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Friday, 13 April 2012

SSPX accept more of Vatican II's teaching than modernist theologians


Just who exactly is more opposed to the actual teaching of Vatican II as found in the texts of the Council?

Sandro Magister today offered comments and published an article by John R T Lamont (For the Lefebvrists, It's the Last Call to the Sheepfold.) Lamont uses a response to the Holy See by Fr Jean-Michel Gleize FSSPX to summarise the difficulties that the SSPX has with a few texts from Vatican II. He then lists a number of conciliar texts on the scriptures, the Church, the Eucharist and marriage and points out that in fact the SSPX accept all of these and that far more of the teaching of Vatican II than many theologians in Europe, North America, and Australasia. He then says:
The vast majority of theologians in Catholic institutions in Europe, North America, and Australasia would reject most or all of these teachings. These theologians are followed by the majority of religious orders and a substantial part of the bishops in these areas. It would be difficult, for example, to find a Jesuit teaching theology in any Jesuit institution who would accept a single one of them. The texts above are only a selection from the teachings of Vatican II that are rejected by these groups; they could be extended to many times the number.

Such teachings however form part of the 95% of Vatican II that the FSSPX accepts. Unlike the 5% of that council rejected by the FSSPX, however, the teachings given above are central to Catholic faith and morals, and include some of the fundamental teachings of Christ himself.
I think that Lamont exaggerates. Nowadays there are plenty of Catholic theologians around (including ones who write articles with lots of footnotes in expensive journals) who accept the basics of Catholic teaching and happily subscribe to all of the listed texts of Vatican II. Nevertheless, he is right that there are plenty who don't, and it would still be hard to say which group is in the majority.

During the Year of Faith, I am sure that there will be many talks that will illustrate just how clearly the texts of Vatican II are on many basic issues of the faith, including, for example, the infallibility of the Pope - a text not even included in Lamont's list. I think it will become ever more difficult for popular modernists to claim the support of Vatican II for their outlandish opposition to the magisterium. The Catholic blogosphere has been one influence prompting students to look at the texts themselves.

The go-to blog for news of the Vatican-SSPX negotiations has always been Rorate Caeli. Today they have an article from La Croix, the semi-official news service of the French episcopate. Although one could not describe it as enthusiastic, the article is balanced in a way that would have been scarcely conceivable only a few years ago.

There is a real possibility that we could have news of an agreement quite soon. There is also the real possibility that it could drag on for months. I would quibble with Sandro Magister's "last call to the sheepfold" headline. For one thing, in the Catholic Church there is no last call to the sheepfold this side of death. If this attempt fails, there are sure to be further initiatives from Rome in the future.

And as Lamont's article shows, the SSPX already have more credibility as members of the sheepfold than many dissident theologians and bishops. Before anyone jumps in, let me say that I am most definitely not suggesting that you can pick and choose which teachings of Vatican II you accept. What we are allowed to do is to say that the controversial passages of Vatican II must be understood and interpreted in continuity with the traditional teaching of the Church. Many who bandy around the name of Vatican II as a slogan have no scruples at all about rejecting outright many doctrines that it clearly taught, especially concerning the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.
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