Wednesday, 14 January 2009

On schism, South Brisbane and traditionalists

Son of Trypho (with whom and about whose reconciliation to the Church we should all be rejoicing, see the comment on the previous post!) alerted us all to yet another traddie bashing comment on Cath News, comparing the situation of South Brisbane with some traddie communities. It attempts to perpetuate the myth that traddies are or were in some sense in the same place as the liberals in the Church are now. And that is utter rubbish!

The claim

The comment was:

"Sadly, no one deceives themselves more than the deceiver. How gracious Fr Kennedy and the Sth Brisbane community will be towards Archbishop Bathersby and Brisbane Catholics who won't be able to understand their decision to break with the Church will be the test of their sincerity. There have been other communities who have left the Church and now are back within it - the Tridentine communities. So, we hope and pray for Fr Kennedy, for his parishioners and for ourselves, that we will take Christ at his word and wait for healing and reunion in this matter.

Posted By: Fr Mick Mac Andrew, Bombala-Delegate NSW"

A few vital differences - heresy vs schism

Before getting down to the main point I want to make here - namely that most traditionalists have never left the Church - it is worth noting one other key difference between traditionalists and South Brisbane. It is the difference between heresy and schism.

It is pretty clear that Fr Kennedy and many of his followers are not just acting schismatically, that is rejecting the judicial authority of the Church, but also reject key doctrines (indeed, even the concept of dogma!).

Most traditionalists are not and never have been heretics. They use a rite of the Mass that has been used by the Church for centuries rather than an unapproved, fabricated liturgy as South Brisbane do. They believe what the Church has taught for centuries, not picking and choosing or rejecting outright truths taught by the Church (despite some recent claims to the contrary on which I may comment separately in the near future!) as liberals do.

Reconciliation and traddies - a little history

It is true of course that over time various traditionalist communities who sat outside the Church to various degrees have come back in. Summorum Pontificum has given particular impetus to this, and over the last year several groups of religious (though none in Australia), for example, have reconciled.

And in Australia at an individual level, as more approved TLMs have become available, many individuals have left the SSPX masses they previously attended (often out of desperation!) and now attend mainstream traditionalist communities. That is a positive thing reflecting the concern of bishops and priests for their flock.

Whether or not those who attended SSPX masses were ever strictly speaking in schism probably varies from case to case, since it depends on intention, actions and beliefs - there has some guidance from Rome to the effect that attending an SSPX mass does not in itself make one schismatic. Getting married or going to confession in an SSPX Church (and studying for the priesthood) however, are almost certainly different matters!

But regardless, the reality is that most traditionalists have never left the Church, formally or informally. Rather they are catholics who created or discovered the 'indult' communities that have now been operating with the permission of their bishop for more than twenty years in some cases, or are converts to catholicism (and traditional communities have a high proportion of converts).

Canonical issues

A few key points to note:
  • in Summorum Pontificum the Pope stated that the Traditional Latin Mass had never been abrogated - that is priests always had the right to say it;
  • the TLM has long been provided under various official permissions - before Summorum Pontificum in 2007 there was the Ecclesia Dei indult (1988) and 1984 (Quattor abhinc annos);
  • and before that some older priests received formal permission to continue saying the older Mass.

The definitive moment in terms of schism is arguably (and I don't want to get into the debate on whether the SSPX are formally in schism or not!) Archbishop Le Fefevre's illicit ordination of bishops in 1988. At this point some traditionalists did split off and effectively became the SSPX communities of today. But all or most of the currently recognized traditionalist communities in Australia (and someone correct me if I'm wrong about this) point to their origin in the 1984 and 1998 indults.

So what should our attitude be to schismatics of whatever colour?

The answer is clearly pray for them to see the truth and be reconciled to the Church!

The implication of Fr MacAndrew's comment is that if they just work hard enough, as traddies have done, the Church will some day acknowledge that they were right. That is clearly misguided and unhelpful and runs directly counter to the line taken publicly by Fr MacAndrew's superior, Archbishop Coleridge.

Guess it just illustrates the size of the clean-up job ahead for the Church in Australia. Maybe we need to institute de-programming workshops (tradition rediscovery/sensitization workshops) for the clergy? Hmmm, I can see a niche market for a consultant here, maybe I can offer my services...


Son of Trypho said...

What I found strange about the comment is who exactly is he referring to? The only folks I can think of, to hand, that fit his criteria are those Redemptorists on Papa Stronsay.

If I understand it correctly the FSSP were not in schism because they left the SSPX. Otherwise, aside from the obscure handful of priests/religious in the Orkneys who is the good Fr referring to?

I think its actually a good comment to recall - this fellow is an ordinary parish priest and he considers the traditional communities as having been separated from the Church - it gives you a good idea of what the average folks probably think about the traditional communities IMHO. Thoughts?

+ Ioannes Episcopus Roffensis said...

Perhaps Father is referring to the Institut du Bon Pasteur (the Institute of the Good Shepherd) which only exists in France, and left the SSPX to reconcile with Holy Mother Church in 2006?

Son of Trypho said...


Again - an obscure group who are not representative of the traditional communities as laid out by Terra.

My own thinking, as I noted previously, leads me to think that he thought all people involved in traditional communities, whatever their circumstances, were outside of the Church and SP changed this recently.

Would come as a shock to some of the folks at Lewisham I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Given that most people have no idea about the status of the Traditional Mass, is it any wonder that a priest may (either deliberately or innocently) represent the status of certain traditionalist groups?

Just the other day, I heard with my own ears a very orthodox layperson of one of the very orthodox streams of spirituality (it will remain nameless) refer to the pre-Vatican II Mass as being something that we no longer do.

Oh, dear, it was a teaching moment. But surely the hierarchy of the church even in the liturgical backwaters of Australia should say a little bit more that their pitiful and woeful effort of the ACBC on the release of Summorum Pontificum.

Terra said...

Anon - please, give yourself a moniker!

Son of Trypho said...


Either of the two options (innocent or deliberate) aren't flattering for the priest involved. If he didn't know, then how much does he know about the Church and what is going on generally? Similarly, if he though the Tridentine communities were outside of the Church, what level of confidence would you have in his theology and capacity for spiritual guidance?
If it was dishonest - well that speaks for itself.

aussie_oi said...

There are various types of schismatic groups including SSPX and SSPV.

Some bishops and priests in these groups reject the teachings of V2 on religious liberty and other issues and so it is not just a matter of the TLM - if that were so they would have fully reconciled to the mother church - see:

+ Ioannes Episcopus Roffensis said...

Son of Trypho,

My comment was tongue-in-cheek! One of my failings is a frequent recourse to sarcasm. I should have put a "sarc" tag on it!

Te Deum Laudimus, and felicitations on your return to the Church. I returned several years ago, against the wishes of my family. That issue was resolved, however, when my parents knelt for the Canon at a TLM.

Anyway, I think that the good father was, as you suggested,l umping all traditionalists in with the SSPX. To be fair, he's probably not interested in the old liturgy, except insofar as it can be used as a weapon against "conservatives". He probably saw all who attended at a "Tridentine" Mass as schismatics, even though many have struggled for years to remain faithful to both Tradition and the Magesterium.

Patience is a virtue. These silly old heretical farts will be called to God sooner, rather than later. "Sucissa Vireseit" is the motto of "Creative Minority Report" - "Pruned, it grows". Cutting away the diseased branches is the way to ensure the future health of the Church.

Son of Trypho said...

Thanks +Ioannes - I assumed (much as I was by referring to Papa Stronsay) that your posting was a little tongue in cheek. :)

Son of Trypho said...


Another update! Cooees have run a post about Fr Dresser and his musings on another blog.

Disturbingly, he also draws a parallel with the Tridentine communities and the St Marys Brisbane group.

This stuff needs to be protested strongly by Trad-minded groups/communities/bloggers because the parallel is completely incorrect and the danger exists that it will stick as a valid excuse/pretense for excesses.

Terra said...

SofT - Protesting anything over at Acatholica is pretty much a waste of breath I think!

I admire the Cooees' fortitude in venturing into that den of heresiacs, but personally I find it is best avoided....

Peter said...


I implore you to eschew the usage of tradionalIST and ISM.

There is tradition and an attachment to tradition. Tradition is intrinsic to the church. (I'm a supporter of the restoration of the extraordinary form and other traditional usages).

It is a convenient and tempting usage but I think ultimately it doesn't serve the 'movement' well.


Son of Trypho said...

I'm not sure (and its unclear) but it appears that Fr Mick may have responded to this on CathNews.

He has asked the moderator that anonymous (presumably he actually means pseudonymous?) posters be made to identify themselves under real names, and has taken a swipe at conservatives by claiming that they have sinned against the 8th Commandment (borne false witness).

Have a look for yourself and see what you think.
(I don't mind if you don't post this or not based on your conclusion.)

Terra said...

SofT - I don't see it as a response to this since

(1) I haven't posted on Cath News under my own or any other name, so asking for disclosure of names won't impact on me and

(2) I (and I'd note most of the non-liberal respondents on Cath News) have not embarked on ad hominem attacks, but stuck to analysing the issues!

I'm not really sure what disclosing names of commenters really achieves. I assume the hope is that some people would temper their remarks, but I haven't seen much evidence for that proposition on the net generally! In some cases I'm sure I and others would be entertained to know who the person really was - but in most cases I assume I (and Fr MacAndrew) simply wouldn't know them.

But that is a debate for cath news to have...

Terra said...

PS Having now read through the comments on the two recent items on Cath News, I note that Fr MacAndrew has not only embarked on distortion of the facts, as this post outlines, but also embarked on what sounds awfully like vitriol of his own to me at least, talking about 'thugs' in the comment box, and in relation to attempts at action by the laity in his diocese (parish?).

I'm very curious now about what the 'many ways of staying faithful to the Church in the matter of liturgy but at the same time, providing all that a community of St Mary's says it provides for its people' that he suggests is possible (and presumably practiced in his own parish) are.

And I wonder if his Archbishop has visited there of late?

Has anyone been to Bombala of late?