Something “new” in Card. Castrillón’s interview?

In Cardinal Castrillón‘s recent interview in Die Tagespost there was not a great communicated that was new.  However, long time blog participant Henry had another thought.  It is woth reexamining.

Henry wrote in his comment: "It seems to me there may be a new thing or two here. Anybody else spot them?"

He is refering to the final answer of the Cardinal (according to one translation):

ANSWER Please, accept that I reject the term “ecumenism ad intra”. The Bishops, Priests, and Faithful of the Society of St Pius X are not schismatics. It is Archbishop Lefebvre who has undertaken an illicit Episcopal consecration and therefore performed a schismatic act. It is for this reason that the Bishops consecrated by him have been suspended and excommunicated. The priests and faithful of the Society have not been excommunicated. They are not heretics. I do, however, share St Jerome’s fear that heresy leads to schism and vice versa. The danger of a schism is big, such as a systematic disobedience vis-à-vis the Holy Father or by a denial of his authority. It is after all a service of charity, so that the Priestly Society gains full communion with the Holy Father by acknowledging the sanctity of the new Mass.

On the surface one might think that the "new thing" is the chat about the SSPXers not being schismatics.  This has produced a lot of ridiculous bickering, but it isn’t new.  He has said that elsewhere.

If Henry is on to something, this is perhaps what it is:

It is after all a service of charity, so that the Priestly Society gains full communion with the Holy Father by acknowledging the sanctity of the new Mass.

First, this was an answer to a question about the Indult being an act of ecumenism ad intra.  So, it was a question about the INDULT.  That means that the "it" the Cardinal is talking about has a concrete form and that he assumes "it" is going to happen.  He said: "Es geht um einen Dienst der Nächstenliebe, damit .. gewinnt und … anerkennt."  The language is concrete.

Second, it indicates a (not the) concrete purpose for the INDULT: that the SSPX can come into full communion.  This means that the INDULT must speak about that and provide for it, i.e., there must be some way to receive them.

Third, it would then require something from the SSPXers (e.g., something about the Novus Ordo).   We know that not all the SSPXers will sign off on anything which admits anything positive about any aspect of the Novus Ordo.  Some will refuse, no matter what is offered.  Some will, however, play ball and that will probably require some legislation.  Who knows, … it might require a structure within which they can have full communion.

I am just applying a little critical speculation to the text, of course.

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61 Responses to Something “new” in Card. Castrillón’s interview?

  1. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Father, It would also seem to explain why the French bishops were so hysterical in their opposition to the Indult. It may not just free the old Mass, it may let the camel’s nose (SSPX) under the tent.

  2. Steven says:

    I think this isn’t a correct translation from the German orginal.

    “Es geht um einen Dienst der Nächstenliebe, damit die Priesterbruderschaft die volle Gemeinschaft mit dem Heiligen Vater gewinnt UND die Heiligkeit der neuen Messe anerkennt.”

    “It is after all a service of charity, so that the Priestly Society gains full communion with the Holy Father AND acknowledges the sanctity of the new Mass.”

  3. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Steven, It still seems to link the two things, though, doesn’t it? I agree with your translation, but it almost seems to imply that “It” (the Indult) in itself will bring SSPX into full communion UND the recognition of the sanctity of the new Mass. One possible out for SSPX: if they, or some members at any rate, agree that the new Mass validly confects the Eucharist, then it must necessarily be “holy,” regardless of its many shortcomings.

  4. David says:

    The phrase es geht um doesn’t necessarily need to refer to an “it”. One could perhaps better translate the sentence as “what is at issue here is an act of charity so that the Fraternity gain full communion with the Holy Father and acknowledge the holiness of the new mass.

    So, to my reading, what is referred to is not the forthcoming indult but a requirement of an act of good will on the part of SSPX towards the Holy See and the Novus Ordo.

  5. Leguleius Magnus says:

    My high school German is entirely inadequate for this discussion!

  6. Tony says:

    Just because the sacrament is confected does not necessarily make the RITE holy. All you need for validity is a priest, matter, form, and intention. A black mass can confect the sacrament as well.

  7. RBrown says:

    I wonder whether the would-be Motu Proprio is only concerned with freeing up use of the 1962 Missal as well as certain rites like the OP and OCarm.

    Or does the MP also erect an Ecclesial structure that will absorb the SSPX?

  8. RBrown says:

    Just because the sacrament is confected does not necessarily make the RITE holy. All you need for validity is a priest, matter, form, and intention. A black mass can confect the sacrament as well.
    Comment by Tony

    I didn’t read the interview, but it seems to me that the choice of the word “sanctity” is unfortunate.

  9. David says:

    My understanding of the paragraph is that an act of charity is required of the SSPX in response to the forthcoming Indult whereby the SSPX both declares itself to re-entering full communion with the Holy Father and declares the New Mass to be “holy” (I think what is meant in this context is “valid”).

  10. David says:

    Steven, It still seems to link the two things, though, doesn’t it? I agree with your translation, but it almost seems to imply that “It” (the Indult) in itself will bring SSPX into full communion UND the recognition of the sanctity of the new Mass. One possible out for SSPX: if they, or some members at any rate, agree that the new Mass validly confects the Eucharist, then it must necessarily be “holy,” regardless of its many shortcomings.

    I disagree as my reading (5 years of living in Austria/Germany and studying German-English translation and interpretation) suggests (and the passage isn’t entirely clear) is that the Indult will not in itself bring the SSPX back into full communion but that, rather, the response of the SSPX to the Indult should be 1) a declaration of their desire to be in full communion with the Holy Father and 2) an acknowledgement of the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass.

  11. Leguleius Magnus says:

    David, I agree. My comment was poorly phrased. What I meant was that the Indult itself might not just deal with freeing up the Old Mass, but might provide a means for the reconciliation of SSPX, which would explain the very strong reaction of the French hierarchy. RBrown, there was at least some scuttlebutt in the context of the Indult about Ecclesia Dei working out a juridical structure for SSPX. I think I read that somewhere.

  12. billsykes says:

    Gentlemen:

    One of the things that makes this blog so special, at least for a ‘umble layman like me, is the tone and tenor of the discourse … as of all of the above.

    Thank you.

  13. Leguleius Magnus says:

    I just discovered this blog about a week ago. I agree that it is unusally interesting and informative. By the way, the word translated as “sanctity” is “Heiligheit.” So if we wanted to be slavishly literal, as a nod to Fr. Z, we might say the holiness of the new mass.

  14. Brian Day says:

    What seems to be missing from these discussions is our Orthodox brethren. Several here have speculated that the MP had as much (or more) to do with the Orthodox Church than the SSPX.

    Recall the reports that Patriarch Bartholomew I made an offer to HH BXVI, to which the Pope was favorably disposed. I think that we ignore the Orthodox angle at our own peril.

  15. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Brian, That is a really excellent point, and it would help the Holy Father put the whole traditional rite issue in a wider context.

  16. Charles Robertson says:

    Just because the sacrament is confected does not necessarily make the RITE holy. All you need for validity is a priest, matter, form, and intention. A black mass can confect the sacrament as well.
    Comment by Tony

    I don’t think a black mass can confect the sacrament, since a fallen priest necessarily lacks the intention to to do what the Church intends in the Eucharistic sacrifice, i.e. to give glory to God in an act of worship. Or is simply the intention to confect the sacrament enough? It seems to me that the intent to confect a sacrament in order to commit sacrilege is a serious defect of intention that would invalidate the sacrament. Ergo, Tony’s argument doesn’t apply.

  17. Brian: A good reminder. Just because it deals with the SSPX does not mean that the Orthodox will not be watching.

  18. Timothy Clint says:

    For the ongoing discussion, please allow me to put my thoughts in. Archbishop
    Lefvebre never intimated that the New Mass is invalid or that it lacked holiness.
    There are many priests that I know personally who offer the New Mass with the utmost reverence and with perfect intention. I believe the priests and Masses that he refers to are the clown masses, the Masses inculterated with Buddah, the Call to Action Masses etc. These are all devisive in their portrayal of the Sacrifice of Calvary. You can not lead me to accept that the priest who offer such masses have the right intention. Hence the real problem which the Archbishop warned about. I belive that if the Latin Mass of 1962 had been authentically translated and the “Spirit of Vatican II” had not held such sway over us there would not be the problems we have today.

  19. Brian says:

    “Archbishop Lefvebre never intimated that the New Mass is invalid or that it lacked holiness.”

    This was my impression also. However, does Cardinal Hoyos’ statement indicate that current SSPX leaders may be more strident on this subject? Any current agreement will be with Bp. Fellay, Bp Williamson, et al, not Archbishop Lefebvre.

    Bp. Williamson definitely goes farther in his strident rants, Bp. Fellay refuses to reign in Bp williamson, and that may be the reason for Cardinal Hoyos’ insistence on this point.

  20. Leguleius Magnus says:

    I have certainly seen books and pamphlets that declare the new Mass to be fatally defective. I don’t know whether they come from SSPX. I never paid that much attention to them, frankly.

  21. John Ashley says:

    1. Leguleius Magnus refers to the working out of a juridical structure. Would Cardinal Rode’s appointment to the PCED have something to do with this?
    2. Brian Day refers to the Orthodox question and the Patriarch’s offer to the Pope. In addition, there were meetings with Orthodox representatives in Rome in December.
    3. When Cardinal Castrillon refers to a schism he is clearly referring to a future event. Is he concerned just about the followers of the SSPX bishops or is there also a concern arising from the reaction of some European bishops?

  22. B. says:

    Archbishop Lefvebre never intimated that the New Mass is invalid or that it lacked holiness.

    Unfortunately he did, and more than once. Just one example:
    All these Popes have resisted the union of the Church with the Revolution; it is an adulterous union and from such a union only bastards can come. The rite of the new mass is a bastard rite, the sacraments are bastard sacraments. We no longer know if they are sacraments which give grace or do not give it. The priests coming out of the seminaries are bastard priests, who do not know what they are. They are unaware that they are made to go up to the altar, to offer the sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to give Jesus Christ to souls.
    Archbishop Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Chapter 15: The Marriage of the Church and the Revolution

  23. Could I change topics and leave the SSPX aside for a moment? Here’s another paragraph of the interview:

    It is rather a holy Rite, which the Church has been celebrating for more than a thousand years. … Some [bishops] do not even have priests for their Sunday Masses and they find it difficult to allow Masses for small groups. The Motu Proprio does not mention figures. Some people are afraid of a liturgical split. The Holy Father has already as a member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission made clear that the old Mass is neither bad nor divisive and stands for a multitude of good things.

    It seems to me the sentence I’ve boldfaced lends it a particular sense of concreteness, as a Motu Proprio that actually exists in definitive form.

    Am I correct that the previous drafts have generally mentioned some specific number — perhaps from 30 to 100 — of petitioners required for a Tridentine Mass to enjoy a presumption of approval? I’m thinking, for instance, of the various discussions of the difference between a “private” and a “public” Mass. If these discussions were based on accurate information, then this would suggest a change made in document as it went to the pope.

  24. John Polhamus says:

    Leguleius: I checked with a German speaking friend of mine who agreed with your translation. We both agreed, too, that the sentence seems to refer to the subject under discussion, the indult, rather than to anything required of the SSPX. The indult itself would be the “gesture of Charity” (and justice) and on the part of the Vatican, rather than anything required from the SSPX, which accounts for some of the hysteria of the local French. They would see it as the SSPX getting something for nothing.

    The beginning of the paragraph is also very interesting, in that he explicitly declares that not only the SSPX faithful, and the socitey itself, but also the Bishops, excommunicated though they may be, are not only not heretics, but not “schismatics” either. Does that seem novel to you?

    Taking into account the implications for the Orthodox as well, this document begins to grow and grow in potential. Or am I reading too much into it?

  25. John Ashley says:

    Two further points. Brian says that Bishop Fellay refuses to rein in Bishop Williamson. If that is true I think that the nature of their juridical relationship may explain that in part. From where does the authority of one bishop (other than the bishop of Rome) over another derive?

    Secondly, Bishop Williamson was moved out of the USA to South America. Perhaps this was an attempt to defuse him.

  26. Augustine says:

    Great point, Henry! That’s reassuring.

  27. Henry: I and others dealt with this in another place. That issue of numbers and a Motu Proprio concern the application of the 1988 M.P. Ecclesia Dei adflicta and not a forthcoming document. The context makes it fairly clear what the Cardinal is talking about.

    You are right, however, to remind us of the debate that surrounded the drafts of the upcoming M.P. Would there by an attendance “cap” imposed, beyond which the diocesan bishop’s permission would be necessary? We don’t know for sure, but I am an optimist and am thus inclined to think not. I hope the Holy See will come up with another solution. What? Dunno.

  28. Father Z: Of course you’re right. I’d gone back for a quick second look and jumped right into the middle of a paragraph, thereby missing the context.

  29. Don Juan says:

    Father, why are the SSPX not heretical if they are Integrists (or whatever it is they are re: Vatican II, religious liberty, Church-State relations, etc.)? Or are they? Do you disagree with Cardinal Hoyos on that point? I’d like to hear what you have to say…I’ve been kinda confused on this whole point for a while.

  30. John Polhamus says:

    By the way, can anyone shed any light as to why press secretary Lombardi found it necessary to deny today that letter arrived in the Vatican from the Piedmontese bishops concerning the presidency of the CEI? Are they threatening something, or rumoured to be?

  31. As to the holiness of the two masses, let us look at the fruits of them. Since
    the “Novus Ordo” what have we seen in the Church but massive apostasy of
    Catholics in the millions since the sixties, over 100,000 laicized priests and
    over 300,000 similar nuns leaving their convents, contraception in the millions
    and sterlization everywhere of Catholics and consequent sacrilegious communions, adultery of Catholic divorce with annulments the same as Protestants, closing of churches and schools by the thousands, dissent everywhere in catholic universities, pedophilia unleashed among the bishops and priests, Catholic politicians scandalously voting pro-abortion and violating the sacred Eucharist by the 100’s, etc. etc. None of these rotten fruits of the
    “Novus Ordo” existed before Vatican II with the Tridentine Latin Mass of the Ages. Our Lord
    has the final word on the efficacy of the two masses: “By their fruits you
    will know them!” Rest your case and pray for Benedict XVI to have the fortitude
    of the Holy Spirit to act authoritatively with his “motu proprio” and soon, for
    the flock has been scattered by hierling shepherds for too long! God bless.
    j hughes dunphy

  32. dcs says:

    why are the SSPX not heretical if they are Integrists

    Assuming the SSPX are “Integrists” (a term used by so-called “conservatives” to slam traditionalists) —

    I don’t believe Integrists are heretical. Dietrich von Hildebrand explains that while Integrists sometimes see heresy where there isn’t any, they themselves don’t (necessarily) hold to any heresies. They might be in error, but they are not heretical.

  33. Brian Day says:

    Mr. Dunphy,

    Can you say, “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”?

    I knew you could.

  34. Pedro G. says:

    Simply because it was promulgated by a Pope… yup, those crazy Catholics… always following their Pope, whoever he may be…

  35. Don Juan: “Father, why are the SSPX not heretical if they are Integrists (or whatever it is they are re: Vatican II, religious liberty, Church-State relations, etc.)? Or are they? Do you disagree with Cardinal Hoyos on that point?”

    I am sure some SSPXers are heretics. I am sure that some lefties are heretics too. Heretics abound today. Nothing new there.

    While we shouldn’t shun the word heretic (which actually has a meaning) from some weak-knee P.C. fear of being thought “mean”, neither should we launch it around on all sides for the simple reason that we don’t like another’s position.

    Do I disagree with Card. Castrillón on this? His Eminence did not speak specifically enough for me to get a sense of what we might have to consider when using the term heresy. I agree, however, that we can’t blanket every person associated with the SSPX as heretics. That would be laughably stupid to do.

  36. Words have meaning. According to Fr. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary:

    “Anyone who, after receiving baptism, while remaining nominally a Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts any of the truths that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith is considered a heretic. ….. Objectively, therefore, … one must deny or question a truth that is taught not merely on the authority of the Church but on the word of God revealed in the Scriptures or sacred tradition” – that is, a “truth that the Catholic Church has actually proposed as revealed by God.” [He then discusses the difference between formal (culpable) and merely material heresy.]

    The words “right” and “left” are often used in casual discussions of heresy. Inferring meaning from prevalent usage, I take it that “right” describes those Catholics who accept most or all of the traditional teachings of the Church, while “left” describes those who accept few or none of them.

    As Father Z points out, there is so much heresy around that surely it can be found on both the right and the left. But if two darts are thrown, one at a random group of “righties” and the other at a random group of “lefties”, which dart is more likely to hit a heretic?

  37. Paul Haley says:

    Father, if the SSPX bishops are excommunicants how can their sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Orders and possibly Matrimony, be recognized as valid and would not the priests they have ordained be also excommunicants for accepting the ordination much like the bishops accepted consecration from the archbishop This is all so really confusing to us everyday catholics who simply want to see an end to the separation and a way, a structure for all traditionals to practice their faith in the Traditional Rite. As for the SSPX accepting the modern Rite as holy, with all the abuses attendant to it not everywhere but in far too many places, it seems that this is a non-starter to say the least. I’d very much appreciate your take on these things.

  38. michigancatholic says:

    The one on the left overwhelmingly, Henry, by mathematical probability alone. Right & left as identified by actions:

    1. #SSPX sacraments obtained, statements in the press, books published, professors denying church teaching
    vs.
    2. #instances of acting against church teaching-cardinals down to housewives, divorces, abortions, birth control prescriptions, statements in the press, books published, professors denying church teaching, retreat centers teaching false practices, catholic school teacher convention speakers, you name it–and hey, how about Milingo & the Moonies hanging on for years….how explicit was that before it was resolved (is it resolved?) How about Fr. Rohr and his lovely center in Arizona……Don’t get me started….

    That’s what we see that upsets us. How can this basic lopsidedness be missed? Are people blind?

  39. Brian says:

    “Brian says that Bishop Fellay refuses to rein in Bishop Williamson. If that is true I think that the nature of their juridical relationship may explain that in part. From where does the authority of one bishop (other than the bishop of Rome) over another derive?”

    Bp. Fellay is Superior General of the SSPX. Otherwise, Bp. Fellay and Bp. Williamson would be equal in Canon law; They are both validly but illicitly consecrated bishops.

  40. Andrew says:

    Does the Institute of the Good Sheperd have to acknowledge the new rite as holy? I didn’t think so. I thought the general postion of the SSPX was that the new mass was valid and nothing was specifically heretical – just that it contains many parallels with 16th Century Protestant reformation worship, which is unacceptable.

    And if on the off chance the SSPX were made to say the new mass was “sanctifying” or some word to that effect, would they be co-ercised into saying it, because that would be unfair. You can’t force a priest to say the old mass, so how can anyone argue that bishops must make them say the new? I’m pretty sure the 1986 comission set up by John Paul II concluded that no bishop can force a priest to say the new mass – just that he must offer a valid Catholic rite, of which the Missal of St. Pius V is one.

  41. dcs says:

    Andrew writes:
    I’m pretty sure the 1986 comission set up by John Paul II concluded that no bishop can force a priest to say the new mass

    My understanding is that the Commission of Cardinals found that no priest could be prevented by his bishop from saying the Old Mass. Card. Stickler’s subsequent comments lead me to believe that the Commission meant that any Latin-rite priest could celebrate the Old Mass in private.

  42. michigancatholic says:

    If a priest chooses to celebrate teh Old Mass in private, what exactly does the word “private” mean? Does it mean alone in terms of his person or does it mean not publicized? Can one or more laypersons be present?

  43. Matthew Robinson says:

    How do you all figure the new English translation of the Novus Ordo will fit into all of this? Afterall, it should alleviate most of the more blatant modernist rendering of the New Mass while buttessing the longstanding “Trad” critique even further?

    I personally can’t fathom the Bishops’ conferences accepting the level of “egg on their faces” that the more orthodox translations will bring. What will “six pack Joe” in the pew truly think after he is told the translation of his beloved Mass has been butchered since birth? The new English Novus Ordo carries it’s own bomb shells, for it will indeed be “new” to most people, and people will naturally wonder how the Bishops could have blundered so badly with the original translations.

    Is it just me, or is the Moto Proprio and New English translation a two-pronged attack on the Bishop’s credibility? I can’t see either being implemented without an earth-shaking change taking place concerning the basic assumptions and attitudes of the “official organs” among the Bishops’ conferences.

    Is the Church finally hitting the long-delayed “brick wall” of a disastrous liturgical revolution?

  44. michigancatholic says:

    Matthew,
    Perhaps we’re getting there, but apparently the church is going to have to be dragged, kicking and screaming all the way. NOthing has happened yet. I don’t know that this situation can be maintained indefinitely though. Sooner or later, it WILL break. It’s been my view for some time that the longer we delay it the bigger the crash.

  45. RBrown says:

    What will “six pack Joe” in the pew truly think after he is told the translation of his beloved Mass has been butchered since birth?

    What he will think is that after the exits from the priesthood and the sexual scandals, changing the liturgy is not that big a deal.

  46. Paul Haley says:

    Evidently, Father was too busy or occupied with other matters to answer the question I asked so, therefore, I shall attempt to answer my own question.

    There is no question in my mind that Ecclesia Dei Adflictam by Pope John Paul II imposed excommunication, latae sententiae, on Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops that he consecrated in 1988. There is also no question in my mind that Archbishop Lefebvre did not intend to commit a schismatic act and that he consecrated these bishops because of what he and they perceived as a state of necessity involving the supreme law of the church, the salvation of souls. This is also the basis for the use of “supplied faculties” for confessions and marriages, not only for the SSPX but for all those independent traditional priests with valid orders that profess fealty to the Holy Father.

    So, then, it is in the Hands of Almighty God and I believe He would accept the right intentions of those involved and uphold the validity, and also by the way, the licitness of their sacraments. He would also not fault the laity for the abuses in the church since Vatican II since it is the clergy that is primarily responsible for insuring sacraments are confected properly. He would consider the right intentions of those laity assisting at either the traditional rite or the modern rite and insure the Grace that He intends to give is in fact given to those souls at the mercy of the “warring clerics”. Sometimes, it appears, the institutional Church forgets that He is ultimately in charge and will render to each person according to his/her right inclination.

    These are the only answers I can come up with pending any sort of an explanation from the Pope himself.

  47. RBrown says:

    There is no question in my mind that Ecclesia Dei Adflictam by Pope John Paul II imposed excommunication, latae sententiae, on Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops that he consecrated in 1988. There is also no question in my mind that Archbishop Lefebvre did not intend to commit a schismatic act and that he consecrated these bishops because of what he and they perceived as a state of necessity involving the supreme law of the church, the salvation of souls.

    It’s not relevant why Abp L did it.

    In so far as he knowingly consecrated bishops against the will of the pope, he intentionally committed a schismatic act. That cannot be questioned. If he was not of sound mind, then the validity of those consecrations is in serious doubt.

    But whether L intended to create a schismatic group is another matter.


    This is also the basis for the use of “supplied faculties” for confessions and marriages, not only for the SSPX but for all those independent traditional priests with valid orders that profess fealty to the Holy Father.

    The question of valid absolution and marriages is a matter of the power of jurisdiction (potestas iurisdictionis). It has nothing to do with ordinations, which are a matter of the power of orders (potestas ordinis).

  48. Paul Haley says:

    R Brown said: “It’s not relevant why Abp L did it.”
    I beg to differ. There is need to consider attentively the rules of Canons 1323 and 1324 of the CIC. These canons deal with the case of an act to which a sanction is normally attached, but which was done only in order to avoid a grave inconvenience or to provide for a necessity. here is a quote from Canon 1323, N. 4 of the 1983 Code: “No penalty is incurred by a person forced by a necessity to act against the law.” The person who thought, without fault on his part, that a circumstance forseen in Canon 1323, N. 4,5,7, appled when he was breaking the law or an administrative order, does not incur any punishment. The violator is not exempt from all penalty but the penalty laid down in the law or in the administrative order must be mitigated, or a penance must be substituted, if the offense was accomplished by someone believing through an error, even if culpable, that he was in a circumstance foreseen in Canon 1323, N. 4 and 5 (canon 1324, N. 1.8).
    I am drawing from A CANONICAL STUDY by Fr. Rudolf Kaschewsky, German Correspondent for Una Voce Deutschland, July 1988. With all due respect it seems to me that it is quite relevant why Archbishop Lefebvre did what he did. To think that he acted because he wanted to set himself up in opposition to the Pope and the Church is to me an incredible assumption and one that I reject without hesitation since I can in no way read his mind or determine his true motives. Therefore, I am obliged under term of Christian Charity to give him the benefit of the doubt. The real question in my mind is why others in the church cannot do likewise.

  49. Paul: On the other hand, not only did Archbp. Lefevbre a) did not have permission from the Roman Pontiff but also, b) he had been told explicitly by the Roman Pontiff not to do it. There is no doubt about the mind of the Roman Pontiff in this matter. Lefebvre had no doubt about the mind of the Roman Pontiff. There is no way he did not know about the mind of the Roman Pontiff, since various emissaries had gone to him on behalf of the Pope.

    Furthermore, Lefebvre reneged on his own signature on the protocol he had signed.

    He knew what the alternatives were. He knew the Pope’s mind. The Pope, entirely current on the reasons and the circumstances, did not consider there was any compelling necessity to defy his will and break the law in a public venue.

    It looks, sadly, very much as if he set himself in opposition to the Pope.

  50. Paul Haley says:

    Well, Father, I guess he did set himself up in opposition to the pope but according to him it was because he did not trust that the terms of the protocol would be upheld. In any case I appreciate your view on this and still pray that both sides will be reconciled.

  51. Paul: The lack of trust perhaps could indicate that he was not thinking clearly or that he was being dominated by the young turks who wanted to be bishops. Otherwise, it would indicate that he thought that the Holy Father or his representative (the present Holy Father) was … not telling the truth. I would rather believe the aforementioned, since that would also possibly mitigate the censure.

    I also very much hope the reconciliation can take place soon, on very favorable terms for everyone.

  52. Paul Haley says:

    Yes, Father, it appears the archbishop was not thinking clearly and the Holy Father well knows the details. Let us hope he can be successful this time as Supreme Pontiff. I often wondered myself why the protocol was signed and then refused. There must have been more to it than just an old man’s recalcitrance. Neverhteless, there’s an opportunity ahead for a grand new day if trust will hold sway and I believe the SSPX will have to be the ones to do the trusting.

  53. RBrown says:

    I beg to differ. There is need to consider attentively the rules of Canons 1323 and 1324 of the CIC. These canons deal with the case of an act to which a sanction is normally attached, but which was done only in order to avoid a grave inconvenience or to provide for a necessity. here is a quote from Canon 1323, N. 4 of the 1983 Code: “No penalty is incurred by a person forced by a necessity to act against the law.” The person who thought, without fault on his part, that a circumstance forseen in Canon 1323, N. 4,5,7, appled when he was breaking the law or an administrative order, does not incur any punishment. The violator is not exempt from all penalty but the penalty laid down in the law or in the administrative order must be mitigated, or a penance must be substituted, if the offense was accomplished by someone believing through an error, even if culpable, that he was in a circumstance foreseen in Canon 1323, N. 4 and 5 (canon 1324, N. 1.8).

    Those canons are relevant to ecclesiastical sanction (the question of excommunication), not whether he committed a schismatic act, which he obviously did.

    The pope made it clear L wasn’t to consecrate bishops. L did. That’s a schismatic act.

    Contra factum non est disputandum.

  54. dcs says:

    Paul Haley writes:
    There is no question in my mind that Ecclesia Dei Adflictam by Pope John Paul II imposed excommunication, latae sententiae, on Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops that he consecrated in 1988.

    A latae sententiae excommunication is not imposed. It can be declared, but it is not imposed. A ferendae sententiae excommunication is imposed.

  55. Paul Haley says:

    dcs wrote: “A latae sententiae excommunication is not imposed. It can be declared, but it is not imposed. A ferendae sententiae excommunication is imposed.” I apologize for saying it was imposed; I should have said it was declared.
    R Brown wrote: “Those canons are relevant to ecclesiastical sanction (the question of excommunication), not whether he committed a schismatic act, which he obviously did. The pope made it clear L wasn’t to consecrate bishops. L did. That’s a schismatic act.” In response to this I quote from the sermon given by the archbishop at the 1988 ceremony consecrating the 4 SSPX bishops:
    “And why, Archbishop, have you stopped these discussions which seemed to have had a certain degree of success?” Well, precisely because, at the same time that I gave my signature to the Protocol, the envoy of Cardinal Ratzinger gave me a note in which I was asked to beg pardon for my errors. But if I am in error, if I teach error, it is clear that I must be brought back to the truth in the minds of those who sent me this note to sign. “That I might recognize my errors” means that, “if you recognize your errors we will help you to return to the truth.” What is this truth for them, if not the truth of Vatican II, the truth of the Conciliar Church? Consequently, it is clear that the only truth that exists today for the Vatican is the conciliar truth, the spirit of the Council, the spirit of Assisi. That is the truth of today. But we will have nothing to do with this for anything in the world!

    That is why, taking into account the strong will of the present Roman authorities to reduce Tradition to nought, to gather the world to the spirit of Vatican II and the spirit of Assisi, we have preferred to withdraw ourselves and to say that we could not continue. It was not possible. We would have evidently been under the authority of Cardinal Ratzinger, President of the Roman Commission, which would have directed us; we were putting ourselves into his hands, and consequently putting ourselves into the hands of those who wish to draw us into the spirit of the Council and the spirit of Assisi. This was simply not possible.

    This is why I sent a letter to the Pope, saying to him very clearly: “We simply cannot (accept this spirit and proposals), despite all the desires which we have to be in full union with you. Given this new spirit which now rules in Rome and which you wish to communicate to us, we prefer to continue in Tradition; to keep Tradition while waiting for Tradition to regain its place at Rome, while waiting for Tradition to re-assume its place in the Roman authorities, in their minds.” This will last for as long as the Good Lord has foreseen.” End of quote.
    I only wish to point out that it does not appear there was any intent towards schism in the mind of the archbishop and, to me, intent or motive means everything. Nevertheless, I will leave it up to the Holy Father’s judgment and the remarks previously provided by Fr. Z and leave this subject without any further comment from me personally.

  56. Paul: ” ‘Well, precisely because, at the same time that I gave my signature to the Protocol, the envoy of Cardinal Ratzinger gave me a note in which I was asked to beg pardon for my errors.’ ”

    This need not necessary have to do with teaching DOCTRINAL errors, but rather committing and therefore teaching error by bad example. For example, the retired Archbishop, having no jurisdiction at all unless delegated to him, continued to run a seminary in a diocese where the bishop had withdrawn permission for the seminary and had disbanded the group which had originally the permission of that diocese’s bishop. In 1976 Lefebvre ordained priests without any authority to do so from anyone. At that time Lefevbre was suspended from ordaining until he should make redress by asking pardon of the Pope (Paul VI). Lefebvre refused and instead wrote a blast against modernists in the Church. At that point he was suspended a divinis. Lefebvre then used the dodge that that suspension a divinis applied only to any sacrament with the NEW, post-Conciliar rites, but he could still use the older, pre-Conciliar rites. Therefore, Lefebvre was received in private audiences by both Paul VI and John Paul II and appeals were made to him. He refused to submit.

    Here is the deal. The late Archbishop gave long and prestigious service to the Church. He was within his rights to have opinions about the state of seminaries and about the new rites imposed so imprudently and swiftly and then hijacked by wackos after the Council. However, he committed grave errors when he set himself against proper ecclesiastical authority all the way to the very top, and in such a public way. The error that he was being asked to say he was sorry for was initially only the fact that he had ordained without dimissorial letters (giving him authority to do so). From there, sadly, things went rapidly into Rolling Snowball Syndrome. He seriously compromised much of the good he did.

  57. RBrown says:


    I only wish to point out that it does not appear there was any intent towards schism in the mind of the archbishop and, to me, intent or motive means everything. Nevertheless, I will leave it up to the Holy Father’s judgment and the remarks previously provided by Fr. Z and leave this subject without any further comment from me personally.

    Your argument is the same one used by proportionalists like Fr Charles Curran–you have reduced the assessment of the human act to its intention.

    Acc to St Thomas there are two acts of the will in every human act.

    First, there is the intention of the end (known simply in MT as the Cur–WHY something is done), and according to this I tend to think that it is doubtful that L intended schism.

    Second, there is the specific willing of the act itself (known in MY as the Quod–WHAT was done). In this there is no doubt that what L specifically willed was consecration of a bishop against the expressed wishes of the pope, which is a schismatic act.

  58. Paul Haley says:

    RBrown said: “Your argument is the same one used by proportionalists like Fr Charles Curran—you have reduced the assessment of the human act to its intention.”
    So now I’m guilty by association with the likes of Fr. Curran? Really, I do appeal to Father Z. to stop this nonsense. When I was a little guy, Father, in the 40’s and 50’s being taught by traditional nuns, I was taught that intent was important in considering the sinfulness of any act – i.e., you must know it’s a sin; you must want to commit it and you must commit it for it to be truly a sin. I maintain there is at least the possibility that the archbishop did not want to commit the sin of illicit consecration but rightly or wrongly thought he had no other choice. For this I am being criticised and lumped together with Fr. Curran?

  59. Paul: No, you are not being “lumped together” with Curran. On a more amusing note, I wonder how Fr. Curran would like being lumped together with you! But I digress. RBRown was pointing out, albeit with a rather inelegant and provocative bludgeon which is hard to appreciate in a blog where conversion is already difficult because of the medium, that Curran uses the same sort of argument. I am pretty sure that RBRown did not intend to offend… pretty sure. As unfortunately blunt as his message was, however, don’t fall into assuming right off the bat that he is lumping you together with Fr. Curran just because he sees in what you wrote in that message something like what Curran uses in his arguments. RBrown doesn’t know you, after all, and to do something like that would be rather unfair.

    Clearly intention is important when determining if a person is guilty for a sinful act. Remember, an act can be immoral in itself. Killing is wrong, for example. But a person may not be guilt of sin in killing because of the circumstances and intention, etc. So, there is the objective dimension of an act (the act considered in itself) and the subjective dimension of the act (what was going on in the person, the “why”, when committing the act).

  60. RBrown says:

    RBrown said: “Your argument is the same one used by proportionalists like Fr Charles Curran—you have reduced the assessment of the human act to its intention.”
    So now I’m guilty by association with the likes of Fr. Curran? Really, I do appeal to Father Z. to stop this nonsense.

    Nonsense? You’re the one who contradicted what the pope said in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. Now you’re boo-hooing because I point out that your arguments are wrong.


    When I was a little guy, Father, in the 40’s and 50’s being taught by traditional nuns, I was taught that intent was important in considering the sinfulness of any act – i.e., you must know it’s a sin; you must want to commit it and you must commit it for it to be truly a sin. I maintain there is at least the possibility that the archbishop did not want to commit the sin of illicit consecration but rightly or wrongly thought he had no other choice. For this I am being criticised and lumped together with Fr. Curran?

    OK, let’s use your own criteria:

    1. You must know it’s a sin: L knew it was a sin to consecrate bishops against the wishes of the pope.

    2. You must want to commit it: The fact that he consecrated bishops is indication that he wanted to do it. If he consecrated bishops without wanting to do it, then it’s quite likely those consecrations are not valid.

    3. And you must commit it: Which he did.

    BTW, the above three components have nothing to do with intention. I generally pointed this out in my previous comments–maybe you should read them again.

    I recommend Veritatis Splendor.

  61. RBrown says:

    I never said that intention was not a component of the moral act. I said that reducing the assessment of the moral act to intention is wrong (cf Summa Theologiae, I-IIae, 18, 4) and is typical of the method used by the proportionalists.