Skip to comments.Integrism's Facade and the Magisterium
Posted on 07/10/2006 7:07:12 AM PDT by radtrad2006
Integrism's Facade and the
By Stephen Hand
we are witnesses today of a new integralism [read: extreme traditionalism] that may seem to support what is strictly Catholic but in reality corrupts it to the core. It produces a passion of suspicions, the animosity of which is far from the spirit of the gospel. There is an obsession with the letter that regards the liturgy of the Church as invalid [read: not legitimate or theologically suspect] and thus puts itself outside the Church. It is forgotten here that the validity of the liturgy depends primarily, not on specific words, but on the community of the Church; under the pretext of Catholicism, the very principle of Catholicism is denied, and, to a large extent, custom is substituted for truth. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology (1982), p. 377
It should be remembered that the above quote by the man who was later to become pope, was written in 1982, and the context was the rebellion against the Second Vatican Council initiated largely by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who in 1970 founded the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
Lefevbre, who signed all the documents of Vatican II (the photo archives give the lie to his later claims), had retired as Vicar Apostolic of Dakar in Senegal and as Apostolic Delegate to French Africa.
Upon retirement, and after giving his blessing to the final decisions of the Council, Lefebvre, like many, became disillusioned with the Council's implementation worldwide, and with the 1970 reform of the Roman Missal.
Whereas the Second Vatican Council, like all councils in history, consisted of different bishops with different agendas---some not in sympathy with Catholic doctrine---it is Catholic teaching , de fide, that an ecumenical Council is, in the end, protected by the Holy Spirit (1) from promulgating erreoneous doctrines and teachings(2).
"The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council." ----Catechism of the Catholic Church, emphasis ours
The final outcome is, and must be, according to the Catholic Faith, orthodox, pure doctrine, even if traditional teachings are developed further: As the Council of Trent stated very plainly in a principle that reaches even beyond the Mass and sacraments:
"The Holy Council [of Trent] declares moreover: The Church has always had, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being saved, the power to decide or to modify what she judges better to suit the spiritual utility of those who receive them or with respect to the sacraments themselves, according to the variety of circumstances, times and places. The Council of Trent, Dz 1728; also Dz Herder ed, 1955, #931, p. 256 " "
This has always been the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. And as long as Archbishop Lefebvre stuck to criticizing abuses of the Council's teachings and implementation he was on safe ground. He was certainly correct, as almost everyone admits, to deplore the way the reformed missal (the new Mass) was forced on the People of God without regard for the concerns---both practical and spiritual---who were attached to the Latin Mass of the Tridentine reform.
Lefebvre and Ratzinger / Benedict XVI
No one has been more clear on this point of the Mass (and the way it was implemented) than the present pope, whose words, cited above, were directed against Lefebvre. So what was the difference between the consistent criticisms of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on this matter and those criticisms of the late Marcel Lefebvre? The difference amounted to a chasm which Ratzinger said "corrupts the ...very principle of Catholicism... to the core".
Under the influence of reckless advisors who flattered an old man as the new "Athanasius", Lefebvre went in time from fair and legitimate criticism to actually attributing errors and false teachings to the living magisterium itself in an official eumenical Council, suggesting the Pope and all the bishops with him, could officially promulgate false doctrine (ecumenism, religious liberty, etc., which they judge via their own private judgement to be ruptures with, and not developments of, Tradition!) The very name of his new organization was deliberately an affront to the Church since St. Pius X was best known for his war against theological modernism which had become fashionable in parts of Catholicism in the late 19th century.
For Lefebvre the pope and magisterium itself had succumbed to modernism and promulgated it officially as Church doctrine. This is impossible, de fide, per perrenial Catholic teaching, and would indeed be the undoing of the Church, the "very principle of Catholicism" as Cardinal Ratzinger said. It would grossly violate the Church's teachings on the indefectibility of the Faith. This is why such gross ignorance is so serious. They cut off the branch they are sitting on! No. They saw off the very trunk which is the tree of Life (Jn 15)
Benedict XVI, our Pope and his predecessor were part of the Council and knew the mind of the fathers in their final documents. The magisterium has always interpreted for the faithful the teachings of Church councils, clearing up and clarifying with official documents and teaching any misinterpretations, ambiguities, and the like which may arise. But Lefebvre's arrogance---again fueled by the flattery of the sycophants around him, who I am convinced manipulated him from start to finish and likely ghost-wrote his books or substantial parts of them---grew. In time, refusing all Church direction and distinctions, the Archbishop grew wild in his denunciations:
"The Chair of Peter and the positions of authority in Rome are occupied by antichrists." --- Dossier sur les Consécrations Episcopales, ---Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre August 28th, 1987. And On June 15, 1988, the same Archbishop declared in a conference that John Paul II "is not Catholic."
One could endlessly multiply the references. And the dogmatic implications are grave. Eventually Lefebvre, acting like a pope, ordained four new bishops against the directions of the Church, and was, sadly, excommunicated. He had not understood the relationship between sacred Tradition and the living magisterium in Catholic Theology:
"The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church, or, if it is preferred, the present thought of the Church in continuity with her traditional thought, which is for it the final criterion, according to which the living magisterium adopts as true or rejects as false the often obscure and confused formulas which occur in the monuments of the past. Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings--she judges them more than she is judged by them....There is, therefore in the Church progress of dogma, progress of theology, progress to a certain extent of faith itself, but this progress does not consist in the addition of fresh information nor the change of ideas. What is believed has always been believed, but in time it is more commonly and thoroughly understood and explicitly expressed."--- Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912, Tradition and Living Magisterium
And the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 892. on the Ordinary Magisterium:
"Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a definitive manner, they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful are to adhere with religious assent, which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it."
"...in the Catholic Church the principle of "tradition" refers, not only and not even in the first place, to the permanency of ancient doctrines or texts which have been handed down, but to a certain way of co-ordinating the living word of the Church and the decisive written word of scripture."
And Benedict XVI:
..."tradition" means above all, that the Church, living in the form of the apostolic succession with the Petrine office at its center, is the place in which the Bible is lived and interpreted in a way that binds. This interpretation forms a historical continuity, settng fixed standards but never reaching a final point at which it belongs only to the past. "Revelation" is closed but interpretation which binds is not. There can be no appeal against the ultimate binding force of interpretation. So tradition is essentially marked by the "living voice" --i.e. by the obligatory nature of the universal Church." ( ----Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism & Politics, Crossroad NY, pp. 79-80, 1988)
Tradition is not petrified wood ----texts which judge the living magisterium. It is the living magisterium which judges what is Tradition and what is not, what is only "accidental" as the scholastics referred to it. This is why radtrads (lumped together in chatrooms mocking the law of contradiction as Grunerites, Feeeneyites, Remnantites, SSPX'ers, Sedevacantists, independents, and so on...) cannot even decide on what Tradition is! They have no competence and apostolic authority to do so. It is only the apostolic authority which is ordained by Jesus Christ which is commissioned to make such discerments within the mass of the monuments of the past! The divine "whatsoever" which was given to Peter, the Rock, as "keys" (See Matt 16:18-20) is ordained to the future, indeed for all time.
The Confusion Persists
The grave confusion persists. Very recently (July 2006) Thomas Woods, one of the authors of a reckless book ( The Great Facade) published a few years ago in response to the criticisms of this writer, said:
I also defend The Great Facade from foolish but all-too-typical crticism by someone who obviously hadn't read it. I have never had much desire to be lectured about positions I have nowhere advanced.
On almost every scandal discussed in TGF, the authors were beaten to the punch by some cardinal or some serious observer...
Woods, like Lefebvre, to this day, fails, at least when he is among integrists, to make the distinctions between mere criticism of abuses and attributing downright errors and heresies to the living magisterium as teaching Church (positions he most assuredly advanced!). Thus his very recent assessment of that book ---after telling others, out of the other side of his mouth, who are not sympathetic to such irresponsible and reckless "criticism," that he wants to dissociate himself from the "amateur" theology and criticisms found in that book and in the group which published it---misses the entire crux of the matter. Which is it?
The Great Facade was written in defense of a manifesto which declared:
"In our view a possible future declaration of a sede vacante ("the period of time when the Apostolic See is empty, as a consequence of the heresy of the Pope, Catholic Family News, 7/2000) would take place automatically when the Church would become aware of the gravity of the present day errors and who is responsible for them." - We Resist The Pope To His Face, V.3 (emphasis ours)
St. Thomas wrote:
"The essence of schism lies in rebelliously disobeying the commandments [of the Church]; I say rebelliously because the Schismatic shows obstinate scorn for the Church's commandments and refuses to submit to her Judgment." (Summa Theologiae IIA, IIae 39, emphasis ours).
Private Judgement for extreme traditionalists trumps "her judgement" every time; this is why their chat rooms are filled with unmasked hatred, rants, and arrogance against orthodox distinctions, "far from the spirit of the gospel" (Ratzinger at top); for schism is a sin against unity and charity, and soon the love of private judgement turns into the love of self and waxes very cold, as Integrists join the forces and powers of a culture of death in persecuting the only principle of Catholic unity, the successor of Peter (Matt 16:18f). Still, the Church never gives up hope for those who have left her and who presume to tell her what the Catholic faith is and what she teaches.
(1)"We might say that heaven and earth are united in the holding of the Council -- the saints of heaven to protect our work, the faithful of the earth continuing in prayer to the Lord, and you, seconding the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order that the work of all may correspond to the modern expectations and needs of the various peoples of the world." ---John XXIII, Opening speech to the Council
(2) This protection of the Holy Spirit does not amount to any council being verbally inspired; it only assures the teaching of true doctrine protected from errors and heresies.
(1) From the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910, on Infallibility
Cardinal Ratzinger said years ago, 'what devastated the Church during the last decade was not the Council, but the refusal to receive it' --- Principes de Theologie Catholique (=Principes) (Paris, 1983), p. 437
Jacques Maritain spoke of a 'neo-Modernist fever.... compared to which the Modernism of Pius X's time was only a modest hay-fever'. While thanking God for Vatican II, he described with alarm an 'imminent apostasy' falsely identified with the 'spirit of the Council' or the 'spirit of John XXIII'. ---The Peasant of the Garonne, ET (London, 1968), p.6.
The post-conciliar crisis of the Catholic Church coincides with a global spiritual crisis of mankind, at least in the western world; it is not right to present all that has convulsed the Church in recent years as if it had been produced by the Council. ---Cardinal Ratzinger Principes . p 414
The Final Report of the 1985 Synod speaks of a lack of spiritual discernment. A 'failure to distinguish correctly between a legitimate openness of the Council to the world and the acceptance of a secularised world's mentality and order of values'. --- Quoted in John Saward's Christ the Light of the Nations
The Council's documents themselves are never guilty of false optimism. The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World is sometimes accused of that, yet its opening words speak not only of the 'joy and hope' of the men in our time but also of their 'grief and anguish'. It speaks in several places about the Devil and about 'the monumental struggles against the powers of darkness (which) pervades the whole history of man'. Then again it points to the many dimensions of 'the world': 'created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ' ibid ---Gaudium et Spes, GS, nfl. 1, 2. 37.
( John Saward: We must be deeply grateful to the Holy Father for continually reminding us of our need to renounce the 'spirit of the world' and for his restatement of the Church's teaching about the personal reality of Satan and the other fallen angels, who were created good by God but became evil by their own free action. Satan has been definitively defeated by the Son of God, who became man, suffered, died and rose again in order to destroy the works of the devil, but he and his demons remain active and constantly tempt man to join their rebellion against God. In the power of Christ, with the weapons and armour He provides, we must constantly struggle against these invisible enemies (cf Eph. 6.12ff). The Holy Father, in his catechetical address for 13 August 1986, spoke of Satan's presence 'in the history of humanity' and his infernally clever strategy of inducing people to deny his existence so that he can get on with his wickedness undetected. The Pope concluded with a prayer: '0 Lord, let us not fall into the infidelity to which we are seduced by the one who has been unfaithful from the beginning' ( OR , 18/8/86. P.2).
So then, it is essential that, in Cardinal Ratzinger's words, we 'return to the authentic texts of the original Vatican I1'. --- Report, p. 31.
What we need to do is 'not suppress the Council, but discover the real Council and investigate at depth what its true will was'. --- Principes, p.437.
'the Council must be understood in continuity with the great tradition of the Church, and at the same time we must receive light from the Council's own doctrine for today's Church and the men of our time. The Church is one and the same throughout all the Councils' ---Final Report, Synod 1985, FR 1. 5.
Lumen Gentium explains in its first paragraph that its exposition of the mystery of the Church is based on 'the tradition laid down by earlier Councils', and at the beginning of its chapter on the hierarchical constitution of the Church we are told that the sacred synod intends to 'follow in the steps of the First Vatican Council'. --- LG 1 & 18.
Vatican II was a Council of tradition. Its debt to the Church's living past can be seen in the copious footnotes to its documents. In Lumen Gentium there are well over one hundred and thirty references to the Fathers of the Church. Then again there is its use of the ordinary teaching of the Popes of the twentieth century. Over the last thirty years, we have constantly heard superficial contrasts made between the teaching of Pius XII and that of the Council. It is salutary, therefore, to discover that Pope Pius is quoted more frequently in the conciliar texts than any other single source apart from Sacred Scriptures. (For example, there are eleven references to his teaching in the first two chapters of LG alone.)
'Obviously one who holds fast to Church teaching as to an infallible rule of faith gives assent to all that the Church teaches. Conversely, anyone who from among the many things taught by the Church picks some and not others as he chooses no longer holds fast to Church teaching as an infallible rule, but to his own will.' -- St. Thomas Aquinas, ST 2a 2ae 5, 3.
"A. Ecumenical Councils
1. An ecumenical or general, as distinguished from a particular or provincial council, is an assembly of bishops which juridically represents the universal Church as hierarchically constituted by Christ; and, since the primacy of Peter and of his successor, the pope, is an essential feature in the hierarchical constitution of the Church, it follows that there can be no such thing as an ecumenical council independent of, or in opposition to, the pope. No body can perform a strictly corporate function validly without the consent and co-operation of its head.
the right to summon an ecumenical council belongs properly to the pope alone, though by his express or presumed consent given ante or post factum, the summons may be issued, as in the case of most of the early councils, in the name of the civil authority. For ecumenicity in the adequate sense all the bishops of the world in communion with the Holy See should be summoned, but it is not required that all or even a majority should be present.
As regards the conduct of the deliberations, the right of presidency, of course, belongs to the pope or his representative; while as regards the decisions arrived at unanimity is not required. Finally, papal approbation is required to give ecumenical value and authority to conciliar decrees, and this must be subsequent to conciliar action, unless the pope, by his personal presence and conscience, has already given his official ratification (for details see GENERAL COUNCILS).
2. That an ecumenical council which satisfies the conditions above stated is an organ of infallibility will not be denied by anyone who admits that the Church is endowed with infallible doctrinal authority. How, if not through such an organ, could infallible authority effectively express itself, unless indeed through the pope? If Christ promised to be present with even two or three of His disciples gathered together in His name (Matthew 18:20), a fortiori He will be present efficaciously in a representative assembly of His authorized teachers; and the Paraclete whom He promised will be present, so that whatever the council defines may be prefaced with the Apostolic formula, "it has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us." And this is the view which the councils held regarding their own authority and upon which the defender of orthodoxy insisted. The councils insisted on their definitions being accepted under pain of anathema, while St. Athanasius, for example, says that "the word of the Lord pronounced by the ecumenical synod of Nicaea stands for ever" (Ep. ad Afros, n. 2) and St. Leo the Great proves the unchangeable character of definitive conciliar teaching on the ground that God has irrevocably confirmed its truth "universae fraternitatis irretractabili firmavit assensu" (Ep. 120, 1).
3. It remains to be observed, in opposition to the theory of conciliar infallibility usually defended by High Church Anglicans that once the requisite papal confirmation has been given the doctrinal decisions of an ecumenical council become infallible and irreformable; there is no need to wait perhaps hundreds of years for the unanimous acceptance and approbation of the whole Christian world. Such a theory really amounts to a denial of conciliar infallibility, and sets up in the final court of appeal an altogether vague and ineffective tribunal. If the theory be true, were not the Arians perfectly justified in their prolonged struggle to reverse Nicaea, and has not the persistent refusal of the Nestorians down to our own day to accept Ephesus and of the Monophysites to accept Chalcedon been sufficient to defeat the ratification of those councils? No workable rule can be given for deciding when such subsequent ratification as this theory requires becomes effective and even if this could be done in the case of some of the earlier councils whose definitions are received by the Anglicans, it would still be true that since the Photian schism it has been practically impossible to secure any such consensus as is required -- in other words that the working of infallible authority, the purpose of which is to teach every generation, has been suspended since the ninth century, and that Christ's promises to His Church have been falsified. It is consoling, no doubt, to cling to the abstract doctrine of an infallible authority but if one adopts a theory which represents that authority as unable to fulfil its appointed task during the greater part of the Church's life, it is not easy to see how this consolatory belief is anything more than a delusion. "
TCR Note: In my research on Cardinal Ratzinger's and Hans Kung's participation at Vatican II----where both were Periti or theological experts for their particular bishops---and their severe falling out a very short time thereafter over the Council's interpretation, an important truth was brought home again: Were there "bad" men at the Council? Sure, as at every council in history! But no malice of men can checkmate the Holy Spirit in an Ecumenical Council with the Pope presiding and ratifying its decisions. It is faith in the work of the Holy Spirit which is missing in so many debates about the Council. No Council is verbally inspired, but every true ecumenical Council is protected by the Holy Spirit from heresies and breaches with tradition as it developes the Catholic tradition (which all Councils did and do). This Catholic truth will save us the temptations of the left and right.
(2) While one may certainly differ with the private opinions of a Pope in minor areas of mere prudential judgments, one may never do so in areas involving the dogmas and doctrines of the faith. Anyone who tells you differently may need wolf grooming, despite his sheeps clothing. Obedience is better than sacrifice, says the Lord. Many---even many priests and very bright men and women---confuse piety for orthodoxy today and many who start mixing with, say, Integrists in the interests of better liturgy end up confounding Catholic truths and extremist errors. They begin confusing and muddling matters at first and then begin pitting the present living magisterium against previous popes and tradition. ---Stephen Hand
Many---even many priests and very bright men and women---confuse piety for orthodoxy today and many who start mixing with, say, Integrists in the interests of better liturgy end up confounding Catholic truths and extremist errors. They begin confusing and muddling matters at first and then begin pitting the present living magisterium against previous popes and tradition. ---Stephen Hand
***Cf. Dei Verbum 9-10:
9. Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God in as much as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.10.
Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (cf. Acts 2:42, Greek text), so that holding to, practising and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church. whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.
It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with Gods most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.