Even on the issue of the Second Vatican Council, I think that the SSPX must reflect on the distinction ...between the authentic mens of Vatican II, its intentio docendi, as shown by the official Acts of the Council, and that I would call the "para-council", i.e., the set of theological guidelines and practical attitudes which accompanied the course of the Council itself, then pretending to cover themselves with its name, and that the public, thanks to the influence of the media, overlapped often as the true thought of the Council. (An SSPX-er might rightly counter that it is precisely the fruit of the Council which could call into question the intention docendi of the Council. How is it that the implementation of the Council has been so sorely skewed if not for the content of the Council's teaching having something to do with providing the means by which perceptions were skewed and permissions given to seriously wayward (abusive) trends? A response to that concern might be that the detestable situation in which Catholics find themselves is due precisely to the avoidance of the actual content of the Council and the elevation, instead, of exceptions lauded by the 'para-council' as Archbishop Pozza has mentioned or the media-council as Pope Benedict labelled it. Exceptions which, to many people's minds, could be augmented and extended to undermine the authentic trajectory envisioned by the Council Fathers.)
What appears crucial is to find a full convergence on what is required to be in full communion with the Apostolic See, namely the integrity of the Catholic Creed, the bond of the sacraments and the acceptance of the Supreme Magisterium of the Church. The Magisterium, which is not above the Word of God written and transmitted, but serves it, is the authentic interpreter also of previous texts of the Magisterium, including those of the Second Vatican Council, in the light of the perennial Tradition, which develops in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, not with a novelty contrary (which would deny Catholic dogma), but with a better understanding of the Deposit of Faith, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and in the same judgment (in eodem scilicet dogmate, eodem sensu et eademque sententia, cf. Vatican Council I, Const. Dogm. Dei Filius, 4). I believe that on these points the agreement with the SSPX is not only possible, but necessary. (The SSPX, perhaps not in the manner they imagine, are providing a necessary corrective to distortions of the Council. Other than Archbishop Pozzo, is anyone else on our side taking notice?)
I do not think that the SSPX has denied a doctrine of faith or the truth of the Catholic doctrine taught by the Magisterium. The criticisms concern instead statements or claims regarding the renewed pastoral care and ecumenical relations with other religions, and some issues of prudential order in the relationship between Church and society, Church and State. On liturgical reform, I will only mention a statement that Archbishop Lefebvre wrote to Pope John Paul II in a letter dated March 8, 1980:
"About the Mass of the Novus Ordo, despite all the reservations that one has to do about it, I never claimed that it is invalid or heretical."
Therefore the reservations about the rite of the Novus Ordo, which are obviously not to be underestimated (because experience has taught us that the manner in which the Ordinary Form is celebrated may confirm serious deficiencies that may be related to content and most likely to the rubrics or lack thereof), do not refer either to the validity of the celebration of the sacrament nor the line of the Catholic Faith. It would therefore be appropriate to continue the discussion and clarification of these reservations. (Indeed!)
I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the latter, through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers was conducted within the faith – it was a Council of faith seeking intellectus, seeking to understand itself and seeking to understand the signs of God at that time, seeking to respond to the challenge of God at that time and to find in the word of God a word for today and tomorrow – while all the Council, as I said, moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of the journalists, naturally, was not conducted within the faith, but within the categories of today's media, namely apart from faith, with a different hermeneutic. It was a political hermeneutic: for the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different trends in the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world. There were those who sought the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression "People of God", power for the people, the laity. There was this threefold question: the power of the Pope, which was then transferred to the power of the bishops and the power of all – popular sovereignty. Naturally, for them, this was the part to be approved, to be promulgated, to be favoured. So too with the liturgy: there was no interest in liturgy as an act of faith, but as something where comprehensible things are done, a matter of community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a tendency, not without a certain historical basis, to say: sacrality is a pagan thing, perhaps also a thing of the Old Testament. In the New Testament it matters only that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, in the profane world. Sacrality must therefore be abolished, and profanity now spreads to worship: worship is no longer worship, but a community act, with communal participation: participation understood as activity. These translations, trivializations of the idea of the Council, were virulent in the process of putting the liturgical reform into practice; they were born from a vision of the Council detached from its proper key, that of faith. And the same applies to the question of Scripture: Scripture is a book, it is historical, to be treated historically and only historically, and so on.We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real force of the Council was present and, slowly but surely, established itself more and more and became the true force which is also the true reform, the true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force. And it is our task, especially in this Year of Faith, on the basis of this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, be accomplished and the Church be truly renewed. Let us hope that that the Lord will assist us. (Too many misguided laymen and bishops cling to the "media council" and thus resist the action of the Holy Spirit!) I myself, secluded in prayer, will always be with you and together let us go forward with the Lord in the certainty that the Lord will conquer. Thank you!
Paul VI Audience Hall | Thursday, 14 February 2013