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Saturday, January 24, 2009



It is a beautiful thing!

Deacon Harold

This is great! However, I want to be sure I understand what has actually happened (Dr. Peters, help me out!) :-)

Part of the "Inside the Vatican" article states, "The following day it was announced by Cardinal Bernardin Gantin ... that all six men had incurred excommunication latae sententiae (automatic excommunication), the penalty laid down in the revised Code of Canon Law, Canon 1382, for directly participating in an episcopal consecration in the absence of a papal mandate."

So the excommunication has been lifted. Does this also mean that the SSPX is now defunct and in full communion with the Catholic Church?

Jeff Grace

I'm not so sure this is good news but I'm withholding dismay until I hear more, such as why the excommunications were lifted. For instance, did the repent?


Isn't Williamson a 9/11 "Truther"?

M. L. Hearing

Yeah, I saw that too, but I'm still ambivalent about it. If these guys really are schismatics and if they haven't recanted what put them in schism, well then . . . But, on the other hand, if this is another of the Holy Father's efforts to de-Protestantize and re-Catholicize the Church, then it may be a good move. I really don't know enough to have a solid opinion, but it's interesting nonetheless. We'll see what develops.

Janet Baker

Recanted? But they have nothing to recant! They differ in nothing from traditional Catholicism, not in liturgy, not in teaching. That is why the lifting of the excommunication was without any strings at all. They do differ, did differ, from the changes VII attempted to put in place, changes which protestantized the Church, as one poster wrote, and which must now be "explained" in tradition--that is, wiped out! SSPX, the priests and faithful, will an enormous asset in the struggle to come. The Church is the great beneficiary in this exchange. What faithful they will reap! I went to mass for some years in Guadalajara, Mexico, where there is an active SSPX congregation in spite of persecution by the local church. There are SSPX chapels throughout Mexico. The piety of the people is really remarkable. I have not visited the chapels in the US except the one I go to west of Chicago, where the people enjoy excellent sermons that challenge them to grow spiritually through prayer and good works, and who further enjoy and participate intensely in that beautiful Catholic liturgy. The Church will only benefit here. It's just wonderful news.

Ed Peters

JB: Bp. Fellay's 24 Jan letter talks about his (their?) "reservations about Vatican II." You're not concerned about that? Suppose I went around saying "I accept all the ecumenical councils, except in regard to Trent, about which I have some reservations."

Janet Baker

Then it should stand up to clarification, I suppose is the theological answer. But are you yourself not aware of the enormous differences in practice between before VII and after, regarding ecumanism, to name only one? Just take the teaching on limbo, for example. A theological group met--it is not Church doctrine,from this meeting infallibly (nor is VII, for that matter--it was a pastoral council only)--and eliminated limbo; they said unborn deceased babies went to heaven. That's a huge change, and a very practical one. I mean, it changes people's behavior. Those who really work to oppose abortion (as I do, working as a 'sidewalk counselor') know it is a mental escape clause to justify one's sin, and is used. We have also departed from tradition regarding Christ the King, the Catholic state, who gets saved--those differences can be demonstrated, and it must be discussed. If vocations were up, if Europe (and the US) were not repaganizing, well, then, moot point, I suppose. But this is not the case. Perhaps you will do a little reading and defend VII with specifics? Wrong is wrong: it can be argued and healed. Popes have been wrong, even. I'm not a theologian but anyone with a Catholic education knows, this is not tradition.

Carl E. Olson

Janet: Perhaps you are unaware that Dr. Peters is one of the finest canon lawyers in the U.S., and teaches at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, which has a sterling reputation as a Catholic institution. But even if he was an uneducated plumber from Toledo, your comments betray a very simplistic and faulty understanding of a number of things, especially the Second Vatican Council.

Comments such as, "Perhaps you will do a little reading and defend VII with specifics?" are, at best, condescending. As someone who has read and studied the VII documents, I find it sad. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have explained, in various ways, how an essential distinction must be made between what is actually in the documents and what was sometimes done in the name of those documents, or even in the name of the "spirit of Vatican II." A great example, for instance, is the issue of ad orientum: the documents never state that the priest should face the people throughout the Mass. Yet the vast majority of folks, both Catholic and non-Catholic, believe the Council made that change.

As for limbo, the Vatican's International Theological Commission did not say that all unborn babies automatically go the heaven; it said "there are good reasons to hope that babies who die without being baptized go to heaven." Simply put, we don't know for certain, but we hope in the mercy of God Almighty. Limbo, as you must know, was never a dogmatically defined article of doctrine; it was a theological theory about what might happen to babies who died before birth.

Dr. Peters' question is a legitimate one. There are a lot of questions about this lifting of excommunication; it will take time and patience to get a better grasp of what is happening and what might happen.

Ed Peters

btw folks, happy 50th anniversary of J23's announcing of his intentions to hold a Roman Synod, reform the P-B Code, and convoke the 23rd ecumenical council. a great day it was.



It is true that Vatican II - unlike the previous ecumenical councils - issued no definitions and cast no anathemas. In this respect, it was different.

It is also true that, like many other Councils, the wording of its documents was not always felicitous (Pope Benedict is on record criticizing the wording of Gaudium et Spes in more than one section), and afterwards prone to misinterpretation (sometimes deliberately).

But it remains a valid ecumenical council of the universal church. Twenty-nine hundred bishops, which is to say virtually every bishop then serving, attended and voted. A reigning pontiff called the council and presided over it. There is just no getting around that. It will not do, as at least one SSPX bishop has suggested, that we simply act as if it never happened.

Yes, the Church has been through a disastrous time since 1965, one of the most difficult times in its history. But given what has been happening in the wider culture - from which the Church is not hermetically sealed off - some of that was, alas, almost certainly inevitable.

Beyond that, I second what Carl Olson has said above.

Janet Baker

SSPX has a list of doctrinal questions for discussion. It hurts nothing to discuss them. Clarification won't hurt anyone. No, I was not aware of the credentials of the commentor. What says he on the document produced about limbo?

By the way, I am not credentialed, just a person who observed what happened as Catholicism imploded, from the pew. My only right to speak is that I care about it very much. And I only speak for myself. But people who are apparently similarly well educated in these matters dispute some of the assertions here. And from the pew, you can't beat an SSPX parish. In the church, it's all God. From the pulpit, it's traditional Catholicism, always directed toward spiritual growth.

But even though I know nothing, it seems that no matter how many bishops sign off on a given document, it cannot deviate from tradition. Where it does, they messed up. They had to have! Wasn't St. Athanasius --San Atanasio is how I actually know it--fighting at least practically the whole church at the time? Wasn't he excommunicated? Run out of town on a rail, so to speak? And yet he was right. Don't they say, the Church will always get it right--over time?


Well said, Janet. You certainly can't beat an SSPX parish, from the pulpit, the mass itself,the sermons, their traditonal teachings, the teachings of the catechism (remember them?), regular confessions, etc etc, and most importantly the priests and the parishioners. They and the way they live their lives are the reason I converted to Catholicism and the SSPX about 3 years ago.
And lets face it, when you look at the big picture, these people were excommunicated for the crime of...well...being Catholic!
Wonderful news.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Sorry Carl: it was Not the vast majority of folks that decided to have the priest facing the faithful.... it was the bunch of priests and the beurocracy in some 'progressive' dioceses that induced the people to do so. We need to go back to the meeting in Cobo Hall in Detroit back in the 70's where all these changes started .

Carl E. Olson

Sorry Carl: it was Not the vast majority of folks that decided to have the priest facing the faithful

No need to apologize since that is not what I said.

Ed Peters

"...these people were excommunicated for the crime of...well...being Catholic!"

Just keep chattering on Noel. You're right in step with the Press Releases I've seen coming from the SSPX the last day or two, and man, are they ever eye-poking the Church again. This L'OR article we've been told to watch for better come out soon. It's becoming harder and harder to see how this remission of censures is going to be cogently explained.

Ever Curious

The SSPX is fascinating and is populated by some of the worlds finest minds. However, it is imperative that we research the views of these Bishops regarding the holocaust. See Bishop Williamson on You Tube and listen to his views about Jews not dying in gas chambers. Interesting but frightening.


In lifting the excommunication of the SSPX Bishops (the SSPX priests and parishioners received no excommunication), Benedict has shown himself to be genuinely merciful and honestly intelligent. Humility is the virtue that is being exemplified here. If it leads, as I hope it will, to a sanitization of even some of our hypocritical chancery offices and bishops who preach charity to and drool Satanic venom on the faithful, it will also qualify as an overdue act of Wisdom.


"My only right to speak is that I care about it very much."

No. This is pure sentimentality. You'd have a right to speak even if you didn't care about it at all. Reject Oprahism.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto


Thanks, I stand corrected; obviously I didn't read it well.


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