Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why The SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre Are Important to the Church

Why The SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre Are Important to the Church
Matthew James Bellisario 2012

    We have to see whether or not the SSPX issue will be resolved positively. According to recent news articles, this will be decided in the very near future. I believe that having the SSPX recognized as being in full communion with the Holy Father is extremely important, for more than the obvious reasons. This article may be a bit controversial, but I am going to give my thoughts on the matter. Again, this is my personal opinion, so feel free to weigh in on the matter in the comments section. Lets keep it civil please!

    The SSPX as whole is often been misrepresented by many folks who have done little to no research regarding their history. Most of the news columnists or average Novus Ordo Catholics go off of cheap headlines or brief comments, while never actually investigating for themselves who Archbishop Lefebvre was, or why he lived the life that he did. The brilliant theologian, recognized by Pope Pius XII as being one of the most faithful, has been the object of slander and false accusations. I am not here to justify his ordinations, that is for canon lawyers and ultimately God to decide whether or not he was sinful in that action. I will not debate that topic here, for it really does not pertain to my thoughts here in this article. If you are one who is going to judge the entire life and theology of Archbishop Lefebvre off one event, then what I say may not be of any relevance to you. I believe there are some facts that need to be understood regarding the great archbishop and the society that he founded to comprehend why this issue is so important to the Holy Father today.

    Fact number one: Archbishop Lefebvre or the SSPX was never formally accused of any doctrinal heresy. We can document the clear fact that the faith being taught before the Second Vatican Council is exactly the same faith the Archbishop taught after it. He was at the Council and was one of the theologians who weighed in on the schemas presented at the Council. It is also a fact that the Mass he continued to celebrate was never outlawed or abrogated by the Church, at least on paper. As we know, although there was no formal declaration outlawing its use, aside from the Society and a handful of others, it was at least in practice close to extinction. Ultimately we have him to thank for keeping the Latin Mass alive in its practice today. My point here is that those who argue that Lefebvre was somehow in doctrinal error are sadly mistaken, and in doing so they slander his good name.

    Fact number two: Vatican II and its documents have still not been clarified by the Church in many respects. The documents of Vatican II are in my opinion, and the opinion of many reputable orthodox theologians, the most ambiguous documents ever produced by the Church. In my opinion, the ambiguity and their “this but that” approach to explaining the faith have been, according to history thus far, a complete failure. Even our present Holy Father has a hard time trying to present this “hermeneutic of continuity” to the Church. Just the very fact that we need a "hermeneutic of continuity" scheme to be presented by the Holy Father should reveal to us that this is the case. The recent SSPX dialog has proven that many of the novel ideas and teachings taken by many mainline Catholics today have still not been formally settled. One of these problematic areas for example is the popular teaching regarding ecumenism floating around in the Church today. Since the Second Vatican Council most clergy in the Church have failed to teach clearly what the Church taught before the Council, which is that there is no way that the Church knows for anyone to be saved outside the visible Church. Sure, we can recognize that God can make exceptions regarding someone’s culpability, their ignorance, etc. But Christ Himself never revealed to the Church any other possible means of salvation other than through Him and the visible Church he built upon Saint Peter. As a result of this fact, those in the Church before the Council had always evangelized according to this understanding. Not so today, the invincible ignorance clause is now the rule. You may have heard of the term, 'Ecumenism of the Return'? That means that the Church's ecumenism was always deems to be for the return of those outside the visible Church to return to it. This is not what is largely being taught today. In fact, Cardinal Kasper who virtually ran the ecumenism branch of the Vatican regularly opposed this idea. "Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.” Was this clearly abandoned by Vatican II? I don't think it was, but this idea is being proclaimed by the highest positions in the Church with little to no opposition. The SSPX has consistently spoken up about this error, as well as many others, and rightfully so. My point here is, that Vatican II and its documents and how they will play out in the life of the Church is still not a settled issue, and the SSPX has been, and will hopefully continue to drive discussions regarding these matters, so these problems can be resolved. It appears to me that few in the Church today have the courage to present these problems in any formal capacity.

    Fact three: the SSPX seminaries are one of the few that teach according to the methods established by every Pope of the modern age prior to John XXIII. It is a documented fact that under Pope John XXIII and Paul VI, almost every command given by Popes Pius IX through Pius XII regarding the heresy of modernism were for all intents and purposes eradicated from the life of the Church. Everyone admits this fact including the then Father Ratzinger who has written about his experience at the Council. He admits that those at the Council sought to largely ignore the warnings and commands of these prior Popes as being extreme or “one sided.” For example here are a couple of quotes taken from Ratzinger’s account of the Council. "We shall have occasion later to show in more detail how the anti-modernistic neurosis which had again and again crippled the Church since the turn of the century here seemed to be approaching a cure" "Thus the Church was freed from the "hierarchical narrowness" of the previous hundred years" and "...the Church decisively and uncompromisingly detached itself from the growing error of the "modern undoubtedly went about this with excessively one sided zeal." These are serious charges made against a line of over 100 years of formal papal declarations commanding the Church not to accept modern philosophical principles into theological circles. Along with this command this papal line commanded that the seminaries teach according to Thomistic principles in order to avoid a modernist catastrophe in the Church. I have written about this in a prior article. The point I am making here is that the strict guidelines for seminaries given by all of these popes were abandoned, and I might add, all of the the prophesies given by these popes all came true after these principles were abandoned. Now, to my knowledge, only the SSPX and FSSP have seminaries that follow all of those strict teaching protocols implemented by those papal documents. Since this is the case, the SSPX seminaries will be a most welcome tool to reform other seminaries.

    Fact four rides on the back of the prior. The SSPX never accepted the noxious “new theology” that was allowed to permeate the Church after the Council. It is a fact that the theologians who largely rebelled against the first constructed schemas for the Council, were theologians who had been put under formal interdict by prior Popes. For example, the convoluted theology of Yves Congar along with many other modernists, was explicitly condemned by Pope Pius XII. Congar and the theologian “prison inmates” like him became the “guards” at Vatican II. Overnight we had theologians who’s ideas had been formally condemned by the Church, being the overseers of the new schemas of the Council. Many probably do not know that almost all of the schemas for the Council were completed, or at least had been outlined before the Council ever started. Those schemas, which were written in the same vain as those of the prior popes, were all completely trashed in favor letting these new theologians rewrite them all. In the end you had a smorgasbord character to all most of the VII documents, because these modernists would write up the document and then the orthodox bishops would fight to keep in some of the old theological wording as well. That is one of the reasons for the “this and that” leitmotif of the documents. Archbishop Lefebvre wanted nothing to do with all of this ambiguity, and continued to follow the entire line of Popes who told him not to accept the ideas proposed by these new theologians. Do any Catholics ever think to investigate why the ‘Oath Against Modernism’ was done away with? This modernist heresy was so serious that Pope Pius X made all clergy swear by their souls that they would never accept the principles of modernism, ever! The entire Church hierarchy swore formally to the opposition against modernism to the peril of their souls! That is pretty serious in my opinion. In practice, much of the "new theology" bouncing around at the Second Vatican Council was formally condemned prior to it. This is not hard to prove. Congar even admits that the theology he was condemned for was the same theology that he brought to the Council documents. After Pope Pius XII went to his happy reward, the prison cells were opened up and the inmates almost took over the town! They at least had free reign to do as they pleased at the Council, up to a point, in which I believe the Holy Spirit intervened to keep their heresies from being dogmatically proclaimed. That is why the debate is still going on within the Church over the Council. My main point here is, the theology being taught by the SSPX, is what was taught prior to the Council, not the confusion and ambiguity that came after it.

    I will conclude by saying that if the SSPX can have a more formal influence on the Church and her theological practice, we will see the problems that followed the Second Vatican Council resolved much quicker than with them being considered to be on the outside fringes of the Church. Theologically the Society has never been charged with formal heresy. Sure they have been asked to accept all of the “teachings” of the Church and the Second Vatican Council, but what does that mean exactly? Are these new teachings that they must now accept? If so, what did Vatican II change? It has been said that Vatican II changed nothing doctrinally to what came before it, if that is the case then there should be no issue with the Holy See recognizing the orthodoxy of the SSPX, for Lefebrve never taught anything contrary to the dogmatic teachings of the Church prior to the Council. If the SSPX is now in error then we should all be informed as to what that error is, exactly. That means we need clear condemnations of a false belief that the SSPX holds to, that is not orthodox. I maintain that Vatican II and her documents have yet to be formally dealt with in the manner that they need to dealt with. There are many questions that must be answered, and if the SSPX can bring these issues to the forefront in a more concrete manner, we will all as faithful Catholics be better off for it. For those who have not read into the life of Archbishop Lefebvre, you should do so if you are interested in this whole discussion. Again, these are my thoughts on this matter at this point in time. Feel free to weigh in, in the comments section. If you are interested in reading about this issue I have listed some books below that will be worth reading. There is more to all of this than the surface level rhetoric floating around in the mainstream Catholic press. If the SSPX were just some insignificant, radical, traditionalist fringe group, as so many mainstream Catholics have been labeling them, the Holy Father would not be taking their theological opinions so seriously.

Marcel Lefebvre: The Biography

A Bishop Speaks

I Accuse the Council

Michael Davies Revolution Set

Silence Speaks

Rhine Flows Into the Tiber

Theological Highlights of Vatican II


Jae said...

Firstly, let me say that I greatly love the Latin Rite Mass...also the N.O. Mass, Ambrosian, Malabar, Syriac, Armenian and the rest of the 8 different Liturgical Rites of the Church.

SSPX is throwing out baby & bath-water together. V2 was convoked, suspended, resumed, ended and ratified by *Papal* authority. Its acts were approved by the Pope with Bishops around the world in communion with him. therefore it is VALID, no question which the SSPX admitted as such. Moreso, according to Scripture and Sacred Tradition *ONLY* the Holy Spirit can convoke an Ecumenical-General Council, if that is so, it makes no sense to accuse the Council of being "demonic", the entire edifice of Catholic apologetic for the uniquely Divine authority of the CC colapses like a house of cards, and Jesus becomes a lying fantasist, an egocentric maniac, or an apostle of satan, in no way better than hundreds of other impostors and false prophets. Or else God is the author of lies. Or there is no God. Or perhaps a bevy of contending deities, having fun by tormenting the human race with delusive hopes.

If this exercise of Papal authority could not keep the Church from falling into error, there is no reason to think it must have done so at any other time: Papal authority does not, after all, protect the Church, but, after all is a major help to pushing it into error. So it could be that Florence, Trent, Vatican I, were as wrong as V2 is alleged to be. What reason is there to assume that if one Council is wrong, no others are too ? Their errors may not be obvious - but that is no argument whatever that they are not as wrong as V2. The logic of SSPX's position is suicidal, sorry to be blunt :( Men may resist logic, or not see where it leads, but that will not prevent their living out the consequences of the positions they hold.

The alternative is to entertain the possibility that, just possibly, SSPX's analysis may be in error about ecumenism, religious liberty etc and are not the same with the "ecumenism, religious liberty" that the past Tradition condemned. Is that utterly beyond the bounds of possibility ? "To err is human..." - who is there on earth, in the Church or not, who never ever makes mistakes ? The mistake may not be with V2, but with those who claim it is wrong or bad or whatever.


Jae said...


As for the evils mentioned - they are no objection to V2, unless the evils that followed Nicea I are to be allowed to disqualify it. Trent did not stop Protestantism - Protestantism did fabulously after 1564. Are we to jettison Trent ? A lot of people left the Church after Trent because of her "Baptism by Desire" that they say "contradicted" their private interpretation of another Doctrine, "Extra Nulla". There were a lot of old catholics who left the Church after Vatican I because of her "Papal Infallibilty" that they say "contradicted" their interpretation of Scripture. There are a lot of catholics who became the Sedevacantists, Conclavists, SSPV etc and left the Church after the Vatican II that they say "contradicted" their private interpretation of ecumenism, religious liberty etc.- so let's ignore what the Council, which must therefore have been wrong. So what if there are problems in the Church today ? Why should there not be ? There always be from the very beginning, always are, & always have been, & always will be. What gives us the right to be spared scandals, crimes, & abuses, in our time, when others have had to endure them in theirs ?

It's all very well blaming others - but Traditionalists are also part of the problem. Those who don't allow for the possibility that they are in part to blame, but think of themselves as faithful, "unlike that publican", and forget that being part of faithful and ORTHODOX Catholic is to abide and give obedience to ALL the Councils whether it may be in the form of ExtraOrdinary or Ordinary Magisterium. If Traditionalists want to mend the Church, let them do it by love, not by rejection of a validly ratified Council's Teaching and others from the Supreme Pontiff. Otherwise Traditionalists are being as worldly as anyone - but in a different way.

Furthermore, some ultra traditionalists don't seem to distingiush between the willful, sinful acts by the liberal clergy and the Teachings of the Council. There is no relation whatsoever. It's like blaming the forest fire to the trees started by arsons, doesn't make sense.

Though SSPX didn't teach errors and heresies, yet they practice and teach without probably realizing it some pseudo- doctrines like:

1. A catholic can refuse obedience to any validly ratified Ecumenical Council if not according to one's definition of orthodoxy.

2. A catholic can "cherry pick" which Council of the Church he deems orthodox.

Are they found in Scripture or Tradition? Martin Luther didn't find anything.

Hopefully the leadership of SSPX will come to its senses that they are not the Magisterium so that we can start to fix the ills done mostly by liberal clergy.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

I see Der Schwan has weighed in on your post over at Beggars All. He cherry-picked as usual, focusing in on the second part of your post. It seems that his exegesis skills (if he ever had them in the first place!)have gone rapidly downhill in the last year or so. It made no sense at all. Scot Winsdor over at Cathapol had a run-in with him about six months ago, and he sent Swanny away dazed and confused. Of course when you're full of Protism in the first place, you're already half-way there!

James Bellisario said...

Jae, there are some facts you have failed to mention here. For one, just because the Holy Spirit has authority over the Council does not guarantee that the Council will achieve its desired end. Do you know how many Ecumenical Councils the Church has had? Do you know how many of them have had little to no effect on the Church as whole? Several of them have accomplished nothing at all, ad are long forgotten. I suspect the same will be true with VCII in several hundred years. It will be a blip on the radar screen of a Council that failed to achieve much of anything.

I have never said the Council was not valid, what I have claimed is that many of the documents are ambiguous. I think to argue this fact is pointless, otherwise the Holy Father would not be piecing things together like he is doing. If the documents were so clear he would not have to come up with a system to salvage them.

As far as things being demonic, there is no question that people who were at the Council could have had bad motives or been instruments of the devil. If Judas was at Christ's table when the devil entered Judas, then the same can happen at a Council. In fact, we can see how the liberals treated those who were known to be the great theologians under Pius XII. So you cannot make the case that there cannot be demonic influence over some of the bishops at the Council. The Holy Spirit does not guarantee that this will not happen. The only thing the Holy Spirit guarantees is that the Church will not formally declare false doctrine. The VCII documents are not doctrinal documents proposing formal doctrinal proclamations. So that argument is not going to hold here. It is a fact that many of the principle theologians who had their fingers in the documents had been formally declared heretical before the Council, and they never changed their theological views. You have to deal with that fact.

The SSPX is far from suicidal, and if you are going to claim that they are holding heretical positions, you must prove that before you accuse them of such a crime. There is no question that many in the Church today are teaching heresy regarding ecumenism. Again the problem with the VCII documents is that they allow for easy misinterpretation, and the true teaching of the Church is rarely enforced by the hierarchy today.

As far as Trent goes, it was not going to "stop" Protestantism. No one ever claimed such a thing. But it was successful in addressing the heresies of Protestantism, and it was clear in doing so. Your sweeping rant here against traditionalists I find unwarranted and unconvincing.

Finally in order for there to be a "teaching" of the Council, the Church must first determine what that even means. Again, what has VCII officially taught concerning doctrine or dogma that the SSPX rejects? So far Holy Mother Church has made no such accusation of heresy towards the SSPX, so why do you accuse them?

Jae said...

Matt your points were noted. First let me be clear, I do believe that Traditionalists which I consider myself is good for the Church and to counter balance the liberal elements within her. However, I have a qualifier, the movement must be in full communion with the Holy See without which it's just another protestant denomination.

I apologize if you consider my post as a rant, maybe because I got frustrated by the vicious attacks and also undermining the very Authority of the Church coming from *ultra*-traditionalists, I'm not saying the SSPX is one, just some of their practices have a very peculiar similarities with Sedevacantism, SSPV and old catholics.

Anyways, I will let the Catholic Encyclopedia do the talking about the Nature and Authority of an Ecumenical Council which Vatican II falls:

"Ecumenical Councils are those to which the bishops, and others entitled to vote, are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) under the presidency of the pope or his legates, **and the decrees of which, having received papal confirmation, bind all Christians.** All the arguments which go to prove the infallibility of the Church apply with their FULLEST force to the infallible authority of General-Ecumenical Councils in union with the pope."

We see a lot of arguments that the documents of Vatican II are not binding because it was "only Ecumenical Council" or because it is "pastoral in nature". I think they are greatly mistaken.Ecumenical Councils but pastoral in nature: Thirteenth Ecumenical Council: Lyons I (1245)
Fourteenth Ecumenical Council: Lyons II (1274); Seventh Ecumenical Council: Nicaea II (787).

The Fifth Ecumenical Council was a Council that made NO new pronouncement of dogma, but was only disciplinary in nature (to posthumously try and convict three individuals). Would we deny or have the right to refuse obedience to them? Can we cherry pick which document to reject and accept according to what we deem orthodox?

I have never heard nor read that the infallibility of an Ecumenical Council depends on its ACTIONS. I understand the infallibility of the Ecumenical Council to be inherent by virtue of the Holy Spirit, not by virtue of any specific thing it DOES. It is only natural that the Ecumenical Council will teach something, but I've never heard nor read that the infallibility of the Council could be called into question because the TYPE of teaching it proposes. What I propose was infallible was the Council ITSELF. Once the bishops of the world are FORMALLY gathered by the Pope, either directly or through consent, for the purpose of teaching the entire Church, that Council is imbued with the divine protection of the Holy Spirit.

It does not have to define dogma. It does not have to create canons. It does not have to enact anathemas. It simply has to fulfill its function as a teaching body. So the question is, did Vatican II propose to teach anything to the Church militant? Yes it did. One's private exemption from belief in its teachings, by alleging conditional qualifiers is truly sad, bordering on heresy and a lack of faith in the Magisterium.

I have seen the argument circulating among dissidents, that "ordinary magisterium" might contain error and can refuse obedience to. I see that some of them have at least the courtesy to elevate it to a matter of religious assent. However, in the same Vatican I Council, we read:


Section 3, Chapter 3, 8: "Wherefore, by divine and catholic faith all those things are to be believed
...which are contained in the word of God as found in scripture and tradition
...and which are proposed by the church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed,
...whether by her solemn judgment
...or in her ORDINARY and UNIVERSAL Magisterium."

Section 4, Ch. 1, 1-2 "To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal church."


Jae said...


"All this is to be found in the acts of the Ecumenical councils and the sacred canons."

"Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance,
the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. "

"Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world." End of quote.

These are difficult matters when posts such as the OP's are pulled out of context. Read the second half of Paul VI's statement from the OP, and compare the teaching of Vatican I in my last post which clearly states that the Ordinary Magisterium is also infallible.


."In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility,... **but it still provided its teaching with the Authority of the Ordinary Magisterium **

Then read the first part of Paul VI's words below in this light: extraordinary, i.e., those rare statements of dogma such as the only two proclaimed "Ex Cathedra" until now, the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception. He wished to clarify that the purpose of convening an Ecumenical Council was not to condemn errors or to define new dogmas. Rather, they gathered in order to pastorally safeguard that which has already been entrusted to the Church's faith, in greater clarity.


"In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any *extraordinary* statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility,.."

It is utterly foreign to the mind of the Church that Her teachings, especially when set forth in union with 2500 bishops and promulgated in solemn decrees defined in an ecumenical council, are merely optional pastoral niceties. I hope you do not succumb to this flagrant misuse of Church teaching.

Jae said...

Just two biggies in a nutshell:

1.) Look at the objection SSPX made to Dignitatis Humanae, a document of V2 that they say "contradicted" to Pius IX’s teaching in Quanta Cura, in a nutshell: They say that " error has no rights" in open public forum and not an issue over toleration of non-Catholics in society.

But SSPX's understanding of “Rights”, with respect, would expect an inquisition – Man has no right at all to impose beliefs on someone – Impose meaning pressure people into believing or worse “convert by the sword” – Do we not remember the command by the Holy Savior to "Shake the dust off from our sandals” ? That implies plant the seed, if it isnt effective, MOVE ON, and let the Holy spirit do the work.

The very first line of DH:

"Therefore, the right to religious freedom has its foundation, not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature."

Suggests this – Man, because of free will, has a right to be in error, because God made him that way (or her…) . that has been true since the dawn of time. It is why and what earned us a Savior , as the Exaltet goes "Oh Happy Fall , Oh Necessary sin of Adam, that brought to us such a Redeemer" .

Sin is a choice, just like belief is a choice. When you say a person does not have a right to believe...even if that right is complete heresy and error, you strip that person of the human dignity that God gave him – I think DH understands this better – God made us to choose to freely serve him… To listen or not. That is a something we are born with in our nature, and thus is a right.. Might not be what we want as believers..might not be what we like… but it is a right.

2.) Ecumenism , Salvation Outside the Church etc.

SSPX always accused Vatican II as teaching religious syncretism or relativism but if you ask them to produce an iota of evidence from V2 that say ALL religion is equal, they can't. The Council of Vatican II didn't say that all religion is equal (which is the fuss?) None whatsoever. She did say rather that those who separated away from the Catholic Church did not separate fully, meaning they (Orthodox, protestants etc) retained in them some Truth though only in the Catholic Church where the fullness can be found.... good examples like the Word of God-Bible, Doctrines of Holy Truine God, The Divinity of Jesus Christ, Incarnation, Redemption etc.

In fact the Council of Trent teaches that the Eastern Orthodox Churches which is outside the boundaries of the Catholic Church have valid ordinations, Sacraments, geesh even the Holy Eucharist and they also have Saints that are recognized by Rome of pre-V2.

These are truth found in their religion that God would and could use to make Him known to them thereby "channel" (e.g. the Bronze serpent-Moses) his grace for their salvation even outside the clear boundaries of the Catholic Church. As the Magisterium wisely said, "God has bound salvation to the sacrament s, but he himself is not bound by His Sacraments. "

Just is just in a nutshell, anyways like what I have said before I don't accuse them of heresy, it is just their practice of 'cherry pickin' a Council of their choice. This is the same argument catholic apologists pushed to the protestants (including the Sedes, Conclavists etc) that they don't have a reasonable answer to, then why is the SSPX doing it too?

"Where Peter is, ther is the Church", St. Ambrose, circa 350 A.D.

James Bellisario said...

Jae, again, I never said that the Council was not valid, and I don't think the SSPX has said the Council was not valid, so all of those quotes really don't add up to much. If they have formally declared it "invalid" then please send me the info so I can be corrected. The infallibility is going to apply to Catholic doctrine, or what you have used the term for as "teaching." Again, when a document or group of documents communicates in a form which is in the form of ambiguous modern philosophical language, then the teaching must be clarified further formally by the Church to explain them. That is nothing new, aside from the fact that the VCII docs are the most poorly written documents in the entire history of the Church. Language and terminology is crucial for teaching doctrine. It uses new language and new terminology which must be worked through further.

Do you know that the terminology used in those documents are not the same that the Church has used for at least the past 800 years prior? That means that they have to be explained further to actually communicate the Church's teaching accurately. The Church has not, as the Holy father himself has proclaimed, closed the book on the VCII documents. If you look at the ecumenism document, you must define what "right" is. Objectively speaking as the term is understood in Thomistic language, man has freedom to choose what he will believe, but not a "right" to ignore God. Man's nature is not one that began in rebellion to God, so although God gives each man freedom to choose, that is freewill, man does not have a "right" to blaspheme God. This is the teaching of the Church, and it can be documented in Church documents clearly for the better part of 2000 years. Of course the Church does not teach you can physically force someone to believe, so why did you bring that up? The point is, man is created by God to return to God, man does not have a God-given "right" to adopt religious error.

Also I never said, nor has the SSPX to my knowledge, that we do not have to assent to the ordinary Magisterium. So I don't know why you brought that up. A far as the actions go with an Ecumenical Council, it is crucially important, and again, the pope himself has said this numerous times. How the living Church eventually implements the Council is just as important. Just because a Council puts forth documents does not mean that the living Magisterium will use them to refer and govern the Church and teach the faith forever. Many times they are superseded later. When was the last time anyone has referred to the 5th Lateran Council? Tell me what disciplinary canons of that Council the Church uses today to govern the Church.

If the SSPX is reconciled, you will see that the SSPX has not changed any of its doctrinal beliefs, then what are you going to say? This fact will again prove that the documents are in fact ambiguous, and the Church has not formally gone over each document to define exactly what they teach so as to maintain a continuity with what came before them. Our current Pope has said, "the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague...It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth" Well, there you have it. The living Magisterium has yet to set all of this straight. If the SSPX is recognized as being in league with the Holy Father, this action will give us a further indicator of how we are to take the documents.

Jae said...

Matt, I agree with you that language and terminology is crucial for teaching and mist be worked out further which was why the Doctrine of Purgatory and Indulgences took more than 1400 years to develop and formally promulgated as such and a lot more doctrines of the Church which to me is what we called the "development" of doctrines but never rupture from the Deposit of Faith. Sorry to disagree with this one but for me Vatican II is very catholic, of course there are some ambigiuties, well even the Scripture is ambiguous, ask the prots and orthodox churches.

The Teachings of V2 was under the FULLEST authority of the Church , a General Council and under the supreme Ordinary Magisterium which the SSPX has chosen to cherry pick which one to refuse or not which I think violated Sacred Tradition.

I know there are some disagreement regarding the the so called "rights".....but what I'm saying in the academic sense of the term, human beings has the right inherent in his nature to either accept or reject the Church and God. We can call if freedom or whatever but still it is inherent part of him that gives him the power to choose whether to blaspheme God like Satan did. To me HD clarified this well.

At the end of the day, according to Sacred Tradition we as Catholics must abide and give obedience to the Magisterium whether in the form of EO or Ordinary Magisterium in whatever level of obedience we still are required, period.

You have the last word, Matt. Peace of Christ to all!

Jae said...

By the way before I forget, HD didn't say man has the "right" to blaspheme God what she did say is, man has the right inherent in his nature as part of the "image" package when God created man, can practice his own religious beliefs freely without any threat of censure, violence duress. It's God given, whether in error or not, that is why God even though has seen a man he's about to create will go to eternal damnation but still created him anyways, because of that "right" that He can't violate. Sad but that's how love works. Peace.

James Bellisario said...

Jae, you are contradicting yourself, so I am not going to continue on here much further. I will say that man's God-given "freewill" is not synonymous with the term "right". You said that terminology is important, and then turned around denied that statement by using the two terms synonymously. "Freewill" and "right" are not the same concerning moral theology. I would encourage you to read up on the natural law in light of Saint Thomas to understand the difference. Man does not have a right to live a lie. He is obligated by God to live the truth. God permits man to live a lie insofar as man's freewill is allowed to do so by God's permissive will, just as sin is allowed by God in His permissive will.

To put it simply, it is a vice to practice a false religion, therefore it is objectively sinful to practice a false religion. Man has not the right to worship false "gods" anymore than he has the right to steal from his next door neighbor. I hope this makes my point clear regarding the difference between "freewill" and "right."

Andrew W said...

Anyone care to guess who wrote this:

"Holy Scripture can only prove the obligation of submitting to God, to Christ, and to the Church, not only one's conscience but one's whole.... Nowhere and to no one does Holy Scripture make scandal permissible, even in the case of a conscience that is erroneous through no fault of its own"

James Bellisario said...

Tell us, otherwise I will have to Google it!

Andrew W said...


Respectfully, I think your understandings of Vatican Council II and the SSPX are a bit lacking.

Vatican II was pastoral, not dogmatic, in its nature. As such, the council did not define any new teachings in a solemn manner. The Holy Fathers John XXIII and Paul VI have stated as much. The documents are void of any canons using the required "anathema" formula utilized when solemnly defining teachings and binding under penalty of excommunication. There were no solemnly defined teachings from this council.

There are three sources for infallible teachings that require sacred assent (assent of faith, theological assent) - solemn declarations of an Ecumenical Council, acts of papal infallibility, and acts of the ordinary and universal magisterium.

This council did not solemnly define new teachings, as stated by prior popes. Since this was an Ecumenical Council, it was neither an act of the ordinary and universal magisterium or one that invoked papal infallibility. Given all of that, I don't believe there is anything infallibly defined here that requires sacred assent.

You state that a validly convened Ecumenical Council has the protection of the Holy Spirit. I share the opinion of others that the defense of the Holy Spirit was precisely this - it was made clear that there were no new doctrines solemnly defined here that require assent of faith, and as such, no guarantee of infallibility was given.

Since this is the case, how could there be teachings of Vatican II that are denied by the SSPX that they are otherwise obliged to give full assent of faith to? The criticism of the SSPX is that there are statements contained in the documents that are ambiguous, and in some cases innovations, that are dangerous to the faith and represent a rupture with traditional teachings of the Church. Since infallibility is not invoked here, how can one say that such a criticism is a denial of some aspect of the faith?

Cardinal Ratzinger – address to the Bishops of Chile: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”

Andrew W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew W said...

Matthew Bellisario said...
Tell us, otherwise I will have to Google it!


Yves Congar

I deleted my prior comment because the citation was incorrect. The correct citation is in French, and I am too tired to type it. I guess you just have to trust me :-).

Andrew W said...


Can you help me understand something?

Can you point me to a solemnly defined teaching from a prior ecumenical council that we know to be an infallible teaching defined then and there but was not put forward using the formula of a canon/decree?

Or, can you point me to an infallable teaching that says that every aspect of an Ecumenical Council, specifically those outside its canons, are infallable?

Thanks in advance!

Andrew W said...


One more thing before I am off to sleep:

When you say "ORDINARY and UNIVERSAL" magisterium of the Church in reference to the council, are you by chance ignoring the conjunctive?

An Ecumenical Council is not an "Ordinary" level of magisterium. It is "Extraordinary", like papal infallibility.

"Universal" is, I believe, absolute. If even prior popes deny anything was defined here, how could this be the case. Also, not all bishops agree - we know this because, well, we are talking about the SSPX (Lefebvre).

The conjunctive AND used here is a logical conjunctive. It implies that both of its conditions must be met - and in this case, I don't believe either are.

Anonymous said...

How does the average RC know when supreme authority and infallibility is exercised ? Well, VII seems to give the answer in Lumen Gentium #25. Questions arise, Was #25 a definition that must be adhered to with submission of faith ? If so, was it because of the Pope's prerogative of infallibility? or the Pope-Bishops bond of communion to proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly ?

Here is the sticky problem. We supposedly can know the mind and will of a Pope, even when he does not speak ex cathedra. Never mind the exact differences between ex cathedra and non-excathedra.

1) the character of the documents
2) repetition of the same doctrine
3) manner of speaking

I submit that this means nothing, or at least an admission of legitimate private judgment. The character, frequency, "sameness" and manner are all subject to a Pope's final judgment and not the force of the facts.

Here's some more sticky. The "bond of communion" applies, most especially, in a conciliar setting. Infallibility is present when something definitive is proposed. So, when leaders of the church make qualifications, "pastoral" or "dogmatic", about a council they only increase problems. Furthermore, if LG #25 is shown to be definitive, based on the "bond of comm." and 1,2,3, then what becomes of post-conciliar-papal comments about "no note of infallibility". What is the status of these comments ?

This entire debate boils down to the "religious submission of mind and will" regardless of any supposed infallible teachings or errors, for that matter. The SSPX does not submit in a way desired by JPII, Benedict or most RC. I truly believe that the Pope's care about only one infallible teaching; Religious submission of mind and will at any level and any time is an infallible teaching. I hope, for the sake of roman catholics, that the Antichrist can't be a pope.


Andrew W said...


Agreed regarding religious submission of mind and will as a minimum required here. Can one do this and still make strong criticisms of the council documents?. We are seeing more and more critiques of the Council from within the Church these days.

I guess we will find out in the very near future whether or not our current Holy Father thinks they are meeting this requirement. It will be interesting.

Jae said...


I linked this article to present much better the Church's teaching on religious liberty, and shows, despite what some Ultra-traditionalists might think, there is no separation between a civil right and a moral right.

Jae said...

Andrew said:, "Since this was an Ecumenical Council, it was neither an act of the ordinary and universal magisterium or one that invoked papal infallibility. Given all of that, I don't believe there is anything infallibly defined here that requires sacred assent."

So sorry to strongly disagree with you and even the last statement by the presiding Pope said, "In view of the pastoral nature of the Council (VII), it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the **Ordinary Magisterium** which must be accepted with docility (Obedience) according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document" (Paul VI, General Audience of 12 January 1966).

All councils were pastoral, in one way or another. Even if someone in a high place says that it is “pastoral” no one has said yet that its doctrinal assertions do not command at least religious assent, and that its strictly pastoral directives do not command obedience. The output of Trent was predominantly strictly pastoral, for example. And even strictly pastoral directives frequently contain moral implications. The large body of Catholic moral doctrine has never been formulated by the Magisterium in terms of strictly moral doctrine, but it was worked out by theologians from pastoral practice. Magisterial teaching includes both the Ordinary and Extraordinary teaching of the Church. I think most people know that this encompasses both the Pope teaching authoritively on his own, or with the bishops in union with him.
While many of the documents were Pastoral Constitutions, there were 2 Dogmatic Constitutions: Lumen Gentium (On the Church in the Modern World) and Dei Verbum (On Divine Revelation) which were completions of the original work of Vatican I which had been interrupted by the Italian Revolution in 1870. If you look at the end of Lumen Gentium in the VCII document collection by Fr. Flannery, you will see that the CDF clearly stated that part of the document did represent authentic new teaching that was binding on the Church. Dei Verbum definitively settled a serious question on the proper way of interpreting the teaching of the Council of Trent on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. Trent had not clarified whether we were dealing with two separate sources or one source in two forms. DV definitively settled the question in favor of the latter solution.


Jae said...


As regards Dignitatits Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty), it was NOT a Pastoral Constitution, but a declaration of teaching. This is a different kind of document. It is not a solemn definition but it is at least as definitive as an encyclical. The document reaffirmed previous Catholic teaching on the relationship between Church and State but definitely broke new ground. It defined for the first time the meaning of the "Public Order" and established that the just order in a state is inseparable from the objective moral order. The facile separation of "Public Order" from the "Common Good" postulated by some Catholic scholars was thereby rejected. There was also a clear apology for the excesses of the Inquisition and a recognition that the moral order requires that States organize their laws recognizing the dignity of the human person. This was all new.

Some people have argued that DH was only a pastoral document and therefore not irreformable. I don't agree. This was a General Council of the Church. It is clear that doctrine developed here and subsequent Popes have always referred to the documents as part of the Magisterium. While this was not a solemn declaration of a dogma, what was taught meets the criteria for infallible teaching as part of the Ordinary Magisterium. In the same way, Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF have made it clear that it is infallibly taught that women cannot be ordained even though we have had no ex cathedra statement on this.

The quotation by Pope Paul is merely saying that there were no solemn dogmatic definitions at VCII by which opponents were anathematized and excommunication was threatened if one did not submit. This had been common in most other Councils of the Church. Here, we were not trying to condemn heretics, but to clarify Catholic doctrine and to build bridges to our separated brethren and to all people of good will. This did not exclude definitive and infallible teaching or new and irreformable developments in doctrine.

It is not necessary for a doctrine to be defined by the Extraordinary Magisterium in order to be infallible. The Ordinary Magistrerium is good enough. Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis (para 20) clearly taught that the words of Jesus in Luke 10:16 applied to the Ordinary Magisterium:

Luke 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

You can't get more infallible than that.

James Bellisario said...

Jae, first of all you must answer the question. Is it a virtue for man to worship false "god's?" I have said nothing about coercion or forcing people to be Catholic, which is what DH is referring to in this case, so that is a moot point here and has no bearing. In fact DH tells us that man is bound to live the truth. The issue I have dealt with here concerns man's "right" to worship false "god's" or worship in heretical sects. In more clearer terms, does man have a right to embrace error and live a lie? The Church teaches and has always taught that man does not have a "right" to do so, only mere freewill to choose between good and evil in this case. Man should not forced by coercion to believe the truth, but man is obligated by God to do so. That is Church teaching. If you disagree with this fact, then you who have adopted a false understanding of religious freedom, and are interpreting DH outside of Church Tradition.

To make matters even clearer. Do you believe that it is a sin to break the 1st commandment? Does man have a moral right to break the 1st Commandment? Certainly not.

Catechism 2467 Man tends by nature toward the truth. He is obliged to honor and bear witness to it: "It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons . . . are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth."

Canon 748 "All are bound to seek the truth in the matters which concern God and his Church; when they have found it, then by divine law they are bound, and they have the right, to embrace and keep it."

Andrew W said...

Jae said (my emphasis):

So sorry to strongly disagree with you and even the last statement by the presiding Pope said, "In view of the pastoral nature of the Council (VII), it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the **Ordinary Magisterium** which must be accepted with docility (Obedience) according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document" (Paul VI, General Audience of 12 January 1966).


There are two types of assent - sacred (sometimes called theological) assent and religious submission of mind and will. Infallible teachings require sacred assent. Authoritative teachings require only religious submission of mind and will.

Clearly Pope Paul VI's statement is in agreement with what I said in prior comments - the council's teachings rise to that of the Ordinary magisterium (not to be confused with the Ordinary AND Universal - see prior comments). Teachings of the Orindary magisterium of the Church are NOT infallible, but are considered authoritative, and as such only require religious submission of mind and will. They can later become infallible teachings, but must do so through one of the Extraordinary means or by the ordinary and universal magisterium. Until that happens, I do not see how the teachings of the council rise to that of being infallible, and as such do not warrant full assent of faith (sacred assent).

As I also said, the upcoming decision from the Holy Father on the SSPX will help us better understand what the limits are on "religious assent of mind and will" for non-infallible teachings. Already, several Ecclesia Dei communities (FSSP and IBP I am certain of) have in their founding constitutions the ability to criticize the documents of Vatican II, though it must be done so in a non-pejorative manner. This again confirms that they are not infallible and do not require sacred assent.

Please stop confusing these things.

Jae said...

Matt said, "The issue I have dealt with here concerns man's "right" to worship false "god's" or worship in heretical sects. In more clearer terms, does man have a right to embrace error and live a lie? The Church teaches and has always taught that man does not have a "right" to do so, only mere freewill to choose between good and evil in this case."

REPLY: As suggested above, man has just have a MORAL RIGHT to exercise his free will, then why does this simple statement, which you has just conceded, not apply to religious belief? Man has the moral right to exercise his free will, you said, but, should man choose to exercise this "MORAL RIGHT" in the religious sphere, it ceases to become a right! While it is true that "error has no rights," it is equally true that erroneous people do have rights which must be respected. To not respect the rights of human beings with regard to religious freedom is to do violence to the common good and to public order. Again, this does not conflict with prior papal teaching.

The problem is we are thinking in monolithic and triumphalism terms. In fact Catholicism is not simply definable as a single clear way distinguished from all others. There are common elements, but the Church is CATHOLIC (i.e., diverse in its unity). As such, everyone who has been validly baptized is connected to the Catholic Church, though not all the validly baptized are in formal communion with it.

We as human beings are all pilgrims on the way. The validly baptized (Catholics, protestants, Orthodox etc) are especially so as the Council of Trent teaches. Every non-Catholic is a POTENTIAL Catholic. Some are more closely linked to the Church than others. The religious impulse can only find its true end in the Church Jesus founded. But if we do not allow people the freedom to find their way into the Church, they may not arrive there. The specific obligation to practice the true religion logically requires the more general right to be religious.

The religious impulse is not specifically Catholic but more general. I was attracted to many women before getting married but now I am nuptually bonded to the RIGHT one. Logically, I had to date many people before finding the right one. It is unreasonable to assume that I would pick the right one on the first date.

The traditional teaching and practice has always been that only truth has "rights". No. The truth has no "rights." PEOPLE have rights. Erroneous people have the right to be wrong on their way to discerning the truth. They have the right to learn from their mistakes.

Further dialogue on "Religious Freedom and underlying Moral right, Read Here, God bless.

Deo Gracias.

James Bellisario said...

Well this demonstrates my point that the Church needs to again clarify what DH says. Because it is clear in one part of the document that man is 'obligated' to follow the truth, which means that man does not have a "right" to live in error. You are simply using theological terms that are not interchangeable as I pointed out earlier, which you seem to keep ignoring. Freewill and right are not the same, despite your insistence on trying to force them to be so. You really need to study earlier Church documents and moral theology and then come back the subject. You are just not getting it Jae. Pius IX was clear when he condemned the following as heresy in his Syllabus, 15 "Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true."16 "Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation." 17. "Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ."

You said, "In fact Catholicism is not simply definable as a single clear way distinguished from all others." That is heresy and goes against defined dogma. Where did you get that teaching, I am curious to know? Did you know that Pope Pius X taught exactly the opposite? in his encyclical Pascendi he writes, "...the Vatican Council has defined, "If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let him be anathema" (De Revel., can. I); and also: "If anyone says that it is not possible or not expedient that man be taught, through the medium of divine revelation, about God and the worship to be paid Him, let him be anathema" (Ibid., can. 2); and finally, "If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men should be drawn to the faith only by their personal internal experience or by private inspiration, let him be anathema" (De Fide, can. 3)"

He also quotes Pope Gregory XVI, "Gregory XVI., who wrote: A lamentable spectacle is that presented by the aberrations of human reason when it yields to the spirit of novelty, when against the warning of the Apostle it seeks to know beyond what it is meant to know, and when relying too much on itself it thinks it can find the fruit outside the Church wherein truth is found without the slightest shadow of error (Ep. Encycl. Singulari nos, 7 Kal. Jul. 1834)" Have you read and studied this document? I would suggest you do before you reply so you can address what I have written. Thanks

Unknown said...

Doesn't the mass confusion sowed by the documents of that most un-pastoral of pastoral councils pretty well speaks for itself? That there is even any credible question whatsoever as to whether HD legitimated open rejection of the Church of Christ is a serious count against VCII itself.

Jae said...

ERRATUM: It should be, "In fact Catholicism is simply definable as a single clear way distinguished from all others". The word "NOT" shouldn't be there , moreover, the quotes you gave I do believe, in fact every single teaching of very single Council of the Church, I do accept unlike some folks who pick and choose the Council or Council documents they wish to obey and give their assent to according to what they think Tradition truly says apart from the present living Magisterium of the Church.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is, that the Church of Christ "subsists" in the Catholic Church." Choice of the word "subsist" as explained by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community,' that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted."

"This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him."

The responses say that "it is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them."

The document further explains why the expression "subsists in" was adopted, instead of simply the word "is."

"The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church," the document affirmed.

It continues: "Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel toward Catholic unity."

Turning to the issue of Eastern Churches not in full communion with Rome, the congregation explains that "the council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term Church.

"Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all -- because of the apostolic succession -- the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds,' (Council of Trent) they merit the title of 'particular or local Churches,' and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches," it says.

Christian communities born out of the 16th-century Reformation are not given the title Church, the document explains.

It states: "According to Catholic doctrine, these communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church.

"These ecclesial communities, which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense."


Jae said...

Matt said, " Freewill and right are not the same".

Or is it rather that man has the moral right to exercise his free will that is inherent to the dignity and nature of a person as created by God then obviously one has the right to exercise one's religion since that is part of "free will"! DH simply affirmed man's moral right to exercise his free will in religious matters, provided that, of course, the public order was maintained. We can see clearly is that, if this point is well understood.

Furthermore, this right is known as "through the revealed word of God". Yet again another unmistakable clear reference to the moral area of "rights".

If we pay close attention to the **emphasized** citation from DH:

"It is through his conscience that man sees and recognized the demands of the divine law. He is **bound to follow this conscience faithfully** in all his activity so that he may come to God, who is his last end. Therefore he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters. The reason is because the practice of religion of its very nature consists primarily of those voluntary and free internal acts by which a man directs himself to God. Acts of this kind cannot be commanded or forbidden by any merely human authority. But his own social nature requires that man give external expression to these internal acts of religion, that he communicate with others on religious matters, and **profess his religion in community.** Consequently to deny man the free exercise of religion in society, when the just requirements of public order are observed, is to do an injustice to the human person and to the **very order established by God for men.** (DH,3)"

As DH makes plainly obvious, the **free exercise of religion** in society is under "the very order established by God for men." That clearly makes it a moral right because it has been established by no other than God Himself.

Jae said...

Matt said, "The issue I have dealt with here concerns man's "right" to worship false "god's" or worship in heretical sects. In more clearer terms, does man have a right to embrace error and live a lie? Man does not have a right to live a lie... which means that man does not have a "right" to live in error.

Yes man does not have a right to worship in another religion or live in error however there is one important qualifier that is..ONCE their conscience convicts them of the truth of Catholicism, but BEFORE this time they MUST seek and worship God in the ways that they believe he has revealed Himself. This is a simple yet necessary distinction we need to make. God demands that all men seek after Him, yet not all men know the complete truth of the Gospel. As such, on a natural level, He demands that they worship Him as best they can. The Roman officer named Cornelius as told in the Bible is an excellent example of this...a devout pagan "who can fear the Lord" ouside judeo- christian religion.

We can safely say that Satan does not have the right to spread his error and neither do humans. That is not the issue here. The issue here is, in the context of ignorance and his search for truth, does man have a right, based on the dignity of his person and not on the error he may profess, to search for that truth? Satan knows the truth but many non-catholics, pagans etc do not.

The Council of Vatican II (DH)further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. **This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.**(DH,2)
AGAIN HERE: **This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.**(DH,2)

If we are goin to insert the word "civil" between "This" and "right" and do the same with "moral". Which connotation makes more sense?

Very clearly the right of being spoken of here is a moral right.

Firstly, the demonstrative pronoun "this" is referring to the right mentioned in the previous sentence which is described as being based on "the very dignity of man". Clearly, this is referring to a moral right.

As like Satan does not have the right to spread his error on earth unless God has given him the rights to tempt and neither do humans to spread error in any forum. However that is not the issue here. The issue here is, in the context of ignorance and his search for truth, does man have a right, based on the dignity of his person and not on the error he may profess, to search for that truth? Satan knows the truth but non-catholics, pagans don't.

Further dialogue on Religious freedom and underlying Moral Right, READ HERE

Pax et Bonum.

James Bellisario said...

Jae, this exchange is proving again why what I said earlier about these documents is true. People like you are reading them and are now denying what the Church clearly defined before they were written. You keep accusing others of “cherry picking” between Church documents and Councils, yet it is you who are overturning two thousand years of Church teaching concerning moral acts, man’s rights, and religious liberty, for an isolated personal interpretation of a VCII document which is going against the constant teaching of the Church regarding religious liberty. It is you who are coming up with a new teaching by confusing what DH says, because the document is not very clear.

For one, you are not speaking the language of the Church prior to the document. You insist on claiming that a man’s “right” or his actions concerning “liberty” are synonymous with man’s ability to choose between good and evil, freewill. This is not so, and the many papal documents and the many moral theology books based on them, written for Catholic seminaries before the 60’s clearly reveals to us this fact.

I would encourage you to read the following very carefully. Blessed Pope Pius IX wrote to the Church declaring emphatically, (Quanta Cura)

“For you well know, venerable brethren, that at this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of "naturalism," as they call it, dare to teach that "the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones." And, against the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that "that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require." From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an "insanity,"2 viz., that "liberty of conscience and worship is each man's personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way." But, while they rashly affirm this, they do not think and consider that they are preaching "liberty of perdition;"

Pope Pius IX is very clear here that man does not have the “liberty” to practice whatever religion he likes. In order for true liberty to be exercised, or for a man to posses a “right” it is expected to be ordered towards the good, and that the act is based upon truth, not falsity. An evil act, that of false worship for example, is not a “right.” The act of breaking the First Commandment is based on a falsity and therefore does not contain the essential element which constitutes true liberty, or a “right.”

James Bellisario said...

Let me demonstrate this fact further by referring to a Thomistic philosophy book set that was used in seminaries back in the 40s. It tells us how the Church at the time understood liberty, and how the liberals of the time were trying to deny defined Church teaching on the matter. As a mater of fact, the Liberal error is the same one you are now holding to Jae.

In Volume One Thomistic Philosophy, written by Henri Grenier, page 512-513 he writes the following. “There are many nowadays, especially those who style themselves Liberals, who teach that liberty essentially implies the power of good and evil. Hence, according to such persons, civil society is bound to grant its citizens liberty in the matter of good and evil. In like manner, every man has the right of publicly professing any religion he wishes, and no civil law may interfere with this inalienable right...Indifference towards good or evil is not of the essence of a power which is essentially inclined to good, but rather is a defect in such a faculty. But liberty is a power which is essentially inclined to good. Therefore indifference towards good and evil is not the essence of liberty, but rather is a defect of liberty...Just as it does not pertain to the perfection of the intellect, but rather is a defect, to adhere to falsity, so too is a defect of liberty to tend towards evil.”

There is a lot packed into the quoted text which presupposes that you understand basic Thomistic principles concerning the intellect. Simply speaking, man never has the “right” to adopt falsehood, period. Liberty concerns right action, hence we understand the origin of the term “right.” This passage of text from this text book demonstrates that people in the Church were trying to fool people into believing what you believe Jae. I could go on with more proof, but it seems that no proof is ample enough for you to give up your erroneous position. Perhaps if I get the time I will write a new article concerning man’s “rights” and what “liberty” truly is concerning our Catholic faith.

James Bellisario said...

To further my argument that man does not have the “right” to worship false “gods” or practice a religion contrary to the one true religion, I would like to quote from another seminary book set. Presupposing that you understand the difference between “moral liberty” which is what we have been discussing here concerning “rights” and “liberty” concerning freewill, which we have discussed prior, I refer to Cardinal Mercier’s work ‘A Manual of Modern Scholastic Philosphy 1938.’ (page 275 Volume I) “ Since the liberty to commit evil is an imperfection of the will, to claim it as a right either for one’s self or for others is manifestly absurd. When, therefore, a legitimately constituted authority, acting within the limits and observing the precautions demanded by prudence, takes measures to prevent in the family or in society vice or error leading to vice, it is protecting moral liberty and in no way curtailing it. Unbridled liberty is no true liberty but only license, a counterfeit of it.” This goes hand in hand with last quote from Henri Grenier’s book concerning man’s “right” to worship however he sees fit. “There are many nowadays, especially those who style themselves Liberals, who teach that liberty essentially implies the power of good and evil. Hence, according to such persons, civil society is bound to grant its citizens liberty in the matter of good and evil. In like manner, every man has the right of publicly professing any religion he wishes, and no civil law may interfere with this inalienable right.” I can pull dozens of books off of my shelf that prove this fact over and over that this is Catholic teaching prior to the VCII documents, and is henceforth the Church’s teaching after VCII. I would suggest that a reading of Pope Leo XIII’s document titled ‘Libertas’ be read to gain a clearer understanding of the distinctions I have provided thus far concerning “rights” and “liberty.”

De Maria said...

Bravo, Jae!

Matt, you said:
Jae, there are some facts you have failed to mention here. For one, just because the Holy Spirit has authority over the Council does not guarantee that the Council will achieve its desired end....

I don't know what you were reading. Jae mentioned the evils following Nicae 1 and the fact that Protestantism flourished after Trent. Do you think these were the desired ends of those Councils?

Faith, is the key Matt. And as Jae said, conservatism is excellent, if they are united to the Pope and the Bishops. But if they are against them, they are simply another Protestant sect.


De Maria

James Bellisario said...

De Maria, with all due respect it seems as if you completely missed the point here. Trent came years after the pretended "Reformation" so it could not have stopped it. It intended to refute the errors being propagated by it, and did so very effectively. As far as VCII goes, it did not formally define any doctrine. So I fail to understand your comments here. I never disputed the fact that we must have faith, and it appears that you have built a straw man argument here, as if I have somehow protested against the virtue of faith, which is obviously an absurd accusation.

Unknown said...

Your statement that Trent refuted the alleged "errors" of the Reformation, "very effectively", is itself refuted by the exhaustive five volume work by Martin Chemnitz, who brilliantly and meticulously exposes the innumerable falsehoods propagated by this Council in his, "Examination of the Council of Trent".

James Bellisario said...

There are no falsehoods in Trent. It is obvious the the pretended "Reformers" did not reform anything. That debate is for another time and place. That is not what we are discussing on this thread.

De Maria said...

Matthew Bellisario said... if I have somehow protested against the virtue of faith, which is obviously an absurd accusation.

You and I must have a very different understanding of faith.

One of the elements of faith, is trust. Yet, in your writings on this blog, you display anything but trust in the Catholic Church.

James Bellisario said...

Well, good for me then that you Maria are not the designated authority who determines what faith is, and who does and does not possess it. As far as trust in Christ and His one and only Church goes, I have full faith that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. If you are going to comment, how about contributing something substantive to the topic rather than making a one or two sentence ad-hominem? Thanks for stopping by.