Sudden Outbreak of Commonsense
In reading Bishop Fellay’s response concerning Pope Benedict XVI’s recent letter on the status of the Society of Saint Pius X and the Bishop Williamson controversy, I found myself nodding in agreement, amazed that for once in decades a Pope has said something to show a true desire to adhere to Tradition. Here is Fellay’s letter in full:
Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church, dated March 10, 2009, in which he makes known to them the motives which guided the important step of the January 21, 2009 Decree.
After the “avalanche of protests unleashed” recently, we wholeheartedly thank the Holy Father for having placed the debate back on the level on which it must be held, that of the Faith. We fully share his main concern of preaching the Gospel “in our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel.”
Indeed the Church is going through a major crisis which can be resolved only by an integral return to the purity of the Faith. With Saint Athanasius, we profess that “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” (Athanasian Creed)
Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and post-conciliar teaching in the light of this Tradition which St. Vincent of Lérins defined as “what has been believed at all times, everywhere and by all” (Commonitorium), without rupture and in a perfectly homogenous development. Thus we will be able to contribute efficaciously to the evangelization requested by the Savior (see Matthew 28; 19-20)
The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its determination to enter into the doctrinal talks recognized as “requisite” by the Decree of January 21, with the desire to serve revealed Truth, which is the first act of charity to perform towards all men, Christians or non-Christians. It assures him of its prayers so that his faith fail not and that he may confirm his brethren. (cf. Luke 22:32)
We place these doctrinal talks under the protection of Our Lady of All Confidence, with the assurance that she will obtain for us the grace to hand down faithfully what we have received, “tradidi quod et accepi.” (I Cor.15:3)
Menzingen, March 12, 2009
I am naturally more skeptical than the up-beat and positive wording of Bishop Fellay’s letter. After all, the Vatican has had a long history of being “tricksy” and false in its dealings with the traditionalist Catholic movement, and all too often does it pander to other religions at the expense of its own. Indeed, perhaps the greatest evidence in favor of those who would say there is no God comes from the Church and her many scandals.
But unlike other religions and other social movements, Catholicism is not about respect for people. It’s not about “faith” in a Pope, about him having any insight or being anything other than a media personality, or being popular. It’s about the perpetuation of Christ’s divine message on the Earth, the keeping of his commandments and teachings and spreading these to the unconverted (including within the Catholic Church). That is, Catholicism is ultimately about Truth. On these things there can be no compromises, no “negotiations”. What has been most positive about the past few days is that the Pope acknowledges this. It is most refreshing that he shows some insight, does not seek to be a media personality, and, if anything, isn’t particularly popular.
Traditional Catholics don’t really care about whether relations between Catholicism and others are positive, neutral or negative, as long as the Church herself is true to the Faith. Until this is the case, Traditional Catholics will not rest on the matter.