30 August 2009

De Galaretta?

So: is Bishop de Galaretta to lead the SSPX 'team' in negotiations with the Holy See? Not unnaturally, the blogosphere is alive with speculation about whether the SSPX 'team' will make mincemeat of the CDF, or vice versa. I don't think this is quite where we are.

Last year, Rowan Williams pointed out that the problem in 'dialogue' can sometimes be whether each of two sides even have enough common language to be able to disagree. Take Abortion. On one side, the discourse is all about the Woman's autonomy. On the other, about the immorality of terminating innocent Human Life. There is no overlap between the two discourses; hence there can be no dialogue. Discussion can only consist of the blindfolded shouting "Where are you Moriarty" and trying to whack the blindfolded. Or consider the question of the Ordination of Women. Its proponents are concerned with the question of Equality. They do not really think that traditionalists believe in Equality or are even aware of the question. A few years ago, a C of E Commission put together the Rochester Report, which even-handedly described the arguments on both sides. Bishop Nazir Ali naturally assumed that this would be the start of a big debate on the subject. So did Forward in Faith; a group of us wrote Consecrated Women, in which we attempted to address the theological, anthropological, and cultural issues involved. Naive fools, we were surprised that nobody 'on the other side' read our book (except, perhaps, for about three people, two of whom was Rowan). The determination of the feminists to rush ahead meant that nobody read Rochester either; and it looks as though the realisation of this was a big factor in the growing disillusionment of the Bishop of Rochester with the Church of England.

In the SSPX/CDF dialogue, if SSPX merely try to demonstrate that some of the wording of Vatican II formally contradicts some of the statements of the pre-conciliar Magisterium, they will have won hands down. They will have won, that is, in terms of their game, their discourse, and their victory in the cosy forum of their own minds will be useless. But, for progress, what each 'side' needs to discover is a common language; a circumscribed area of discourse in which they are actually both talking to each other.

I do feel that this dialogue will be an important one for the intellectual integrity of the whole Western Church, and also for Ecumenical relationships among Traditionalists both RC, Orthodox, and Anglican. So, although I know it annoys some readers that an Anglican should be pontificating about things that aren't his business, I intend to do so. I urge RCs who think this is all nothing whatsoever to do with me just to ignore these posts, rather than writing irritably to point that out.


Christian said...

"If SSPX merely try to demonstrate that some of the wording of Vatican II formally contradicts some of the statements of the pre-conciliar Magisterium, they will have won hands down."

I simply cannot let this statement stand. Where exactly do the documents of Vatican II contradict traditional teaching? This IS the issue. The extremists amongst the SSPX insist that the Council contained innovations (ie. heresies) and those of us orthodox Catholics loyal to the canonical hierarchy simply don't accept this. I grant that many quasi-Catholics (to use Damian Thompson's phrase "Roman Anglicans") do hold that V2 changed traditional dogmas, but they would say that as it benefits there deformist agenda. The "Declaration on Religious Liberty", I grant, is problematic but the problem is not insurmountable and I can forward you an article proving the orthodoxy of the document if you would like me to. Many of the Council documents are badly expressed, have dubious intentions and tend to various heresies BUT saying that is quite a different thing from saying that the documents contradicts pre-conciliar dogma.

JamesIII said...


I could not agree with you more. I am a natal Roman who became an Anglican in the 1960's. My late wife, when asked about my religious affiliation, would laughingly say that I had one foot in Rome, one in Canterbury, and my nose in Byzantium. She was probably spot-on.

The problem that you cite exists in all arenas. On another blog, when trying to pinpoint a definition of Anglicanism, the Anglo-protestants and the Anglo-catholics simply have no common lexicon of terms.

Christian is correct, in my estimation, that much of the V-II documentation is so poorly worded that certain factions within the church simply saw it as license to run amok. That said, however, it is to the church's credit that it is beginning to address many of the issues arising from that fault. That is, after all, often how we mortals learn. We are often taught better lessons from our mistakes than from our successes.

One of the issues that I have with SSPX, Opus Dei, and many of my “conservative” Roman friends, is that their vision of the “true church” is a picture of the era of Pius XII, not the less sullied pre-counter-reformation institution. By that I mean the church of the first millennium, flawed as it was. We began to misunderstand some theological ideas as soon as the translations began. There are tenses and nuances in in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic that simply have no counterpart in Latin.

That being the case, it is little wonder that there is little common ground for discussion.

Independent said...

Unfortunately so many "traditionalist" Roman Catholics seem to regard "error has no rights" and anti-semitism as part of their faith. They ae also often hampered by a definition of papal infallibility which owes more to Cardinal Manning than to the actual Vatican I of 1870. They are tied to the later politics of Pius IX ( in his youth he was a revolutionary and shocked Meternich - "Mon Dieu, a liberal Pope"), and take the Syllabus of Errors seriously.

To such people the practical commonsense and Christian charity of the Decree on Religious Liberty and that concerning the Jews is inevitably shocking.

However it is well that Councils should be discussed as far to often in the modern world they are taken far more seriously than they were by our forefathers.

I believe that Newman hesitated before accepting Vatican I but I may be mistaken.