Monday, August 23, 2010

"A Soft Introduction to Schism" - Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.'s Reply to Fr. Paul Morgan, SSPX

Sunday, December 07, 2008

In the December Letter from the District Superior of the SSPX in Great Britain, Fr Paul Morgan, (opposite) criticises the community of Papa Stronsay. I make a reply.

1. Father speaks against our 'practical agreement' with the Holy See.

He insists on “a solution to the doctrinal issues before there can be any practical agreement with the Roman authorities.” He says: “The Superior General alludes to the unacceptable situation of those communities who have sought a practical agreement prior to the major issues being addressed. In this regard we cannot but think of the community of Papa Stronsay here in Britain.”

Rather than make his own submission to the Holy See, what Fr. Morgan advocates is to play a waiting game with the Pope, the Church and ultimately with God. This is a dangerous idea full of dangerous possibilities for his own soul and for the souls of those he is leading.

The ambiguities of the Second Vatican Council remain to be clarified, this is certain. But far from denying the bi-millennial tradition of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI is acutely aware of the need to reconcile the Second Vatican Council with tradition. How exactly to do so remains the poignant question of our day. It is a question that will not be solved easily nor soon – this we can gather from the manner in which the Church has dealt with problematic declarations of councils in the past.

We are thinking specifically of the Council of Constance (1414 - 1417) and some of the texts of this council that Pope Martin V could not confirm. Nor did he feel the authority to condemn them. Specifically, these were declarations that a General Council is superior to the Pope, that periodically a General Council should assemble and check on the Pope, etc. The three Popes who followed the Council of Constance had quite a lot just to try to undo this mischief, and the full effect was only felt at the next General Council of Basel / Ferrara / Florence... Only part of the theological problem was addressed at the Council of Florence (25 years later), but the issue was really completely solved only at the First Vatican Council in 1870 - more than 400 years later!

Imagine for a moment that you were a traditional Catholic living in 1418; you disagreed with the teachings of the Council of Constance; and Pope Martin and his successors were not resolving matters...

Taking the SSPX approach you would have to wait 400 years before joining the structures of the Church.
Is that God's will? Does that sound like the Catholic approach?

This idea is a soft introduction to schism.

2. Fr Morgan also reports that I openly claim “that the SSPX and its supporters are outside the Catholic Church and in danger of losing their souls.” This is false. 

a. I believe that the SSPX as a group of priests are outside the structures of the Church. This is clear. SSPX priests are not submitted to the Holy See, nor to Local Ordinaries or Ordinaries. Objectively this is dangerous to salvation. Subjectively it is another matter.

b. I do not hold any opinion about SSPX supporters (as a group or as individuals) being inside or outside the Church. I have no set opinion about their salvation.

c. I hold that a person may attend Mass in a SSPX chapel in good conscience if he does it without adhering to any schismatic mentality.

Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Very good illustration about the Council of Constance.