Breaking news: Vatican III opens today in Rome!
The liberals have been clamoring for another council. Be careful what you pray for. Here is the news, via the Vatican Information Service (my highlight in bold):
“On Monday 26 October in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, the study commission made up of experts from “Ecclesia Dei” and from the Society of St. Pius X held its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See.
“In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non- Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work”.
Funny, I thought those issues had been settled by the Second Vatican Council. Just goes to show–the Church can change.
But seriously…The SSPX (and Benedict) have made it patently clear that the divides are too great to be bridged. Which seems to leave two options: One, they argue that it depends on what the meaning of “is” is. Or the meaning of a council, or Vatican II in particular, or the texts versus the spirit, etc. Two, Benedict offer the SSPX another exemption along the lines of a personal prelature. That’s what Bernard Fellay, head of the schismatics, says is under discussion:
Asked about the speculation that the Society of Pius X could be made into a personal prelature similar to Opus Dei, Fellay responded, “There is a lot of truth to that. I think the Vatican is moving towards that kind of canonical solution.”
Almost seems, well, relativistic…I do have to think that is wishful thinking by Fellay, but as we’ve seen stranger things have happened.
PS: Yes, there is a third option–conversion, though the work of the Holy Spirit in this ecumenical dialogue, given time.
In any case, the idea of a “personal ordinariate” is another sign of the (I think) inevitable trend away from purely territorial jurisdictional units in the Roman Church and toward greater use of personal jurisdiction. This trend has been evident in western canon law at least since the late 1960s (see, e.g., 1967 Synod of Bishops, “Principles Guiding the Revision of Canon Law”, no. 8) and is reflected in the 1983 Code (e.g., 1983 CIC 372, 518). Provided this shift is pursued in an orderly manner, I think it a step in the right direction for people who are coming to see themselves as less identified with various locales, and more with social groupings. Certainly several other groups in the Church will be watching the Anglican project with an eye to applying innovative structures in their own spheres.
This seems to have historical antecedents (which you can always find in Catholicism), and also seems plausible. But, I would argue, it is also disturbing in that it fosters a kind of “free association” with whomever you find most agreeable. That seems more like the church shopping phenomenon of modern consumer Christianity, not to mention dreaded Protestantism!