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Some thoughts in response to the claim that,
“…for months now we’ve heard how faithful Catholics, looking for clarification from the See of Peter, are schismatics, or an “rad-trads”, an insignificant minority of nobodies… a fringe that isn’t worth responding.”
And, in general, to all related topics.
To be clear, it is not the asking of questions that is labelled “radical traditionalist”, “schismatic”, or an “insignificant minority fringe”. Neither is it faithful Catholics…
The only people being called schismatic are schismatic. Causing division in the church is schism. Promoting it is schismatic. Being a member of a schismatic sect,¹ like the SSPX, is schismatic. Granted, they are in real but imperfect communion, like Protestants, or Old Catholics, or Anglicans – being in schism does not mean completely cut out of the Church of Christ as some seem to think – but when you actively divide the church, that is schism. Call a spade a spade.
The voices that proclaim the pope a heretic *are* a radical fringe. Not of “nobodies”, but then nobody said that they were. It is not, however, a mainstream Catholic view. It is not even a view that can be labelled “conservative” or “traditional” or “orthodox”. It would be a disservice to many faithful Catholics who identify themselves as any of these things to lump them in with the small number of folks so accusing the pope.
For most Catholics, Pope Francis is the first in decades actually speaking a language they find very clear. John Paul II was great with imagery, with stage presence, but his writing was dense, everything wrapped up in layers of personalism or phenomenology. Benedict was brilliant, and as a theologian I loved how much more clear he was than JPII, but it was not the language of most Catholics.
Francis speaks to most Catholics, and has the greatest clarity of the set. The only “confusion” has been created not by him, but by his critics, or perhaps by their rather poor formation either in the development of doctrine, the hierarchy of truths, or moral theology in general. Certainly in ecclesiology.
In fact, it is precisely the idea that we must be open enough to dialogue, to engage a variety of traditions, and even to accept that there is not always a centralized, universal answer to everything that is the hallmark of not only Francis, but the broad swath of faithful who do not identify with the radical fringes – whether “radical traditionalism” or “radical feminism” or “radical ecology” or whatever.
People critiquing a papal document, or, in the case of AL, a papal-synodal document, is also a hallmark of this tradition – of a great Catholic tradition of dialogue, of the great both/and – rather than that of fundamentalism. But, the question is, how do you tolerate the intolerant, or dialogue with those who refuse dialogue?
If there are any honest critics of Pope Francis, let them disassociate themselves from the radical fringe of sedevecantism, SSPX, or calling the pope a heretic. Let them disassociate from deliberately dishonest media like Church Militant or LifeSite News, who seemingly exist only to agitate against the Church, under false pretenses, like wolves in sheep’s clothing.
For St. Peter’s sake, let them stop hammering on about the dubia. In what papacy has anyone ever demanded the pope answer dubia? At what time has anyone, with any other pope, been so arrogant as to think they had the right to do so? For that matter, it has barely been a year since the dubia were submitted – when was the last time anyone in the Vatican answered dubia in less time than that? The lack of respect for the bishop of Rome is breathtaking.
It is one thing to say, “this is unclear” or “I do not understand this”, another to say, “because this is unclear, only the pope can clarify it, and he must do so on my timetable” or “because i do not understand, it must be heresy”.
It is one thing to ask questions, engage in debate, and have dialogue – it is something else to foment discord, deliberately spread confusion, encourage disrespect of the magisterium, and threaten to divide the Church.
“Faithful Catholics” do not do these things.
¹Sect: a religious group that has [recently] separated from a larger religion and is considered to have extreme or unusual beliefs or customs. (Cambridge English Dictionary)
The sect is a more exclusive and ascetic group characterized by separatism from the world and often defiance of it, exclusiveness in social composition and in attitude, emphasis upon a conversion experience previous to membership, and voluntary election or joining. (Blackwell Dictionary of the Sociology of Religion)
The first priest I knew to be made a bishop was my look-alike Daniel Jenky, CSC from Notre Dame (now Bishop Daniel of Peoria). My first professor to become a bishop was Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon. But this is the first time a Facebook friend has been named a bishop.
Fr. Charles Morerod was instructor of a course I took in my first year on the “Philosophical Elements in the Catholic-Protestant Dialogue”, and has been Rector Magnificus of the Angelicum University for a little over two years. He has doctorates in both philosophy and theology, and serves as the secretary general of the International Theological Commission, as well as teaching at three universities.
News of his appointment leaked via Swiss news radio on 2 November, though the official VIS announcement was made the following day on 3 November.
Though it has since been retracted, it is interesting to note that on the same day, the Society of St. Pius X seemed to indicate its rejection of the doctrinal preamble offered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as a requisite for the restoration of full communion of the schismatic sect with the Catholic Church.
Interesting to note, I say, because Bishop-elect Charles was one of three theologians appointed by the CDF two years ago to engage the SSPX in dialogue in an effort to close the only formal schism that resulted from Vatican II, along with Archbishop Luis Ladaria, Secretary of the CDF and Msgr. Fernando Ocariz, vicar general of Opus Dei. Moreover, his new diocese is the home of the SPPX seminary and the place of its short-lived status as a legitimate Catholic organization (SSPX was a diocesan ‘pius union’, what would now be called an ‘association of the faithful’, from 1970-1975).
But back to the good bishop-to-be. I keep running into him these days at the Angelicum, and he leaves this weekend for his home diocese, where he will be ordained and installed on 11 December. The following seems to portray his humility rather well:
Cari [fratelli e sorelle],
…Io pensavo d’essere nella nostra cara Università fino alla pensione (o alla morte). La lascio con grande tristezza, e timore per quel che trovo davanti a me. Ma non ho pensato di poter dire di no, perché non avevo motivi gravi d’andare contro una richiesta diretta del Santo Padre. “Quando il Papa ha visto i nomi, ha detto che doveva essere Lei. Perché la conosce.”
… Cosa rispondere, lo prendo come ho sempre preso la mia vocazione: umanamente ho paura, ma mi fido della volontà divina che non delude. E vedo bene qualche urgenza pastorale in Svizzera: da questo punto di vista sono felice di poter aiutare un po’.
Sono davvero triste di dover rinunciare al nostro lavoro comune… Cercherò di trovare qualche modo d’aiutare l’Angelicum a distanza. Preghiamo gli uni per gli altri.
My translation, with some help from Google:
Dear brothers and sisters
… I thought to be in our beloved University until retirement (or death). I leave with great sadness, and fear of what I find before me. But I did not think I could say ‘no’, because I had no serious reasons to go against a direct request of the Holy Father. “When the Pope saw the names, he said it had to be you. Because he knows.”
… With that answer, I take it as I have always taken my vocation: As a human, I am afraid, but I trust God will not disappoint. And I can see some pastoral urgency in Switzerland: From this point of view I am happy to help a little. ‘
I am really sad to have to give up our joint work … I will try to find some way of helping the Angelicum from a distance. Let us pray for one another.
Fr. Charles has been a guest at the Lay Centre each year, and one of the main supporters of the the new John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Angelicum in the past year, and of the Russell Berrie Fellowship. He will certainly be missed!
The Angelicum community bids Bishop-elect Charles a fond farewell on Friday, 11 November, with a reception at 12:15.
The official bio:
The Rev.do P. Charles Morerod, OP, was born in Riaz (diocese of Lausanne, Genève et Fribourg) October 28, 1961. He studied philosophy and theology at the Faculty of Theology, University of Fribourg, concluding with a degree in Theology. In 1983 he entered the novitiate of the Order of Friars Preachers Swiss province and has made his vows in 1987.
He was ordained April 30, 1988 in Geneva.
From 1987 to 1989 he served in pastoral ministry, first as a deacon and then as viassociate pastor of the parish of St. Paul in Geneva. From 1989 to 1992 he was Assistant at the Faculty of Theology, University of Fribourg from 1991 to 1994 and chaplain of the University of Fribourg. In 1993 he received his doctorate in theology and a licentiate in philosophy in 1996.
From 1994 to 1999 he was adjunct professor of Fundamental Theology at the University of Fribourg and since 1996 professor at the Pontifical University of St.Thomas Aquinas. Since 1997 he is editor of the edition in French of Nova et Vetera Magazine.
In 1999 he became full-time professor at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. From 1999 to 2002 he also taught at the Faculty of Theology of Lugano. He was Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Theology from 2003 to 2009 and Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. In 2004 he obtained his doctorate in philosophy at the Catholic Institute of Toulouse. Since 2008 he is also Director of the Roman Catholic Studies Program at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minn.).
In April 2009 he was appointed Secretary General of the International Theological Commission and Consultant of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in September 2009, also Rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.