When Faith is not at stake, one must obey? –
The Society’s faith is undermined today.
The editorial in a recent Priory bulletin of an honourable colleague of the Society of St Pius X shows one major reason why Society priests are not yet joining the “Resistance” – they do not yet believe that the Faith is at stake. We wonder what it will take to persuade them. We can be sure that the leaders in XSPX headquarters are convinced that they are not themselves changing the Faith, and that they find it that much easier to continue persuading Society priests and laity that they are not changing the Faith. But if they had the true Faith, how could they dream of putting its Lefebvrian defence under the neo-modernists’ control in Rome?
The editorial is entitled “Obeying Fallible Superiors.” It recognizes that resistance to fallible Superiors is legitimate when the Faith is at stake, but the editorial’s emphasis is rather on the limits to be set to such resistance: anarchy and disrespect for authority are never lawful; obedience to lawful Superiors is essential to any society; Superiors have special graces of state; care must be taken in warning sheep that cannot make the necessary distinctions; there is a dangerous spirit of independence abroad today (Benedict XV); name-calling should be avoided, etc. – the principles are impeccable, the problem lies in their application.
For instance, while shunning name-calling the editorial nevertheless recognizes that Pius IX named “liberal Catholics” as being the Church’s “worst enemies.” Indeed in any Church crisis to identify and name the Church’s enemies, e.g. “Protestants” in the Reformation, is a major first step towards being able to fight them. No doubt the editorial’s author would grant as much where the Faith is at stake, only he would deny that there is any crisis of the Faith taking place within the Society. But, Father, do you think that liberal Catholics of the 19th century who came under Pius IX’s condemnation would have denied a single Article of the Faith? On the contrary, they would have vigorously affirmed their belief in every such Article. And yet would they not with equal vigour have condemned Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors? The problem for a modern mind to be Catholic lies not in its accepting or rejecting any one truth of the Faith, but in its instinctive undermining of all truths whatsoever, and this dreadful dissolution of the mind is, without a divine miracle, a virtually insoluble problem for and of the Faith.
And it has reached to the top of the Society. Father, do you recognize that Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity” is tantamount to the suspension of the law of non-contradiction? And have you studied paragraph III.5 of Bishop Fellay’s Doctrinal Declaration of April, 2012, a document which he circumstantially “withdrew,” but never substantially retracted? It states that non-Traditional statements of Vatican II must be interpreted as Traditional. Is that not a perfect example of the “hermeneutic of continuity,” of interpretation overtaking reality? Then do you really think that the Society has no problem of the Faith when its Superior joins in Rome’s suspending the law of non-contradiction, and swims in contradictions and in what Churchill graciously named “terminological inexactitudes,” as happily as a fish swims in water?
By the way, you also say that anybody who “doubts that hierarchy can still exist in the early 21st century excludes himself from all Catholic life.” If he doubts it in principle, one might agree with you, but if he is merely relating what he observes in practice, might he not be merely observing the extension one century later of what you quote Benedict XV already observing as “the dangerous spirit of independence abroad” in 1914?