Benedict XVI explains his SSPX strategy–such as it is

The post below focused on accounts of Benedict XVI’s statements vis-a-vis Judaism and the SSPX rehabilitation effort which has ocassioned such controversy and pain. But the CNS story that just moved focuses on his remarks at the general audience on his thinking in lifting the excommunications:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said he lifted the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops in the hope that they would take further steps toward unity, including the recognition of the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council.
The pope, speaking at his general audience Jan. 28, said he was motivated by a desire for church unity when he removed the excommunication of Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of St. Pius X, and three other bishops of the breakaway society.
“I undertook this act of paternal mercy because these prelates had repeatedly manifested to me their deep pain at the situation in which they had come to find themselves,” the pope said.
“I hope my gesture is followed by the hoped-for commitment on their part to take the further steps necessary to realize full communion with the church, thus witnessing true fidelity, and true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council,” he said.
The pope said he considered the restoration of full unity in the church as one of his primary pastoral tasks, one he had emphasized at the inaugural Mass of his pontificate in 2005. This task of maintaining unity, he said, is symbolized by the Gospel account of the miraculous catch of fishes, when the net did not break despite the heavy catch.

Always good to have it from the horse’s mouth. (Full text not available yet, unfortunately.) But it still begs the question: Why so much for this group?

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posted January 28, 2009 at 11:45 am

There is so much for this group because like the Maccabees of old they have held fast to the Traditions of the Fathers while the great vast majority has apostatized in the Vatican II religion.

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Charles Cosimano

posted January 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

One has to wonder if the Vatican is testing the waters before going full roar into anti-semitism. The balancing act cannot go on indefinitely and the Vatican is going to have to land on one side or the other.

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Gerard Nadal

posted January 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Charles Cosimano,
“One has to wonder if the Vatican is testing the waters before going full roar into anti-semitism.”
A more fruitful endeavor may be for one to wonder at the scores of thousands of Catholic clergy and religious who laid down their lives in WWII for sheltering Jews. The same goes for hundreds of thousands of Catholic laity.
One may wonder at Pope John Paul II’s profound apology on behalf of our Church for our sins in the past.
One may wonder at the profoundly radical transformation that has occurred in my Church over the past seventy years.
One may even be moved to utter a prayer of gratitude to God for all of this good, including the present Pope trying to rein in an obviously deluded Bishop.
It would all be a better use of your time, rather than heckling people of faith from the cheap seats. At least we’re on the field, doing our best. What have you added that is constructive in the ongoing dialogue?

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posted January 28, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Is it your contention that Ratzinger (who we ‘apostates’ refer to as Pope Benedict XVI) is lifting the ex-communication because he admires their adherence to ‘tradition’?

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posted January 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm

What has happend is that the war to recover the most renowned Temple in all the world is at the turning of the tide. (2 Maccabees Chapter 2).

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posted January 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

That Temple being the visible Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostasy under the Old Law at the time of the Maccabees is a prefigure of the apostasy that occurred in the Church since Vatican II.

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posted January 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Why so much for this group?
First book of Maccabees chapter 1:
56 And they drove away the people of Israel into lurking holes, and into the secret places of fugitives. 57 On the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred and forty-fifth year, king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God, and they built altars throughout all the cities of Juda round about: 58 And they burnt incense, and sacrificed at the doors of the houses, and in the streets. 59 And they cut in pieces, and burnt with fire the books of the law of God: 60 And every one with whom the books of the testament of the Lord were found, and whosoever observed the law of the Lord, they put to death, according to the edict of the king.

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Your Name

posted January 28, 2009 at 5:10 pm

This from Father Jonathan at Fox News. He is an american priest at the Vatican that posts editorials on Fox.
By lifting the censure of ex-communication of their four bishops (ordained without Vatican approval in 1988), Pope Benedict is removing a legal–”canonical”–barrier for the bishops and their followers to return eventually to the fold, if they choose.
An essential condition for “rehabilitation” completely missed by the media.
But an invitation of this kind always comes with a condition: believe and obey what the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches on faith and morals, in conformity with the Gospel. This body of Church teaching would include the recognition of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) that officially and famously condemned all forms of anti-Semitism.
The media missed completely this essential condition for “rehabilitation”.
The result has been a firestorm of confused public opinion and righteous indignation over what was communicated by most news sources as a papal blessing on an unrepentant anti-Semite.
If there was any doubt what the Vatican thinks about the schismatic Bishop Williamson’s claim that only a few hundred thousand Jews were killed by Hitler and that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz, the Vatican official in charge of inter-religious dialogue, Cardinal Walter Kasper, cleared it up (why was he so rarely quoted?):
“They are unacceptable words, stupid words. To deny the Holocaust is stupid and it is a position that has nothing to do with the Catholic Church”.
And since the story continues to be told either poorly or dishonestly, in bits and pieces, with fits of fury by one not-so-expert, expert after another, the Vatican published today an editorial in its official newspaper saying Pope Benedict XVI deplores all forms of anti-Semitism and that all Roman Catholics must do the same.
In my opinion, Pope Benedict XVI knew the public relations mess he was about to make, but believed the possibility of estranged members of the Catholic Church leaving the world of schism (and the conspiracy theories that often thrive in it) and coming back to the fold, would be more important for both Catholics and Jews long-term, than the unfortunate short-term affects of predictable media misinformation.
For the record, as things stand now, and until the leaders of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X accept the Pope’s invitation to come back home–with this invitation’s monstrous condition attached–this group remains illegitimate (not sanctioned by the Catholic Church), its bishops (including Bishop Williamson) remain suspended and the services carried out in its chapels are considered illicit.
Now that’s not exactly the story you heard most places, right?
Take two.
God bless,
Father Jonathan

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posted January 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm

I try to give BXVI the benefit of the doubt when I can, but I just don’t get it: how can a move like this be understood as an attempt at maintaining unity in the Church? Can we really believe that? This is a completely divisive move that totally disregards even the most moderate Catholics. I sincerely can’t understand how the Vatican could think otherwise.
Perhaps Rome is further way from our reality than I thought.

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Walter Clark

posted February 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Please pardon the use of a word employed by Thomas Paine, who was
notoriously antirelgious, but let’s use our common sense here. Bishop
Williamson seems to be very ignorant of history and lacking in common sense. There were three million Jews in Poland before World War II and
less than one hundred thousand after the war ended. Where did they
go? Escape to Sweden or Russia? Sprout wings and fly away? No, obviously the Nazis were involved in their disappearance since Poland was under Nazi occupation and Nazi ideology was very antisemitic. And
this is just deductive reasoning. We also have the testimony of the survivors of whom thousands still live. And yet, Williamson is not alone. I have been to Poland, and remember well some tourist literature in Cracow which said merely that the Jews disappeared during the war and their fate has never been determined. People just did not want to know what was going on. But, no matter how stupid the
Bishop appears to be as a historian, his views on history have nothing to do with lifting the excommunications. The Pope wants to reconcile with the SSPX. This is understandable. The SSPX claims very legitimately that the Church has been in a mess since the Council and
points to the Novus Ordo, and departures from previous teaching regarding the definition of the Church, the doctrine extra eclesia nulla salus, religious liberty, and the missionary activity of the
Church, to support its positions. And, quite frankly, I concur with
most if not all of what the SSPX wants for the Church. We had a much stronger Church in my childhood and youth than we do today. And, unlike his two predecessors, Benedict XVI seems to agree with much of this. And just as important the SSPX has millions of sympathizers
the world over. So the Pope wants to bring it back and to show his good faith has freed the old mass and lifted the excommunications.
This in no way legitimizes Bishop Williamson’s utterly appalling ignorance of history. And Bishop Fellay has responded appropriately: Bishop Williamson has been silenced. But enemies of the Church both inside and out will pervert the fact that a holocaust denier has had his excommunication lifted into some kind of endorsement of antisemitism by the Pope. Antisemitism is racism: the teaching that
Jews form a “race” and are in some way intrinsically evil and anti-human. This is a form of social Darwinism and totally at variance with Catholic teaching which is that all men have an inherent dignity arising out of being created in the image and likeness of God, and which utterly rejects the idea of superior races of men. But this does not mean that we have to abolish truth. It is a fact, for example, that Jews hold wealth and power all out of proportion to their numbers and do not always use it for the best possible purposes.
But this is very different from the kind of racism that sees Jews as a race and as such cannot distinguish between a convert such as Edith Stein and a Jew who has no religion or practices the Jewish religion,
neither of which, incidentally, is enough to merit condemnation.
Whether Bishop Williamson is merely a bad historian, or something else, I do not know. But his rather odd views on history reflect poorly on the Church and SSPX and do not represent either. However,
he is one of the four bishops whom the Archbishop consecrated and who were automatically excommunicated (or so it would appear) as a result,
and there was no way the Pope could lift the excommunication of the other three bishops without including Williamson. My own opinion is that in due course Rome and the SSPX will reconcile, at which time
Williamson will leave the SSPX and form his own church.

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posted February 15, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Thank you, Fr. Jonathan, for your reasonable comments. You have reinforced my belief that Pope Benedict has acted in such a way thta can serve to neutralize the serious rise in the tide of anti-Semitism that threatens, once again, to flood Europe. The sterile SSPX group has certainly been an attractant to anti-Semites – not only in it’s whacky clergy, but in its other constituents.
Benedict has been both merciful and practical (rarely, if ever, mutually exclusive endeavors)by offering forgiveness and at the same time disempowering this world class hater, Williamson – and btw, his cohort in sin, SSPX member, the presumable Jewish convert and Holocaust denier, Bishop Abramowitz.
I am a Christian member of a Jewish family (my husband is Jewish) .. and the amount of mis-information concerning Catholicism in this otherwise extremely well educated and loving family is astonishing. They are, to a person, prepared to believe in the worst conspiracy theories regarding the intentions of the Catholic Church. Partly this bigotry was made stronger due to the apology the Church offered Jews in not doing even more to prevent the Holocaust. When the Catholic Church offered this apology, 2 significant things happened: 1. The Church, in the absence of any other Christian denomination’s apology, became even more of a scapegoat than it had been (and this despite all the 2 Pope Pius’ did to halt the evil and protect victims of the Nazi regime)2. The opportunity for a new generation to learn what the Church did, in fact, do to help the Jewish people was effectively lost, compounding already existing ignorance (which in it’s turn was compounded in the 60’s by American Communists, intent in absolving themselves from their own place in fomenting the Holocaust by blaming the Church … Communism, paradoxically, albeit still unacknowledged by the culprits, supported largely by American Jews!). Hatred makes strange bedfellows.
Basically, Benedict, like other Popes before him, cannot win for losing the public ill regard for anything he does to combat anti-Semitism. Therefore, he acted rightly and courageously in revoking the excommunication while simultaneously dis-empowering the regressive SSPXers in their anti-Catholic/anti-Semitic goals.

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