Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Professor Martin Marty on Pope Benedict's Actions

Professor Martin Marty of University of Chicago has written an interesting essay [Sightings] on the Papal decision to reinstate the Society of Pope Pius X.

It includes much information already post on this site, but concludes with the following musing:

How and why did he get into this situation?

Theories abound, as they did when the Vatican-Muslim flap occurred. This time is different, says Father Oakes, since the offenders are not medieval Byzantine rulers (as in the Muslim case) but living, breathing excommunicated schismatics for whom the pope will do anything, including offend the whole Jewish world and millions of bystanders, among them those who do remember the Holocaust, in order to reincorporate Bishop Williamson and his three Episcopal leaders in the Pius X society.

Put simply, as Father Oakes and numerous Catholic commentators have thus put it: Benedict XVI has such a horror of schism that he and his team can let almost anything else go-including Pius X Society's insults to the Vatican II bishops and their successors, and interpretations of Catholicism which the previous pope and team adjudged to be heretical-in order to stall or demolish schismatic movements. Is Benedict XVI, such a learned and informed and open-intentioned scholar, too much the German with his historian-fed memories of Martin Luther and other 16th century "schismatics" and an inordinate fear of repetition?

We'll wait and see.
Professor Marty's conjecture reaffirms my view, i.e. that the Pope did not not care [that's not a typo] about the fact that the Society has some weird views. He may have specifically known about Williamson's denial [probably did]. But all this paled in importance next to the issue of schismatic movements.

Bring them in at all costs, he may well have thought, and everything else will sort itself out.


StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Dr. Lipstadt,

You wrote, summarizing M. Marty,

"Bring them in at all costs, he (Benedict) may well have thought, and everything else will sort itself out."

That puts it neatly.

Let's remember folks, for twenty year negotiations with these guys have been premised on the SSXP signing affirmations of the Religious Liberty and Ecumenism documents from Vatican II.

Once they are inside, documents signed, under the Pope's personal supervision then the real work begins.

The real drama now is the fact that Bp. Tissier Mallerais and Bp. Williamson claim nothing will change, and of course the Boss, Bp. Fellay has already endorsed Vatican II.

What Jewish men and women and all men and women of good faith must do now is INSIST THE SSPX AFFIRM THE NEW UNDERSTANDING OF CATHOLIC JEWISH RELATIONSHIPS contained in the Vatican II documents.

I know that from a Jewish perspective it's safer to have these guys saying Mass in Holiday inns out in Kansas or Montana.

But I still insist they are more dangerous to Jewish interests outside than inside because in a state of schism they are not under any ADULT SUPERVISION.

By the way, Dr. Lipstadt, please professor do address one thing in you posting. You wrote,

"Is Benedict XVI, such a learned and informed and open-intentioned scholar, too much the German with his historian-fed memories of Martin Luther and other 16th century "schismatics" and an inordinate fear of repetition?

Martin Luther was NOT a schismatic. He was a heretic. There is an important difference which makes all the differece.

The See of St. Peter isn't responsible for heretics. He IS morally responsible for schismatics because they are -- nuttiness aside -- functionally, Catholic.

This is a REAL and important difference.

The whole purpose of having a Pope is UNITY and so he really isn't doing his job if he doesn't bring them in.

Every single Pope since 1986 has carried on a backdoor, or front door series of negotiations with the SSPX.

Don't beat up on Bennedict. This is the fruit of 20 years.

Which raises the question: Why were Holocaust Denial groups not screaming about those negotiations ten years ago?

Anyone with a subscription to Catholic World would have known this was coming up eventually.

StGuyFawkes said...

Looking at my post above I realize you are quoting the venerated Martin Marty in your conflation of hertic with "schismatic".

Sorry, I threw this at you. Also, M. Marty puts "schismatic" in quotation marks which I don't understand.

He may be doing that because he says the SSPX has issued "heretical" statements.

I don't think anyone at the Vatican thinks they are heretical.

Martin Marty has that part dead wrong.

Benedict isn't fearful of another Luther. He's fearful, he's fearful, well actually I don't think he's afraid of anything.

ALthough, there is a theory in Catholic circles that small schisms eventually become heretical do to their growing so far from the vine.

The Smiths said...

What the Pope Should Do To Reassure the World

Nice op-ed from the Washington Post's On Faith section. It puts the antisemitism of Williamson into the larger perspective of the entire SSPX. This is not simply an isolated crank.

StGuyFawkes said: "This is the fruit of 20 years." Doesn't the Christian's Bible say "and by your fruits you shall know them"?

hockey hound said...

"Martin Luther was NOT a schismatic. He was a heretic"

Yeah, like the Catholic Church did not create Martin Luther or his anti-Jewish hatred. Like he was innocuous as a Catholic. Give me a freakin' break. You're living in a dream-world, Guy Fawkes.

The Smiths got it right: "by their fruits you shall know them."

StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Smiths,

I read the excellant piece by Abraham and Cooper and I quite agree with them, especially when they wrote,

"But this move (the excommunication lift) has not been accompanied by declarations that there is no turning back the clock on the teachings of Vatican II that blazed the way for new understanding between Catholics and Jews."

Except there have been EXACTLY those declarations for those who want to read them, and report them. Please look at this website which gives a compendium of SSPX and Vatican statements denouncing Holocaust Denial and affirming Vatican II.


Abraham and Cooper went on to say,

"In fact, other Church observers speak more ominously, claiming that Vatican II is "not a dogma of faith," and therefore no barrier to the reintegration of SSPX faithful into the Church."

Keep your eye on the ball. That's exactly where the drama of the hour lies. Bp. Tissier Mallerais and Williamson are saying nothing will change. The leader of the SSPX and others are saying "We are already on our way."

It's true that the anti-Semitic disease can be found in SSPX enclaves. However the ordinary SSPX family has no opinion at all on the holocaust. It's on the behalf of the average soul in an SSPX parish that the Pope is acting.

Remember, in his (and my)religion the image of the Pope is the image of a shepherd who must both find and save his sheep. He must also use his crook against the wolves.

The Smiths made a final comment which I'm not sure how to approach. They wrote quoting me,

""This is the fruit of 20 years." Doesn't the Christian's Bible say "and by your fruits you shall know them"?

Are you saying we should reject the SSPX because some of them are sinners, or all of them are sinners, or that the SSPX is the fruits of the Catholic Church and you wish to reject the Catholic Church? Please clarify.

hockey hound said...

"I don't think he's afraid of anything"

He's definitely not afraid of offending the Jews. But then again, that particular expressive style has long ago been deemed a virtue among Christians, both Catholic and Protestant.

"ALthough, there is a theory in Catholic circles that small schisms eventually become heretical do to their growing so far from the vine."

This is not mere theory you mention here, nor some peculiar or minute contemporaneity. This is an ancient Christian shibboleth. You are talking about the good old Catholic practice of intimating to the flock the postulational rule that one doesn't get to Heaven if one doesn't tow the Catholic line.

It's laughable how you are making Christianity, Catholicism and the Vatican sound like such a salubrious affair. They are not, and Ratzinger is proving this all over again. The Vatican did not recognize the State of Israel until 1993. HELLO!! Also the Vatican refuses to grant Jewish historians access to its archives of diplomatic writings in order that the matter of Pope Pius Xll's behaviour during the Holocaust be settled once and for all between Israel's Yad Vashem and the Vatican. And now the Catholic hierarchy want to make the Pius a "saint"-without having made this archive available to historians!

Forgive my frankness, but I think this wilfull obfuscation of history and anti-Israel behaviour on the part of the Vatican is totally disgusting.

Let's be honest here, shall we? Roman Catholicism and the Vatican have from their beginning arrogated its Christianity as superceding Judaism and the Jews. I am SO tired of all this bs otherwise, as though this were not the case. Pope Ratzinger has just reinstated an anti-Jewish Bishop. Well, guess what, everyone: he ain't the first!

"Really I doubt whether a Jew can be human for he will neither yield to human reasoning, nor find satifaction in authoritative utterances, alike divine and Jewish." -Peter the Venerable of Cluny

"With its totalitarian control over European cosmology and moral culture, the Church disseminated through its representatives, its bishops, and, most important, its parish priests, its view of Jews, creating a universal and relatively uniform, pan-European cognition about Jews in which Jews were, as creatures of the Devil, considered to be barely human, if human at all." -Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

hockey hound said...

Priests' comments on Jews, Muslims embarrass Pope

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Outbursts about Jews and Muslims by Italian leaders of an ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic group show the challenge facing Pope Benedict as he tries to bring them back into the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican January 28, 2009. Outbursts about Jews and Muslims by Italian leaders of an ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic group show the challenge facing Pope Benedict as he tries to bring them back into the Church. (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Benedict tried on Wednesday to defuse an international furore over his decision to lift the excommunication of four bishops including Richard Williamson, who denies the full extent of the Holocaust and says there were no gas chambers.

The Pope expressed his "full and unquestionable solidarity" with Jews and warned of the dangers of Holocaust denial.

But the next day a priest who is a regional leader of the same ultra-traditionalist group as Williamson, the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), made headlines by telling a local newspaper "gas chambers existed at least for disinfecting" inmates but he wasn't sure if they were used to kill them.

The priest, Floriano Abrahamowicz, defended Williamson. He said it was "impossible for a Christian to be an anti-Semite" and that the whole controversy was part of a "very powerful campaign against the Vatican".

On Friday, Williamson posted on his blog a letter in which he apologised to the pope for the "unnecessary distress and problems" he caused the pontiff "amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine".

But Williamson, a Briton, made no mention of the Holocaust and did not repudiate his comments, as many Jews had demanded.

The affair has angered Jews. Benedict has given credence to "the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism" by rehabilitating a Holocaust denier, death camp survivor Elie Wiesel, an author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, told Reuters this week.

Some analysts believe Benedict failed to anticipate the furore because he is too isolated.

"This is a solitary papacy and Benedict is paying the price," said Professor Alberto Melloni, head of The John XXIII Centre for Religious Studies in Bologna.

He concurred with Vatican sources who said Benedict had not consulted widely inside the Vatican or beyond before lifting the excommunications, whose effect was to exclude the bishops from communion with the Church.

"If he had called any five bishops at random around the world for advice I think they would all have said 'no'," Melloni told Reuters.


The Vatican has been in damage control mode since Saturday, when the excommunications were lifted in an attempt to heal the first schism in the Church in modern times.

For the seventh consecutive day on Friday, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi spoke out after Abrahamowicz's comments were splashed on the front pages of most Italian newspapers.

Lombardi said denying the Holocaust was bad enough when it was done by lay people "but even more grave when it comes from the mouth of priest or a bishop, a Christian minister, whether he is united or not with the Catholic Church".

The same day Abrahamowicz made his comments about the gas chambers, Father Pierpaolo Petrucci, head of the SSPX branch in Rimini, said group members were still "shocked" the pope prayed with an Imam when he visited Istanbul's Blue Mosque in 2006.

"The Vatican still has not learned how to deal with controversial issues," said John Allen, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter.

Traditionalists reject most of the teachings of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, which brought the Church into the modern world.

One of its major documents, "Nostra Aetate" (In Our Times) repudiated the concept of collective Jewish guilt for Christ's death and urged dialogue with all major religions.

Analysts say Benedict will have a tough time getting a pledge of loyalty from the traditionalist leaders to the Second Vatican Council, whose teachings have been accepted by nearly all of the 1.1 billion-member Church.

A few months ago, Rev. Franz Schmidberger of the SSPX German branch said in a letter that Jews could not be considered "our elder brothers in faith" -- the tribute Pope John Paul II used when visiting Rome's Synagogue in 1986.

Schmidberger, a top SSPX leader, said today's Jews would be "complicit in deicide" -- the killing of God -- until they rejected "their forefathers' guilt" by accepting Christ as God and being baptised.

dan said...

Andrea Merkel is now calling on the pope to clarify where he stands on this issue. WOW! Good for her!

By the way, editor of website, there is a TYPO in main post, I believe Dr Lipstadt meant to write "this is not a typo" but what is printed reads "this is not a type".......fix if possible, later

StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Mr. Hockey Hound,

I'll be responding in the future only those replies which touch on issues of anti-Semitism, or the Holocaust.

hockey hound said...

"...issues of anti-Semitism, or the Holocaust."

That's why I blog here, Guy Fawkes, or haven't you been reading my posts?

The Smiths said...

I think that what the Abraham and Cooper (A&C) article is saying is that the institution of SSPX is inherently and unapolagetically anti-Semitic. Let's be clear: I am NOT saying that every person who prefers the Latin Tridentine Mass is an anti-Semite. I AM saying that the institution of the SSPX is. A&C state very clearly that:

The papal move to re-embrace SSPX was carefully negotiated. And if Pope Benedict was expecting any cosmetic changes in SSPX's Jew-hatred he was dead wrong. True ideologues in their hatred, their group's website remains unchanged. Jews, it tells us, are directly responsible for the crucifixion. Jews are cursed with the "blindness to the things of G-d and eternity." As a people, they stand "in entire opposition with the Catholic Church." "Christendom and Jewry are designed inevitably to meet everywhere without reconciliation or mixing." Jews "should neither be eliminated from among us, nor given equality of rights."

SSPX bookstores sell the anti-Semitic screeds -- "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and Henry Ford's "The International Jew." End

A quick search of the SSPX's website reveals that A&C are correct - these articles are there and are easy to find. The anti-Semites of SSPX are not hiding out in "enclaves", they are entirely out in the open.

Will they change and get themselves in-line with modern Catholic (post V-II) teaching that Jews are NOT Christ-killers? The pope himself says that "I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by...true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council." (emphasis mine)

Note the qualification - "I hope", not "I expect", or even "This gesture of mine WILL BE FOLLOWED" (i.e. no qualification). Is the pope sure or is he not? To me, this qualification means that the pope is not making these conditions absolute.

Finally, to clarify the "by their fruits you shall know them" quote of mine. After 20 years of work, it seems the only fruit that is being brought forth here is to undo much of the Christian-Jewish relationship work of the past 50 years - especially the work done by Pope John Paul II.

"Millions of Jews, and tens of millions of mainstream Catholics, wait in dismay and anxiety." (from A&C)

Yes we do.

StGuyFawkes said...

To the Smiths,

Thanks for writing.

You have a very precise sighting of where the issue now lies. The object of our prayers and actions should be to see that the views regarding the relations between Catholics and Jews, as found in the documents of Vatican II be enforced.

I too am bothered by the SSPX website. And I too share your anxiety that the documents of Vatican II will not be enforced.

However, my considered view is that the mild statements of the Pope on this issue, which you cite and worry over -- I mean phrases like "I hope"..."I expect" -- are in fact reasons for confidence.


These are the words of a European Catholic Monarch. This is called "a polite command". I expect (now there I go) when a Pope says "I expect", it means A LITTLE MORE than when you or I "expect" something. A world made up of largely democratic cultures finds it hard to grasp the nuances of the world's last effective monarchy.

Throwing all aside let me state that confident as I am I DO get the wiggles when I think that things might go the other way. These mild phrases are no doubt meant to keep the SSPX from running off.

The Question? Will the Pope let these guys in with a pass?

I can't say he won't. BUt I don't think he will.

This is just the beginning or a process that that may take five or six years. These guys are nowhere like insiders yet. There is still plenty of room for both sides to back out. I wouldn't expect to see these guys giving catechism lessons to your kids (if you are Catholic) or your neighbors' kids for a long time.

As to whether the SSPX is endemically anti-Semitic I don't know. I personally don't think anyone is if they are open to God's grace and the fellowship of other Catholics.

I bring this up only to say that part of what is going on here is the Catholic teaching about the Church being "the body of Christ".

The Pope feels that followers of the SSPX are cut off, schism-ed,(see SCHIZOO Greek "to cut"), circumscised, if you will, from the Body of Christ, and once they get a touch of that Body again things will slowly change.

I'm not saying you have to agree with what I'm just telling you. I'm saying that is what my religion thinks about this anti-Semitism issue. No doubt that's what the Pope thinks. Is the Pope Catholic? (LOL)

Again, if the SSPX is blinded by crap like THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION then that makes it even more important to bring them into the BODY. The body heals.

Look, there are Catholic and Protestant (and probably Jewish)
organizations to bring in lepers.

How is this any different?

Thanks for blogging with me.