This being the case, if one adheres to “the entire Christian faith” as expressed in the doctrinal pronouncements that preceded the Council; then clearly one must be walking on solidly Catholic ground. This, according to my understanding, is precisely where the SSPX stakes its claim.
If this be true, then it’s reasonable for us to wonder what the nature of the discord truly is.
Look, no one disputes the fact that confusion surrounds certain aspects of the conciliar text. As the communique from the Vatican Information Service (VIS) stated at the outset of the discussions “[the Holy See] leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and later Magisterium.”
Pay close attention to what is being said here: The Holy See is essentially conceding a point that many so-called “traditionalists” (not just the SSPX) have been making for decades; not only are certain of the “expressions and formulations” contained in the Council documents in need of clarification, so too is the “later magisterium” which presumably sought to explain them.
According to CNA, the Vatican believes that the issue simply boils down to making “a distinction between what the Second Vatican Council actually said and the sometimes problematic interpretations and applications of its teaching.”
The VIS communique seems to imply otherwise, but if indeed “what the Council actually said” is beyond reproach and all that is truly necessary in order to establish clarity is an authoritative interpretation that leaves no room for confusion, why, after so many decades of turmoil, are we still waiting?
The challenge, frankly speaking, doesn’t appear to be all that daunting.
If nothing else, the doctrinal discussions between the SSPX and Rome have identified for all involved the limited number of conciliar expressions that remain a source of discord, not just for the Society, but for many in the Church. Surely the Holy Father could exercise his sovereign authority to clearly set forth a definitive interpretation for each and every one. Or, as Bishop Athanasius Schneider has suggested, he could issue a new syllabus of errors condemning the “problematic interpretations and applications” of the Council.
In the absence of either of these or some other remedy that would provide the clarity that one reasonably expects of an ecumenical council, can anyone blame a weary Catholic for seeking refuge in the magisterium of Pontiff’s past, the traditional liturgy, and what Pope John XIII called the “accuracy and precision which characterized the proceedings of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council?”
“Our aim and our task is clear,” Archbishop Muller said, “to promote the unity of all the disciples of Christ in the one Church under the leadership of Jesus Christ and in communion with his vicar, the successor of St. Peter.”
Let us implore the intercession of the Queen of Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, that the task at hand may soon be accomplished unto the glory of the Lord, for our good and the good of all His Holy Church.
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