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Gnostic Twaddle

'Full Communion' and Other Cosmic Connections
Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED: 2/9/11

Archbishop Rembert Weakland: Notorious dissenter from Church teaching, suspected heretic and admitted homosexual—enjoys "full communion" with the Church.

( One of the advantages of being a columnist for The Remnant is the great therapeutic value of a forum in which to vent a Catholic’s frustration over the prevailing confusion in what Italians call il dopoconcilio—the period following the Second Vatican Council.  Who knows how many serious health consequences I have averted by discharging on these pages the burden of angst over so much of what is dopey in the dopoconcilio? It is time to vent again.

Speaking of dopey, the executive producer of has just issued this “official position” concerning the Society of Saint Pius X:  “The SSPX are not in full communion with the Church and are invited by the Church to rediscover this path.”

Ah yes, that mysterious  “path” to the ever-elusive spiritual goal of “full communion.”  It seems to suggest a neo-Catholic analogue to the eightfold path of Buddhism which, if only SSPX could “rediscover” it, would lead all its adherents to that exalted platform of enlightenment attainable only through a joyful abandonment to the ineffable teachings of the Second Vatican Council: a council the same, yet different, from all the other councils; novel yet traditional; new, yet old; pastoral, yet doctrinal; an opening of ecclesiastical chakras to certain energies of the modern world; an “event” whose meaning can only be intuited, but never made explicit, according to a “true interpretation” that is lurking somewhere, surely, but has yet to be found.  Listen carefully, Grasshopper, and you will hear the Council in soft breezes flowing through poplars on Roman hills. It is the sound of one hand clapping.

Quite simply, have we not had far more than enough of this gnostic twaddle? Let us reason together.  Let us do what traditionalists have always done: confront obscurantism and intellectual dishonesty with a few statements of the obvious.  Right reason, the Jesuits called it, back when they were still in the right reason business. Back when the Church was still in the right reason business. A few statements of the obvious, then.  A dozen, to be exact:

First, thanks to Pope Benedict, the four bishops of the SSPX are no longer under a sentence of excommunication, if indeed they ever were.

Second, the priests and faithful of the SSPX were never excommunicated in the first place, which is why Pope Benedict had no need to revoke any excommunication as to them.

Third, one who is not excommunicated from the Church is able to receive all the sacraments of the Church, including Holy Communion, and no one in the Vatican, much less the Pope, has even suggested otherwise regarding the SSPX.

Fourth, neither the SSPX bishops, nor its priests, nor its religious, nor its lay faithful stand accused of heresy, which would involve obstinate doubt or denial of an article of divine and Catholic faith.

Fifth, one who is (a) baptized in the Church, (b) not excommunicated, © able to receive all the Sacraments, and (d) not a heretic, is—I have this on good authority—a Catholic.

Sixth, Catholics are in communion with the Catholic Church.

Seventh, there is no such thing as a “partial” Catholic, and thus no such thing as a true Catholic in “partial communion” with the Church.

Eighth, the SSPX are true Catholics.

Ninth, no one at the Vatican has ever claimed that the SSPX are not true Catholics, but on the contrary numerous Vatican prelates and the Pope himself have declared that they are true Catholics whose organization is in a canonically irregular situation (which could be rectified by an appropriate decree).

Tenth, the SSPX are not non-Catholics.

Eleventh, according to the principle of non-contradiction the clergy and laity of SSPX cannot be Catholic and not Catholic at one and the same time.

Twelfth, according to the principle of the excluded middle, the statement “the SSPX are Catholics” is either true or false, objectively speaking (subjective dispositions of particular individuals being beyond our ken).

Conclusion: the contention that the Catholics of the SSPX are not in “full communion” with the Catholic Church of which they are indubitably members is nonsense.  Just as nonsensical is the idea that the likes of Mahony and Gumbleton are in “full communion” with the Church but not the SSPX bishops, or that legions of pew Catholics every bit as heterodox as the most liberal of Protestants are in “full communion,” but not the laity of the SSPX, who accept every single binding teaching of the Magisterium on faith and morals.

The SSPX affair demonstrates how the ambiguous conciliar neologism “full communion” and its flipside, “partial communion,” cause enormous damage to the Church. At one and the same time non-Catholics, now hailed and feted at ecumenical gatherings, are no longer viewed as heretics or schismatics because they are deemed to have a nebulous “partial communion” with the Church, while Catholic traditionalists are denounced and ostracized for lacking an equally nebulous “full communion”—denounced and ostracized by the same critics who praise the “partial communion” of a vast array of actual heretics and schismatics that rejects practically everything the Church teaches.

Ridicule is the only fitting response to those who continue to prattle about a lack of “full communion” on the part of Catholics who are keeping the Faith in the midst of what the last Pope, after a quarter-century of celebrating a “great renewal” that never was, finally lamented as “silent apostasy” in a once Christian Europe.  Yet the same Pope—the Pope whose feverish fans demanded his sainthood immediately by popular acclaim—publicly announced the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops who have devoted their lives to reversing the apostasy over which that Pope presided. The same Pope coddled and protected Marcial Maciel Degollado, refusing to hear anything against him despite a mountain of evidence that the evil founder of the “Legionaries of Christ” had committed numerous unspeakable crimes. The same Pope did little or nothing to address rampant homosexuality in the priesthood and a massive collapse of faith and discipline in the Church, while inviting everyone from Animists to Zoroastrians to enact their pagan rituals in the very rooms of the Convent of Saint Francis at Assisi. The same Pope gave us altar girls and attended rock concerts in the midst of ecclesial chaos, while the bishops of the SSPX had to endure for decades the stigma of a dubious technical “excommunication” the next Pope simply reversed with another technical decree. The same Pope kissed the Koran, while permitting the true Scriptures to be bowdlerized by a profusion of modernist and  “gender-neutral” mistranslations.

By the way, concerning the Koran-kissing scandal, one neo-Catholic commentator, having concluded reluctantly that there is no way around it—the Pope kissed the Koran—suggested that “Showing respect in this way could foster world peace and interreligious harmony.”  I happen to agree with this commentator that the gesture may have been impulsive, but it was never repudiated, not even after the Chaldean patriarch, Raphael Bidawid, publicly praised the Pope for having “kissed it [the Koran] as a sign of respect.”

The Church has been turned upside down in the name of an ecumenical council whose “true interpretation” continues to be debated more than half a century after it closed. The Vatican itself has invited none other than the SSPX’s theological experts, and only them, to a series of sessions to discuss with Vatican experts this “true interpretation,” which of course cannot simply be put to the SSPX–or to us, for that matter—in so many words.  For no formula of mere words could ever capture the essence of “the real Council.”

Meanwhile, Catholic churchmen continue their futile post-conciliar “dialogue” with morally bankrupt Protestant clergy, perpetually indignant liberal rabbis, and fiercely fundamentalist Imams.  The whole Western world succumbs to silent apostasy.  No longer facing opposition from pathologically irenic Churchmen who wish only to befriend it, Islam rises everywhere without impediment. It is rising most rapidly in France, whose government, crippled by its own rigid laicism, attempts ridiculous secular countermeasures, such as banning burkas on the grounds that they constitute illegal identity concealment, at the same time it relentlessly dismantles what is left of the moral order in that once most Catholic of nations.

Yet, in the midst of civilizational apostasy and vast ecclesial wreckage provoked entirely by purported “mandates” of Vatican II, the only Catholics accused of lacking “full communion” with the Church are a group of traditionalists who not only had no part in the wreckage but have steadfastly resisted it. The wreckers, on the other hand, are presumed to be in “full communion” with the very Church they have wrecked.

Let’s give the “full communion” crowd what they deserve for their laughable defamation of faithful Catholics: the rhetorical equivalent of a custard pie in the kisser, the classic American way of deflating the pompous and the sanctimonious.  Really. Enough of this nonsense.

There, I feel better now. Thank you, Mr. Editor.
great piece
Sip sip
Awesome piece.
It's pretty good, but I dislike arguments that say things like "What about Weakland?"

What about him?  We're supposed to be better than him and his kind.  If he does something wrong and gets away with it, too bad, so sad.  We should worry about us and if we're doing the right thing.

Other than pointing at those in "full communion" who are heterdox, apostate, etc., which I think is an irrelevant comparison, I liked the article and he makes some good points.
Great article, Nic.  Thanks for posting it.  I'm inspired to read Ferrara and Woods' The Great Façade again.
(02-13-2011, 12:19 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: [ -> ]I dislike arguments that say things like "What about Weakland?"

What about him?  We're supposed to be better than him and his kind.  If he does something wrong and gets away with it, too bad, so sad.  We should worry about us and if we're doing the right thing.

So...what about him? "Silence signifies consent," or something to that effect.

You can judge the stance of a bishop--not on whether he allows a few traditionalist parishes here or there--but on what he allows. You judge a bishop based on the worst priest in the parish. Every single priest is a representative of the bishop, personally sent out by the bishop, in whose name he acts. If there are clown messes and sacrileges and heresy, it is because the Bishop allows it. And if the bishop is silent, it is only because he agrees with it. Otherwise, he would put a stop to what is being done in his name.

The same is true with any hierarchy. The same is true with the Pope with respect to the bishops who act in his name.

Go get em Chris!
Interestingly Woods n Ferrera have had something of a falling out due to Chris's latest n most excellent book,"The Church and the Libertarian"
Woods seems to have lost the plot with regard the Churches social teaching and is generously imbibing  the "Austrian" coolaid these days...
He illuminates a very good point in this article. I can remember when I had my full conversion to tradition. I was convinced to go too an SSPX Mass. Before that I'd been going to the TLM for about a year, but had the normal neo-cath attitude towards the Society and what was deemed as excessive traditionalism that went along with that milieu (whatever that meant). So I went on guard and skeptical.  What I saw was as clear as the nose on my face: Catholicism. On the way back to the subway, it hit me; if you asked any Bishop, Priest, or so called Catholic intellectual (the Weigels of the world) - they'd have said that I had just endangered my soul, and insofar as they believed in sin, I had probably just committed one. By so doing, I was most certainly not "in communion" with the Church. However, if I had gone to the regular lifeteen Mass in my old home town (which I had done in the past out of a sense of obedience) I would have been absolutely fine, in God's good graces. But they were 2 wholly separate and seemingly irreconcilable things. Although new to tradition, I had already come to recognize the absolutely plain and inarguable truth that the TLM was Catholic and the lifeteen -whatever else I might have thought of the NO in general- was not. Yet all the sources that in my previous Catholic life I would have turned to for guidance couldn't see this obvious fact. With this new found realization, I dove into learning more about the SSPX and the traditionalist movement in general, and was able to see the "full communion" argument as exactly what it was: wrong.

article Wrote:Conclusion: the contention that the Catholics of the SSPX are not in “full communion” with the Catholic Church of which they are indubitably members is nonsense.

Technically, even apart from Vatican II ecclesiology, the idea of lacking "full communion" could and can be applied to those under a suspension or who lack certain rights and privileges of Catholics in good standing even though they are still members of the Church. (I assume this is how the Holy See views the SSPX priests since the Pope said they do not exercise a legitimate ministry and those ordained illegitimately receive an automatic suspension (Canon 1383)). Fr. Hardon explains how it can be said that one lacks communion while retains membership in his 1950 work on the Mystical Body. In context, he is criticizing another theologian's erroneous application of Canon 87 (1917 Code) which argued that baptized, good-faith non-Catholics lacked communion, but were actual members:

Quote:Accordingly, it is erroneous to say that a baptized person can retain membership in the Church, while lacking communion with the Church, except in the following isolated cases:
--where only a minor censure is imposed, like suspension, which, by definition, merely wants to restrict some of the privileges of a Catholic as a corrective or punitive measure, without intending to cut him off formally from the visible unity of the Church.
[This] kind of communion, it is clear, may be lacking while formal membership is retained. Thus, for example, a recalcitrant priest may be suspended “a divinis.” He is, therefore, “lacking in communion with the Church,” to the extent that, as a priest, he may not celebrate the Divine mysteries; yet, for all that, he is still a member of the Catholic Church.

Generally in regards to communion, it seems what Vatican II did with Lumen Gentium was attempt to describe the other side of the coin: those who are not members (ie they lack communion with the Church in the essentials necessary for actual membership) but have communion in some elements beginning with their baptism (ie belief in the Incarnation, Trinity, Holy Orders in some cases, etc.). In fact, this was the current Pope’s explanation (before becoming Pope) of why the Council chose to speak of communio rather than membership—membership is either/or whereas communio could be spoken of in a way that admits of degrees—ie communion in some elements but not in others. He even explains how this approach was justified primarily from canon law which traditionally treated all who received the indelible mark of Baptism as retaining some sort of affiliation with the Church and therefore subject to ecclesiastical laws, etc. even while not being actual members (Ratzinger, Unity of the Church, pg. 73).

So I realize this was just a vent on his part, but Ferrera presumes communion and membership to be strict synonyms when they are not necessarily so—especially in the case of suspended clerics. I think what this vent really boils down to is a complaint about fairness--ie SSPX priests receive punishments whereas others apparently guilty of worse crimes do not--and it verbalizes a relateable frustration well in that regard.
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