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In today’s post we go back to a more general theme. We will speak about “The Margins”. The reason we are looking to the “The Margins” is that it appears that this is where all the action is at present. But these “Margins” to which I am referring, encompass a much wider definition then the one used by the present bishop of Rome. Therefore, a short introduction is in order.
I will come at the above “Margins” from the point of view of an economist. The reason being that if one were to define what an economist does, one could easily say that an economist studies “choices which people make”. The reason why the economist studies “choices” is that by definition, a human being (the classical homo-economicus) can be defined as: one with unlimited needs that need to be satisfied with limited resources. Therefore the manner in which the said individual makes the choices to satisfy these needs, given the constraints placed on him by the limited resources, is information which is very beneficial to possess for a whole host of reasons. Hence, economists study this aspect of the human condition.
Next, given the above, what becomes quite self evident is that when economists study “choices individuals make“, what they are doing is in fact studying those choices made “at the margin”. To provide an example of just this, think about a situation where the homo-economicus is thirsty. He will incur the cost of the first bottle of beer which will satisfy his thirst. Yet once his thirst is satisfied, he might not purchase the second bottle since this purchase would use up some of the limited resources that he has at this disposal. Say he is also hungry, therefore he might use some of the remaining resources to purchase a hamburger instead. So from the above example, one can easily see that what is important is not so much the individual’s purchases but rather the choices (trade-off) that this individual makes at the margin or border, i.e. at “The Margins”.
And finally, the actions which individuals make at “The Margins” do not have to be made on the basis of strictly economic considerations. They can be made for purposes other considerations. For example, an individual is faced with a choice of a steam room or a sauna. The individual needs to make this trade-off since he cannot be in the same place at the same time. Therefore, a wider definition of value, wider than a monetary value (an economist would use the term “utility”) is used.
Which brings us to the subject of this post. In several of our previous posts we looked at specific incidents, i.e. PHENOMENA (see here and here) which your humble blogger identified as SIGNIFICANT “events”. SIGNIFICANT as in the “statistically significant” sense of the word, meaning that these “events” could not have been caused by random factors. These SIGNIFICANT “events” contain embedded “trade-offs” which the respective parties needed to make. These “trade-offs” were made at The Margins.
One of the “events” which I am referring to is the revelations of a conversation which Bishop Bernard Fellay had with the bishop of Rome, Francis. In the information provided to the general public, Bishop Fellay provided the following information:
You know, I have quite a lot of problems with you; people make it difficult for me because I am nice to you, but to those people I say: listen, I embrace Patriarch Kirill, I do good to the Anglicans, I do good to the Protestants, I don’t see why I can’t do good to these Catholics.” That is how he explained it. He also said: “If I have problems, you have problems too, and therefore we must not push, we must not create more divisions, therefore we will take our time.”
In this passage above, we see a clear “trade-off” which Francis is making. On the one hand, he is obtaining “utility” from “being nice” to the SSPX, knowing that the cost of his “niceness” will be the “problems” he will have for being nice to the SSPX.
Therefore, what Francis is in fact saying is that he obtains more “utility” (more value) from his “niceness” to the SSPX than the cost incurred for being nice to the SSPX.
In a similar manner one can view the next example of a “trade-off” being made by Archbishop Pozzo, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission is in the following passage:
In what concerns the Second Vatican Council, the course taken in the meetings of the last years has led to an important clarification: the Second Vatican Council can be sufficiently understood only within the context of the entire Tradition of the Church and its constant magisterium,”
In this passage, the “trade-off” which Archbishop Pozzo is making is between the “utility” which he is gaining from understanding VII only within the context of the entire Tradition of the Church and its constant magisterium (note the collectively exhaustive statement) is higher than the “cost” incurred by limiting himself to understanding VII only within the context of the entire Tradition of the Church and its constant magisterium. In other words, discarding the “hermeneutic of rupture” and with it the Bologna school completely.
Which brings me to the “cost” side of the above two examples. If you recall dear reader, the “cost”of “being nice” to the SSPX or admitting that the Universal Magisterium and Tradition are the “only” valid interpretations of VII, appears to have decreased.
And it has decreased significantly!
If we recall, the “cost” that Benedict bore for being “nice to the SSPX” was his “forced” abdication. Let’s refresh our collective memory of what the situation looked like during the Benedict pontificate Anno Domini 2012:
However, negotiations between SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay and the Vatican broke down in June 2012.
In April 2012, Tofari said, “Bishop Fellay submitted a doctrinal declaration, going as far as possible in the expression of the faith to reach an agreement. He warned them, ‘If you change one word in this doctrinal declaration, we can’t sign. Not one word.’”
However, Pope Benedict intervened and ordered a revision to the text, making clear that the SSPX had to accept the full validity of all of the Second Vatican Council’s documents, including the texts on religious freedom and human rights that the SSPX rejects as theological “errors,” and the legitimacy and validity of the ordinary form of the Mass.
Here is how this episode ended: (see here)
On June 13, 2012, what seemed to be a meeting that would set the path for such reconciliation, following the acceptance by the Vatican of the negotiated Doctrinal Preamble, ended in flames as Bp. Fellay and his assistant met a Vatican side that suddenly came up with new demands – more stringent even than those contained in the May 5, 1988 Protocol. Why would the side that always has the upper hand in any Catholic discussion – that is, Rome – do this, that is, raise new stakes near the end if not from an interest to derail any agreement? Who in the Vatican forced the Supreme Authority’s hand at the eleventh hour? Why?
Well, we more or less know why.
What were the motives for this about-face that was sudden and that was incongruous with the attitude adopted by Benedict XVI for so many years? Undoubtedly, the influence of certain heads of dicasteries strongly opposed to this recognition, as well as specific diplomatic pressures, had their influence on the inclination of the pope.
And to finish this story, the brother of Benedict XVI stated that the negotiations with the SSPX was one of the two main reasons (the other being Vati-Leaks) which served as the ROOT CAUSE behind his abdication. (see here)
Yet circa Anno Domini 2015, the present bishop of Rome gave the SSPX jurisdiction to hear confession. And circa 2016, a high ranking cleric from “one of the dicasteries” – Archbishop Pozzo, the Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission (CDF)- whose Head “strongly opposed this recognition”, now puts out into the public domain the following position:
The difficulties raised by the SSPX regarding questions of Church-State relations and religious liberty, the practice of ecumenism and dialogue with non-Christian religions, certain aspects of liturgical reform and their concrete application, remain objects of discussion and clarification,” Archbishop Pozzo added, “but do not constitute an obstacle to the SSPX’s canonical and juridical recognition.” The SSPX is asked “to accept that the magisterium of the Church is the only one to whom is confided the deposit of the faith to be guarded, defended and interpreted.” “I believe this clarification can constitute a fixed point for the SSPX.”
So what has changed in the last three short years?
I will leave you with this thought for the time being and pick up tomorrow.
So don’t turn that “bat channel”.