Bishop Fellay Again On Assisi III
I have already written a blog post about Bishop Fellay’s intervention in favour of Summorum Pontificum.
In the same interview, he deals with Assisi III and this is probably worth of separate consideration.
Bishop Fellay points out to the following problems:
1) That Pope Benedict heavily criticises relativism in religious matters (and rightly so, of course) but indirectly promotes the same relativism by starting the Assisi 2011 initiative.
2) That Pope Benedict is now celebrating an initiative which he himself clearly boycotted in 1986.
3) That in his idea that it be impossible for Catholic and non-Catholics to pray together, but that it be possible for them to gather together as members of different religious affiliations he is “splitting hairs”.
I find his criticism perfectly right on all points and whilst we will have to wait to see how Pope Benedict organises and shapes this meeting (that is: how he limits the damage that he has already done, the bomb of “interreligious gathering” being one which always causes a powerful explosion however orthodox your intentions), it is interesting to note that Bishop Fellay makes a supreme effort of explicate the inexplicable and theorises a desire to counteract the recent spate of persecutions as the real motive of this initiative.
Personally, I cannot see this as a real motive. Christians have always been persecuted and they always will; to water down the Christian message and to try to appease the persecutors will in my eyes only have the effect of increasing their aggressiveness. You just don’t fight religious intolerance by watering down the Christian message.
If you ask me, I can only see one – or all – of these three motives:
1) Pope Benedict wants to re-make in the right way what Pope John Paul once made in the wrong way, thus erasing as far as possible the bad memory of Assisi I and II with a theologically impeccable Assisi III. This seems to me a bit like trying to make dung smell good but one can – with a stretch of the imagination – understand the logic.
2) Pope Benedict thinks that conservative Catholics are becoming too cocky (utter and complete dominance on the Internet; vast support among young clergy; resurgence of the popularity of old, once forgotten or ignored heroes like Pius XII and Fulton Sheen) and wants to help the “other side” a bit. The beatification of JP II before the beatification of Pius XII, the oh-so-liberal sounding convocation of Assisi III and, perhaps, a restrictive interpretation of the scope of Summorum Pontificum would all be parts of the same thinking.
3) Pope Benedict is simply trying (in the wrong way, if you ask me) to promote the JP II brand as he sees in it a powerful instrument of evangelisation. Again, one understands the logic. I just wonder why he would allow himself to be persuaded to pick the most controversial of JPII’s many controversial inititatives to do so. It seems to me a bit like promoting Bill Clinton’s presidency by remembering the Lewinsky affair.
We’ll have to wait and see how all this pans out. In the meantime, I allow myself the comment that Pope Pius XII would have never dreamt of an initiative like Assisi (whatever numeral you may put to it); that Fulton Sheen would have never dreamt of encouraging interreligious gatherings of any sort, but exclusively Catholic gatherings of every sort; and that Padre Pio would have never dreamt of the necessity of a Novus Ordo mass, however “reformed after the reform” it may be.
In recent months, Pope Benedict seems to have been skating on rather thin ice. More the reason to pray for him.
Posted on February 20, 2011, in Catholicism, FSSPX and tagged Assisi, Assisi 2011, Assisi gathering, Assisi III, Bishop Fellay, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christian, Conservative Catholic, conservative catholicism, Mass of Paul VI, Novus ordo Mass, Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, SSPX, Summorum Pontificum. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
My guess is that the Pope’s reasoning mostly lies within your first and third proposal. I have a hard time believing that his motivations lie in attempting to humble conservative and traditionalist Catholics. Besides the fact that this would be attributing to him, in my mind, a malicious intent quite out of character for a very mild man, it also means he would be punishing his biggest backers. I think the Pope is smarter than to bite the hand that feeds him.
I wouldn;t say that he wants to punish the traddies; merely provide for som eequilibrium in consideration of their dominance. I haven’t construed it as being malicious or having any punishing intent. Still, he is Pope and therefore does not need to be fed by any hand (other than God’s). Whatever he does in the rest of his pontificate (and I truly hope it will not be a drift on the liberal side) we’ll have to live with it and pray that the damage may be contained.
As a rule, I must say that his inactivity face the boycott of Summorum Pontificum from most bishops and his very moderate appointments abundantly show that this is no Pius X, though it could have been much worse..