14 April 2011

Crossing the Line

Because I haven't gotten enough email this week...

The beatification of John Paul II is scheduled for May 1st.  There have been many Catholics who have raised objections to this beatification, or at least to the hurried nature of the process producing it.  I have blogged on this rush to beatification here.

Bishop Richard Williamson of the SSPX is no stranger to saying things that irritate people, nor is he one that often backs down from doing so.

In something of a perfect storm of controversy, Bishop Williamson has elected to make public his objections to the upcoming beatifications.  The problem is that his objections call into question the authority of the pope and venture very dangerously into sedevacantism.  For his objections do not just call into question the prudence of the decision to beatify, nor just the rush to beatify, but the efficacy of the beatification itself. 

I am going to excerpt some of the linked statement below.  Brace yourself:


On May 1, in a few weeks' time, John-Paul II is due to be declared "Blessed" by Benedict XVI amidst great celebration in St. Peter's Square in Rome. But Catholics clinging to Tradition know that John-Paul II, while being a great promoter of the Conciliar Church, was an effective destroyer of the Catholic Church. How then can he be called "Blessed", the last step before being canonized, when Church canonizations are infallible ? The swift answer is that John-Paul II will not be beatified as a Catholic Blessed by a Catholic beatification in the Catholic Church, but as a Newblessed by a Newbeatification in the Newchurch. And Newchurchmen are the first to claim novelty, the last to claim infallibility, for what they do.

[His Excellency goes on to draw an analogy of pure gasoline (Catholicism) and pure water (secularism) and their effects.  Then he continues...]

Thus Newbeatifications may taste and smell to unwary Catholic nostrils like Catholic beatifications, but on closer examination it is clear that Newbeatifications are not at all the same reality. Famous example: a Catholic beatification used to require two distinct miracles, while a Newbeatification requires only one. And the rules for a Newbeatification are significantly relaxed in other ways as well. Therefore no Catholic should expect anything other than a Newblessed to emerge from a Newbeatification. John-Paul II was indeed a Conciliar "Blessed".

What deceives Catholics is the elements of Catholicism that still remain in the Conciliar Church. But just as Vatican II was designed to replace Catholicism (pure gasoline) with Conciliarism (gasoline-water), so Conciliarism is designed to give way to - let us call it - the Global Religion (pure water). The procession is from God to Newgod to Nongod. Right now we still have Newrome pushing the Newgod of Vatican II with Newblesseds to match, but before long sheer criminals will be the "Blesseds" of the Nongod.

However, the true God will let no sheep be deceived that does not want to be deceived. Nor will he abandon any soul that has not first abandoned him, says St. Augustine...

This article evidences a position that goes beyond what a Catholic mind may think about the Church and thus is not a Catholic position.  Whatever the understandable frustration about the Church's downward spiral since Vatican II, and even beyond valid criticisms of the texts of Vatican II themselves (not merely their implementation), this is so beyond the pale that it must be noted. 

A Catholic person, let alone a Catholic bishop, cannot stick labels like "Newchurch" or "Newbeatification" on the Church and Beatification, without taking a practical position that the Pope is not the Pope.  And that, my friends, is ether sedevacantism (i.e., there is no Pope), or else he thinks someone else is Pope (in which case he should name names).  Because if he holds to the SSPX's position that Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope as he appears to be, then he would have to acknowledge that he has the right to beatify someone and that that decision is entitled to, at least, the assent of the faithful.  If John Paul II were canonized, would Bishop Williamson then claim that was in error?  That "Newcanonizations" are fallible?  Where does that rabbit hole lead?

To claim God will never let the sheep be deceived who do not want to be deceived, as the Bishop does, without acknowledging that the Rock of Peter is the principle of unity with the flock of Christ, is a dangerous proposition.  On what basis does this make sense?

What is Bishop Williamson up to?  Is he merely trying to do what he can to prevent an SSPX reconciliation, or is it worse than that?


Robert said...

Maybe he just got done watching the LA Religious Education Congress. And had to vent.

long pants said...

While it's fun to sit back and watch the fools argue, this really is inconsequential. No different than any other non-Catholic expressing his distaste for the church. Let him have his tantrum, but, as I've found works with my own children, just smile and tell him how cute he is when he gets so angry.

My word verification for this post is "feeses." How appropriate!

The Viking said...

@ long pants

Were you trying to spell the word feces? I don't get it. Perhaps I lack the proper sophistication.

I personally know Bishop Richard Williamson and can verify with absolute certainty that he is not, has never been and probably will not become a sedevacantist.

Let me explain by analogy.

"Comparison. A football team plays well, but gets nevertheless beaten. Its overall defeat does not mean it did not play well. Good play is good play even if it does not win.

Overall the official Church is no longer Catholic, but Conciliar, or whatever you like to call it. That does not mean that in all its parts it is no longer Catholic.

Similarly the New Mass is no longer Catholic as a whole, but a part like the Consecration can still be valid.

So to the question, is the 'Newchurch' still Catholic, one needs a double distinction. As a whole, No. As to its parts, some parts, Yes; other parts, No."

Similarly even among the 12 selected by God himself there were periods of time where at least 2 lost the Faith--albeit one habitually and the other for a short time.
Why is it inconceivable that the man in white might, just might lose the Faith?

Too many Catholics absolutely can not understand the notion of the Papacy and God allows a whole lot of foolishness to take place in his Apostles before one can formally say they are no longer part of the Church Militant.

thetimman said...


Thanks for the comment. And I believe His Excellency is not a sedevacantist. But the parsing of words in that statement-- which he published-- reminds me of the the parsing of certain V2 promulgations in order to square them with timeless Catholic teaching.

Not his finest moment, and he really ought to clarify or repudiate that column.

I write as one who is not an enemy of the SSPX or Bishop Williamson, yet who is not an attendee of the SSPX either. I greatly desire the whole mess to be solved, but this statement, in my opinion, as I wrote, crosses the line.

The Viking said...

Let me just cut to the quick.

You send your question about his latest Eleison Comments to me and I am quite certain he would be more than happy to answer any objection.


I look forward to receiving your e-mail.

Phil said...

Dear Timman,

You certainly can not argue that the post V2 catholic church is the same as the pre V2 church, the mass is different, holy days are celebrated on different days of the week, Gregorian chant is not he same as the music played at the “new mass”, the priest don’t dress the same, the parishioners don’t dress the same (veils) and as your blog has documented numerous times the tone and tenor of the sermons given are not the same. In fact your blog is dedicated to distinguishing the differences between the two. So if the two are not the same and one pre dates the other, then what is the other if not new? What has the Bishop said that is not true? We have an old (traditional) church and we also have something else (call it what you want but it’s not the same). To pretend that the two are the same, by calling them the same thing, is confusing at best. Am I not allowed as a Catholic to not think this way and call it what it is, a new version of what once was?

long pants said...

No, I wasn't trying to spell "feces." I found humor in its phonetic equivalent that was presented to me in the word verification. I'll consider your not getting it as the lack of sophistication.

thetimman said...

Phil, I think it is a semantics issue. The Church is once and forever the same; it is timeless.

That being said, there have been many changes, nearly all lamentable, in the state of affairs in that one same Church. That's all. I certainly get the point you make, and I get His Excellency's point-- when taken in a particular way. My objection to his article is that it sure seems to say something I don't think is accurate-- about whether a beatifcation, however temporally imprudent we may find it, is not something the Vicar of Christ has the ability to decide.

Viking, Thank you, I take it such an email would get to His Excellency. I will consider what I would say before I would importune him. I will think it over and get back to you.

The Viking said...

The Church is indefectible, this is a dogma that can not be disputed. Where the Church physically resides is certainly able to be questioned.

Jesus Christus herie, hodie, et in saecula.

How does one reconcile the warnings of that most perfect of creatures who said (Our Lady's warnings can be believed privately) that Rome will lose the Faith?

I can not know for certain if that has happened, but what else in reality would need to happen, that has not already happened, to posit that possibility?

long pants said...

Oh brother, Vik. Once you appeal to alleged locutions of Mary, you lose all your cred.

thetimman said...

long pants, I can tell you're having fun. But don't go too far down that trail. If you wish to doubt that Mary has appeared to men, you are free to do so. But it doesn't increase your cred in the least. Quite the opposite.

And please don't get too casual with Our Lady-- you haven't yet, but I can see where this might go.


Phil said...

Wouldn’t you agree that the visible church of 2011 is not the same as the visible church of a century ago? Wouldn’t you also agree that it is hard to imagine a scenario a century ago where a bishop that had organized and participated in a public event such as Assisi I and created 5 new mysteries to the Rosary would be “rushed” to beatification? If you agree with those two comments then I think you find yourself in the position of trying to explain how the legitimate Pope in 2011 can do such a thing.

I read the Bishop’s comments as an attempt to explain how this can happen and he is stating it in a language that a common Catholic like me can understand. I don’t read that the Bishop has claimed that the Pope doesn’t have the authority to do such a thing, rather he is explaining the circumstances how and why this is happening. If you think that the Bishop’s explanation is wrong then I’d be interested in an alternative explanation.

By the way this is the first time I’ve commented on your blog but I wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you put into it and thank you and the priests involved for the publication of the Seven Deadly Sins series. It has been blessing for me during this Lenten season.

Unknown said...

I deplore John Paul's papacy for all the reasons that most SSPX sympathizers would mention.

However, I am not surprised if he has made it to heaven by now, and if the Church says so, I will believe it. It doesn't imply that I have to reexamine my negative analysis of his woeful papacy.

Pope John Paul pray for us. Abp. Marcel Lefebvre pray for us.


The Viking said...

@ long pants

Perhaps you are not Catholic. But if you are Catholic and you deny that the Mother of God has appeared to men owing to the mercy of God, then you are indeed worthy of pity.

Perhaps you are simply ignorant of the many appearances of the the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout history. Perhaps you lack the proper direction from the oratories of the Modern Church. Well, one of the spiritual works of mercy is...to instruct the ignorant.

- Our Lady of Lourdes
- Our Lady of La Salette
- Our Lady of Fatima
- Our Lady of Akita

That is a sufficient list...please look them up and read.

If you are not Catholic, perhaps you adhere to the errors of many non-Catholics concerning the Second Eve.

There are 3 types of honor that the living can show those who no longer live among us or to Whom we owe existence.

dulia - to our dead relatives or to the saints who by example we wish to emulate and ask for assistance on earth (mentioned in the Old Testament)

hyperdulia - that honor reserved to ONE creature alone due to her perfection and excellence in the mind of God; Mary

latria - the honor reserved to God in the 3 persons of the Trinity

thetimman said...

Rory, I agree with your general idea, nearly. I would probably not say "deplore" but instead say, "have serious concerns with". Now that is certainly open to a charge of being merely politic, but I shy away from your term for two reasons. One, I cannot "judge" any Pope-- though I know you are not doing this, I want to give the idea of it a wide berth. Two, he accomplished good things also during that pontificate and we are unaware of the circumstances of all his decisions.

I agree that looking at the pontificate as a whole, and at many serious problematic issues, it doesn't appear that he is being beatified FOR his pontificate. But when the Church speaks, she speaks. It is scandalous that it has been rushed so, leaving open the possibility of more dismaying revelations after the beatifications that would leave Catholics having to parse the nuances of what a beatification is and is not, and like conversations we've been forced to conduct for the last four decades.

thetimman said...

Phil, thank you for your thoughtful comment and your kind words about the blog.

Starting backwards, I can see that your explanation of Bp. Williamson's comments could be taken that way.

I agree that it is hard to imagine any of those things happening. It is distressing, and often scandalous, what has happened and is happening in the actions of Churchmen.

But to answer the first question, I cannot agree that this is not the same visible Church. That is why all of this is distressing. If it weren't the same, visible Catholic Church, I'd just goof on this kind of stuff like I'd goof on the theologically-moronic galpriests. The continuity of the visible Church is one of the ways that the Holy Ghost has ensured that the gates of hell haven't prevailed.

To juxtapose a "modern" Rome versus an "eternal" Rome--other than poetically, or perhaps by way of urging sound governance in the Church-- is illusory. You know well that the Church has endured some awful times, as in the days of Athanasius-- but the Church that nearly blew it then was the Church. And God worked through the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament though it was filled with sinners and idolaters.

So, I can't quite go all the way with your first point. And the understandable notion to create a compartmentalized "eternal" v. "modern" or even "modernist" Rome seems impossible to me.

Phil said...

Please do not mistake my statement that the visible church is not the same to mean that I am implying that the Church no longer exists. As both you and Viking have mentioned our Lord guarantees that the Church will exist for all time and I believe this. It gives me hope rather than despair. I also believe that because of the times we live in it can be very hard to find the true Church, much like it must have been in the time of Athanasius.

I wonder if in these modern times we can find an example of perhaps a bishop and a small following stubbornly unwilling to abandon their belief and practice of orthodoxy even at the risk of being exiled. A bishop that would warn the faithful, often in uncomfortable terms, of the dangers of accepting the ideas of the modern world while other bishops mocked him. If only such an example existed today!

St. Athanasius pray for us.

Rory said...

Hi Timman. Thanks for the replies...

Timman says:
Rory, I agree with your general idea, nearly. I would probably not say "deplore" but instead say, "have serious concerns with".

Rory replies:
I used the term "deplore" in connection with those things that have scandalized SSPX Traditionalists. I wanted to make it clear that I agreed with Bp. Williamson to a point. I think there were some omissions and commissions during John Paul's papacy that the most strident opponent (like Bp. Williamson) of the beatification of Pope John Paul II would find deplorable. I doubt if it is necessary to name them. I would be willing to use the expression "serious misgivings" to indicate my personal attitude if it would make discussion easier with those who might be inclined to venerate the late Holy Father.

Timman says:
Now that [the objection to the term "deplorable"] is certainly open to a charge of being merely politic, but I shy away from your term for two reasons. One, I cannot "judge" any Pope-- though I know you are not doing this, I want to give the idea of it a wide berth.

Rory replies:
Well, yes, I AM judging his papacy. It is inevitable. I do not know that there are chronological factors which make it permissible to have serious misgivings about a pope 500 years ago but not a pope of my lifetime. Everyone who refers to John Paul the Great is judging his papacy. I disagree with their evaluation, but I admit the inevitably of the judgment of the faithful.

Perhaps you refer to judging his interior motives and thoughts? As with anyone, pope or not, charity obligates us to construct the most favorable possibility for the motives and interior dispositions behind any action. I think I do this with John Paul II. I think he was a misguided child of his age, enamored with a sentimentalist's life long glow about his experience at Vatican II. His unjustified optimism for the future allowed him to believe in and encourage the faithful about the coming life-giving and healthy "springtimes of evangelism" that have not yet materialized while ignoring dangerous cancers in the Body of Christ during his pontificate. He speaks of this dubious vision in the first words of his first encyclical and his pontificate reflected his stated beliefs. That leads me to think he was a good but deceived man, who died in a state of grace, who is now in heaven and to whom we may offer up our petitions. If he is canonized, that is what I will think. I cannot help it. I can believe he is in heaven. I could never think he was a great pope.

---to be continued

Rory said...

Timman says:
Two, he accomplished good things also during that pontificate and we are unaware of the circumstances of all his decisions.

Rory replies:

Granted. I applaud his consecration of the world to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart in response to the command of our Lady of Fatima. I applaud his whammy on female priests.

Timman says:

I agree that looking at the pontificate as a whole, and at many serious problematic issues, it doesn't appear that he is being beatified FOR his pontificate. But when the Church speaks, she speaks. It is scandalous that it has been rushed so, leaving open the possibility of more dismaying revelations after the beatifications that would leave Catholics having to parse the nuances of what a beatification is and is not, and like conversations we've been forced to conduct for the last four decades.

Rory replies:
Just as Vatican II will eventually result in a clarified and more highly developed understanding of the nature and scope of the authority of ecumenical councils, so the beatification of Pope John Paul II will give the Church greater insight into what it means to be declared a blessed by Holy Mother Church.

I believe my Dad is in heaven. If enough people were devoted to Dad to be constantly praying to him and to have him answer their petitions, his cult would grow and he would be beatified too. That would not mean that the faithful have to hate the Yankees and love the Red Sox. It wouldn't even mean they have to share all of his views about the faith.

Ordinarily, a cult does not grow around a deceased Catholic unless his beliefs and actions are above reproach. But this is a new case and there exists a large number of faithful who venerate the memory of Pope John Paul. I have no inclination to discourage it. It is NOT, in my opinion, a time to doubt that the Church can infallibly determine whether a soul is in heaven. It is a time for greater insight and development of Catholic dogma. That is why I can welcome the beatification of a pope whose moral virtue I do not question, but who seemed in a significant respect, derelict in the carrying out of his duties.



Anonymous said...

This guy has so embarrassed the Church, our Holy Father, the Lefebvrist Movement, and so many others so many times over the years. Finally I think we can all say we have heard enough of what he is finally becoming clear is just his craziness. He's nuts! Let's all just wash our hands of him as I suspect the Lebfevrites will soon do, too. JRDM

Anonymous said...

Hi jrdm. Speaking of Bp. Williamson, you opined in a fashion that seems unbecoming of a Traditionalist speaking about a validly consecrated bishop: "This guy has so embarrassed the Church, our Holy Father, the Lefebvrist Movement, and so many others so many times over the years." You must have followed his career better than I have JRDM. You also said: "Finally I think we can all say we have heard enough of what he is finally becoming clear is just his craziness. He's nuts!" He convinced me at dinner one time that he was a good man and certainly sane. Everything he did and said the next morning on the way to the airport only confirmed my original conviction. Clearly, if you are correct, I was deceived. But I have to wonder if you are just blowing smoke. I could be wrong, but I tend to think you have given us a hyperbolic critique of Bp. Williamson which follows from a lack of recognition for scandalous and embarrassing moments involving a pope of your own lifetime. I wonder if your claim that Bp. Williamson has "so embarrassed the Church...and so many others so many times" includes more than the single fact that he should have kept quiet about his beliefs on the Holocaust. I know of one troubling event that I am confident you don't know about. I have given you one embarrassing moment that I am confident you knew about. Twelve will be enough. I don't need thousands. I will be awaiting your best dozen of the "so many" embarrassing moments in the life of His Excellency, Bp. Richard Williamson. Thanks, Rory

Unknown said...

TheTimman: First – I love the forum. You clearly draw a learned readership. I appreciate what you do here.

To the matter at hand – If we put aside Williamson’s Orwellian references and look at the substance of his statements, do you really disagree with him? Is he saying anything new or shocking about the state of the conciliar Church? Furthermore, I struggle to understand why it is acceptable to characterize Pope John Paul II’s beatification process as scandalous, hasty and imprudent, and yet we cannot question the efficacy. If beatifications are always and everywhere efficacious, aren’t we wasting our breath being critical of the process? If they are always efficacious, then, even if “they” relax the requirements to the extent that NO miracles are required (maybe one day they will only require a really strong hunch), we still should not (CANNOT) be critical of the process. In fact, if no beatification can ever be disputed, maybe we should encourage quick beatifications. I think your comments regarding sedevacantism (I know you don't believe Williamson is sedevacantist) presupposes a mark of infallibility that does not exist in this particular case.