Friday, March 06, 2009

Former Catholic Ultraconservatives Again Refuse to Accept Second Vatican Council

It appears that Pope Benedict XVI's effort to reconcile the Society of St. Pius X (devotees of the late schismatic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre) with the Catholic Church has hit the same obstacle that blocked outreach attempts by previous pontiffs: the Vatican insists that they must accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in full, but the former Catholic ultraconservatives still decline to do so.

So says a report from Catholic News Service, linked by the National Catholic Reporter. It reports that self-styled bishop Bernard Fellay, Lefebvre's successor as head of SSPX and one of the five Lefebvre-consecrated bishops whose excommunication Benedict lifted, remains "not ready to accept Vatican II."

Evidently SSPX and the five bishops have misread Benedict: they see the pope's outreach as an opportunity to negotiate with Rome about which Vatican II teachings the pope should overrule.

Fortunately, it appears that Benedict may finally gotten the point that overruling anything solemnly taught by the bishops and pope at Vatican II is not within the scope of his authority. Let us pray that he will be steadfast in the position that Vatican II is non-negotiable.

2 comments:

John K. said...

"Fortunately, it appears that Benedict may finally gotten the point that overruling anything solemnly taught by the bishops and pope at Vatican II is not within the scope of his authority. Let us pray that he will be steadfast in the position that Vatican II is non-negotiable."

Yeah, we can't have popes or bishops questioning the wisdom of what previous popes and bishops have done, or thinking that the decisions of the past are negotiable or changeable. They must abide by the precedents and traditions of the past. oh wait ...

Do you even have an inkling of how self-contradictory your last paragraph is?

Gerald T Floyd said...

John K finds it contradictory that I heartily approve of Vatican II changing prior church teachings, yet heartily deny the authority of subsequent popes to do the same to the teachings of Vatican II.

In this he is in apparent agreement with the conclusion of my doctoral dissertation (also linked here) that the church of one generation cannot exercise the freedom to develop novel church teachings and then deny that freedom to the church of later generations.

However, my position is consistent with my dissertation and with what I have written on this blog, because of who actually did the teaching at Vatican II.

Vatican II was a one of those rare moments in church history where the faithful, Catholic theologians, the bishops and the pope achieved and proclaimed consensus on a large variety of issues. The range of topics addressed at one council was unprecedented.

I do agree that Vatican II cannot be the last word on any topic--because no church teaching can ever be. Novel theological discussion will eventually place specific Vatican II teachings within new limits.

But the point is that to work such change, novel theological proposals must compete to achieve the same level of church-wide consensus as Vatican II achieved.

A mere flick of the papal wrist in opposition to a Vatican II teaching is nowhere near sufficient. If a pope wishes to move beyond a specific Vatican II teaching, he must persuade the bishops, the theologians and the faithful that he is correct. Otherwise, he is pretending to a unilateral authority that no pope has.

John K describes himself as a left-leaning libertarian Quaker. If anything, I would think my position would make more sense to him than an argument that a pope may teach definitively whatever the pope wishes to teach, without regard to the other sources of teaching authority in the churches.