your position is, in a double sense, "reserved": you acknowledge that you have not yet fully settled upon a definitive position, but are seeking one, and you therefore have not rejected the obligation of giving religious assent. A person can (and sometimes should) remain in that unsettled state for many, many years, if the matter has not received due attention from the authorities over you for many, many years. This unsettled state is nothing like "ignoring" your good reasons to think the authorities made an error.

      It is unnecessary (invalid) to posit that, for the Church's fallible doctrinal claims, that you are "bound" to assent to an error: if you perceive that you have good reason to not assent, then you are instead bound to seek further enlightenment on the Church's teaching before taking the matter as settled. By respectfully seeking, you give due respect to the doctrinal claim - and this due respect satisfies the obligation to "religious submission." And by not simply ignoring your "good reasons", you do not do violence to your intellect. "Respectful" seeking implies a real openness to changing your (tentative) opinion about those seemingly "good reasons", which might turn out to be not so good reasons. But it does not imply thinking you are likely to get such an explanation. (After all, you think they are good reasons.)

      This is also what is meant by an "informed" conscience.

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    10. Well, let's look at it this way. Before John XXII, there had been a continuous succession of popes for 1300 years. Can you give one example of any of those popes preaching error?

      George, did you mean, AFTER Pope Peter I?

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    11. No, John XXII alone is infamous as the only pope who ever preached error. Even though such preaching is admittedly fallible, it is evidently in practice virtually infallible. So obviously reliable are all the theological teaching of the popes that prudence alone would dictate that we should accept them all with filial obedience and docility

      The incredible thing about the category of "religious submission" - the kind of assent we give to the third category of doctrinal teachings, after the 2 infallible categories - is that it capable of degrees. The "reserved" assent implied by religious submission allows for greater or lesser reservation. This means that we are capable of assessing a fallible Church teaching as being worthy of greater or lesser reservations in our reception of it. Those that have stood the test of centuries, and are tethered into dozens of other teachings, so that they are integrated, admit of fewer reservations, and those that are newer or bare propositions standing alone, more. Similarly, we can have greater or lesser reservations based on how the teaching is proposed for belief: some are asserted by bishops very firmly indeed, others are merely asserted, without emphasis. And again, it matters who in the hierarchy is doing the asserting: my local bishop gets my attention more than some other bishop, cardinals in a Vatican congregation acting FOR the congregation get lots more, and the pope even more. Degree.

      A pope himself doesn't want us pretending that every one of his teachings merits the same degree of adherence as every other. That would be unreasonable.

      So we should accept the teachings of each pope with the docility and obedience implied by "religious assent", which is a rather complex category of internal operation. Recent teachings of more careless and less educated popes should get less weight than older (and many-times re-affirmed) teachings by smarter and more educated popes; and when recent teachings are presented in obscure ways that also seem on the surface to be at odds with teachings of ancient vintage, religious assent ALLOWS for those reservations that include your acknowledgement of the apparent incompatibilities, and your inability to resolve them. This is one of the ways in which "reserved" assent differs from "unreserved" assent.

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  20. I sincerely doubt that the Orthodox (here standing for the anti-papalists in the East, of which there have been varying numbers in various proportions) have the same eminently high view of papal prerogatives George R. does to be so distressed by their abuse.

    Speaking of feelings and solidarity, again I doubt George R. has the capacity to feel the historical loathing these individuals tended to feel towards those dirty barbarous Latins, anyway; or envy, for that matter, if we consider certain holders of the See of Constantinople and their cohorts.

    I suppose an argument can be made that George R. can be said to feel like the Orthodox who deposed Patriarch Nikon. But then, this episode is hardly generally representative.

    What is this dynamic you're referring to?

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    1. The dynamic is that the Orthodox take the Papacy and relations with the Bishop of Rome very seriously, and that the angst and pain that TLMers have regarding the liturgical innovations of the Pope is similar to that which Orthodox feel regarding the separation arising from Papal innovation. I am not surprised you are unaware of this, but then again, your position is akin to that of Novus Ordo Catholics who are, in the main, unaware, ignorant or hostile to the attachment of TLMers to the traditional Roman Rite. TLMers are undergoing tremendous angst now as they see their pontifex maximus innovate by ukase their liturgical heritage. Orthodox have been crying about the downside risk of centralized hyperpapalism for generations; I know, I know, that's not what you want to hear, but until you recognize that your allegiance should be to doctrine and not just the chair and its occupant, you'll keep enabling Popes to torch your liturgical patrimony.

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    2. "the Orthodox take the Papacy and relations with the Bishop of Rome very seriously"

      Really? In my experience, "(mere) primacy of honour" Orthodox (like the ROC-adherents tend to be) are not at all interested in the Papacy or any claims of primacy, apart from, again, honorary mentions, whereas the Constantinopolitan papalists are quite content with their preferred protohierarch retaining substantive primacy.

      "to that which Orthodox feel regarding the separation arising from Papal innovation "

      You do realise this begs all sorts of important questions, on a Catholic blog, at the very least?

      "Orthodox have been crying about the downside risk of centralized hyperpapalism for generations"

      Ah. This I might as well concede: ”generations” is much better than ”a thousand years”. I would appreciate it if you could direct me to their writings, so that we can verify the precise number of generations.

      "I know, I know, that's not what you want to hear, but until you recognize that your allegiance should be to doctrine and not just the chair and its occupant, you'll keep enabling Popes to torch your liturgical patrimony."

      Catholicism is about doctrine and not merely the chair and its occupant, and it isn't centralised hyperpapalism. See the reply by Miguel Cervantes to you above, as well as classic Dr. Feser posts in addition to the recent ones:

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/11/papal-fallibility.html

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    3. As to my position, you seem to assume quite a lot. I'm not generally hostile to the Orthodox; as to my ignorance, I'll let others judge on that.

      What I am quite belligerent about are tendentious and question-begging church history accounts, especially when it comes to the schism in question.

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  21. Mancz, if indeed there is some doctrinal taint in the proclamations and actions of the Supreme Pontiff, then how is it tendentious to consider various scenarios that consider how that could have happened, and if it ever happened before, how others dealt with it? If the Pope’s recent MP poses no quandary or cause for concern (which I gather is the case for many many latin-rite Catholics who are not attached to the TLM), then I guess this entire conversation must be boring or tendentious. But if his actions and teaching do generate some degree of concern, even to the point of something so serious as doctrinal taint, my guess was it couldn’t hurt to at least be aware of different considerations and perspectives.

    ( I leave it up to our host if he is comfortable with or not with non Latin-riters positing different points of view on his blog, but I trust that neither he nor you share the impulse of the current cancel culture that takes instant umbrage at anything uncomfortable. )

    Whatever you may think of the Orthodox, issues regarding primacy and authority are and have been front and center for us for a long, long time (generations or centuries, take your pick)
    especially regarding the Bishop of Rome. Regarding documentation, perhaps the most succinct declaration in this regard is still be found in the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs in
    Reply to the Epistle of Pope Pius IX, "to the Easterns,” with which I am sure you are familiar.
    https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1848orthodoxencyclical.asp.

    I do not dispute that Catholicism is about doctrine; what is at issue is what does an adherent do when, as Miguel pointed out, the current occupant of the Bishop of Rome promotes "tainted" doctrine. I have posited that traditionalist Catholics are faced with a painful scenario, and that the pain and angst they feel is not dissimilar to that felt by Orthodox over the centuries vis a vis their separated brother. This is not question begging, but offering a POV that may not enter into most intra-Latin rite conversations. For the simple fact of our time is, your pontifex maximus is innovating your liturgical patrimony to the point of aggressively seeking its demise. What brought you to this point? Will you look to do anything differently, or more of the same? What if your adherence to Pastor Aeternus is the root cause of this debacle, and continued adherence to it will yield more of the same, to the point of the total and complete destruction of your liturgical patrimony? If these are not fair and reasonable questions, please let me know, as your answers will impact all Christians.

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    1. “Mancz, if indeed there is some doctrinal taint in the proclamations and actions of the Supreme Pontiff, then how is it tendentious to consider various scenarios that consider how that could have happened, and if it ever happened before, how others dealt with it? If the Pope’s recent MP poses no quandary or cause for concern (which I gather is the case for many many latin-rite Catholics who are not attached to the TLM), then I guess this entire conversation must be boring or tendentious. But if his actions and teaching do generate some degree of concern, even to the point of something so serious as doctrinal taint, my guess was it couldn’t hurt to at least be aware of different considerations and perspectives.?”

      I respectfully submit that claiming, matter-of-factly, that papal innovations are the cause of the Schism is tendentious in light of general historical data, and is certainly question-begging, as Catholics do not concede this (indeed, should not, per explicit ruling by Pius IX). Claims like that have to be argued for, especially here. Likewise, claiming the Orthodox (in the sense specified by me in my first response) somehow opposed, as a matter of principle, Pastor Aeternus and “hyperpapalism” a millennium in advance is, as is, ludicrous. The same goes for the unargued derivation of the motu proprio from Pastor Aeternus. Nikon managed to violate the liturgical patrimony of my native land without Pastor Aeternus, for example. Clearly, more argument is required in favour of this derivation.

      “( I leave it up to our host if he is comfortable with or not with non Latin-riters positing different points of view on his blog, but I trust that neither he nor you share the impulse of the current cancel culture that takes instant umbrage at anything uncomfortable. )”

      As what you’re attacking is general Catholic theology, this has nothing to do with particular rites, so please use (Roman) Catholic instead of “Latin”. Unless you wish to be associated with the worst of Orthodox polemics, naturally. Also, the title of the Pope is “summus pontifex”, not “pontifex maximus”.

      I’ll address the rest (the main point, of course) as soon as I’m blessed with more free time.

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    2. @Stephen

      "Regarding documentation, perhaps the most succinct declaration in this regard is still be found in the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs in
      Reply to the Epistle of Pope Pius IX, "to the Easterns,” with which I am sure you are familiar.
      https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1848orthodoxencyclical.asp"
      I’m sorry to say it is truly bewildering that you thought that this Encyclical documents the subject of my query. First, formally, without further argument (even an inter-Orthodox argument, at that!) it is only representative of 19th century Greek theological thought, as the ecclesial representatives of majority of the Orthodox world (namely, the Russian Church) was not involved in its composition; further, the Russian Synod, an entity of equal patriarchal status (recognised as such in its creation by the other, “personal” patriarchs) is not a signatory there, so it can be easily said to be also lacking in doctrinal authority (naturally, a lot would depend on your precise ecclesiology, but there’s certainly more than one on offer).

      Second, I would grant that it is representative of Orthodox polemics against the Catholics, blatantly so in light of bringing up unleavened bread, the epiclesis et al. (you can read up on the latter at Fr. Hunwicke’s), but this is hardly salient: not all Orthodox today would subscribe to all of the positions expressed there, including the supposed principal papal crime of the Filioque. The document has a liturgical concern, but then it is also very general and altogether polemical: according to the document, the TLM, to which you appear to be so sympathetic, should be considered a mangled rite resulting from the ancient liturgy being violated by the gang of Popes and Schoolmen in their pride and love for subtleties. Judging from your writing here, I doubt you share that appraisal, and few scholars of the liturgy would accept this as an accurate description, so again I wonder: why on Earth would you cite this document?

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    3. Again, I fail to see what our struggles have in common: according to the document you cited, the Orthodox should consider the Papacy to be a heresy born of arrogance of bishops whose see is only noteworthy for its initial secular importance, spawning other heresies etc. etc.
      This is nowhere, first, near the significance the Holy Father has for us Catholics, and, second, finds little parallel in the current situation: the current Pope is abusing his office, true, but nowhere near to the extent comparable to the polemical Orthodox view.
      If you concede the preciousness of the TLM, you also have to concede that such treasures can be produced by a church that has historically been papalist (at least somewhat, as you concede, from the time of St. Victor), filioquist (especially if one considers Gaulish/Frankish influences) and azymite etc., so you can hardly support an argument against these supposed errors on the basis of their effect on our liturgy, as the text seems to be doing in places.

      Perhaps you find this letter pertinent due to its mention of synods. Here, again, I have to note that (supposed) Byzantine synodality failed to prevent the elimination of Alexandrian Rite, the replacement of the various Syriac Rites by the, importantly, relatively newer Constantinopolitan one; it failed to prevent the aforementioned reforms of Patriarch Nikon in Russia or, say, the Russification of the (again, relatively more ancient) Georgian Church (with a permanent Synod overseeing the process). In light of all of this, I do not think committing to synodality has that good of a record of preserving liturgical tradition even in the East, all of this quite apart from the fact that the Novus Ordo in its current form is largely a product of the (mis)management by episcopal conferences, a notable Catholic attempt at synodality (not that I think the Missal of 1969 itself is unproblematic).

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    4. Authority has been abused historically by both aristocratic and monarchical institutions (to say nothing of democracies), and I don’t suppose you would embrace the consequently resulting argument against all authority. The Papacy as laid out in Pastor Aeternus does not, as you seem to think, make the Pope irresistible, as is wonderfully explicated in Dr. Feser’s posts. Popes can make all sorts of mistakes, and Catholics can know them to be such. When it comes to the Papal Magisterium, intellectually, we submit to propositions, per se, motivated by Papal authority, to be sure, but to propositions themselves nonetheless, and so we get to know and entertain them. Magisterium is teaching, and teaching results in the communication of ideas to the disciple. The only kind of mistake the Pope is absolutely precluded from making is in doctrinal/moral ex cathedra statements. True contradictions are possible, the only exception being that of ex cathedra statements, and not by reason of some sort of new epistemic situations, but rather due to the factual impossibility of the act in question taking place. In terms of prudential matters, it’s even more plainly the case. When it comes to the liturgy, however, there’s an argument to be made (which has indeed been made, even in these threads) on the basis of, say, 13th canon of the VII session of the Council of Trent, inter alia), that replacing the Rites in question is ultra vires even for the Pope, something Pastor Aeternus, as is, in no way excludes. But even if, arguendo, it isn’t, the prudential, “doctrinal” and “by-the-fruits” common good cases against the NO remain.

      Given all of that, I think it’s clear that the Papal monarchy is not that different from any other monarchy, and I doubt that an Orthodox individual of sound mind can in good conscience condemn monarchy as such. Are monarchies worse than other regimes when led by wicked men? Certainly, as the classics taught us. It is also the best form of government in itself, if not the only valid one, generally, apart from anything else according to the historical judgment of the Christian East. (Apropos, I’d like to note in addition that the traditional liturgies that the Church has are all monarchical, if organic, products. The Byzantines praise St. John Chrysostom (and, implicitly, his successors) rather than the clergy of Constantinople arranged synodally. )
      In fine, as in any commonwealth, we are to lovingly resist erring authorities when necessary, according to the judgment of our informed conscience, aiming to restore the peace and abstaining from ideologising our struggle, especially given the fact that the constitution of the Church is of divine law.

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    5. Mancz,I take a different perspective. While the minimalist conceptual approach you offer vis a vis the claims of Pastor Aeternus seems quite reasonable, the evidence points to the Roman Catholic Church having deployed a maximalist interpretation of Papal claims. Pastor Aeternus in no way provided a check on the centralizing trajectory of the papacy in the modern era, but rather gave ultra-montanists dogmatic cover to reduce, if not eliminate, any obstacles to ever more centralized control of the latin rite from Rome. Local elections of bishops ended, the understanding of patriarchs and primates was eroded, catechisms and sodalities reduced the need for the laity to learn about the faith within the liturgical life of the Church, liturgy became the sole purview of those consecrated to the Church, the separation between ordained and lay was made even greater with new notions of indelible marks (how gnostic is that?), concordats with secular states undermined the notion of subsidiarity at many levels, ad lumina visits encouraged the notion of the Bishop of Rome as “super” bishop who was the sole source of legitimacy of local bishops, just to name a few. This created a centralized machinery, a hyper-dependency of all things on the office and personality of the Papacy, which with high sophistication of modern means of communication, created an ideal means with which to roll-out innovations with little to no resistance – which reached its apogee under Paul VI. The east long provided a check on these centralizing tendencies of the Papacy since at least Pope St. Stephen, even as the unique role of the Bishop of Rome was, and still would be, a welcome influence to the more decentralized modus operandi which dominated the formation of the then more populous, wealthy and fractious east. Provided, of course, of mutual recognition of shared right faith. This is where the insistence of belief in the filioque rears its ugly head as the beginning of innovation on the part of the Holy See. It is one thing to say that it is theologically acceptable to consider different modes of spiration within the Trinity; it is another for the Holy See to accept and promote conciliar decisions to NOT include the filioque in the Creed for the immediate centuries after Nicea-Constantinople up until the sometime in the ninth century, and then change its position such that in the 11th the Pope says that all MUST accept the filioque in the Creed by virtue of his authority and ukase (sound familiar??), and then back off from that in later centuries and say it’s okay to NOT say it in the Creed, so long as you still accept it conceptually. Which is pretty much where we still are today. Add on top of that the random revisions in the second millennium to changes in the heretofore common approach to fasting, the acceleration of changes to Holy Office and liturgy in the 20th century, and yes, and you now have the Novus Ordo as the de facto rite of the Roman Church, rolled out and promoted via the Papacy with the forceful jettisoning by the Pope of the one remaining check on the power of the Papacy in the west, the Traditional Latin Mass. Did I mention that Pope Paul VI said that the main reason Archbishop Lefebrve had to accept the Rite of Paul VI was strictly because he, the Pope, had the authority to replace the TLM with the Rite that bears his name? Francis is just doing what his predecessors have done with this MP. So of course Orthodox would say, look to and cherish your liturgical patrimony as your primary source for revelation, your first Theology for dogma, and only the Magisterium in the second place, else you will lose it. And that you are, because of your acceptance of innovation vis a vis the Papacy. This is what is happening, now, in our lifetimes, in front of us. Will you do everything you can to reclaim your liturgical patrimony? Or will you sacrifice it at the altar of innovation by enabling the claims of the modern Papacy? I do not think you have a third choice. I may be wrong, of course, but reality to date suggests otherwise.

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    6. @Stephen

      Centralisation is not per se evil, nor is it always wrong; it can be at times be necessary, especially if the secular powers cannot be relied upon not to interfere with the liberty of the Church (this too regarding the concordats). The demands of subsidiarity admit contingent circumstances.

      “Local elections of bishops ended”
      The Orthodox (at least most), too, appoint their bishops centrally (in the ROC, say, by the Synod, before that by the emperor); presumably, you think they have good reasons for it.

      “<...> the understanding of patriarchs and primates was eroded <...>”

      The correct understanding being?.. These are clearly mere historic realities: both emerged over time, and are not of direct apostolic institution.
      Regardless, this seems dubious: modern Catholic peoples can know and cherish their primates. Just take the Poles and Wyszyński.

      “<...>  catechisms and sodalities reduced the need for the laity to learn about the faith within the liturgical life of the Church <...>”

      Why not take them to be supplementing it? This stress on the centrality of the liturgy needs to be argued for, as the evil influence of catechisms is not something widely entertained.

      “<...>  liturgy became the sole purview of those consecrated to the Church <...>”

      Seems a very dubious claim.

      “<...> the separation between ordained and lay was made even greater with new notions of indelible marks (how gnostic is that?) <...>”

      Yeah, I know! So gnostic. Like baptism. And chrismation. Totally.

      If at least 5th century attestation (St. Augustine comes to mind) and universal practice (of not repeating ordination) makes something novel, I confess novelties abound everywhere, including the Orthodox.

      “This created a centralized machinery, a hyper-dependency of all things on the office and personality of the Papacy, <...>”

      Maybe! I concede that this has happened, but this is accidental to the papacy.

      Byzantine emperors in their meddling and certain patriarchs achieved, mutatis mutandis, comparable decgrees of centralisation over the Church, with at least comparable effects, without all of the factors you deem to be causative.

      “then change its position such that in the 11th the Pope says that all MUST accept the filioque in the Creed by virtue of his authority and ukase (sound familiar??), “

      What is this in reference to? For all we know, there was no Papal demand to say the creed with the filioque; this would be a strained interpretation of Cardinal Humbert's text, the Cerullarian response was, in any case, on the doctrinal level. The consistent Papal demand is that the doctrine is accepted, not necessarily the wording.

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  22. I've been an SSPX parishioner for nearly seven years. So I study its irregular status. That's why I need to give you some information about my favorite priestly order.

    First, in our chapel vestibule, you'll see a portrait of Pope Francis. During holy Mass in that chapel, you'll hear the priest pray for him, too.

    Second, if you believe the SSPX is schismatic, please tell me why the Holy Father gave its priests official faculties to hear confessions and officiate at weddings.

    Third, Bishop Athanasius Schneider knows that the SSPX is not in schism.

    https://onepeterfive.com/bishop-schneider-sspx-personal-prelature-would-redress-unjust-suppression/

    Fourth, please read the sermon Archbishop preached before he illicitly consecrated the bishops in 1988.

    http://archives.sspx.org/archbishop_lefebvre/1988_episcopal_consecrations_sermon_of_archbishop_lefebvre.htm

    Five, in Ecclesia Dei Afflicta, Pope John Paul II writes that Archbishop Lefebvre acted schismatically. Maybe that pope should have reviewed canon 1323 in his 1983 Code of Canon Law to recall that if a bishop consecrates other bishops because he fears an emergency, there's no penalty for that.

    https://www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/eng/documents/cic_lib6-cann1311-1363_en.html

    In fact, from what I can tell, the excommunication against Lefebvre and the other four bishops failed because the penalty for an illicit episcopal consecration is suspension instead of excommunication.

    Here's Ecclesia Dei Afflicta.

    https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/ecclsdei/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_02071988_ecclesia-dei_en.html

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  23. Please let me quote what Cardinals Ottaviani wrote to introduce the Ottaviani Intervention in 1969. To me, it undermines what Pope Benedict XVI calls "the hermeneutic of continuity. Ottaviani's opinion carries plenty of weight with me because he headed the Holy Office, now the CDF, during Vatican II.

    Rome, September 25th, 1969

    "Most Holy Father,

    Having carefully examined, and presented for the scrutiny of others, the Novus Ordo Missae prepared by the experts of the Consilium ad exequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and after lengthy prayer and reflection, we feel it to be our bounden duty in the sight of God and towards Your Holiness, to put before you the following considerations:

    1. The accompanying critical study of the Novus Ordo Missae, the work of a group of theologians, liturgists and pastors of souls, shows quite clearly in spite of its brevity that if we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.

    2. The pastoral reasons adduced to support such a grave break with tradition, even if such reasons could be regarded as holding good in the face of doctrinal considerations, do not seem to us sufficient. The innovations in the Novus Ordo and the fact that all that is of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all, could well turn into a certainty the suspicions already prevalent, alas, in many circles, that truths which have always been believed by the Christian people, can be changed or ignored without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic faith is bound for ever. Recent reforms have amply demonstrated that fresh changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful who are already showing signs of restiveness and of an indubitable lessening of faith.

    Amongst the best of the clergy the practical result is an agonising crisis of conscience of which innumerable instances come tour notice daily.

    3. We are certain that these considerations, which can only reach Your Holiness by the living voice of both shepherds and flock, cannot but find an echo in Your paternal heart, always so profoundly solicitous for the spiritual needs of the children of the Church. It has always been the case that when a law meant for the good of subjects proves to be on the contrary harmful, those subjects have the right, nay the duty of asking with filial trust for the abrogation of that law.

    Therefore we most earnestly beseech Your Holiness, at a time of such painful divisions and ever-increasing perils for the purity of the Faith and the unity of the church, lamented by You our common Father, not to deprive us of the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity of that Missale Romanum of St. Pius V, so highly praised by Your Holiness and so deeply loved and venerated by the whole Catholic world."

    https://lms.org.uk/ottaviani-intervention

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  24. Where can we find the work(s) by Thomas Pink hinted at in the article?

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    1. Some links here: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/01/discussing-or-ignoring-thomas-pinks.html

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  25. Miguel CervantesJuly 26, 2021 at 8:27 AM

    Catholics who remain faithful to traditional doctrine and liturgy have no idea how the Orthodox feel because they have no intention of leaving the Church or its visible head or denying its constitution, as the Orthodox have done. If the Orthodox are going to canonise Archbishop Lefebvre, they had better start by canonising Pope Leo IX; both were equally great defenders of the Papacy as Catholics have always understood it.

    The Orthodox peoples are in catastrophic demographic decline, while Catholic nations outside Europe continue to increase and multiply, more than keeping pace with world population growth and keeping the numbers of the clergy up. Practicing Orthodox, in a country like Russia for example, are less than 4% of the population. This level of participation is similar to that of the most crisis ridden and modernist countries of Western Europe. As for doctrine, the vast majority of Orthodox faithful entertain heterodox ideas of various kinds. As for Orthodox bishops and clergy, bubbling away behind ostensibly traditional liturgical practice are ideas which rival anything we have been subjected to by Congar. Indeed, Khomyakov, now revered as a "theologian" by many in the Russian Orthodoxy of today, was a victim of German idealist philosophy and a rather big heretic even according to one-time Orthodox standards (one of his works "The Church is One", was translated into French with an introduction by Ives Congar funnily enough). No, Catholics cannot not possibly feel what the Orthodox feel.

    Actually, most Catholics are largely unaware of the crisis in Church as traditionalists would see it, even though they are affected by it. The solution can only come about through authority. Formations like the SSPX are a vanguard operation. So it has a very clear understanding of the faith that its members all share.

    This makes it a bit of an oasis from the world of trad grouplets and blogs etc., where there is too much individualism and superficial opinion. For example, I know someone from Russia (his names are legion) who defended ideas that were subsequently declared false and dangerous by the St Pius X Seminary theologians and Fr. Karl Stehlin. I think their action (regardless of whether it is heeded or not) is a very valuable influence for stability and true doctrine during these confusing times when many pick and choose their ideas and beliefs based on internet browsing and self-teaching. Of course, for so many, there is no alternative (and it's been a great opportunity as well), but those who are guided authoritatively in the doctrine of the faith are lucky indeed. Receiving brings about the greatest certitude.

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  26. There is certainly a double standard.
    The question is why.

    The answer is:
    The current ruling elites of the Church, led by Pope Francis, regard Catholics who hold fast to the traditional mass are Catholics who also hold fast to traditional Catholic Church’s views and attitudes about homosexuals, extramural sex, and who are not 100% on board with the idea that Jews, Protestants, Muslims are our trustworthy friends, but are in fact our adversaries whose interests fundamentally conflict with the interests of the One True Church.

    Bottom line is the Pope doesn’t give a darn about the Latin Mass, he is out to eliminate the faithful who would preach against the Protestant heresy, crusade against the Muslims, and fear the Jews,

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    1. >Bottom line is the Pope doesn’t give a darn about the Latin Mass, he is out to eliminate the faithful who would preach against the Protestant heresy, crusade against the Muslims, and fear the Jews,

      Fear the Jews? Trash like you should be run out of the Church regardless what rites are allowed or not.

      Nutters like these give cover to Pope Francis and justify his nerfing the old rite.....just saying.

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    2. fear the Jews? Huh?

      Not 1 in 100 of the nutters of Traddies who would actually fit Francis stereotyped portrayal of Traddies as those who would "reinforce divergences" would feel any fear of Jews. That comment's just out-of-the-blue crazy.

      Nutters like these give cover to Pope Francis and justify his nerfing the old rite.....just saying.

      SoY, I agree that nutters like this do give cover to Francis, but that does not JUSTIFY trashing the old rite: busus non tollit usum. Abuse (of something) does not cancel (proper) use. The fact that there are a few unworthy trads who trash the pope, the Novus Ordo, and Vatican II, does not make punishing the more than 90% of trads who do NOT do these thing right. And of the people who now attend the TLM because of Summorum Pontificum, the vast majority are of the latter sort, not of the former sort. If Francis wants to fight the nutter traddies, he should use a scalpel, not a nuclear bomb.

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    3. >SoY, I agree that nutters like this do give cover to Francis, but that does not JUSTIFY trashing the old rite: busus non tollit usum. Abuse (of something) does not cancel (proper) use.

      Appearance of justification if you will.

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    4. Not eliminate them, but to help them to understand the teaching of the Council and the teaching of Christ, whose priorities are not those. But if you look at what Traditionalists are saying in response to TC you shall see once again that there is an ideological component to the TLM movement. That is not the fault of the TLM. But it must be addressed.

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  27. C’mon Miguel, you do yourself no favor by saying, "As for doctrine, the vast majority of Orthodox faithful entertain heterodox ideas of various kinds." Can you read minds? If not, then on what evidence do you support this claim? All any of us have to go on is, in the first place, what people pray together publicly. The only way anybody knows what somebody else believes is what is publicly spoke, in communion. Everything else (council proclamations, papal bulls, patriarchal encyclicals, catechisms, is subject to varying degrees of receptivity, nuance, conjecture, subjectivity and capriciousness. Remember Veterum Sapientia, issued by Pope John XXIII with greater force than Francis’ rinky-dink MP? No? Neither does anyone else. (hat-tip Fr. H here - http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2021/07/der-fuehrerbefehl.html).

    And, no matter what your imagination may lead you to think what other people believe, the evidence of what the Orthodox pray is, in fact, pretty clear and ancient. Can you say the same about the Novus Ordo?

    Speaking about lex orandi, lex credendi, could you point me to where what Catholics say they believe about the Pope is prayed in your public prayers?

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    1. Miguel CervantesJuly 27, 2021 at 8:25 AM

      I think you'll find they can also talk about their beliefs outside liturgical ceremonies. I've known many Orthodox people and their beliefs bear out the conclusions of this survey, for example: https://www.pewforum.org/2014/02/10/russians-return-to-religion-but-not-to-church/

      Note that although at the time of the survey, 72% now identified with the Russian Orthodox Church, only 56% believed in God, and a mere 32% believed in life after death. Even Church-goers combine their faith with esoteric or New Age style ideas.

      Orthodox who have "ideas" are often even worse off from the point of view of orthodoxy. Western converts internalise the heterodox elements even more. A glance at Steve Kojec's spiritual adviser Jonathan Pageau suffices. This defender of the Occult and the Kabbala proposes something he calls Orthodoxy as the solution to Western ills. It isn't new. Already, at the time of de Maistre;s sojourn in Russia, two hundred years ago, the society was riddled with esoteric sects from the very top to the bottom, which is why he was like a fish in water.

      All the same, by attending the same liturgy they attended when they were still Eastern Rite Catholics centuries ago, and by their devotion to the Mother of God, I have no doubt the Orthodox will find their way back.

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    2. Miguel, find our way back to where or what? The Novus Ordo? Puhleeze. You may have it, and you make my point. Orthodox sympathize with TLMers, and wish them much success in restoring their liturgical patrimony in spite of the opposition of The Pope and his Curia.

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    3. "Speaking about lex orandi, lex credendi, could you point me to where what Catholics say they believe about the Pope is prayed in your public prayers?"

      Can you point me to where the interpretation of the adage which requires this is prayed in your public prayers?

      Also, by way of further answering this, for your information, certain interpretations of it are not permissible to Catholics.Please see "Mediator Dei", 48:

      <…> The sacred liturgy, consequently, does not decide or determine independently and of itself what is of Catholic faith. More properly, since the liturgy is also a profession of eternal truths, and subject, as such, to the supreme teaching authority of the Church, it can supply proofs and testimony, quite clearly, of no little value, towards the determination of a particular point of Christian doctrine. But if one desires to differentiate and describe the relationship between faith and the sacred liturgy in absolute and general terms, it is perfectly correct to say, "Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi" - let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer. The same holds true for the other theological virtues also, "In . . . fide, spe, caritate continuato desiderio semper oramus" - we pray always, with constant yearning in faith, hope and charity.

      https://www.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_20111947_mediator-dei.html

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    4. Miguel CervantesJuly 28, 2021 at 8:51 AM

      Nobody's asking the Orthodox to adopt the Roman rite. No need to play hard to get, and force the shepherd to climb Everest after you.

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    5. "Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi". A 20th century recipe for the disaster that is the Novus Ordo, promoted by Pius XII as justification for the liturgical reforms of his man Bugnini. With Mediator Dei, Pius XII gave himself a NEW (ie. innovation) right to do whatever he wants, and succeeding Popes can undo whatever their predecessors did before them. Just like Pope Francis undid with MP what Pope Benedict did with his. So long as you accept this license for Popes to innovate, you enable the destruction of your liturgical patrimony. Just don't say nobody ever told you. Innovation, thy home is Rome.

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    6. Oh, nonsense, Stephen. The Pope claims no such license in the document, though I admit it can be - and has been - read as such (not that this matters too much, though).

      Read charitably, all the passage means is that doctrine comes first, in the order of nature, not necessarily time. All liturgies were at least in some sense innovated at least once (by, e.g., St. Basil or the various St. Gregories), hence the diversity of rites that exists in the Church. In light of this, the demand you level against us is unreasonable if absolutised. Not to mention, again, that it is self-undermining.

      Rather, True and Coherent Doctrine, Thy Home is Rome.

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  28. I am Orthodox and a lover of everything antique and Byzantine; I also love Latin Christian literature and read Latin Christian texts in original (Augustine, Thomas, Bonaventura) - beautiful! And Old Latin Mass (Tridentine Mass) is also so beautiful and spiritual, I have been present at few of them in a Benedictine Abbey in Belgium. So, to eliminate and fight beauty is at best indelicate and at worst, as Nietzsche would say, a sign of a bad taste. Although I do not believe in Papal Infallibility doctrine, which for me is a kindo of a pious idolatry sweetly strangling a Christly freedom in Christians, still I appreciate a clear logic of this article, with a pious and humble ending.

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  29. Re Amoris Laetitia, - sigh: this article seems to miss its point.
    It can and should be read in an orthodox way. The dubia unfortunately straitjacket Church teaching...
    1 of 3: The Sarah case: http://bit.ly/2Hc54gc

    2 of 3: The case for absolution: http://bit.ly/2WGhO5k

    3 of 3) A possible reply to the dubia: http://bit.ly/2Vzo4iQ

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    1. Sigh. Even though I agree Amoris can be read consistently with orthodoxy. Your Sarah case is virtually useless as an "enlightening" example, as it is severely unlike approximately 99.999% of the cases out there. Further: either Sarah DOES will to cooperate with her not-husband potential raper with respect to the act of sex, or she does not will to cooperate. If she wills to cooperate, she is giving either formal or immediate material cooperation to the sexual act, even if during the rest of the act she just lays there inert. (According to standard cooperation-with-evil doctrine, both formal cooperation or immediate material cooperation with an evil act is morally tainted by the moral character of the primary actor's sin).

      If she doesn't give any cooperation to the sexual act, then her not-husband rapes her, she bears no guilt for the rape, and there is no moral problem with receiving communion (after confessing her sin of willing to GET INTO that anomalous arrangement - though she can still be required to receive only remoto scandalo). The latter situation has nothing new in it and is just what standard moral treatments would always have said.

      A much more thoroughly researched and considered defense of Amoris (i.e. that it CAN be read in an orthodox way) has been said far better, here:
      https://reducedculpability.blog/page/2/
      (Not my site, and I actually disagreed with the author at a number of points.)

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    2. Re 'severely unlike approximately 99.999% of the cases out there' - the Sarah case was not cited for being representative of all.

      Amoris Laetitia 300 itself indicates that there are an "immense variety of concrete situations" in respect of which "it is understandable that neither the Synod nor (the) Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases."

      The Sarah case is simply one example of a borderline situation which can fit the "certain cases" of footnote 351 [which was a focus in the dubia.]

      Re "if she doesn't give any cooperation to the sexual act" - the concentration camp analogy of post 2 comes to mind.

      Re 'confessing her sin of willing to GET INTO that anomalous arrangement' - well she does confess that, but the grey area is in one person wanting to live as sister and brother while the other does not want to so live. Instead, he wants to exercise what he considers his 'legitimate marital right'. (He does not consider it as rape.)

      The possible reply to the dubia illustrates that simply focusing on the 'objective situation of grave habitual sin' but disregarding the aspect of subjective imputability can be 'rigorous'.

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    3. it isn't "grave habitual sin" if she isn't cooperating. It's rape, and she doesn't sin by being raped.

      The concentration camp example is irrelevant. I am not talking about some general consent to stay around the guy, but specific cooperation with the sex act itself. If she cooperates in the concrete immediate event of the sex act, that's not general. If she does not cooperate, it is rape. Your concentration camp example, to be parallel (to Sarah cooperating), would have the prisoner not only refuse to escape, but HELP the guards beat other prisoners by, say, tying them up (so that the guards did not "do even worse" to them because of his refusal to assist).

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    4. 'it isn't "grave habitual sin" if she isn't cooperating.'

      Exactly. But *we* know that because we have the benefit of being privy to what Sarah reveals in the confessional.

      Now step back for a moment and think from the perspective of some who misunderstand Amoris Laetitia, i.e., some who, - as the exhortation put it - '(pigeonhole) or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment.'

      For some of those people, perhaps they only see a woman who has "remarried" while her husband is living, and she is now 'involved' in sexual activity with her "partner". So it is slam dunk - case closed - 'adulteress', no Communion for this divorced and remarried case because she is not living as sister and brother!

      The concentration camp example may perhaps help some of those people to not be quick to judge because things are not always clear when looking "from the outside", where they are not privy to what is revealed in the confessional.

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    5. For some of those people, perhaps they only see a woman who has "remarried" while her husband is living, and she is now 'involved' in sexual activity with her "partner". So it is slam dunk - case closed - 'adulteress', no Communion for this divorced and remarried case because she is not living as sister and brother!

      No. Familiaris Consortio and other guidance already indicated that "no communion for you" was not the only viable answer, but also included the proviso "remoto scandalo". It was already possible for her confessor to absolve her and give her communion in the sacristy, in order to remove scandal. The fact that her rapist did not live with her as brother, does not mean SHE did not live with him as sister. (And let's not bring in the cases of brothers raping their sisters, please!)

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    6. 'It was already possible for her confessor to absolve her and give her communion in the sacristy, in order to remove scandal.'

      Even presuming that *everyone* who disagrees with Amoris Laetitia is aware of that, some/many (if not all) may nevertheless opine that canon 915 should apply (or prefer to point to it) while applying a 'rigorous' approach to sacramental discipline. It is to such people (also) that Amoris Laetitia exhorts what it does in paragraph 308 (about 'human weakness', treating the weak
      with compassion, avoiding aggravation or unduly harsh or hasty judgments', etc.)

      Besides, the author of that blog appears to have anticipated the point you just made - in the first post entitled 'The Sarah case' - scroll down more than half way down there and see what is said under the line 'Questions which may arise', in points a), b), d) and e).

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  30. On the one hand, while Francis's action is unfair to the average layperson in the pew, I think it is a fair criticism to say that a lot of the TLM community in general has just become a big grift.

    For instance, while bemoaning the fate of the TLM, LifeSiteNews takes time out to inform us of this #1 Must-Read:

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/video-points-out-unexpected-spikes-in-covid-19-deaths-following-vaccine-uptake

    Needless to say, the piece is cheap clickbait propaganda. The author has no science background whatsoever and doesn't have a clue what he is talking about. But it'll keep the $$$$ flowing from the rubes.


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  31. Excellent article on Pope Francis and the TLM by Ross Douthat
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/27/opinion/pope-francis-catholic-church.html

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  32. One would have thought that if the Catholic Church was the lone True Church, then God would have given her sufficient grace to avoid lapsing into such imprudent decisions by its leaders and dissension among its clerics and the faithful.

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  33. One would have thought that if the Catholic Church was the lone True Church, then God would have

    I'm not a Catholic, but generally when I see arguments structured like this, I'm automatically skeptical of whatever conclusion is forthcoming based on the argument.

    If there are two undeniable things that can be drawn from the Bible, it is that God is righteous and mankind is not. The Catholic Church or the Pope being imperfect is to be expected whether or not the Catholic Church is the true church.

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    1. OK, but this does not address the issue of grace. If I understand Catholic theology properly, God provides people with sufficient grace to allow them to lead holy lives.

      One would also have thought that God would give sufficient grace to his true Church to allow the Church to avoid falling into deep dissension and corruption, but this appears not to be the case.

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    2. If one had some other religion, maybe that would be a valid argument. Not for Catholicism.

      Christ did not promise that the Church "would not have deep dissensions and corruption." In fact, he rather pointedly said the opposite. He promised that such situations would not prevail by wholly destroying the Church. And that has been true.

      Maybe you would LIKE for Christ to have promised that the Church would not have deep dissensions and corruption. I, too, would wish for that, if I could have my druthers. But we don't get to decide what Christ DID actually promise. And we have to temper what we imagine "God would do" by reflecting on what God said he would do.

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    3. OK, but again, you're not addressing the issue of grace.

      If God's true Church is no less corrupt than any other human institution, then how efficacious is God's grace, especially grace produced through Catholic sacraments? It would seem that the answer is not particularly efficacious at all.

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  34. IMO our Pope has more consistently than his previous two predecessors brought a higher level of accountability among those ordained. If moral credibility is to be restored to our church, it needs to begin with those who ordain their life to her. Laicize those who have brought corruption. Reign in those who spread dissent This shouldn't be only amongst the traditionalist, but also the liberal wolves in tolerance clothing. The clergy must be the humble model of obedience to Her truth and beauty. Neither the liberal cafeteria Catholics nor schism-like "Bergolio callers" have the Christ like humility to lead the flock out of modern moral crisis.

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    1. Miguel CervantesJuly 29, 2021 at 7:54 AM

      You're right about Pope Francis being tougher than his two predecessors with corrupt members of the hierarchy. "Bergoglio callers" are few and far between; more bishops by far frequent liberal cafeterias. The Pope may soon be knocking the modernists though. They are also fed up with him and waiting for him to go.

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  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  36. The Dubistas when they say that the Pope teaches unorthodox moral doctrine in Amoris Laetitia, are actually equivocating in their own expressions regarding the nature of moral acts (in this case adulterous acts). They use the term "sexual relations or sexual acts" outside of marriage, an expression which give a rule of thumb understanding of the Sixth Commandment, rather than its definition or essence. They tell us that this is the way the Church has always taught us the meaning of the Sixth Commandment. But their memory is incomplete. The problem is not in the formulation, but in what they are sweeping under the rug in their understanding of the formulation.

    In the first place this: Francis has never approved adulterous acts. He has never approved sex outside of marriage. He has never said that D&R couples can go on having sex.

    In the second place: the Dubistas presuppose a merely biological and positivistic/legalistic understanding of what "sex" and "outside of marriage" mean. They assume that this understanding is to be identified with what the Church has always taught.

    This is a profoundly wrong (i.e. unorthodox) understanding of the real teaching of the Church in this regard.

    You can start with Jesus Christ who taught that a man who looks upon a woman with evil desire has already committed adultery against her. This affirmation leaves the biological/legalistic understanding of the Sixth Commandment COMPLETELY invalidated.

    Secondly with regard to TC, the mainstream press and the anti-Francis faction took exactly the same line and reported the issuing of motu propio in exactly the same way: i.e. as a crackdown against Traditionalists.

    But:
    Pope Benedict´s permissiveness with Traditionalists (with the TLM) is exactly like the Church´s permissiveness with regard to liberal experimentation with the liturgy in the 1960s. There was a permissiveness and it had arguably its reasons but the Church continued reforming and brought about order and improvement and progress. Traditionalists like to pretend contrafactually that we continue living in the 1960´s. It is not true.

    TC simply replaces a regime of extreme permissiveness with a more structured approach. As the Latin Mass Society of England has said, there is a difference between the right to celebrate an older version of the Roman Liturgy (which?) and the Church´s right to regulate the liturgy which naturally impinges in many highly thinkable ways on a priest´s right to celebrate an older version.

    Ignatius of Antioch tells us that the Church is mortally damaged by every attempt to divide bishop, priest and altar. Thus the imprudence of telling priests that they can celebrate without taking into account the pastoral dispositions of their bishop. This taking into account (spiritually) has a name in the Church: obedience.

    To those who would tell me that there is no such thing as ideology among traditionalists, I would ask the question of how many of your pastors have spoken positively of the teaching contained in AL? It is the year of AL, the year of the family and the year of St. Joseph. How many of your pastors have damned the present Roman Pontiff by faint praise or by unfair explicit criticism?

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  37. There was a permissiveness and it had arguably its reasons but the Church continued reforming and brought about order and improvement and progress.

    Egad! Are you ...(mpgahr?insane?gslckxs) Sorry, are you quite sure about your facts here?

    I am not an extremely well traveled man, but I do my share of traveling. Over the last 3 decades of family life, I have stopped in to at least 40 parish churches outside my diocese for masses when vacationing etc. I eventually learned to DO MY HOMEWORK on what parishes were survivable (e.g. didn't have my kids asking "was that actually a mass, Dad?", or "please don't make us go there again.") Of the times when I had not done my homework, the survivability of the liturgy was usually off by about 40% or more.

    I will admit that the frequency of ACTUALLY INVALID masses probably has declined. (I say probably, because it is hard to know for sure: while at first (1971) many Catholics could tell the bishop "I saw Fr. X do something which made the mass invalid"; the number of Catholics so able is far lower now - so it might be a change in REPORTING rather than a change in behavior.) But the number of masses which take place with the reverence, attention, holiness, and full Latin Rite modus, as intended by the Vatican II Fathers, remains abysmally low. I can often locate a parish that does not have majorly aberrant practices, but I rarely even hear of, much less see, parishes that even attempt to follow the entirety of what the Fathers asked for. Ask yourself: how many parishes have Gregorian chant at all? But it's right there in Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    And the number of masses that have at least a few aberrations is distressingly high. I won't raise the point about communion in the hand as a problem. But I will raise its opposite: the frequency with which people request to receive communion on the tongue, or while kneeling, and have been rejected as being out of order, is outrageous. It persists even though it is well known that the Vatican said people have a right to receive in these ways. This doesn't ruin the whole mass for others who happen to be there, but it sure can for the Catholic who was effectively thrown under the bus by a priest (or EM) who either (to their discredit) doesn't even know the norms that regulate their actions, or simply rejects them. Communion in the hand WAS an aberration 50 years ago, but was then allowed. Now communion on the tongue is treated as an aberration instead, in spite of Church law.

    There are too many other common aberrations to start listing them: they are RAMPANT - which Pope Francis alluded to in TC.

    In fact, the "permisiveness" of the Church post-1970 about experimentation outside of and contrary to the missal was NEVER any sort of permission actually granted by any authority, they were unlicensed violations of the missal: abuses. The priests and bishops who INITIATED these abuses never had one shred of a "good reason" to do them. The bishops and popes who knowingly tolerated the abuses may, in some rare instances, have had a a good reason to refrain from stopping them immediately, but there was never a good reason to treat them as having been GIVEN PERMISSION, especially not as an acceptable practice. There's a difference.

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    1. I am a priest for 25 years in Holland and in Mexico, though I am an American. I have some idea about what priests say and do. I see zero evidence of rampant invalid masses. Or rampant sacriligious masses. In Holland almost everyone receives communion on the hand, but with reverence. (Homestly, the practice of confession has practically disappeared.) In Mexico, until receiving instruction from the bishops to do otherwise everyone receives on the tongue. People have a much stronger sense of the worthiness question, and receiving communion is not automatic. But at funerals and weddings and masses in secular setting almost no one receives communion. I don´t know whether that is better or worse than in Holland. I am slow to all people sacriligious or defective in their faith. Priests goof up and make pastoral mistakes, but I am sure that this is no less prevalent in non TLM churches than in TLM churches. Maybe the KIND of goof up is different. Make your own analysis. But I don´t think that celebrating the TLM is going by itself to make you a better pastor, or a worse one.

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  38. Even if we grant that some re-adjustment has occurred since the craziest days, it has not been to restore practice to what the Council Fathers said, but toward a range of practice that (a) is wholly outside of the intention of Vatican II Fathers, and (b) is incompatible with the actual missal of 1970 and its rubrics as given by Rome. Characterizing the current status as "brought about order" is not reasonable: the frequency with which major aberrations occur - the kinds of things that have made most Catholics blase about the pachemama scandal - shows this. And even if these don't occur on a weekly basis, OTHER practices do occur on a regular basis which are too aberrant to call "order". Unless you mean by "order" that they are regular - that, I will grant.

    Pope Benedict´s permissiveness with Traditionalists (with the TLM) is exactly like the Church´s permissiveness with regard to liberal experimentation with the liturgy in the 1960s.

    I am not sure where to even start to refute this. Do I need to confirm that you agree 2+2=4 in arithmetic?

    Benedict's OWN REASONS disprove this. The TLM is, of itself, a worthy, wholesome, and holy thing: not just a good, but an EXCELLENT good. In addition, the right to use that mass had never been abrogated: he SAYS this. Therefore, the nature of SP wasn't to grant permission to something that otherwise would be wholly forbidden, nor to grant permission to try something that might, if we are lucky, turn out to be worthy. It was to (a) clarify (to bishops, especially) that they ought to be generous in support of priests and people who want that mass, (and, indeed, that they ought to have been generous all along, for decades), and (b) to supplement the right of priests (who always could have used the TLM for private masses) to also say public masses as TLM also, without having to get permission from the bishop. Benedict wanted the use of the TLM to expand, and to do so with the express approval of bishops who should have enfolded TLM communities into the regular order of the diocese.

    To characterize this as of the SAME KIND of permissiveness as that of not merely tolerating but putting on blinders to ignore regular and signal abuses of the missal issued by Rome is so wrong as to defy description. It is tantamount to saying Paul VI and JPII wanted an expansion of invalid masses, clown masses, dancing masses, hot-air balloon masses, and rampant direct sacrilege against our Lord, with the express approval of the bishop who should have enfolded all this into the order of the diocese. I am sure that if those two saints could feel ill, they would be doing so now.

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    1. Yes it is the SAME KIND of permissiveness. After TC traditionalists seem to be arguing that the TLM movement really has nothing to do, and has had nothing to do with a rejection of Vatican II and that there are (some) people who opt for the TLM without any objection to Vatican II at all, or any fundamental objection to the reform of the liturgy as realized by Pope Paul VI in obedience to the Council. Those people certainly do exist, but you cannot remove the ideological component of much of the TLM movement from the history books.

      Now lets apply the same thing to post-conciliar liturgical experiment and experimenters. Some of what was done under that banner was not realized out of evil anti-Catholic progressive ideology. Some of it was done out of a genuine enthusiasm for what the Council really stood for. That is why there was tolerance. And that is the same kind of tolerance that the Popes have shown with Traditionaist. What it means is that the Church rejects Bolshevism in matters of liturgy. But listen to the immense chorus of Traditionalists since July 16. What a cruel Pope we have! What he did was cruel and unnecessary (Weigel). And the secular press set this all up by calling TC an anti-conssrvative crackdown. It was no such thing. What it was is a simple insistence on a ver Traditional and Structural principle of the Catholic Church which is hierarchical, apostolic and unique. That liturgy is truly the work of the people of God, that the people of
      God consists of the flock united with their shepherds, that as Ignatius of Antioch expressed it in strong words that pries bishop and altar form an unassailable triangle. The priest is NOT a lone ranger of the liturgy.

      Have TLM masses been banned? No. Has the liturgical tradition been scorned? No.

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    2. If you get to make a caricature about what liturgical experimentation was in the 1960s do I get to make a caricature of what goes on in TLM communities? The answer of course is that caricatures should not be made. He who makes caricatures shows his commitments to ideology.

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  39. The affirmation that AL accomodates adulterers is false and calumnious. It does tell pastors to act with mercy as their guiding principle, but that is a purely evangelical teaching and has nothing to do with accomodating sin or sinners. What AL insists on is the prudential pastoral way of dealing with people in situationhs of fragility and in irregular situations. Now Mr. Feser thinks that is double talk, that it is euphemism, but the Holy Father is telling you that it is not, that it is precise language, that prudence and mercy are necessary, that there are an abundance of cases that need wise discernment because life is often obscure. But that discernment is discernment of TRUTH. That its whole value is to be judged in terms of truth and that it is the antipodes of a sloppy, mendacious, lax attitude towards matters of morality, to matters of the morality of acts in the most classical sense. The rigorist morality that AL calls out has nothing to do with genuine Catholic moral teaching rooted in the teachings of Christ. It rejects the whole spirit of Evangelical Morality.

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    1. What you fail to take into account is that Pope Francis and Theodore McCarrick (who was the main force behind electing Bergoglio as Pope) have shown at every opportunity that they utterly despise the traditionalists.

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  40. To borrow from the prologue in the movie "Gone With the Wind" "Look for it only in storybooks for it is no more than a dream remembered. A civilization gone with the wind."

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  41. We live in an age in which media gives spaces for people to launch contrafactual assertions like "AL accomodates adultery" and such assertions can acquire legitimacy and a pseudo-reality in those spaces and in the sociological hive that is constructed around them.

    Then it is said about the Pope, that he is a 1960s progressive who hasn´t managed to escape from "all that."

    But this affinity for the contrafactual is really the 1960´s pathology that we should worry about. It is that which gave us the drug culture and free sex. It says "give me my alternate universe and let me live there forever!" "Whatever turns you on,baby!"

    This can be seen alas in the world of liturgy.

    One of the things that one needs to take into account about Vatican II is its relation with science. Vatican II lives in symbiosis with science, but NOT with alternative universes.

    Dr. Peter Kwasnieuwski citing Pope Benedict but not respecting his intention tells us that the liturgy of Vatican II is ersatz and manufactured and has no roots in Tradition, that it is the mere product of the Frankenstein´s laboratory of Archbishop Bugnini, and that those who have said any words in appreciation of it are simply refusing to recognize that the Emperor has no clothes.

    But all of this is in denial of the science behind Vatican II. Liturgical science. Scriptural science. AND theological science.

    What Benedict is saying is that the process that gave us the liturgy of Paul VI is not OVER, that Lirturgical Reform is not now done once and for all. That it will go on. That the Church will continue to enrich herself with the appropriation of Liturgical Tradition, that liturgical progress happens like that, in processes that are orderly, rational, respectful of genuine science, and at once cognizant of Tradition and productive of authentic reform.

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