- Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre (March 12, 2009) -- Excerpts:
... Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? ... I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?
Certainly, for some time now, and once again on this specific occasion, we have heard from some representatives of that community many unpleasant things – arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions, etc. Yet to tell the truth, I must add that I have also received a number of touching testimonials of gratitude which clearly showed an openness of heart.... And should we not admit that some unpleasant things have also emerged in Church circles? At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.
"... if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another."
- Communiqué of the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX] -- Excerpts:
Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, dated March 10 2009, in which he made them aware of the intentions which guided him in this important step which is the Decree of January 21, 2009.
After "an avalanche of protests was unleashed" recently, we greatly thank the Holy Father for having placed the debate at the level on which it should take place, that of the faith. We fully share his utmost concern for preaching to "our age, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel"....
- Fr. Zuhlsdorf, "J’accuse! L’Osservatore Romano’s editor points a finger, Fr. Z comments" (WDTPRS, March 13, 2009):
When the wheels come off a train, people get hurt and the capital of an organization is threatened, someone gets blamed. Someone must pay.
The liberals of the secular press and the progressivist element of the Catholic media latched on to the Holy Father’s admission that mistakes were made in the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.
Their common accusation is that the Holy Father failed to consult widely enough, he is to blame, or that Card. Castrillon with the Pontifical Commission he heads was a loose cannon, and he is to blame. They energetically advance that the future fusion of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" to the CDF is truly an acceptance of this blame. They rejoice in their vindication.
On the other hand, Giovanni Maria Vian, the revolutionary editor of the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano printed an editorial in which he identifies his own candidates for blame.
The first part of the editorial chews over facts we already know. The meat of the piece comes well along.
Here is my translation of the paragraph conveying Vian’s central point:
The clarity of the Pope’s analysis does not sidestep open and difficult questions, such as the need for attention and a more prepared and timely communication in a global context where information, omnipresent and superabundant, is continuously exposed to manipulations and exploitations, among which are so-called leaks, which only with effort cannot be called wretched - even within the Roman Curia, an organism historically collegial and which in the Church has the obligation of being exemplary.... Say what you will about the Vatican-hostile, SSPX-allergic Marco Politi of La Repubblica, he is astute. He caught Vian’s drift immediately and wrote: "In a column Giovanni Maria Vian castigates the ‘manipulations and exploitations’ also within the Roman Curia…". Politi caught the real point of Vian’s editorial.
Vian says the Vatican’s portion of the blame lies on the backs of some workers of the Roman Curia.
The point: These negationists took advantage of the situation to hurt the Pope and prevent positive developments with the SSPX.
So set are they against such a rapprochement, and its implications for how we read and apply the Second Vatican Council, that they would harm to Pope’s moral capital in the world and with Jewish groups, damage the Holy See’s relations with states, and foment chaos in Holy Church’s internal harmony.
A close reading of that paragraph shows that information leaks, intended to fuel a rumpus, were only one dimension of the "manipulations and exploitations". There were other dealings, subtle and confined to hallways and offices.
I believe these deeper manipulations are behind the present scapegoating of Card. Castrillon and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
The Holy Father desires to reintegrate the SSPX. Doctrinal discussions are the next logical step, now that Summorum Pontificum has taken root and the excommunications have been lifted. The Commission’s mandate must naturally be adjusted to this new situation. But the negationists are busily spinning the Pope’s intention to place the Commission under the umbrella of the CDF as a sure sign of defeat for the Pope, for the Commission and Card. Castrillon, and for the pro-Lefevbrites in the Curia who, as Politi frames them, shamelessly used leaks to create an unrealistically rosy picture of the SSPX.
The last thing progressivists want is a Pope determined to reintegrate the SSPX, with their dangerous ideas, or an effective Cardinal as President of the Commission who might actually take seriously the Commission’s mandate to reconcile the SSPX. In fact, the Holy Father’s projects have gained frightening momentum.
The liberals now coo that, at long last, the connection of the Commission with the CDF will allow the "consultation" of many many interested well-informed parties from the corners of the globe with differing points of view.
In reality they hope that as the consultation broadens the Pope’s project will grind to a halt.
There are in the Curia, in key positions, men who would prefer that Paul VI’s official pontifical portrait was still framed upon their beige walls. They patiently endured the hard years of the Polish Pope, put in their time, and climbed inexorably upward. Then came the German Pope with his dangerous ideas about continuity, his penchant for the fait accompli, his pesky intelligence and annoying happiness. They are vexed.
Quite a few heads of dicasteries have reached the famous age limit and will most likely be moved along. The men in the next tier down would normally have expectations of moving up. But as Paolo Rodari pointed out in a recent series of commentaries, not a few of the old guard, at first disposed to support this new Pope’s efforts in the expectation that they would eventually be raised to the next level, have discovered to to their dismay that this Pope isn’t going to promote them. They have turned on him now that they know they will not be. They have fished out their stilettos from the back of the desk drawer.
Traditionally Curial changes are announced in the spring and the fall.
Blame has been apportioned. Accounts are being settled.
We must watch the appointments.