Listening for Mater Ecclesia:

On the Eve of the SSPX Negotiations

Martin Blackshaw

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn demands

strict adherence to Vatican II. His Eminence

is the one holding the orange balloon.

(Posted 10/04/09 In the run-up to the long-anticipated talks between the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the Holy See much useless chatter has been generated in the press by those who are less than receptive to the idea of reconciliation. Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna, for example, recently stated that the SSPX must accept the whole of Vatican II—including religious liberty, religious freedom, ecumenism and interfaith dialogue.  Rather than headlining these remarks as the personal opinions of Cardinal Schönborn the press presented them as a statement from the Vatican itself.

Not to be outdone, SVT—the Swedish public TV channel responsible for the Bishop Williamson interview on the Holocaust which appeared quite conveniently on the eve of the Holy Father’s lifting of the SSPX excommunications—has lined up yet another programme just in time for the opening of the Vatican’s talks with the SSPX. This time around it’s the Pope himself who will be at the centre of the Catholic-bashing agenda—an agenda now being pre-emptively facilitated by Sweden’s Bishop Anders Arborilius and Cardinal Walter Kasper who are insisting that Bishop Williamson’s views on the Holocaust were common knowledge in the Vatican prior to the lifting of the excommunications back in January. With “friends” like these why would the Pope need enemies!

It’s open season not only on the SSPX but also on any pope who would dare welcome the Traditionalists back into Rome.  The hysteria certainly suggests there most be terror in the hearts of Modernists at the thought that Bishop Fellay could inadvertently encourage the Holy Father to continue to drag the Church back towards Tradition.

In Passauer Neue Presse, Cardinal Schönborn huffed that the SSPX would have to agree to fundamental decisions of the Second Vatican Council which the Holy See considers “non-negotiable.” He lists these in the following order: “The Church’s stand on Judaism, on the other world religions, on the other Christian churches and on religious liberty as a basic human right.”

No doctrines here!  So what, one wonders, is His Excellency getting at?  In the matter of religious liberty Pope Leo XIII in Libertas Praestantissimum declares: “…let us examine that liberty in individuals which is so opposed to the virtue of religion, namely, the liberty of worship, as it is called.” The Roman Pontiff actually refuted the error Cardinal Schönborn considers a “basic human right”—the same error condemned by Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors (#15) and Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos.

The Cardinal refers to “the Church’s stand on the other Christian churches”, but surely His Eminence must know that the Catholic Church has only one “stand” on this question, summed up beautifully in her infallible dogma ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’ (outside the Church no salvation). We hear an awful lot from the Cardinal about “ecumenism”—or what Pope Pius XI called “false unity among Christians”—but what about this defined doctrine?  Has the Cardinal’s notion of ecumenism completely eclipsed it in his mind?

In his Encyclical Mortalium Animos, Pius XI warned against such “pan-Christians” and their “alluring” discourses which cloak “a most grave error, subversive of the foundations of the Catholic Faith”:

These pan-Christians who strive for the union of the churches would appear to pursue the noblest of ideals in promoting charity among all Christians. But how should charity tend to the detriment of faith? Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems in his Gospel to have revealed the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and who never ceased to impress upon the memory of his disciples the new commandment “to love one another,” strictly forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt form of Christ’s teaching. “If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God speed you.” (2 John 1:10).

 …Thus, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics. There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by furthering the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it; for from that one true Church they have in the past fallen away.

Such contradiction between Pius XI and the likes of Cardinal Schönborn might explain why there’s so much animus against the SSPX—a priestly fraternity whose priests have never questioned a single dogma of the Catholic Faith…. Which brings us to the question of interfaith dialogue.

Pope Gregory XVI, in his encyclical, Mirari Vos, seems to have something to say about this particular point in Cardinal Schönborn’s list of “non-negotiables”:

Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that "there is one God, one faith, one baptism"16 may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that "those who are not with Christ are against Him,"17 and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore "without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate”.

Isn’t this the very indifferentist spirit we have witnessed ad nauseam in the wake of the interreligious juggernaut launched at Vatican II? The modernists may argue to the contrary but the interfaith prayer meetings at Assisi cannot easily be reconciled with the pre-Conciliar magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church. So, what’s a Catholic to do?

When’s the last time a post-Conciliar pope or prelate entered into an interreligious setting and even suggested to his non-Catholic hosts that it is essential for them to acknowledge Jesus Christ if they would be saved? And yet isn’t this still the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church? Has human respect and solidarity usurped divine charity? Has ‘saving the planet’ trumped saving souls?

Confusion reigns, obviously, and perhaps it is not so difficult for us to understand why, given this diabolical disorientation, so many within the Church are desperate to prevent discussions between the SSPX and the Holy See. Catholic Tradition is already undermining their agenda; Catholic Tradition sitting in the Chair of St. Peter will destroy it completely.

The hope is, then, that these discussions will result in a return to the clear teaching of all the doctrines of the Catholic Faith, including extra ecclesiam nulla salus.  With this hope and prayer in mind, let us recall the words of Pope Gregory XVI:

…Indeed you will accomplish this perfectly if, as the duty of your office demands, you attend to yourselves and to doctrine and meditate on these words: "the universal Church is affected by any and every novelty"5 and the admonition of Pope Agatho: "nothing of the things appointed ought to be diminished; nothing changed; nothing added; but they must be preserved both as regards expression and meaning." (Mirari Vos).

Clearly, Vatican II must be interpreted in light of these words—the words of Holy Mother Church, the words of Tradition, the words of the Holy Ghost and the Invisible Head of the Catholic Church.