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Citing OnePeterFive, the Vatican Excommunicates Viganò

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Well, it happened. The most severe penalty has again been leveled against a Catholic Bishop by the Holy See, and Archbishop Viganò has been excommunicated (original Italian decree here). My first thought at hearing the news made me grieve with the words of the Prophet: why do the wicked prosper? Who will rise up with me against the evil doers?

At OnePeterFive, we have advocated the “charitable anathema,” taking up the mantle of Dietrich von Hildebrand and our other Trad godfathers to say that this is the only way out of this crisis. This is the true “medicine of mercy” to defend the sheep against the heretical wolves. But because of animosities before and after Vatican II (and the general crisis of Patriarchy), the Holy See has been lamentably reluctant to level this act of charity against the heretics, but rather against those faithful Catholic bishops who are doing their best to be faithful.

Some of these, who are doing their best to be faithful, are on the “Trad spectrum,” meaning they have a hard time reconciling Vatican II with prior Magisterium and they critique the Novos Ordo, among other things.

But those who are doing their best, in my view, are those especially who need to be shown mercy.

How can any reasonable Catholic deny that Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer were doing their best to be faithful in 1988? whereas heretics like Hans Küng were murdering the sheep with their heresy and corrupt bishops like Cardinal Martini were operating the Vatican Mafia to manipulate the good faith efforts of St. John Paul II and keep the wicked machinery of the Third Pornocracy going? Even if you disagree with Lefebvre and de Castro Mayer and think they truly were schismatics, no one can question their good will and sincere attempt to be faithful Catholics.

I don’t know of any reason that we can doubt Archbishop Viganò’s sincerity as well. And that’s the first point about him – let’s be merciful in our attitude toward the prelate, so that the Lord will be merciful to us at our own judgement.

Let no man harden his heart toward Viganò, just as we cannot harden our hearts toward the Holy Father as well (nor even Cardinal Fernández!). Let us forgive all men their offenses, as it is written: unless you forgive men their sins, your Heavenly Father will not forgive you.

Certainly by all appearances: Viganò has gone too far. I have not spent the time to follow all of his statements over the years, but in recent years it seems he has entered into a sedevacantist position which evinces that slippery slope of Trad “Neo-Jansenism” which has been the way that we Trads have “shot ourselves in the foot” (as we say in the States) for some decades now.

Thus my second impression here is that Viganò may indeed be justly excommunicated. But, as I said, at the same time, why are so many heretical wolves getting promotions and photo ops with the Holy Father? This is a grievous double standard, which dishonours the Holy See and manifests the corruption of our time.

But the decree of excommunication cites Viganò’s commentary on Dr. Kwasniewski published by OnePeterFive on September 21, 2020. Although this was before my time as editor of OnePeterFive, it does call for some response from us, so here we go.

First, I direct all readers to our official editorial statement published on August 31, 2021. It certainly appears that Archbishop Viganò’s current position is directly contrary to our editorial stance on several points, which would preclude the publishing of any statements of his now or in the future. This should suffice to alert readers to the fact that OnePeterFive distances itself from Viganò’s current positions, even though we did publish his statement back in 2020.

Nevertheless, let us examine the statement published by OnePeterFive and condemned by the Holy See.

Statement of Holy See (in Italian): “Some statements by the accused confirm his rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its magisterial authority[.]”

One of several citations made by the Holy See to prove this accusation, which is a quotation from OnePeterFive’s original English language publication:

[Viganò]: For the Innovators maliciously managed to put the label “Sacrosanct Ecumenical Council” on their ideological manifesto, just as, at a local level, the Jansenists who maneuvered the Synod of Pistoia had managed to cloak with authority their heretical theses, which were later condemned by Pius VI… If the evidence shows that some propositions contained in the Council documents (and similarly, in the acts of Bergoglio’s magisterium) are heterodox, and if doctrine teaches us that the acts of the Magisterium do not contain error, the conclusion is not that these propositions are not erroneous, but that they cannot be part of the Magisterium. Period (elipsis contained in the Holy See’s original Italian decree). 

First, we should note that the current editorial stance of OnePeterFive contains the “non-negotiable” position that “Vatican II is the 21st Ecumenical Council of the Church.” Therefore if the statement from Viganò just quoted is meant to be a rejection that Vatican II is a valid ecumenical council, then this statement is false and is to be rejected by OnePeterFive.

If, however, Viganò statement is merely restating the “norms of theological interpretation” contained in the Appendix of Lumen Gentium and confirmed by the Holy See in their dialogue with the SSPX, then Viganò’s statement is legitimate. The problem is that Vatican II is an ambiguous, complicated council, and PhDs of every stripe disagree on its interpretation. Therefore the phrase “rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its magisterial authority” is also ambiguous. Has the Holy See forgotten the imbroglio of Haec Sancta and the debate between theologians that has raged since then? Or other historical dubia regarding the infallibility of Councils and Popes that were not dealt with by Vatican I, resulting in the “Dubia of Vatican I“?

And the dubia of Vatican I only led to even more dubia out of Vatican II.

Let us be merciful to this reality, reverend fathers, please, because this is where the sheep live. The historical reality of Vatican II – whether it contained error, heresy, ambiguity, or was 100% orthodox – is that the sheep experienced a violent, iconoclastic revolution in doctrine and liturgy.

If some prelates have been trying their best to make sense of it, they should not be excommunicated, but the Church, as a Merciful Mother, should truly apply the “medicine of mercy” and patiently explain and explicate all of these dubia for the sake of the salvation of souls. (Besides the fact, let us remember, that Viganò’s original testimony had nothing to do with Vatican II, was eminently reasonable, and has still not be answered by the Vatican.)

At the same time, Catholics who are doing their best should refrain from excesses, including sedevacantism and other extremes that Viganò seems to be guilty of. If anyone is going to publish a legitimate critique of Vatican II (according to Tradition and the conceded norms of the Holy See practiced by Joseph Ratzinger in his life as a theologian and described by him in Donum Veritatis), then we also need to be as precise and careful as possible. As I’ve stated before, I try my best to avoid these excesses myself as I attempt to write with truth and charity about the crisis here at OnePeterFive, and I myself will answer at my judgement for the words I say here.

I fear God; I must be merciful to Viganò, Fernández, and the Holy Father, and as St. Thomas More said to his murderers, “may we all one day meet merrily in heaven.”

God have mercy upon us sinners.

T. S. Flanders
Editor
St. Elizabeth of Portugal

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