Rome, SSPX Set to Reconcile

Rorate Caeli reports that the SSPX is set for reconciliation with Rome (it’s a shoddy translation from Italian, but hey, it gets the message across):

The response of the Society of Saint Pius X has arrived in the Vatican and it is positive: according to the informal information gathered by Vatican Insider, Bishop Bernard Fellay would have signed the doctrinal preamble that the Holy See had proposed last September as a condition to reach full communion and canonical regularization.

The text of the preamble, with the modifications proposed by Fellay, and signed by him as Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X, will be presented to Benedict XVI, who, on the day following his 85th birthday and on the even of the seventh anniversary of his election, receives a positive response from the Lefebvrists. A response long expected and desired by him, who, in the next few weeks, will put an end to the wound opened in 1988 with the illegitimate episcopal ordinations celebrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

It is not ruled out that Fellay’s response be examined by the Cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the next “Feria Quarta” [Wednesday] meeting, which should take place in the first half of May. Meanwhile, some further weeks will be needed so that a canonical arrangement can be established: the most probable proposal is that of establishing a “personal prelature”, a legal figure introduced in the Code of Canon Law in 1983 [Rorate note 2] and up to now used only by Opus Dei. The prelate depends directly of the Holy See. The Society of Saint Pius X will continue to celebrate Mass according to the ancient Missal, and to form its priests in its seminaries.

If true — gloria in excelsis Deo!

EDIT: On the other hand, the Catholic News Agency describesthe SSPX’s response as “mixed” and at least potentially unacceptable to Rome.

EDIT II: Cardinal Levada, head of Ecclesia Dei, the pontifical commission charged with oversight of the Extraordinary Form and the ongoing efforts to reconcile traditionalist groups with Rome, has confirmed that the SSPX’s has submitted a signed (but slightly modified) doctrinal premable. The commission will examine it and make a recommendation to the Holy Father.

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32 thoughts on “Rome, SSPX Set to Reconcile

  1. Congrats to the Latins. Now all they have to do is drop that silly filioque and papal supremacy schtick(among other things), and we Orthodox will be happy to let them back into the fold. ;)

      • If my comment came across as arrogant, I apologize. I had hoped the winking smiley at the end demonstrated the tongue-in-cheek nature of my comment. I am aware that Catholics do not believe themselves in error; If they did, they wouldn’t be Catholics.

        That said, we Orthodox make no secret about the fact that if there is to be reconciliation, Rome will have to change some major doctrines. Compromise on both sides will occur, but the Orthodox will not compromise on doctrine. As a westerner and an Orthodox Christian, I hold out more hope than most that reconciliation will be achieved. But the filioque and papal supremacy would absolutely have to go.

      • Atanasius,
        It is not my fight since I am neither Catholic nor Orthodox but I am curious why you are so invested in the “filioque”. It is a rather arcane dispute or do you think Catholic error on “filioque” leads to major theological and practical troubles

      • Oh Prince Eugen, and I have never ever met a Catholic who wasn’t offended when an Orthodox spoke the truth….

        Seriously, I have seen two forums going down in flames by Catholics being horribly upset when the Orthodox insisted that from their point of view some of the Catholic teachings were heretical… These forums were set up by nice Catholics in order to try a dialogue with us Orthodox, I wonder what they thought or expected what would be discussed in these forums… I still have some Catholic pen pals from there and we wondered about the different thickness of our respective skins…We Orthodox won, at least in the skin-thickness test.

        So get over it…

        My very serious advise to the proprietors of this forum is to watch out for the following words: the crusades, Uniates, the filioque, heretics, schismatics, infallibility, immaculate conception, purgatory, St. Augustine, indulgences and a couple dozens others which we Orthodox will get upset about at our discretion. The moment these words appear, we will get terribly offended and instantly start to sulk..we will also refuse to refute these ideas because they are not ours and they do only marginally interest us.. In addition, we think you Catholics are crossing yourselves in reverse…. ;-)

        This needed to be said, because I would not like to see this forum suffer a similar fate as the one`s I.mentioned…

        A Happy Bright Week to my Orthodox brothers and sisters and a joyous whatever you Catholics celebrate just now..

      • Fair enough, Joseph, but it seems as though you could help matters yourself by seeing things better from the Catholic or Protestant perspective, for while you are rightly amazed at the Catholic response to your treatment of the Orthodox faith as true in the forums you refer to, you seem to bring to the table a similar inability to converse. For instance, what purpose does it serve congeniality among Christians for you to acknowledge that your Orthodox peers won in the “skin-thickness test?” Wouldn’t those with an honest desire to understand each other already assume that you would have a bias toward those of like faith as you in such a way that you would tend to judge favorably toward your own in such subjective matters? I don’t fault you for tending to think this way, but it does seem to show a lack of grace necessary for the Christian forum you say you desire to have to bring it up to everyone here, while at the same time beseeching the Orthosphere not to descend into petty or unnecessary fighting.

        I understand before you begin to speak that you would tend to think of Orthodoxy as superior in all important matters to any other Christian tradition. I understand why your reaction to Prinz Eugen’s comment would be to defend Orthodoxy, as such, but you seem to follow his pattern by a similar propagandizing of the inherent deficiency in the character of all Catholics. Or is there another reason I don’t see for comparing the collective skin of the Orthodox to that of Catholics?

      • Seriously, I have seen two forums going down in flames by Catholics being horribly upset when the Orthodox insisted that from their point of view some of the Catholic teachings were heretical

        Yeah, conservative Catholics are weird this way. They seem to think that because there is a fashion nowadays among Catholics not to call the Orthodox schismatics and heretics that this somehow obliges the Orthodox not to call Catholics schismatics and heretics. Of course, this is what we think of each other, and it’s a little unclear what the point is of pretending otherwise. Many of them seem to think that Catholics and Orthodox can enter into communion with one another while disagreeing on dogmas.

      • buckyinky,

        Thank you for your kind words and concerns. The “thick-skin” in this connection means who gets “insulted” the fastest… emoticons cannot replace facial expressions or body-language!!!

        buckyinsky, I am a veteran of Catholic-Orthodox exchanges on the net and in person or groups in English and in other languages. From this angle and my experience, I would like to prevent this forum from making the same mistakes that all these “exchanges” sooner or later lead to.

        I am not anti-Catholic at all, but I am aware of tripping stones in these debates. I am painfully aware that both our sides approach these debates with greatly different expectations. Actually, with mutually exclusive expectations. I just like to warn about where these talks, in my experience, usually and rather sooner than later fall down…

        If I was not interested in having exchanges with other Christians, would I be here? But there are facts my faith will not allow me compromising…

        …and I apologize about the weirdness of my so-called humour… I usually give hand-outs to my partners that explain the points of same.

  2. Vishmehr24: Beyond the practical problems (changing the Nicene Creed by adding the “filioque” when only an Ecumenical Council is allowed to; the part Frankish politics played in its insertion, etc.), we Orthodox believe there are theological problems introduced by the filioque. Liken it to a building– if the foundation is crooked, then what is built above will be as well.

    I recommend this blog, which has very extensive examinations of the filioque. http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/

    • Vishmehr24,

      This is pretty good advise from Athanasius. Maybe I can put my two cents worth into your can as well.

      In the Holy Trinity we have God the Father as the source of the Godhead. By this source the Logos, the Son, is eternally begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds from it eternally.

      If, as the filioque says, the Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son, then you have changed the Holy Trinity as revealed to us and proclaimed by the Church in the Creed. The Holy Spirit, by proceeding from the Father and the Son has then, in fact, become a “lesser God.” Thus the filioque distorts the foundational teaching of the Christian faith, the essence and the hypostasis of the Holy Trinity.

      A small word, severe consequences…

      • I should also add that with the filioque the Godhead has now two sources…

        PS: I wish for Christmas for an Edit button….

      • Though I think this is a reasonable reading, I don’t think it is the only one. A common Catholic metaphor for the Trinity is Lover, Loved, Love. In this metaphor, one can say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father since He begot both His Son and, thereby, the love between them, the Spirit. But one can also say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, since the Holy Spirit is the love between the other two Persons. So, on this interpretation, the Holy Spirit proceeds ultimately from the Father but can be thought of as proceeding from both the Father and the Son—with these two perspectives rationalized by the fact that both the Son and the Spirit ultimately are sourced in the Father.

      • Bill,

        This question was asked of Athanasius and I, as another Orthodox here, thought of putting my 2 cents in as well. I explained the Orthodox position (add to that what Athanasius said). We all know that there is a difference between Orthodox and Catholic teachings and that is why we are not in communion with each other….

        I am also aware about most of the sophistry of the western interpretations of the filioque and don’t buy them because they are justifications after the fact (of changing the creed). Read the history of it all. Even Rome itself refused the use of the filioque for over 200 years after its first appearance, but finally caved to political pressure.

        I don’t want to be impolite, but want to state again what I said above, although somewhat tongue in cheek, that this is a topic which, after more than 1000 years of debate, by men of much greater intellect then us, will not be conceded to the satisfaction of the Catholic Church. Sorry!

        Just to re-iterate, please look at the other topics I have listed. Most of these will elicit similar responses from our side. All we can do, if one is willing, is to state our position. There cannot and will not be any “give and take,” “dialogue” or God forbid “compromise,” all that can be said has been said. But if need be, our position can be re-stated for people new to the subject…

        I know the Orthodox position appears harsh to some considering the western love for ecumenism, but I ask them to consider the definition of the word Orthodox. Maybe, that will help. We are not unfriendly at all, but we ARE Orthodox…

      • Oh, I never claimed nor would claim that communion is possible currently. I just don’t find the filioque dispute particularly troublesome. That you guys deny other dogmas bothers me much more. And sophistry is not the same as dialectic, which is what I am doing above.

      • “….metaphor for the Trinity is Lover, Loved, Love.”

        Bill, I thought I could, but I can’t let this go by….

        Lover, Loved, Love = active, passive, neuter? Who/which is what?

        All we know about the Holy Trinity is what was revealed to us. We know that God is one in essence and three in person. We know God Father, God Son and God Holy Spirit. We do know NOTHING about the inner life of God. And of the relations between the three hypostasis only what was revealed to us by God Himself.

        Therefore most speculations or “metaphors” of and about the Holy Trinity, are futile exercises and are leading, with ease, to the heretical clap-trap that emanates from certain feminist-progressive post-Christians. (Google > herchurch)

      • “….metaphor for the Trinity is Lover, Loved, Love.”

        Bill, I thought I could, but I can’t let this go by….

        Lover, Loved, Love = active, passive, neuter? Who/which is what?

        We may cross ourselves backwards, but we invoke the Trinity in the same order. I said nothing about active, passive, and neuter. There are some fruit loops who insist the Holy Spirit is feminine, but I am not one of them.

        Anyway, this way of thinking about the Trinity is very common in the West. CS Lewis does it, as I recall, in Mere Christianity. In weightier works, this broad approach to the theology of the Trinity goes back through Richard of St Victor to St Augustine. I am not an expert on the theology of the Trinity (not even close), but I think the formula “lover, beloved, love” for the Persons of the Trinity originates in St Augustine’s De Trinitate—it is present in that work. Whether there is a still older source, I do not know.

      • “…. I think this is a reasonable reading, I don’t think it is the only one.”

        Yes, and it is the ONLY one!

        It is the one the whole Church in Counsel has approved. It was at the Second Ecumenical Council which took place in Constantinople in 381 AD, and is also known as the First Council of Constantinople. Expanding and adapting the Nicene Creed, in particular, developing the teaching upon the Holy Spirit.

        The filioque resulted from a decision of a local Synod of Toledo in Spain in AD 589 in response to the Arian heresy.

      • Bill, may I point again to my above list of “touchy” subjects? Well St. Augustine is one of them.;-)

        “…I think the formula “lover, beloved, love” for the Persons of the Trinity originates in St Augustine’s De Trinitate”

        Bill, St. Augustine is “blessed” in the OC. He is not generally addressed as Saint Augustine. He is quite a controversial figure in our view, although Fr. Seraphim Rose tried to re-claim him in a reasonable book he wrote about the Blessed Augustine.

        You see, Blessed Augustine has written certain things that we would not consider orthodox…. foremost of these are his teachings about Original Sin. We Orthodox, however, do not consider a Church Father a “failure” if he wrote something that is un-orthodox (not heretical writings though), but accept those of his teachings which ARE orthodox. That goes as well for Blessed Augustine…

      • “…. I think this is a reasonable reading, I don’t think it is the only one.”

        Yes, and it is the ONLY one!

        What I mean is that I don’t share the insistence on seeing the filioque as necessarily contradicting the older version of the Creed. Why is “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father” in contradiction to “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son?” As a matter of logic, they don’t seem at all contradictory to me. Surely, if the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and if the Son is begotten of the Father, then it is equally true to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Creed does not say, after all, “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father but definitely not from the Son.” You can read the Creed to say that, of course, because you can read anything into silence. But you don’t have to.

        You see, Blessed Augustine has written certain things that we would not consider orthodox…. foremost of these are his teachings about Original Sin. We Orthodox, however, do not consider a Church Father a “failure” if he wrote something that is un-orthodox (not heretical writings though), but accept those of his teachings which ARE orthodox. That goes as well for Blessed Augustine…

        OK, my point was that the “lover, beloved, love” thing was not some random, crazy, recent innovation. I get that you don’t like it, and I believe you if you say no Orthodox would like it, but it traces back, through serious and holy men, to a Church Father. If it leads, as you say, to feminist craziness, then it does so with a lag of 1500 years.

      • “Why is “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father” in contradiction to “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son?” As a matter of logic, they don’t seem at all contradictory to me.”

        Bill, this is not about you…! (or me). It is also not about “logic”

        It is the Creed the Church pronounced. It is what the Church holds true… It is what a Christian must believe in order to be a Christian. It is not open for debate. The final debate took place in 381AD in Constantinople. It took place among the Holy Fathers of the Council and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

        The “Debate” is closed and the matter is settled. This is now for you and me only a matter of take it or leave it. Anyone, attempting to change what the Church in Council held true, is anathema…

        Do you now understand why the added filioque is unacceptable for the Orthodox Christian?

      • No. You seem to be saying that the filioque represented a real, theological change rather than a change in phrasing or a clarification. I don’t agree with this. Repeating the assertion isn’t helpful.

      • “I don’t agree with this. Repeating the assertion isn’t helpful….”

        We have repeated our objection for over 1000 years, that no one can change the creed of the Church. You chose to do it! That’s why we are not in communion…

      • Joseph, Bill, Vishmehr, et alia,

        Anastasia Theodoridis has an informative series of posts about the filioque controversy where she reviews St. Photios’ assessment of the issue. It is a decent, casual non-technical treatment:

        The Filioque Controversy, Part 1

        The Filioque Controversy, Part 2

        The Filioque Controversy, Part 3

        The Filioque Controversy, Part 4

        I find the the following rather significant:

        2.) The Filioque unavoidably attributes a double cause to the Holy Spirit.

        Yes, it is unavoidable. One cannot escape this difficulty simply by asserting that it isn’t so, as when one says The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son “as from one principle”. The Holy Spirit does not proceed from any principle, but from a Person. The Father and the Son are not principles (let alone one principle) but two Hypostases; two Persons. They are one as to their common Essence, but the Holy Spirit does not flow from an Essence. He proceeds from a Person. An essence does not cause anything. Nothing is begotten of an essence, nor proceeds from an essence. An essence does nothing other than simply be whatever it is. That is what “essence” means.

        A double cause of the Holy Spirit, in turn, means “the lordly perfection of the Spirit is destroyed because it will either be … divided in two, or it will be a composite.” (42) The Holy Spirit, in fact, is absolutely simple, absolutely and ineffably One, just like and no less than the other Hypostases of the Holy Trinity.

        If one is going to wreak havoc upon the principle of the divine simplicity, then why, St. Photios asks (again indulging in much indignant fun), “…on the basis of the same reasoning, should not a third cause [of the Persons ] appear?” (12) Or why say the Holy Spirit is the only one with two origins? Why not suppose the Others have multiple origins as well? Or, “…how is it that this godless doctrine does not make the Spirit a grandson and thus drive away the tremendous mysteries of theology with protracted nonsense?” (61)

        (And if the answer to any of these “why not” questions should happen to be, “Because it isn’t scriptural,” we can only guess with what scorn St. Photios might point out the holy Scripture has already been left behind.)

        There is an alternative error to this one, but if one professes the Filioque, one is forced into one error or the other. Vladimir Lossky points out that one must either “destroy the unity by acknowledging two principles of Godhead, or one must ground the unity primarily on the common nature.” As we pointed out in an earlier post, it is the Father Who is the principle of unity within the Holy Trinity, not the Nature, aka, Essence. It is the Father, as common Origin of the other Two, conferring His Essence upon the Son and the Holy Spirit. If we suppose the Essence is the principle of unity in the Holy Trinity, then that Essence “overshadows the persons and transforms them into relations within the unity of the essence.” (Lossky, Vladimir, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976, p. 58.)

        To imagine relations instead of Persons is obviously to imagine an impersonal and abstract God. This is not the Father of Jesus Christ, not the God revealed to us. This is a philosophical concept.

        The depersonalization of the Holy Spirit in Western Trinitarian theology has led to a general depersonalized approach to theology. The legion of theological heresies of the last few centuries surely have this turn in theological history in their genealogy.

        To my knowledge, St. Augustine was the first to suggest a filioquist understanding of the Trinity, but he did so as a personal theologoumenon. He wanted to know, absent revealed knowledge, how being begotten and proceeding differ. He was philosophically musing. Unfortunately, his august authority was invoked to defend the insertion of the filioque into the Creed several centuries later. And the rest is, as they say, history . . .

        PS) Joseph, I want an edit function, too — for Pascha! My errors are ugly, and I find it difficult to edit in the testy and cantankerous textbox.

      • Thank you so much Joseph A.

        As I said above, this topic has been discussed and written on by so many of so much higher intelligence and depths than myself, that I cannot understand why the message is not getting through. I suspect rather that it is not being accepted because of: “I don’t agree with this.” or “…this way of thinking about the Trinity is very common in the West.” – no snarl at you Bill ;-)

        I am aware that Trinitarian Theology is not the easiest of topics…. especially if one approaches the subject with pre-conceived (wrong) ideas or no ideas at all…

        “The depersonalization of the Holy Spirit in Western Trinitarian theology has led to a general depersonalized approach to theology. The legion of theological heresies of the last few centuries surely have this turn in theological history in their genealogy.”

        Amen!

  3. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Orthodox Edition « Patriactionary

  4. I am burning with curiosity to read the “doctrinal preamble” and to find out what canonical structure the SSPX will have. If it happens, it will be amazing that Rome and the SSPX found a formula they could both live with.

    • I am, too. Scuttlebutt says it’ll be an Opus Dei-style personal prelature, but I’ve heard rumors that the Holy Father has promised them more, possibly something never seen before; commenters at Rorate Caeli are calling this hypothetical arrangement “the Apostolic Pineapple.”

  5. I apologize, I forgot the Protestants…. do you celebrate anything? If yes, then a glorious something to you as well…

  6. Proph,

    Addressing the point of this post, what a wonderful week it has been for you faithful American papists! The news about SSPX AND the delightful LCWR developments that have likely caused (just and merited) ulcers for Call to Action types and for the editorial staff at the National Catholic Reporter. May Benedict XVI reign for many more years!

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