Cardinal Müller takes a definite stance on the Kasper proposal

Maike Hickson has a guest article at Rorate Caeli regarding Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller’s stance on the question of communion for bigamists. You may recall that the Germanicus small group’s proposal—essentially the old forum internum solution—had been offered as a compromise to the Synod. The argument, as we understood it, was that, since the Germanicus report was unanimous, Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Kasper had to agree about the viability of the forum internum solution. (Reinhard Cardinal Marx, Ratzinger’s successor in Munich and Freising, was hailed for brokering such a compromise.) Some questions had arisen, therefore, about what Cardinal Müller actually thought about communion for bigamists. Not much, it turns out. In the last couple of days, press reports have come out showing Cardinal Müller taking a strong line against communion under the Kasperite proposal. (We won’t quote from the article, but will instead encourage you to read it at Rorate.)

We wonder what this exhortation is going to look like on March 19 or whenever it is finally issued. We have heard much about a forty-some-page memorandum from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We have heard much, also, about multiple drafts whizzing back and forth. And we have heard a little bit about Archbishop “Tucho” Fernandez, who seems to have the Holy Father’s ear on these matters. But we read for ourselves the Holy Father’s comments on the plane ride back from Mexico on the question, which sounded a little different than usual.

Reconsidering the comment policy

When we started Semiduplex last fall, we decided not to allow comments, believing that anyone who wanted to say something about one of our posts could take to Twitter, Facebook, or their own blog, or some other new social-media platform that has so far escaped our notice. However, we note today that we have had our six-thousandth page view and over twenty-five hundred unique visitors from all over the world. (Not exactly big-time stuff, we know, but impressive to us.) Since folks have been so kind as to read Semiduplex—and we really do appreciate your time and generosity, dear readers—we wonder if we ought to reconsider the comment policy. And so we are. Thus, we may start enabling comments on selected posts (with some mild moderation controls) in the near future. (We will indicate the posts on which comments are enabled.)

Link Roundup: Feb. 28, 2016

Did we post Pater Edmund Waldstein’s piece about embertide in Austria?  If we didn’t, we meant to. (Nothing like Lent for relying on one’s good intentions.) We would have sworn that the Ember days had been suppressed, one way and another, throughout the world after the conclusion of the liturgical reform in 1970. But we would have been wrong.

Fr. John Hunwicke has an interesting series going on Pauline pseudonymy. PART 1; PART 2. A third part should be coming soon, but we found it too engrossing not to mention it now.

Elliot Milco has a piece at The Paraphasic about a the necessity of a more serious approach to metaphysics and the importance of such an approach to Christianity. It is his opinion that a metaphysically oriented Christianity is necessary to restore Christianity’s place in public discourse, which, in our view, has been usurped by a lazy scientism and a narcissistic humanism.

Andrea Gagliarducci has some more from Patriarch Sviatoslav of Kiev about the rapprochement between Rome and Moscow, which has not exactly worked to the benefit of the Catholics of Kiev.

Gabriel Sanchez notes that Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, though subsequently expelled from the Society of St. Pius X, intends to consecrate Dom Thomas Aquinas, a traditionalist priest from Brazil. Bishop Williamson, you may recall, consecrated Bishop Faure some time ago.

We have generally associated Handel’s coronation anthem “Zadok the Priest” with The Madness of King George. (Insofar as we have associated it with anything other than an English coronation.) More recently, AT&T has taken up the anthem in its advertising. Jesuit Fr. Joseph Koczera, however, recalls that “Zadok the Priest” was sung as the offertory chant at his priestly ordination last summer. An interesting choice, to be sure. The video Fr. Koczera provides shows a really very grand moment from the Mass, which will no doubt be long remembered by those in attendance.

Piloting towards an unknown shore through shoals

It is plain by now that the Holy Father has a soft spot for the Society of St. Pius X. It was, of course, a great disappointment when negotiations broke down between the Holy See and the SSPX back in 2012, not least because it was clear that Benedict XVI desired greatly to see the SSPX return to full communion with Peter. And, as disappointing as that was, it has been just as extraordinary to see the Holy Father get things back on track and moving in a positive direction. The unilateral grant of faculties for confession to priests of the SSPX as part of the Year of Mercy was a wonderful gesture from the Holy Father, and one that could scarcely have been imagined under John Paul or Benedict. And it seems that things are once again moving.

Bishop de Galarreta, one of the three remaining SSPX bishops, recently gave a conference in Versailles, and during his conference he discussed the status of negotiations:

I think, and this is the other aspect of things, that this pope who tells anyone who will listen that we are Catholic, who says and repeats that the Society is Catholic, that we are Catholic, will never condemn us, and that he wants our ‘case’ taken care of. I think– and he has already started down this path – that when he sees that we cannot agree with the Congregation of the Faith, I think that he will overreach any doctrinal, theoretical, practical condition, or any condition whatsoever… He is going to take his own steps towards recognizing the Society. He has already begun; he is simply going to continue. And I am not saying what I desire but what I foresee. I foresee, I think that the pope will lean towards a one-sided recognition of the Society, and that by acts rather than by a legal or canonical approach.”

Bishop de Galarreta admitted that “this de facto recognition would have a good, a beneficial effect: it is a rather extraordinary apostolic opening, and it would have an extraordinary effect.” But he adds that there would then be two risks: that of creating an internal division and that of conditioning our preaching in certain circumstances. And he wondered: “It would take an extraordinary wisdom and prudence, a very great firmness and clarity. Are we capable of this?”

(Emphasis supplied.) More excerpts of the conference are available at the DICI website.

We also read at Zenit a new interview with Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, discussing the status of negotiations with the SSPX. (It is in Italian, so we will not quote from it here. However, the translation we obtained for ourselves from Google Translate was very readable.) It is especially interesting, since we think it gives one a good idea of Rome’s position with respect to the Second Vatican Council. Obviously, a unilateral canonical recognition of the SSPX, which seems to be what Bishop de Galarreta anticipates, would limit the necessity of a careful understanding of the Conciliar decrees and their relative weights.

It’s really very interesting to see these developments under the Holy Father. Remember what they said about Nixon?

The pro-life movement and the sickness of modernity

In reading Roberto Riviera’s thought-provoking piece at Ethika Politika about “Pro Life 2.0,” we were reminded of one of the Holy Father’s most incisive points in Laudato si’:

The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that “an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed”.

(Emphasis supplied.) In the Holy Father’s view, this technocratic paradigm sets up a misguided anthropocentrism, about which the Holy Father goes on to say:

A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is “even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism”. When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.

The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same “use and throw away” logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

(Emphasis supplied.) It seems to us that combating the sickness at the heart of modernity, which the Holy Father diagnoses so brilliantly, is an important step in combating the various assaults on life and the dignity of life mounted by the world and the lord of the world.

How I’ve learned to please, to doubt myself in need

At The Paraphasic, Elliot Milco argues that conservative despair results from a conservative disposition without goals:

Food is conserved in conditions of scarcity.  Forests are conserved when they are being wiped out.  We conserve historical sites when they are in a state of disrepair or permanent disuse.  The word “conservatism” suggests the preciousness of what is being preserved and a will to defend it, but it also suggests a climate of decay and a general trend toward decrepitude.  Conservation, after all, is merely a way of staving off the inevitable.

The source of conservative despair is a weakness not of principles or ideals, but of posture.  Our disposition toward the present context lacks adequate direction.  We fight for things like neutrality, and the liberty to be left alone. (Acedia’s plea.) We gripe about our losses and reminisce about the good old days (of fifty years ago or fifteen hundred).   We huddle together in increasingly isolated enclaves of fellow-thinkers.  And this posture of conservatism, which is merely conservative, primes us for failure.  The inevitable.

(Emphasis supplied and italics in original.) Milco has identified, we think, this tendency in conservative thought previously. For example, he called the late Antonin Scalia, “the mighty rearguard in our [i.e., conservatives’] long and slow defeat.

For our part, we’d take a step back: when Milco says that “the source of conservative despair is a weakness not of principles or ideals,” we are not so sure we agree. Certainly, to the extent that the Christ’s teachings and the teachings of Christ’s Church are conservative, we would agree that the foundation of those principles or ideals is as strong as possible (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11–15). But there are plenty of conservative ideals not built upon Christ’s teachings. For example, the sort of unrestrained faith in capitalism and near-idolatry of the free market so popular among some conservatives is to be found nowhere in sound Christian doctrine. Likewise, a concept of the role of government that is divorced entirely from the notion of the common good—by this, of course, we mean the obsession with “limited government” on the right, which is not at all the same thing as subsidiarity—is not a concept in accordance with reason. And, of course, worshipping a Constitution that resolutely and intentionally denies the rights of God and his Church is the very antithesis of Christian doctrine. Now, we mention all this not to demonstrate how little we think of standard-issue movement conservatism in the United States—though we do not in fact think a whole lot of it—but to show that there are articles of conservative faith today that are weak. They are weak because they are un-Christian.

Now, we are under no illusion that Milco meant to imply that basic movement conservatism is founded upon sound ideals; our demonstration was intended to set up this point: Christians have made common cause with movement conservatives over a variety of issues. In some cases, there have been common goals—the defense of life and marriage against the world and the lord of this world—and where the groups’ goals diverged, they were still essentially compatible. Perhaps, however, it is time for Christians to go forward alone and on their own terms. The goal of a Christian is not to win elections, but to win an imperishable crown, as Paul says (1 Cor. 9:24–25)—though serving Christ, who is the lawful king over all nations, may involve government according to Christ’s laws—and perhaps it’s time to start moving forward with that goal in mind.

The 1998 Doctrinal Commentary and the Papal Magisterium

In recent days—which is to say, in the wake of the Holy Father’s comments on the plane ride back from Mexico—we have noticed some worried analyses, the thrust of which is that the Magisterium is in jeopardy. Fr. John Hunwicke has reposted some comments he wrote after the explicitly non-magisterial statement on the Church’s relations with the Jews. Likewise, Fr. Ray Blake has offered some thoughts about the Magisterium under the Holy Father.

It seems to us that Cardinal Ratzinger’s Doctrinal Commentary on the so-called concluding formula of the Professio Fidei required by Ad tuendam Fidem as relevant than ever. Obviously, Cardinal Ratzinger was writing in a very different context; however, the Doctrinal Commentary offers some precision in thinking about the Magisterium, including any given pope’s teachings, that is helpful to sort out situations like the Holy Father’s statements on Zika virus and contraception.

Just a thought.