“… Breaking through all resistance the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns and moors it to the two columns; first, to the one surmounted by the Host, and then to the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point, something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other. … A great calm now covers the sea“ (Salesian society 1986)
Don Bosco’s dream of the Two Pillars foretells of the next great victory of the Church. The relationship between this prophetic dream and the messages of La Salette and Fatima centered on a major event involving Our Lady that is followed by a period of peace.
As noted in “The Vatican and SSPX – An Organizational Perspective” the disagreement between Rome and the SSPX is theologically based. Beyond the theological and liturgical aspects of the disagreement, the author asserted that conflicts within the Church and the SSPX also have a cultural base. This cultural base is part of the reason for the conflict when the Pope is seen as approaching the SSPX and vice versa.
SSPX Cultural Conflict
In the short-term the cultural conflict within the SSPX will probably be resolved by a separation of the individuals strongly influenced by the cultural dis-trust of the Pope and Vatican curia. In the long-term, this cultural assumption will be resolved once the Pope demonstrates himself as trustworthy to the SSPX members and laity. This would be achieved by consistently modeling a culture aligned with the cultural norms of the SSPX in particular and the traditionalists in general.The underlying assumption is that the culture evident within the SSPX is closely aligned with the organizational culture of the Church prior to the events subsequent to the Second Vatican Council.
Vatican Cultural Issues
With respect to Rome’s cultural assumptions, it appears that there is some basis to the assertion that one assumption is “related to the concepts of the nature of the Church and its exclusive necessity … for salvation” (Tradical 2012).
During a recent interview (Kerr 2012) Archbishop Muller responded to some of the questions posed by the SSPX theologians. Specifically, he affirmed belief in Transubstantiation and the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary quoting the traditional understanding of these Dogmas. However, in reference to the criticism of his eulogy (SSPX 2012) delivered for a Protestant bishop in which he stated that protestants ‘are fully incorporated/integrated into the Church of God, being the Body of Christ” (Gaudron 2012), he stated “… St. Augustine underscored that the Church recognizes everybody who is validly baptized is incorporated into Christ, even if they are not in full communion”.
This response the author did not find satisfactory since he believes the applicable teaching in the context quoted is:
“actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith … it follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit” (Pius XII, 1943).
Pope Pius XII provided further clarification when he wrote “If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ – which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church…” (Pius XII 1943)
This teaching was disputed by theologians at that time, prompting Pius XII to write in Humani Generis “Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation. “ (Pius XII 1950)
Finally, it should be noted that Paul VI quoted Mystici Corporis verbatim (Paul VI 1964) reaffirming the teaching of Pius XII.
This response on the part of Archbishop Muller with respect to the nature of membership in the Church may imply a hierarchy among some of the controversial points within the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The four points noted by Dr. Lamont (Lamont 2012) quoting Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize FSSPX are:
- Religious Liberty: Dignitatis humanae 2 vs Gregory XVI – Mirari Vos, Pius IX – Quanta Cura, Leo XIII – Immortale Dei, Pius XI – Quas primas
- The Church: Lumen Gentium 8 vs Pius XII – Mystici Corporis, Pius XII – Humani Generis
- Ecumenism: Lumen Gentium 8 & Unitatis redintegration 3 vs Pius IX – Syllabus of Errors 16, 17, Leo XIII – Satis Cognitum, Pius XI – Mortalium animos
- Collegiality: Lumen Gentium 22 & Nota Praevia 3 vs First Vatican Council – Pastor aeternus (regarding the uniqueness of the subject of supreme power in the Church).
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared in Dominus Jesus (2000) that “the interpretation of those who would derive from the formula ‘subsistit in’ the thesis that the one Church of Christ could subsist also in non-Catholic churches and ecclesial communities is therefore contrary to the authentic meaning of Lumen Gentium”.
However if someone were, in spite of this condemnation, to hold the extreme liberal interpretation such as Boff (~2000) that the word ‘subsist’ utilized in Lumen Gentium 8 implies that the Church of Christ exists outside of the visible boundaries of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church in the protestant and Orthodox congregations a number of possible conclusions present themselves.
The first is that since the Catholic Church has a right to full liberty of action in the public sphere, this same liberty should be extended to the non-Catholic religions, particularly the Protestants, on the basis that they contain “elements of sanctification” as noted in Lumen Gentium 8.
The second conclusion is the alteration in the goal of ecumenism from being that of conversion, into assisting the non-Catholic to come to a realization of their membership in the Church. In this light the words full-communion and partial communion seem more appropriate than ‘actual member’ of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Following this theme, in order to further the new goal of ecumenism, the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church was ‘reformed’ and much of the symbolic elements representing the Catholic Theology of the Mass removed. In addition, much of the outward signs that were associated with Catholicism were banished. In this manner it was intended to make Protestants comfortable in the Church of which, in the liberal perspective, they were already members.
A side effect of this reform is that with the alteration of the cultural artifacts in the 1970’s, a cultural shift began. It is unknown whether or not the alteration of the Catholic culture into one that was more aligned with the Protestants was intentional.
What is known is that it has occurred.
Reasserting Catholic Culture – The Wedge
Attempts at reasserting Catholic Doctrine by the Vatican and thereby culture have, in the author’s opinion, been of little avail. As noted in the previous paper (Tradical 2012), without the sustained unambiguous support of the Sovereign Pontiff in a reassertion of Catholic Organizational Culture, all other efforts are limited to the sub-culture level. To be completely effective, such action must include the suppression of those artifacts, such as the Novus Ordo Missae, that support a Protestantized culture, as well as the promotion of those artifacts that support a Catholic culture. To do otherwise over the long-term will instill cultural confusion within an already confused Church.
However, that is not to say that traditionalist laity cannot assist in building up sub-cultures that will literally blossom when the Pope begins to assert the new culture. In order to build this sub-culture, fundamental cultural artifacts that have direct connections to the now dormant Catholic cultural assumptions must be reasserted. Due to this direct connection to the Catholic culture, these artifacts being alien to the protestant culture will act as cultural wedges.
The question is: What artifacts to assert and how? The author believes that Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary have pointed out which artifacts to assert. The answer lies in the dream of Don Bosco, and the message of Fatima.
The thin edge of the wedge: devotions of reparation.
In both La Salette and Fatima Our Lady begged for us to make reparation for the sins committed against Our Lord. The Church has two devotions of reparation linked directly to Don Bosco’s pillar of the Eucharist; Namely the first Friday and Saturday devotions. Because there is obviously a great need for reparation due to the rise of secularism and the various scandals within the Church, convincing non-traditional Catholics of the value of these devotions should not be an insurmountable task.
Reasserting these devotions accomplishes a number of goals:
- Displacing devotions that originate from apparitions of dubious origin.
- Reintroducing the concepts of sin and the necessity of reparation for the offense against God.
- Reawakening the basic practices of the spiritual life with the Eucharist as the focal point.
- Fulfillment of the requests of Our Lord and Lady.
The middle of the wedge: reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, solely from the priest or deacon.
The kneeling aspect of this method should also be extended to the posture assumed during Mass when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the Altar. The author has noted that there is a conflict in some dioceses where kneeling is discouraged for a number of reasons, in spite of the new instructions. This immune response to a reassertion of a Catholic cultural artifact is reason enough to support an almost militant application of the posture.
There are a number of advantages to pursuing this combination of cultural artifacts:
- Receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue is a preference that the Pope himself has encouraged. This adds a degree of weight to the arguments of traditionalists that would not otherwise exist.
- This posture is now supported in the new general instructions.
- Kneeling to communicate reaffirms the belief in the Real Presence and Divinity of Jesus Christ for both the communicant as well as the other faithful.
- If communion is received solely from the Priest or deacon instead of the lay extra-ordinary Eucharistic Ministers, it reaffirms the sacerdotal character of the priesthood.
- Kneeling at the consecration, affirms the belief in the Real Presence, confected by the Priest and deepens the reverence for the sacred.
- Finally, kneeling in the absence of kneelers will serve as an incentive for their installation. This will establish another cultural artifact that establishes a difference between the Catholic and most Protestant cultures.
The thick part of the wedge, the part that splits the wood: the Tridentine Mass.
While the value of the Tridentine Mass is obvious to traditional Catholics, because of significant perceptual differences due to the cultural morass of the last 40+ years, it is not evident to non-traditional Catholics. The first two parts of the wedge were selected with the goal of instilling a cultural sense of the Divine, Sacred and the honour due to God. While this will aid in the realization of the inherent superiority of the Tridentine Mass vs the Mass of Paul VI, it is only the beginning.
The Tridentine Mass is, culturally speaking, bursting with artifacts from beginning to end. These artifacts are so effective at creating and sustaining a strong Catholic culture that the author is convinced that this is one of the reasons for its suppression. In effect the Tridentine Mass is counter-cultural and has evoked a cultural immune response from the majority of the hierarchy. The author has heard an Archbishop warn that if the Mass resulted in a divisive attitude based on the perceived superiority of the Tridentine Mass, then action would be taken. Obiously, the Tridentine Mass is something that the liberal elements of the hierarchy fear. Reinforcing this cultural artifact is perhaps the hardest, but is the best and the final part of the wedge that separates the Protestant from the Catholic culture.
Reintegrating the Tridentine Mass into the culture of the Church as many advantages, here are three key ones:
- It embodies and reinforces all the cultural assumptions surrounding the dogmas of the redemption, Divinity of Christ, the sacerdotal priesthood, propitiatory sacrifice, and the Real Presence.
- It is encouraged as a treasure to be brought forth by Pope Benedict XVI. The excuse that the Tridentine Mass has been abrogated was finally put to rest in 2007.
- If the local ordinary denies the laity a request for the Mass, they now have the right of appeal to an ecclesiastical court. The author has witnessed the speed with which just the appearance of this right effected a change in the policy of the local ordinary.
How to bring this change about?
Effecting cultural change is not easy, and at an organizational level takes years to accomplish.
However, this is in effect a teaching activity. Before engaging in the work of cultural change, the Traditional Catholic layperson should be :
- well versed in these aspects of Catholic doctrine,
- have presentations ready for the key topics,
- be prepared to make presentations to groups of non-traditional Catholics
- be prepared respond to questions, and, taking a page from the liberal Catholics play book, be ready to dialogue – or more appropriately discuss and debate the divisive issues surrounding traditional Catholicism without loosing sight of the original cultural aspects that are being promoted.
In short, traditional Catholics need to become catechists. We need to know our material in detail and with conviction. We also need to be able to answer the challenges of non-traditional Catholics with more than the regular ‘sound bites’. This level of refutation is sufficient for a person who has the correct cultural lenses, but more is needed in order to help someone else come to the same Catholic cultural perspective.
Ultimately, the new evangelization requires a renaissance of Catholic culture and identity. A strong identity, that will counter the assaults with which the Church is currently being buffeted.
Welcome to the new evangelization.
Boff, Leonardo (~2000), Is Card. Ratzinger’s Interpretation of the conciliar “subsistit” the end of the catholic ecumenism?, Retrieved August 10, 2012, from www.muenster.de/~angergun/boff-subsistit-in.html.
Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (2000), Declaration Dominus Jesus, n. 6, August 2000, footnote 56. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2007), Responses to some questionis regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church. William Cardinal Levada, Prefect. Retrieve August 10, 2012, from www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_faith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html
David Kerr (2012), Archbishop Muller presents positive vision for Vatican’s doctrine office. EWTN News. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=592
Gaudron, Fr. Matthias (2012). Bishop Mueller: an SSPX analysis, Retrieved August 10, 2012, from www.sspx.org/miscellaneous/fr_gaudron_on_bishop_mueller_7-6-2012.htm
Lamont, John R. T. (2012). A Theologian’s Questions, Retrieved April 13, 2012, from chiesa.expresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350219?eng=y
Paul VI (1964) Ecclesiam Suam, www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_06081964_ecclesiam_en.html
Pius XII (1943), Mystici Corporis, www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_29061943_mystici-corporis-christi_en.html
Pius XII (1950), Humani Generis, www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html
The Salesian Society, Inc, (1986), Dreams, Visions, and Prophecies of Don Bosco, Don Bosco Publications, New Rochelle, New York 1986
SSPX (2012), Mulling over Archbishop Mueller, Retrieved August 9, 2012, from www.sspx.org/miscellaneous/mulling_over_archbishop_mueller_7-9-2012.htm
Tradical (2012), The Rome SSPX Relations – An Organizational Culture Perspects., Retrieved August 17, 2012, from angelqueen.org/2012/07/25/the-vatican-and-sspx-an-organizational-culture-perspective/