Monday, March 30, 2009

Card. DiNardo on SSPX excomms and Pres. Obama at UND

Fr Z comments, there is no need for mine

The Egyptian

CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULA — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 1:15 pm

His Eminence Daniel Card. DiNardo has something to say about the lifting of the SSPX excommunications and the visit of President Obama to the University of Notre Dame.

This is in the Texas Catholic Herald.

My emphases and comments.

A Shepherd’s Message

By Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

Two weeks ago, the Holy Father sent a letter to all the bishops of the world concerning the events surrounding the lifting of the excommunications of four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, a sanction imposed by the Holy See at the time since they were consecrated without the mandate or permission of Pope John Paul II. It is to be noted that the lifting of this most severe penalty did not “regularize” their status in the Church but only opened a door for discussions with them and the followers of their traditionalist society for an eventual hopeful restoration of Catholic unity. Pope Benedict XVI had a concern for the goal of eventual reconciliation. The action, however, was overshadowed by the views of one of the said bishops, Bishop Williamson, on the Holocaust and on his anti-Semitic statements. This led to what the pope called an “avalanche of protests both inside and outside the Church.” These protests “laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment.”
Pope Benedict XVI then went on to clarify and assess the whole situation. He states that an initial effort at reconciliation was construed somehow as a kind of repudiation of the reconciliation between Christians and Jews, a reversal of the work of the Second Vatican Council and other dire consequences. Further, some Catholics also displayed hostility to the very person of the Holy Father. He likewise mentions “our Jewish friends who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust which – as in the day of Pope John Paul II – has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to exist.”

[So far we are only summarizing.]

The pope admits that the Holy See would need to pay future attention to sources in the Internet which had already revealed the anti-Semitic sentiments of Bishop Williamson. He also admits that it was a mistake not to clearly and adequately explain the extent and the limits of the lifting of the excommunication at the very moment of its publication. It was a disciplinary matter for four individuals and not a statement on the doctrinal level, a matter that still needed and would need much further work before the restoration of unity with the Catholic Church could take place with the Lefebvrist movement. In fact, the pope also announced that he was joining the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” which had worked on the reconciliation, with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican agency that addresses doctrinal questions, particularly issues of the Second Vatican Council and the teaching authority of the Magisterium and of the pope. In doing this, the Holy Father reminded all sides that the Church’s teaching authority did not end in 1962, the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, but also, on the other hand, that authority embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. The fruits of the Tree of Faith and teaching do indeed grow, but they are not severed from the roots.

The motivation by the Holy See for an attempt at reconciliation with the four bishops and their followers was to embody the hard work of faith, hope and love, the constant preoccupation of the Church and the unity of all believers. It is not easy to break down obstinacy and narrowness on the part of some just as it is not easy to soften the arrogance and one-sidedness of others. Disunity and hostile disagreement do not serve the unity of faith or the credibility of believers. Various groups in the Church cannot bite and devour one another without destruction, a line that the pope draws from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 5:13-15.

[Thus endeth the summary.]

I think that the Holy Father’s letter is timely advice for us all during the Season of Lent, a time of genuine interior purification and renewal. I sometimes receive letters from people who mar their otherwise intelligent or well-taken arguments by such nasty invectives that the whole argument or point of view is put in jeopardy. Vigorous and heartfelt discussion, even debate, needs to be placed in the arms of charity for effectiveness. My hope is that this will be the case for all of us in our own local Church. [How many times have, for example, rather more traditional Catholics short-circuited their initiatives by being nasty to those who might otherwise be able to give them what they want? Sorry… rhetorical question… let’s go on.]

In light of what I wrote above, I want to venture a comment on the recently released statement of the University of Notre Dame; that statement noted that the President has accepted an invitation to give the Commencement Address this year as well as receive an Honorary Law Degree. The news release then outlines the fact that a number of other Presidents have given the Commencement Address at Notre Dame and have thus highlighted, in effect, the university’s importance. [And we now get to the important point…] I find the invitation very disappointing. Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige [a good way to put this] of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning. The President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person. The Bishops of the United States published a document a few years ago asking all Catholic universities to avoid giving a platform or an award to those politicians or public figures who promote the taking of unborn human life. [NB…] Even given the dignity of Office of the President, this offer is still providing a platform and an award for a public figure who has been candid on his pro-abortion views. Particularly troubling is the Honorary Law Degree since it recognizes that the person is a “Teacher,” in this case of the Law. [Excellent point.] I think that this decision requires charitable but vigorous critique.

I like that "charitable but vigorous".

It is hard… very hard… to figure out what "vigorous" includes but charity prohibits. This changes from era to era.

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