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Abp. Pozzo on SSPX: Disputed Vatican II Documents Are Non-Doctrinal

The Second Vatican Council

In a recent interview published by the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit (32/2016), Italian Archbishop Guido Pozzo (64), Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED), made some important statements concerning his qualitatively progressing negotiations with the Society of Saint Pius X — negotiations which fall under the purview of the PCED. His comments make it clear that the process of formal inclusion of the SSPX is advancing, and that Pope Francis has offered a personal prelature to the SSPX – similar to the structure under which Opus Dei operates.

There is a section in the interview that is especially worth noting, inasmuch as it may facilitate proper doctrinal discourse among a wide range of conservative and traditional Catholics. In it, Archbishop Pozzo explains why it may be possible for the SSPX to be fully integrated into the structures of the Catholic Church without their previously accepting some of the documents of Vatican II, namely Nostra Aetate, about interreligious dialogue; the decree Unitatis Redintegratio, on ecumenism; the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, on religious liberty; and, finally, other texts relating to the question of the relationship between Christianity and Modernity. While saying that “the Council is not a pastoral superdogma, but part of the completeness [sic] of tradition and the continuous Magisterium,” Pozzo makes clear that there are some texts of the Council that are not doctrinal and are thus not binding on the Catholic conscience. Pozzo stresses that “the Church’s tradition is developing, but never in the sense of a novelty – which stands in contrast to the previous teaching – but which is a deeper understanding of the Depositum fidei, the authentic deposit of the Faith.” Pozzo continues, by saying that

In this [same]  sense, all [the]  Church’s documents have to be understood, also those of the Council. These preconditions, together with the obligation to affirm the Creed, the recognition of the Sacraments and of the papal primacy are the basis for the magisterial declaration which the Fraternity has been given to sign. These are the preconditions for a Catholic, in order to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

In discussing the question of the specific documents of Vatican II, Pozzo insists that certain documents are indeed binding upon Catholics for them to affirm and to accept, such as

the teaching on the sacramentality of the Episcopal office and its consecrations as the fullness of Holy Orders; or the teaching on the primacy of the pope and of the college of bishops in union with its head [sic], as presented in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, and as interpreted by the Nota explicativa praevia which had been requested by the highest authority.

With regard to the earlier-mentioned documents above – Nostra Aetate about interreligious dialogue; the decree Unitatis Redintegratio on ecumenism; and the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae on religious liberty Pozzo explicitly says:

They are not about doctrines or definitive statements, but, rather, about instructions and orienting guides for  pastoral practice. On can [thus legitimately]  continue to discuss these pastoral aspects after the [proposed]  canonical approval [of the SSPX], in order to lead us to further [and acceptable]  clarifications.

When asked by the journalist as to whether the Vatican has now come to the idea that the varied Council documents have different dogmatic weights, Pozzo very importantly states:

This is certainly not a [later]  conclusion on our part, but it was already clear at the time of the Council. The General Secretary of the Council, Cardinal Pericle Felici, declared on 16 November 1964: “This holy synod defines only that as being binding for the Church what it declares explicitly to be such with regard to Faith and Morals.” Only those texts assessed by the Council Fathers as being binding are to be accepted as such. That has not been [later]  invented by “the Vatican,” but it is written in the official files themselves.

In response to a possible critique that important Council declarations such as Nostra Aetate could thus be more fully and openly denied, Pozzo declares:

The secretary for the Unity of Christians said on 18 November 1964 in the Council Hall about Nostra Aetate: “As to the character of the declaration, the secretariat does not want to write a dogmatic declaration on non-Christian religions, but, rather, practical and pastoral norms.” Nostrae Aetate does not have any dogmatic authority, and thus one cannot demand from anyone to recognize this declaration as being dogmatic. This declaration can only be understood in the light of tradition and of the continuous Magisterium. For example, there exists today, unfortunately, the view –  contrary to the Catholic Faith – that there is a salvific path independent of Christ and His Church. That has also been officially confirmed last of all by the Congregation for the Faith itself in its declaration, Dominus Jesus. Therefore, any interpretation of Nostrae Aetate which goes into this [unfortunate and erroneous]  direction is fully unfounded and has to be rejected. [my emphasis added]

Pozzo concludes that the ongoing SSPX discussions should always now be about “a hermeneutic of the documents on the background of the continuous tradition.” He adds: “Tradition certainly is not a lifeless fossil, but it certainly also does not mean an adaptation to any kind of contemporary culture.”

Pozzo even shows his understanding and sympathy for the Society of Saint Pius X when he politely concludes his interview with these words:

In such a difficult moment of confusion and lack of orientation as we have it today, it is the task of those who want to remain loyal to the tradition of the Church to promote the re-strenghtening of the Christian faith and of the mission. I hope that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X – when fully integrated – will also thus be able to make its contribution to this missionary apostolate and to the strengthening of the Catholic Faith in our society and in our world.

23 thoughts on “Abp. Pozzo on SSPX: Disputed Vatican II Documents Are Non-Doctrinal”

  1. So Catholicism is just obeying authority, even when there is a humongous, gaping problem.

    The fact is, that the SSPX are the reason we have the mass now. There was a time where it was just them and Campos celebrating it.

    All those converts brought to the light by the mass owe credit to the SSPX.

    Finally, i get your argument and I think your intentions are good.

    But am I really supposed to get upset at ABP Lefebvre consecrating some traditional bishops, when tons of Novus Ordo priests don’t believe Christ is even divine?
    How many bishops could I list who have actually embraced wrong doctrine? Why aren’t they excommunicated?

    This is cuckservatism (Buckley Conservatism) ruling the Church.

    The cucks in politics bow to all leftists yet rage and scream about those to the right who actually care for civilization. It’s Jeb Bush’s “act of love” in politics; it’s the anti-SSPX spirit in the Church.

    In Japan we have no mass outside the SSPX. I refuse to go to a half Buddhist ceremony where the priest doesn’t preach true doctrine, especially when our nation is struggling so much from lack of children!

    • Look, we’re very sympathetic to the SSPX here, but I tire of this argument that they’re the reason we have the Mass now.

      We have the Mass now because of immemorial custom. Because it is the oldest canon of all the rites of the Church (according to liturgical scholar Fr. Adrian Fortescue). Because of Pope St. Pius V and Quo Primum. Because of lots of reasons that indicate that God wants us to have it.

      It is simply impossible to demonstrate that had Archbishop Lefebvre not consecrated the bishops against the will of Rome, we’d be wandering in the desert without a TLM. (Or whichever variant of that argument you want to make.)

      God provides. If the SSPX hadn’t been an active mechanism, something else would have been.

      But God rewards obedience, and this is why I have always struggled with the consecrations. Scripture, Tradition, and the institutional Church are our only safeguards on God’s truth. When St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was told by her superiors that they did not believe in her visions and asked for God to show the truth of His presence by making her useful through her exactitude to her religion and the rule, Jesus responded: “Tell your Superior that I shall render thee more useful than she thinks, but in a manner known at present only to Me. Henceforth, I shall adjust my graces to the spirit of thy Rule, to the will of thy Superiors and to thy weakness; so that thou must regard as suspicious everything that might withdraw thee from the exact observance of thy Rule, which it is My will that thou shouldst prefer the will of thy Superiors to Mine, whenever they may forbid thee to do what I command thee. Suffer them to act as they please with thee; I shall know well how to find means for the accomplishment of my designs, even though they may appear to be opposed and contrary thereto. I reserve for Myself only the guidance of thy interior, and especially of thy heart, for, having established therein the empire of My pure love, I will never yield it to others.”

      Obedience does not extend to immoral acts. But it can extend to imprudent ones. We have to be very careful about walking that line properly.

      • This doesn’t change the fact that historically the SSPX preserved the mass. That’s a fact. The other orders were created to compete with the SSPX.

        I agree we have to be prudent.
        However I really question the Catholic faith at times. The “recognize and resist” position makes sense.
        But it is an historic fact that everything the late 19th century popes sought to prevent ended up happening. Particularly the “counter syllabus” and the destruction of the liturgy. The Novus Ordo Church down the street has all the things Pius XII forbade. Keep in mind this is Japan, where Churches are few and far between. Where are the Novis Ordo bishops helping us? Or mainland Chinese Catholics?

        I’m sorry, but Pope Francis is feared by Chibese Catholics. Because he may make their struggle, which has gone on for years and been filled with Martyrs’ blood, invalid.

        The ecumenism ideology is so thick that they don’t even try to spread the faith anymore. They’d rather praise the Buddhists who are ripping off the people.

        I’m sorry but it is very, very distressing!
        And the hierarchy needs to give us clarity for once. Surely that’s not asking too much?

      • Just to clear it up, I apologize if I’ve been uncharitable.

        You do raise a valid point. The problem I have is that I do not believe that trads should battle one another.

        Led the Novus Ordo people battle the SSPX and call them “protestants” and all other sort of silliness.

        We should be pushing for them in the Church, and for their complete rehabilitation (whatever that is) and also look at their history charitably and in context.

        Without the traditional mass I would not be able to be a Catholic, though it’s hard for me period as I can’t take much of the mainstream Church seriously much of the time.

  2. I’m not seeing how the things you noted are relevant.

    The fact is that for a while the SSPX alone had the mass.

    This archbishop says it’s basically valid to have their position.

    The idea that they were excommunicated for preserving tradition, while pro homosexual prelates receive zero sanction, is totally disgusting.

    It’s clear Lefebvre is a saint. He went alone in preserving the mass.

    Also, I get the sense that you are American. Many countries only have ridiculous, destructive liturgy outside the SSPX.

    Without the SSPX, Buddhism would be taught throughout Asia.

  3. Without him it would not be practiced.

    The other traditionalist orders were created once the Vatican noticed that the SSPX was still producing pre-Conciliar numbers of vocations relative to their size. This was Lefebvre’s doing.

  4. You condemn him for ordaining bishops.

    Where is the excommunication of Father Kung?
    What about a dozen other open heretics.

    Abp Lefebvre was treated worse than heretical bishops.

    Thar kind of

  5. Calling the Protestant is silly.

    Orthodox aren’t protestant. Mormons aren’t protestant. I’d argue Pentecostals aren’t protestant.

    Yet you call the SSPX Protestant for insisting on tradition and saving the mass.

    Your Novus Ordo liturgy isn’t going anywhere. You can do all that stuff you want. You can even take it further and you will still be tolerated. I don’t understand the hatred.

    It’s not productive.

  6. You actually are only opening our eyes to your own fanaticism.

    Why be so uncharitable?
    Are you a bishop? How can you personally condemn someone so violently?

    “by your fruits ye shall know them.”

    In this case every single traditionalist priest. The modernists had zero interest in ordaining traditional priests or the TLM until they saw that the SSPX and Campos were winning, despite their small size.

    Every other order exists because of them. No reason to resent or hate them.

    Furthermore why do you care so much?
    It’s not like your Novus Ordo mass is going anywhere.

  7. Figures your be stuck in 2004. You probably supported Jeb! Or at best Cruz. They are the equivalent of a Novus ordo- no principles, watered down, scared more about their image to the left than to their supporters.
    We call them cuckservatives.

  8. I imagine it does make you smile.
    At first I was interested in your point of view but it seems like now you are more sociopathic and hateful towards traditionalists? Why?
    Do you not have a Novus Ordo nearby to go to? There’s one down the street from me. Come to Japan. You can get one anywhere. Half Buddhist in teaching too!

  9. You’re just being childish and hateful now.

    Protestant? LIBERAL?

    Yeah you’re right.
    I guess that’s why Hillary Clinton is such a strong supporter of the SSPX.

    Oh wait, that’s Pope Francis.

    The lack of prudence, and inability to assess the entire situation is unfortunate.

  10. Petty and perverse?

    Petty is your position.

    Perverse are all the pedophiles who love your Novus ordo.

  11. All the SSPX are not “coming back?”
    Are you serious?

    What happened to you at an SSPX Chapel?

    To call them heretics is beyond sensible. They aren’t even schismatics.

  12. No they don’t. They don’t believe he was chosen by God.

    What’s wrong with you? You cant even say with certainty that atheists die EENS. That’s just disgusting that you would go to that length. All to defend a “banal, on the spot fabrication.”

  13. Criminal and sacrilegious?
    So that’s why we are allowed to go to them by the Vatican?

    What makes you better than the archbishop in the article?

    You have to be a leftist. The hate and venom is too much like a leftist.

  14. Vat II wasn’t a general council. It was pastoral.

    Did you not read the article?

    Your warped left wing church will never come. Tradition is gaining ground all over the world.

    Bomb drop.

  15. That hardly translates to “their masses are sacriligeous.”
    Even a complete athiest could see the difference there.

  16. If you don’t consider the mass tradition then nothing can be said, and the SSPX saved the mass.

    The viciousness is so uncalled for.
    Lefebvre ordained bishops whose excommunications were later lifted, because at the very least he subjectively Thought there was a crisis.

    Finally, if you want to talk about Martin Luther you should first note that
    A:) Lutherans have the faith.
    B:) Martin Luther made Catholics better Christians by emphasizing the Bible.
    C;) Martin Luther’s face is now on a stamp in the Vatican. By your logic, isn’t it time for Lefebvre?

    Those were all positions of Pope Francis.

    Now go ahead and pretend there is no crisis.

  17. Why does the archbishop’s opinion mean anything?

    According to IANS, the good archbishop is a schismatic doomed to hell.

    What’s really weird is that he believes the SSPX are hell bound. IF so, wouldn’t it be prudent to pray for their salvation instead of gloating and claiming they will never come back?

    There are way more issues with that person than what is on the surface.

  18. Take heart.
    Anyone who sees the exchange you just had with that vicious, hate-filled polemicist has a front row seat to observe everything we’ve said about the “conservative” neo-Catholics.


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