Like many of us who are Ordinariate-bound, I have an interest in the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and any moves towards this group's reconciliation with the Holy See. I hope they are reconciled and I hope unity will not come at a great cost to them as it has to those of us who had hoped (perhaps dreaming in Technicolor) to see the Traditional Anglican Communion somehow brought in relatively intact only to see our ecclesial bonds shattered, with divisions appearing from the parish level on up.
In the meantime, I have questions about religious freedom as one of the points of contention in the reconciliation, since for me, it was easy to assume the position Catholic bishops now seem to be taking since the Second Vatican Council concerning the respect for freedom of conscience vis. a vis. the State. I love the way the United States' bishops are standing up to the dangerous violations of religious freedom proposed by President Obama's government. But some in SSPX might be looking on their defence of conscience rights and religious freedom in horror. Are they?
I do not share the view some have that respect for freedom of conscience equates to a kind of religious relativism.
Yet I would like to understand more about what the underlying concerns SSPX has — in a non-polemical way.
Can any of our readers share some insight on this?
One of the things that I have noticed on some blogs and discussion forums is that a phrase will be taken out of document deemed infallible and used to beat other people over the head with. There is no salvation outside the Church!, for example. I hope and pray that I never become one of those "converts" who bludgeons people with phrases like that! There are ways, sadly, that one can spout even truthful things in a way that pushes people away from that truth.
Others will run with a quote from one of the Vatican II documents as if it stands on its own or abrogates everything else the Church has taught previously.
I am reminded, sadly, of the way Protestants behave when they hurl Bible proof-texts at each other.
Just as I have come to understand that every passage in Scripture has to be interpreted in light of other passages and Tradition, is it not better to interpret various infallible documents in light of each other?
Australian theologian John R.T. Lamont has an interesting essay, via Sandro Magister, on the SSPX issues at stake. Lamont makes some interesting observations about the points from Vatican II documents the Society does agree with, that many modernist Catholic theologians do not. He writes:
The vast majority of theologians in Catholic institutions in Europe, North America, and Australasia would reject most or all of these teachings. These theologians are followed by the majority of religious orders and a substantial part of the bishops in these areas. It would be difficult, for example, to find a Jesuit teaching theology in any Jesuit institution who would accept a single one of them. The texts above are only a selection from the teachings of Vatican II that are rejected by these groups; they could be extended to many times the number.
Such teachings however form part of the 95% of Vatican II that the FSSPX accepts. Unlike the 5% of that council rejected by the FSSPX, however, the teachings given above are central to Catholic faith and morals, and include some of the fundamental teachings of Christ himself.
The first question that the communiqué of the Holy See raises for a theologian is thus: why does the rejection by the FSSPX of a small part of the teachings of Vatican II give rise to a rift between that Society and the Holy See, while the rejection of more numerous and important teachings of Vatican II by other groups in the Church leave these groups in good standing and possessed of full canonical status? Rejection of the authority of Vatican II by the FSSPX cannot be the answer to this question; the FSSPX in fact shows more respect for the authority of Vatican II than most of the religious orders in the Church.
Now whether he is accurate about "vast majority" or whether it is a "simple majority" or a substantial minority, I don't know.
But I would be interested in any illuminating comments our readers might have about this.