Cardinal Muller to SSPX: Acceptance of Vatican II is as Essential as Accepting Resurrection
Written by Chris Jackson | Remnant Columnist
As many of you know, Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX met with Pope Francis last month. A few days afterwards, on April 7, 2016, Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei Commission, gave an interview to La Croix newspaper in which he said:
“The difficulties raised by the SSPX regarding questions of Church-State relations and religious liberty, the practice of ecumenism and dialogue with non-Christian religions, certain aspects of liturgical reform and their concrete application, remain objects of discussion and clarification,” Archbishop Pozzo added, “but do not constitute an obstacle to the SSPX’s canonical and juridical recognition.”
Yet on Tuesday May 24th, Edward Pentin reported the following in the National Catholic Register:
Cardinal Gerhard Müller has said he expects the Society of St. Pius X, which has always opposed the Second Vatican Council’s declarations on religious freedom and ecumenism, to “unreservedly recognize” freedom of religion as a human right, and an obligation to ecumenism.
In an interview in the June edition of the German publication Herder Korrespondenz, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that if one “wants to be fully Catholic, one must recognize the Pope and the Second Vatican Council.”
Cardinal Müller said he expects a recognition of all the Council declarations that deal with these issues, according to the interview, reported on the Austrian Catholic website, Kathpress, May 24.
Bishop Fellay had previously attempted to explain this apparent contradiction as follows:
Furthermore, he stressed that Rome had two different approaches: “We have to distinguish the position of the Pope which is one thing, and then the position of the CDF,” said Bishop Fellay, who also insisted the SSPX would not compromise on its position. “They don’t have the same approach but have the same conclusion which is: Let’s finish the problem by giving recognition to the Society.”
He added that he was “persuaded, at least in part, by a different approach” that meant giving “less importance to the problem which we consider important, which is the Council: that means by lessening the binding of the Council.” The Pope, Bishop Fellay said, sees doctrine as “quite an obstacle in dealing with people” and, in his wish to see “everybody saved”, unties a secure rope “to get to us.”
An interesting interpretation. However, allow me to posit an alternative one. If we go as far back as the year 2000, we see that the President of Ecclesia Dei at the time, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, approached Bishop Fellay and told him that the Pope was prepared to grant the SSPX a canonical status. Hoyos repeated this gesture in a 2005 meeting with Bishop Fellay. It was Bishop Fellay on both occasions who expressed reservations. Bishop Fellay wisely required three preconditions to any regularization: the freeing of the Latin Mass, the lifting of the excommunications, and doctrinal discussions. The point here is that Rome’s preferred approach has always been to regularize the Society first and then supposedly work out any doctrinal differences afterwards. The resistance to this has always come from the Society.
In this light, it seems that Pope Francis and Msgr. Pozzo are saying the same thing and taking the same approach that Cardinal Hoyos did years ago. The difference is that Cardinal Muller is firing a warning shot letting the Society know that sooner or later they must accept the Council. And once the SSPX is regularized and has a canonical structure under Rome, what position are they in to oppose a Roman authority insisting they accept contended novelties of the Council? At that point couldn’t Francis, Pozzo, or Muller demand that the SSPX accept ecumenism and religious liberty under obedience? Pentin continues:
But Cardinal Müller, whose insistence on the SSPX adhering to the Council’s teaching is clearly more pronounced than that of the Holy Father, told Herder Korrespondenz that one cannot discount the Council as “only pastoral chatter” just because it adopted no binding dogmas.
The CDF prefect said that no pope has ever proclaimed Christ’s Resurrection as an ex cathedra [infallible] dogma, and yet it “belongs in the center of the creed, it is the foundation.”
“Key statements, even if they are not proclaimed ex cathedra [infallible], are, for us Catholics, still essential,” he said, adding that it is “not acceptable to take one and reject the other.”
Here one sees the absurd theological reasoning the Society is up against. Cardinal Muller actually places the pastoral, ambiguous, contradictory, and non-infallible statements of Vatican II on the same level as Christ’s Resurrection! The real irony here is that it is uncertain if Cardinal Muller himself even believes in the Resurrection. Muller, in his Katholische Dogmatik from 2010, posits the following gems about the Resurrection of Our Lord:
“A running camera would not have been able to make an audio-visual recording of either the Easter manifestations of Jesus in front of his disciples, nor of the Resurrection event, which, at its core, is the consummation of the personal relation of the Father to the incarnate Son in the Holy Ghost. In contrast to human reason, animals and technical devices are not capable of a transcendental experience and thus also lack the ability to be addressed by the Word of God through perceptible phenomena and signs. Only human reason in its inner unity of categoricality [sic] and transcendentality [sic] is determinable by the Spirit of God to enable it to perceive in the sensory cognitive image (triggered by the manifestation event) the person-reality of Jesus as the cause of this sensory-mental cognitive image”…
“The realization of the reality of the transcendental event is triggered by the Easter manifestations. The belief of the disciples is the historically-verifiable sign that points to the Easter event and through which the Easter event becomes accessible”…
“Whether the women’s visit to the tomb in the early Easter morning and the discovery that the Body of Jesus is [sic] no longer there, was a historical occurrence in the manner portrayed, does not need to be decided here. It’s possible that this [narrative] reflected a veneration of the tomb by the community of Jerusalem”
“Religious freedom as a fundamental human right and freedom to protect religion regarding the supernatural revelation in Jesus Christ are recognized by every Catholic without reservation”, he said in reference to the relevant Council declarations.
Thus, Cardinal Muller has just claimed that Pope Pius IX, who said the following, was not a Catholic:
And from this wholly false idea of social organization they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, especially fatal to the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by our predecessor, Gregory XVI, insanity, namely that the liberty of conscience and worship is the proper right of every man, and should be proclaimed by law in every correctly established society.
Unfortunately Muller was not done:
The CDF prefect further asserted that Pope Francis’ relationship to the SSPX does not differ from that of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. “He sees this and similar groups as Catholic, but still on the way towards full Catholic unity.”
Earlier this month, Pope Francis hinted reconciliation could be close, telling the French Catholic daily La Croix May 16 that the SSPX are “Catholics on the way to full communion” and that “good dialogue and good work are taking place.”
The positions of both Cardinal Muller and Pope Francis here are nonsense. How can one be a “Catholic” yet not in “full Catholic unity” or not be in “full communion” with the Catholic Church? This confused thinking exemplifies the state of one’s mind if one starts to accept the contradictions of the Council. For, according to Vatican II one can “subsist” in the “Church of Christ” without belonging to the Catholic Church. In the same way, I suppose one can believe Bishop Fellay somehow subsists in the Catholic Church and yet doesn’t possess “full communion” with it. Yes, in the modernist mind the possibilities are endless! As we just saw with Cardinal Ganswein’s idea of a “petrine ministry” shared by “two members,” theology can really do anything you want it to these days.
Finally, Pentin states the following error:
Last year, the Pope made his first overture to the Society by announcing that SSPX confessions would be valid and licit during and after the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Until that time, Rome considered them as canonically invalid because they lacked the necessary jurisdiction.
This is very interesting. I’d like Mr. Pentin to cite chapter and verse of where Rome publicly and officially ever stated that SSPX confessions were “canonically invalid.” Rome never did.
As regards Cardinal Muller, I find it somewhat amusing that he is making demands of the Society in contradiction to his own Pope. In addition Cardinal Muller recently took it upon himself to declare that Amoris Laetitia did not authorize sacrilegious Communion, when the text clearly does so and when Abp. Bruno Forte clearly spilled the beans that Francis intended to all along. In the end, I would recommend the Society treat Cardinal Muller with all of the importance and respect as his Pope does. As Francis said to a confederation of religious in Latin America:
“Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing … But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward … Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up …”
As for any potential agreement between the Society Rome, I’ll end by calling to mind the recent brutal oppression of Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate under Pope Francis and the implications this may have for a regularized Society. I express the same reservations Bishop Fellay himself gave to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos regarding a canonical structure back in 2001. As Bishop Fellay recalls:
So I told all these things to the cardinal and then he said, “So, here’s what Rome proposes to you: We want a solution in which we solve the problem of bishops, bishops who would be ordinaries, that is, true bishops, maybe with dioceses, and priests and faithful.” He spoke about an arrangement like that of Opus Dei, that is, a personal prelature. He foresaw our difficulty in having the pope himself choose the bishop to head this personal prelature, for this is the usual procedure. He said either the Society’s priests or the Society’s bishops should present three names to the pope every time another bishop is needed for Tradition…
One of my arguments was, “We don’t trust you. You are very kind in what you say, but we don’t trust you. Not you personally, but Rome.” I let him know Rome’s actions against the Fraternity of St. Peter didn’t help my confidence. Rome has tried to crush the Fraternity of St. Peter. The Fraternity claimed to be with the pope, with Rome, accepted the Council, accepted the New Mass, etc. The cardinal explained to me why he had to remove Fr. Bisig:
I have nothing against somebody who wants to celebrate only the Old Mass, but Fr. Bisig wanted to make an oath against the New Mass. I cannot accept someone who defies a general law of the Church on paper.
Actually, in fact, the story is that during a kind of reconciliation meeting of the Fraternity of St. Peter [Fr. Bisig] tried to impose on the priests of St. Peter’s a promise to celebrate the New Mass only once a year.
I had been insistent with the cardinal that I did not trust Rome because of what happened to the Fraternity of St. Peter. “You make promises to the Society, but look at what you did to St. Peter’s,” I said. Every time he gave a similar response: “Oh, it’s not the same. St. Peter’s is against the New Mass. You are in favor of the Old!” Should we trust such an answer? The cardinal says, “Yes, but…” Yes, but… what? But we are more of a threat than St. Peter’s! Another time he said, “Well, St. Peter’s wasn’t protected.” But the cardinal was appointed their protector! It’s like a policeman who would shoot a child and then say, “He didn’t have a bullet-proof vest on.” But the job of a policeman is to protect the child, not to shoot him! So, here is Cardinal Hoyos saying they were not protected. So how can the Society expect to be protected?