Monday, June 23, 2008

Lefebvrists to return?


NLM has a story about a proposal from the Holy See for the return of the SSPX, the traditionalist group founded by Archbishop Lefebvre.

I am fascinated by the effects that their return would have on the Church as a whole and in my diocese. We have two Lefebvrist chapels in this diocese, one here in Brighton (in another parish) and one in Woking; what will the clergy who offer Mass in those places make of us if the attend our next deanery meeting?

One of the things that I occassionally feel guilty about is the lack oecumenical contact between the SSPX and most Catholic parishes, dioceses and clergy.

Say a prayer for their return.

20 comments:

Michael Petek said...

I wouldn't feel too guilty about the lack of ecumenical contact with SSPX, Father. One of their trade marks is the refusal to assent to the Council's repudiation of the deicide charge against the Jewish people uniquely and generally, and the Council's affirmation that God's covenant with the Jews is irrevocable.

Regarding this I wrote the following letter last week to Catholic Answers in the US. See what you think:

I write to comment on Matthew Bunson’s articles on Christians in Islamic Lands (April-May 2008). I am familiar with some of the work of Bat Ye’or and find it interesting to find her works cited in the Further Reading box.

From her writings, which include a lecture (available on the Internet) entitled ‘Anti-Christian Anti-Zionism’, it might be inferred that the imposition of Islamic rule on what was the Christian east has been a key cause of disunity among Christians. It could be considered to be a punishment from God for the notorious teaching of contempt against our elder brethren the Jews, and for the shameful way in which Christians have treated them through the centuries.

This teaching, repudiated by the Second Vatican Council and PopeJohn Paul II, was formulated during the first Christian centuries. It holds that the Jews uniquely are in every age collectively guilty of the death of Christ. They are under a permanent divine curse which demands their perpetual humiliation and prohibits them from settling in the Land of Israel, let alone recovering their political independence there.

This odious teaching insults not only God’s faithfulness to the eternal covenant which establishes Israel as a nation, but also the virtue of patriotism as it is found in the Sacred Humanity of His incarnate Son who is also a son of Israel and succeeds to David’s throne as her King. It inspired the anti-Jewish disabilities in the law codes of Theodosius and Justinian. Bat Ye’or states that Islam took up these rules and the anti-Jewish polemics of the Church Fathers, incorporated them in the Qur’an and imposed on the Christians and the Jews the same regime of dhimmitude as the Christian Empire had imposed on the Jews only.

Bat Ye'or also writes that antisemitism has always been conspicuously strong among Palestinian Christians, whose pre-Islamic leaders were obsessively preoccupied with keeping the Jews out of the Holy Land. In another essay published in Midstream in February 2001 she states that, only a few years before the Arab conquest, Patriarch Sophronius procured the Emperor Heraclius to commit the first massacre of Jews in the Byzantine Empire. Later on the same Patriarch prevailed on the Muslim conquerors to continue to ban them from settling.

Islam in its turn brought its own teaching of contempt and theology of replacement. Where Christians despised Jews as Christ-killers Muslims now despised Jews and Christians alike as kuffar: malicious falsifiers of God’ true message. To preserve their own lives and curry favour with their Muslim overlords the Christian dhimmis had to commit themselves to perpetuate their ancient teaching of contempt against the Jews. In doing so they locked themselves into a vicious cycle: God’s punishment for Jew-hatred subjected the Christians to domination by the Muslims; the Muslim rulers demanded perpetuation of Christian contempt for the Jews, which in turn attracted more divine punishment in the extension of Islamic rule.

When the Muslims conquered Constantinople in 1453 they installed Gennadios II as Patriarch. He had always been hostile to the Union of Florence which in 1439 had repaired the four-century schism between the Western and the Eastern Churches. Of the twenty-three bishops present all but one supported the Union, as did the Byzantine Emperor. However, the Eastern Orthodox populace - by then nearly all under Muslim rule - rejected it as Gennadios repudiated it. We can only speculate that they did so for fear of being found in breach of the dhimma - the Islamic pact of protection - which would have exposed them to the resumption of jihad and to mass slaughter and the enslavement of their women and children. The reunion of Christians could not be permitted by the Muslims, as this would have refuted the verses in the Qur’an (5:14) which declare that divisions among Christians would perdure until the end of time, and would have demonstrated Islam to be a false religion.

The teaching of contempt against the Jews may also have had a collateral effect a century later. It entailed the widespread assumption that God’s answer to the unbelief of the Jews was to cast them away, counting them no more as His chosen people. This assumption was now available to the Protestant reformers who could credibly assert that God was doing the same to the Roman Catholic Church for having falsified the truth of the Gospel.

gemoftheocean said...

I don't feel a BIT "guilty" about not "Reaching out" to them. They need to reach out to the pope and drop their business of thinking they are more Catholic than he is.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Michael, Karen,
There is something in the Gospel about the good shepherd.

John Paul said...

Transform the world through love... Even though I agree it's easier said than done.

Ottaviani said...

Michael

Your post has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand. You are purposely emoting.

Gem - I take it that the Pontifical Council for Ecumenism will be in no hurry to employ you ;-)

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. Blake. Exactly, which is why these people need to "get with the program!"

Like ANY group separated from Catholicism, they need to come to the fullness of the faith. We don't make concessions to protestant groups converting, we need not make any to them!

Ottaviani said...

We don't make concessions to protestant groups converting

Errr Gem... hello?! - what about the approval of the Anglican Pastoral Provision by John Paul II?

Not to mention the fact that Paul VI's own biographer (Jean Guitton) documents that one of the driving reasons for the liturgical reform was due to ecumenism - trying to "simplify" the liturgy, so that potential converts wouldn't be (supposedly) too frighten of accepting the principles of the Eucharist.

gemoftheocean said...

By concessions, I meant doctrinal concessions. These SSPX people are "out there" re: the pope and as Michael Petek points out, the Jews. And I'd be as likely to want to join an ecumenical group, pontifical or not, as take up skydiving. There is no point in jumping out of a perfectly good airplane! :-D

Michael Petek said...

No, Ottaviani, I'm not off-topic. The declaration on the Jews in Nostra Aetate is among the most important the Church will ever make. The old deicide charge and the theology of supersessionism in regard to the Jews can explain lots of things: why Islam has been hammering us for a thousand years, why all Christians are not all united in the Catholic Church, why Christendom collapsed . . .

And SSPX still swallow it!

Ken said...

"The old deicide charge and the theology of supersessionism in regard to the Jews can explain lots of things: why Islam has been hammering us for a thousand years, why all Christians are not all united in the Catholic Church, why Christendom collapsed . . ."

What? What kind of weirdo Evangelical Zionism are you talking about? Anti-Semetism is always wrong, as is all racism. Anti-Judiasm (the belief that the Religion is no longer sufficient, and the need to convert) is always the Church's teaching.

Gosh, you sound like half of the Southern Fundamentalists here in the US trying to breed Red Heifers for the Temple. Christ fulfilled Judaism, it's called the Catholic Church, the covenant has been ratified. The figures have faded, the Reality is here.

And how has not supporting Zionism destroyed Christendom? Hammering of Islam? Friend, our support of the state of Israel has caused America more grief....I wish Israel the best, as I wish Bulgaria the best, or Malaysia the best,or whoever... if they can survive on the own, God bless them. But to provide a bogus "Religious" reason in regards to Catholicism is utter non-sense.

Moretben said...

Hear, hear, Ken.

The advance of dispensationalist weirdness in the Catholic Church continues unabated.

Angelo said...

H.E. Bishop Fellay presented a sermon given on the occasion of the nine ordinations to the Diaconate at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, MN, June 20. In his sermon, His Excellency mentions the responsibility of deacons to witness to the Faith by their preaching and an "ultimative" the Society recently received from Rome.
An audio of this (56 min) sermon has been added to the
"Special Events" page of Voice of Catholic Radio Long Island.

http://www.voiceofcatholicradio.com/

It would improve chances for oecumenical contacts with the SSPX if the perjoritive "Lefebrists" could be avoided.

Michael Petek said...

Ken and Moretben, would you please do me a favour and come with me on a learning adventure?

The Catholic Truth Society has published a document Catholic Jewish Relations which contains the whole of the Church's teaching on the Jews and Judaism.

It's clear from this that the theology of replacement is an error. Jewish history didn't end with the destruction of the Temple: God continues to keep covenant with the Jews, who have their own witness to give to the world in their own way.

That simply means that the Jews are by special divine resolution destimed to be a distinct people for all time with a common disposition to live in their ancestral homeland, sovereignty over which is committed for all time to the legitimate dynastic successor of David.

It doesn't mean that Jewish religion is sufficient for salvation. It isn't, and the destruction of the Temple demonstrates this.

Christianity fulfils Judaism in that, in sending the Messiah, God has kept His promises to Abraham and to David. Christ had to supersede the Temple because, not being a son of Aaron, He could not be a priest under the Old Law (Letter to the Hebrews).

But He is by His legal father a Prince of the House of David, and by His mother a son of Israel, so the covenants which preserve the Jewish nation and the Monarchy are still in place.

I suspect there's a connection here which warrants devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but I'm still working on this.

Paul Knight said...

Michael,

Maybe you should read the Council of Florence, to which the Catholic conscience is bound forever.

'It [the Council] firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ's passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practice circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.'

Pius XII confirms that the old covenant has been suprceded by the new in Mystici Corporis Christi.

'by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ. For, while our Divine Savior was preaching in a restricted area -- He was not sent but to the sheep that were lost of the house of Israel -the Law and the Gospel were together in force; but on the gibbet of his death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees, fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross, establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race. "To such an extent, then," says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, "was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom."'

Michael Petek said...

Paul Knight, I could see this one coming a mile off.

Three covenants are in issue here:

(1) the covenant of Abraham, which establishes Israel as a distinct people, with a common bond to the Land of Israel and the capacity for political self-organisation;

(2) the covenant of David, which places the Land of Israel and its people (including Jews wherever they may be) under the royal sovereignty of the Throne of David and settles it on him and his dynastic successors for ever; and

(3) the covenant of Moses, which established the Temple and the Law of Moses, including the Levitical priesthood.

The two Church documents you present concern only the Mosaic covenant, which has been superseded as a way of worship by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. It had to be, since He is a priest under the New Law which he could not be under the Old, as He comes from the wrong tribe.

The other two covenants continue in force because Jesus is a son of both Abraham and David, but not of Aaron.

Israel still exists as a nation, and so in law does the Monarchy, though the Temple does not and isn't meant to.

Paul Knight said...

The Church has always believed that she is true Israel, unless you're willing to believe that the Church got it wrong for two thousand years. I don't think St. Paul could be any clearer: that being a Jew in the flesh does not consitute being a true Israelite. A true Istraelite is a descendent of Abraham by faith. It's obvious that he is saying that the Gentiles are now Israel. There are also a number of parables Christ uses to show this.

Michael Petek said...

Paul Knight, there is a difference between God's initiative and man's response.

God takes the initiative in three distinctive ways in permanent and unconditional covenants.

These are namely:

(1) the unconditional election of Israel to be an indestructible nation, including a promise to give the Land of Israel to Abraham's offspring the Messiah (cf. Galatians 3:16);

(2) the unconditional election of the Royal House of David so that King David and his lineal sucessors rule over Israel forever
(2 Chronicles 13:5);

(3) the unconditional election of Christ, and of the Church in Christ, for the eternal salvation of sinners.

I've long been unhappy with the reference to the Church as the "true Israel", since it can be confusing. Israel is a nation, while the Church is a spiritual society sui generis which supersedes the Levitical Temple and is the custodian of the true religion God has prescribed for Israel as for every other nation.

St Paul tells us that some of Israel are natural branches of the tree which have been broken off because of unbelief. But this does not cancel the ancient covenants God made with Israel with respect to a Jew who refuses Jesus. It does not cancel the bond of allegiance between David and his people any more than treason cancels the traitor's duty of allegiance to Her Majesty.

On the contrary, the bond remains and stands violated by unbelief. But the consequences of unbelief are the same for a Jew as for a Gentile, as is the effect of invincible ignorance in regard to it.

In relation to God's initiative there are three objects of divine election: a nation, a spiritual society and a royal dynasty. In relation to man's response of faith there is but one subject: the assembly of those who believe in the Messiah explicitly, or implicitly in terms efficacious for salvation according to the mind of the Council.

In my previous posting I suggested that there may be a connection between God's ongoing covenant with Israel and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and devotion to it.

Mary is a daughter of Israel and the first disciple of Jesus as Israel was the first nation to hear the Gospel. She is as Israel should be, and according to St Paul is destined to be. All the blessings God spoke to Abraham are concentrated on her. She is also the reason why Jesus is Himself a son of Israel, since you are a Jew if your mother is.

Another thing. St Faustina died in 1938 on 5 October, which coincided that year with the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur.

Doesn't that tell you something?

Ottaviani said...

Another thing. St Faustina died in 1938 on 5 October, which coincided that year with the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur.

Doesn't that tell you something?


That it was pure coincidence?

Paul Knight said...

National Israel (as God's Chosen people) and the land if Israel (as the promised land) were only figures of what was to come: The Church and the Kingdom of Heaven.

The promise regarding the land were always conditional, as St. Augustine says:

'And it was fulfilled through David, and Solomon his son, whose kingdom was extended over the whole promised space; for they subdued all those nations, and made them tributary. And thus, under those kings, the seed of Abraham was established in the land of promise according to the flesh, that is, in the land of Canaan, so that nothing yet remained to the complete fulfillment of that earthly promise of God, except that, so far as pertains to temporal prosperity, the Hebrew nation should remain in the same land by the succession of posterity in an unshaken state even to the end of this mortal age, if it obeyed the laws of the Lord its God. But since God knew it would not do this, He used His temporal punishments also for training His few faithful ones in it, and for giving needful warning to those who should afterwards be in all nations, in whom the other promise, revealed in the New Testament, was about to be fulfilled through the incarnation of Christ.' (City of God: b.XVII, c.2)

In the following chapters he uses divers examples from the Old Testament to prove that the Church is true Israel.

Anyway, I think I'll leave it there, otherwise I foresee this going on forever.

Michael Petek said...

Ottaviani, you probably think that it was just a coincidence that Pope John Paul II died on the vigil of the Feast of Mercy.

Both he and St Faustina died in their beds, on the days God had appointed. I don't call that a coincidence.

Now for Paul Knight.

True, the nation of Israel as the chosen people, and the Land of Israel, were types of the Church and the kingdom of heaven.

They still are. They remain as a visible sign of a divine mystery and are no more obsolete than is the Body of Christ. He and His Mother are bodily alive in heaven. They are as much the flesh and blood of Israel as they were on earth and still very much her King and Queen Mother.

The promise of the actual possession of the land was conditional on Israel remaining faithful to God. Her existence as a people in the land or in exile, and the bond with the land itself, are permanent and unconditional.

So how can the Jews live in the land if they don't believe in Jesus?

This brings me back to St Faustina.

The punishment of exile can be remitted by the Divine Mercy. And if we are living in a special time of mercy for all mankind revealed through St Faustina, then we should expect the Jews to have the benefit of it.