Jun 24, 2008

Minimum Agreement? Assimilation or Union?

The five conditions in Cardinal Hoyos' letter of seem carefully worded to allow the FSSPX to accept a minimum proposed agreement with Pope Benedict XVI--perhaps a first step. As translated by Rorate Coeli, here are the five conditions outlined by Cardinal Hoyos and my personal comments:

1. The commitment to a response proportionate to the generosity of the Pope.

Clearly this first of five conditions is not very specific. The "generosity of the Pope" is not specified, but action(s) are implied, possibly even a personal prelature for the FSSPX. Thus, the response of the FSSPX needs to consist of charitable ("generous") actions, as distinguished from words/agreements. Actions could include spiritual activities and gifts, or simply provide a basis for a future, more detailed, agreement with Rome. The FSSPX might also offer priestly support to selected papal endeavors, such as a special mission for conversion of Islam. Actually, my interpretation of this condition is that the Pope already has recommended to the FSSPX the particular response that he wants from a particular generous action to begin a more complete union into the framework of the Church.

2. The commitment to avoid every public intervention which does not respect the person of the Holy Father and which may be negative to ecclesial charity.

This one might be more difficult for the FSSPX, because it states the FSSPX should respect "the person," rather than "the office," of the Holy Father. Other questions arise. What if the present Pope is succeeded by Paul VII? Does the commitment attach to the next Pope, too? The width of this condition implies that under no circumstances can the Pope be publicly criticized! However, this condition always must be interpreted in the Scriptural framework of St. Paul's criticism of Pope St. Peter.

The words "which may be negative to ecclesial charity" is another picky point. Why did this condition not say "which is negative..."? Some commenters have complained that this condition for reconciliation simply says that the FSSPX must "shut up!" in the future. No more complaining about how the Pope is running the Church. BUT, the condition doesn't say that the Vatican bureaucracy cannot be publicly criticized. Mmmm?

3. The commitment to avoid the claim to a Magisterium superior to the Holy Father and to not propose the Fraternity in contraposition to the Church.

I fail to see how this condition would be a problem for the FSSPX because they don't claim to be a "super Magisterium." Rather, they rightly state that all teachings of the Holy Father must conform to the traditional teaching of the Church. If I were in the FSSPX, I could sign this point without any qualms whatsoever because the Church with its Papacy is what I defend. Modernist churches are another matter, so the third condition wouldn't restrict the FSSPX in proselytizing members of church communities in apostasy.

4. The commitment to display the will to act honestly in full ecclesial charity and in respect for the authority of the Vicar of Christ.

The fourth condition appears to be rather nebulous, but I suspect the FSSPX knows what is meant. Nothing here seems to be a real problem, unless one wants to get 'real particular'.

5. The commitment to respect the date - fixed for the end of the month of June - to respond positively. This shall be a condition necessary and required as an immediate preparation for adhesion to accomplish full communion.

This may be a good thing for the FSSPX to decide quickly before pressures build up one way or another. The five conditions seem to be a good start but that will have some pauses in the future. The road now seems to be open, even though under construction.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know anything about this until last night...so far from the blogging days have I come....haven't been on the computer for fun in a long while. Anyways, the best comment I saw when I was getting up to speed was something to this effect: "At least they can reuse the memo if they change "SSPX" to "Jesuits""



E. said...

The difficulty with #3 is this: by signing off "no problem" it implies a certain guilt. Why would this be a "condition" if it is not presently a violation? So, the SSPX would be implicitly admitting guilt for something it has not done.

The Holy Father belongs to the Magisterium insofar as he protects and promotes the Deposit of Faith. If he so chooses to act in contrast to the ordinary or extraordinary Magisterium, then he has lowered his teaching; the SSPX has not put a magisterium above him or his Holy Office. Otherwise, he acts as a private theologian.

Lastly, all the conditions MUST be read as a whole, and their implications understood in context of the entire case of the SSPX, not just the events of the past few years.

Sorry for the length of this post.

Erica Kauffman