What I’ve been doing for the past week.

It has been a good, though short, trip back to my other home, Roma.  Tomorrow I go back to the USA again.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Attending a conference and being able to deflate a cliche position on the position of the altar.
  • 1st Vespers of Advent and the return of Roman copes and the "formale"
  • Meeting and chatting with Mons. Guido Marini
  • Talking with Card. Gracias of Vox Clara.
  • 1.5 hour private meeting with Archbishop Ranjith.
  • Visiting my old haunts, the now much expanded offices of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, meeting Card. Castrillon, speaking at length with my good friend Mons. Perl, and greeting Mons. Mario Marini, another friend.
  • 1 hour private meeting with Card. Arinze.
  • Dining with those people I can’t name, but who know I appreciate them all the same.
  • Going out with my Chinese priest friends.
  • Finding the Traditional Missale Romanum in the chapel at my residience (for priests) and that the ribbons were set to the correct pages each day.
  • Seeing American friends for supper at Polese.
  • Being celebrant for a Solemn High Mass with the older, Traditional Missale Romanum for the Immaculate Conception.
  • Blessing the family home of a very close Roman friend, and seeing his wife and children
  • Meeting colleagues and friends from Fox News for lunch. 
  • Time with "The Inquisitor" and "The Producer"
  • Hours in the library and also with my thesis director. 
  • Visiting with Card. Mayer, the holiest man I know.

My posting this last week or so has been a little thin for a reason.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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65 Responses to What I’ve been doing for the past week.

  1. Brian Day says:

    Fr. Z,

    What an impressive list of people to meet with! I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for your meeting with Mons. Guido Marini though.

  2. Steve Girone says:

    Whew! I’m tired just reading about your trip. Safe trip back to the Sabine…

  3. Arieh says:

    Did Archbishop Ranjith let you know when he is going to be named Prefect of the CDW?

  4. TNCath says:

    Thanks, Father Z., for sharing! I certainly hope and pray that your meetings with Their Eminences, Their Excellencies, and the Reverend Monsignori were mutually enlightening, informative, productive, and prophetic!

  5. Paul Murnane says:

    Looks like you had a fantastic, and very busy, trip. Godspeed, Father and may all be well at the Sabine Farm upon your return.

  6. Augustinus says:

    “My posting this last week or so has been a little thin for a reason.”

    Whatever the reason, Father, I pray for you and the wonderful work you do for the Church. I am sure that a new and good renaissance is underway.

  7. chiara says:

    Is there any news of when the excommunications of Archbishop Lefebvre and the four SSPX Bishops will be lifted (anulled)?

  8. Mary Jane says:

    Sounds like a great trip to me. Talk about productive! Know that you are one of the three blogs I read unfailingly. Somehow I’m always improved – whether in my knowledge of liturgics, spirituality, or human nature – well, it varies. But thanks again for all you do for all of us.

  9. Ottaviani says:

    Did Archbishop Ranjith let you know when he is going to be named Prefect of the CDW?

    I’ll eat my hat if he isn’t…

  10. Not the Trattoria Polese, off the via Vittorio Emanuele II ?
    I’ve not been there in over twenty years.
    I remember they used to serve the finest cannelloni I’ve ever tasted.

  11. Jon says:

    Nothing “fourth hand” about that! ;^)

    Hopefully some of the news is good, and you’ll be able to share a little of the cheer when you get back.

    Safe home, Father.

  12. Jordan Potter says:

    Chiara said: Is there any news of when the excommunications of Archbishop Lefebvre and the four SSPX Bishops will be lifted (anulled)?

    It is no more possible to annul the excommunication of a dead person than it is to annul the marriage of a dead person.

  13. Tim Ferguson says:

    Jordan, while incredibly rare, the investigation of the validity of a marriage of those who are dead can occur (see canon 1675 in the Latin Code), if it is relevant for the adjudication of another matter.

    That said, an excommunication is not “annuled” – it could be lifted, but only if the one excommunicated is still living. It would be possible to determine that an excommunication was improperly imposed upon one who is now deceased, but that would require proof that the circumstances which brought about the excommunication were different than they appeared – for example, if a medical report were released determining that someone was non compos mentis at the time of the crime, then it would be possible to declare that the excommunication was improperly declared or imposed.

  14. Nick says:

    Name dropper…

  15. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Mr. Potter,

    I am glad Pope Callistus IV did not hold your opinion. I would hate the idea of St. Joan of Arc dying excommunicated.

  16. JamesK says:

    I would be very curious to know that your Chinese priest friends and the cardinals have to say about the recent developments in China’s Church. Since last summer there’s been so much news, and quite a bit of it has been confusing for those of us who believe in the holy sacrifice made by the underground church. Since when does the Pope recognize communist bishops appointed by governments? Maybe I’m missing something here, but I’m really torn up by the recent news from there. I know many of my trad friends feel the same way.

  17. Neal says:

    Girolamo Savonarola died while under excommunication, but I understand that he is being considered for canonization. The same will not be happening for Pope Alexander VI, who excommunicated him. I read that the pope’s successor commanded that no requiem Mass was to be said for him, since it was useless to pray for the damned.

    Pax,

  18. Matt Q says:

    Jordan Potter wrote:

    “It is no more possible to annul the excommunication of a dead person than it is to annul the marriage of a dead person.”

    Wrong! John Paul II did the very thing for Galileo.

  19. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Matt Q,

    Galileo was never excommunicated. He was given a penance of reciting the penitential psalms daily. He received permission to have this done for him by his daughter, who was a nun. JP II apologized for trying Galileo, and finding him guilty.

  20. schoolman says:

    “Girolamo Savonarola died while under excommunication, but I understand that he is being considered for canonization.”

    Michael Davies had made a comparison of Archbishop Lefebvre to Savonarola — but no formal cause for canonization that I am aware of.

  21. Matthew M says:

    Savonarola is no more likely to be canonized than is my cat. And she’s positively evil.

    If GS were to be canonized, it might be as some sort of ecumenical outreach to the Taliban. I wonder how many of Botticelli’s paintings and volumes of Dante perished in the flames lit by that swollen-headed friar in the Piazza del Signoria?

  22. Not Sure says:

    Not sure about Dante and Botticelli, but I did read that Michelangelo credited Savonarola with the inspiration for the paintings of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

  23. Patrick says:

    Fr. Z

    Great synopsis of the trip. I could almost feel the whirlwind, and wish I could have been a fly on the wall for some of it.

    Safe Journey

  24. Jordan Potter says:

    Matt Q said: Wrong! John Paul II did the very thing for Galileo.

    As Christopher Sarsfield said, Galileo was never excommunicated. Therefore there was no excommunication to be annulled, even if the Church had the power to annulled excommunication post mortem, which She doesn’t. An excommunication is a matter of discipline during this life. Once a soul has passed on to the Supreme Court of Heaven, the case is thereby remanded to a higher court and the Church on earth has no more jurisdiction. Anyway an excommunication can be nullified only if it is determined that there was some defect in form — but the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre was perfectly legal and canonical, as there is no doubt about the facts of the case and the status of the law. Anyone who thinks the late Archbishop’s excommunication will ever be nullified is simply deluding himself.

  25. Jordan Potter says:

    Neal said: I read that the pope’s successor commanded that no requiem Mass was to be said for him, since it was useless to pray for the damned.

    Probably not a true story. Christ explicitly forbids us from passing judgment on any soul, not even a notorious sinner like Pope Alexander VI. It is impossible for us to affirm that he is damned, and therefore it is mandatory that Requiem Masses we said for him and for all the dead. God does not give us permission to condemn anyone, not even a Borgia Pope.

  26. schoolman says:

    Interesting CE article on Savonorola here:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13490a.htm

    Perhaps the excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre will be lifted once Savonorola’s case has been settled — there are some interesting parallels.

  27. Jordan Potter says:

    Tim Ferguson said: Jordan, while incredibly rare, the investigation of the validity of a marriage of those who are dead can occur (see canon 1675 in the Latin Code), if it is relevant for the adjudication of another matter.

    As a practical matter, however, since death dissolves whatever marital bond there may have been, a post mortem annulment of a marriage would ot change any person’s marital status. The dead need no annulments.

    Excommunication also ends at death for any soul who is saved. The Church might determine that an excommunication never lawfully happened (though in Archbishop Lefebvre’s case it has already been determined that the excommunication was lawful), but even so it wouldn’t affect the soul’s salvation. Now, if one hopes that an excommunicated person will be canonised, there would have to be a finding that the excommunication was improper or that it is otherwise not a bar to being raised to the altar. But the Church does not have the ability to decree that those who were lawfully excommunicated were never really excommunicated.

    Christopher Sarsfield said : I am glad Pope Callistus IV did not hold your opinion. I would hate the idea of St. Joan of Arc dying excommunicated.

    Pope Callistus did not lift St. Joan’s excommunication — he determined that there never was any lawful excommunication in the first place. Lawful excommunications can’t be nullified at all, and they can only be lifted if the excommunicated person is reconciled with the Church before death. Archbishop Lefebvre was never reconciled with the Church before he died, so there is nothing the Church can do about his excommunication. It was lawfully imposed and he died outside of the Church’s communion. The Church can’t wave a magic wand and make that all go away.

    Schoolman said: Perhaps the excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre will be lifted once Savonorola’s case has been settled—there are some interesting parallels.

    Yes, it’s probably true that Archbishop Lefebvre’s excommunication will be lifted after Savonarola’s case have been settled. If ever there was a person who ought never be raised to the altar, it’s Savonarola. But it’s an insult to Archbishop Lefebvre’s memory to compare him to a fanatic and a criminal like Savonarola.

  28. Mary Conces says:

    Dear Father Z,

    You surely do lead “the good life”–and you deserve to. You have kept up with you daily blog perfectly well. (I especially appreciate your treatments of the daily Advent Collects.) I suspect that only someone of German descent would think that he had not been working hard enough. My guess would be that your only problem would be the difficulty of finding time for contemplation/prayer. We must do that for you, who do so much for us.

    Mary Conces

  29. Somerset '76 says:

    I’m rather doubtful that the excommunications pronounced against the bishops involved in the Ecône episcopal consecrations of 1988 will be unilaterally rescinded.

    That ceremony was predicated upon a double conclusion, that (1) Archbishop Lefebvre was convinced of his impending death (he said this a number of times in the runup to the ceremony), while (2) John Paul II’s Rome was, in his view, irretractably committed to a vision of Catholic faith much along the lines condemned by Pope St. Pius X in his anti-Modernist Encyclical Pascendi and in other Encyclicals against a variety of liberal errors. Hence his determination, for what it was and is worth, that for the good of souls he had better do that which was in his sacramental power to ensure the continuity of a line of priests who would propagate and uncompromisingly defend the Faith untainted by the prevailing neo-Modernism.

    So I insist that for anyone to view the Archbishop’s case merely in canonical terms is to distort the real issue by separating his action from that context of his assessment of the state of the Church: the [de]merit of his act derives from his assessment of what options he legitimately had in response to the ecclesiastical lay of the land as he sensed his death was drawing near.

    But how much has it really changed since 1988? We see the bitter resistance many bishops have put up to Summorum Pontificum, the length of time it took to get rid of Sodano and Marini I, and the scandals of Faith and morals involving a number of bishops and Cardinals that continue to go unresolved. It is also relevant to note that while anniversaries of documents and events are routinely recognized by the Vatican as they come up, there was an extremely conspicuous silence last September on the centennial of the promulgation of the Encyclical Pascendi, which the Society trenchantly noted, asking in effect: does the Vatican keep silence about this anniversary because it knows its orientations since the Council were already condemned in this landmark document?

    So long as this state of affiars prevails, I cannot see how the Pope would unilaterally rescind those excommunications, as such a gesture would be widely interpreted and exploited by the neo-Modernist element as an act of at least reconsidering Vatican II, especially given that the SSPX has made no secret of its view of the Council’s documents as problematic at best.

    The current impasse of the two sides rests in this: for the Society, a declaration that the excommunications were never valid is one of their preconditions for theological discussions, as they consider this a matter of fundamental justice; Rome insists on these discussions before any reconsideration of the excommunications. And I sense both sides are waiting for the other to flinch first. Thus, for as long as this impasse holds, the status of the Society and its bishops will remain as it has been.

  30. Somerset '76 says:

    More directly on topic, I for one hope that Father’s conversations with those of importance in Rome gave him credible signs of a determination on their part to nudge neo-Modernism towards the scrap heap of history.

  31. Mark says:

    We must pray every day for the return of our Catholic Tradition in all its glory and for the end of the Novus Ordo Mass and its anything-goes mentality. Once this is resolved, the SSPX will be regularized as a matter of course, because the Church will finally have come to its senses.

  32. Different says:

    Somerset,

    I agree that reversal of the excommunications is highly unlikely in the near future. But for slightly different reasons. Firstly, in order to rescind them they would have to give some type of reason, such as Lefebvre was justified by necessity. But the Church has already clearly explained in Ecclesia Dei, Ad Apostolorum Principis, and again clarified by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legal Texts, that no one can confer episcopal ordination without mandate from the Holy See and that there is never necessity to ordain bishops against the will of the Holy Father. For Pope Benedict to remove the excommunications, he must go directly against the writings of his predecessors and, indeed, against his own previous actions.

    Secondly, such an action, rather than enraging liberals would set a dangerous precedent for them. What would stop a liberal bishop from claiming “necessity” and ordaining bishops in order to “preserve” the NO Mass? If the excommunications are lifted it gives liberal bishops and any other dissenter a perfect blueprint for doing as they please all while staying “inside” the Church and perhaps even escaping excommunication. Is that what we really want? How would the Pope explain excommunicating a bishop for illegal consecrations when perhaps just a few years earlier he rescinded excommunications for the very same action? Unilaterally rescinding the excommunications will cause more harm to the Church down the road.

  33. Mark says:

    The Holy Father has recently reached out to the Chinese bishops, many of them illegitimately consecrated, in an effort to invite them to unity with Rome. Has he (or his predecessor) ever said the Chinese bishops were excommunicated? If not, then why were the SSPX bishops excommunicated? And if there is some inequality here in the way the SSPX has been treated, doesn’t this provide some “wiggle room” on the part of the Vatican?

  34. Ray from MN says:

    Father Z:

    Is “Marini” like Smith, Johnson, or here, Olson or Swenson, in Italy?

  35. Prof. Basto says:

    Perhaps the excommunications cannot be declared null except for a defect of form, as Mr. Potter suggested, but they can certainly be removed from the memory of the Universal Church as was done by Paul VI with regarding the Orthodox, by means of the Motu Proprio Ambulate in dilectione.

    Furthermore, in the case of St. Joan of Arc, the Catholic Encyclopedia indicates that the canonical process in the ambit of which excommunication was imposed upon her by a local Tribunal was flawed, including on formal grounds, and that, among the canonical vices that tainted the proceedings, there is the grave fact that she was never allowed to discharge her canonical right of appeal to the Supreme Pontiff. For this reason, the canonical trial that resulted in her excommunication was voided, the excommunication was declared null, that is, as never having been actually validly imposed, and she was acquited of the canonical charges.

    Thus, it would seem that, while an excommunication cannot be lifted by the Church militant after one’s death (given that one’s time to repent is over, and the state of one’s soul upon the moment of death will now be judged in the Tribunal of Our Lord Jesus Christ), it would be certainly within the power of the Church on Earth to inquire into the validity or nullity of Her acts, of the acts of her earthly agents, in order to ascertain the Truth regarding the correctness of a canonical proceeding. There is no reason why this power could not include the power of ascertaining the validity or nullity of an excommunication. In St. Joan’s case, for instance, her excommunication was null, it never actually bound her, and the determination of that fact, of that truth, was made by the Church. So it is necessary to distinguish between the lifting of an excommunication and the annulment of an excommunication.

    It is my opinion, however, that there are no grounds to declare null the excommunications imposed on those who, violating an explicit penal precept of Canon Law took part in the schismatic act of the Êcone Consacrations. Those excommunications could, however, be lifted (i.e, removed) regarding those who are living.

    In the case of the Priests of Campos, Brazil (that now form the Apostolic Administration St. John Vianney), including H. E. Mons. Fernando Rifan and his predecessor, Bishop Rangel, the excommunications were not annuled, they were instead “removed” by the Papal Letter Ecclesia Unitas , of John Paul II. Nothing was said with regard to the status dead, including Bishop de Castro Mayer, co-consacrator of the Êcone quartet and founder of the Campos movement.

    Or, if the Pope wishes to use the ambiguity formulated by Paul VI, he could declare the Êcone excommunications “removed from the memory of the Church”. That would have the effect of lifting the penalty with regard to those who are yet living, and, while not implying a judgement of nullity regarding the excommunications, it would have the effect of “living the matter behind” the Church. The excommunications were valid, but the Church forgets about them

  36. Rafael Cresci says:

    AFAIK, excommunications of the dead can be lifted.
    Or there would be no need for the respective ritual on the Rituale Romanum (Rituale Romanum, pars I, tit. IV, caput IV, Pius XII/editio nona juxta primam vaticanam post typicam)…
    http://www.ecclesiacatholica.com/rituale%20romanum/RR-pars-I-tit-IV.htm

  37. Different says:

    Prof Basto,

    Very good points.

    If the SSPX does come back into communion, I think we can look to the reconciliation of Bishop Rangel and his followers for how it may happen.

    In his letter to Bishop Rangel, Pope John Paul II stated: “Thus with deep joy, in order to effect full communion, we declare the remission of the censure referred to in can. 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, in all that concerns you, Venerable Brother and, likewise, the remission of all censures and the dispensation from all irregularities incurred by other Members of the Union.” Then during a Mass in Campos by Card. Castrillon Hoyos, Bishop Rangel made his profession of faith and took the oath of fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff, declaring that he accepted the teachings of Vatican II. I think we can expect that similar actions would occur if the SSPX sought union with the Church…but given the history I’m not so sure that the SSPX would ever make such a public admission of error. But who knows, we can always pray!

  38. Cerimoniere says:

    That’s precisely the interesting thing. There doesn’t seem to have been any admission of error or even of regret. Reciting a profession of faith and taking an oath of fidelity is not a recantation of any previous position or action. As far as we know, no act of repentance was required. Normally, someone who has incurred a censure is actually absolved from it, after repenting — publicly, in the case of one in the external forum, as those of us who have witnessed the traditional rite of reception of adult converts will know. In this case, the Pope simply remitted the censures.

    As to the Ven. Girolamo Savanarola, his cause certainly exists, and is actively promoted by the Dominicans. He has always had a cult which has attracted those of obvious holiness, the best-known of whom is St. Philip Neri, who venerated him throughout his life and successfully opposed the censure of Savonarola’s writings. Whether he is canonized or not, there is no doubt of his heroic virtue.

  39. Jordan Potter says:

    Rafael said: AFAIK, excommunications of the dead can be lifted.
    Or there would be no need for the respective ritual on the Rituale Romanum

    Well this is all news to me. What a strange ritual. Am I reading that right — is that really an absolution of someone who is dead thus cannot give any sign of contrition? I wonder how often this rite was used, and I wonder how it is supposed to work? Is it just to make it possible for the corpse to be interred in hallowed ground?

  40. Prof. Basto says:

    Although no specific error was mentioned, there was a request of pardon for any error possibly incurred, and that was regarded as sufficient. I quote from the letter of Mons. Rangel and the priests of Campos to the Pope

    “And if, by chance, in the heat of our battle in defence of the Catholic truth, we have made any mistakes or caused Your Holiness any displeasure – although our intention has always been to serve the Holy Church – we humbly beg your paternal pardon.”

    Futhermore, Bishop Rangel pronounced a formula accepting, inter alia, the validity of Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council.

  41. Prof. Basto says:

    Mr. Potter,

    Its all news to me as well. But the use of the formula has one condition:

    “SI QUIS excommunicatus ex hac vita decedens dederit signum contritionis…”

    Thus, it seems that in this case, the Church militant grants remission, i.e., lifts the excommunication, because there was a previous sign of contrition, during the person’s life.

    And that is a case of removal of excommunication, and not of nullity of excommunication, but, in a way, the Church militant is merely ascertaining a fact, that is, that, during his life, when he was still subject to her earthly jurisdiction, the person repented.

    However, given that the state of the soul had already been determined by God Almighty, the effect of this post-mortem remission must be connected only to the questions of right of ecclesiastical burial, and the questions of the prayers and rites offered for the repose of the dead person.

  42. Cerimoniere says:

    The rite Rafael mentions is not on point, because it begins, “Si quis excommunicatus ex hac vita decedens dederit signum contritionis…” Its purpose, as Mr. Potter says, is to enable ecclesiastical burial, but it presupposes that a dying person has made some sign of contrition before death but without being absolved. There is no indication of that in Archbishop Lefebvre’s case. One might add that the lack of such a sign did not inhibit the Nuncio from anointing his body, when he arrived shortly after the Archbishop’s apparent death.

    However, this is beside the point. Of course declared excommunications can be annulled. Someone has already mentioned the case of St. Joan. The death of the person concerned does not inhibit the Church from investigating the validity of the intial act imposing the censure, and from pronouncing it null if it so appears.

    Such acts of the Church’s judicial power do not implicate her indefectibility, and so we can never have a truly final assurance that any such acts were proper or not, though they are generally binding on the conduct of the faithful nonetheless. In the case of Archbishop Lefebvre and the other bishops in his line, it has not “already been determined that the excommunication was lawful”, except by the initial declaration of the penalty by the Holy See. While such judgments merit the greatest respect, they are not inerrant and can be reversed.

    Prof. Basto’s points about Bishop Rangel conditional expressions of regret are certainly correct, and only highlight how different his case was from the norm. The Holy See was concerned only for a present expression of good faith, and was apparently content to regard his past submission to unauthorized episcopal consecration as something on which reasonable minds could differ in the circumstances.

    There is nothing in his case which would differ from those of Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops he consecrated. They could certainly have said as much as Bishop Rangel did, and none of them to my knowledge has ever questioned the status of Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council.

  43. Jordan Potter says:

    Cerimoniere said: In the case of Archbishop Lefebvre and the other bishops in his line, it has not “already been determined that the excommunication was lawful”, except by the initial declaration of the penalty by the Holy See.

    I’ve not been very careful, clear, or accurate in my postings here since yesterday. My comment was in reference to the judgment (mentioned above by someone else) that there is never an emergency that could justify consecrating bishops without papal approval. Since that is the only argument ever advanced in defense of Archbishop Lefebvre, and there’s no evidence he was insane at the time, there is no foreseeable likelihood that the Church will eventually say in this case, “Oops, we messed up — those excommunications were never valid.”

    Anyway, thanks to all who cleared up the rite of post mortem absolution of an excommunicant. Since I barely know any Latin at all, I could only make out a few phrases, and what I saw sounded pretty odd. The rite makes sense to me now.

  44. dcs says:

    My comment was in reference to the judgment (mentioned above by someone else) that there is never an emergency that could justify consecrating bishops without papal approval.

    But of course that judgment is not an infallible one. One certainly could not view it as binding on a future pope. . . . ;-)

  45. Mark says:

    I restate my question: Does anyone know the status of the illicit bishops of the Chinese National Church? I’m sure there have been quite a few consecrations there without the Pope’s approval. Are they all excommunicated until they repent? Or have they been given special treatment because of the situation? And if so, does that not open up other possible situations where out-of-the ordinary consecrations could be “forgiven” under certain circumstances?

  46. Somerset '76 says:

    Since I posted my first comments above, I’ve focused more closely on the question of “the state of emergency” as it pertains to the 1988 consecrations and the sanctions declared to have resulted from them. What’s particularly important about this consideration is the fact that it remains the central wedge-issue between the SSPX and Rome, in terms of how the different thinking of each side leads one to contend “there is an emergency; therefore these measures had to be taken; therefore any sanctions imposed or declared on account of those measures are absolutely null and void, and it is thus an injustice to us to be deemed under sanction”; whereas the other said, “there is no emergency; therefore the law applies as written; therefore the sanctions occurring latae sententiae still remain in force.” The underlying issue, of course, is the differences in thinking that lead the Society to ever insist “there is an emergency” and Rome to deny that there is, at least in the sense that the Society apprehends today’s situation.

    For the Society, therefore, to insist on the annulment (not the rescinding … note the critical distinction) of the excommunications of 1988 as a precondition to theological discussions with Rome is, I now believe, to doom itself to perpetual impasse. So long as the Vatican does not agree with the assessment of the contemporary Church as being in “a state of emergency” in the specific way the Society does, how could one expect it to cancel excommunications [said to be] incurred from an act done in the name of responding to the “state of emergency” that the Society sees? It would seem to me that the Society’s only theoretical hope for seeing the sanctions nullified is to somehow convince Rome that its reading of the state of the Church is the correct one … which, in turn, would necessitate their proceeding immediately to the theological discussions.

    I say all this, noting that my own view is irrelevant as to whether there is a “state of emergency” of such nature as to make Canon 1382 inapplicable in the 1988 case. I’ve sided with the Society in years gone by on this, but I would be interested in Rome making a detailed case against the assertation, which, really, boils down to a need to issue a thorough and authoritative “Bull on the Errors of the Lefebvrists” … given that Rome acts as if sure that they are in error.

  47. Different says:

    Somerset,

    Nice analysis. I think I am in agreement. Do you mean that Rome ought to “prove” the necessity argument is invalid?

    I think another component to this situation is – why would the SSPX want to reconcile? They have money, they report to no one, and let’s face it, some in the Vatican are being pretty nice to them and telling Catholics that they can go ahead and attend SSPX Masses…I mean, what’s not to like? What do they gain by coming back?

    And you are right if they come back it would be along the lines of Bishop Rangel and would not involve any “annulment” of the excommunications.

  48. Prof. Basto says:

    I think another component to this situation is – why would the SSPX want to reconcile? They have money, they report to no one, and let’s face it, some in the Vatican are being pretty nice to them and telling Catholics that they can go ahead and attend SSPX Masses…I mean, what’s not to like? What do they gain by coming back?

    I\’m not a native speaker of English, but that is irony, right? I\’m not kidding, this is a serious question.

    I mean, can the SSPX be Catholic and not want to live under the Pope’s fold?

  49. Different says:

    Prof. Basto,

    I was being sarcastic, but there is some truth there as well. It doesn’t seem to me that many of the SSPX are bothered by their current status. They constantly proclaim that they are under the Pope’s fold. They seem content and willing to wait hoping that Rome will bow to their demands.

  50. Somerset '76 says:

    Different – What I rather intend to say is that Rome ought to point out what is erroneous in the Society’s estimation of the state of the Church … and while they’re at it, what’s erroneous in the Society’s approach to everything (doctrine, morality, politics, culture). Of course, Benedict’s Vatican is well aware (as we’ve been seeing here and there lately) that all is far from well in the Church, and we have the likes of Abp. Ranjith being more vocal about this than most. Yet, the Society gives reasons for the situation that Pope Benedict does not accept. It would behoove us all to know, exactly why not?

    I’d agree with your “why would the SSPX want to regularize” but for somewhat different reasons. They’re not so much interested in getting more “paying customers” as they are about preserving the full rigor of their vision. They believe they have the right read on the sense of the preconciliar Magisterium and that a properly functioning Church authority is one that shares exactly that vision. By remaining corporately unaffiliated with a Rome still endorsing the documents and acts of Vatican II and its aftermath, they believe that they are thus in a stronger position to advocate their understanding of the Faith and its implications; hence, for them, regularization would not be acceptable unless and until the 1988 sanctions are nullified and the Society was given free rein to advocate its vision of the Faith, which again, they insist, is no more and no less than the vision of the Popes through Pius XII. Of the Society’s leaders, Bishop Williamson is foremost in his utterances to this effect.

  51. Different says:

    I don’t think Rome has a problem with their analysis on the state of the Church. They are certainly entitled to their view and, as you mention, it is shared by some in the vatican. But remember, they are not excommunicated because of their view of the state of the Church. they are excommunicated because the Church declares that there is never a necessity to consecrate bishops without papal mandate. Pope Pius XII held this opinion and Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have upheld it.

    If the SSPX wants to be Catholic they should follow in the footstps of Bishop Rangel and come home. It is not as though Bishop Rangel and the SSJV have been “persecuted” rather it seems that Rome has been quite accomodating. It seems to me that if the SSPX does not come back soon, they will go the way of the Old Catholic church or the Polish National church.

    It’s kind of ironic that the very thing keeping the SSPX so close is the ecumenical attitude of the Vatican. What would have happened to the SSPX if the Vatican had taken an “old school” approach of publically excommunicating all SSPX priests, bishops and followers and threatening the faithful with excommunication if they attend an SSPX Mass or set foot in one of their chapels? Would it have made the schism worse…or better? I don’t know.

  52. Ottaviani says:

    It’s kind of ironic that the very thing keeping the SSPX so close is the ecumenical attitude of the Vatican. What would have happened to the SSPX if the Vatican had taken an “old school” approach of publically excommunicating all SSPX priests, bishops and followers and threatening the faithful with excommunication if they attend an SSPX Mass or set foot in one of their chapels? Would it have made the schism worse…or better? I don’t know.

    Oh really?!

    Do you remember JP II excommunicating anyone else like Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx, Anthony De Mello, Fidel Castro, Richard McBrien, Charles Curran, Chinese Patriotic church, dissenting prelates (most of whom recieved the Red hat or mitre from that very pope)? Where are the excommunications for those deserving people?!!!

    Are those people more “in communion with Rome” than Archbishop Lefebvre, who did nothing more than carry on what the church has always done?

  53. tgliang says:

    There’s more in the case of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. He was not excommunicated for doctrinal reasons. but for disobedience, possibly for ordaining bishops without approval. I can see this as a serious matter, as valid but illegal bishops could be the start of a schismatic church. Protestants have wrong doctrine, but also do not have valid apostolic succession for priests and bishops.

  54. Masone says:

    To say that Savonarola was a fanatic, or even a criminal, means (sorry) not to have the faintest idea about Renaissance Italy history, and about Savonarola himself.

    Savonarola was a good theologian, a Thomist, a learned man: simply the opposite of a fanatic.

    He was also a saint, and a martyr. His excommunication by Alexander VI was null and void, and he died in the womb of the Holy Mother Church.

    His writings are very worth reading.

    I hope, and pray, that he be canonized. St Philip Neri, for example, who was born in Florence (though he lived in Rome), deeply venerated him. And St Philip Neri was a very joyful and serene saint!

    Sorry, but I was hurt when I read that.

    Hieronyme Savonarola, ora pro nobis.

  55. PNP, OP says:

    Hey Fr. Z! I’m moving to Rome in Sept 2008…you sound like someone I need to get to know…can I buy you a gelato? :-) Fr. Philip, OP

  56. Zach says:

    Fr. Z,
    Seeing as you know these great men of the Church, and in light of our Pope’s desire to bring back a more traditional approach to things, I have to wonder when we will see Bishop John T. Zuhlsdorf.

  57. Li_Lejiang says:

    I am glad that some people are thinking about the situation with the Chinese bishops. The fact is that no Chinese bishop has ever been excommunicated for an illicit ordination. This is because of the special circumstance in the church in chiuna. Many people recognize the Vatican has been unclear in its treatment of this issue over the last two decades. But hopefully there is some resolution. This year four Chinese bishops have been ordained with the approval of Rome, and the approval of the Patriotic Association. Also, maybe 90% of the Chinese bishops who were ordained illicitly are in communion with Rome now. There is actually some very good writing on this situation, especially after Pope’s lovely letter to China’s Catholics. For insight into the complicated situation, you might find a recent American profil of Jin Luxian, the illicitly ordained Shanghai bishop in the atlantic magazine. Or, please find some of the commentaries written by Jeroom Heyndrickx, a Belgian priest with vast church experience in China. Also, the Hong Kong Holy Spirit Study Centre maintains good materials on the topic, and they havet a website.

  58. Jordan Potter says:

    Li said The fact is that no Chinese bishop has ever been excommunicated for an illicit ordination.

    Or rather, since such an excommunication would be automatic, their excommunications have never been made public, due to the desire to avoid additional persecution of the Church in China and a desire to forestall the Communist attempts to create a separate Chinese church.

  59. Jordan Potter says:

    Masone said: To say that Savonarola was a fanatic, or even a criminal, means (sorry) not to have the faintest idea about Renaissance Italy history, and about Savonarola himself.

    Actually I have rather more than the faintest idea about Renaissance Italy and about Savonarola himself. Sorry, but he boasted of speaking God’s very own words, and turned Florence into a puritanical totalitarian dictatorship, subject to a religious reign of terror almost as bad, if not as bad, as Calvin’s Geneva. It’s not at all easy to see his execution as a martyrdom, nor has the Church ever judged his excommunication to have been invalid. It takes much, much more than the gross immorality of Pope Borgia to render an excommunicaton invalid.

  60. Zach: That’ll never happen.

  61. Prof. Basto says:

    Father,

    Who knows? I don’t think you are saying that you would refuse it if it were to happen.

    …cum autem senueris extendes manus tuas et alius te cinget et ducet quo non vis…

  62. Jordan Potter says:

    nor has the Church ever judged his excommunication to have been invalid. It takes much, much more than the gross immorality of Pope Borgia to render an excommunicaton invalid.

    To clarify my comment, though (I really need to stop posting comments when I’m dog tired . . .), Pope Alexander VI is reported to have disowned the excommunication, which, I have read, was defective. After his trial, also said to have been flawed, before Savonarola was burned at the stake, he did receive the Pope’s absolution and plenary indulgence, so he did die in the Church’s communion even if his prior excommunication was valid.

    I don’t deny Savonarola’s personal sanctity and theological acumen — but I think he went overboard there at the end. But it was a chaotic and tortured time in the Church’s history, and everyone seemed to be going to extremes — Savonarola in one direction, toward righteousness, and Pope Borgia in the other, toward grievous immorality and corruption.

  63. chiara says:

    was Bishop de Castro Mayer excommunicated at the same time as Archbishop Lefebvre and the four Bishops he ‘co-consecrated’? If not, why not?

  64. Prof. Basto says:

    Chiara,

    Yes, he was. Take a look at the decree of excommunication (source: EWTN Library’s website)

    “DECREE OF EXCOMMUNICATION
    From the Office of the Congregation for Bishops, 1 July 1988.

    Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Tulle, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning of 17 June last and the repeated appeals to desist from his intention, has performed a schismatical act by the episcopal consecration of four priests, without pontifical mandate and contrary to the will of the Supreme Pontiff, and has therefore incurred the penalty envisaged by Canon 1364, paragraph 1, and canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law.
    Having taken account of all the juridical effects, I declare that the above-mentioned Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre, and Bernard Pellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta have incurred excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

    Moreover, I declare that Monsignor Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop emeritus of Campos, since he took part directly in the liturgical celebration as co-consecrator and adhered publicly to the schismatical act, has incurred excommunication as envisaged by canon 1364, paragraph 1.

    The priests and faithful are warned not to support the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre, otherwise they shall incur the very grave penalty of excommunication.

    From the Office of the Congregation for Bishops, 1 July 1988.

    Bernardinus Card. Gantin Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops”

  65. chiara says:

    Thank you, Prof Basto.