Pontifications

Pontifications


Pope on the defensive…and it’s not pretty

posted by David Gibson

Benedict XVI’s letter to the world’s bishops (official text released today) was a good idea and probably inevitable, as no one was happy and the furor was not going away, inside the church from the highest echelons to the lowest. Did the pontiff’s letter help matters? Maybe it will reinforce the “move on” mantra, but the long-term answer is “no.” The problems are manifold.

ONE, from the outset the pope strikes the tone of the wronged victim, and in doing so points the finger at his list of usual suspects–namely the “great defenders of the [Second Vatican] Council”–as if promoting Vatican II were a bad thing. And the schismatics of the right-wing traditionalists SSPX sect do see Vatican II as a bad thing, though Benedict seems to minimize their views: He was pleased they had “expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council.” Some reservations? Umm, it’s a bit more than that.

Instead, the pope chides those who are NOT schismatics but are faithful to the Church: “But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.” Why does he continue to beat that dead horse in a letter that should address his own mistakes and to explain better his outreach to a group that does NOT accept that which the rest of us do?

TWO, as the letter goes it becomes uncomfortable to read. At first it is thus: “I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility.” Then he goes on to take sides as a victim WITH the schismatics and against those who raised legitimate questions about his actions: “At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown [he is referring to the SSPX]; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.” Okay, now back to the point… 

THREE, Benedict still asserts that he didn’t know of Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust denials and by implication the entire ethos of anti-Semitism that pervades the Society: “I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.” So no one at the Holy See knew how to Google and that was the problem. This is at best disingenous. Joseph Ratzinger was intimately involved with this group since before the 1988 schism, and since then. He knows what they are about. None of this could have been a surprise. It also undercuts Benedict’s efforts to cast himself at the “sensible center,” which is a where a pope should be.

FOUR, Benedict’s defensive approach also undermines his patent tactic of trying to put himself in the place of the Apostle Paul, chiding everyone else for “biting and devouring one another,” as Paul writes in Galatians. He critiques others for apparently trying to undermine his Christ-mandated quest for unity, yet does not explain why that campaign only moves in a rightward direction.

He writes: “That the quiet gesture of extending a hand gave rise to a huge uproar, and thus became exactly the opposite of a gesture of reconciliation, is a fact which we must accept. But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who “has something against you” (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation? Should not civil society also try to forestall forms of extremism and to incorporate their eventual adherents – to the extent possible – in the great currents shaping social life, and thus avoid their being segregated, with all its consequences?”

Okay, but what of all those from the center leftward who Benedict has alienated? Yes, Deus Caritas Est, God is Love–that is the title of his first encyclical, which he cites again. But the pope should also reflect that love, or try to.

FIVE, Benedict unwisely, I think, tries out the pragmatic argument for his efforts to rehabilitate the SSPX: “Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?”

But Holy Father…What about the tens of thousands of priests and religious, the millions of lay people, who have chosen Christ yet have felt no similar love from Rome? Benedict has always made something of a fetish of saying size doesn’t matter, that smaller but purer can be better. It is fidelity, not numbers, that matter. Now he’s all about numbers. Well, caveat: the numbers sword cuts two ways.

SIX, how about a word of his own experience of the Third Reich and how that could have–should have–made him especially sensitive to the Jewish reactions that would obviously proceed from this action? Faith is not solely theology. It is also about human beings. For a pope who likes to invoke Holocaust analogies on everything else, how about keeping in mind the actual Holocaust? He could have so much to say, and be an amazing example.

SEVEN, finally, he wants us to remember that the real enemy, as always, is secularism, unbelief, the “dictatorship of relativism.” Not the SSPX and their ilk. “The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.”

Well, humanity might be drawn to a Church, and find its bearings there, if the Church were more open to its failings, and its leaders likewise. Especially during this period of Lent, honest examinations of conscience are the Christian mandate, and true changes in our behavior the result we hope for. We’re still hoping, but with this letter, Benedict has confirmed his longstanding character traits, rather than overcome them.

Are we watching “The Incredible Shrinking Papacy”? The May trip to Israel will offer another opportunity, and could be the defining answer.

BTW: For the more benificent reading of Benedict’s letter–and links to some of the predictably angry talk on the Trad right–see Amy Welborn’s post.



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Rollo1

posted March 12, 2009 at 10:57 am


Gibson, the letter is about YOU, dont’cha know ? I can just tell that you’re ”one of those Catholics”, like a man having an abortion and saying it’s all fair and good. You are the ”dictator of relativism”, fair and square, right up there with Satan and Obama.



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JAB

posted March 12, 2009 at 11:00 am


Yes, we are watching the incredible shrinking papacy. He is just too much out of touch.



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David Gibson

posted March 12, 2009 at 11:37 am


Rollo1–I’m up there with Satan AND Obama? You are a Prince! Thanks.
If you have anything of substance beyond ad hominems, I be happy to engage them.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 12, 2009 at 11:47 am


David,
Perhaps later when I’m done with my list of errands I can address your many uncharitable cuts at this Pope. For now, as I read your analysis, all I could hear was the Cowardly Lion in the Wizzard of Oz singing, “If I Were a King”
God chose Benedict, not me or you. Perhaps you think that your carping about his Papacy will somehow help him to establish your perception of a more just Church. All you have done is tear at the Church, not build it up. You have weakened this Pope and his ability to lead by how you exercise your office.
A good Lenten mediation would be to dwell on why the Holy Sprit chose Benedict above all others. Perhaps you could dwell on a piece that treats all of what this Pope has done right in your eyes. Would you be able to reel one off without hesitation? Your ability to do so would be fairly diagnostic of where you stand in relation to the trajectory of the Church.
God Bless.



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A

posted March 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm


David, perhaps the letter is “uncomfortable to read” because you are confronted with the fact that some of your hyperbolic and often cynical commenting on the event actually may have contributed to the pain and misunderstandings that occurred in its wake.
What part of “Another mistake, which I deeply regret” and “In this way I hope to contribute to peace in the Church” do you not accept.
I thought the letter was rich in humility, honesty and clarity and revealed a deep desire for unity among all in the Church. Let us move forward with a generosity of trust and charity.



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Lone Star Vanguard

posted March 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm


Excellent analysis – it takes courage to carefully outline and offer solid criticism so that the church can learn and grow.
What we actually might be seeing is the Holy Spirit working to shrink the post 150 years of the growth of the imperial papacy and in a counter-intuitive way, get back to our roots in terms of pope as vicar of Peter just as all bishops, national conferences, regions, etc. are vicars of Christ. We need to move away from the centralization, clericalism, curia run, our focus on papal pronouncements, and grow the church outlined in the documents of Vatican II.
Our focus needs to be on the Kingdom of God – the church is not an end in itself. A more balanced papacy would help support unity with other churches and ecclesial communities, the Eastern Church, Orthodox church, and outreach to other religions. It also might encourage regional churches to best apply the gospel to its own church e.g. base communities, missionary activity that is witness focused not conversion focused, allows for regional differences in terms of liturgical, sacramental and even parish structures.



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Frank Lupo

posted March 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm


I read David Gibson’s comments after reading the Pope’s letter. I was struck by the Pope’s tone: he expressed a level of humility that is not characteristic of what I expect of those in such visible public positions. What Mr. Gibson views as wallowing in self-pity seems a dignified way to express regret for what Benedict acknowledges to be his own shortcoming, that of failing to anticipate the reaction to a remission that he maintains was wise. I hope that I will be reading favorable reaction to the letter in coming days and that Mr. Gibson’s observations inform what turns out to be a minority view.



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David Gibson

posted March 12, 2009 at 2:14 pm


My frustration with the letter is that the pope doesn’t actually admit he’d done anything wrong with the action, only that “mistakes” were made in communications and such.
Also, attacking others who don’t deserve it in any way shape or form does not seem to have a place, in this letter or elsewhere.
Feel free to disagree with me, or critique me as what you like, but the fact is this action caused a major problem for the church and was sharply critiqued at the highest levels of the hierarchy, from Cardinal Schonborn to Cardinal Kasper. Are they also tearing down the pope? Or building up the church?
Constructive criticism is a virtue, I think, as is the willingness to listen to it. Moreover, God didn’t “choose” Benedict–the cardinals did. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of course. But as an esteemed theologian once said, quite rightly, the most the Holy Spirit can do is to keep the entire thing from ruin. That was Joseph Ratzinger, and he was referring to the election of popes and reconcling that with the large number of awful popes we’ve had. Did God choose them? And why? To test us? The pope is due the greatest respect and compassion. But so is everyone else, no?



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Clare Krishan

posted March 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm


“during this period of Lent, honest examinations of conscience” is an apt metaphor for we wanderers seeking the promised land, lets not harden our hearts as at Massah and Meribah,
http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/031509b.shtml
the scrutinies for catechumens begin this Sunday! Right or left aren’t quite apt as categories in the search for truth. Confusion or clarity may be closer to the mark, no, as in parched or slaked thirst? There’s plenty of present tense thirsting and not just the metaphysical kind — the West’s “stimulus package” thirst for capital is leaving the developing world facing a drought that’s not just metaphorical… its as deadly as any holocaust



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Steve T

posted March 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm


I think it’s all a bunch of hoopla over nothing. The pope has hitherto shown himself to be someone who doesn’t realize what the implications and reactions of his actions might be. I do not believe he is trying to erase Vatican II, neither do I think he is a very good PR guy. He’s an intellectual in a job that is notoriously difficult. He didn’t think it would make the row it did. But it did! And now he’s trying to deal with it.
I am very liberal in my Catholicism, but I say leave the pope alone, he is going to step in it, and then have to clean up the mess, just like when he said those unfortunate things about Islam. And please remember, he is a man, he puts his pants on one leg at a time. Just because you become pope does not mean that you cease to be human. He will, and may, screw up from time to time. But he’s an old man, doing the best he can, in a church that is anything but united.



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David Gibson

posted March 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm


Steve T, thanks for your reminder that the pope, like everyone else, is a human soul. We should recognize that it’s a tough job, and pray for the pope, not out of condescencion but as we pray for all of us who fall short. It’s a tough time, a sad time. It’s Lent, and perhaps that is something I have to keep in mind. David



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Cindy

posted March 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm


David – I found your commentary on the Pope’s letter to be thoughtful and thought-provoking. Thank you.
I also felt your responses to criticism and discussion were fair and humble. Thank you for that too.
One problem I continue to have with Catholic websites and blogs is the polarization and vitriol that stream unabated in the comments section. You seem to do a very good job inspiring discussion … one has to skate pretty close to the edge in order to instigate discussion rather than agreement. And, I believe you also do a fair job of allowing for, and responding to someone with an opposite view.
We Catholics like our pet phrases and to see things our own way. I hear often “God chose…” regarding something in the Church, as if there is no human responsibility for the choices and decisions we human beings make within the Church. Shame on us.
Lent is a very good time to pray for all of us who fall short of perfection. That would be ALL of humanity since Christ’s resurrection, including The Pope. Recognition that he may fall short in various situations, or have blind spots to certain of his own character traits, does not tear down the Church.
Rather it builds dialogue. And throughout the Church year this dialogue is something we must have.
Peace.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 12, 2009 at 4:09 pm


David,
“My frustration with the letter is that the pope doesn’t actually admit he’d done anything wrong with the action, only that “mistakes” were made in communications and such.”
Perhaps that’s because the Pope felt he did nothing wrong in trying to heal a schism. Not one of us, including Cardinals Kasper and Sconborn is privy to the discussions these four Bishops of the SSPX have had with, then, Cardinal Ratzinger, and now Pope Benedict. Their suffering, their remorse have driven them time and again to Joseph Ratzinger for discussions at the highest level of the Episcopacy. He acted in the best interests of the salvation of these four excommunicated Bishops.
With all due respect to our non-Catholic brethren, this is a family matter. That’s more than a hint. PR blunder? Yes. Now that the Pope has spoken and reassured all that this offer of an outstretched hand in no way signals a repudiation of the advances in ecumenical relations, the matter is closed. Those who have a need to nurture their distaste for the Church will never be satisfied.
Yes David, I agree that there is such a thing as constructive criticism. But let’s be honest. The Pope’s mistake was not in charity toward these Bishops. Were he not to have extended his hand for fear of the inevitable backlash, he would be a monster. Lifting the excommunications was and is the right thing to do. His error was in not knowing about Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust views and the understandable alarm that resulted among our Jewish brothers and sisters. For as careless an error as it was, it pales in comparison to neglecting these four Bishop’s salvation for the sake of good PR.
Benedict did the right thing, for the right reasons. The delivery was a little rough and uneven? So what?! There was no lasting harm. The hysteria was just that, hysteria. All that was needed was a request to the Pope by the Jewish community for a clarification of what the lifting of Bishop Williamson’s excommunication might have been signaling. I also expect those leaders to practice the openness, tolerance, respect, charity and maturity that they expect of us. If they did, this hysteria never would have come to pass.
If constructive criticism is a virtue, then every left-of -center Catholic I know is a living saint. There’s a message in that. I don’t advocate mindless cheerleading, but the lack of balanced perspective in that ‘constructive’ criticism makes it rather corrosive.



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Marcio

posted March 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm


David, promoting Vatican II is a good thing. Benedict XVI has done so since he started his papacy. But promoting Vatican II **as if the Church history had started in 1962** is NOT a good thing. And promoting a certain interpretation of Vatican II which had no connection to actual Vatican II documents is even worse.
You wonder why the Pope shows generosity only to the “right-wing”. Maybe because the “right-wing” did express its desire to reunite with the Pope. Do Liberation Theologians want it? No, they don’t. Look at what Hans Küng has been saying. Remember the SSPX letter asking for the lift of the excommunications – they expressed their submission to the Roman Pontiff. Can you imagine Küng, Boff et caterva writing something at least similar? Heck no.
What I know is that Küng is scared to death. He’s an heretic but he’s not stupid. If the Pope manages to bring the SSPX to full acceptance of Vatican II, the Church (especially in Europe) will suddenly be flooded with priests and seminarians who are able to deliver the orthodox interpretation of the Council and erase decades of error spread by Küng and his followers. And who will celebrate decent liturgy, which is also a key of this pontificate, let’s keep it in mind.
Could the Vatican have handled the situation better? Sure, and Sandro Magister had already said so. Vatican needs to learn how to Google? So does Angela Merkel, who demanded the Pope to speak against the Holucaust – when Benedict XVI had already done so at least three times! Now tell me: how many people do you know that think Benedict XVI lifted Williamson’s excommunication **because** he was a revisionist? Isn’t it true that the media helped creating this impression? Yes, the Pope is a victim in all this stuff. He was attacked by liberal, modernist Catholics who are afraid of what may happen when the SSPX finally enters the Church; he was attacked by the media, which often mistook Benedict’s reasons for lifting the excommunications; he was attacked by misled Catholics who believed what the media said. If people don’t understand the Pope’s long-range strategy, there’s a problem with people, not with the Pope.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 12, 2009 at 4:52 pm


Marcio,
AMEN!!!!!!!



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Your Name

posted March 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm


I am just a simple Roman Catholic who has her formation back in the early 40′s. When Vatican II struck, I was dumbfounded as to the need for all of the “change”. I stayed with the true church(pre-Vatican) as I was told that Vatican II was only a pastoral council, not doctrinal. The fruits of Vatican II are around us today-disaster! I thank God for Archbishop Lefevre and the Society of Saint Pius X. Will the Society someday lead the Church back to sanity? I believe it will and I hope to live long enough to see that day.Until then, I will continue to attend Society Masses and pray my rosary every day that the Blessed Mother will guide the Church through these tumultuous times. God bless all of you!



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Piera

posted March 12, 2009 at 5:53 pm


Marcio
“What I know is that Küng is scared to death. He’s an heretic but he’s not stupid. If the Pope manages to bring the SSPX to full acceptance of Vatican II, the Church (especially in Europe) will suddenly be flooded with priests and seminarians who are able to deliver the orthodox interpretation of the Council and erase decades of error spread by Küng and his followers. And who will celebrate decent liturgy, which is also a key of this pontificate, let’s keep it in mind.”
I’m a european woman and I can tell you that this is only your wishful thinking. Nobody here cares about SSPX, a part isolated very conservative people, xenophobic and right wing. They haven’t any appeal at large.



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Mareczku

posted March 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm


Excellent comments, Mr. Gibson. I agree with you here. I was inspired by the Pope’s statement, “At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown, which one can easily attack and hate.” I sincerely hope that he holds the same compassion towards celibate gay seminarians and priests. I hope that he respects them and supports them in their vocations.



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Bryan Cones

posted March 12, 2009 at 6:57 pm


Bravo, David. You’ve hit the nail right on the head. Amazing that the pope can’t see his own double standard. We’re all expected to extend ourselves to the most fringy elements on the right, but he won’t lift a finger even to the center to consider married clergy–despite the fact that millions of Catholics are starved of the Eucharist every week–nor will he open discussion the participation of divorced and remarried Catholics.
This letter is a major disappointment.



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Rod

posted March 12, 2009 at 7:32 pm


Are you sure this article is about the Catholic Church and not the woes of the Republican Party?. Seems like both entities have a bad hangup when it comes to believing in the past.



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Marcio

posted March 12, 2009 at 7:52 pm


Piera, I’m not talking about appeal. I’m talking about a possible solution (or start of solution) for the shortage of priests in Europe (and elsewhere). Seminaries linked to institutions promoting the Tridentine Mass, schismatic or not, are full of young people, while diocesan ones are getting empty, mostly thanks to modernist doctrines that downplayed the special role of a priest — if a priest is just a normal guy who happens to have more power that us (notice that for Liberation Theology it’s all about power), instead of a special grace that comes from God’s calling, why bother becoming a priest, with all its “burdens” like celibacy? No wonder the priesthood isn’t attracting our youth.



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Little Bear

posted March 12, 2009 at 7:59 pm


Pope Benedict’s statements are typical of the despair of the traditionalists. And all the Popes since John XXIII have been traditionalists (Paul VI after his pronouncements on celibacy in 1967 and birth control in 1968); John Paul II and Benedict XVI—four decades of conservative even reactionary leadership from Rome and the Church is still in disarray.
As some of the writers above display—traditionalists see despair everywhere. Stern policies, clearly stated, with the highest authority possible cannot win majority lay support. Papal policies with threats of excommunication also coming from Bishops under the Vatican thumb, threats against Bishops who waver slightly on these mtters have failed to unite the Church against them. Blame is in order and so the laity are blamed or the times in which we live. But the Church cannot get away from the laity or the times in which we live—-The Pope and the hierarchy are in need of revaluating what they are called to be.
The Holy Father is, I hope, beginning to see that modern media—particularly the Internet, can be a harsh critic. But it can also provide a wealth of information—that no modern Servant of the servants of God can afford to ignore.



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Tarot Reader

posted March 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm


And nobody seem to have noticed what will remain a sterling hallmark of Pope Benedict pontificate: Continuity. Continuity with the Popes immediatly preceding him up to Vatican II and continuity with the pre-Vatican II Popes up to Martin V who started the Council of BaselFerrara/Florence in 1431, made firmer the resolution of the Western Schism (popes/antipopes) and prepared the end of the Great Schism (bringing the Basileus and the Patriarch of Byzantium to be reconciled with Rome and the mutual lifting of anathemas) to be carried out by his successor Pope Eugene IV.
In his work both with the SSPX and the many Eastern Orthodox churches, Benedict has shown so far some consistency both with Vatican II and Vatican I, his move to canonize Cardinal Newman and Pope Pius XII brings home History instead of mere popularity just as his theological works move us closer towards a mystic sense of participation that had gone somewhat very much hidden for some time. In his move to reveal both the inherent orthodoxy of Vatican II (contra SSPX as much as Kung and co.)the permanence (in terms of piety, arts and crafts and doctrine)of the ‘Old Faith’ and the rich interplay of them with the World at large and in depth and taking things higher, this Pontiff is accomplishing/starting a work of Charity that heals more wounds than the so called sores (bed sores?) that it supposedly opens.
Does anything else matters right now (that is a few decades/centuries down the line)?



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Your Name

posted March 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm


On the contrary, the Society of St. Pius X has seminaries bursting at the seams. Perhaps God is calling men back to Tradition and only the wise are listening?



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Mary

posted March 12, 2009 at 8:35 pm


I’ve been reading you here and at Commonweal. I don’t get it. You always seem to have a really weird read on Benedict. It’s as if you have a personal grudge. Your commentary is never about the real content – its psychohistory, political analysis and literary criticism. You really miss alot with your blindness. If I thought you’d see, I’d write more but you’d find some ideological reason to dismiss it. Perhaps more erudite folks could tell you more but the see I’ll plant is this —God is Love



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Your Name

posted March 12, 2009 at 9:01 pm


Amen to the comments from Gerard and Marcio. Pope Paul VI was also disturbed after the Council:
Rome, May. 16, 2008 (CWNews.com) – When Pope Paul VI spoke about the “smoke of Satan” entering the Catholic Church, he was referring to liturgical abuses, according to the prelate who served as his master of ceremonies.
Cardinal Virgilio Noe, the chief Vatican liturgist during the pontificate of Paul VI, spoke candidly about the late Pope’s concerns in an interview with the Roman Petrus web site. The Italian prelate– who was also the Vatican’s top liturgist under Pope John Paul I and the early years of the pontificate of John Paul II– is now retired, and at the age of 86 his health is failing. In his interview with Petrus he concentrated primarily on his years serving Pope Paul VI.
[The full interview has been translated by Father John Zulsdorf on his What Does the Prayer Really Say blog.]
Pope Paul accepted the liturgical reforms after Vatican II “with pleasure,” Cardinal Noe said. He added that Paul VI was not by nature a sad man, but “he was saddened by the fact of having been left alone by the Roman Curia.” Regarding the late Pope’s famous remark about the “smoke of Satan,” Cardinal Noe said that he knew what Paul VI intended by that statement. In that denunciation, he said, the Pope “meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dross in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony.”



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Richard

posted March 12, 2009 at 9:05 pm


Paul VI was also concerned about the implementation of the Council. It has only gotten worse.
Rome, May. 16, 2008 (CWNews.com) – When Pope Paul VI spoke about the “smoke of Satan” entering the Catholic Church, he was referring to liturgical abuses, according to the prelate who served as his master of ceremonies.
Cardinal Virgilio Noe, the chief Vatican liturgist during the pontificate of Paul VI, spoke candidly about the late Pope’s concerns in an interview with the Roman Petrus web site. The Italian prelate– who was also the Vatican’s top liturgist under Pope John Paul I and the early years of the pontificate of John Paul II– is now retired, and at the age of 86 his health is failing. In his interview with Petrus he concentrated primarily on his years serving Pope Paul VI.
[The full interview has been translated by Father John Zulsdorf on his What Does the Prayer Really Say blog.]
Pope Paul accepted the liturgical reforms after Vatican II “with pleasure,” Cardinal Noe said. He added that Paul VI was not by nature a sad man, but “he was saddened by the fact of having been left alone by the Roman Curia.” Regarding the late Pope’s famous remark about the “smoke of Satan,” Cardinal Noe said that he knew what Paul VI intended by that statement. In that denunciation, he said, the Pope “meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dross in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony.”



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Peter Robinson

posted March 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm


Papal infallibility has been used once – to announce that God launched his mum into space, 2000 years before the Soviets announced the launch of Yuri Gagarin.
Benedict should take advantage of this amazing ability. He could close debate on the excommunication fiasco by announcing, ex cathedra, that continuing to court an anti-Semitic sect and give it oxygen constitutes “a considerate act of mercy”.



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Tarot Reader

posted March 12, 2009 at 9:22 pm


Priests don’t marry because being a priest is to be married already!
It is not a ‘job’ but a calling, it implies a personal relationship with God and another way to put it is that a priest has fallen in love with the heavenly realities…not unlike an artist, a philosopher…
More than a specific ‘choice’ entailing specific ‘requirements’ and ‘duties’, it is a love-story with life invisible and visible. The prescence of another one would no doubt give meaning and density to it as long as the priest succesfully integrate both aspects of his calling and that takes a lot form both partners, plus the priest is there for everyone, not just his other half…his other half is all of us and everytihng that comes with it world and songs. If a partner is of some help…two priests together? There is just no point in abolishing celibacy. Consecrated celibacy is an awesome reality and it seems to me that we’re not helping by contesting it. We should do everything to help them to grow in celibate chastity instead of inflicitng doubt and sparkling unrest in these craftmen of depth.



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PA Observer

posted March 12, 2009 at 11:32 pm


Wow! Who is this guy? He refers to Catholics as “us”, yet has no understanding of orthodoxy and the role of the Pope in the unity of the Church, which all the post-conciliar pontiffs have commented on, and made central to their papacies. Of course, the Pope has sympathy for the souls of those who have separated themselves from the Church, has he never heard of “animus curiae”, the care of souls? This is the Love the writer says he searches in vain for. It is one of the true marks of a priest. This writer cares only for splitting any thought into commentaries on right and left, has obvious left leaning sympathies, and no focus on the orthodox understanding of Christ and the Church. In dismissing and misreporting the facts of what happened, and what Benedict was trying to accomplish with this group, not just one member, who by the way, was not restored to any authority in the Church, this writer has convinced me that he is not trustworthy as a source of insight into the thinking and workings of the Holy See.



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mistanick

posted March 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm


Mr. Gibson, I don’t know who you are, anything of your reputation or professional credentials. However, I do know that you apparently profess to be a Catholic. As such, how can you so ruefully write against your Pope with such disrespect? You bring shame on yourself. I suppose that one shouldn’t be surprised, as the novus ordo church is in a death spiral of intellectual and liberal direction of fleshly wants. Creating a “peace” with the devil himself is not the way to show Christ to the world. A beacon of light shines from a hill, not from a hole in the ground of evil. The SSPX Society is proclaiming the tradition of the church that you so easily wish to tear apart to appease those who would spit on the very Bible we love so much. The day is quickly coming when no man or woman can make the excuse that “I didn’t know” or I never heard of Jesus”. Once that day has come, it will be too late and the day of Christ’s return will be here. With tradition, a foundation is laid. With new ways, liberal thought, and acquiesence to sin, lies destruction.



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Meredith Gould

posted March 13, 2009 at 12:19 am


Meanwhile, the other/addition elephant in the room is the woeful lack of intelligent (let alone sophisticated) use of contemporary communications tools (e.g., Web 2.0).
Sorry you’re under attack, DG. I think there’s room in the Kingdom for all of us!



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Ken

posted March 13, 2009 at 3:00 am


David Gibson sounds sounds more like a 19th century Freemason than anything like a Roman Catholic who holds fast to the Apostolic faith of 2000 years.
This is just like the Maccabees when those who were truly clinging to the TRUE FAITH were called schismatic by the apostate hordes who had taken control of the Temple. As it was in the time of the Maccabees so it is now and the SSPX are the Maccabees of our day.



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David Gibson

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:01 am


A Freemason and the anti-Christ? I am on a roll!
I understand the anger from fans of the SSPX, but a couple questions:
Benedict himself still holds the SSPX as outside the doctrinal and canonical bounds of the Church. They are in the wrong, he says, and will remain so until the change/repent. So what makes you such partisans for a groups of schismatics?
Second, if my criticisms of the pope’s actions in this issue are beyond the pale, what of those of Cardinals Schonborn et al, and all the other bishops and theologians and others across the spectrum who have expressed their great dismay with the Pope? Is everyone else–the hierarchy, the pope, et al–wrong and only you are right?



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:04 am


I do not beleive that it is wrong to question the Pope or his actions but I do beleive that you do it with the utmost respect. If I misread your tone then I apologize but the tone of your letter sounds like typical gotcha journalism. Would you use this same tone if you were speaking directly to the pope himself. Questioning his actions is fine but have the decency to do it in a way that leads us to think for ourselves and grow in Truth.
S T E V E



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Jim

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:09 am


PA Observer, ditto to everything you say. I could not have said it nearly as well. Thank you.



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:28 am


Unfortunately, if a reader were to take the time to read the full text of the Papal Letter to the Bishops, and takes into account the audience, his fellow Bishops, and the fact that Vatican II also teaches that the Council isn’t a “RESTART” for the Church, but a continuation, teaching, and clarification for the Faithful of the 2000 years of Sacred Tradition, doctrine, and Papal Instruction. The reader will see that the Holy Father extends the Olive Branch of reconciliation to individuals of the SSPX to return to the Church by removing the excommincation decree while taking responsibility for the even trivial reasons that the Holy See failed to properly research the views of the leaders of the SSPX. In this reader’s opinion, he basically asks for charity from the faithful because he himself is human. But you also failed to point out that while taking the roll of the Good Shepherd in reaching to individuals, he clarifies that any teaching or ordained ministerial functions by members of the SSPX is not allowed due to doctrinal differences still to be reconciled. Therefore there is no threat to the Catholic Faithful from false doctrine since the SSPX is not authorized by the Holy See or the Papal Office. Finally, from the tone of your article, you appear to take the roll of the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Instead of rejoicing that the father has accepted back a wayward son, you only concentrate on feeling slighted because you’ve been doing what is expected but don’t feel that the attention to the younger son is warranted. Rest assured my Catholic brother, that some prayer, study of the Bible and Catechism, and some reflection during Lent will help you. Peace be to you and yours.



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Catherine of Alexandria

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:37 am


“I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.” -And here we go



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:50 am


Marcio
This is not a solution for the shortage of priests. A priests must be priest for his community. My parish is a normal parish neither liberal nor conservative. We sing the Creed and the pater noster in latin, and the masses are very well done. Many parishes in Europe, also in France, are so, with small congregation of course because the secularism.
If you assign a SSPX priest to my parish or other similar parishes, will this priest accept to celebrate the NO mass? If not will be a disaster. I know that there are more than a few good people, faithful Catholic who will walk out of the door of the church and never come back. In my diocese no one asked for the tridentine Mass. Nobody cares about it.
And a part the liturgy two other issues exist: the xenophobic issue and how the SSPX priests consider women.



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arvid

posted March 13, 2009 at 10:13 am


Sarah Palin uses her unwed teenage daughter as a prop in the campaign. Now Levi Johnston is leaving Bristol.
—————————————————
Conservative Family Values — so much for abstinence, family planning, marriage — Palin needs to support her daughter.



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 11:19 am


It is truly amazing how the tolerance of liberals in the church never seems to extend to the Holy Father.
Mr. Gibson, your lack of charity saddens me..You seem determined to misunderstand this Pope. His heart is pure, his care for the Church apparent to all. He never wanted this burden. I love and respect him more than ever before.
Have you ever noted the forbearance he extends to all of those who disobediently teach contrary to the doctrine of the church? Why? Are you determined to misunderstand the concept of the Mystical Body? Even the sinful disobedient Catholic must be loved, though it is so tempting to tell them that if they don;t accept church teaching there are many churches in line with what they believe:the Anglicans, for example.But the medicine of excommunication is admininstered sparingly and we must constantly be looking for reuinification. Not at the expense of truth, but in charity. Try loving the Pope, Mr. Gibson, even if you do not like him. If you don;t know how, consult Deus Caritas Est , and there is an answer for you there.



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 11:59 am


Obviously, Mr Gibson, you and your liberal and neocon comrades don’t understand that VaticanII was nothing more than a PASTORAL COUNSEL, NOT A DOGMATIC COUNCIL! This was firmly defined at the time of the counsel by Popes’ John the XXIII and Paul the VI. And in the 1980s by then Cardinal Ratzinger and now by Pope Benedict the XVI. As the Pope said in his letter, VaticanII is not a discontinuance of 2000 years of Church and biblical doctrine and tradition. all of the false novelties introduced at the council which have plaqued the Church these last 40 years(IE Ecumenism, “religious liberty”, modernism, liberalism, relativism, humanism,indifferentism, freemasonry, protestantism, and Judaism) have driven Catholics out of the novus ordo Church to what you call “traditionalist” Churches to experience the true Catholic faith as practiced unchanged since the time of the Apostles to 1965! Maybe if you looked at the “traditional” Catholic Churches, you would find that the seminaries are full, the Churches are full, the people are practiceing the faith in fullness! So you can stick to your Novus Ordo “Catholic” Church with the empty pews, the liberal Priests and bishops, the useless “intereligious dialogue”, instead of doing what our Lord wanted, which was to “go and make disciples of all nations”. the Protestant and Jewish novelties, the relativism and the protestant invented “liturgy” assisted by the “laypeople”. Looks like the “springtime of VaticanII” is alive and well. Remember, as a dogma of the Catholic church which can never be amended, deleted, or watered down by any Pope or counsel because it comes from scripture and reaffirmed and defined by previous counsels and Popes: There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.



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Jon M. Greenier

posted March 13, 2009 at 12:13 pm


David,
The Papal Letter that you rebuke echoes’ John Paul II’s Encyclical Ut Unun Sint. Please read this important message from John Paul. The unity of Christians is at the heart of the gospels. Like so many Catholics you don’t understand the true essence of Ecumenism. That is why your understanding of the Pope’s message is rather obscured.



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Jim

posted March 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm


To “Your Name”,
“‘traditionalist’ Churches to experience the true Catholic faith as practiced unchanged since the time of the Apostles to 1965″
One of the purposes of Vatican II was to make the mass more complete. To acknowledge and include the entire Body. Prior to 1965 the mass was more paint by numbers, not to offend but best description possible. Many people did not understand what was occurring and priests just read lines prescribed by previous councils. It was not the “original” mass celebrated by the first apostles and leaders of the church. So to treat pre-Vatican II council as the only true mass is misinformed to say the least. It would be better to look at why Vatican II was necessary.
Vatican II was pastoral and brought the mass back to the people, we became acknowledged working parts of the Body of Christ in the celebration with the priest and not mere spectators. Vatican II as you state was not doctrinal but you use the word to weaken the effect or purpose of the council. Vatican II was essential and as the true Church headed by Christ can not be in err, Vatican II helped bring to light pastoral changes that helped bring His people into closer communion with Him.
Yours in Christ.



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 1:00 pm


Who are you to point the finger at the Holy Father? Why in the world would you have “converted” to the Catholic faith and spurn such dribble? How hypocritical of you Mr. Gibson. I would personally love to see the Church embrace our Traditionalist brothers and sisters. And also see the Traditionalists embrace the good in Vat 2.



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Andy Holland

posted March 13, 2009 at 1:02 pm


Who is beating a dead horse?
The statement,”But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.” – is a statement of fact, a statement of reality, and a statement that has to be made.
The root of the tree is Christ Himself, the roots are the Apostles and the Saints, and the wine is the martyrs blood. This is not a religion invented yesterday and a lifeless branch without a connection to the Lord. You cannot have anyone make rigorous reference to only one counsel, or Pope, or Bishop, or Saint outside the context of the whole. Its a statement of Catholicity and reality and emphasized because maintaining Catholicity is the essence of the Pope’s function and primacy as a servant of God. Catholicity is over all time. Its his job – if you think you can do better, enter seminary and start praying.



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Mark

posted March 13, 2009 at 1:19 pm


This is the worst claptrap I have ever read in response to a letter from any Pope. You truly have some issues Mr. Gibson and I hope you address them. Your bias is showing…my how embarrassing it must be for you.



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Mark

posted March 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm


BTW, juts look at the tags he filed this under….one of which is “liberal”…there’s all you need to know. How sad.



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Francis

posted March 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm


To Jim,
“Vatican II was pastoral and brought the mass back to the people”
The Mass isn’t about the “people”, it is about worshipping GOD. The people should be going to Mass to worship our Lord, not to “participate” in the Mass, or to be entertained. Elements of The Tridentine Mass go back to the early Church. The council of Trent reaffirmed the ancient Mass because of the rebellion of the 16th century protestants. They also affirmed that the Mass is A SACRIFICE, and not a “meal” as the novus ordo tries to simulate and the protestants affirm. Trent also reaffirmed the teachings of the church in their entirety (ie transubstantiation, the Mass, the scriptures, holy tradition, latin, etc) after the protestant revolution. Vatican II was only a pastoral counsel with no dogmatic authority. The novelties which came out of it like ecumenism, liberalism, modernism, indifferentism, humanism, “religious liberty” and even the novus ordo”liturgy” are not dogmas of the Church, only “pastoral and are not bound on any Catholic. Sadly Vatican II was born from protestantism, modernism, Judiasm, communism and freemasonry. All you have to do is look at the novus ordo Mass to see that the whole liturgy is more protestant in nature(Ie the mass in the vernacular, the People “assisting” at Mass, the eucharist is viewed as a meal instead of a sacrifice, guitar “masses” Etc.) Than Catholic. The novus ordo church has been a disaster to the Church, (empty churches, modernism, liberal theology etc) Hopefully we can forget the last 40 years and return to the true teachings of the church, and evangelizing the world to Our Lord and bringing the people to the one true religion which is the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation.



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StephenSSPX

posted March 13, 2009 at 2:02 pm


Mr. Gibson, I want to be civil, and I will try not to be too harsh, but your writing hit all the wrong buttons with me. Your article doesn’t seem to understand that most of us Traditionalist Roman Catholics DO want to be reconciled with Rome and will accept Vatican II, but we will NOT give up the Tridentine Latin Mass or our traditional practices! For far too long, we HAVE been persecuted, mocked, put-down, laughed at, and scorned not by others, but by OUR OWN fellow Catholics! All because we are loyal to time-honoured traditional ways! We have had ENOUGH of it! God bless Pope Benedict for reaching out to the SSPX and opening up the dialogue. What LIBERALS fear is that we who are Traditionalists will find our way into positions of AUTHORITY in the church where LIBERALS have held power and influence for far too long. Well, tough, Mr. Gibson, because we are coming up and Traditionalism is finding its way back into the Roman Catholic Church. You can have your clown-and-liturgical-dance-Haugen-Haas Mass; I’ll stick to my Latin.



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rhonda

posted March 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm


I have been respectfully but vigilanly waiting for something in which I could feel a more personal connection with this Pope after feeling like John Paul II was my pope-in a childlike way that this pope had to prove himself to me(my error). Then I read about his attempt to move towards reconcilliation with this group.”What would Jesus Do?” -Pope Benedict did what Jesus would do.
And then, this letter-or the one I read(maybe not the same one you read?)Absolutely reflected the kind of shepherd I prayed I’d find in him.



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Richard

posted March 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm


Mr. Gibson,
I recently purchased and read your book The Rule of Benedict. I rejoiced over every one of your attempts to detract from the Holy Father’s pastoral leadership and historical contribution to the life of the Church. Amen! and thank God for Pope Benedict XVI!! Your bitterness and Catholic identity are at serious odds with each other. You use words like liberal, conservative, right and left. This is only noise and confusion. There is no such lexicon in the Church, only in the hearts and minds of those who would bring Her down or drag Her where the Lord would not allow her to go. Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, speaks the truth simply with love and it is not surprising that this offends the spirit of the world, and well it should. Thank God that the Holy Spirit has sent us a serene, self-possessed shepherd who is able to keep his hand on the tiller amid all this vitriole and confusion. Incidentally, have you ever read any of Paul’s letters to the Churches? He, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, was often beaten down by the in-fighting and folly of those not properly formed in the faith. It was Paul who also exhorted with patient endurance and love where error existed and pride clouded hearts and judgments. The pope delivered another such personal letter to the bishops of the world acknowledging the missteps of communication, but not the essentials of the decision to lift the recent excommunications. I wonder what you would have had to say about Paul, or Jesus Himself, if you had had the luxury of playing armchair general in those early years of the Church….? How exactly is your formation coming along? Pax et bonum.



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Ken

posted March 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm


We should consider what Shconborn and Kaspar think?
Are those 2 Cardinals even Catholic?
Schonborn can’t even offer a valid novus ordo mass not even with proper matter:
http://en.gloria.tv/?media=16608
Cardinal Kasper is a heretic who denies the Resurrection:
http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/2001_November/Cardinals_With_No_Faith.htm



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 4:24 pm


Mr. Gibson,
Although this entire article is very telling, the quote that I find most intriguing is this:
“to explain better his outreach to a group that does NOT accept that which the rest of us do?”
The key phrase here is “which the rest of us do”. First of all, you assume that you hold mainstream Catholic sentiment – I assure you that, judging only from this article, you do not. Even if you do, that’s not saying much. Much of the “us” to which you refer do not even know what Catholicism is anymore. Liberalism in the Church has produced nothing but destruction and born no fruit, which is why it continues to fade into oblivion. As a result of Benedict’s outreaches, the Church will grow strong and healthy again. For people like you, that’s apparently a terrifying prospect.



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Mike

posted March 13, 2009 at 4:44 pm


You sir, are a heretic. Either get in line with the magesterium or get out of the church. Go form your own church.



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Mareczku

posted March 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm


Mr. Gibson, your comments were excellent. I was moved by the Pope’s one comment, “At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to whom no tolerance may be shown, which one can easily attack and hate.” This made me think of gay priests and seminaraians who are under attack by some. I hope that the Pope feels that they also deserve respect and tolerance.



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Jim

posted March 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm


What Catholics are you referring to that are angry or disappointed with the Pope for his recent gaffs? Would it be the ones that don’t attend church, vote for pro-abortion politicians, don’t raise their children in the faith and condone abortion through their direct support or indirect “I can’t tell anyone what to do with their body” attitudes? Those are the majority of the people claiming to be upset by his ramarks – liberal, non-practicing catholics and non-catholics alike that have been bent on destroying the influence of the church over faith and morals for years. When I hear people like that complaining about things the Pope has done…I automatically assume that he must have done something right to get them angry. Speaking for the practicing Catholics I know (i.e., active in the sacraments, confession, weekly Mass attendance, etc) we are supportive of the Pope and of his authority over the Church given to him by Jesus Christ.



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Jon Greenier

posted March 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm


9. Jesus himself, at the hour of his Passion, prayed “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission. Nor is it some secondary attribute of the community of his disciples. Rather, it belongs to the very essence of this community. God wills the Church, because he wills unity, and unity is an expression of the whole depth of his agape. = Ecumenism! Ecumenism is at the heart of Catholicism! Christian unity is the mission of Ecumenism for God wills all Christians to become one body in Christ! I look forward too one day when Orthodox and members of the SSPX share in one mass with the whole Catholic family.
Pax Tecum.



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Cleveland

posted March 13, 2009 at 7:43 pm


Mr. Gibson, just came across this “Catholic Faith and Culture” site and had to investigate.
What a disappointment; it’s just another blog advertising itself as Catholic, similar to the way another Beliefnet site advertises itself as being about “Conservative politics and religion”. The latter site became a place for homosexuals (God have mercy on them) and political liberals to vent and rant against Conservative politics and religion (i.e., Catholicism) in the context of current events.
I hope your blog fares better, but based on your reaction to Pope Benedict’s letter, there’s no chance.
Why not do the right thing and drop the word Catholic from your subtitle?



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 8:22 pm


Just guessing, but I’d imagine that the pope regularly gores your ox. That doesn’t make him wrong, or you right!



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Chukwuemeka Onyeriri

posted March 13, 2009 at 8:29 pm


David Gibson, please if you have nothing meaningful to write, for heaven’s sake spare your ink and your energy. It makes no sense making unfounded claims and irrational conclusions. The Holy Father in his humility and fatherly example as the Vicar of Christ has done an excellent job by explaining his position even though that it was not really necessary for him to do that. Even our Jewish brothers happily welcomed the letter. There is no doubt, you are among the so-called Catholics (that is, if you are even one in the first place) that are inordinately liberal and hostile to the truth. Don’t lead people astray with your lies. Keep it to yourself; we are tired of reading meaningless articles from people like you who only seek cheap popularity by irrationally attacking the truth, the Church, morality and the Holy Father. Rest your pen, keep quiet and shut up.



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Richard

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:10 pm


Pope Paul VI described the situation we are facing,
at his speech at the end of the Council :
” Profane and secular humanism has shown itself in
its own terrible stature and has in a sense
defined the Council. The religion of God made Man
has come up against the religion of man who makes
himself God. ”
Only a few years after the Council, Pope Paul VI seemed to
have realised that this Council may have indeed been destructive for
the Church :
“ The Church finds herself in an hour of anxiety, a disturbed
period of self-criticism, or what would even better be called
auto-destruction. It is an acute and complicated upheaval,
which nobody could have expected after the Council. It is almost
as if the Church were attacking herself. “
Pope Paul VI, 7 December 1968, Address to the Lombard College
Pope John Paul II Addresses the Bishops
Pope’s address to the bishops of the Northwest in 1998.
“The Eucharist gathers and builds the human community, but it is also ‘the worship of the Divine Majesty’.” That’s from Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 33. He continues: “It is subjective in that it depends radically upon what the worshippers bring to it, but it is objective in that it transcends them as the priestly act of Christ himself to which he associates us, but which ultimately does not depend upon us.”
And Benedict XVI:
SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2007
Cardinal Ratzinger on the New Mass
Here are the words of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) regarding the New Mass:
The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication.They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.
(Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104)
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Reform of the Roman Liturgy (Gamber, 1992)
From the preface to the 1992 French translation of Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Monsignor Klaus Gamber.
“[W]e have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which, with momentary success for the group of liturgical fabricators, strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion and seductive moral maxims. Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the ‘doing’ becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being.”
Cardinal Ratzinger . . .
Blames Church Crisis On Liturgical Collapse
by Paul Likoudis
…”I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy, which at times is actually being conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: as though in the liturgy it did not matter any more whether God exists and whether He speaks to us and listens to us.
Too often, Ratzinger lamented, “the community is only celebrating itself without its being worthwhile to do so.”



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Your Name

posted March 13, 2009 at 9:12 pm


Pope Paul VI described the situation we are facing,
at his speech at the end of the Council :
” Profane and secular humanism has shown itself in
its own terrible stature and has in a sense
defined the Council. The religion of God made Man
has come up against the religion of man who makes
himself God. ”
Only a few years after the Council, Pope Paul VI seemed to
have realised that this Council may have indeed been destructive for
the Church :
“ The Church finds herself in an hour of anxiety, a disturbed
period of self-criticism, or what would even better be called
auto-destruction. It is an acute and complicated upheaval,
which nobody could have expected after the Council. It is almost
as if the Church were attacking herself. “
Pope Paul VI, 7 December 1968, Address to the Lombard College
Pope John Paul II Addresses the Bishops
Pope’s address to the bishops of the Northwest in 1998.
“The Eucharist gathers and builds the human community, but it is also ‘the worship of the Divine Majesty’.” That’s from Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 33. He continues: “It is subjective in that it depends radically upon what the worshippers bring to it, but it is objective in that it transcends them as the priestly act of Christ himself to which he associates us, but which ultimately does not depend upon us.”
And Benedict XVI:
SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2007
Cardinal Ratzinger on the New Mass
Here are the words of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) regarding the New Mass:
The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication.They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.
(Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104)
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Reform of the Roman Liturgy (Gamber, 1992)
From the preface to the 1992 French translation of Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Monsignor Klaus Gamber.
“[W]e have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which, with momentary success for the group of liturgical fabricators, strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion and seductive moral maxims. Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the ‘doing’ becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being.”
Cardinal Ratzinger . . .
Blames Church Crisis On Liturgical Collapse
by Paul Likoudis
…”I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy, which at times is actually being conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: as though in the liturgy it did not matter any more whether God exists and whether He speaks to us and listens to us.
Too often, Ratzinger lamented, “the community is only celebrating itself without its being worthwhile to do so.”



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Michael F Brennan

posted March 14, 2009 at 1:21 am


Mr. Gibson’s article is devoid of comprehension of Pope Benedict’s extraordinary open letter to the world’s bishops. Agenda motivates Gibson while Benedict XVI speaks to charity and common sense.
Michael Brennan
St Petersburg FL



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 14, 2009 at 1:22 am


Benedict Supporter,
David Gibson and I are miles apart on so very many issues, and I have challenged him quite forcefully, but I hope respectfully and charitably. If you read these threads regularly, you would know how forcefully I have challenged him. If I have failed him in charity on these threads, then David, I ask your forgiveness.
You, David and I are all members of the same faith, the same body of Christ. Your diatribe against him tonight may have been cathartic, but it was way over the top. Remember Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians:1-3
“1 Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.
2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.
3 Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.”
Yes, I think David has been pretty harsh on Pope Benedict. But I would love to share a pitcher of beer with him one night in Brooklyn and discuss our respective faith journeys face to face, as brothers in the Lord. No matter what David’s take on things is, I’m acutely aware of my own sins and my need of God’s mercy. That usually drains the poison from my pen.
Go easy Benedict Supporter. The Pope you support would never want you lashing out like this in his name. As Paul said in Ephesians 4:
“1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life worthy of the vocation to which you were called.
2 With all humility and gentleness, and with patience, support each other in love.
3 Take every care to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together.
4 There is one Body, one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God.
5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 and one God and Father of all, over all, through all and within all.
7 On each one of us God’s favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ allotted it.”
God Bless.



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Gina

posted March 14, 2009 at 2:09 am


Gibson, YOU are who is completely out of touch with the Roman Catholic Church. You are so clueless as to what is in fact taking place – you are so ignorant, and obviously not a true Roman Catholic, if you claim to be one. How dare you criticize and offend my Holy Father, Benedict XVI. Who do you think you are? I will tell you who you are, you are the product of precisely what has come out of Vatican II unfortunately, i.e., its distortion, to include disobedience of Church Teachings, disrespect, modernism and relativism.
God bless Pope Benedict XVI for bringing back “Tradition”, to include bringing back the Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine Mass), among many other Treasures of the Church. This will restore reverance, respect and a true sense and knowledge of what is taking place in our Masses, that of the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation (including yours). Many parishioners that exhibit your ill-fated attitude, are completely oblivious when they go to Mass and in matters of Holy Mother Church. The Traditional Treasures of the Church and Traditional Latin Mass are spreading throughout the world once again, despite people with your mindset and attitude. Thank our Lord for our Holy Father!
Before you post an “opinion” on matters of the Roman Catholic Church on FoxNews, we would advise that you seriously educate yourself on Roman Catholicism and not sound so ignorant and liberal. Above all that you never again have the audacity to critize Pope Benedict XVI.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 14, 2009 at 2:53 am


David,
Must be a full moon or something. I can’t believe what I’m reading tonight.
Georgina,
Please read my response to Benedict Supporter above. When Jesus said not even the gates of Hell would prevail against the Church, I’m sure that included left of center bloggers as well ;o)
David is your brother in the Lord. Remember 1 John:
“9 Whoever claims to be in light but hates his brother is still in darkness.
10 Anyone who loves his brother remains in light and there is in him nothing to make him fall away.
11 But whoever hates his brother is in darkness and is walking about in darkness not knowing where he is going, because darkness has blinded him.”
I’m as orthodox a Catholic as you are likely to meet, but for the Love of Jesus we need to LIVE that faith as Paul said in Ephesians, “with perfect humility. Bearing with one another lovingly.” I’m not seeing much of that on this thread from the ‘traditionalists’. It’s gotten beyond strident. It’s gotten downright mean.
Try starting out by praying for the ‘liberals’ and then detailing where they get it wrong and why. And as the old Irish Cop used to say, “Just the facts ma’am. Just the facts.”



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Fr. Vincent

posted March 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm


David,
Despite the defensive posture of the comments above, I simply want to say I appreciated your observations. Only transparency and real dialogue will keep us in the truth. Sadly, the Holy Father acts alone, very isolated in his ivory tower, and is not in “communion” with many of his Bishops and even some Cardinals. To be authentically Catholic, “communion” and “unity” need to go both ways. Yes, we need to be in union with the successor of St. Peter but what would prevent further Papal mistakes is the Spirit’s gift of collegiality…there goes that Vatican II thing again! When collegiality and dialogue are exercised in the Church, there is greater assurance that we are in deed doing the will of God. By acting in his “maverick” fashion, Benedict is treading on dangerous waters. Pope’s do make mistakes outside of official infallible teachings which are rare and limited.



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David Gibson

posted March 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm


Gerard–Beer is on me! Whenever you like. I do appreciate your stiff challenges and also very much the sensibility/spirituality you bring to them. Look, I knew this post would generate heat, and I hope some light, but I wrote it, even after thinking on it some. Perhaps not enough. Perhaps my analysis/opinions/exegesis is wrong. I still stand by what I wrote. The greatest and most likely failing is a lack of charity on my part, imparted in the tone etc. That we must always watch.
But again, I stand by what I wrote, and will clarify more later if anything better comes to me.
I would say (and here I am on the defensive, hopefully without being offensive) that some of the remarks are so over-the-top in any context, but certainly I believe in the context of what I wrote. To a degree these comments hurt Benedict’s cause by doing the very things that he warned against in the letter.
Calling people heretics or wose is simply not a refutation of an argument. Arguments can be refuted–mine, the pope’s (I daresay), anyone’s. But they can be done with substantive ideas and facts.
More later. DG



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Your Name

posted March 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm


On acknowledging things before the Council you speak of a ‘dead horse’. What about the Deposit of Faith is a dead horse?
The SSPX is not schismatic. In the letter, the Holy Father speaks of the danger of schism, in other words it could develop into schism, but is not at the moment.
Once disobedient ‘schismatic act’ does not a full-blown schism make. They have not set up a parallel hierarchy with geographical areas of jurisdiction. If they did, they would be schismatic.
I think that the real fear of many is that these doctrinal discussions are going to happen, and the Magisterium of the Church will make some definitive interpretations, which interpretations will abrogate some progessivist notions. That is the heart of the left’s compaint about the Society. They would much prefer that the Society stay in indeterminate canonical status, far away from the authentic interpretation of what the documents actually say. The superdogma of the ‘Spirit’ of the Council is on its way out. That’s the real fear.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm


Your Name,
With the deepest fraternal respect for members of the SSPX, when all of the Bishops of a society are under excommunication, I would say that the society is in de facto schism. I ask in all sincerity, how does one submit to the authority of Bishops who have been excommunicated?
You are right to point out that the Holy Father has warned of the danger of schism, so technically there is not as yet a defined schism. The society, however has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. One more round of Episcopal Ordinations is all it will take.
If we call ourselves Catholic, then we submit ultimately to Peter; and Peter has spoken on your Bishops. They are excommunicated, but welcome home if they so choose. Should they refuse, you will be declared schismatic. Neither the members of the SSPX, nor the left wing of the Church has had much love for the Conciliar and post-Conciliar Popes. To both, St Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5 has a message:
“12 We appeal to you, my brothers, to be considerate to those who work so hard among you as your leaders in the Lord and those who admonish you.
13 Have the greatest respect and affection for them because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
14 We urge you, brothers, to admonish those who are undisciplined, encourage the apprehensive, support the weak and be patient with everyone.
15 Make sure that people do not try to repay evil for evil; always aim at what is best for each other and for everyone.
16 Always be joyful;
17 pray constantly;”
Easier said than done, but a mandate nonetheless.
God Bless.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm


David,
I’ll take you up on that beer soon enough! I understand the great passions of those who have said some pretty ugly stuff on these threads. They see the Church endangered by the disobedience of the ‘left’. But that’s where faith comes in. And love. We’ve weathered worse over the past 2,000 years. We’ll still be going strong in another 2,000.
I also note how the SSPX do not see their own disobedience. We all have our rationalizations I suppose.
Perhaps I’m just mellowing with age, but increasingly I’ve been drawn to John’s letters. His community too was hungry for new thoughts and theological formulations, which led to much of what we are experiencing today in the way of warring factions. His only admonition was “Little children, love one another.” I think the Church has reached the juncture where we all need to step back, breathe, and consider Paul and John’s words, else all is for nought.
God Bless.



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Your Name

posted March 14, 2009 at 5:05 pm


Fr. Vincent,
You represent yourself as a Roman Catholic Priest, yet your tone and accusations are contradictory to that representation. You say that BXVI’s methods lack transparency and real dialogue, that he is very isolated in his ivory tower, and that he is not in communion with many of his brothers. It is hardly surprising that you appreciated Mr. Gibson’s article.
It appears to me (I hope that I am wrong) that it is you who is lacking in the understanding of the Spirit’s gift of collegiality; you have to be in unity with him, not he with you. Even a side door attack on the Holy Spirit’s spokesman in matters of faith and morals is a very serious thing. Some even accuse the SSPX of that transgression.



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Your Name

posted March 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm


I would maintain that it is the Holy Father’s duty to try and bring SSPX back into the Catholic fold…I would also maintain that most of the public does not know the intricacies of canon law twisted into this circumstance, let alone the Vatican Curia. However, after submitting that yes, a move towards reconciliation has been bungled, and yes, people have been offended, I would also assert that many of our Holy Father’s critics have been waiting to pounce on him for making a mistake…and they have been waiting too long. That’s why there is all this vitriole in the press from the so-called left. Benedict XVI is entirely correct in stating that the social order tends to choose those acceptable to hate while our dear Lord did not. I personally think that he has handled this situation with considerably more grace than I would have!



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Cleveland

posted March 14, 2009 at 9:38 pm


Sorry, the March 14, 2009 5:05 PM post is mine.



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Luca

posted March 15, 2009 at 11:43 am


David,
great post, I agree very much with all the points you make. It greatly saddens me to read all the offensive posts charging you of heresy and of having non-Catholic sentiments for the simple fact that you criticize decisions made by the pope. When will those ultramontanist Catholics learn that their de facto affirmation of the impossibility of correcting the pope, as if he were always right, is a heresy? On the contrary, it should always be kept in mind that the pope is ALWAYS fallible but in the extremely few and circumscribed occasions were he teaches ex cathedra, giving expression to the infallibility of which the whole church (and not just Catholics) is endowed. That’s perhaps, with original sin, the only doctrine of which we have empirical confirmation: Im Italian, and the long uninterrupted list of Italian popes from the sixteenth century to Paul VI has given us not only saints but also very many sinners–and not only during the Renaissance period.
So, thanks again David, and keep up the good work. Im quite convinced your thoughts are representative of the majority of Catholics in Europe and US.



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Christopher Uhl

posted March 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm


Gerald,
(I an the ‘Your Name’ you answered.)
In Response to your first paragraph, on excommunication and ‘authority’ of the SSPX bishops.
1. Excommunication, as the Holy Father notes in his letter, is about individuals, not institutes. It is about the individual sinner and has nothing to do with schism.
2. The SSPX bishops as bishops do not exercise any authority; they are like auxiliary bishops, not ordinaries. Bishop Fellay exercises authority because he has been elected Superior General. The previous SG was Fr. Schmidtberger, who at the time excercised authority over the bishops. The bishops only wield authority only insofar as they hold an office in the Society structure, any of which could be held by a priest. (Of course, there is a particular respect owed to Bishops as successors of the Apostles.)
About the banana peel:
1. The Holy Father, in his letter, makes reference to the help the Society will be to the Church. As far as dogma is concerned, the SSPX is undeniably closer to the Magisterium than many bishops and priests in ‘full’ communion.
Although we disagree, I appreciate your respectful tone, and I think you for refraining from ad hominem attacks from which the author of the original article was unable to refrain.



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Gerard Nadal

posted March 15, 2009 at 4:07 pm


Hi Christopher,
Thanks for the feedback. I agree with you on the SSPX being closer to the Magisterium than, say, the Women’s Eucharistic Congress. Or other fellow travelers. No need to thank me for the respectful tone, I genuinely respect the Society at a host of different levels. And I agree that there are more pretenders who claim communion with Rome.
I do question the completeness of your explanation of the role your Society’s Bishops play. Auxiliaries do not ordain Bishops outside of Papal approval. That is an excommunicatable offense. They also do not ordain Priests outside of the approval of the Local Ordinary. Yes, the Pope was quite correct in pointing out that excommunication is for individuals and not groups of people.
I wonder though if you are not taking refuge in juridical technicalities. Were I a member of the society who accepted the authority of Peter, I would have cautioned Archbishop Lefebvre that I would no longer be a member of a society whose Bishops were excommunicated. Were all the members to have shown such fraternal concern, I doubt he would have crossed that line.
It seems to me, and if I am wrong I beg your forgiveness and correction, that there is an ambivalence within the society about accepting Papal Authority. Like so many on the left, it seems that the Society will only submit to an authority that reflects their wants, needs and desires. In the end, such individuals really are recognizing no authority but themselves. Welcome to the Fall of Man recapitulated.
My prayer is Jesus’ prayer in John’s Gospel, ‘That all may be one, just as you and I Father are one. As Catholics, be it the SSPX, Me, David, whomever, oneness means submission to Peter’s Authority. The more highly educated we become, the harder that is to do. But the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer depends upon it.
God Bless.



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Your Name

posted March 16, 2009 at 9:45 am


Mr. Gibson,
I appreciate the charity you have shown in your dialog of your posts here. May I offer my humble observations of your article and post with regard to you and your spiritual journey. It would appear to me that this Pope does not offer answers to your questions, he does not give you what you need spritually. That’s okay. He can not be all things to all people. I sense an internal struggle with your own spiritualality, and I want to unite myself to you in your suffering by offering up my own sufferings in prayer. As I know what it feels like to struggle with faith. Stay with us brother. Gerard seems to be knowledgable enough to help you. As for the rest of “us” here, I pray we all remember that Catholic Church means here comes everybody. That means EVERYBODY with all our sins, failures, and wrong interpretations of theology. (I will not use the words left or right as those terms pertain to politics and therefore have no place in the Church) I am also not condoning relativism, because Truth is still Truth even if I don’t know it or understand it. But we must be humble and always examine our own consciences. We can not confess the sins of our neighbors, only our own. Please try to remember this when you write something next time. You hold a position of great influence when you post your comments for all to see, and you do not want to be responsible for misleading anyone out of their faith. Many good people struggle with their faith, not because they can’t be as devout as you, but because God has allowed their struggle in order to bring about a greater good. God have mercy on ALL our poor struggling souls. I pray God’s will be done with this, for His Glory alone.



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David Martin

posted August 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm


The reforms of the Second Vatican Council have no continuity with the past, nor were they guided by the Holy Spirit, nor are they esteemed by Benedict XVI nor were they the work of Paul VI or his predecessor but were the work of satan who “entered the temple of God” through the Vatican II Council. (Paul VI, June 29, 1972)



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