Posted by "CantateDomino" on Ignis Ardens:
This is an attempt, for what it's worth, to consider current Menzingenian policy in the light of traditional Catholic principles of obedience, in order to arrive at a better understanding of the objective realities in our current situation.
I will try to consider the question under two aspects, and I thank Mr. Baldwin for prompting me to think in these terms. One aspect is Menzingen's current assessment of the objective obedience it owes to the Holy Father. The other aspect is what, if any, indiscreet obedience has already occurred.
First the outline of the applicable principles, then the application of the principles to the facts of the case:
1. From the Summa: Pt. II-II, q. 104, a. 106:
a. The will of God is the first rule whereby all rational wills are regulated.
b. Obedience to a superior is due in accordance with the divinely established order of things.
c. Obedience considers the aspect of precept.
d. Obedience is not a theological virtue.
e. Obedience is a moral virtue, and a part of justice. It observes the mean between excess and deficiency.
f. Excess obedience is measured in respect, not of quantity, but of other circumstances, insofar as a man obeys either whom he ought not, or in matters wherein he ought not to obey.
g. Obedience, like every virtue, requires the will to be prompt towards its proper object, but not towards that which is repugnant to it.
h. The proper object of obedience is a precept, and this proceeds from another's will. Wherefore obedience makes a man's will prompt in fulfilling the will of another, the maker, namely, of the precept.
i. Obedience regards the precept of the person that excels.
j. Obedience proceeds from charity.
k. Charity cannot exist apart from obedience: He who saith that he knoweth God,
and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar. . . but he that keepeth His word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected.
l. St. Gregory (Moral. xxxv): Evil should never be done out of obedience.
m. There are two kinds of good. There is that to which we are bound of necessity, for instance to love God, and so forth: and by no means may such a good be set aside on account of obedience.
n. We ought to obey God rather than men.
o. Sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.
p. Religious profess obedience as to the regular mode of life, in respect of which they are subject to their superiors: wherefore they are bound to obey in those matters only which may belong to the regular mode of life, and this obedience suffices for salvation. If they be willing to obey even in other matters, this will belong to the superabundance of perfection; provided, however, such things be not contrary to God or to the rule they profess, for obedience in this case would be unlawful.
q. Accordingly we may distinguish a threefold obedience; one, sufficient for salvation, and consisting in obeying when one is bound to obey: secondly, perfect obedience, which obeys in all things lawful: thirdly, indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful.
Next the facts and applications of the principles to the case:
1. Menzingen attempts to establish that it owes the Pope objective obedience to his command that the SSPX immediately submit itself to papal authority.
+FELLAY: If the pope expresses a legitimate desire concerning ourselves which is a good desire and gives no command contrary to the commandments of God, has one the right to pay no attention and to simply dismiss his desire?
+FELLAY: The Pope has let us know that his concern to settle our affair for the good of the Church was at the very heart of his pontificate, and that he also knew that it would be easier both for him and for ourselves to leave things as they presently stand. Hence it is a firm and just desire to which he is giving expression.
+FELLAY: Let it be noted in passing that we did not look for a practical agreement. That is false. All we have done is not refuse a priori, as you ask us to do, to consider the Popes offer. For the common good of the Society, we would far prefer the present solution of the intermediary status quo but it is clear that Rome will put up with it no longer.
QUESTION: Has the nature and extent of this SSPX submission been made known to Menzingen?
QUESTION: Has the nature and extent of this SSPX submission been made known to the rank and file members of the SSPX or to the public?
ANSWER: In the negative.
CONSIDERATION: The members of the SSPX and the general public do not have knowledge sufficient to make two determinations. One is the determination of the objective legitimacy, in the light of the above-enumerated principles, of the Pope's directive. Two is the determination of the objective legitimacy of Menzingen's directive to SSPX members to obey their superiors in this new orientation towards Rome.
It is certainly plausible that the directive to the priests of the SSPX that they must obey the Menzingenian policies without questioning comes about as a result of Menzingen's inability to satisfactorily justify its own determination to obey Rome's commandment. Menzingen, in other words, orders obedience to forestall resistance. And if Menzingen has only a nebulous, free-floating, unarticulated, diaphanous, zen-like perception of what the Pope is actually commanding, then its insistence on absolute obedience from its rank and file members borders on the scandalous.
- At the beginning of his letter, +Fellay indicates that he believes this is a matter of both charity and justice: "Allow us in turn with the same concern for charity and justice to make the following observations."
He does not specify what belongs to charity and what belongs to justice, but we get a clue when he qualifies the Pope's commandment as a "legitimate desire" which is not "contrary to the commandments of God." Apparently Bishop Fellay is affirming that the Pope's commandment - and we have to qualify it as a commandment because Bishop Fellay tells us that the Pope will no longer "put up with" SSPX irregularity - is a just precept which obliges the SSPX to obey in supernatural charity.
Now we either accept +Fellay's qualification of the Pope's commandment or we do not. If we do, then we obey Bishop Fellay. If we do not, then we have to consider further.
Upon further consideration, we would have to affirm that if the Pope's commandment to the SSPX is nebulous and undefined, then it is impossible to conclude that it is not contrary to the Faith, especially in light of the Pope's consistent pattern of speaking, acting, and ritualizing in ways that directly contravene the Commandments of Almighty God. If we can establish that the Pope has never articulated the full breadth and extent of his desire to Menzingen, then we can conclude that Menzingen is drawing conclusions without an evidentiary basis to support them, in which case it would be correct to characterize its actions as political posturing and nothing more.
If Menzingen has been given an intelligible and complete articulation of the Pope's commandment, upon which it can certainly conclude that "the proposed solution of a personal prelature is not a trap," then it owes this explanation to its members and benefactors. This because to withhold such precious information while simultaneously ordering obedience amounts to a breach of justice and charity - for we faithful Catholics have an absolute right to this information under Natural, Ecclesiastical, and Divine Law.
Either one of two realities is present. Either Menzingen is concluding and acting rashly, and thereby crashing the SSPX into the rocks; or it is violating principles of justice and charity by withholding necessary information from the members and faithful of the SSPX. It is neither just nor charitable to command blind and arbitrary obedience in a matter of such grave import.
+FELLAY: For the common good of the Society, we would far prefer the present solution of the intermediary status quo.
ARGUMENT: Bishop Fellay explicitly admits that the common good of the Society depends upon its current status quo, vís a vís Rome. In his article on obedience, Michael Davies brings forward the important principles that would govern in this case.
An unjust law has no binding force. It is, in fact, no law at all as the force of a law depends on the extent of its justice. Similarly, a tyrannical law is not a true law at all, but a perversion of the law. A law is unjust if it is too burdensome upon those subjected to it, or if it is not conducive to the common good. Such legislation is an act of violence rather than a law. This is because the power a man holds from God does not extend to imposing unjust hurt upon his subjects.
Menzingen's recent insistence that the priests of the SSPX should now obey its directive to accept a practical accord with Rome in exchange for some kind of official recognition, is, in essence, writing new law for the SSPX. If, by Menzingen's own admission, this is contrary to the common good of the Society, and therefore burdensome and hurtful to the members, there has to be given to them a true, real, and legitimate reason for such an upset.
As far as I can see, nothing has been propounded by Menzingen that even begins to answer this objection to its actions.
2. Menzingen has already practiced indiscreet obedience in the years leading up to this tumultuous and climactic historical moment.
- Historically the SSPX took a militant stance and actively fought against the revolution in the Church. It did this for the defense and preservation of the Catholic Faith during a time when the light of that Faith in the official structure had all but gone completely out. The SSPX acted for the love of God and souls. The actions of the SSPX have always been in general conformity with charity and justice.
- Since 2009, the SSPX leadership has, among other things:
a. publicly vilified and arrested Bishop Williamson;
b. softened its public stance with regard to the errors of the Council;
c. used the God-hating mainstream media to disseminate its new self-definition and orient the public; and
d. purged, scrubbed, and whitewashed its deposit of apologetical materials.
St. Thomas teaches that evil should never be done out of obedience; that by no means may a good be set aside on account of obedience; that we ought to obey God rather than men; that sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God, and therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things; that a subject is not bound to obey his superior if the latter command him to do something contrary to the Commandments of God; and that obedience in matters unlawful is, at least, indiscreet, and can be sinful.
Why has the SSPX softened towards the modernists and hardened towards its own stalwart sons? The answer has to be: It changes in anticipation of a future accord with Rome. Rome is courting the SSPX. It has made known to the SSPX that it would like it to become part of its harem. And like a woman who primps herself in the mirror before an outing with the man she desires, the SSPX is trying to present itself to Rome in the light most favorable to its eyes. The SSPX has been, of late, making itself attractive to the modernist hierarchy.
Now there is no legitimate reason for doing such a thing. In fact, the very essence of softening towards heresy and hardening towards militant traditionalism, in response to overtures from heretical hierarchs, is precisely the contradiction of the Faith. This constitutes, at the least, indiscreet obedience, and possibly objective sin.
Menzingen has not even come close to proving - as it must in justice and in charity - that the Pope's commandment that the SSPX submit itself to papal authority is not contrary to the Commandments of God.
Menzingen, morphing itself to almost perfect unrecognizability in furtherance of making itself attractive to the warped sensibilities of crypto-Jews posing as modernists and other assorted heretics, cult members, and perverts, has already engaged in indiscreet obedience, and possibly worse.