Vatican tells schismatics to respect Jews

Rebel traditionalists seeking a return to the fold of the Roman Catholic Church are to be told they must respect Judaism, other world faiths and other Christian churches.

The Holy See is to tell the Society of Saint Pius X that it can no longer reject the reforms of the Second Vatican Council if it wishes to be fully integrated back into the Church.

The council, which sat from 1962 to 1965, challenged centuries of Christian anti-Semitism in the document Nostra Aetate which repudiated the charge of deicide against followers of the Jewish faith.

However, the society, known as the SSPX or the Lefebvrists after their founder, French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, has consistently refused to accept the reforms of the council, including the liturgy in the vernacular.

Talks are due to start soon between the Holy See and SSPX on theological and doctrinal issues. These are expected to lead to the full reintegration of the society into the Catholic Church which would lead to its priests and bishops being recognised as Catholic.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna said the reforms of the council were “not negotiable”.

In an interview with the German daily Passauer Neue Presse, he said: “It’s not the case that Rome will let the Lefebvrists off easy for everything.”

He was speaking shortly after a priest of the society celebrated Mass at St Peter’s in Rome, prompting sympathetic conservative Catholic blogger Chris Gillibrand to predict a return to “normalcy”.

Some observers believe that the society will be normalised even before the doctrinal talks over issues such as the Second Vatican Council are complete.

Pope Benedict XVI, himself a conservative by inclination, has made it a mission of his Papacy to restore unity to the Christian world wherever possible.

Suspicions that the process will move faster than previously expected were increased after Father Marcus Jasny, SSPX prior in Neustadt in south-west Germany, celebrated the Tridentine or Old Rite Mass during a pilgrimage to Rome a few days ago of students from the Schöneberg High School for Girls near Bonn.

The return to the fold of the SSPX, which has a British Holocaust-denier as one of its bishops, will increase fears among international Jewry about the direction the Catholic Church is taking.

A recent statement from the Catholic bishops’ conference of the United States was criticised by the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups as unacceptably evangelistic.

The Jewish leaders warned that the US document could be regarded as evidence that Catholics would use interfaith dialogue to attempt to convert Jews.

The Jewish leaders, who included rabbis from the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groupings, said interfaith dialogue was “untenable” if the objective was to persuade Jews to accept Christ as their savior.

In a letter to the US bishops criticising their document on salvation, they said: “a declaration of this sort is antithetical to the very essence of Jewish-Christian dialogue as we have understood it.”

The SSPX controversy came to a head in January when the Pope lifted the excommunication of four SSPX bishops, including Britain’s Richard Williamson. Williamson believes the Jewish people are the “enemies of Christ” and that they should be converted to Catholicism.

The decree was signed on January 21 2009, the same day that Swedish television broadcast an interview with Bishop Williamson in which he said: “I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers.” He also said: “I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them in gas chambers.”

Talks between a new commission of the Holy See and the SSPX are expected to begin in the next few days, Cardinal Schonborn said.

“The SSPX will be told very clearly what is not negotiable for the Holy See,” he said.“This includes such fundamental conclusions of the Second Vatican Council as its positions on Judaism, other non-Christian religions, other Christian churches and on religious freedom as a basic human right.”

The rapprochement between the Holy See and SSPX comes as traditionalists today celebrate the second anniversary of the Motu Proprio that allowed greater freedom to celebrate the Tridentine Rite. In a letter released with the permission, Pope Benedict XVI explained his motive was “an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church” and traditionalist groups such as SSPX.

According to Reuters religion editor Tom Heneghan, the Holy See has chosen three theologians – a Swiss Dominican, a German Jesuit and a Spanish Opus Dei priest – to negotiate with the Swiss-based SSPX. The German SSPX chapter said on its website that “a fruitful discussion should be possible.”

Bishop Williamson has apologised but has never retracted his views.

In June, the SSPX ordained 21 new priests despite being urged by the Holy See not to do so. There are no indications that these ordinations have hindered the process of reintegration.

timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6833939.ece

:thumbsup:

I have a question about this part:

Cardinal Schonborn said.

“The SSPX will be told very clearly what is not negotiable for the Holy See,” he said.“This includes such fundamental conclusions of the Second Vatican Council as its positions on Judaism, other non-Christian religions, other Christian churches and on religious freedom as a basic human right.”

If the SSPX is forced to accept religious freedom in order to be reintegrated into the Catholic Church, does this mean Catholics that reject religious freedom are threatened with excommunication, or are de facto excommunicated?

This would seem a pretty extreme position, in view of the fact that the Church has rejected religious freedom for most of its existence, and about a dozen encyclicals (one or two by popes canonized as saints) condemn it. I would love to see the SSPX reintegrated with Rome. But I wonder what the full implications of this statement are.

I think I actually understand, now. The Church has said that non-infallible statements by the Ordinary Magesterium are binding on the faithful to commit themselves to “religious submission,” but not the “assent of faith.” So they are probably insisting that the SSPX submit to the Vatican’s ordinary magesterial authority in these matters, even if they don’t believe them privately.

What the difference is between “religious submission” and the “assent of faith,” I don’t know, personally, though.

I don’t think Cardinal Schonborn has any official part in these talks.
I don’t see why we, as Catholics, should be too fussed about what jews think of us. They are a different religion.

Cardinal Schonborn is not ‘The Vatican’.

Is ‘The Vatican’:

  1. The state
  2. The Pope
  3. Various congregations
  4. Various cardinals
  5. L’Osservatore Romano, ‘the Vatican newspaper’
  6. Any of the above, dependin’ on who’s pitchin’ what?

Don’t let hostile parties distort your view of what’s going on here. Some pious brethern may be about to return to the fold.

The SSPX needs to accept the teachings of the Magisterium, including Vatican II. As all Catholics are obliged to. That’s all.

Diggerdommer, you aren’t making any distinction between the Ordinary Magesterium, the Ordinary Universal Magesterium and the Extraordinary Magesterium. The last two are infallible. The Extraordinary is infallible, and is invoked with an explicit declaration of dogma. The Ordinary Universal is infallible, and is in force wherever there is a next to universally accepted and long held Tradition in discussion. The Ordinary Magesterium is important as it represents the voice of the pope and bishops, yet it is not necessarily the Holy Spirit’s voice like the other two are- it is fallible. Pope Paul VI said that Vatican II was established on the authority of the Ordinary Magesterium. He didn’t say the Ordinary Universal or the Extraordinary. The only dogmas of the council were already established dogmas.

I believe in the wisdom of most of of Vatican II’s changes, and certainly with its principle goal: the unity of all believers in the Catholic Church. I have a very high respect, also, for the Ordinary Magesterium. But Canon Law says that when the Ordinary Magesterium is in force and not dogma, Catholics are obliged to give the Church “religious submission” but not the “assent of faith.”

I wonder whether the cardinal in the article was saying that believers are required to give the assent of faith to religious freedom in order to escape excommunication, or whether he was saying SSPX has to give religious submission only. If he was requiring the assent of faith, not only would this seem to contradict Pope Paul VI’s statement that Vatican II acted in the Ordinary Magesterium’s authority, but it would seem that excluding people from the Catholic communion based on this would also logically also excommunicate Popes Gregory VI, Leo XIII, Pius IX, St. Pius X, and many other popes, for the “heresy” of disagreeing with religious freedom.

The Church has never changed its position on faith and morals. The moral issue at stake, which religious freedom speaks to, is the issue of heresy. The Church has never changed on whether or not heresy is evil. It has changed its views on what kinds of methods should be used to combat this. Thus the Church’s position on faith and morals has never changed, but what kinds of methods it advocates using against the evil have changed, for these are not infallible parts of moral truth. They are what one might call “a choice of weapons” to use against the enemy. And different popes have had different views on what kinds of weapons the Church can legitimately use, or support the use of. The Church today only accepts spiritual weapons, whereas the Church in the past supported its princes in using physical weapons to destroy heretics. The Fourth Lateran Council, which was ecumenical just like Vatican II, has an explicit declaration of this, which I read when going through some of the council documents.

So I was initially surprised this cardinal was saying that SSPX must accept religious freedom. But now I’m finding it less surprising, because I suspect he means they must make religious submission, but are not required to make the assent of faith.

I can feel some trouble brewing…

This one should be easy to work out.

  1. Traditional Catholic doctrine says that Catholic states “may” allow religious liberty but only if it is for a greater good. SSPX agrees with this.

  2. Vatican II said that man has a “right” to religious liberty that states must recognize.

  3. The SSPX rejects the idea that religious liberty is an inherent right of man.

The middle ground they can agree on: In today’s circumstances, the church has decided that a greater good is served by granting religious liberty. This is not an inherent right per se, but since it serves a greater good, the public has a legitimate claim against the state for this religious liberty. That’s all that “right” means in this case, not an inherent right like SSPX refuses to accept.

Problem solved. SSPX agrees to not advocate against religious liberty in today’s world, while maintaining that religious liberty is not an inherent right.

Would you be happier if I phrased it this way?

The SSPX needs to not reject the teachings of the Magisterium, including Vatican II. As all Catholics are obliged to. That’s all.

I think the confusion here is that we are speaking about religious freedom as a doctrine and the Vatican is not talking about it as a doctrine, but as a matter of social justice. Every human being has to come to the faith through his free will in response to the gifts of grace. He cannot be forced to embrace the Christian faith, nor can he be denied this right. This is the right that the Church defends, because in many nations this freedom is not granted.

What every Catholic has to accept, including the SSPX, is that every human being has this right, the right to embrace the faith through the gift of grace and free will, not by force. And no one can deny anyone the right to exercise his faith.

The problem is that in the past, many people of other faiths threatened the safety and faith of the Catholic community. Thus the Church took very definitive steps to protect her people. That’s how she came to write these different statements on the issue. Today, the issue is deeper than that. Not only do other faiths threaten the faith and security of Christians, but they threaten the faith and security of any believer. For example: Jews are threatened by Muslims. Muslims are threatened by Jews. Christians are threatened by both. Communism was a major threat against all religions, at the time that this document was written. This is still the case in some countries.

Right here in the USA, we have a battle with a government that wants to deny individual healthcare professionals the right to conscience on matters of abortion, whether these healthcare providers are Catholic or some other faith.

These rights have to be protected. Therefore, the document of Vatican II tries to protect these rights.

If the SSPX or any Catholic denies religious freedom, he puts into jeopardy the rights of people to be free from oppression because of their faith. We put in jeopardy the rights of healthcare providers to refuse to perform abortions and so forth.

As to what is meant by submission here.

One does not have to accept this as a doctrine of faith, because it’s not meant as that. One has to accept this as a rule of justice, which it is. This is what the SSPX and all Catholics are asked to do. In other words, the Church is not asking you to believe anything other than the fact that human beings have a right to exercise their faith without oppression.

There are times when the Church says that you do not have to give an assent of faith, but you must obey. This simply means, do as you’re told, whether you believe or not, because you’re not being asked to commit a sin.

But in this case, the Church is asking us to oppose the sin of injustice regardless of who commits it and what religion the victim professes. No one should be subject to injustice because of his faith. Everyone does have the inherent right to freely express his faith, without suffering harm.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Thank-you very much for the reply, JReducation. I sent you a PM with some further matters, but I would like to ask questions here about one or two things you said in the post.

[quote=JReducation]What every Catholic has to accept, including the SSPX, is that every human being has this right, the right to embrace the faith through the gift of grace and free will, not by force. And no one can deny anyone the right to exercise his faith.
[/quote]

Yet you said this was a point of social justice teaching, not a doctrine of faith. I was taught in RCIA that the Church’s social justice teachings are not infallible and Catholics are not required to agree with them to be Catholic, though they are strongly encouraged to agree. Was I taught incorrectly?

[quote=JReducation]As to what is meant by submission here.

One does not have to accept this as a doctrine of faith, because it’s not meant as that. One has to accept this as a rule of justice, which it is. This is what the SSPX and all Catholics are asked to do. In other words, the Church is not asking you to believe anything other than the fact that human beings have a right to exercise their faith without oppression.
[/quote]

“Asked” or “commanded”? It’s an important distinction. The Church doesn’t just ask Catholics to believe in the Immaculate Conception. If we don’t agree with that, we’re in a state of heresy. Would we be in a state of heresy, deserving of excommunication, if we rejected religious freedom? I’m guessing not, since you said this isn’t a doctrine of faith.

One other thing. You said, “One has to accept this as a rule of justice.” Could you explain the “has to” part of this statement more fully? In what way are we bound to agree with this teaching? And under what penalties for disagreement? If I denied a doctrine of faith, I would be a heretic. What would happen if I denied a non-infallible rule of justice?

Maybe I’m reading the Church wrong, but I thought it is an inherent right.

From Vatican II

  1. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.

From the Catechism:

1738 Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order.

The language used leads me to believe it’s an inherent right (with the note that it may be circumscribed by civil authority in some cases).

No offense, but I would suggest to look at Church issues with the “spirit” of the law instead of the “letter” of the law. Canon law is useful to live our faith more fully, but if we start using it to justify or disagreements or to disobey what Holy Mother Church is suggesting, and rather than agreeing with Her we go and find how we “play around the law”, I wonder if we turn into Pharisean like Catholics.

In Christ,

I understand your criticism. I agree with you that we should all strive for harmony with the mind of the Church.

And for that reason, I personally cannot just dismiss one and a half thousand years of Church teaching on this matter.

I have no desire to play around the law. That is why I am trying, through my posts, to make sure I know exactly what the law is. I want to be sure I am fully in submission to it.

Lief is asking some very good questions. The answers are kind of tricky for me to express clearly, since I’m not a systematic theologian. My area of expertise is Mystical Theology, a completely different branch. But I’ll do the best I can with the few courses that I took in systematic theology. Pray for me here. Here I go.

You were taught correctly. There is a difference between believing and obeying. I don’t have to agree with my superior, but I have to obey him as long as he does not command me to sin. Because the Church is protected by Christ’s promise, she cannot command us to sin. An individual priest may, but not the Church when she speaks as the Church. Such is the case with Vatican II. Nothing that the Church said in the Council is a sin. Nothing is a doctrine, though the Council did often use doctrines to back up their pastoral decrees. Because the Church is the highest authority in Christendom, we are obliged to obey. We can say, this would be better said another way or done another way, but it’s been said this way and it is what it is. Therefore, we obey the voice of authority. That does not mean that we cannot offer other ways of doing or writing something. We certainly can do that. We just cannot disobey legitimate authority.

I alway use this example. Parents don’t always make the perfect rules. But as long as they don’t require children to sin or to break the law, children have a moral obligation to obey their parents, even when the rule is less than perfect. The Church has not said that we cannot preach the Christian faith. That’s called evangelization. She has simply said that we cannot impose it.

“Asked” or “commanded”? It’s an important distinction. The Church doesn’t just ask Catholics to believe in the Immaculate Conception. If we don’t agree with that, we’re in a state of heresy. Would we be in a state of heresy, deserving of excommunication, if we rejected religious freedom?

To ask and to command are different. However, many times the leadership of the Church will use the term “ask” or “request” to avoid coming off too pushy or authoritative. But they really mean that they want us to go along with something. What we are told is that this is part of the deposit of faith. Therefore, every Catholic must believe it or you’re no in full communion with the Church.

If one were to say that he disagrees with the Church on this position and that we should promote laws that stop Muslims from expressing their faith in Christian countries (just a hypothesis), we would be commiting a sin against justice. Would we be heretics? No. The issue is not one of doctrine. Would we be in conflict with the Church? Yes. We are in conflict with the Church’s position on an issue of justice. It can get worse, if we actually go out and promote such laws. Then we can fall into obstinancy. You can excommunicate yourself for obstinancy. This is where you not only disagree, but you act against the Church’s rules, openly, deliberately and with full intention to challenge the Church. One does not have to be a heretic to excommunicate oneself. To bring it down to the simplest form, you can disagree, but you cannot go out and defy the Church by promoting the opposite of what the Church has explicitly said. As I said above, you can take up the argument with the Church, because the statement is not one of dogma. Therefore, it allows for a rubuttal.

Let’s say that after the SSPX rebuttals and the committee says, “Sorry, those are the rules. Take it or leave it.” Then the conversation is ended. They have to obey or take whatever consequences go with the disobedience. I have not idea what the committee or the Holy Father would impose. The Church cannot impose on them a belief. She can impose a rule on them. In this case the rule could be, “If you don’t believe it, don’t talk about it. Keep your opinions to yourself.”

One other thing. You said, “One has to accept this as a rule of justice.” Could you explain the “has to” part of this statement more fully? In what way are we bound to agree with this teaching? And under what penalties for disagreement? If I denied a doctrine of faith, I would be a heretic. What would happen if I denied a non-infallible rule of justice?

One of the evangelical counsels that all Christians must live by is obedience, whether you make a vow or not. We are bound to obey legitimate authority. The Council is a legitimate authority and so is the Holy See. So if the Council said that we are not going to impose the Christian faith by force and we repudiate anyone who interferes with the freedom of a person to practice their faith, especially the Christian faith, then we have to obey that rule. It’s a rule of justice, because the Church tells us that this is the just thing to do. The Church cannot say, “Give Christians religious freedom, but it’s OK to persecute Muslims and Jews.” The nations of the world must understand that they cannot manipulate or make laws that interfere with faith.

I always say that a few drops of water are not enough to quench your thirst. But when you’re thirsty, they are better than nothing. So to allow the people of other faiths to get a few drops of grace, is at least the beginning.

As to disagreement, that depends on how far you go. If you simply disagree, but you keep your opinion to yourself, I don’t see any sin. You’re not trying to get others to rebel against the Church and you’re not rebelling. If you go to the other extreme, far extreme, and you promote laws in your community that discriminate against non Catholics, just because they gather to have services, then you are in serious moral trouble. That is a mortal sin. You are deliberately, knowingly and freely trumping the Church’s rules. That is a grave disobedience. I’m not saying that you are opposed to religion X because it promotes abortion. Abortion trumps religion X. I’m saying that you don’t want religion X to gather to worship. There is no justifiable reason to deny them that.

I will add one thing in closing. Our children are our responsibility. Until they are of legal age, we do have the right to demand that they be Catholic and comply with the Catholic faith. We have the right to impose consequences when they do not obey us. Religious freedom does not trump parental duties. This does not violate the religious freedom even of our adult children, because they can leave if they don’t like it.

I don’t know how well a job I’ve done here.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF

Thank-you for the post, JReducation, it does help me.

This seems to be the relevant paragraph from Dignitatis Humanae. If I missed another part that includes exhortations or orders, I’d be glad to have those added to the discussion.

This council greets with joy the first of these two facts as among the signs of the times. With sorrow, however, it denounces the other fact, as only to be deplored. The council exhorts Catholics, and it directs a plea to all men, most carefully to consider how greatly necessary religious freedom is, especially in the present condition of the human family. All nations are coming into even closer unity. Men of different cultures and religions are being brought together in closer relationships. There is a growing consciousness of the personal responsibility that every man has. All this is evident. Consequently, in order that relationships of peace and harmony be established and maintained within the whole of mankind, it is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society.

I agree that religious freedom should be provided with a constitutional guarantee. In this society, anything less would be devastating for people of all faiths, everywhere. I don’t agree because I think it’s an intrinsic right but because I think it’s a practical necessity. However, I certainly wouldn’t defy the Church’s command and lobby for discriminatory laws.

When the Church commands that we show respect for the right of man to lead his religious life freely, I wonder how we are to interpret the word “respect.” It is not “agreement.” But does it mean silence to all disagreement?

I have a question about this, JReducation:

Because the Church is the highest authority in Christendom, we are obliged to obey. We can say, this would be better said another way or done another way, but it’s been said this way and it is what it is. Therefore, we obey the voice of authority. That does not mean that we cannot offer other ways of doing or writing something. We certainly can do that. We just cannot disobey legitimate authority.

I certainly agree that we are obliged to obey the Church. When you say, “We can say, this would be better said another way or done another way,” and that we can offer other ways of doing something, does this mean we are allowed to voice disagreement with the Church’s social justice teaching, publicly or privately, so long as we are not disobeying her? Or is there a sin even in saying, publicly or privately, “I disagree with her on this point, but I should obey anyway”?

For instance, if most of the US suddenly converted to Catholicism and wanted to rescind the amendment guaranteeing religious freedom, would I be wrong in saying or writing publicly that I agree with their view but disagree with their action (to change the law)?

Or in today’s society, let’s say I published that I disagree with the Church’s position on religious freedom being an inherent right of man and I explained my reasons why. But I did not advocate people today changing the laws on religious freedom against the command of the Church. Would this be wrong? Is it wrong for me to voice an opinion contrary to the Church’s, perhaps in the hope that the Church will change its mind, but without advocating rebelling by supporting a law contrary to the Church’s position while the Church maintains this position?

As to disagreement, that depends on how far you go. If you simply disagree, but you keep your opinion to yourself, I don’t see any sin. You’re not trying to get others to rebel against the Church and you’re not rebelling. If you go to the other extreme, far extreme, and you promote laws in your community that discriminate against non Catholics, just because they gather to have services, then you are in serious moral trouble. That is a mortal sin. You are deliberately, knowingly and freely trumping the Church’s rules.

I am completely with you that we must obey the Church.

Let me pose another example. Let’s say I lived back at the time of Pope Innocent III and thought he was wrong to seek the extermination of the French Cathars. Pope Innocent III spoke to the French king to get his support and tried to rally all the French to turn in Cathars and destroy them.

I spoke up and said I thought he was wrong, but I did not call on any Catholics to disobey his rule of justice by sheltering the Cathars or protecting them. I did not call on Catholics to disobey in any way, but merely stated publicly that I disagree. Would I have committed a sin of disobedience in this act, saying I think he’s wrong? Is this an opinion I should instead have kept entirely to myself?

Again, another series of very good questions. I’ll try my best. Some of these questions I can answer from my own area of theology, Mystical Theology.

Religious freedom has to be included in every nation’s constitution, because it was present from the moment of creation. God created Adam in his image and likeness. He gave to Adam a free will. No national or ecclesial law has the right to overrule what God put into creation. Hense, this answers the question about inherent right. Man does have a natural right to make choices. He will make good ones and bad ones. He will receive blessings for the good choices and consequences for the wrong choices. But his freedom to choose is never taken away by God. Therefore, it cannot be taken away by man. However, man does not have to facilitate wrong choices. If people are going to make wrong choices, we don’t have to make it the law of the land. A good example here is the abortion debate. Man has the freedom to choose abortion. It is the wrong choice and wil have very serious consequences. But we cannot take way his freedom. However, we cannot facilitate the sin by making it the law of the land that we will support the sin in any way.

When you apply this to religious freedom it boils down to this. The state does not have the right to tell its citizens how to live their faith. However, the state cannot assume the right to protect an erroneous faith, such as is the case in many Muslim countries where everything that is not Islam is prohibitted. In that case, the state is not protecting the inherant right of man to choose between right and wrong. The state is choosing wrong for the citizen. That’s contrary to what God created in Genesis. God created a man who has to make his own choices and live by the consequences. We see this very cleary with Adam and with Cain. Because Adam and Cain made the wrong choices God did not take away their free will. This is what the document is talking about when it uses the term “inherant right.” These are choices that man has the right to make without coercion and without civil consequences. Therefore, in a Communist state like China, where the government allows for the Chinese National Church, but no other, the state is interfering with man’s inherant right. It is making choices for man and imposing them.

I don’t agree because I think it’s an intrinsic right but because I think it’s a practical necessity. However, I certainly wouldn’t defy the Church’s command and lobby for discriminatory laws.

All forms of discrimination are sinful. We would be commiting a sin to achieve an end. You can’t achieve the conversion of man through sinful laws. There is a fundamental principal in Mystical Theology. The union between the soul and the Divine is a free act of the soul and of the Divine God-head. We cannot force the individual soul to seek this union and we cannot force God to do so either. Both have to be free to act independently.

When the Church commands that we respect for the right of man to lead his religious life freely, I wonder how we are to interpret the word “respect.” It is not “agreement.” But does it mean silence to all disagreement?

Respect in Latin is an old term that meant “To act again from the heart.” "pectore is literally the chest, where the heart is located. To respect another’s religious beliefs means to act from the heart. It;s another way of saying that we treat that person or group with love, not with disdain or condescension. We don’t have to agree. We can find those points that we have in common and use those to bring us closer together. But we do not have to hide or apologize for those points where we disagree. However, we must disagree without being aggressive. I always say, “State your peace and let the seeds grow.”

I have a question about this, JReducation:

I certainly agree that we are obliged to obey the Church. When you say, “We can say, this would be better said another way or done another way,” and that we can offer other ways of doing something, does this mean we are allowed to voice disagreement with the Church’s social justice teaching, publicly or privately, so long as we are not disobeying her? Or is there a sin even in saying, publicly or privately, “I disagree with her on this point, but I should obey anyway”?

Unless the Church authorities tell us to be quiet, we can express our opinions. I’ll give you an example. Father Hanx Kung expressed many opinions that were in conflict with Church theology. Eventually, he was told that his license to teach Catholic theology was revoked. He obeyed. He no longer taught Catholic theology. He continued his work in other areas, particularly philosphy and ecumenism. His work in these fields has been consistent with the wishes of the Church. Therefore, he is not in trouble. He is in good standing with the Church. So much so, that Pope Benedict put him in charge of the inter-faith philosophical ministry of his country. I’m not sure if Father Kung is still alive. But that’s not the point. The point is that he and Pope Benedict, at a meeting agreed to disagree. As long as Fr. Kung did not publish his disagreements in Catholic schools as being Catholic teachings, the Holy Father agreed to disagree. The Church is flexible. She is also very fair.

We can say or publish our disagreements. But we must not fall into the situation that Fr. Kung fell. His downfall was that he said, “This is Catholic.” He needed to say, “This is not Catholic, this is me speaking.” In this way, the reader or the listener understands clearly that this is not the position of the Church. It would also help if the writer or speaker always ended with an encouragement to his audience. Louise de Marillac did this very well in her final hours. As she was dying she told the Daughers of Charity, “Be children of the Church.” She was not directing them to accept what one pope said over another. She directed them to accept what the Church says and how the Church interprets its previous popes, councils and saints.

We live in the here and now. Therefore, we are accountable to the Church’s authority in the here and now. The Church, on the other hand, is accountable for preserving the tradition. But if the Church says that its position is not in conflict with the tradition, it is not our job to tell the Church that she has to change her position, because we believe that it is in conflict.

To be continued

continuation

We can question and ask for clarification when we do not see the continuity. Sometimes the continuity is not as obvious as the leadership thinks it is. It may be obvious to them, because they know what they have in mind when they speak or write. But we’re not mind readers. Some things are not obvious to us.

Therefore, we can ask for the link between the past and the present. There is no sin in asking for that. The sin against humility enters the picture when we believe that we are right and those in legitimate authority are wrong. Because we do not leave room for the possibility that we may be wrong and may be misunderstanding them.

We can question and ask for clarification when we do not see the continuity. Sometimes the continuity is not as obvious as the leadership thinks it is. It may be obvious to them, because they know what they have in mind when they speak or write. But we’re not mind readers. Some things are not obvious to us. Therefore, we can ask for the link between the past and the present. There is no sin in asking for that. The sin against humbly enters the picture when we believe that we are right and those in legitimate authority are wrong. Because we do not leave room for the possibility that we may be wrong and may be misunderstanding them.

For instance, if most of the US suddenly converted to Catholicism and wanted to rescind the amendment guaranteeing religious freedom, would I be wrong in saying or writing publicly that I agree with their view but disagree with their action (to change the law)?

Disagreement is not a sin as long as you’re not promoting others to join you in the disagreement. When you do that, it’s no longer a disagreement. It is Protestantism. That’s what the word means. To protest and lead others in the protest. You cannot legitimately ask others to join you in disobeying. Disobedience is always a sin. But you can share your opinion with anyone who wants to listen. Just make sure that your audience understands that this is your opinion, based on your understanding and that your understanding is subject to mistakes.

Let me pose another example. Let’s say I lived back at the time of Pope Innocent III and thought he was wrong to seek the extermination of the French Cathars. Pope Innocent III spoke to the French king to get his support and tried to rally all the French to turn in Cathars and destroy them.

I spoke up and said I thought he was wrong, but I did not call on any Catholics to disobey his rule of justice by sheltering the Cathars or protecting them. I did not call on Catholics to disobey in any way, but merely stated publicly that I disagree. Would I have committed a sin of disobedience in this act, saying I think he’s wrong? Is this an opinion I should instead have kept entirely to myself?

No. A similar issue came up involving St. Francis of Assisi, the Waldensians and the Beguines. The three has very similar spirituality. However, the Waldensians and the Beguines encouraged those whose espoused their spirituality to ignore the authority of the bishops and the pope. It was Pope Innocent III. Francis was afraid that he would be considered a Waldensian or a Beguines, because he too espoused a very radical form of spirituality and asceticism. But he also espoused obedience to the bishops and the pope. Meaning that if the Church said that this life of penance was too extreme, Francis was willing to mitigate it, even though he had heard this call directly from the scriptures and the voice of Christ in two private revelations. Francis went to Innocent III. He put forth his rule of life and explained his mystical experiences. Innocent III approved the rule. It was the same way of life that the Beguines and the Waldensians wanted to live. But they did not trust the authorities of the Church. So they decided to do it on their own, without the blessing of the Church. Do you see the difference.? Francis also disagreed with the corruption in the Church. But he never questioned the Church’s authority to approve or disapprove, to bind or to unbind, no matter what previous tradition said. As far as he was concerned, this was the way of life of Christ and his disciples. It has been embraced by the Fathers of the Church and by the Desert Fathers. But if the Church said that it was no longer a valid way to live, Francis would obey. Why so? Because in the mind of a mystic whose soul is intimately united with the Divine, there is only one word that carries the day, “Obedience.”

Every time Christ has appeared to a mystic or a reformer, he has always sent them to the leaders of the Church. Look at San Juan Diego in Mexico. He was told to take the roses to the bishop. Look at Paul. He was told to go find the apostles. Look at Sister Faustina. She was told to go to her superiors. In every case where there is diving inspiration, Christ sends the person to the authorities within the Church, regardless of what they teach or how sinful they are. Those persons who are sent, are told to obey.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

I’d like to discuss most of your last two posts over email. It’s very interesting, and I wholeheartedly agree with and approve of the high emphasis you place on the vital importance of obedience to Church authority.

There is only one paragraph you wrote that I’ll respond to here; the rest I’ll respond to elsewhere.

[quote=JReducation]Disagreement is not a sin as long as you’re not promoting others to join you in the disagreement. When you do that, it’s no longer a disagreement. It is Protestantism. That’s what the word means. To protest and lead others in the protest. You cannot legitimately ask others to join you in disobeying. Disobedience is always a sin. But you can share your opinion with anyone who wants to listen. Just make sure that your audience understands that this is your opinion, based on your understanding and that your understanding is subject to mistakes.
[/quote]

You switched terminology halfway through this paragraph, moving from the word “disagreement” to the word “disobedience,” without a clear transition or distinction between the two. I think your basic point is pretty clear, though. This is what I think you’re saying:

Voicing disagreement with social justice teaching is valid, unless the Church actually commands that no one voice it. Convincing others to disagree as well is also valid (else how could positive reform ever take place?). Voicing (or enacting, obviously) disobedience is not valid, though, and convincing others to disobey is also not valid.

I think that this makes a lot of sense, and I’m very glad you’ve helped me with these distinctions, if I’m understanding you correctly.

These distinctions are what I’m trying to make sure I’m properly understanding in this thread. The rest is so big a discussion, and so different from the topic of this thread, that I think we had best discuss it elsewhere.

The rest of this post of mine isn’t that important. I’m just saying it anyway, though :D.

As regards the Protestants, they were heretics, so their disagreement was in and of itself also disobedience. Because their disagreement was not just with Church practice but with Church doctrine as well. There were lots of good Catholics protesting at the same time, but they protested in perfect submission to authorities. People like St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross are stalwart examples of this heroism. The fault of the heretics was that they went from disagreement with Church practice to:

a) Disobedience against Church leaders by openly resisting and rebelling against them and Church practice of the time, rather than waiting to create change peacefully.

b) Moving disagreement with Church practice to disagreement with Church doctrine- something that’s never valid.

To “share your opinion with anyone who wants to listen,” is what Catholic Reformers in the same time period did, and they achieved good through this disagreement with various ecclesiastical authorities. They coordinated some with each other as well, which might be considered, “protesting and leading others in protest,” though they didn’t resort to mobs like some Protestants did. The genuine Catholics’ protests were also led with gentleness rather than the vitriol so many Protestants of the period spewed. Gentleness, humility and obedience were central to their practice of disagreement.

Anyway, all this about the Protestants is largely irrelevant. I just want to make sure the distinction is, regarding what Catholics can or can’t do, that publicly disagreeing is allowed and publicly disobeying is not.

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