Thursday, October 29, 2009

In essence...

...the issue the Lefebvrists have to face in Rome as they embark on discussions at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is whether they accept the "Hermeneutic of Continuity" in which the Second Vatican Council is understood as being part of the faithful heritage of the Church and its documents are presented and accepted in that light, or the "Hermeneutic of Rupture" in which that Council is understood as being a break with the Church's heritage. For two decades now, the Lefebvrists have taught the Hermeneutic of Rupture with vigour but a sense of muddle overlaid with dark comments about Masonic plots. Their position upholding the Rupture theory has been enhanced by the support for the same theory that has come from the legions of "progressivists" who have been similarly telling us that "everything changed at Vatican II" and that there were lots of things that "no one need believe in any more."

Ditching the Rupture theory will free the Lefebvrists from the straitjacket. Some won't like that and will want to stay in it, at least for a while. Others will be glad to wriggle free. We'll probably continue to hear quite a lot about Masonic plots, but will just have to cope with that, as also with some rather Jansenistic stuff on sex, love, and human relationships (but they'll gradually open up to the teachings of John Paul II).

It's clear that Rome is keen to hurry things along, and also that a way is being found to remove any elder-brother resentments (ref. the story of the Prodigal Son, see below) by showing that the way forward must always be based on generosity. Hence the Anglican Rite offer presented first, to a group with a different history but a shared common need. The parable about the labourers in the vineyard and the wages they were paid also comes to mind...

The price paid by the Holy Father has been considerable in terms of personal suffering and humiliation. He has spent much of his life promoting goodwill and theological understanding between Christians and Jews (read some of his writings on the subject, info here) and has made many personal friendships along the way. Following the anti-Jewish ranting of the Lefebvrist Bishop much of this work has been put at risk, and the public view of the Holy Father's own personal integrity along with it - a cruelty inflicted by the Lefebvrists which caused him the evident anguish revealed in his letter to the world's bishops.

I remember once a wise and kindly priest urging me, during a previous pontificate: "Pray for the Pope in his Gethsemane".

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