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Saturday, January 31, 2009

A non-medical blog post!

OK, a long time coming, but here's something I posted over at the Jewish Forward newspaper, commenting on its understandable, if hyperbolic, editorial regarding the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops:

A fair editorial, but, despite its protestations to the contrary, I think it does boil over into hyperbole. First, all the Pope has done is rescind the excommunication order for the four bishops. Neither they nor their followers have been reconciled to the Catholic Church. More to the point, the decision relates to their consecration as bishops back in 1988--it has nothing to do with or say about their behaviors or commentary since.

Second, and the appalling Holocaust-denier Williamson has been unequivocally condemned by the head of the SSPX and its German branch for his comments on the Holocaust: [The link to the statement in German is there.] Yes, it is long, long overdue, and I have no doubt that it was the result of pressure, but there it is. Also, the fact that it finally came should be a sign of hope should the SSPX be reconciled.

Third, should that reconciliation come, the SSPX will have to embrace Nostra Aetate and the discipline of the Church, which will purify it of the Williamson mentalities which are admittedly present within the SSPX. Leaving them outside the Church will permit them to roll about the deck like the proverbial loose cannon. That is a grim problem especially when you consider that in France more people attend SSPX Masses every Sunday than attend Masses in communion with the Church.

Finally, the hyperbole about “traditional Catholic practices” straining Catholic-Jewish relations is a bit disturbing to me as a tradition-minded Catholic. John Allen also correctly noted that in this context that “the vast majority of ordinary Catholics attracted to the Latin Mass, or who harbor reservations about doctrinal innovations in the church, are neither bigots nor crackpots.” To hint otherwise does the editorial no credit and itself contributes to a climate of suspicion and distrust.

We need to sit down, take a deep breath and talk to each other, and not just through the preferred media of familiar, good-hearted figures like Fr. Pawlikowski, who while they constitute established figures of dialogue, do not represent the Church as a whole, nor are they necessarily expert in nor familiar with all of the issues involved.

This isn’t the Apocalypse, nor even an apocalypse, in Catholic-Jewish relations. Let us reason together.

As an addendum, I think everybody in media would be better served if they avoided the Rolodex approach to talking Catholic issues. This is a virtual virus, the lazy decision to consult with the same comfortable figures time and again with respect, which is officially known as McBrien-Reese Syndrome.

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Be reasonably civil. Ire alloyed with reason is fine. But slagging the host gets you the banhammer.