WEDNESDAY
February 27, 2002
volume 13, no. 38

A Tale of Two Schisms
part two of two


by Christopher A. Ferrara

One schism is illusory, and harms no one, while the other is quite real and deadly. Guess which one the neo-Catholics condemn?

      "There are people who in the face of the difficulties or because they consider that the first ecumenical endeavors have brought negative results would have liked to turn back. Some even express the opinion that these efforts are harmful to the cause of the Gospel, are leading to a further rupture in the Church, are causing confusion of ideas in questions of faith and morals and are ending up with a specific indifferentism. It is perhaps a good thing that the spokesmen for these opinions should express their fears." Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis
        The following is provided courtesy of Michael J. Matt, editor of The Remnant and gives more meaning to the confusion resulting from the Campos Compromise last month. Chris asks Neo-Catholics (conservatives) to consider what really is schism and which group are they persecuting more. Is it a group that remains filially obedient to the Primacy of Peter or is a group that has totally rejected the Holy See of Rome. The former is the Society of Saint Pius X, while the latter is the Chinese Patriotic Catholic church. Yet, even with Ecclesia Dei, neo-Catholics still persist in accusing those who uphold the ideals of SSPX while ignoring the rebellion of a group that is truly schismatic.

The Neo-Catholic Double Standard

    Now, what was the reaction of the neo-Catholic establishment to news of the CPA’s five illicit episcopal consecrations on January 6, 2000? According to Zenit news agency, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls “criticized Beijing's decision, expressing ‘surprise’ and ‘disappointment,’ and stating that ‘this gesture will raise obstacles that certainly hinder the process’ of normalization of relations between the Vatican and China.” Surprise and disappointment! A hindering of the process of normalization! But no declared penalty of excommunication. No declaration of schism. Not even a statement to the faithful in China that, as Pius XII warned even before the CPA condoned forced abortion, the CPA has the aim of “making Catholics gradually embrace the tenets of atheistic materialism, by which God Himself is denied and religious principles are rejected.” Indeed, that is precisely why the “underground” Catholics in China, following the example of Cardinal Kung, have endured fierce persecution rather than join the CPA.

    Ironically enough, the ecclesiastical public law reflected in Canon 1381, under which Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops were punished, originated with the pre-conciliar Holy Office’s announcement in 1957 of a latae sententiae excommunication for illicit consecrations in Communist China. That is, the penalty envisioned by Canon 1381 arose to address communist interference with the Apostolic Succession. 5. The decidedly neo-Catholic commentary on Canon 1382 by the Canon Law by the Canon Law Society of America (CLSA), dishonestly suggests that Canon 1382 was “perhaps” enacted as the result of the “increasingly intense Holy See-Archbishop Lefebvre conflict in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” This is a complete fabrication of canonical legislative history, since there was not the slightest suggestion at that time that Lefebvre would consecrate bishops some eight or nine years later. Clearly, Canon 1382 was carried over from the 1957 Holy Office penalty directed at communist-controlled episcopal consecrations. In typical neo-Catholic fashion, a footnote to the commentary argues that there could be an exemption from the penalty in the case of the Chinese consecrations due to “extreme governmental pressure.” That is, the CLSA is willing to give communist schismatics the benefit of the doubt, but not Archbishop Lefebvre. But far from declaring the excommunication or schism of the CPA bishops, the Vatican apparatus has assiduously courted them, to the applause of the neo-Catholic gallery. In September of 2000, some nine months after the five illicit consecrations, Cardinal (“Spirit of Assisi, come upon us all!”) Etchegaray went to China to attend a conference on “Religions and Peace” - which is akin to attending an Herbalife rally on death row. During his trip Etchegaray was shuttled around by CPA bishops, while being denied access to underground bishops loyal to Rome. CWNews.com (another neo-Catholic organ) favorably reported Etchegaray’s remark that “Basically it is a question of one Church, and one common faith, trying bit by bit to overcome the unhappy separation into ‘underground’ and ‘official.’” So, the CPA, which condones abortion, rejects submission to the Pope and denounces his canonization of Chinese martyrs is part of the same Church as the loyal Catholics who have been driven underground because they refused submission to the CPA. To demonstrate this view, the Cardinal celebrated Mass in a Marian shrine the communists stole from the Catholic Church and turned over to the CPA “hierarchy.”

    The Cardinal wished to make it clear, however, that “none of my steps should be interpreted as an approval of the structures of the official [state-approved] church.” (What would give anyone that idea?) Notice the careful hedging: the Cardinal does not approve the structures of the CPA, but as for the adherents of the CPA, Etchegaray clearly rejected the notion that they are schismatics: “The fact that I recognized the fidelity to the Pope of the Catholics of the official church [i.e., the CPA] can in no way diminish my recognition of the heroic fidelity of the silent Church.” Let us see if we can make sense of this remark: The adherents of an organization whose very constitution rejects submission to the Pope and which condones forced abortion are faithful to the Pope! Ah, but the underground Catholics, you see, have heroic fidelity to the Pope because they suffer persecution¾for refusing to join the faithful Catholics of the CPA. It seems we have reached a new height of post-conciliar absurdity.

    Well, what about the five illicit episcopal consecrations the previous January? According to Etchegaray “This is a very serious fact that affects ecclesiology. If it is repeated, there is a risk of impeding the rapprochement among Catholics.” A risk of “impeding rapprochement” if it is repeated? Well, it has been repeated - a hundred times! Etchegaray added: “I had the opportunity to say it clearly to the official bishops of Beijing and Nanjing. The question of the ordination of bishops is a crucial point for the Church and state; it can neither be avoided nor easily resolved, given the differences and points of view. However, history shows that reasonable solutions can be found in all political climates.” So, when it comes to the illicit consecration of abortion-condoning communist puppets, “reasonable solutions can be found in all political climates.” But as for Archbishop Lefebvre, it took the Vatican only 48 hours to cast him and all his supporters into outer darkness, while warning the faithful to have nothing to do with him or his Society. [editor's emphasis]

    Is Cardinal Etchegaray just a lone wolf in this matter? Not at all. The Kung Foundation notes that Cardinal Tomko, one of the Pope’s closest advisors, has been quoted as saying that the “ ‘two groups in the Church in China’ (the underground Roman Catholic Church and the Patriotic Association) are ‘not two Churches because we are all one Church,’ and that the ‘true enemy’ of the Church is ‘not inside the Church but outside the Church.’” 6. Kung Foundation online newsletter, July 2001. Far more telling is the Kung Foundation’s Open Letter of March 28, 2000, addressed to Cardinal Sodano, Archbishop Re, Cardinal Ratzinger and other members of the Vatican apparatus, which notes that CPA priests have been trained in American seminaries, given faculties in American parishes with Vatican approval (according to Archbishop Levada and other American prelates) and are being supported by Catholic charities, while loyal seminarians and priests of the underground Church receive no support. The Vatican’s answer to the Open Letter has been a resounding silence.

    Here it must be noted that John Paul II has at least attempted to distance himself from the neo-Catholic establishment and the Vatican apparatus in this matter. For example, in his speech to Chinese Catholics on December 3, 1996 the Holy Father declared that “today too all Chinese Catholics are called to remain loyal to the faith received and passed on, and not to yield to models of a Church which do not correspond to the will of the Lord Jesus, to the Catholic faith, or to the feelings and convictions of the great majority of Chinese Catholics. From these models would come a division capable only of causing confusion, to the detriment both of the faith itself and of the contribution which the faithful can make to their homeland as instruments of peace and social progress.”

    But this statement is rather mild compared to the condemnations by Pius XII long before the CPA’s promotion of forced abortion. And John Paul’s statement was only undermined by his utterly appalling apology to China on October 24, 2001, which praises the communist regime’s “important objectives in the field of social progress” and even states that “The Catholic Church for her part regards with respect this impressive thrust and far-sighted planning. The Church has very much at heart the values and objectives which are of primary importance also to modern China: solidarity, peace, social justice, the wise management of the phenomenon of globalization, and the civil progress of all peoples.” One can scarcely believe that this tribute to the diabolical Jiang regime came from the mouth of the Supreme Pontiff. In my view, the text is clearly a product of the Vatican Secretariat of State, which doggedly persists in its morally bankrupt Ostpolitik. The Chinese reciprocated this disgusting obsequy by almost immediately moving to crush the loyal underground Catholic diocese of Feng Xiang. According to a Zenit report on November 29, 2001, communist goons “arrested Bishop Lucas Li Jingfeng and his assistant, confined a dozen priests, closed a monastery and two convents, and sent seminarians, monks and nuns home - all in the past month. These faithful are part of an underground Catholic community that refuses to join the state-approved ‘patriotic’ church…. The 81-year-old bishop was taken with his assistant to an unknown locality. They haven’t been heard from, since Nov. 4.” Yet another diplomatic “triumph” for Ostpolitik.

    It is only typical of neo-Catholic thinking that they would find a way to endorse the Vatican’s disgraceful pandering to the CPA. Catholic World News, for example, has adopted the line that adherents of the CPA “while openly loyal to the government association, secretly pledge allegiance to the Pope.” 7. CWN news report, June 20, 2001. CWN seems to have forgotten Our Lord’s teaching about the impossibility of serving two masters. Cardinal Kung spent 30 years in solitary confinement rather than uttering one word dictated to him by his communist persecutors. But it seems the neo-Catholics have come up with a new standard of Catholic fidelity - “secret loyalty” - to go along with all the other absurd novelties they have embraced.

    The parallel between all of this and the duplicity of liberals in the socio-political realm is startlingly precise. Taking the case of Senator Joseph McCarthy as an example, we can recall that the same leftist demagogues who demonized him and coined the epithet “McCarthyism” were at the same time finding ways to excuse the depredations of Mao Tse Tung and Joseph Stalin.

    Today, the neo-Catholics demonize Archbishop Lefebvre and coin the term “Lefebvrism,” while they tell us that CPA members and underground Catholics are both part of the same Church, and that CPA bishops and priests are “secretly” loyal to the Pope. For Catholics of the “extreme Right” in the Church there is uncompromising rigor, fierce denunciation and ostracization, while putative Catholics of the extreme Left are shown every possible indulgence and given every benefit of the doubt¾even where there is no doubt. The parallel could not be more exact.

    This is a tale of two schisms: the one illusory or at best technical, the other very real and very deadly to souls; the one incurred in an effort (however misguided some may think it to be) to defend Catholic Tradition, the other incurred to subject the Catholic Church to communist domination. Sad to say, we are not in the least surprised to see which schism the neo-Catholics condemn, and which they ignore. We have witnessed yet another addition to the mounting legacy of shame neo-Catholicism is heaping to itself.

For the first part of this article, see part one

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For previous articles regarding matters that affect the Ecclesia Dei commission, see Archived installments



Wednesday, February 27, 2002
volume 13, no. 38
Exspectans exspectavimus Ecclesia Dei
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