Saturday, January 24, 2009

Excommunications Lifted!

The National Catholic Reporter has an interesting article by John L. Allen, Jr. titled, "Papal Reconciliation Move Will Stir Controversy." The article discusses the lifting of the 20-year old excommunication imposed on the four bishops who were ordained as bishops by the late Swiss Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, leader of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X. This society broke with the Vatican because of their opposition to the reforms of Vatican II, especially in the areas of ecumenism and religious freedom.

Allen see serious reservations from the Jewish community because of the remarks made by one of the bishops, Bishop Richard Williamson, who recently denied the gassing of Jews in Hitler's gas chambers. The Jewish community also believes that Bishop Williamson and many in the SSPX are anti-semitic.

On the other hand, though many see the action of the lifting of the excommunications as a gesture of reconciliation, the Church's liberal wing may view the event as another example that a more traditional reading of Vatican II is being emphasized under Pope Benedict.

Go HERE for the complete article by John Allen and the many interesting comments by readers.

~ (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo) ~


Mark said...

This is a very complex issue. I interpret it as follows:

First, there already is a healthy and intelligent Traditional movement within the Church (FSSP), that is growing fast and gaining acceptance even among some of those who describe themselves as progressive;

Second, reconciliation of SSPX to the Catholic Church is of vital interest for some parts of Europe, where the Church as a whole is near, or has, collapsed. In those places, whatever life still remains is within the SSPX, especially in France. Bringing them back is important for these regions;

Third, this really doesn't affect the day to day functioning of the progressive faction within the Church. What is happening is part of an unavoidable historical process which involves the interpretation of the Vatican Two Council. Outside of the papacy, no single faction within the Church can claim today that they are the sole possessors of the keys to its proper interpretation. In a way, the period of confusion is ending, and the interpretation of this Council is just beginning;

Fourth, the Holocaust denying statements by SSPX Bishop Williamson are outrageous. His superior should discipline him and apologize for his remarks. SSPX leadership as a whole would benefit from a period of introspection. I'm including below a link to the Auschwitz camp website that dispels the myths of the Holocaust deniers:

standing maryanna said...

"Outside of the papacy, no single faction within the Church can claim today that they are the sole possessors of the keys to its proper interpretation."

Thank you Mark... a thoughtful appraisal of the issues. I agree with your above quote.

I may be progressive but I am not stupid! I realize that some of the more weird experiments that have come out of VII (clown Masses, Australian priests who deny the divinity of Christ, etc.) are way over the top...

Now back to the excommunication/reconciliation issue: a major concern is that even among the SSPX, there will be a split between those who will still refuse to recognize the last few popes and the Vatican II documents on Religious Liberty, Ecumenism and the Church in the Modern World.

I am also concerned that if Bishop Williamson is not reined in by church athorities with his outrageous claims that the Jews were not sent to gas chambers, it will cause much harm to our relationships with other religions; not only the Jewish religion.

And finally, on a slightly different track, I read somewhere that it is possible that the SSPX may be given a similar status as the Opus Dei group. Anyone wish to comment on that?

standing maryanna said...

Over at Aliens In This World, Maureen has written an interesting and entertaining article on the excommunications, titled "Excommunications Lifted; Media Ignorance Descends" Here is the link...

...and the opening lines of the article:

"Today, the Pope, through the Curia, “remitted” the excommunications placed in 1988 on the four new bishops who had just been consecrated without permission (validly, but not legally) by Archbishop Lefebvre. The remission was retroactive, going back all the way to 1988, and removing all juridical penalties otherwise incurred. Archbishop Lefebvre’s penalties for doing the consecrations were not removed. (Not that it matters at this point, as excommunication only lasts until the moment of death. But it could have been done, just as governors can issue posthumous pardons.) This was an important step."

Take a look...