Mar 17, 2009

Fr. Reese on Pope Benedict

Great thoughts from Fr. Tom Reese today in the Washington Post:

In explaining the lifting of the excommunication, I have compared it to a "ceasefire." A ceasefire is not a peace treaty, even less an alliance. It allows for negotiations, it is not the end of negotiations. Whether these negotiations will succeed, is uncertain.

While admitting that the staffing and communication of the decision was flawed, the pope defends the decision itself. "Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church?" "Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?" "Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who 'has something against you' (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation?"

I agree with the pope's analysis of the Williamson crisis. The decision making process was flawed and the roll out of the decision was a disaster. As I said earlier, lifting the excommunication was a prudential decision which the pope had every right to make and it did not mean an endorsement of the views of Williamson or of the Society of St. Pius X.

The one criticism that the pope does not answer in his letter is from those who feel he reaches out to dissenters on the right but not on the left. Could we take the same conciliatory language and apply it to those who reject the church's teaching on birth control, married clergy and women priests? Can there be another commission whose responsibility is to reach out and negotiate with these factions in the church? "Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity?"

I think those are all good points. The larger question would be do those on the left actually seek reconciliation? Perhaps they just throw their hands up in disbelief. It seems that at least some people in the Society of Pius X would be open to working this out.

Read the rest here.

Photo credit to the AP from today's trip to Cameroon.

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