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The Jews and the Masons, again...

What is with those people, messing with the Catholic Church? Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the schismatic traditionalists that Benedict XVI has been diligently courting for years, says he has been assured the pope is really on his side and we shouldn't pay any mind to the "political"cover stories coming out of the Vatican about Rome's problems with the SSPX.Besides, you know who is really at fault. CNS reports:

According to an audio recording posted on YouTube Dec. 30, the bishop gave a nearly two-hour talk Dec. 28 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg, Ontario. He spoke about the society's three years of discussions with the Vatican over the society's future and explained how he interpreted behind-the-scenes communications about the talks.Apparently speaking without a text, he also called the Jewish people "enemies of the church," saying Jewish leaders' support of the Second Vatican Council "shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the church's." (The full audio is embedded below.)Those most opposed to the church granting canonical recognition to the traditionalist society have been "the enemies of the church: the Jews, the Masons," he said.

Well, there's the hermeneutic of continuity for ya.The pope got himself in a bit of trouble in 2009 when he "rehabilitated" Fellay and three other SSPX leaders, including Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier later thrown under the bus by Fellay, who is seen as the acceptable face of the Lefebvrists.Benedict later said that the Vatican failed to do a Google search on Williamson to learn about his proclivities beforehand, an explanation which seemed implausible given Benedict's longstanding ties to the SSPX and the SSPX's longstanding history of anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish statements.Williamson's defenestration and the purging of a couple other priests was said to have cleared that all up. Maybe not so much.Why is the Vatican continuing the pursuit of the SSPX? At what cost? A principal result of the reconciliation effort has been to shift the center of gravity in the church to the far right, so that right wingers who might have been on the fringe in years past are considered sensible centrists -- a phenomenon we have also seen in the Republican party in recent years. In the end, it may be irrelevant whether the SSPX or some of its elements return to Rome. The larger goal has been achieved.


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Pope Benedict relies on his aides to keep him informed. He does not touch the internet himself, and whoever might have known of Williamson's crazy statements chose not to tell him about them.The people around Pope Benedict are trying to take advantage of his advancing years and put a slant to his words and opinions way beyond what he himself would approve. I believe that some of his speeches and homilies are written by his aides, and that a careful scrutiny might reveal which ones. The ones that show a mix of appreciation for the old and the new, a mix of positive and negative statements, and a somewhat balanced, sometimes inspired, vision, are by him. The ones that are uniformly positive about trad stuff and uniformly reserved or negative about V2 and post-V2 stuff are by his entourage.It is to Fellay's advantage to pretend he believes that Pope Benedict is secretly behind him. It's all lies and politics. Not that Pope Benedict is not responsible for his selection of advisors, but he's not the lying hypocrite portrayed in the article.

Anyone who has been following the debate among the "Tradis" will not be surprised by Fellay's associations of the Church's problems with Jews and Masons. It's a very old trope, which has usually included "Liberals" as well among the guilty leaders of the Great Apostasy. It's also clear that most of the Tradis don't think that the Vatican is pursuing them, and they point to Assisi III, to the appointment of Mueller to the CDF, and to the recent approval of the beatification of Paul VI as further obstacles in the way of a reconciliation. The general impression is one of a stall, at best.

Claire, I have no doubt that many around Benedict are spinning things the way they want, and fellay is certainly trying to spin things to maintain his position and to appear relevant. I suspect he may be less effective with his own party than John Boehner is with his right now. If the SSPX reconciles, I bet only a fragment return with fellay. Schismatics split; it's what they do. But Benedict is also a very shrewd and experienced ecclesiastical player. He has flourished in the upper reaches of church power his entire career, and has seen the game played close up.Moreover, he has been closely involved with the Lefebvrists and the Trads for decades, and knows them all very well. I just don't think that it is possible to argue that he does not know the views of people he has dealt with since he was in his 60s.

I feel very ambivalent about this group. I think they are a hate group and their anti-Semitism is revolting and should be condemned for the sinful behavior it is. But I don't think we should throw people out of our Church, no matter how awful; I think we should strongly and officially and continually disavow their words and actions as being sinful and un-Catholic.

"Associations of the Churchs problems with Jews" is a rather mild way to render Fellay's assertion that the Jewish people are "enemies of the church." I continue to find it offensive that members of the curia are courting Fellay. The man claims the pope's secretary -- that is Georg Ganswein -- told him not to worry about any opposition to SSPX within the Vatican, and that even if the CDF rules against reconciliation, the pope would overrule that decision. Pope Benedict has just named him titular archbishop of Urbs Salvia -- and head of the papal household. This is new and worrying. Not old and ho-hum.

David, for Pope Benedict, there is no point in outright lying when he can always just remain silent and let his aides lie instead of him. For him to lie would be not merely sinful but also stupid, don't you agree? That's my basis for believing him. I just don't understand why he'd go out on a limb and unnecessarily claim to not know about Williamson's Holocaust denial, if that's not true. Well - reading the letter on the Vatican website, , I see now that it is ambiguous: "An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication. [] That this overlapping of two opposed processes took place and momentarily upset peace between Christians and Jews, as well as peace within the Church, is something which I can only deeply deplore. I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson []" - Pope Benedict does not actually say that "the Vatican failed to do a Google search on Williamson to learn about his proclivities beforehand", but only that he had not realized what a big deal it would be. Unless there is another source, I think that you (and the whole world) may have misinterpreted what he said. Not sure it makes me feel any better, though.

Agree, David. He knows exactly who and what they are.Anyone who doesn't, hasn't been paying attention. Here's a little article from the Southern Poverty Law Center. I find it interesting because I used to look at the web site of one the places mentioned in the article. They provided pages of links, not only to anti-semitic stuff but to neo-Confederate sites and other similarly nauseating garbage., suddenly, the pages of links were gone.

In the talk given in Canada, Fellay says that even if there were to be a reconciliation, the SSPX would still consider itself obligated to call the Mass of Vatican II "evil." Quite apart from the several other major issues of disagreement, this one troubles me the most. How can there be a rapprochement with a group that thinks the Mass that the vast majority of Catholics participate in every Sunday is certainly illicit, and likely invalid? This has been the SSPX position for decades. Given their adamant view regarding the Missal of Paul VI, what sense did it make even to invite them to a dialogue, and a protracted one at that?Pope Benedict XVI, who will turn eighty-six in April and now is the fourth (soon to be third) oldest pope since 1400, is not surprisingly showing more signs of physical impairment, but there is no evidence that his keen mental abilities are diminishing. He makes the decisions and appointments, and writes the homilies and principal talks. Some lesser talks are no doubt drafted by others, but I doubt that the Pope gives any talk without signing off on it.Fellay says also that he has received assurances of the Pope's sympathy towards the SSPX from the Pope's personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein. Will the Vatican spokesman deny this? The Pope's secretary is now also the Prefect of the Papal Household, and so the gatekeeper to the papal apartment. This is unprecedented, at least in modern times. On Sunday, he will be ordained a bishop by Benedict. He will be not just a titular bishop, but a titular archbishop. I find this double appointment shocking.In the 1870s, Blessed John Henry Newman mused about the possible unhappy consequences of popes going on too long. (To put it mildly.) The resignation of a pope needs study and discussion, soon. Many have acknowledged the possibility, including the present Pope, but a resolute engagement of the subject is continually postponed.

The notion that it is not the king, but the king's evil (or incompetent) advisers, who are responsible for troubles is, of course, as old as monarchy itself. And by no means only in the West; it was something of a commonplace in Chinese imperial history, and for all I know, in Byzantine, Ottoman, Mughal, etc. etc. histories. It carries over into post-monarchical times as well, e.g. in the claims that Mao Zedong was shielded from the truth about the Great Famine of the late 1950s by his entourage (though today only the true believers still hold on to that notion) You could even make a case that such claims are not unknown in Washington.I think that what's more worrying about these kinds of stories is the sense that Benedict may be losing his grip -- his administrative grip, at any rate (always a danger in an absolute monarchy, as the Vatican claims itself to be). And it raises, not for the first time, the question about what would happen were a pope of advanced age to start to lose his mental grip as well (not that BXVI seems anywhere near that). Dementia, in its various forms, is frighteningly common, and as the medicine men manage to prop us up and keep us alive for an ever-increasing number of years, sooner or later it may well strike in Rome as elsewhere. In this country, Reagan's aides apparently covered up his oncoming Alzheimer's pretty well, and the story of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson concealing her husband's problems from press and public is well known. But of course both Wilson's and Reagan's terms of office would have come to a constitutional end within a few years. Unlike George III, whose mental illness (porphyria?) flared up from time to time since the early 1780s (I think), yet it was not until 1810 that a regency was established to do his work for him.

I am very slow in writing, even slower in typing. While I was "away" writing, others had already taken up some of my points. Sorry for the duplication.

You're all quite persuasive and depressing. To complete the picture, Wikipedia adds: "Ganswein initially began his seminary training at the international seminary in Ecne (Switzerland) run by the Society of St Pius X (SSPX). This was finally reported in 2009 by French magazine LExpress. No one at the Vatican has ever officially denied it."

Whatever happened to the Illuminati? Apparently, interest in that conspiracy theory is enjoying one of its periodic rises, if my student research papers are any indication.

"..he has been assured the pope is really on his side.."How reliable is what other people say the Pope will or won't do? I certainly don't follow the Pope closely, but he doesn't seem like someone to pigeonhole; he says and does surprising things. Someone (unnamed) asserting he is on these people's side doesn't mean he is.

If hou on't want to take an hour and forty mimutes to listen to the video, here is an unofficial transcript with some time markings. go to page 10 and look for a very long post by MatthewAt the end it says: Posted Jan 2, 2013, 2:03 amThe members of the group transcribed individual sections which were then assembled by the moderator. I havent compared this against the audio so, if you quote from this transcript, I would first go to the time point in the tape and satisfy yourself that the transcription is accurate.

It would be impossible for Benedict, living in Europe and especially during WWII, not to know the SSPX is antisemitic. There's a long history of the group being that .... they gave a hiding place to Paul Touvier, a Nazi collaborator charged with crimes against humanity, for instance. Here's an NCR article - Lefebvre movement: long, troubled history with Judaism

Typical. Everyone's whining about the Jews. But why ain't nobody upset about his being an anti-Masonite?!

I am trying to figure out, how awful must a group of people be for us to say we don't want them to be Catholics? I guess the SSPX are the ones doing the leaving, but a lot us are saying, well that's just fine. And it might be fine, but I'm trying to understand the criteria.I think they are a fringe group with some extremely disturbing beliefs. But if we're a Catholic family, just because some of us are awful, it doesn't mean they're not part of the family. And just because they're our family, it doesn't mean we can't think they're awful and can't stand in opposition to their bigoted beliefs. But there are probably fellow Catholics who wouldn't mind seeing liberal people like me leave (and the SSPX might be among them) so I'm reluctant to be telling other people to go awayAnd, ok, so they don't agree with some Church teachings. Me,neither. I just disagree on different things than they do, so I can't say they should go away for that reason.I completely understand why people dislike the SSPX, but maybe the Pope is doing the right thing reaching out to them. It would be good if he would also reach out to progressive Catholic groups on the margins, too.

Irene --It seems to me that the difference between people like you and me who disagree with the Vatican about some things and the SSPXers is that their bishops and priests claim to be the current real teachers of Catholic dogma. You and I don't make that claim. Teaching dogma is, of course, the function of bishops. So how to distinguish the bishops who are right from those who are wrong. The classic answer is that the teachings of all the bishops in concert with the pope are the msot authoritative, This is the very problem for the SSPXers -- they deny that V II had no such authority.

Oops -- they deny that V II had such authority.

In his very first homily as Pope, the Holy Father indicated that Christian Unity is his #1 priority. We've seen this time and again. If there are lost sheep, the Pope goes after them, making up new ways and means to make it happen if necessary.Personally I think the Pope should be seeking the strays. No?

From his inauguration homily:Here I want to add something: both the image of the shepherd and that of the fisherman issue an explicit call to unity. I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd (Jn 10:16); these are the words of Jesus at the end of his discourse on the Good Shepherd. And the account of the 153 large fish ends with the joyful statement: although there were so many, the net was not torn (Jn 21:11). Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn! But no we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with him: yes, Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!

I read the transcript John Hayes provided above at 1/4: 9:30. If one can believe Bishop Fellay, he has been approached with very mixed messages from different parts of the Vatican (which is not hard to believe).If he speaks for the group, I can't imagine how one can reconcile with them when they are so baldly anti-Semitic and consider the Mass "evil". And besides Jews and Masons, he also lists "modernists" as the enemy of the Church. Would "modernists" be all of the rest of us?But I also thought his statement right before the tirade on the Church's enemies was interesting: "This Church is the Catholic Church, its OUR Church! Its sick, full of sickness, yes? So, be prudent. We are not going to abandon the Church no! If someone is sick in your family, you dont say, Get lost! Its your father! Hes sick! You take care of him! You dont let him, say I dont want anything to do with you no!"That's kind of how I feel about his own organization. I think the Vatican should draw a line in the sand about the anti-Semitism and the criticisms of the Mass, but should keep talking to them. As Kathy, said, it's the Pope's job to bring in the strays and we have a better chance of showing them the right way if they are part of us, not out there on their own just talking amongst themselves.But I would also like the Pope to work equally hard at reconciling with Roman Catholic Womanpriests.

What I'm going to say here, I wouldn't want to be construed as some sort of lowest-common-denominator-ism. I deplore anti-Semitism in the SSPX. I also wonder to what extent it continues to flourish among those who are fully in communion with the Catholic Church. Is it an issue that needs to be addressed within the Church itself? How much superior are we to them?I'm just asking the questions. I don't know the answer. When I was a teenager, rather a long time ago now, it wasn't that unusual to hear casual expressions of anti-Semitism, just as it wasn't that unusual to hear casual expressions of racism. I almost never hear either anymore. At the very least, we seem to have learned not to speak the thoughts aloud. Have our hearts changed? The church is a very, very big place, and I occupy a tiny patch of it. That I don't feel vibrations of anti-Semitism from where I sit doesn't mean that it's not happening elsewhere in the church.I guess I'm wondering if anti-Semitism is really a unique identifier of the SSPX, or if it's a symptom of something broader.

What if it was your subdivision? If the officers announced at the annual meeting that they intended to use a portion of the annual dues to attract new or former neighbors who were radical masculinists, anti-semites, neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, etc., would you be content?If you raised an objection or questioned their goals, and they denounced you as a conspiracy theorist, would you assent? If they had obtained their positions because of the support of groups whose beliefs and practices you find obnoxious, would you put aside your personal values for the sake of . . . whatever?

Irene Baldwin wrote "I read the transcript John Hayes provided above at 1/4: 9:30. If one can believe Bishop Fellay, he has been approached with very mixed messages from different parts of the Vatican (which is not hard to believe)."But, after all that, he wrote a letter to the Pope and got an answer directly from him. This is interesting because it is the first time I have seen a precise statement of the requirements from the Pope that he refused go accept. "And so I write him: "Please tell us what you really think! What you want!" I also request an audience, but of course [chuckle] this was not granted. But I got a letter, an answer to that. It's the first time that the Pope does answer me, [0:55:00] anyway, and in this letter which is dated from the 30th June, we have these following points. First he says: "I did agree that we change the text." Then he said: "There are three points which you must accept, so that you will be recognised. The first is that it is the Magisterium which is the judge of what is Traditional[sic] or not." And, well that's true, that's point of Faith, so. But if we say yes they will use it against us, of course, so it's dangerous. Second point: "You must accept that the Council is integrante[sic] part of Tradition." That the Council Vatican II is traditional! Imagine! [0:56:00] During forty years themselves have said the contrary. Now they say it's traditional. And we say "Beg your pardon?" We say, "Look at the reality!" And the third point, we must accept that the New Mass is valid and licit. But that point I told them, "Well, we rarely use the word licit, we just simply say about the New Mass that it is evil." And um... that's the situation. I say with this clarifications, things are cleared but everything is blocked

What concerns me the most about this story is what Bishop Fellay said about Cardinal Hoyos. It is widely understood that the Vatican is requiring the SSPXers to accept the new Mass and the teachings of Vatican II. But the article quotes Bishop Fellay as saying that Cardinal Hoyos said to him, "That is not what the Pope thinks". So far none of the media seem to have asked C. Hoyos whether or not he said that. Think ahead: since C. Hoyos is often spoken of as papabile, it seems to me it should be a matter of some concern what C. Hoyos' view on the matter is.

No orthodox Christian would deny Jesus is the Good Shepherd. On the other hand, the history of the church shows that there is far from unanimous agreement that a pope can be legitimately regarded as fulfilling this role for Christianity. There is ample reason to question, if not deny, that Mt 16:18 is the foundational text for the papacy.Regarding Rome's shifting to the right, see Richard McBrien's:+ "Redefining the Center - I" at "Redefining the Center II" at "Redefining the Center III" at Ganswein's elevation to the episcopacy, his initial training at Econe, and his role as papal gatekeeper, one has to wonder what's going on in the Vatican.

Ann, there is no way Cardinal Hoyos can ever become pope. See for yourself:

Also, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos will be eighty-four in July. As a cardinal over eighty, he will not be in a future conclave. Papabile? No.

I have said before that I think many of the feature of the SSPX remind me of people with serious personality disorders, including their self and other destructiveness. What they say has just enough truth to sound credible but is so distorted that it will take hours and hours to patiently try to explain the matter to them. And even when you do, those words will be twisted in as negative a light as possible. If you have ever had the misfortune of having to interact with someone with a diagnosible personality disorder all the markers are there....including, yes...we must admit....certain charms. :(I think that the problem with the SSPX is psychological. They are living in past battles and wars that no longer exist. If, and that is a big if, there were historical animosities with certain Jewish groups or Masonic groups actively plotting to undermine the Church''s authority, that time has now long, loooong since past. Fellay is putting old wine in wineskins that are getting so thin that they cannot even hold it. It has all the hallmarks of desparation and living, literally, in the fullest sense of the word, in a fantasy world disconnected from real currents today.The issues we face in our current age are the forces of secularism and a dimming of appreciation of the religious dimension of human life. I think the Declaration on Religious Freedom, collegiality, and ecumenism were among the most prophetic features of the Second Vatican Council. It accurately foresaw the challenges facing not only Catholic life but religious life in general and saw that all this fighting was scandalous and contrary to the gospel. I think this is a consensus view and there has been more or less of a rapproachment with the Jewish community and the Catholic community and, perhaps, even now more of a mutual appreciation of traditions.

If Bishop Fellay sees modernists as enemies of the Church (see Irene Baldwin above), perhaps we had all better become post-modernists to keep him happy. (Though then we'd all have to learn post-modern lingo, which is not easy).

George D,Are you suggesting that no one can be Catholic without passing some sort of mental health screening?

George D. My question about psychologizing a whole group of people away is whether the analysis is meant to apply to all of them, to some of them, to their leaders. Another problem I have with the method is that it invites the counter-charge: E.g.: "O.K., you've given the deep psychological roots for why I hold what I hold. Now tell me what deep psychological roots nourish your view of me?"

Claire and JOhn Page --Thanks for the information about C. Hoyos' age. I didn't realize he is so old.

I don't believe that they, or anyone else, has to pass a mental health screening but I am suggesting that we, at least consider, the possibility that there may be other issues besides psychological ones at play. And yes I am serious.To Fr. K's point, this applies only to the leaders. I have no doubt that many of their followers, follow out of devotion to the old mass and tradition (at least as far as they interpret it). If that was the only obstacle, it is no longer an obstacle. The extraordinary form is already available and I would bet that addresses a good 85% of this issues that those who sympathized with their movement had. My late father was very sympathetic to Lefebvre so I understand all of this on a personal level.But, a fair analysis, has to, at least consider that there is at least some kind of psychological resistance since many of their concerns have been addressed with respect to the liturgy. But no, the Church isn't going to suddenly acquiesce to their spin on Catholicism.All conciliar and dogmatic texts, including, the Nicene Creed, were basically consensus documents. So the Vatican texts are consensus texts which means you may disagree with how something is phrased here or there but in the main, we all agree.Personally, I think the message to them simply needs to be, yes you are most welcome (whatever that means canonically) and here is what we believe and that will not change. The Vatican has had (it seems by all reports) painstaking, detailed, rigorous, discussions around all of the issues that they have. By far, much, much more than they have had with the LCWR! Some of the Vatican reps were Opus Dei people, etc so hardly unsympathetic. The SSPX leaders received a king's welcome (again much more than the LCWR would) and that was a mistake. As far as what nourishes my psychological roots of them, perhaps it is due to the fact that I can't stand attitudes of entitlement. Perhaps, it was because I was not the favoured son!!But least I didn't go and pout about it!! LOL

"I guess Im wondering if anti-Semitism is really a unique identifier of the SSPX, or if its a symptom of something broader." Anti-Semitism is still a problem among some Catholics as well as so many others. I would suggest a different perspective over this whole Lefebrite deal. We know that the Vatican is no longer Anti-Semitic as well as the rest of the leadership notwithstanding some others. They realize there is no going back. The Jewish leadership is highly contented with the advance we have made. As long as there is no approval by the Vatican of some of the statements of this group why not keep them in hoping to reach those who succeed them and are supervised by them.

A past Tablet editorial once said of the SSPX, they are evil. I agree. It's depressing that so many here can rationalize accepting them back.

Lot of "evil" talk here. The Lefebvrites think the post-conciliar Mass is evil; The Tablet thinks some of their views are evil; Ms. Watson seems to think that the SSPX is evil.

Yes, I think a group that says it's christian and yet perpetuates the hatred of Jews is evil.

Crystal,The leaders are certainly against love of neighbor. But what about those who follow them and are mislead by them? Can they be helped and brought back?

Father Joe Komonchak:Did Bishop Fellay say that the post-concilar Mass was "evil"? Or no? The SSPX has made clear that in any possible reconciliation the priests of the Society, even in case of pastoral necessity, would never accept saying Mass according to the Missal of 1970. However, Summorum pontificum stipulates that in extending the use of the Missal of 1962, the Holy Father would still require that priests who celebrate according to the most recent revision of the Tridentine Missal must be ready to use the Missal of Paul VI in cases where the faithful would otherwise be deprived of the Sunday Eucharist.The SSPX has been coddled and favored despite its venomous attacks on the Church of the Council, and even the post-conciliar popes have not been spared. Theological parsing notwithstanding, when is it time to name them "heretics" rather than the emollient "schismatics"?As well, the SSPX has already had dissident break-offs, and appears on the verge of still further divisions. The Old Catholic Movement that refused to accept the definition of papal infallibility is now all but dead. Pius IX and the subsequent popes virtually ignored them. It seems to me they've been proved right. These groups, as history amply attests, have a tendency to eat their own.How can the shepherd round up the stray when they continue, truculently, to ignore his solicitous call?

Bill,No, I'm speaking of the leaders, not the followers.

Thomas Reese SJ wrote about the church un-excommunication the SSPX in 2009 ... He wrote that the reason Benedict is willing to accept them back, while not being so forgiving of people like Call to Action or Fr. Roy Bourgeois, is all about turf. The SSPX, with all its lands and seminaries, has bishops, and bishops can make more bishops and more priests ..."Why is the Vatican putting so much effort into reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X? The real reason is because these men are bishops. If they were simple priests, the Vatican would not give them the time of day."

Crystal --I agree with Fr. Reese. Further, there are two facts about the SSPXers that are important in ways that Fr. Bourgeois is not notable. First, they support a very common prejudice, the prejudice against Jews, which would attract a goodly number of people to them. Second, they make a valid point about Vatican II which the Vatican itself is not willing to admit, namely, that the Second Vatican Council *reversed* some Catholic doctrines, notably the old doctrines about the Jews and Protestants being condemned to Hell. The SSPXers are *right* about that -- Vatican II changed some doctrine that previously had been held for centuries. This makes the SSPXers group very attractive to people who are convinced that "the Church does not change". In other words, the SSPXers hold some positions which are very attractive to many Catholics. If they broke away, others might follow them.The issue between the Vatican and the SSPXers is: does the Church ever change its doctrines? The Vatican *used to say* that it couldn't (and Benedict himself does sometimes echoes this position). But Vatican II showed that it could. There's the rub.

Ann nails a critical point: The SSPX has the true "hermeneutic of continuity." Rome can claim it, but only at the cost of either being laughable or rejecting Vatican II -- and the teaching that the Holy Spirit guided the bishops.The SSPX has the opposite problem. Bishop Fellay admits that the magisterium is the authoritative interpreter of tradition (in the part John Hayes provided at 11:59 yesterday). He says: "(W)ell thats true, thats point of Faith, so. But if we say yes they will use it against us, of course, so its dangerous." So he can't uphold the faith he broke away to uphold -- at least not while he is talking to Rome.The Vatican-SSPX talks might go better if both sides could acknowledge reality instead of standing on "doctrines" they are violating. It's hard to find truth when one starts from dishonesty.

Ann Olivier:I had twenty years of (strictly) Catholic education, and no one -- Sister, priest, or parent -- ever taught me that Protestants and Jews were going to hell. In the late 1940s, Father Leonard Feeney, SJ, was excommunicated for obstinately teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church, fifteen years before the opening of the Second Vatican Council.I think you are overlooking the hierarchy of truths. Every popular Catholic myth was not defined faith.

John Page: I believe the reports that Fellay said that the "New Mass" was "evil." And I reported this, so I'm puzzled as to why you ask me your question. I was struck that others seem so ready to use the same adjective in return.Ms. Watson: I don't think you fairly represent Fr. Reese's argument when you speak of the Pope's lifting of the excommunications as "all about turf."It shouldn't be necessary to say it, but I'm no defender of the SSPX, who I think are wrong on every one of the distinctive points in their dossier of grievances against Vatican II and Rome. But I will repeat that Fellay said nothing in the latest speech that he hasn't said elsewhere and often, and I find it odd that the issue is being raised at the very moment when the Lefebvrites themselves consider the talks to have failed and things to be back to square one. I also think that Lefebvre et al. are best understood against a background of intransigent Catholicism that goes back at least to the French Revolution and includes in its rogues' gallery Liberals, Masons, and Jews. They are also correct in saying that the Council reversed many of the typical orientations and strategies of modern Roman Catholicism. In his famous speech about interpreting Vatican II, Pope Benedict used the conciliar declaration on religious freedom as an illustration of his "hermeneutics of reform" in that it displayed both continuity and discontinuity at different levels. He was echoing the stronger statement that he made a couple of decades earlier when he spoke of that declaration and Gaudium et spes as "a counter-Syllabus," a comment that infuriated Abp. Lefebvre and has not been forgotten by his successors. I don't think we need to fear that the Pope is putting the conciliar teaching up for grabs.Finally, in the letter he wrote to bishops after the Williamson affair, the Pope gave a clear explanation of why he lifted the excommunications and was seeking to bring the Lefebvrites back into the fold. Perhaps people might like to address what he says there:

Thanks, Joe K. I jumped too quickly to an unwarranted conclusion. I appreciate the light you bring to this discussion. A blessed Epiphany feast! The reading from St. Leo in today's Office is one of my favorites,

JAK wrote "They are also correct in saying that the Council reversed many of the typical orientations and strategies of modern Roman Catholicism. In his famous speech about interpreting Vatican II, Pope Benedict used the conciliar declaration on religious freedom as an illustration of his hermeneutics of reform in that it displayed both continuity and discontinuity at different levels. He was echoing the stronger statement that he made a couple of decades earlier when he spoke of that declaration and Gaudium et spes as a counter-Syllabus, a comment that infuriated Abp. Lefebvre and has not been forgotten by his successors."I think he basic issue is who gets to interpret the content of tradition. Bishop Fellay says that the VII documents contradict statements in Mirari Vos, Quanta Cura and the Syllabus, etc. Benedict says (Christmas 2005, etc): yes, but not every statement in them is an eternal principle - many were responses to specific issues of their time and don't bind us today (in his language, they are "contingent")In +Fellay's recounting of he three points required of the SSPX in the June 2012 letter he received from the Pope, "the first is that it is the Magisterium which is the judge of what is Traditional[sic] or not.I suspect that a clearer statement of that would be that it is the Pope who is the judge of the content and meaning of Tradition.And that is the reason for +Fellay's unwillinnrss to agree.

"They are also correct in saying that the Council reversed many of the typical orientations and strategies of modern Roman Catholicism. In his famous speech about interpreting Vatican II, Pope Benedict used the conciliar declaration on religious freedom as an illustration of his hermeneutics of reform in that it displayed both continuity and discontinuity at different levels."JAK ==Pope Benedict keeps saying that there is "continuity" in the Church's teachings about the Jews, etc., even though he also says that at certain times the Church taught something different. Even he admits that the teachings sometimes were diferent, so he is simply not justified in saying that the teachings have been "in continuity" with the past. The best he can say is that the old teachings were dropped but have been resumed. His appeal to "contingent" circumstances explains only one thing -- why the teachings were changed. Those circumstances don't turn interrupted teachings into continuous ones. All this rigamarole about "continuity" and "contingency" misuses the established meanings of those terms, and it is an embarassment to the Church. And the allusion to "different levels" of something or other (truth? authority?) only obfuscates the matter.