Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The courage of Pope Benedict XVI: Letter to the bishops

In the letter, to be released officially tomorrow, the Pope defends himself and rebukes those who have been a party to the moral lynching of Traditionalists.

The courage of Pope Benedict XVI urges him once again to speak the truth about hypocrisy within our Church and to place himself in the breach as the one called by Christ to “protect legitimate differences” among the faithful.

In his letter to all Bishops of the world on the removal of the excommunication of the Bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) and on all aspects involving the subsequent problems related to Bishop Richard Williamson he rebukes those who would welcome with open arms brothers and sisters outside of the household of the Faith while preserving for ridicule and marginalization those who share many aspects of our Faith yet stand in need of full reconciliation with the Church.

Some commentary and a translation of some excerpts of the letter provided today by Rorate Caeli:

The letter will announce that the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will be placed under the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (though, as of this moment, it is not clear if only regarding doctrinal matters). The Pope makes clear for Traditionalists that it is not possible to "freeze" the Magisterial authority of the Church in 1962 - but he also chides those who proclaim themselves to be "great defenders of the Council" but who do not wish to understand that Vatican II carries with it "the entire doctrinal history of the Church".

The Pope is frank with those who proclaim ecumenism, but who do not wish to follow through with it with the Fraternity: "May we consign to utter indifference a community in which there are 491 priests, 215 seminarians, ... 117 brothers, 164 sisters, and thousands of faithful? Should we truly let them drift away from the Church? Are we allowed to simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical and marginal group, from the search for unity and reconciliation?"

"A mishap unpredictable to me was the fact that the Williamson affair was placed above the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards the four Bishops, ordained validly but not licitly, appeared unexpectedly as a completely different matter: as a denial of the reconciliation of Christians and Jews, and thus as a repeal of that which the Council had clarified for the path of the Church regarding this matter."

"I am saddened by the fact that even Catholics, who in the end should have known better how things stand, considered having to assail me with a hostility ready for attack. For this, I thank even more the Jewish friends who have helped to promptly remove the misunderstanding and to reestablish an atmosphere of friendship and trust."

Some of the concluding words are strong: "The impression is often given that our society feels the need for at least one group to which no tolerance is to be granted; which one may perfectly abuse with hatred. And if anyone dares to approach them, he also loses his right to tolerance and he also may be treated with hatred, with no fears or reservations."

(Translation provided courtesy of Rorate Caeli.)

Benedict XVI must continue to do well, in obedience to Christ, what he already has begun well: to bring unity to the flock of the Church, to protect her from the wolves and to build her up in faith, hope and love as the true bride of Jesus Christ. God bless him and give him length of days!

Let us pray that our Holy Father be saddened no more by these irrational and incomprehensible attacks from within our own household of Faith, the "biting and devouring" of which Saint Paul speaks in his letter to the Galatians, and that we will dedicate ourselves to a more thorough understanding and practice which holds that “Vatican II carries with it the entire doctrinal history of the Church".


The full text of the letter now available at NLM.