Skip to comments.Mending fences at the Vatican
Posted on 09/05/2005 4:44:09 AM PDT by NYer
The Vatican has, in the past few weeks, been involved in two different exercises of fence-mending. One front was that opened with traditionalist Catholics after Vatican II. The other front was the very recent breach with Israel.
The latter seems to be the easier one. It was nothing more than "a storm in a teacup", said the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, when describing Israel's recent diplomatic incident with the Holy See. These comments refer to July's conflict that arose when representatives of Israel's government publicly accused Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI for not having condemned terrorist attacks against Israelis.
The diplomatic clash began on July 25, when the Israeli foreign ministry harshly criticised Pope Benedict for failing to condemn terrorist attacks on Israel. The Pope, at his Angelus audience the previous day, had mentioned the attacks that had occurred "in recent days", listing several countries struck by terrorist bombings.
Vatican officials replied that the Pope's statement on terrorism had been a blanket condemnation, which would certainly include attacks on Israel. The most recent suicide bombing there, they pointed out, had occurred more than a week earlier, so that it was not among the attacks "in recent days".
However, the controversy was further ignited on July 26, when an Israeli official complained that the Vatican has never condemned Palestinian terrorism. Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls released a statement charging that the Israeli protest was "counter to historical truth". Citing a long list of the "numerous and public" statements in which Pope John Paul had decried terrorism, the Vatican spokesman said that Israel's complaints "can advantage only those who seek to foment hostility and conflict."
Ambassador Ben-Hur had sought a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano, bringing a signed message from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The meeting was "positive and amicable," the ambassador said, and Cardinal Sodano, after reading Sharon's letter in his presence, was "very satisfied". The cardinal promised to relay the letter to Pope Benedict, he reported. Cardinal Sodano announced that the dispute was now "closed and resolved, and behind us," Ben-Hur said. The Israeli ambassador added that he was "satisfied and content" with the outcome of his meeting.
All's well that ends well... and one hopes remains well.
The other attempt at reconciliation with the traditionalist Catholics of the schismatic Society of St Pius X (SSPX) did not come to such a speedy positive conclusion, as it is a much tougher nut to crack. Benedict XVI met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior-general of SSPX, on August 29. Cardinal Francesco Pompedda, the former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, told the Italian daily La Stampa that full communion with the Lefebvrists can only be achieved "if the SSPX submits itself to the legitimate authority of the Pope" and recognises the validity of Vatican II decrees.
The disagreements between the Vatican and the SSPX can be traced back to the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the society, was sharply critical of Vatican II statements on ecumenism and religious liberty, and of the liturgical reforms that followed the Council. In 1970, the French-born prelate founded the Society of St Pius X, a priestly fraternity dedicated to the exclusive use of the Tridentine rite, which had been the universal form of the Latin Mass since the Council of Trent in the 16th century.
The archbishop had ecclesiastical approval for establishing the SSPX. But then he took a further step without Vatican approval, founding his own seminary at Econe, Switzerland, to train priests for the society. After a series of warnings from Rome, in 1976 he was suspended a divinis - that is, stripped of his permission to administer the sacraments. Archbishop Lefebvre continued to lead the SSPX in defiance of that suspension.
The traditionalist leader then announced that he was committed to ordaining a bishop to succeed him, from the ranks of the SSPX. Pope John Paul II personally wrote to Lefebvre, forbidding the step and warning that the unauthorised ordination of bishops would be a schismatic act. Nevertheless Archbishop Lefebvre remained defiant, consecrating four SSPX members (including Bishop Fellay) as bishops on June 30, 1988.
On July 2, 1988, Pope John Paul issued the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, declaring the SSPX leader guilty of schism and thus excommunicated, along with the bishops he had ordained.
Negotiations with SSPC were on and off on several occasions. There was even a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1999. In January 2002 there were fresh rays of hope, as the Vatican successfully achieved a reconciliation with another traditionalist group, the Society of St Jean Vianney in Campos, Brazil. For a brief time, rumours flew around Rome that a separate agreement with the SSPX would soon be reached. This did not happen. The election of Benedict XVI was also seen by traditionalists as a promising event; Bishop Fellay referred to it as "a gleam of hope".
Following the meeting with Pope Benedict, Fer Franz Schmidberger, the principal assistant to Bishop Fellay at the SSPX, gave a very different interpretation of the situation than that given by Pompedda. He said that the SSPX is already in communion with the universal Church, because "we consider ourselves in union with the Church and her tradition, with the rite that has been celebrated for centuries, with all the saints in heaven."
The path to reconciliation is long and difficult but one hopes that it would be possible to walk it till the end.
Stating the obvious. There it is ... in black and white.
Nice touch. Delightful term. May I use it, with proper attribution, of course? Where did you get it? Why not jactation? Iactus? Iactitas? I haven't checked the to dictionary to see if there's a difference. Save me the trouble and explain.
" "if the SSPX submits itself to the legitimate authority of the Pope" and recognises the validity of Vatican II decrees.
Stating the obvious. There it is ... in black and white."
There it is indeed.
A colloquial way to render it in English would be to engage in "pushiness" or "self-projection."