From the recent
media flurry about Bishop Fellay’s anticipated (and now given) second
response to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith concerning
the Doctrinal Preamble, there is a general noteworthy item. Many
journalists have recognized that this event concerning the SSPX is of
great importance to the entire Church, labeling it a “historic
moment”, one “crucial for the Church”, and even a “turning point”
which will have long-lasting effects for the Catholic world. One
excellent commentary on this aspect comes from the keyboard of
Inside the Vatican’s editor, Dr. Robert Moynihan:
important than the effect on the historical judgment of this
pontificate, the way this matter is resolved will have a profound
impact on the Church herself, on how she views herself and her mission
in the world, in time, in history, and, therefore, on how the
Church orients her activity and life with regard to the secular world
outside of the Church. [sspx.org emphasis]
does not merely stop here -
gives the reason why this will occur:
The matter at
issue is the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X… but the deeper
question is the Second Vatican Council and how that Council should be
interpreted. [sspx.org emphasis]
This gets to the
root of the matter: What level of authority does the Second Vatican
Council possess? How does one reconcile certain conciliar teachings
that are out of sync with the pre-conciliar Magisterium?
Adding to such
questionnaires made by Msgr. Brunero Gherardini and Roberto de Mattei,
Dr. John Lamont published on Chiesa a careful analysis
of the written debate between Rome’s Msgr. Fernando Ocariz and the
SSPX’s Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, which also asked similar crucial
questions. Dr. Lamont clearly expresses the SSPX’s doctrinal position
on Vatican II vis-à-vis the authentic Magisterium:
question that occurs to a theologian concerning the SSPX position
concerns the issue of the authority of the Second Vatican Council.
[Msgr. Ocariz’s article] …seems to claim that a rejection of the
authority of Vatican II is the basis for the rift referred to by the
Holy See. But for anyone familiar with both the theological position
of the SSPX and the climate of theological opinion in the Catholic
Church, this claim is hard to understand. The points mentioned by Fr.
Gleize are only four of the voluminous teachings of Vatican II. The
SSPX does not reject Vatican II in its entirety: on the contrary,
Bishop Fellay has stated that the society accepts 95% of its
With irony Dr.
that the SSPX is more loyal to the teachings of Vatican II than much
of the clergy and hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
It is relevant
that the texts of Vatican II that are rejected by the SSPX are
accepted by the groups [liberals -
within the Church that reject other teachings of that council.
One might then
suppose that it is these specific texts - on religious liberty, the
Church, ecumenism, and collegiality - that are the problem. The rift
between the Holy See and the SSPX arises because the Society rejects
these particular elements of Vatican II, not because of an
intention on the part of the Holy See to defend Vatican II as a whole…
The latter group
[liberals - Ed.]
simply holds that certain doctrines of the Catholic Church are not
true. They reject Catholic teaching, full stop. The SSPX, on the other
hand, does not claim that the teaching of the Catholic Church is
false. Instead, it claims that some of the assertions of Vatican II
contradict other magisterial teachings that have greater authority,
and hence that accepting the doctrines of the Catholic Church requires
accepting these more authoritative teachings and rejecting the small
proportion of errors in Vatican II. It asserts that the actual
teaching of the Catholic Church is to be found in the earlier and more
raises another question: “how can there be any objection to the
SSPX upholding the truth of magisterial pronouncements of great
really answers itself. There can be no such objection. If the position
of the SSPX on doctrine itself is to be judged objectionable, it must
be claimed that this position is not what these magisterial
pronouncements actually teach, and hence that the SSPX falsifies the
meaning of these pronouncements. This claim is not easy to sustain,
because when these earlier pronouncements were promulgated, they gave
rise to a very substantial body of theological work that aimed at
their interpretation. The meaning that the SSPX ascribes to them is
derived from this body of work, and corresponds to how these
pronouncements were understood at the time they were made.
The author then
logically asks these final questions:
This fact gives
more point and urgency to the third question that occurs to a
theologian: what do these pronouncements actually teach, if it is not
what the SSPX say that they teach?
...what is the
authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church on the points that are
in dispute between the SSPX and the Holy See?
concluded his analysis with this statement, underlining the universal
significance of the SSPX’s relations with Rome:
The nature of
the teaching of the Catholic Church on religious freedom, ecumenism,
the Church, and collegiality, is of great importance to all Catholics.
The questions raised by the discussions between the Holy See and the
SSPX thus concern the whole Church, not merely the parties to the
Certainly it is
pleasing to read such reflections about the Council’s teachings and
the Church’s future, however, more can be done as suggested by Dr.
now finds himself at the center of many very powerful interests who
will wish to sway his judgment as he decides this matter. For this
reason, he will need our prayers.
To this end, the
providential deadline of our Rosary Crusade (Pentecost Sunday, May 27)
becomes more relevant and urgent.
1 Published via
The Moynihan Report on April 19, 2012 under the title, “7th
Anniversary of the Election of Pope Benedict XVI”. Dr.
Moynihan’s piece also included some touching and even supportive
points about Archbishop Lefebvre and personal stories of the editor
that revealed his longtime interest in the Society of St. Pius X.
3 Dr. Lamont
attended Oxford University where he obtained a degree in philosophy,
then took a degree in theology from Ottawa University in Canada. He
currently resides in Australia where he teaches theology by
archdiocesan mandate at the Catholic Institute and University of Notre
Dame in Sydney.
Chiesa.espressonline.it is a Catholic news agency based in Italy.
5 “A Theologian's
Questions”, quoted by Sandro Magister in his April 13, 2012 article
for Chiesa.it titled "For the Lefebvrists, It's the Last Call to the
6 An Opus Dei
theologian from the Roman side of the Rome-SSPX Theological
7 Also a member
of the Theological Commission who is a seminary professor of
ecclesiology at Econe.
8 The Moynihan