Rule of Three: SSPX, TAC, & the Orthodox Church

metropolitan-kirill2

We have had a spate of exciting news these past two weeks.  So much good news that I have noticed a certain pattern forming.  That pattern usually comes in threes, so I’d like to introduce the Rule of Three theory.  The Rule of Three is a theorem that states good news comes in threes. 

First we have Pope Benedict XVI having the excommunications on the Society of St. Pius X (S.S.P.X.)  lifted on January 21.  Then we have rumors that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (C.D.F.) possibly offering the  Traditional Anglican Communion (T.A.C.) entry into the Catholic Church on January 29.  So there needs to be a third piece of good news percolating somewhere some would think?

My best guess at this point is that the newly elected Patriarch, Metropolitan Kirill, of the Russian Orthodox Church will announce the stunning news that he will be inviting His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to visit him in Moscow.  Thus removing a major stumbling block to Union between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, and possibly all of Orthodoxy!

Just to remind the readers of this website, this is purely speculation on my part and based on no insider information.

Though this would be wonderful news if it were!

39 Responses to Rule of Three: SSPX, TAC, & the Orthodox Church

  • Anthony says:

    I think an invite will occur, but I don’t think it will be in the immediate future.

    Besides, the TAC issue is still just a rumor/consideration, though a really fascinating one at that.

  • jh says:

    I think it is all good news. Even though the ryumors of TAC might be premature there is somethig in the wind. We actually in the USA can reconcille some Anglican through a wder use of the Anglican Use Parish.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Michael I.,

    It’s “interesting” that you call #1 “good news” with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. Telling.

    Very telling that you abhor Forgiveness, The story of the Prodigal son, orthodoxy, Latin, the Extraodinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass, Ut Unum Sint, and many other Catholic doctrine just by that simple statement you left.

  • Michael Iafrate says:

    Forgiveness is fantastic. But the SSPX is not “orthodox.” News flash, Tito: You can love forgiveness, “orthodoxy,” Latin, the extraordinary form of the Mass, etc., and not embrace groups like SSPX that reject Vatican II, Pope John Paul II, and the Catechism and who believe that “the Jews” committed “deicide.”

    Don’t flirt with these people, Tito. Seriously.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Michael I.,

    Don’t worry, I don’t flirt with them. I appreciate much that they do, it’s their arrogance that ruffles my feathers.

    I’m more of a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (F.S.S.P.) guy. Unfortunately there isn’t an F.S.S.P. church in my archdiocese for me to attend.

  • Alan Phipps says:

    Looks like Rome is denying the TAC prelature rumors. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. But if it isn’t true, where did it come from? I remember the endless “Universal indult” rumors that came even years before Summorum Pontificum.

  • Fidei Defensor says:

    Alan, good point with the indult rummors, that thing seemed “imminent” for like 2 years! As to the TAC, everything will happen in God’s own time, but I have good reason to think the recent “rumors” are credible, things may be going slower (or even faster!) that we can tell but the wheels are certainly in motion!

    I have seen some of the vitrol SOME in the SSPX spew, esp. in regards to John Paul II, but the average SSPX’er I know (and to be fair that is only two and they are both college students if that is any indication) are not anywhere near as hostille as the image, indeed the ones I know seem to admire JP-II much more than certian liberal priests I am aware of!

    Tito, thanks so much for writing on this “rule of three!” The Russian situation is complex and mostly beyond my limited understanding, I am not sure what is the greater threshold to cross…

    1-Pope meeting with Patriarch or
    2-Pope being in Russia

    I have a feeling that at first you can’t do both. I have a feeling that the two men will have to meet at a “neutral” i.e not Moscow or Rome to save face. On first glance Ukraine would make sense but a little more of a look at that would show that to be the worst possible idea. I think John Paul II was well recieved in Romania before so that is possible, I’d put my money on Greece though, let’s the Patriarch come across looking good for the hard-line Russians, the Greek Orthodox Church seems to have good relations with Rome, indeed Patriarch Bartholemieu could do the inviting (yes he’s in Turkey but I am sure he has a free hand for hosting things in Greece.)

    Anyway my two cents, keep up the good work Tito!

  • jh says:

    “Don’t flirt with these people, Tito. Seriously.”

    But Pope Benedict is “flirting” with them as well as the Vatican. It is time to get these people back in the Church to contribute to the Body of Christ their contributions and for the Church to moderate their extremes

  • Matt McDonald says:

    Michael I,

    Forgiveness is fantastic. But the SSPX is not “orthodox.” News flash, Tito: You can love forgiveness, “orthodoxy,” Latin, the extraordinary form of the Mass, etc., and not embrace groups like SSPX that reject Vatican II, Pope John Paul II, and the Catechism and who believe that “the Jews” committed “deicide.”

    Don’t flirt with these people, Tito. Seriously.

    Wow, I didn’t realize you were such a stickler for orthodoxy…. would you join me in calling for the excommunication of these much less orthodox folks who reject the ACTUAL TEACHINGS of Vatican II while subscribing to some twisted liberal and satanic “Spirit” of Vatican II?

    Nancy Pelosi,
    Joe Biden,
    Abp. Mahoney
    Bp. Gumbleton
    50% of the USCCB Staff
    100% of the National Catholic Reporter staff (except maybe John Allen)
    All members of Catholics For Free Choice, Call to Action, etc.
    All those who do not reject the possibility of women’s ordination
    All those who accept that contraception may be moral in certain circumstances

    let the inquisition begin.

  • Christopher says:

    I think you’re right, except I think the election of Patriarch Kirill WAS the third bit of good news. He likely will meet with the Pope on neutral territory the first time.

  • Matt – Do excuse me. I now remember you saying that you are not yet AMERICAN, but that you are working on it or something. I got mixed up and thought you were not yet CATHOLIC. A sincere mistake.

    That said, it was certainly a jab at your take on Catholicism. The RCIA bit was not important.

  • Michael says:

    I’m confused Michael. While Matt’s rhetoric certainly is fiery, and he’s likely hyperbolizing when he mentions percentages, the thrust of his argument is true. All the people he named have put forth and defended positions that are contrary to the Catholic faith, including several non-negotiables, such as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden defending and advocating abortion. I don’t see what’s wrong with saying people that disagree with the definitive teaching of the Catholic Church are outside of the Catholic faith. Personally, I think excommunication is a very drastic step to take, but I certainly wouldn’t mind it if more bishops spoke up and publicly declared that pro-abortion politicians cannot recieve communion. I don’t consider that politicizing the Eucharist, as a) it’s to protect the faithful from false teachers, and b) I believe the same thing should be done for Rudy Giuliani.

  • Gerard E. says:

    Looks like the Vatican is working on its equivalent of warp factor speed. Maybe that staid old bureaucracy is used to groundbreaking stuff, first with JP and now with B. Amazing times. One branch of Anglicans might graft onto the big redwood tree of Rome. This big Metro Bishop might also have civil relations with Holy See. Hey- maybe some day the Cardinals might make it to the Sup- oh, it happened.

  • Dale Price says:

    A fourth bit of good news would be Msgr Williamson taking a perpetual vow of silence after repenting of his Jew-hatred, but I’ll take what has happened so far. Looking very much forward to seeing what the Russian Orthodox do.

    Oh, and Latin clergy definitely need to recultivate beards. :)

  • Michael (lionsdensf), I agree that some of the parties on Matt’s list are problematic and some simply do not represent the Catholic faith on various issues. You obviously agree that his across-the-board call for “excommunication” is absurd. I would also say his view of orthodoxy is quite narrow. As if the Vatican didn’t have better things to do than “excommunicate” the staff of NCR? Please.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    Michael I.
    a jab at your take on Catholicism.

    No Michael it was an attack on my personal Faith, not on my position. A most vile “ad hominem”.

    Michael I,

    Michael (lionsdensf), I agree that some of the parties on Matt’s list are problematic and some simply do not represent the Catholic faith on various issues. You obviously agree that his across-the-board call for “excommunication” is absurd. I would also say his view of orthodoxy is quite narrow.

    Yes, I used hyperbole to demonstrate that you have a very narrow view of orthodoxy when it comes to “conservative” perspectives suggesting the SSPX is not Catholic, but a very “BROAD” view when it comes to liberal ones by suggesting the people on my list are.

    As if the Vatican didn’t have better things to do than “excommunicate” the staff of NCR? Please.

    If the Vatican’s principle role is to lead souls to heaven, and preaching heresy is a principle way that those sheep are lost to the evil one, then NO… the Vatican hasn’t more important work.

    By the way, would you say that 100% of the NCR staff doesn’t render the assent of faith to the Church’s teachings on contraception and/or women’s ordination? Either case is completely legitimate grounds for excommunication, isn’t it?

  • By the way, would you say that 100% of the NCR staff doesn’t render the assent of faith to the Church’s teachings on contraception and/or women’s ordination?

    I have no idea. I don’t know the views of all of the staff members. Do you?

    Either case is completely legitimate grounds for excommunication, isn’t it?

    Either no, it’s not legitimate grounds for excommunication, or the Church has absolutely no interest in going around excommunicating people simply because they disagree with the Church’s teaching on birth control and/or women’s ordination. Thankfully they are a bit more generous and patient with such Catholics, unlike you who seems to get off on mindless internet “heretic”-hunting.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    Michael J. Iafrate,

    By the way, would you say that 100% of the NCR staff doesn’t render the assent of faith to the Church’s teachings on contraception and/or women’s ordination?

    I have no idea. I don’t know the views of all of the staff members. Do you?

    If one can be judged by the articles one writes, edits or publishes, I have a pretty good idea that they do not…

    Either case is completely legitimate grounds for excommunication, isn’t it?

    Either no, it’s not legitimate grounds for excommunication, or the Church has absolutely no interest in going around excommunicating people simply because they disagree with the Church’s teaching on birth control and/or women’s ordination. Thankfully they are a bit more generous and patient with such Catholics, unlike you who seems to get off on mindless internet “heretic”-hunting.

    First of all, any Catholic who culpably persists in heresy is automatically excommunicated. People who hold such heretical views PRIVATELY are of course not notorious public sinners, and are to refrain from communion on their own, they are not generally subject to ecclsiastical action. Those who persist in teaching such heretical views, as does NCR are subject to ecclesiastical action up to and including excommunication for the good of their souls and those who they teach.

    c. 1364
    1. With due regard for can. 194, part 1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication and if a cleric, he can also be punished by the penalties mentioned in can. 1336, part 1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

    Do you deny that it is harmful to souls to preach heresy, such as women’s ordination?

  • Alan Phipps says:

    I suggest that we, who are not experts in canon law or its interpretation, refrain from throwing around quotes from canon law. Excommunication is a serious matter. Even the acknowledgment of latae sententiae is rarely asserted by the Church.

  • Dale Price says:

    Well, those women who have simulated ordination to the priesthood, and at least one man who has assisted, all have been uniformly excommunicated, and excommunication isn’t exactly a pleasant place for the soul to be. I don’t know if I’d call believing in the necessity of women’s ordination “evil,” but it certainly gives aid and comfort to people who get themselves in a bad place.

    Otherwise, I’d agree that heresy-hunting and tossed accusations generate far more heat than light, and a smoky, choking heat at that.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    Dale,

    I’d call believing in the necessity of women’s ordination “evil,”

    Believing in the necessity? It’s heresy to believe in the possibility. Period. This is not me, this is the teaching of the Church. Is not all heresy evil?

    If you read through the posts, I’m responding to Michael I’s opposition to the lifting of excommunications and the attempts to reconcile the SSPX. The point is that his strictness on “orthodoxy” is relative to who’s ox is being gored. At the same time, it is scandalous for people to preach error and remain unaffected by public sanctions.

  • Dale Price says:

    Matt:

    Is not all heresy evil?

    Formal, yes. Material, no. Otherwise I’d be forced to call my evangelical neighbors “evil.” There’s a difference between being wrong and being sinfully wrong.

    Look, I wholeheartedly assent to the Magisterium on WO, without the slightest hesitation. Even on the merely pragmatic level, WO has been an unmitigated disaster for those denominations which practice it, both in terms of dwindling numbers and even faster-dwindling orthodoxy. That’s the Holy Spirit pointing to the canary in the coal-mine, which is consistently and studiously ignored by the proponents of WO.

    Impending qualifier alert: But. That doesn’t mean that I think everyone who still favors it is a formal heretic in need of the penalty of excommunication. Those who simulate and assist with attempted WO, yes. Everybody else deserves patience, education and the passage of time. And, yes, careful rebuking and repudiation where necessary.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    Dale,

    Is not all heresy evil?

    Formal, yes. Material, no.

    Wrong. All heresy is evil, however all material heretics are not automatically excommunicated. I didn’t ask if all heretics are evil, that’s really not a proper question.

    Otherwise I’d be forced to call my evangelical neighbors “evil.” There’s a difference between being wrong and being sinfully wrong.

    I think you’re off base here, we’re talking about Catholics who reject the teachings of the Church willfully. Heresy is formal when it is known that ones belief is in opposition to the teachings of the Church. I don’t think the people we’re talking about, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and the NCR staff are uneducated in their faith, they are intentionally rejecting Church teachings. That is, by definition formal. As to those who “read” the NCR, some of them may not be so culpable.

  • Dale Price says:

    OK, looks like a matter of defining one’s terms. Here’s something more precise: Not all heresy is mortally sinful.

    all material heretics are not automatically excommunicated.

    Actually, it’s rather stronger than that. Give me an example of a material heretic who IS automatically excommunicated. The Church isn’t in the business of excommunicating material heretics. Period.

    I think you’re off base here, we’re talking about Catholics who reject the teachings of the Church willfully. Heresy is formal when it is known that ones belief is in opposition to the teachings of the Church.

    Correct as to the theological formulation. However, the problem is that determining willfulness is not that easy. Sure, for the WO simulators–absolutely. Hence the thunderbolt of excommunication. It’s a crucial step removed for the likes of Pelosi, Biden and even the staff of the Reporter, as tiresomely obnoxious as the reportage and editorial line of that publication is. I can’t presume that Pelosi and Biden aren’t being misled by the theological smoke belched up in their respective diocese during their formations, perhaps even by their confessors. I’ve been told stuff that I know was wrong by well-meaning confessors myself. Look–do I *think* they are knowingly standing in opposition to the Church? More likely than not, yes. Do I *know* that for a fact. No, and that’s for their Ordinaries to determine and authoritatively counsel and discipline them about, as canon law indicates. If their Ordinaries fail to act, then the sin is upon their heads as well.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    OK, looks like a matter of defining one’s terms. Here’s something more precise: Not all heresy is mortally sinful.

    all material heretics are not automatically excommunicated.

    Actually, it’s rather stronger than that. Give me an example of a material heretic who IS automatically excommunicated. The Church isn’t in the business of excommunicating material heretics. Period.

    Formal heresy involves an added element to the material heresy, that it is “freely willed”. Now, if you want to make the labels to be mutually exclusive, rather than formal being a subset of material, I don’t really care, it is not material to the question. A Catholic who manifests heresy, and who by virtual of his station can reasonably be presumed to be aware of his error, is subject to be excommunicated (an act of law), unless he can demonstrate that he is not aware of his error. This is important to protect the purity of the Church’s teaching. In the area of moral theology it’s theoretically possible that the person is not morally culpable for his error, the point of excommunication is to resolve the situation, it is not a condemnation.

    Will you now answer the question: are you saying all heresy is not evil?

    Correct as to the theological formulation. However, the problem is that determining willfulness is not that easy. Sure, for the WO simulators–absolutely. Hence the thunderbolt of excommunication. It’s a crucial step removed for the likes of Pelosi, Biden and even the staff of the Reporter, as tiresomely obnoxious as the reportage and editorial line of that publication is. I can’t presume that Pelosi and Biden aren’t being misled by the theological smoke belched up in their respective diocese during their formations, perhaps even by their confessors. I’ve been told stuff that I know was wrong by well-meaning confessors myself. Look–do I *think* they are knowingly standing in opposition to the Church? More likely than not, yes. Do I *know* that for a fact. No, and that’s for their Ordinaries to determine and authoritatively counsel and discipline them about, as canon law indicates. If their Ordinaries fail to act, then the sin is upon their heads as well.

    You’re position is self-contradictory… why can we not assume that the WO simulators (who were actually excommunicated under Canon 1378) are as misled by the theological smoke as are the others? Speaking is an external material act.

    I agree with you that those bishops and priest who are responsible for such poor formation, and who refuse to take concrete steps to correct the errors will have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to Judgement Day. Nevertheless, automatic excommunication requires no act of the local ordinary to execute, but it does obligate him to help the subject to reconciliation, shame on them for refusing their duty.

  • Dale Price says:

    At the risk of having my words parsed to the point of death by a thousand cuts, let’s try this again.

    1. No, I’m not getting into a taffy pull about “evil” because the Church looks at heresy from the standpoint of sin, both mortal and venial. Is sin evil? Well, yes, but not all sin is of the same magnitude, eternally speaking. Heresy is sinful. However, the effect on the soul and eternal destination is a matter of culpability.

    2. No, it’s not self contradictory–not remotely. Prelates have issued warnings to the simulators and there is the precedent of Church action excommunicating those who have done the same thing. Moreover, they have been offered the opportunity to defend themselves canonically. They know going in that if they do this, they will be excommunicated. Period. None of which obtains with respect to Pelosi, Biden, etc.

    “Formal heresy involves an added element to the material heresy, that it is “freely willed”. Now, if you want to make the labels to be mutually exclusive, rather than formal being a subset of material, I don’t really care, it is not material to the question. A Catholic who manifests heresy, and who by virtual of his station can reasonably be presumed to be aware of his error, is subject to be excommunicated (an act of law), unless he can demonstrate that he is not aware of his error.”

    Assumed, but not proven. Not by a long shot. And you simply cannot wave away the need to prove willfulness in this matter. You need to start giving some canonical precedents here for me to buy this line of argument. Excommunication, far from being presumed, is extraordinary. I recommend you run this past canonist Ed Peters of the Canon Law blog, as I would be very interested in his take.

  • OliviaB. says:

    I think the very fact that there has been much disagreement with your three “happy” news shows that perhaps these three pieces of news do not compliment one another. And if that is the case, I’m thinking the clergy of the Catholic Church still don’t have it all together. Perhaps they’re throwing stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks.
    ———
    OliviaB.

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