Weigel May Be Right about Something

by Edwin Faust
November 26, 2009

Professional thinker George Weigel may have revealed a truth about the purpose of the “conversations” taking place between the Society of St. Pius X and the Vatican. In his November 18 column in the Denver Catholic Register, Weigel shakes his head, and finger, at those less enlightened scribblers who have characterized the talks as “negotiations”.

Weigel, presuming to speak for the Magisterium, as he is wont to do, declares there is nothing to negotiate. He decrees that the purpose of the talks is to offer the obdurate and disobedient clergy of the SSPX an opportunity to end their schism and come back into full communion with the Catholic Church. How might the SSPX accomplish this? By complying with the “reform of Catholic thought” brought about by the Second Vatican Council.

Weigel states that the liturgical question has been settled by the Pope’s declaration that all priests may use the 1962 Missal. Has it really? He says what remains is for the SSPX to accept the Vatican II teachings on religious liberty, ecumenism and the Church’s relations with the Jews. On the latter question, he says that the SSPX must renounce “anti-Semitism”. A gratuitous slur.

Just what defined doctrines are at issue in Weigel’s inventory of reformed Catholic thought? He says that the Society must accept the Church’s renunciation of the confessional state. When has this renunciation been made into a de fide doctrine? When were Catholics required to abandon the Social Kingship of Christ?

And as for ending the “schism”, perhaps Weigel has not heard that the “excommunications” of the four bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre have been lifted; that Cardinal Hoyos, formerly of Ecclesia Dei, long ago stated that no schism had ever existed; that the SSPX never denied the principle of papal authority nor appropriated jurisdictional or magisterial powers reserved to the Holy See. Weigel, in a magnanimous condescension to the laity who support the SSPX, grants that many are more “confused than willfully schismatic”.

How kind he is to the muddle-headed.

But no one in authority ever declared the supporters of the SSPX to be in schism. And those schooled by the SSPX in their catechism, far from being confused, are among the last remaining Catholics who actually know and understand the doctrines of the Church. True, they lack the presumed great benefits that have devolved on those who have accepted the “reform of Catholic thought” so dear to Weigel, but this is precisely what allows them to keep the Faith.

But Weigel may be right in this: the object of the talks, from the Vatican’s point of view, may be to cajole the SSPX into accepting the ambiguities and contradictions that have decimated the Church since Vatican II and that arise from that Council’s defective documents. Weigel does fail to note that Vatican II, particularly in the areas he cites, proposes no binding doctrine. But in this omission he is at one with the “spirit” of the Council. The SSPX, we pray, will never be one with that spirit, but remain under the protection of the Holy Ghost and loyal to the perennial teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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