Thursday, January 29, 2009

Catholic Family News Editor Interviewed on SSPX Position

Mr. John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News, was recently interviewed by The Bulletin , a secular paper with a large circulation in Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Vennari states that The Bulletin "was very fair in allowing me to present the SSPX’s position." The article, with source link, is below.

Struggle For Tradition: A Look At The Position Of SSPX
By John P. Connolly, The Bulletin

Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Vatican made quite a stir last weekend when it decided to withdraw its excommunication edicts against four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), a traditionalist Catholic order that is still formally unrecognized by the Vatican.

In spite of the lifting of the excommunications, the society’s bishops and priests remain suspended from active ministry in the Catholic Church under canon law.

The bishops are still barred from ordaining priests or exercising any authority in the Church under a 1976 papal decree leveled by Pope Paul VI that remains in effect.

John Vennari, editor of the Catholic Family News, a monthly traditionalist Catholic newsmagazine, took the time to talk to The Bulletin about the SSPX’s position and to outline where things stand between the order and the Vatican.

Mr. Vennari said that the SSPX sees itself as trying to preserve what the Catholic Church has taught for 2,000 years against new tendencies set out by the Second Vatican Council.

“Most people will agree that Vatican II did launch tremendous change in the Church,” said Mr. Vennari. “The nature of the change Archbishop Lefebvre said was contrary to what the faith should be, particularly in the new orientation toward ecumenism and religious liberty.” Mr. Vennari said the new ecumenism is “a path to unity that never speaks about the need for the non-Catholic to convert to Catholicism.”

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, was excommunicated in 1988 with four bishops whom he had consecrated without the permission of the Vatican. The four bishops were consecrated in line with Archbishop Lefebvre’s desire to ensure preconciliar Roman Catholic tradition.

“In 1987, the year before he consecrated the bishops, [Archbishop Lefebvre] said, ‘I’ve been in dialogue with the Vatican for 14 years, and I’m in the exact same place I was 14 years ago’” said Mr. Vennari.

In many respects, the impasse between the Vatican and the SSPX is back to where it was in 1988, with some differences. Because the SSPX still has doctrinal differences with the Vatican, until those differences are resolved, unification will not happen.

“The resolution they’re talking about is not necessarily saying to the pope, ‘you have to denounce Vatican II,’ but any sort of regularization can only work if we can continue to resist the points of the council that we see as being out of step with traditional Catholic doctrine.”
But there are several other things that would need to happen before reunification would happen, as well.

Part of the irregular situation surrounding the SSPX is their assertion of a supplied jurisdiction. The sacraments of matrimony and confession can only be performed with permission of the diocesan bishop wherever they are performed. Since the SSPX’s irregular position occurred, some suspect that confessions and marriages are not validly performed by SSPX, because they are not done with the permission of the local bishop. SSPX says they have a supplied jurisdiction for their chapels, and the Vatican would need to recognize that jurisdiction should reunification occur.

The SSPX made the lifting of restrictions on the celebration of the more traditional form of the Roman Mass according to the missal decreed by Pope John XXIII in 1962 a condition of reunion with Rome. Liberating the older form of the Mass from prior restrictions meant any Roman Catholic priest could be allowed to say Mass according to the older rite without obtaining permission from the local bishop. Pope Benedict granted this request on July 7, 2007 when he issued his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Presently, the traditional form of the Roman Mass is said regularly with the blessing of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at Our Lady of Consolation Church and Our Lady of Lourdes in Philadelphia and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Plymouth Meeting. Another Mass according to the traditional form was offered last weekend at St. Paul’s in South Philadelphia. The SSPX maintains a local chapel, St. Jude’s Church, in Eddystone, Delaware County, without any connection to the archdiocese.

Mr. Vennari said the SSPX has a lot to offer the Church, especially in the area of vocations.
“Across the board from what I see, the more traditional the seminaries and religious orders, the more vocations they get,” he said. “They appeal the most to the ‘Sensus Catholicum,’ the Catholic things. When a man goes to seminary, he doesn’t want to be walking around wearing dungarees with a guitar strapped to him. He wants to be set apart and consecrated to God.”

The SSPX has seen growth in the years since the excommunications, opening schools where dioceses were closing them due to dwindling attendance. There are also many people who attend SSPX chapels for Mass that have swelled its numbers during a time where parish attendance is down.

“When Bishop Fellay spoke with the pope, said to Benedict as a gentleman,” said Mr. Vennari. “he said, ‘Your Holiness, I wish you to consider that the people who come to our chapels suffer very much. They are denounced as being outside the Church; they are falsely denounced as schismatic; they are falsely denounced as excommunicated; they suffer in their families; and they would rather suffer all that and go to our chapels than go to your parishes.”

Mr. Vennari summed up the SSPX position in two statements from Archbishop Lefebvre.

“Our future is in our past,” says the first statement. “Since we have turned our back on our past, the church is in collapse.”

The second says that the “master stroke of Satan was to sow disobedience to all of catholic tradition through obedience.”

“If the popes [of today] tell me to disobey the popes of the past, then there’s no reason I should obey him now,” Mr. Vennari said.

And now that the excommunications have been lifted, the SSPX is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to continue forward with reunification at last.

Source: John P. Connelly, "Struggle For Tradition: A Look At The Position Of SSPX," The Bulletin (Pittsburgh, PA)

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