Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

19/10/2017 - 12:53

‘Pro-Pope Francis’ petition launched


A German-based petition praising Pope Francis has been launched, signed by a handful of bishops and about 100 theologians and others.
The text of the petition itself is vague: it simply expresses support for Pope Francis' ‘initiatives’ and ‘leadership’. It is interesting, therefore, that despite appearing first on the website of the German Bishops’ Conference — which suggests some kind of official endorsement — so few German bishops have added their names. Indeed, the episcopal signatories one does find are either retired or are auxiliary bishops. It adds to the sense that even quite liberal bishops, who have dioceses to consider, are a bit concerned about the crisis, and are wary of simply throwing themselves into battle on the liberalising side. Every now and then a bishop makes a statement of enthusiasm for a liberal interpretation of Amoris laetitia — the other day it was Cardinal Barbarin’s turn — but these remain very much the exception, not the rule.


The signatories are, indeed, obscure and marginal figures. Cynics might say: just like the signatories of the Filial Correction. If so, this is a remarkably poor showing for something supported by the German Bishops’ Conference machinery, ostensibly in support of the Pope. It is obvious what limits the ability of the organisers of the Filial Correction to get big names: the very real danger of losing one's job. What is their excuse? Where are all those hundreds of theology professors in Church-supported institutions? Is it too much to ask them simply to ‘support the Pope’?

Instead we find figures who are notorious for their dissent against Papal teaching, who presumably look at Pope Francis’ pontificate a purely tactical light. This isn’t an upsurge of Ultramontanism; as soon as there’s another pope they’ll be back to demanding an independent Church in Germany, as they did under Pope Benedict.

One of the signatories has actually been excommunicated, and by Pope Francis himself, as recently as 2014. As 1Peter5 notes:

Martha Heizer — the Presidentof the Austrian grass-root organization “We Are Church” (Wir sind Kirche) — was excommunicated by Pope Francis in May of 2014 for having, together with her husband, “celebrated” repeatedly Holy Mass in their private home and in the presence of guests.

This makes a mockery of the criticism of the Filial Correction for being signed by Bishop Fellay, Superior of the SSPX. Bishop Fellay's big crime, in canonical terms, was being consecrated bishop without the mandate of the Holy See, back in 1988, for which the penalty is excommunication. But Pope Benedict lifted that excommunication in 2009. Fellay and Heizer are clearly moving in very different directions, vis-a-vis canonical regularity.
We should, of course, support the Pope. I commend to readers the prayer recommended by the Bishops of England and Wales, in the official book of authorised devotions, the Manual of Prayers, last revised in 1953. In England and Wales it can be added to the Prayers After Low Mass in celebrations of the Extraordinary Form. (I have added the current Pope’s name, obviously.)

For the Sovereign Pontiff


V. Let us pray for our holy Father the Pope.

R. The Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

Let us pray.
O Almighty and eternal God, have mercy on thy servant Francis, our Pope, and direct him according to thy clemency into the way of everlasting salvation; that he may desire by thy grace those things which are pleasing to thee, and perform them with all his strength. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.


See also the LifeSiteNews report.

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18/10/2017 - 11:49

Oxford Pilgrimage this Saturday

IMG_9160

This Saturday, 21st October, the annual Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to Oxford will take place.

11am High Mass in the Dominican Rite, Blackfriars, in St Giles, Oxford

2pm Procession to the Castle Gallows, site of the martyrdom of Bl George Napier in 1610

3pm Benediction in Blackfriars

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15/10/2017 - 10:00

Ultramontanism's Death Sentence

Pope Pius XII
In 1952 Pope Pius XII said the following, in a public address recorded among his official acts:
Even when it is a question of the execution of a condemned man, the State does not dispose of the individual's right to life. In this case it is reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned person of the enjoyment of life in expiation of his crime when, by his crime, he has already disposed himself of his right to live.

In 2017 Pope Francis spoke, in a not dissimilar context:

It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity. It is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true judge and guarantor. 

Again:

It is necessary, therefore, to reaffirm that no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person.

What can the Ultramontanists, those with an exaggerated view of papal authority so prominent in the debate over Amoris laetitia, make of this situation?

Presumably, in 1952 all good Ultramontanists said that, because the Pope had said so, it follows that it is true that the death penalty is not only permissible, but for sufficiently serious crimes, uniquely appropriate. (What else does it mean, to say that a criminal has 'disposed' of his 'right to life'?)

Today, in 2017, all good Ultramontanists are saying that, because the Pope has said so, it follows that it is false that the the death penalty is ever permissible.
Now, the official Ultramontanist line is that Papal authority, being supreme and (for practical purposes, always) infallible, can never be self contradictory. But between these two papal statements there is a contradiction as plain as the nose on your face. The suggestion that the 2017 statement is a 'development' or 'clarification' of what was said in 1952, or that is draws out implications of this and other expressions of the Church's teaching on capital punishment over the centuries, is not something one needs to haggle over. It is simply insane.
But for those who wish to haggle, a simple test of the development of doctrine is to ask if later authors can continue to accept earlier expressions of a doctrine as being true. Thus, we find the discussion of grace in Augustine lacking some distinctions developed by later authors and used in dogmatic statements, but Augustine is not for that reason wrong, and what he writes is not, with hindsight, heresy. It might on occasion be misleading to quote Augustine on grace, but one need not disavow him. In this case, by contrast, it is evident that Pope Francis disagrees with Pope Pius XII: they can't both be right.
Today's Ultramontanists are in a bind, therefore. In order to uphold the supreme and (for practical purposes, always) infallible authority of Pope Francis, they are going to have to admit that the authority of Pope Pius XII was not so supreme or infallible after all.
But if people would have been wrong in 1952 to throw themselves on their faces before Pius XII and agree with what he said about capital punishment, just because he'd said it, then the hideous possibility must exist that people may be wrong to agree with everything that Pope Francis says in 2017, just because he's said it.
Pope Francis' statement, by so simply and so clearly contradicting his predecessor of 65 years ago, demonstrates the falsity of Ultramontanism in a way I would never have thought possible. We may point out to the Ultramontanists that the contradiction of one Pope by another on a matter of faith and morals is possible, given the fallibility of most of their pronouncements, even when they are giving every appearance of exercising their teaching office (let alone when they are talking off the cuff on aeroplanes, or writing private letters), but usually Popes are far too careful in preparing their public remarks to allow this to happen, except in the most subtle and tacit way. But Pope Francis has done it. The game is up.
Ultramontanism as a practical guide for Catholics only works, insofar as it can work at all, in times of great stability. At times like the present, it is self-contradictory and absurd. After Pope Francis' statement on the death penalty, no Catholic with intellectual integrity can continue to hold it.
Where does this leave the ordinary Catholic? The ordinary Catholic is obliged to believe what the Church teaches. The Church hands on faithfully what she has received from her Lord. We can see Pope Pius XII doing that in the quoted passage: using the language of his time, certainly, but in its content faithful to the Popes, the Fathers and Doctors, and Scripture (see Gen. 9:6; Lev. 20-1; Deut. 13; Deut. 21:22; Matt. 15:4; Mk. 7:10; Jn. 19:11; Rom. 13:4; Heb. 10:28).

Of Pope Francis' statement, to put it mildly, this cannot be said.

Note: the liceity of capital punishment is the first of the propositions discussed in the Appeal to Cardinals of the 45 Theologians, which gives more references.

Cardinal Dulles gives a thorough account of the teaching of the Church on First Things here.

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14/10/2017 - 13:07

Fr Thomas Crean on whether Amoris is 'Thomistic'


LifeSiteNews carries an interview with Fr Thomas Crean OP on the use of St Thomas Aquinas by Amoris laetitia, in light of Christoph, Cardinal Schönborn's claim that the document is 'Thomistic'.

Read the whole thing there; I paste in an extract below.

(The English version of) paragraph 145  (of Amoris Laetitia) states: “Experiencing an emotion is not, in itself, morally good or evil. The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy. What is morally good or evil is what we do on the basis of, or under the influence of, a given passion.” It footnotes the Summa, 1a 2ae 24, 1.
But what St. Thomas says here is that no emotion, abstractly considered, is either good or bad. Even hatred is not bad as such: it is good to hate sin. However, every actually existing emotion will always be either good or bad. This is true, independently of any actions to which they may give rise.
St. Thomas says: ipsae passiones, secundum quod sunt voluntariae, possunt dici bonae vel malae moraliterDicuntur autem voluntariae vel ex eo quod a voluntate imperantur, vel ex eo quod a voluntate non prohibentur (“The emotions themselves, inasmuch as they are voluntary, can be called morally good or bad. And they are said to be voluntary inasmuch as they are commanded by the will, or else because they are not checked by the will.”) There is a serious mistake in the text of Amoris Laetitia here, since certain emotions can rise by themselves to the level of mortal sin, for example, certain kinds of deliberate anger and sexual desire. It is dangerous to give the impression that only outward acts can be morally good or evil.
The Latin text of paragraph 145 is slightly different, but the net result is the same. On the one hand, it changes “the stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy” to “perceiving a desire or repugnance beginning is neither harmful nor blameworthy,” which strictly speaking is true, since the perception itself would not be a sin. However, it retains the claim that moral good and evil lie only in outward action. And, bizarrely, it also quotes one of the objections in the Summa as if it were St. Thomas’ own teaching!
Next, paragraph 301. Here Amoris Laetitia states that people … can be living in irregular (e.g. adulterous) situations and may know the Church’s teaching on ‘the rule’, and yet may be unable to see the value of “the rule.” These people, Amoris Laetitia says, may possess sanctifying grace and may be unable to obey the rule without sinning.
It goes on: “St. Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well.” As Dr. Joseph Shaw has pointed out, this quotation is irrelevant to the question of whether one can be excused from obeying the divine law by an ability to see its value, or whether one can be obliged to disobey it to avoid some other sin. St. Thomas is simply talking of people who have repented of past sins, and who now live virtuously, but do so with some difficulty because of the effect that those past sins have left behind.
Hence Dr. Shaw wrote: “Aquinas is simply pointing out that impediments are more likely when the virtue has not been acquired by a process of training and habituation over time, but by an infusion of grace from God. This abstruse issue is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand, and makes me wonder about the intellectual integrity of the people advising Pope Francis at this point in the document.” A more relevant passage from the Summa would have been found in 1a 2ae 19, 6: “If erring reason tell a man that he should go to another man's wife, the will that abides by that erring reason is evil; since this error arises from ignorance of the Divine Law, which he is bound to know.”

More serious because more plausible misuse

A more serious, because superficially more plausible, misrepresentation of the angelic doctor is found in paragraph 304. Amoris Laetitia is discussing the question of universal moral laws, in the context, of course, of invalid second marriages and the conferral of the sacraments, and it quotes a passage from 1a 2a 94, 4: “Practical reason deals with contingent things, upon which human activity bears, and so although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects …  In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles.”
Although the argument at this point in Amoris Laetitia seems designed to be hard to follow, the impression is very strongly given that St. Thomas would have said that either sexual activity within a marriage not recognized by the Church as valid, or else giving Holy Communion to those who engage in such activity, cannot be objects of a universal prohibition. There can be, the text implies, only a defeasible presumption against such things. In fact, St. Thomas teaches, with the whole tradition of the Church, that there are indeed such things as intrinsically bad actions which generate universal prohibitions.

Read the whole thing on LifeSite.

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12/10/2017 - 11:51

The Tablet on the Filial Correction

I said some time ago that the instinct of conventional Catholic ‘progressives’ would be to ignore the Filial Correction. It is the strange new brand of Ultramontanist liberal who is writing article after article and tweet after tweet attacking it. Compare the response of John Allen (report it as briefly as possible alongside two unrelated issues) or PrayTell (pretend it never happened) with that of the likes of Walford, Fastiggi and Goldstein, Fagioli, and Buttiglione (see this blog passim ad nauseam).

The old-style liberals have spent a life-time criticising Ultramontanism, and many — there’ll always be exceptions — have sufficient integrity (or at least shame) not to use the simple fact that it is the Pope this time who is supporting their views as a reason to dismiss objections. Indeed, the present crisis has made it clear that most at least of their long-standing opponents have, contrary to the liberal stereotype, never been robotic Ultramontanists mechanically repeating the Party Line, but are actually motivated by serious theological principles, and are therefore worthy of some degree of respect.

This week’s Tablet, the premier dead-wood media liberal Catholic publication of the English-speaking world, has published a feature article on the Correction and the Dubia by Richard R. Gaillardetz, who rejoices in the title of the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College. This appears to have the function of filling out and making plausible the sketchy response to the Correction The Tablet's editorial page gives in the same edition -- the editorial refers readers to Gaillardetz.

His view of the controversy is rather nuanced:

What we are witnessing today is neither a humble request for doctrinal clarification, nor a stealthily-plotted, mean-spirited assault on the Pope’s integrity. What we are witnessing is the clash of two fundamentally different understandings of how to be a faithful Catholic in the contemporary world and two different understandings of what constitutes the Church’s core mission.

For some, fidelity is ultimately measured more by formal doctrinal assent to the Church’s teaching. These Catholics believe the Church’s mission consists in offering timeless certitudes to a world lost in a sea of relativism. For others, particularly for those who find Pope Francis’ leadership so compelling, fidelity is measured more by the concrete practice of Christian discipleship. For them, the Church’s mission should primarily be directed toward responding to the questions and yearnings of humankind today.
(‘Humankind’: donchalovit?) The implicit claim that taking doctrine seriously is incompatible with ‘discipleship’ and pastoral effectiveness would, I think, have been surprising to everyone of proven discipleship from St Peter to St Maximilian Kolbe via St Francis of Assisi, but let it pass. This is the liberals’ self-understanding. If they admitted to themselves that telling people that they don’t need to be forgiven doesn't often lead them to repentance, there’s no telling what would happen.

What is interesting is that Gaillardetz is not doubting our sincerity or calling for us to be chained up in the Castel San Angelo. He is not saying that we are cruel and wicked people, or even that we victims of pathological rigidity. He seems to be suggesting that we are sincere, consistent, thoughtful, and mistaken.

Over the years The Tablet has been pretty judgemental about those it dislikes. Opposition to females serving at the Traditional Mass, for example, was denounced as misogyny. The Tablet’s opposition to the 2011 translation of the Missal and those who produced or supported it can best be described as ‘spittle-flecked’. Thanks in part no doubt to the change of Editor, when it comes today to a conflict between Ultramontanists who happen to agree with them on matters of substance, and conservatives who do not, The Tablet takes a more eirenic tone. Gaillardetz even calls the former party’s sound and fury ‘manufactured outrage’.

Those pushing the liberalising agenda on Communion for the divorced and remarried may think that Ultramontanism is their strongest card. But actually it cuts two ways. It can be relied on to get the support of senior clergy in Opus Dei, but the liberal Catholic establishment are not riding to their aid. What is even more worrying for them is the fact that, when the official wind starts blowing the other way, as it surely will at some point, Opus Dei spokesmen will without doubt find a way of finessing their position back to orthodoxy. Less flexible partisans of the agenda may find themselves looking rather exposed.

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11/10/2017 - 09:55

Claudio Pierantoni answers Buttiglione

Professor Claudio Pierantoni, a signatory of the Filial Correction, addresses in an interview with Diane Montagna on LifeSiteNews the key claims of Rocco Buttiglione when the latter criticised this initiative. Piernatoni know Buttiglione well and the two have corresponded on the subject, so this is of particular interest.

See the whole interveiw here; below I copy a key passage.
As Professor Seifert explained in a now famous article, which cost him the chair in Granada (and as I then sought to clarify in a subsequent article in defense of Seifert: “Josef Seifert, Pure Logic and the Beginning of the official persecution of Orthodoxy within the Church”), Amoris laetitia affirms, regarding a situation that “does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel” (viz. the prohibition of adultery), that one may “come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits” (AL 303). This is an extremely problematic claim. In the first place, AL distorts reality when it calls what is actually a commandment to be strictly observed, a mere “ideal” (Latin “exemplar”). Note that in the same sentence it calls it “demand” (“mandatum”). But there is something worse: we realize that here it is said that “a given situation [that] does not correspond objectively to the commandment of the Gospel” would be “what God himself is asking.” (emphasis added). This implies, just as situational ethics holds, that there are not absolute commandments. The text in question does not speak of a decrease in guilt, or of ignorance, but instead says that the subject discovers, based on “the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor” that the action is good: it is nothing less than “what God is asking.”
Now Buttiglione defends even this truly indefensible passage very cleverly, but to do this he is obliged to introduce an element that doesn’t appear in the text at all. Indeed, Buttiglione states: “The Pope does not say that God is happy with the fact that divorced-and-remarried continue to have sexual intercourse with each other. The conscience recognizes that it is not in conformity with the law. However, the conscience also knows that it has begun a journey of conversion. One still sleeps with a woman who is not his wife but has stopped taking drugs and going with prostitutes, has found a job and takes care of his children. He has the right to think that God is happy with him, at least in part.” (emphasis added.)
For Buttiglione, then, God would be happy, with the person in question, not in relation to the situation that does not correspond objectively to the commandment of the Gospel (the adulterous situation), but with other (good) things. And really, if AL said this, no one would object. Unfortunately, however, the text does not say this, since it does not refer to other aspects, but it says loud and clear, to quote it once more, that “a situation that does not correspond to the commandment of the Gospel” — this situation, not something else — is “what God himself is asking.” So AL 303says something completely different from what Professor Buttiglione would like it to say. And yet Buttiglione claims that it’s us who are making the Pope say what he didn’t really say.

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10/10/2017 - 10:00

LMS to Pilgrimage to Wrexham on Saturday

In honour of St Richard Gwynn, one of the Latin Mass Society's patron saints, the LMS has an annual pilgrimage to his shrine in Wrexham Cathedral.
Sung Mass at 11am on Saturday 14th October
Our Lady of Sorrows Cathedral, Regent Street, Wrexham LL11 1RB
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09/10/2017 - 17:27

ICKSP: good news from England

Mass at St Walburge's, Preston

The Institute of Christ the King have made a succession of very exciting announcements about their opstolate in the north east of England, historically the most Catholic part of the country.

In addition to the landmark church, the 'Dome of Home', the Church of SS Peter & Paul and St Philomena, in the Wirral, in the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which they have run since 2012 thanks to Bishop Mark Davis, they were given the magnificent Church of St Walburge's, Preston, in the Diocese of Lancaster, which boasts the tallest spire of any parish church in England, in 2014, by Bishop Michael Campbell.

In July, Bishop Campbell gave them another historic church, close to St Walburge's: the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs.

In the meantime, in June they have announced their intention of establishing a school in Preston, in buildings which are being made available by Bishop Campbell.

Also over the Summer, the Institute of Christ the King has announced the establishment of a residential 'House of Discernment', a pre-seminary establishment to encourage those who wish to consider a vocation to the Institute in a formal way, to open for business this November.

Canon Amaury Montjean explained: 'This House is open to candidates to the ICKSP, both future seminarians and oblates : they apply for one of these lifestyle within the Institute. In other words, this formation to the life of the ICKSP is a common programme for both vocations, formation to Latin Gregorian chant, spirituality, Liturgy, spirit of the ICKSP community life essentially.

'Those who formally apply to the House will spend 9 months (Nov 2017 to July 2018) for an initial formation. After which they will be accepted (or not) at the Seminary in Florence (as seminarians) for the year before their Tonsure, or join a house of the ICKSP (as oblates).'

Some Sister Adorers with Mgr Gilles Wach, superior of the ICKSP

Finally, it has just been announced that as part of the plans for the school, a house of the Insitute's affiliated contemplative sisters, the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ Sovereign Priest, will be established next door: see below for more details.

This truly astonishing progress by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in a short space of time shows the growing confidence of English Bishops in the Traditional Mass and of the priests who celebrate it, and the increasingly established place of both in the life of the Church in England and Wales.

On behalf of the Latin Mass Society, I would like to congratulate Mgr Gilles Wach, who has been closely involved in all the necessary discussions, and the indefatigable priests and seminarians of the Institute in England under Canon Amaury Montjean, and indeed to thank them both for their hard work in bringing these projects so far. 

Much remains to be done, and those who wish to support this work financially please contact newbrighton@icrsp.org

The press release on the Sister Adorers follows.

---------------------------

Only two weeks after a second church (English Martyrs) in Preston was given over to the care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the Diocese of Lancaster and the Institute are pleased to announce that the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ Sovereign Priest, the female branch of the Institute, have accepted Bishop Michael Campbell’s invitation to establish a House in Preston in the Diocese of Lancaster. The arrival date for the contemplative (but not enclosed) Sisters has yet to be determined, but it is hoped that the Sisters will arrive as soon as possible to set up their first UK foundation at St Augustine’s Presbytery, Avenham, Preston.

The spiritual life of the Sisters will be an invigorating support to the life of the Church in Preston, and indeed the whole Diocese of Lancaster. The Sisters’ days will be centred around prayer - Holy Mass and the Divine Office in the extraordinary form, personal prayer and Eucharistic adoration in the evening, the Rosary, etc. Punctuating this rich life of prayer are periods of manual labour and intellectual training, including instruction in Gregorian Chant, Latin, Spirituality, Philosophy, and Theology, as well as the learning of crafts such as sewing, lace-making, and the care of liturgical vestments and altar linens.

The announcement today comes as yet a further ecclesial investment into central Preston and is the fruit of a close collaboration of the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Michael G Campbell OSA and the Prior General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, Monsignor Gilles Wach, over the last three years.

Bishop Campbell upon making this announcement commented: “It’s a great joy for me to have the Sisters Adorers come into the Diocese, because I think it’s a great gift, not only to have such a strong and vibrant praying presence at the heart of Preston, but especially for the young women in our Diocese to see that some young women still choose this vocation, and that it can be a joyful and beautiful way to live one’s life.”

Bishop Campbell said he anticipates “an exciting collaboration” between the Sisters and the Priests of the Institute as well as with Father John Millar, Parochial Administrator of St John XXIII, Preston in support of the mission of the Church in central Preston.

Bishop Campbell concluded: “We remain very grateful for the historic communities who have served us so well in the Diocese over many years, and yet we are also so grateful for the new life that the newer communities - like the Sisters Adorers - bring to our future life in God.”

Monsignor Gilles Wach added: “Following the beautiful and encouraging opening of a second Shrine in Preston, this invitation to our Sisters from the Bishop of Lancaster is another opportunity to continue the mission of the Institute of Christ the King within the Church. The daily prayer of the Sisters Adorers will be a great spiritual support towards the work of the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in the UK, and will also benefit the Diocese of Lancaster. Their religious life, centred on Eucharistic Adoration and the Consecration to the Royal Heart of Jesus will bring more graces to Preston.”

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08/10/2017 - 11:00

The Correctio and dissent against Humanae Vitae


As I noted in my last post, the Correctio Filialis has continued to stimulate a level of debate which, among other things, vindicates the supposition of the signatories that the debate would benefit from a document of this kind: something fairly long, fairly technical, hard-hitting, but respectful. We have confronted both sides of the debate on Amoris laetitia with views and documentation which invite and even oblige them to increase their undersatanding of the issues.

It is hard to know how this debate looks to hitherto uncommitted Catholics. What must be evident to them is that, following the 800,000-strong 'Filial Appeal' not to change the teaching, the 'dubia' of the four Cardinals, the the open letter of Profs Finnis and Grisez, the appeal to the Cardinals of the '45 Theologians', and so on, opposition to the liberalising agenda on Holy Communion and divorced and remarried Catholics is not going away but, if anything, rising to a cresecendo.

Furthermore, this opposition is being taken increasingly seriously at extremely high levels of the Church, and it seems to have been the Correction which has brought this about: perhaps by virtue of being the last straw on the camel's back. Increasinly weightly people are being wheeled out to criticise the Correction, such as Rocco Buttiglione and Mgr Fazio of Opus Dei. Even more siginficantly, without weighing in on the debate itself, both Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Parolin (the Secretary of State, commonly regarded as the most senior person in the Church after the Pope), have suggested that what is needed is debate: not, as one might have imagined, that what is needed is the ignoring, sidelining, or punishing of those giving voice to our concerns.

Some critics of the Correction, such as Austen Ivereigh, have compared it to the campaign against Humanae vitae by theologians wanting to allow the use of contraception, in 1968. The comparison is indeed an interesting one. One the one hand, the anti-HV campaign demonstrated how a small number of intellectuals can make a huge difference to the application of official policy in the Church, given certain conditions. One of the necessary conditions is wider sympathy; another is the incapacity of Rome after Vatican II to embark on the kind of crackdown which Pope St Pius X waged against modernists in 1910.

But here is a contrast. By issuing Humanae vitae, Pope Paul VI nailed the Church's colours to the mast. He made it clear not only that the prohibition on contraception was the policy, but that it was the unchangable teaching of the Church. His teaching was merely reiterating what the Church had always taught. Amoris laetitia is a very different document, and those worried about it are defending, not attacking, the Ordinary Magisterium. The more intelligent of Amoris' defenders realise that they must insist that this has indeed not been changed. This puts them in a bind.

You cannot be criticised, ultimately, for supporting the teaching of the Church. The worst that can be said about the substance of criticisms of Amoris, therefore, is that this criticism exagerates or misunderstands what it says. That being so, the argument inevitably leads to the same conclusion as the Correction itself: there should be a formal clarification.

This is why it is so interesting that Cardinals Müller and Parolin are calling for dialogue, which for them is a simply a polite way of asking for clarification. Indeed, a formal dialogue might even provide the necessary face-saving opportunities to make a clarification politically possible, perhaps under the next Pope. Those behind the liberalising agenda know, however, that any clarification means closing the gap between what Amoris appears to allow, and the previous teaching and practice of the Church, in favour of the latter.

The reason for this is that once you get a group of serious Catholic theologians into room to talk about it, everyone has to admit that neither teaching nor disciplinary practice is open to change. The teaching on the nature of the Blessed Sacrament and the Indissolubility of Marriage is part of the Deposit of Faith. The practice in Confession of not absolving unrepentent sinners is intrinsically related to its nature as established by Divine Law. The practice of refusing public sinners communion is also a matter of Divine Law, as reiterated famously by the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts as recently as 2000.

Ok, does anyone disagree? Would anyone like to try the experiment? Then join with the signatories of the Correction and the Dubia Cardinals in begging Pope Francis to issue a authoritative clarificatiom.

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07/10/2017 - 18:03

The Correctio on social media: some links

This is an update on the post I did on the media response to the Filial Correction, in which I noted how the secular, mainstream press picked up the story from the embargo deadline - actually, a bit before the deadline...
So here's my handy guide to the Catholic media debate on the Correction.


Stephen 'liars and hypocrites' Walford criticised the Correction in the National Catholic Reporter, on the basis of his habitual confusion between the categories of the disciplinary and dogmatic; I responded on LifeSiteNews, and after some Twitter debate, some more here.

Mgr Mariano Fazio, Opus Dei's Vicar General (effectively the 2nd in command) criticised it in an interview with a French newspaper on the grounds that it was disloyal to the Pope; I responded on LifeSiteNews.



The US-based theologian Massimo Faggioli criticised the Correction as part of a wider Traditionist campaign against Vatican II in International La Croixfollowing this up with a stream of tweets like this one:


This led to a storm of criticism on Twitter, and it appears Faggioli deleted that particular tweet. Basing himself on the ones which were left, the non-signatory blogging monk, Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman, published an excellent response on the hermeneutic of rupture.

Dr Fastiggi and Dawn Eden Goldstein used an issue of translation of Amoris to undermine part of the argument of the Correction in Vatican Insider; Chris Ferrara responded very fully in The Remnant.

The same two again took took to Vatican Insider to criticise it by reference to the rules for dissident theologians contained in the Instruction Donum veritatis; I responded here and on Rorate Caeli. They replied in my combox and I have replied to that here.

The general question of whether theologians and others are allowed to express their concerns publicly is addressed in magisterial detail by the signatory, theologian Michael Sirilla, on One Peter Five, and in more general terms by the canonist Edward Peters.

Rocco Butiglione criticised the Correctio, also in Vatican Insider on the grounds that Amoris can be interepreted in line with the preceding teaching of the Church. The canonist Edward Peters, while 'neutral' on the Filial Correction itself, pointed out multiple errors in Buttiglione's understanding of relevant Canon law here. Another response, by the distinguished theologian and signatory Claudio Pierantoni, is in the works.

In the meantime support for the initiative has come from the Oxford academic Fr Andrew Pinsent, who explained why he signed the Correction to the Catholic Herald, along with the retired American Bishop Gracida.

Fr Ray Blake (123) and Fr John Hunwicke (12, 3) each produced a series of posts supporting the Correction, notably on the climate of fear in the Church which is preventing many priests and others from adding their names (Fr Hunwicke is a signatory, Fr Blake is not).

In addition the contributions I have picked out, there has been a torrent of other supportive articles and posts on One Peter Five, Rorate Caeli, LifeSiteNews, and by Fr Hunwicke, and of course elsewhere.

The discussion has not been taking place solely in English, however. The Bologna professor and priest Don Alberto Strumia, a signatory to the Correction, gave an interview in its defence on September 30th in the Italian daily, Il Giornale, for example.

The German website Katholisches.info carries an article by the Italian historian and signatory, Robert de Mattei, in German.

I have spoken to or given email interiews with journalists in Hungary and Poland.

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