Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dissent: Fr René Camilleri follows Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre behalf of the purity of faith Saint Paul resisted the first Pope, Saint Peter, to the face. This is to be found in Galatians 2:11 "But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed" (DRV). Here Saint Paul made the first public statement of Catholic resistance to the teachings of the Council and of the Popes that are objectively opposed to the Magisterium. The Epistle to the Galatians is a piece of passionate writing, and a note of indignation runs throughout. 

Today, being the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, i.e. the liturgical feast in honour of their martyrdom in Rome, we think it is appropriate to show how a progressive Maltese priest (René Camilleri) follows the example of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and traditional Catholics, as far as dissent in the Church is concerned.

Who is Fr René Camilleri

Rev. Dr Camilleri read Theology and Philosophy at the University of Malta between 1972 – 1978. In 1979 he furthered his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome obtaining his Doctorate in Systematic Theology under the tutorship of Profs F. A. Sullivan SJ. In 1988 he took his teaching post in the Department of Fundamental & Dogmatic Theology in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Malta. He teaches Systematic Theology and his main areas of teaching and research are Ecclesiology, Anthropology, Faith and Culture. In 1994 he was Visiting Scholar at Heythrop College, University of London. He had various assignments on the Diocesan level and is a regular contributor in papers and on the media. He is currently the Archbishop’s Delegate for Catechesis. (Source: University of Malta)

In 2012 Camilleri was perceived as a ringleader in an apparent ‘priest’s revolt’, something that he denied, arguing that dissent is sometimes necessary. Fr Camilleri himself refused (along with other priests) to read out the pastoral letter on IVF during Mass. 

Fr Camilleri on crisis in the Church and dissent

In an interview around 10 years ago, Understanding Malta 2003: a church odyssey, Fr Camilleri had argued that the Church has to come to terms with today’s reality. He stated that:

Fr René Camilleri
"Institutionalised religion in Malta is also in a crisis as it is the rest of Europe. Less people attend mass, less will probably get married through the church, less will give importance to the church’s teachings.

... In the recent past the Maltese church has rested on its laurels just because the majority of people went to mass and participated in religious celebrations.

... I believe that the church has to come to terms with certain things. It needs to deeply reflect on certain issues. We cannot continue to believe that the church is a self-contained reality, as if it were a mother telling its flock what to do. That age has come to an end."

Interestingly enough, the Maltese theologian believed that the Church in its first millennium of existence was very up to date with spiritual and cultural pluralism: 

"The church’s mystics were not the yes-men we often portray them to be. There were mystics who were rebels. However, the age of secularisation and today’s culture has thrust into crisis spirituality imposed from above."

In a more recent article, A different Church, Fr Camilleri admitted that there was a rift opening up within the Church in Malta and spoke openly about it. Relevant quotes follow:

"There is and I am not surprised. As I see it, what is happening is that we have a traditionally monolithic Church being confronted with a fast-changing society. It is quite natural for there to be internal dissent under these circumstances. Hopefully, we will mature as a result.

... You should have internal dissent; it is not something to be afraid of. It is in fact healthy; apart from being in the nature of the Church as an institution. Many might not be aware of this, but without internal dissent there would be no Church at all. It would be dead. There was dissent among the original 12, who were chosen directly by Christ Himself. Look at the history of the Church, with its heresies and its persecutions... what was this, if not dissent?

... when obedience amounts to shunning personal responsibility, then it is no longer a virtue at all. I am a priest. I know I have a vow of obedience. But it does not mean we are puppets. Many people believe we should keep our mouths shut at all times. But that is not obedience...

... The irony is that the Church herself celebrates so many people who were disobedient... Christ was the first to be disobedient: he openly challenged the religious authorities of his time...

... the fact that the Church is not democratic does not mean it should be dictatorial. Vatican Council Two makes it clear that even bishops should listen...

... I've been struggling for over 30 years now to have a different Church. I still believe it will happen one day... though it's not around the corner. The bedrock of this Church are those who believe in spite of everything. Fortunately there are still people who retain their faith in spite of the Church, rather than because of her. I rejoice for these people. They are the Church's hope."

Whether one agrees or not with the Maltese priest, some of his words can easily be applied to the work done by Archbishop Lefebvre, albeit originating for opposite reasons.

Archbishop Lefebvre never argued that nothing in the Church is subject to change. He argued (as did Blessed John Henry Newman in his Essay on Development) that authentic developments must be consistent with what preceded them, and since the Second Vatican Council was not consistent with the pre-conciliar Magisterium on several points, it could not command the assent of Catholics. That is a very different argument. Traditionalism (even of the SSPX variety) is therefore not the same thing as integralism.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Another important point of difference is the fact that the dissent of Lefebvre is based on the teaching of several doctors of the Church (whose teachings on this subject were more recently gathered by Blessed Newman) which claim that it is a matter of obedience to God to oppose a pope whose actions tend to destroy the Church. 

Thus, if we are to believe the doctors of the Church rather than some self-appointed new 'doctors of apologetics', we really must ask if the dissent of Lefebvre, the SSPX or other traditional Catholics was legitimately trying to avoid the auto-demolition of the Church or if it was merely a desire to be one's own authority. 

In connection with this Archbishop Lefebvre said "I do not want to be the head of a movement. I merely want to do what every Catholic bishop is created to do: transmit the same faith that was transmitted to me."

Further, it's very hard to see what mainstream Catholics mean when they say that traditional Catholics deny Vatican II when so many non-dissenting traditionalists have likewise affirmed that the Council is pastoral rather than dogmatic. In fact several of the major seminaries in Rome have approved such conclusions being made as doctoral theses.

At this stage, it is worth repeating (ad nauseam perhaps) that there are traditionalists who accept the Council, are in union with the Church, and are not part of the SSPX. Criticism of the Council from a traditional perspective is valuable, even necessary, for the Church to remove itself from the post-conciliar disaster.

All disunity, whether canonical or ideological, is bad. But to present the existence of an extremely small minority who are in an irregular canonical situation as an equally grave threat as the ubiquitous presence of liberalism in almost every corner of the Church, even in the hierarchy, is just not accurate. 

Ironically, since the retirement of Benedict XVI many have implied that he was wasting his time in dealing with the SSPX. There are also those who want Summorum Pontificum to be consigned to the dustbin of history as if the Pope's motivation had nothing to do with wanting to restore liturgical sanity in the Church and was simply to appease some radical traditionalists. 

Liberalism and expressions of traditionalism that deny the validity of the Second Vatican Council are both errors. But they are not errors of an equal sort, nor does the Church stand with equal distance from each, nor are the threats from each equivalent.

The hope in Malta is that the more the Tridentine Mass expands, the more souls are exposed to the beauty, the elegance, the glory of more traditional Catholicism.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Benedict XVI vs Francis - the smear campaign continues
Benedict XVI and Francis: two pontificates with different priorities.

Soon after the election of Pope Francis, some notable Catholic journals started odious comparisons between the current Pontiff and the Pope Emeritus, aimed at putting into a bad light the ‘reform of the reform’ championed by Benedict XVI. One of the latest is the article Francis looks to the Future by The Tablet, a British Catholic weekly journal that stresses that: "It is committed to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council."

Although this journal prides itself as having had as contributor Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, it nevertheless regularly attacks him, as the quote from the above-mentioned confirms:

"Benedict XVI’s ecumenical priorities were more to do with resolving issues from the Church’s own past. He put great store by the possibility of reconciliation with the Vatican II-denying Society of St Pius X, and encouraged long and tortuous conversations which seemed to be going nowhere from the start, given the non-negotiables on both sides. He reversed decades of church policy by re-authorising the celebration of the Tridentine Rite, which seemed not just a gesture towards the Lefebvrists but a reactionary move in liturgical policy generally, as did the imposition of a severely inadequate, if linguistically more accurate, translation of the Mass into English."

What The Tablet seems unable to understand is that:
  • the pontificates of Benedict XVI and Francis have different priorities but both are at the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church;
  • attempts at creating friction between the two will simply backfire, case in point being the first encyclical by Francis that will have a huge contribution from Benedict XVI himself.
Further comments at this stage are superfluous.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Quotes to reflect upon (2)
Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer

"It is public knowledge that some ecclesiastics today seem to want to create a new Church. By doing so they betray Christ, for they change spiritual aims—the salvation of souls, one by one—into temporal aims. If they do not resist this temptation, they will leave their sacred ministry unfulfilled, lose the confidence and respect of the people, and create havoc in the Church. Moreover, by interfering intolerably with the political freedom of Christians and other men, they will sow confusion in civil society and make themselves dangerous. Holy Orders is the sacrament of supernatural service of one’s brothers in the faith; some seem to be trying to turn it into the earthly instrument of a new despotism." 

Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, Christ is Passing By, no. 79.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Quotes to reflect upon (1)
Blessed John Paul II

From the Letter The Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist written by Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of the world on 24 February 1980.

"To touch the Sacred Species with their own hands and to distribute them is a privilege of the Ordained" 

(Dominicae Cenae, no. 11).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pope Francis on traditionalist groups

An apparent reference to the SSPX which has a strong presence in Buenos Aires, but also to traditional Catholics in general. The original article can be found here.

The Pope had an audience with the presiding board of the CLAR (the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women - Confederación Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Religiosos y Religiosas) on June 6, 2013 (image above, with three sisters and three male religious). It was a private audience, so no transcript was provided, but those who were present were kind enough to provide the words of His Holiness, made available at the Chilean ultra-progressive website Reflexión y Liberación (Reflection and Liberation). The excerpt that mentions Traditional Catholic groups is the one below (the ellipses are part of the original long transcript, as provided by CLAR):

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...

The second [concern] is for a Gnostic current. Those Pantheisms... Both are elite currents, but this one is of a more educated elite... I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that... They concern me because they ignore the incarnation! And the Son of God became our flesh, the Word was made flesh, and in Latin America we have flesh abundantly [de tirar al techo]! What happens to the poor, their pains, this is our flesh...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pope Francis follows developments regarding the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Bishop Rifan& Francis I 2013 AT0003.jpg
Bishop Rifan during the audience with Pope Francis
On 22 May 2013, His Excellency Bishop Rifan, of the Apostolic Administration of St. John Vianney, Campos, had an audience with Pope Francis. In a message to the President of FIUV and the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, the Bishop said that:

"I introduced myself saying who I am, explaining that I am the Bishop of the Apostolic Administration that conserves the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. He answered me: I know, because I talk about this with Cardinal Castrillon."

This is a good news for all of us. Deo gratias!

Who is Bishop Fernando Arêas Rifan

Fernando Arêas Rifan was born in São Fidélis in the diocese of Campos, Brazil and was ordained as a priest of that diocese on 8 December 1974.

He joined the Priestly Union of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, founded by Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer, who was Bishop of Campos from 3 January 1949 until his retirement on 29 August 1981, and who had refused to accept in his diocese the revision of the liturgy of the Roman Rite by Pope Paul VI. On 30 June 1988, Rifan acted as assistant presbyter at the Ecône Consecrations by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Castro Mayer.

On Bishop Castro Mayer's death on 25 April 1991, the Priestly Union, also known as the Sacerdotal Society of St. John Marie Vianney, chose as its leader Licínio Rangel, who was then given episcopal consecration by three of the four bishops of the closely associated Society of St. Pius X.

As a result of contacts initiated by Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Cardinal President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission in 2000, the members of the priestly union formally requested on 15 August 2001 reconciliation with the Holy See, as a result of which the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney was established with effect from 18 January 2002, with Bishop Rangel as Apostolic Administrator.

For health reasons, Bishop Rangel asked Pope John Paul II for an auxiliary bishop, but the Pope recommended a coadjutor bishop. The Pope had promised to ensure episcopal succession for the Apostolic Administration, and a coadjutor would have automatic right of succession. Accordingly, Rifan, whom Bishop Rangel had chosen as his vicar general, was appointed Titular Bishop of Cedamusa and Coadjutor to the Apostolic Administrator on 28 June 2002. His episcopal ordination was held on 18 August 2002, with Cardinal Castrillón as principal consecrator, assisted by Bishop Rangel and Archbishop Alano Maria Pena of Niterói.

On Bishop Rangel's death on 16 December 2002, Bishop Rifan thus immediately became head of the Apostolic Administration

 (source: Wikipedia)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bishop Williamson to visit Malta

Bishop Williamson is touring several countries following his expulsion from the SSPX
This Blog has been informed - from a reliable source - that Bishop Richard Williamson will be in Malta in July or August 2013. It is part of the second tour to Europe this year by the former SSPX bishop. He will also be visiting France, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

This visit seems to follow the alleged ones that took place in 2011 although in both cases the SSPX delegation was not headed by a bishop. 

Since then, Bishop Williamson was de facto expelled from the Society of St. Pius X and is now closely linked with the SSPX-SO headed by Fr Joseph Pfeiffer.

Pro Tridentina (Malta) is in no way involved in this visit nor was it involved in the previous ones.