L’OssRom: Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos on Summorum Pontificum

Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, gave an interview to L’Osservatore Romano.

I am thinking that this does two things.  First, he is shoring up what the Holy Father has been saying about ad orientem worship and he is getting people thinking about Summorum Pontificum again, in anticipation of the Holy Father’s explanatory letter.

Some points to watch for.

  • Notice how the Cardinal states very strongly that priests of the SSPX are not excommunicated.  That must mean that when they adhered to the SSPX, by accepting ordination from excommunicated bishops, by taking orders and wages from them, they did not adhere to schism.
  • Also, take careful note that the Cardinal made the effort to build up ad orientem celebration of Mass, also for the Novus Ordo.
  • He also pressed the possibility of celebration of the Novus Ordo in Latin.
  • He made points important for music and architecture.
  • He affirmed that priests do NOT need permission from their bishops.  But he spoke about adequate preparation.  His comments about that make me think that the Holy Father’s letter must address this.

Here is my own translation.

 

The sense of Catholicity and unity in the liturgy

by Gianluca Biccini

"Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman liturgy before the reform effected in 1970 is causing to return also some non-Catholics into full communion with Rome.  Requests are being received for this after the Pope renewed the possibility of celebrating according to the old rite".  Thus affirmed Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, who in this interview with our newspaper, after the publication of the pontifical document in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, clarified some of its contents and underscored its importance as a tool to preserve the treasury of the liturgy that comes from the time of St. Gregory the Great and for a renewed dialogue with those who, because of the liturgical reform, were distanced from the Church of Rome.  The publication in the Acta preceded by a few days the nomination by Benedict XVI the preceding Secretary Camille Perl as Vice President of Ecclesia Dei, and of the adjunct Secretary Mario Marini as Secretary.

The Letter, in the form of a Motu Proprio, does not refer to the normal contemporary form, the ordinary form – of the Eucharistic liturgy, which is the one published in the Missale Romanum by Paul VI and then reedited on two occasions by John Paul II; instead this refers to the use of the extraordinary for, which is the one in the Missale Romanum before the Council, published in 1962 on the authority of John XXIII.  This doesn’t deal with two different rites, but of a two-fold use of one Roman Rite.  "This was the form celebrated", the Columbian Cardinal explained, "that was used for more than 1400 years.  This rite, which we could call ‘Gregorian’, inspired the Masses of Palestrina, Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, great cathedrals and marvelous works of painting and sculpture."

"Thanks to the Motu Proprio, not a few people have asked to return to full communion and some have already returned," the President of Ecclesia Dei added.  In Spain, the "Oasis of Jesus the Priest", an entire cloistered monastery with thirty sisters guided by their founder, has already been regularized by the Pontifical Commission; also there are groups of Americans, Germans and French on the path to regularization.  And finally there are individual priests and many lay people who have contacted us, writing to us and asking us for reconciliation and, on the other hand, there are many other faithful who have manifested their gratitude to the Pope and their pleasure in the Motu Proprio."

Some have accused the Pope of wanting to impose a liturgical model in which language and gestures of the rite seem to be monopolized exclusively by the priest, while the faithful wind up marginalized and thus excluded from a direct relationship with God.

On the occasion of the Baptism of the Lord, for example, Benedict XVI basically celebrate in the Sistine Chapel facing toward the Crucifix.  The Pope celebrated in Italian according the ordinary form, that does not exclude, however, the possibility of celebrating toward an altar not versus populum and that foresees also celebration in Latin.  Let’s remember that the ordinary form is the Mass that normally all priests priests say, according to the post-Conciliar reform; while the extraordinary for is the Mass from before the liturgical reform which, according to the norms of the Motu Proprio today all can celebrate and was never prohibited.

But some criticisms seem to be coming also from bishops?

A few have problems, but we’re dealing with a few exceptions, because the large part are in agreement with the Pope.  Rather, there are showing up some practical difficulties.  It is necessary to make this clear: we are not dealing with a return to the past, but rather a progress, because this way we have two riches, instead of one only.  Furthermore, this wealth is offered respecting the rights of those who are especially bound to the older liturgy.  Here we can get into some problems in a positive sense.  For example, it can happen that a priest doesn’t have the training and the adequate cultural sensibility.  It’s enough to think about priests who are from areas where the language is far different from Latin.  But we aren’t always talking about refusal: it is the presentation of a real difficulty which must be overcome.

Our Commission itself is thinking to organize a form of help for seminaries, dioceses and episcopal conferences.  Another facet of the study is to promote multimedia aids for the understanding of and learning of the extraordinary form with all its theological, spiritual and artistic richness bound up also with the old liturgy.  Moreover, is seems important that there be involved groups of priests who are already using the extraordinary form, who are offering themselves to celebrate, to demonstrate, to teach celebration according to the 1962 Missale.

So, there isn’t a problem?

It is rather a controversy born from a certain lack of understanding.  Some, for example, ask permission, as if we were dealing with a concession or an exceptional case, but there isn’t any need for this.  The Pope was clear.  It is an error on the part of some and some journalists, to maintain that the use of the Latin language concerns only the older rite, while instead it is foreseen also in the Missal of Paul VI. 

Through the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum the Pope offers all priests the possibility of celebrating Mass also in the traditional form and to the faithful to exercise their right to have this rite when there are the conditions specified in the Motu Proprio.

How have groups like the Society of St. Pius X reacted, who refused to celebrate Mass with the Novus Ordo established after Vatican II?

The Lefevbrites from the very beginning affirmed that the old form was never abolished.  It is clear that it was never abrogated, even if before the Motu Proprio not a few considered it prohibited.  Now, instead, it can be offered for all the faithful who wish it according as it is possible.  But it is also clear that if there are not priests who are adequately prepared, it can’t be offered, because we are dealing with not only with the Latin language, but also knowledge of the old rite as such.  Finding some quiet time today is for our culture a necessity which is not only religious.  I remember I that as a bishop I participated in a course for high level management, where they spoke of the need for managers to have at their disposition a semi-dark room in which they could sit and think things over before making decisions.  Silence and contemplation are necessary attitudes even today, above all when dealing with the mysteries of God.

Eight months have passes since the promulgation of the document.  Is it true that it has aroused agreement also in other ecclesial entities?

The Pope offered to the Church a treasure which is spiritual, cultural, religious and Catholic.  We received letters of agreement also from prelates of Orthodox Churches, from Anglican and Protestant faithful.  Also, there are some priests of the Society of St. Pius X who, individually, are seeking regularization of their position.  Some of them have already signed a formula of adhesion.  We are informed that there are traditionalist lay faithful, close the Society, who have begin to attend Masses in the old rite offered in the churches of their dioceses.

How is return to "full communion" possible for people who are excommunicated?

The excommunication regarded only the four bishops, because they were ordained without the mandate of the Pope and against his will, while the priests are only suspended.  The Mass they celebrate is without question valid, but not licit and, therefore, participation is not recommended, at least when on Sunday there are not other possibilities.  Certainly neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicated.  I would like to underscore the importance of clear understanding of these things to be able to judge them correctly.

Aren’t you worried that the attempt to bring into the Church men and women who don’t recognize the Second Vatican Council might not provoke a distancing of the faithful who instead see Vatican II as a compass by which we navigate the barque of Peter, above all in these times of continuous change?

Above all the problem about the Council is not, in my opinion, as grave as it would seem.  In fact, the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, with their head Mons. Bernad Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council and Mons. Fellay underscored this in a meeting with John Paul II, and more explicitly in an audience of 29 August 2005 with Benedict XVI. Nor can we forget that Mons. Marcel Lefebvre signed all the documents of the Council.

I think that their criticism of the Council regarding above all the clarity of some texts, in the absence of which the road to interpretations out of accord with traditional doctrine is opened up.  The biggest difficulties are of an interpretive nature or they have to do with some gestures on the ecumenical plane, but not with the doctrine of Vatican II.  We are dealing with theological discussions, which can have their place within the Church, where in fact there exist different discussions of interpretation of conciliar texts, discussion which can go on also with groups who return to full communion.

So, the Church is reaching out a hand, even through this Motu Proprio on the old liturgy?

Yes, without question, because it is precisely in the liturgy that the meaning of catholicity is expressed and that is the source of unity.  I very much like the Novus Ordo which I celebrate daily.  I had not celebrated according to the Missal of 1962 after the post-conciliar liturgical reform.  Today, in taking up again sometimes the extraordinary rite, I also have discovered the richness of the old liturgy which the Pope wanted to maintain as living, preserving that centuries old form of the Roman tradition.

We must never forget that the supreme point of reference in the liturgy, as in life, is always Christ.  Therefore we are not afraid, even in liturgical ritual, to direct ourselves toward Him, toward the Crucifix, together with the faithful, to celebrate the holy Sacrifice, in an unbloody way, as the Council of Trent defined the Mass.

 

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171 Responses to L’OssRom: Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos on Summorum Pontificum

  1. Ken says:

    There are a couple diocesan bishops in the Midwest who still don’t understand this part concerning SSPX Masses:

    “Certainly neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicated.”

  2. TNCath says:

    From what I have read so far it seems that Cardinal Castrillon is basically saying that Summorum Pontificum has accomplished much good (for the benefit of those attending both the Extraordinary Form as well as the Novus Ordo) and will continue to do so as time goes on. He also seems to minimize the negative reactions from bishops who are resisting its implementation. Father Z., do you think this is a kind of “preview” in style and substance to the clarification document coming from the PCED? While this article provides a broad commentary, would the clarification document directly address specific issues related to the implementation of Summorum Pontificum?

  3. Dob says:

    This looks very good. I wonder if the commission will actively place priests in dioceses where the local ordinary is having difficulties providing priests for the older form. That could be quite helpful.

  4. Rudy of CC says:

    Good to see this progress.

  5. JP says:

    Father Z. said: That must mean that when they adhered to the SSPX, by accepting ordination from excommunicated bishops, by taking orders and wages from them, did not adhere to schism.

    I wonder what it takes to adhere to schism. If you can submit yourself to excommunicated bishops who were consecrated in what the Church says is a schismatic act, celebrating Mass and sacraments only at and in conjunction with non-Catholic chapels — quite outside of Catholic communion — and yet not adhere to schism, then adhering to schism must be really difficult to do. Msgr. Perl has previously noted that the Holy See apparently has not clarified what constitutes formal adherence to schism.

    Ken said: There are a couple diocesan bishops in the Midwest who still don’t understand this part concerning SSPX Masses:

    “Certainly neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicated.”

    The priests are suspended a divinis, and to the extent that they formally adhere to and support Archbishop Lefebvre’s schism, they are excommunicated. Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, issued some kind of SSPX-related excommunication, but I don’t know what his decree said. I understand, however, that the Holy See has allowed that decree to stand.

  6. peretti says:

    It is refreshing to see a cardinal reference a council, (Trent), and not V-2, in referring to Christ as the supreme point of reference in the liturgy. Is it possible that the cardinal is trying to remind people that the Church existed long before the 1960′s?

  7. Dob: I wonder if the commission will actively place priests in dioceses where the local ordinary is having difficulties providing priests for the older form. That could be quite helpful.

    And not really possible, either,… not without the local bishop’s permission.

  8. Chironomo says:

    This is a very hopeful interview… I am hoping that the language concerning NO PERMISSION NEEDED for the TLM will be clear and forceful, as well as an equally strong insistence that no further “guidelines” are needed from Bishops, but rather their role is to assist and help the Priests to implement this document. In other words, “help, or get out of the way!”…a blanket “nullification” of any guidelines issued since last Smmer would be helpful.

  9. BK says:

    Comment by Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos: “The excommunication regarded only the four bishops…while the priests are only suspended…Certainly neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicated.

    Comment by JP: “The priests are suspended a divinis, and to the extent that they formally adhere to and support Archbishop Lefebvre’s schism, they are excommunicated.”

    Hmmm…I think I’ll adhere to Cardinal Hoyos’ interpretation here, not JP’s.

  10. Kradcliffe says:

    I had the weirdest experience at a parish committee meeting tonight. I mentioned that our family goes to Sunday night Mass because we go to a Latin Mass in the morning, and everybody there said that this Mass must not be at a Catholic church. “Catholics aren’t allowed to do the Latin Mass, anymore!” None of them had heard of M.P. I said, “Didn’t you see it in the news last summer? The Pope issued this document, a letter, saying that priests can say the old Latin Mass.” “Well, the Pope didnae send a letter tae Dumbarton!” I didn’t want to go on about it and come across like a weirdo, but I said, “No, no… priests can say the Latin Mass if they want, so long as they don’t force them on their congregations.” But, I don’t think they believed me….I think they’re all now convinced that I am not really Catholic or something. Sigh.

  11. pseudomodo says:

    Hmmmmmm…I think I’ll adhere to the Holy See on this one and not Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos!!

    I quote from the decree of excommunication:

    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

    In other words the priests and faithful were warned ‘not to support the schism’. I think 20 years of support is reason enough to suppose that excommunication of the Bishops, Priests and Faithful is still in force and Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos comment is mere politicking.

  12. A.B. says:

    pseudomodo,

    I never knew excommunications could jump from bishops to priestS and then to the laity. Show me one document which states that the faithful who attend the SSPX are excommunicated.

    Your interpretation is more severe than even Rome would allow.

  13. pseudomodo says:

    I just did!

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

  14. A.B. says:

    I will admit though that it would be clearer if the Pope would state these things rather than Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos. [And I know that this interview deals with more than just the SSPX so forgive me for harping on this issue]

    However, I am sure Card. Castrillón Hoyos, as President of Ecclesia Dei is fully aware of the decree you cited. Sorry I take his stance regarding this issue.

  15. TNCath says:

    Bernardinus Card. Gantin wrote: “The priests and faithful are warned not to support the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre, otherwise they shall incur the very grave penalty of excommunication.”

    Has Cardinal Castrillon made a mistake? Or was Cardinal Gantin’s warning simply a warning? Does a formal decree of excommunication have to be formally served to the persons involved as in the cases of Archbishop Lefebvre, Bernard Pellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer?

    And what about Bishop Bruskewitz’s excommunications of SPPX members? I believe his decree was upheld by the Vatican and didn’t mention specific individuals.

    Hmmmm. This is starting to get confusing…and contradictory.

  16. A.B. says:

    TNCath,
    You know…it is confusing!! I suppose until we get a definitive statement on the matter we are left to try to figure this out ourselves.

  17. Kradcliffe says:

    I agree… it is confusing. He does say “The Mass they celebrate is without question valid, but not licit and, therefore, participation is not recommended, at least when on Sunday there are other possibilities.” Maybe I need it spelled out why it’s not recommended, then? If the priest who says the licit EF in Glasgow falls ill, we’re not going to go the the SSPX. But, maybe there’s no reason to scruple? I don’t get it.

  18. As I said before: “Notice how the Cardinal states very strongly that priests of the SSPX are not excommunicated. That must mean that when they adhered to the SSPX, by accepting ordination from excommunicated bishops, by taking orders and wages from them, they did not adhere to schism.”

  19. Father M says:

    The whole situation involving the 1988 consecrations IS confusing. But it is perhaps appropriate to remember that excommunications are after all meant to be medicinal and restorative. It is not politicking but an exercise of pastoral ministry to revisit the conditions of the 1988 decree in this quickly changing context. Excommunication and revocations of such all are part of the cura animarum–they are meant for the salvation of souls. And because the situation involves Catholic souls (SSPX or not), it must be approached delicately. The good Cardinal is doing just that, as is the Holy Father. I think we are in fact seeing a disciplinary decision being revisited as things have evolved, especially in this post SP Easter. Exultemus et laetemur in ea…

  20. TNCath says:

    Yes, Father Z., I understand what you are saying, and I understand what the Cardinal is saying. But, does this not contradict what Bishop Bruskewitz decreed for his diocese a few years back? Or did Bishop Bruskewitz’s excommunication of those who attended SPPX Masses NOT apply to the priests celebrating those Masses? I’m not trying to split hairs here or even disagree with what the Cardinal has said. I’m simply respectfully pointing out that there does not seem to be consistency of practice. Or is it that what applies in the Diocese of Lincoln not have any consistency with the decisions of the Universal Church?

  21. pseudomodo says:

    No problem A.B.

    I’m sure that Card. Castrillón Hoyos IS aware of the decree as was Pope John Paul II. The Congregation of Bishops issued the decree in July 1st 1988 and John Paul II issued Ecclisia Dei on July 2, 1988. The connection is clear and deliberate. These were not documents that passed each other like two ships in the night.

    The only clarification that the Holy See has produced was the obvious one… That the excommunication was not binding on members of the faithful who rarely or occaisionally attend an SSPX mass while at the same time NOT adhering or supporting the Lefebvre situation. The Holy See has never changed its position nor the position of Cardinal Gantin. The decree remains in force and due to the adherance of the priests and faithful includes them also. The decree actually does not mention adherance but only ‘support’. In other words you don’t have to be a card-carrying SSPX’er to be automatically excommunicated. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting – and if you have been tasting the same pudding on a regular basis for coming up 20 years then the Holy See assumes your taste buds are in good shape!

    As for Card. Castrillón Hoyos, if he is in this position as president of Ecclisia Dei and his job is to attract the bees back to the hive, you get better results with honey rather than vinegar! He is deliberatly downplaying the ramifications for the priests and faithful. Are they in or out? Are they firm or wavering? Are they suspended or excommunicated?

  22. pseudomodo says:

    I’m sure that Card. Castrillón Hoyos IS aware of the decree as was Pope John Paul II. The Congregation of Bishops issued the decree in July 1st 1988 and John Paul II issued Ecclisia Dei on July 2, 1988. The connection is clear and deliberate. These were not documents that passed each other like two ships in the night.

    The only clarification that the Holy See has produced was the obvious one… That the excommunication was not binding on members of the faithful who rarely or occaisionally attend an SSPX mass while at the same time NOT adhering or supporting the Lefebvre situation. The Holy See has never changed its position nor the position of Cardinal Gantin. The decree remains in force and due to the adherance of the priests and faithful includes them also. The decree actually does not mention adherance but only ‘support’. In other words you don’t have to be a card-carrying SSPX’er to be automatically excommunicated. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting – and if you have been tasting the same pudding on a regular basis for coming up 20 years then the Holy See assumes your taste buds are in good shape!

    As for Card. Castrillón Hoyos, if he is in this position as president of Ecclisia Dei and his job is to attract the bees back to the hive, you get better results with honey rather than vinegar! He is deliberatly downplaying the ramifications for the priests and faithful. Are they in or out? Are they firm or wavering? Are they suspended or excommunicated?

  23. pseudomodo says:

    There are only two people who can lift this decree of excommunication – the president of the Congregation of Bishops and the Holy Father – and niether has done so. However there is a great deal of chattering on the subject by some very senior officials including the Holy Father I presume but nothing official. Now let me ask Fr.Z a direct question…

    If the Bishops Congregation or the Holy Father were to formally retract or lift the Decree what would be the reaction of the SSPX?

  24. John Polhamus says:

    Let them who have ears hear. It has been long been clarified, said many, many times, by PCED over and over again in response to questions, that only those in the SSPX who INTEND to separate themselves from the Church in a spirit of schism can be considered schismatic. Illicit, sure; valid, of course; schismatic? Show me a single person in the SSPX who does not consider themselves more attached to the heart of the Church than most who administer said heart. And that’s the point. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has clearly gotten his hear ’round that point, and it looks like everyone else is going to have to swallow it at some point too. We may not like the SSPX’s attitude, but that doesn’t make them schismatic, only their intention can do that. Taking wages can’t do it, accepting ordination from their Bishops can’t do it, only theIR intention to split the church can do it, and they would argue that they have remained faithful. Whether or not it is my particular opinion, I tend to think Catharine of Siena would agree.

  25. pseudomodo: If the Bishops Congregation or the Holy Father were to formally retract or lift the Decree what would be the reaction of the SSPX?

    That is a good question. You’ll have to ask them. They can also chime in here!

  26. Fr. Steve says:

    I sure hope this is a preview of the upcoming clarification on the MP and the Holy Father’s intent that both forms influance one another. Does anyone think that ad orientem in the extraordinary form will be mentioned explicitly in the clarification? Does anyone have any inside scoop? (Need I ask Fr. Z by name?)This question is coming from a newly ordained priest who is already prepping his congregation by setting up the altar with the “Benedictine Arrangement.”

  27. Fr. Steve says:

    Correction “ad orientem in the ordinary form” sorry.

  28. schoolman says:

    “…only those in the SSPX who INTEND to separate themselves from the Church in a spirit of schism can be considered schismatic.”

    I don’t know of any in the SSPX who want to be separated from the Church…or “eternal Rome”. Yet, there are some who wish to be separated from the Holy See — that they consider as “neo-modernist Rome” or “NewChurch”. What are we to make of that?

  29. Kradcliffe says:

    OK. I’m going to admit it: I am just too stupid to deal with this. I do not understand the distinction being made, here between “intending schism” or “adherance to schism” to….”an attachment to the EF” to whatever.

  30. Jordan Potter says:

    BK said: Hmmm…I think I’ll adhere to Cardinal Hoyos’ (sic) interpretation here, not JP’s.

    You flatter me, but sorry, it’s not my interpretation, it’s that of Msgr. Camille Perl, who wrote in 2003: “The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but they are suspended from exercising their priestly functions. To the extent that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, they are also excommunicated.”

    It’s also the interpretation of Pope John Paul II (never contradicted by Pope Benedict XVI), who wrote in 1988:

    “In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law.”

    Nothing Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said is contrary to what Msgr. Camille Perl and Pope John Paul II (not me) has said about those who formally adhere to and support a schism. The priests are only excommunicated if they formally adhere to Msgr. Lefebvre’s schism. However, as Msgr. Perl of Ecclesia Dei has previously observed, the Church has not clarified what it means to formally adhere to a schism. Apparently it takes more than merely functioning as a priest entirely outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church to qualify as formally adhering to a schism.

  31. schoolman says:

    Well, it seems clear that being formed and even ordained by excommunicated bishops does not (in itself) constitute “adherence to the schism” — at least it is not considered as such under present circumstances. Clearly “adherence to the schism” must be some interior disposition or spirit that prefers to maintain a state of discord rather than seeking to find that unity with the Holy See.

  32. RJackson says:

    Don’t get me wrong.. I don’t mean to sound as if I like excommunications or that I think they’re fun to just throw out there.. but if you can be a priest in charge of a church which is overseen by bishops who are excommunicated and *not* be adhering to schism than excommunications seem to be totally meaningless. What? Arius was excommunicated? Oh well, I still feel like following Arius in his disobedience and heresy but that should have no canonical effect on my standing within the Church. I respectfully hope and pray that His Eminence is wrong; not because I want more people excommunicated but because I hope its indicative of a Church that knows that disobedience of the magnitude of the SSPX is a dangerous thing for the faithful entrusted to it.

  33. Papabile says:

    For those who mentioned Bishop Bruskewitz’s actions, it is important to remember that his actions did not rely on the Decree of Excommunication published in light of the consecration of the four Bishops. Bruskewitz’s actions were specifically undertaken as Extra Synodal Legislation under the code, and therefore, it stands on its own.

    Who knows whether this was appealed by the SSPX, as would be their right? Call to Action did appeal it, and was told it stood against them.

    Extra Synodal Legislation

    All Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln are forbidden to be members of the organizations
    and groups listed below.

    Membership in these organizations or groups is always perilous to the Catholic Faith and most often is totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith.

    Planned Parenthood
    Society of Saint Pius X
    (Lefebvre Group)
    Hemlock Society
    Call to Action
    Call to Action Nebraska
    Saint Michael the Archangel
    Chapel
    Freemasons
    Job’s Daughters
    DeMolay
    Eastern Star
    Rainbow Girls
    Catholics for a Free Choice

    Any Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln who attain or retain membership in any of the above listed organizations or groups after April 15, 1996, are by that very fact (ipso facto latae sententiae) under interdict and are absolutely forbidden to receive Holy Communion. Contumacious persistence in such membership for one month following the interdict on part of any such Catholics will by that very fact (ipso facto latae sententiae) cause them to be excommunicated. Absolution from these ecclesial censures is “reserved to the Bishop.” This notice, when published in the Southern Nebraska Register, is a formal canonical warning.

    By mandate of the Most Reverend
    Bishop of Lincoln
    Reverend Monsignor Timothy
    Thorburn Chancellor
    March 19, 1996

  34. Paul says:

    The SSPX is guilty of no heresy. They’ve held steadfastly to the Traditional teaching of the Church, and have rightly criticized some scandalous developments. The case of Lefebvre is nothing like the case of Arius.

  35. Exaudi says:

    Why does the Holy Father not simply state what the situation is, considering all the confusion and speculation? He’s a German, he likes order. This is a very messy situation and, it seems, way to handle it.

    Point taken that perhaps he desires to handle the situation “delicately,” but with what he’s been saying in recent ecumenical dialog – that the only way to reach true unity is if both sides know precisely where the other stands – it just seems inconsistent.

  36. Jordan Potter says:

    Paul said: They’ve held steadfastly to the Traditional teaching of the Church,

    Well, except for the traditional teachings about the necessity of communion with and submission to the Holy See, and the canonical rights of the bishop and obligations of the priest, etc.

    But you’re right, the case of Msgr. Lefebvre is quite unlike that of Arius. That would be a case of hyperbole for the sake of effect, I guess.

  37. schoolman says:

    To be fair, even if there is no excommunication involved by merely associating with excommunicated bishops, Cardinal Castrillon would not have us believe that we are free to do so. We are still morally obliged to adhere to the normal canonical structures whenever possible. This explains why the diocese of Lincoln can take a hardline stance — given that the TLM is generally available there.

  38. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On J.P.s comments:

    First, formally to adhere to a schism means to adhere to an alternate hierarchy. Since the Society does not claim any jurisdiction for itself or its bishops, there is no alternate hierachy. Its bishops do not claim to be bishops of any particular diocese. In such cases, the Church assumes that a particular priest or deacon is not schismatic unless there is good reason to believe otherwise.

    Second, In the case of Bishop Brukewicz, as the local ordinary, he does have certain rights and powers to impose excommunication on those who operate outside his authority. But he can only do this in his own territory. I understand that the Society moved out of his territory after he imposed the penalty.

    Third, “Ecclesia Dei” warned that non-schismatics can fall into schism over time if they imbibe a schismatic attitude. It warned that, the longer any separation from ordinary authority lasts, the greater the risk of this. This is true as a general principle, and it makes it all the more urgent for the Society to end its irregular position.

    Fourth, while we cannot say that members of the S.S.P.X are excommunicated schismatics as a group (other than the four bishops), it is certainly possible for us to regard certain Society priests as being that if they give reason for us to suppose it. But this applies with equal force to fully regularised priests. One must consider each case separately. I certainly cannot imagine any Society priest being as remotely unCatholic as the infamous Fr. Raymond Gravel of the Diocese of Joliette in Québec. While we’ve seen many shocking cases over the years (e.g. Drinan in the U.S.A.), his certainly beats them all (e.g. he worked as a male prostitute before entering seminary, according to the Canadian Press), and yet there is nothing but silence over the scandals he is causing. No, he even goes on television to show his support for abortion and inverted marriage, and does so as a priest who became an M.P. without having obtained the necessary permission from the Holy See, according to the papal nuncio. The papal nuncio to Canada admits this and yet does nothing. While two wrongs don’t make a right, complaining about the Society while the likes of Gravel roam the Church is like complaining about the mouse in your drawing room and not noticing the elephant.

    We need to put everything in its proper perspective.

    P.K.T.P.

  39. TNCath says:

    Sorry, but I still think that the actions of Bishop Bruskewitz, as outlined by Papabile, have merit because they were never formally repudiated by the Holy See. Hence, anyone who claimed membership with the Society of St. Pius X in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, was latae sententiae excommunicated. No one from the Holy See has published anything to the contrary, unless, of course, there is something I don’t know, which may very well be true. Moreover, I find it ridiculous that a diocesan bishop can invoke an act of excommunication in his diocese over a group of people, and then a president of a pontifical commission (namely Cardinal Castrillon) can then turn around years later and say that these folks are not in schism. Not only is it confusing to the faithful, it gives the impression that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. No wonder we have so much confusion and disarray in the Church!

    Personally, I am very distrustful of the SSPX. If they were truly interested in reconciling with the Church, I believe they’d have done so long ago. Why we spend so much time trying to appease them is beyond me. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a reconciliation. I have great respect for Cardinal Castrillon, but I respectfully wonder if His Eminence didn’t overstep himself with these comments.

  40. Geoffrey says:

    I’ll continue to play it safe and avoid the SSPX until they are regularized.

  41. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    In response to pseudomodo.

    The answer is simple. The preists and faithful do not incur the penalty because, while they support the Society bishops in certain respects, they do not support their supposed schism per se. To support a schism, one must support a parallel hierachy.

    However, as Ecclesia Dei note, there certainly is a chance that they will fall into schism by adopting a schismatic attitude. It is ultimately all about what the priests and faithful *intend*. Their actions alone have so far not incurred the penalty but it is possible that the intentions of some of them have had this effect. But not for all of them.

    P.K.T.P.

    P.K.T.P.

  42. Royce says:

    Thank you, Father, for the translation.

    Indpendent of this debate about the SSPX’s regularity (or lack thereof), did anyone else find the phrasing of the reporter’s question to be borderline-hilarious as I did? First, he seems to be unaware that people who are excommunicated can come back into communion with the Church. Second, I would love to have seen the look on his face when Cardinal Castrillon made that reply. It doesn’t seem to be what he was expecting!

  43. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    To Kradcliffe:

    The good Cardinal is referring obliquely, I think, to the P.C.E.D. decision which found that attendance at a Society Mass fulfils the Sunday obligation if there is no schismatic intent. But it is not recommended to attend a Mass held to be illicit.

    I have been told that some canonists disagree with this finding of the P.C.E.D. and say that attendance at a Society chapel cannot fulfil the obligation. But if, under the case law of the Church, attendance at a regularised Mass were ‘impossible’, one could attend a Society Mass. Attendance at the Society Mass might not fulfil the obligation but it is not forbidden to attend one, just as it is no longer forbidden to attend even a Protestant service when there is no social or state obligation to be present there.

    Impossibility to fulfil the obligation in such cases is categorised as ‘physical’ or ‘moral’. I am told that, if one expects to need to travel for more than one hour to reach Mass, attendance at that Mass is considered to be ‘physically impossible’. Keep in mind that this is what the term means canonically, not otherwise. Moral impossibility could arise if one honestly held that attendance at a Mass would likely undermine one’s faith, for example, or if one expected the Mass in question to be illicit or invalid (as many N.O. Masses are if they use invalid matter for the Sacrament).

    The question, though, of whether or not a Society Mass can fulfil the obligation is at least debateable. We do not have a ruling on this either from a tribunal (as far as I know) or from the P.C.L.T. The P.C.E.D. has made its finding but does not have competence in this matter.

    Incidentally, the Society has a good case and this should also be considered. The Society claims to offer Masses licitly by supplied jurisdiction in a case of necessity. One could argue that, since the Pope himself now admits that the old Mass was never abrogated, and since we know that power was abused to prevent its celebration universally, the Society was indeed acting in a case of necessity to provide faithful with access to a Mass they had a general right to attend. But that argument would seem to end with the promulgation of S.P. last year.

    These are all yet more reasons why regularisation of the S.S.P.X is desirable.

    P.K.T.P.

  44. FranzJosf says:

    There is NO SCHISM! Good grief. I only have a modest education, I’m I’m capable of making DISTINCIONS. I’ll give you an example: We have three words: same, similar, different. Now, the middle word is interesting. The whole point of similar is that there are differences, otherwise we wouldn’t say something is similar, we’d say it is the same.

    Schismatic ACT is not full Schism.

    THE SSPX bishops have not set up canonical territories, unlike the schismatic oriental churches. The Russian Orthodox, for instance, are schismatic. Would some of you please start referring to them as the Schismatic Russian Orthodox?

    The SSPX are in a canonically irregular situation. Given my modest education, I’m not a canon lawyer, but it seems to me that anyone with a modicum of sense would understand that canonical irregularity refers to legal standing. Bishop Fellay is aware of this, and he has spoken about it. For instance, if one of his priests wants to challenge one of his decisions, Rome will not hear the appeal; whereas, any virulent Jesuit can appeal to Rome if he thinks he’s be wrongly-treated by his superior.

    And some of you blathering on about ‘adhering to Schism’ haven’t a clue, because there is no institutional schism, although it is possible that some individuals, be they priests or laymen, could have a schismatic attitude, but none of us are qualified to determine that on a case by case basis.

    Finally, the SSPX problems with Rome isn’t finally about the Mass, although it plays a significant role. Ironically, the SSPX and the Holy Father are in agreement about that: The TLM has never been abrogated, even though so many ‘in-full-communion’ bishops have argued that it was. They were wrong.

    The two main sticking-points are Ecumenism and Religious Liberty from the French Revolution point of view. Both are related to the Social Reign of Christ the King and where salvation may be found.

  45. B. says:

    The Holy See (by the way of the Commission Ecclesia Dei) has already made clarifications about the adherence to the schism.
    This was an authoritative decision, as the Archdiocese of Salzburg was forced to change its policy regarding SSPX adherents (they wanted to treat marriages with SSPX adherents as mixed marriages).
    The decision can be read here (in the file …2006-05…pdf, on page 85, this is the official decree from the Archdiocese of Salzburg).
    It states:

    - The four bishops are excommunicated

    - The priests are suspended

    Regarding people who sympathize with the SSPX:

    - They are Catholic faithful, who – as long as they have not set explicit acts in that direction – don’t want to leave the Church.

    - The attending of a Mass by the SSPX is not in itself a delict and does not incur an excommunication

    - Only those faithful, who consider the SSPX as the only true church and make this visible on the outside, are excommunicated.

    - Children, who are baptized by the SSPX have to be regarded as Catholics, their marriages with other catholics must not be treated as mixed marriages.

    - If the baptism is verified by an SSX priest in written form and the parents do not consider the SSPX the only true church, the baptism can be recorded in the baptism register of the local parish.

  46. Louise says:

    “Any Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln who attain or retain MEMBERSHIP in any of the above listed organizations or groups after April 15, 1996, are by that very fact (ipso facto latae sententiae) under interdict and are absolutely forbidden to receive Holy Communion.”

    People who attend Mass at an SSPX chapel are not MEMBERS of the SSPX. There is no application to fill out, no initiation or acceptance ceremony, membership card, or any sort of paperwork. The only MEMBERS of the SSPX are the clerics and Sisters and Brothers, and maybe the 3rd Order members. Even if Bishop B’s excommunication was valid, it would not apply to non-members, the faithful.

  47. Jamie says:

    I was confirmed by Bishop Williamson of the SSPX – upon receiving my documentation from the society, I forwarded a copy to my local Diocese so that it was recorded there. I received no threats, complaints, or any other problems. When I went to join the SSPX seminary – my very liberal novus ordo parish priest gave me a parting gift. Surely this is the way we should deal with the situation – rather than heaping vitriol on anyone that supports the SSPX. We all know the situation will be regularized before too long – let’s just thank God for the great work the society has done so far. I would not have returned to the Church if it were not for the society and would not now be attending Mass at the London Oratory.

  48. Will says:

    Jamie: “let’s just thank God for the great work the society has done so far.”

    Let’s see:

    1. SSPX causes extreme grief to three Roman Pontiffs-check
    2. SSPX causes confusion in the minds of the faithful-check
    3. SSPX bishops believe certain aspects of Vatican II are hogwash-check

    The assertion that SSPX has done “great work” is certainly questionable. I have no doubt of the sincerity of those who attend SSPX liturgies. The leadership of the SSPX is a completely different matter.

    Also, although I hope and pray for a speedy resolution to this problem, after hearing some of the current SSPX “bishops,” I doubt they will ever truly accept certain aspects of Vatican II. Perhaps a new generation of leaders will change all this.

  49. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    With regard to Bishop Bruskewitz’s “excommunication” of the members of certain groups. I do not believe this really was challenged, and I do not believe the Call to Action process was a real challenge. The good Bishop has made clear that he will give the Sacraments to any of the members of these groups (he assumes that any that approach him would have already gone to confession). He will not name anyone as being excommunicated either. If he did either of these things (like the bishop of Hawaii did in a similar situation) he knows that there if every likelihood that the excommunication would not stand. I consider Bishop Bruskewitz’s actions cowardly, and nothing more than a PR stunt to give the appearance of one thing, when he knows the reality is different. The priests and members of the SSPX chapel affected challenged him to excommunicate them by name, so they could go through a canonical process of appeal. He of course refused to do so, which while underhanded, was certainly the wise, the good bishop cannot be unaware of the Hawaiian excommunications, and their being overturned by Rome. I am all for excommunication when it is needed, but I am also for ensuring the rights of appeal for the excommunicated. The good bishop can bluster all he wants about excommunication, but it does not change the fact that when a known member of planned parenthood approaches him for Communion, he is going to give it to them. Res non verbum!

  50. Dob says:

    Will,
    I think your summary is a little unfair. As a faithful Catholic I was confused with what was happening in my own Church. I did not understand why the faith that was given to me seemed alien to the faith of some priests in my parish and quite a few popular Catholic clerical writers. So I started to look. I found SSPX. There was a confirmation of my faith. I was confused before my encounter with SSPX not after. In fact, studying their position has helped me to grow in faith. I dare say the Papal grief caused by their position has given our shepherds fruitful pause for thought too. As regards your 3) point I would say that the Pope considers certain aspects of Vatican II hogwash as do very many faithful Catholics – namely it’s “Spirit”. Until a proper reconciliation between Vat II and tradition takes place there will always be these genuine problems. I thank God such work work is now taking place and hope and pray that SSPX become regularized.

  51. Jordan Potter says:

    TNCath said: Moreover, I find it ridiculous that a diocesan bishop can invoke an act of excommunication in his diocese over a group of people, and then a president of a pontifical commission (namely Cardinal Castrillon) can then turn around years later and say that these folks are not in schism.

    It’s also not helpful to understanding that Cardinal Castrillon has several times said in the press that the SSPX is not in schism without clarifying that the Church has juridical documents from the highest levels, which have not yet been revoked or superseded, that refer not only to a schismatic act, but to something called “the schism.” I can only suppose that since the Church is eager to bring the SSPX back into full communion, there has been a decision at the Vatican to treat the SSPX as an internal matter, even though as a practical matter the SSPX is quite independent of the Catholic Church.

    Peter Karl T. Perkins said: First, formally to adhere to a schism means to adhere to an alternate hierarchy. Since the Society does not claim any jurisdiction for itself or its bishops, there is no alternate hierachy.

    Your explanation may be the right one. I don’t know. I wonder, though, if that means Emanuel Milingo’s Moonie front group is in schism or not, since I don’t belive he and his bishops claim jurisdiction.

    The good Cardinal is referring obliquely, I think, to the P.C.E.D. decision which found that attendance at a Society Mass fulfils the Sunday obligation if there is no schismatic intent.

    And as long as one cannot make it to a Catholic Mass that Sunday. That was only a stipulation of Ecclesia Dei’s answer.

    But it is not recommended to attend a Mass held to be illicit.

    And assisting at an illicit Mass, especially an SSPX Mass, is very strongly discouraged.

    FranzJosf said: There is NO SCHISM!

    And yet the Church in her official document does refer to “the schism” when talking about Msgr. Lefebvre’s actions and movement. So, whether or not the SSPX is in schism, we cannot say there is no schism. The supreme legislator of the Church says there is.

  52. Maria Humphrey says:

    SSPX or No SSPX

    I attended my Easter Services at a licit location as the priest in question is not allowed to say mass in
    Church courtesy of the Bishop.

    In Church the Stations of the Cross was turned into the Stations of the Peoples suffering.
    One priest in the Diocese dropped the Our Father/Hail Mary and Glory Be.

    Which is Catholic? I know my faith when I see it.

  53. Habemus Papam says:

    Well folks, 17 years after the death of Arch. Lefebvre, chickens are coming home to roost. JPIIs excommunication, Ecclessia Dei, Indult Masses et al. were intended to drive the faithful back to Novus Ordo churches which continued to empty at an alarming rate despite the policy of Papal globe-trotting. Around 2000 a re-think was necessary. The Old Mass, Vatican II. What we are witnessing now by the grace of the Holy Ghost is politicking. Rome made mistakes, big ones. This is being recognised now, thanks be to God.

  54. Ottaviani says:

    The supreme legislator of the Church says there is.

    It might occur to you that we now have a different legislator who may think differently from his predecessor? Just like Paul VI thought he could invent a whole new rite of mass, unlike St. Pius V? The fact that Pope Benedict has not insisted that Cardinal Hoyos clarify his statements about the status of SSPX priests and take your slant, may tell you something. The president of the PCED carries more weight in his public announcements, than his secretary Mgr. Camille Pearl – who have never been sympathetic to the plight of SSPX as I understand.

    Your obsessive quoting of the Ecclesia Dei edict is just pure mental gymnastics in trying to defend John Paul II’s un-ecumenical excommunications.

  55. TNCath says:

    Jordan Potter,

    Thanks for your comments. I feel bad for Bishop Bruskewitz who was one of the first American bishops to preserve the continuity between the Novus Ordo Mass and the Extraordinary Form. He did what he felt was necessary to preserve orthodoxy and unity in his diocese. He courageously stood alone and received much criticism from outside and within the Church. His excommunications were upheld by Rome and now it seems it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t get it. I have a feeling that there will be no further clarification about this from Cardinal Castrillon or anyone else for that matter anytime soon. I think this will remain a mess for quite some time, unless, of course the SSPX finally decides to reconcile with the Church. While this would certainly be a cause for rejoicing, I am personally skeptical this will ever happen.

  56. Different says:

    Why is no one talking about this line:

    “…therefore, participation is not recommended, at least when on Sunday there are not other possibilities.”

    It doesn’t sound like the Cardinal is saying “go to the SSPX, if you want as long as you don’t embrace schism.” It sounds like he’s saying, “don’t go the SSPX Masses unless it is the only available Catholic Mass.”

    The difficult point here is the tension between Card. Castrillon Hoyos’ comment:

    “Certainly neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicated.”

    And the authoritative decree issued by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts:

    “6. In the case of the Lefebvrian deacons and priests there seems no doubt that their ministerial activity in the ambit of the schismatic movement is a more than evident sign of the fact that the two requirements mentioned above (n.5) are met, and thus that there is a formal adherence.”

    Can a Cardinal’s comments to a reporter overrule the teaching of a Pontifical Council or a document issued motu proprio??? How can these two statements possibly be reconciled?

    Father Z???

  57. RBrown says:

    1. SSPX causes extreme grief to three Roman Pontiffs-check
    2. SSPX causes confusion in the minds of the faithful-check
    3. SSPX bishops believe certain aspects of Vatican II are hogwash-check
    Comment by Will

    Let’s continue the exercise:

    1. The papacy of Paul VI caused extreme grief to his successors. Check.

    2. The papacy of Paul VI caused confusion in the minds of the faithful. Check.

    3. Many bishops appointed by Paul VI believe certain aspects of Vatican II (e.g., preservation of Latin liturgy and the teaching authority of the Church) are hogwash. Check.

  58. JP says:

    Ottaviani said: It might occur to you that we now have a different legislator who may think differently from his predecessor?

    Then he will have to issue a different ruling. A pope merely thinking something doesn’t change anything — he has to actually make a formal decision and publish it. We can’t read his mind.

    The fact that Pope Benedict has not insisted that Cardinal Hoyos (sic) clarify his statements about the status of SSPX priests and take your slant, may tell you something.

    First of all, I haven’t said anything here that contradicts Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’ statements in the press, so I’m not sure he would have to “take my slant,” as he hasn’t said anything that we haven’t already heard from Ecclesia Dei: the priests of the SSPX are not excommunicated unless they adhere to Msgr. Lefebvre’s schism. Ecclesia Dei nor Msgr. Perl has never said the SSPX is itself in formal schism.

    But yes, the fact that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos apparently has not been asked to clarify his statements does rather strongly suggest something about how the Church wishes to approach this matter.

    The president of the PCED carries more weight in his public announcements, than his secretary Mgr. Camille Pearl (sic) – who have never been sympathetic to the plight of SSPX as I understand.

    Public pronouncements in the press are important, but they aren’t juridical.

    Your obsessive quoting of the Ecclesia Dei edict is just pure mental gymnastics in trying to defend John Paul II’s un-ecumenical excommunications.

    Hmm, I thought the SSPX didn’t like post-Vatican II ecumenism. Anyway, there’s nothing obsessive about my quoting an authoritative and binding juridical document of the Church. In discussions like these, it’s obligatory that we quote such documents and actually address what the Church or her officials have said on the subject. I rather think the mental gymnastics are encountered in those who, in the absence of documents, can only speculate and try to read Pope Benedict’s mind.

  59. TNCath says:

    Perhaps the Cardinal’s comments, said in an effort to reach out to the Lefebvrites, were his personal beliefs and did not reflect the official position of the Church on this matter. This situation reminds me of the time Cardinal McCarrick gave his interpretation of the letter written by Cardinal Ratzinger regarding the denial of Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion.

  60. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    TNCath,

    The good archbishop never declared anyone excommunicated. It was not a courageous act. He set about to cast a cloud over certain people, without giving them any ability to remove the cloud through a canonical process. This an act in the worst tradition of the Church. I say tradition because it was used in the past often. Similar methods were justly criticized by Fr. Joseph Ratzinger when they were employed by the Holy Office before Vatican II.

  61. Different says:

    I would just like to point out the inconsistency of some here in regard to documents issued motu proprio.

    Some of you hold that all bishops must rigidly obey the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (which is correct). While at the same time, you see no problem with dismissing the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei. Apparently, Ecclesia Dei and the PCILT can be juridically overruled by a Cardinal’s comments to a reporter. One wonders if those same posters would also allow Summorum Pontificum to be overruled by a (liberal) Cardinal’s comments to a reporter.

    Let’s be consistent here. Documents issued motu proprio are authoritative (whether we like what they say, or not) and cannot be overruled by bishops commenting to the media.

  62. Geoffrey says:

    “JPIIs excommunication, Ecclessia Dei, Indult Masses et al. were intended to drive the faithful back to Novus Ordo churches…”

    Does your term “Novus Ordo churches” imply that there are somehow two different churches?

  63. JM says:

    How can a group that advises people to stay home on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation when they can’t attend an SSPX Mass even though there is an local valid, licit, and even potentially reverent Novus Ordo Mass or EVEN a traditional Mass, prayed by a perfectly traditional priest in the good graces of the Church like Fr. Z (or a priest from the ICK, FSSP, GS, etc), be viewed as not in some sort of state of schism. And of course they also advise that you shouldn’t attend an eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy. Advising people to stay home and avoid valid Masses said by priests in communion with their bishops and the Holy Father, thus committing a mortal sin in the process, is not the advise of a group in communion with the Catholic Church. (And for those of you who don’t believe that this is their advise, go to http://www.sspx.org to read their terrible scare tactic and unconscionably universally applied arguments.)

  64. BK says:

    Comment by Jordan Potter: “But it is not recommended to attend a Mass held to be illicit.

    And assisting at an illicit Mass…is very strongly discouraged.”

    The argument can be made that EVERY Novus Ordo mass with EMHCs is illicit, unless the priest is physically unable to distribute communion himself.

    Many if not most Novus Ordo masses that I have attended would be considered illicit due to various wide ranging liturgical abuses.

    So if the choice is between an illicit Novus Ordo mass and an illicit SSPX mass, which is really more dangerous to one’s soul? (I do not attend SSPX masses, but the idea that an illicit SSPX is somehow worse than the vast majority of illicit Novus Ordo masses is simply ridiculous.) My local bishop is barely Catholic; he has even stated that masses said for the deceased have no benefit to their soul. At least SSPX bishops are Catholic in matters of Faith and Morals. The same simply cannot be said of many bishops “in full communion with Rome” in the US.

  65. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    The the point of Vatican II: was not the Campos group (Society of St. John Marie Vianney) given the specific permission to publish constructive criticisms of the texts of Vatican II?

  66. Aaron Sanders says:

    I think Cdl. Castrillon Hoyos’ interviews often tend to muddy the waters more than they clarify things. I also think that is intentional, as I do believe he is trying to use a little honey to tempt people home. With all respect to Fr. Z’s assertions, I agree with those posters who think people are basically talking past each other here:

    On the one hand, His Eminence seems to be referring to the strict terms of the excommunication, i.e. of course only the bishops were explicitly excommunicated, as the priests were not directly affected by the decree. So it is technically legitimate to say “only the bishops are excommunicated” since there is no certainty that anyone else has been, and if keeping this same mindset it is then legitimate to say that the SSPX is not in schism since, as far as we know, only its four bishops are. That’s the line you put out there to be conciliatory.

    On the other hand, though, Ecclesia Dei and the decree of the previous day make it clear that a) a schism exists, and b) it is possible for priests and even laity who were not directly affected by the excommunications incurred for *illicit consecrations* to also incur the penalty of excommunication if they “support” or “adhere to” the schism. This is the line set forth by the official legal documents of the Church and it is the line that has never legally been altered. We could also add to these the published decision of the PCILT that “As long as there are no changes which may lead to the re-establishment of this necessary communion, the whole Lefebvrian movement is to be held schismatic, in view of the existence of a formal declaration by the Supreme Authority on this matter” and “In the case of the Lefebvrian deacons and priests there seems no doubt that their ministerial activity in the ambit of the schismatic movement is a more than evident sign of the fact that the two requirements mentioned above (n.5) are met, and thus that there is a formal adherence.” These do not render authoritative interpretations that, indeed, all clerics of the SSPX are in schism, but they do create a presumption, and even say the whole movement “is to be held schismatic.”

    The problem I see in pitting Cdl. Castrillon Hoyos’ comments against the second set of documents it that it is not simply a matter of pitting one pope/curia against a later one in time. If that were the case then it would probably be wise to follow the latter. Instead, though, we are dealing with *interviews* given by the president of a dicastery over against *official acts* of popes and dicasteries. There is no comparison there. If His Eminence publishes his opinions on the SSPX as an official act of his commission, then we’ll have some parity. Until then, though, the official, legally binding acts win out without question.

    I also find the very high bar for adherence to schism set by His Eminence’s comments to be problematic. If, as Fr. Z put it, “when they adhered to the SSPX, by accepting ordination from excommunicated bishops, by taking orders and wages from them, they did not adhere to schism,” then how *does* one manage to adhere to schism? Good points have been raised in this regard, specifically dealing with intention and jurisdiction, but both of these leave loose ends.

    First, on intention, if you hold this up as the make or break point of schism then it will be near impossible to be schismatic. It’s just like prison – no one in prison actually committed the crime, at least if you ask them. I don’t think most people doubt the sincerity of the bishops’ or priests’ actions, so we know that in their heads they do not intend to be schismatic. But that’s highly subjective. If I intend to disobey the pope even in matters most gravely linked to the unity of the Church and I intend to operate exclusively outside of the Catholic hierarchy by running churches and seminaries outside of any ecclesiastical jurisdiction and illictly celebrating the Eucharist, celebrating the sacraments of penance and matrimony without any jurisdiction, etc., etc., etc., but I just don’t want to break with Rome . . . . well, at some time doesn’t that last “intention” seem a little hollow, as if it’s not really conforming with the rest of the intentions?

    The same disjunction holds true for the argument that the SSPX claims no jurisdiction: okay, but when you confirm other bishops’ subjects and even ordain them and effectively incardinate them into your hierarchy (which technically is not done because the SSPX is not a Catholic society of apostolic life and their bishops claim no jurisdiction), not to mention, again, the marriages and confessions, well, after performing so many acts that require jurisdiction, the canonical technicality that you’re doing them in an “emergency” without jurisdiction starts to butt up against the fact that you have your own bishops, priests, seminaries, churches, etc. Subjectively, I readily concede the arguments from intention and jurisdiction, but at a certain point, doesn’t one suspect that those subjective attitudes belie the objective state of affairs?

  67. Habemus Papam says:

    Geoffrey: No. It signifies those churches where the NO Mass was celebrated and where, by 1988 Rome was concerned at the decrease in attendance. Without of course admitting any correlation between the two.

  68. TNCath says:

    Different wrote: “Let’s be consistent here. Documents issued motu proprio are authoritative (whether we like what they say, or not) and cannot be overruled by bishops commenting to the media.”

    PRECISELY!

    JM: Your reference to the SSPX website and its contents is one of several reasons why I do not believe the SSPX is truly interested in reconciling with the Church. The major issue with the SSPX is not the Mass. The issue is obedience.

    Christopher Sarsfield: Whether you believe Bishop Bruskewitz’s acts were courageous or not, they were upheld by Rome.

    See the following: http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=48072

  69. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Different,

    There is a great difference between a bishop commenting on the Motu Proprio and the good Cardinal commenting on the SSPX. A bishop has no competency to say what the Motu Proprio means. He can not give anything but his private opinion. However, because the good Cardinal is the head of ED Commission, the status of the SSPX falls within his competency. If you have a question about the SSPX, you write to ED. If you were to write to the Congregation for Bishops for the status of the SSPX priests, I assume they would forward the communication to the ED commission, because the Congregation for Bishops are not competent (based on territorial authority) to answer the question.

  70. Habemus Papam says:

    Different: There is inconsistency between the two motu propios. Ecclesia Dei grants an indult for a rite of Mass which Summorum Pontificum states was never abrogated. And both are based on the same commission of Cardinals in 1986.

  71. Aaron Sanders says:

    Mr. Sarsfield,

    “Relations” with the SSPX certainly fall under the competence of the PCED (though I don’t think I would thereby claim that every single question regarding them is reserved to that commission), but Cdl. Castrillon Hoyos’ interviews are not official acts of that commission. Thus they carry absolutely zero juridical weight. That’s the disctinction that is being made: His Eminence’s unofficial statements could be read to conflict with the official, promulgated positions of the Holy See. If, then, there were a discrepancy (rather than answering subtly but truly different questions as some of us suppose), then one would have to defer to the official position of the Holy See. Cdl. Castrillon Hoyos is competent to answer these questions, but he has not exercised that competency (i.e., in a legally authoritative manner).

  72. D. S. says:

    RBrown (9.11):

    good point.

    I could go on showing that it is in fact not the SSPX but the modern Bichops (or even Rome, f. e. Holy Father kissing the Koran!) that/who give(s) the greater scandal!

    And also some texts of the Second Vatican Council, that are at least ambivalent/ambiguos (or more: supporting some heresy/clining to heresy) and so “confuse the mind of the faithful – check”!!

    (If the SSPX is the only group critisizing seriously/profoundly these texts, then they are to be praised and louded and not blamed for! And then the SSPX would really emerge as the only intergal catholic group – but, oops, now you will call me excommunicated… what a confusion…!)

    in Cho per Mam
    D.S.

  73. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    TNCath,

    As I said before, it is very difficult to appeal an action with no personal consequences. The good bishop refused to name anyone excommunicated, or refuse anyone the Sacraments. Deeds speak much loader than empty words. The bishop knowingly gives communion to the “people” supposedly excommunicated. Compare his actions with those of Bishop Burke. Bishop Burke ordered that certain people were to be refused Communion. These people have every right to appeal the decision of Bishop Burke. Finally, the excommunication was only held up with regard to Call to Action, and many canonists believe the reason Call to Action lost was because they appealed to the wrong body. The good bishop can bluster all he wants, but when the excommunicates come to him for the Sacraments he clearly behaves as if his excommunication is meaningless, ie bluster.

  74. TNCath says:

    Christopher Sarsfield,

    Part of what you say is true. Matters that refer to the SSPX should be directed to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei However, one would think that the President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission would be familiar with and actually use the contents of the actual document that established that commission, Ecclesia Dei Afflicta, as the basis for his comments!

    One particular line from Pope John Paul II’s Motu Proprio stands out quite clearly: “In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfil the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law.”

    What about that, Your Eminence?

  75. Different says:

    Habemus,

    I don’t see the inconsistency. The point is that comments to reporters do not overrule official teachings of the Church. That applies whether we are speaking of Summorum Pontificum or Ecclesia Dei.

    Christopher,

    The Cardinal can indeed speak about the SSPX. What he cannot do is contradict or overrule Ecclesia Dei or the clarification made by the PCILT. The ED commission is not charged with interpreting ED (ironically). That competency belongs to the PCILT. A bishop does not have anymore competency to officially interpret Summorum Pontificum than Card. Castrillon Hoyos has to interpret Ecclesia Dei. That was my point.

  76. TNCath says:

    Christopher Sarsfield,

    I thought the article clearly stated that the excommunications applied to all parties involved, including the SSPX. It was Call to Action that was the only group to appeal the excommunication. If the other excommunications did not pass muster, then why didn’t the Congregation for Bishops not comment on those? Just because they didn’t appeal them?

  77. Henry Edwards says:

    Perhaps some of those discussing the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei have forgotten the following sentence in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum:

    The conditions for the use of this [1962] Missal as laid down by earlier documents ‘Quattuor abhinc annis’ and ‘Ecclesia Dei,’ are substituted as follows:

    Would it not appear that any suggestion of such differences between the motu proprios is moot? Ecclesia Dei having been “abrogated” in these particulars.

  78. JP says:

    BK said: The argument can be made that EVERY Novus Ordo mass with EMHCs is illicit, unless the priest is physically unable to distribute communion himself.

    No, the Mass is not illicit, because the priest has faculties. What is illicit is the unnecessary use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, not the celebration of Mass. With SSPX priests, however, the very celebration of Mass is illicit, and the Church strongly discourages faithful Catholics from assisting at illicit Masses.

    Christopher said: The good bishop can bluster all he wants, but when the excommunicates come to him for the Sacraments he clearly behaves as if his excommunication is meaningless, ie bluster.

    Do you actually know he gives Communion to those who fall under his interdict, or do you just suppose he does?

    As I said before, it is very difficult to appeal an action with no personal consequences. The good bishop refused to name anyone excommunicated, or refuse anyone the Sacraments.

    If Msgr. Bruskewitz’s action were canonically defective, why didn’t the Holy See say so when it declined the appeal of the Call to Action members?

  79. Gerard says:

    Aaron Sanders wrote:

    “I also find the very high bar for adherence to schism set by His Eminence’s comments to be problematic. If, as Fr. Z put it, “when they adhered to the SSPX, by accepting ordination from excommunicated bishops, by taking orders and wages from them, they did not adhere to schism,” then how does one manage to adhere to schism?…First, on intention, if you hold this up as the make or break point of schism then it will be near impossible to be schismatic….I don’t think most people doubt the sincerity of the bishops’ or priests’ actions, so we know that in their heads they do not intend to be schismatic.”

    I believe you’ve almost arrived at ground zero. The question that no one (especially in Rome) really wants to deal with. Namely, was JPII incorrect in his definition of what a schism is?

    Everything since 1988 concerning the SSPX comes back to that first link. It either is, or it isn’t a true schism. Either JPII was correct or he was incorrect. Simple logic tells me he was incorrect. Experience validates it. It wasn’t his place to redefine schism to include disobedience only on the part of the SSPX while he himself was disobedient to much of what the Council demanded and also while he allowed liberal disobedience to metastatize.

  80. JP says:

    Sorry, forgot to add this question to my above comment, regarding Christopher’s claim that Bishop Bruskewitz gives Communion to SSPX members despite his edict:

    How many times have SSPX priests presented themselves for Communion before Bishop Bruskewitz since he issued his decree?

  81. JP says:

    Gerard said: It wasn’t his place to redefine schism to include disobedience only on the part of the SSPX while he himself was disobedient to much of what the Council demanded and also while he allowed liberal disobedience to metastatize.

    I’m not aware that he redefined schism, though if he did, since he was the Pope it would have been his place to do so. A pope who is remiss in some areas of governance does not lose his divine right to govern in other areas.

  82. Different says:

    Gerard wrote:

    “Simple logic tells me he was incorrect. Experience validates it. It wasn’t his place to redefine schism to include disobedience only on the part of the SSPX while he himself was disobedient to much of what the Council demanded and also while he allowed liberal disobedience to metastatize.”

    Please explain for us what this “simple logic” is? You seem to propose that John Paul II was disobedient and therefore incapable of declaring others to be disobedient. Please explain that.

  83. Habemus Papam says:

    Henry Edwards: The plot thickens! If this section of Ecclessia Dei is “abrogated” what of the rest i.e. excommunication, schism?

    Different: In 1986 a commission of Cardinals was asked to ascertain whether the Missal of St Pius V had been abrogated by the Missal of Paul VI. The answer was No never abrogated. Yet in 1988 John Paul II granted an indult for the 1962 edition of this Missal, something which was not necessary according to the SSPX (and others). This has now been corrected by Summorrum Pontificum. As RBrown points out this politicking came about as attempts to correct the misguided policies of Paul VI (to put it mildly).

  84. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    TNCath,

    I reread the article you posted again and none of the quotes from Cardinal Re apply to anyone but Call to Action. Nowhere that I am aware of does Cardinal Re refer to any other organization, although I would like to read the whole of Cardinal Re’s notification, if someone could point me to it. Again, as I said, without the infliction of canonical penalties or a formal declaration (by indiviual’s names) it is very hard to appeal. The SSPX priests and members involved challenged the good Bishop to declare them excommunicate or refuse them the Sacraments, precisely so they could appeal. The good Bishop refused, because he knew ahead of time he would most likely have the excommunications overturned, in the same way the bishop of Hawaii had his excommunication of members of the SSPX overturned.

    Aaron and TNCath.
    With regard to the Cardinal’s interview. First history, I always felt and defended the fact that SSPX priests and third order members were in schism, until the Cardinal contradicted my opinions. I do not believe that his interview is a legislative act. I only maintain that he is giving his opinion as Head of Ecclesia Dei Commission, and assuming that he giving his opinion while taking all relevant documents into consideration. Here I would say that I am not an expert in canon law, and I do not know what documents are actually authoritative on this subject. The good Cardinal is an expert on this matter, and knows what documents are actually authoritative, and what “formally adhere” means. Anyone that holds to the Cardinal’s opinion is at the very least holding a probable opinion, and is therefore within in the bounds “thinking with the Church.” Those people that disagree with the Cardinal, I would hope would have some expertise in this matter, ie now the competent jurisdictions of all Congregations issuing statements, and the weight of each, and obviously know something about the proper interpretation of legislative texts. Aaron seems to be of the opinion that any statement from the Holy See on this matter is authoritative. I do not believe this to be the case. When a Congregation issues a statement it is only law if the statement stays within the bounds of the Congregations jurisdiction. So for example a statement could come from a Congregation, some of which is within its jurisdiction and is therefore law, and some of which falls outside of the Congregations jurisdiction, and would then only be opinion of the author. As I said above, I assume that the good Cardinal is the expert in this area and if my understanding differs from his, I am the one who is probably mistaken. Until the issue is fully resolved (there does seem to be some disagreement within the Curia on this question) I would think that we should be very careful about making authoritative statements about who is in schism. Certainly, warn all Catholics of the dangers of associated with the SSPX, but it does not require an insistence on schism to do this. Disobedience, even if not schismatic, can still be mortally sinful and damn you.

  85. Different says:

    Habemus,

    Granting an indult for public Masses does not mean that John Paul II viewed the older missal as abrogated. He could have viewed it as suppressed, and therefore granted an indult for it.

  86. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    JP,

    In an interview given at the time of the excommunications, he asked if he would refuse any the Sacraments that approached him for them. He said that he would assume they had been reconciled and give them communion, so I am taking him at his word (BTW I believe a specific individual was mentioned, head of the local PP). He has not refused the Sacraments to anyone or ordered anyone to be refused the Sacraments by his priests. As I stated he was challenged to do so and refused.

  87. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    JP,

    Sorry I did not see your last reply before posting. What I claim is far worse. The good bishops gives communion to all the people falling under his excommunication according to his statements. With regard to the SSPX members and priests in question, they asked the good Bishop to name them as excommunicate, or name them has being unable to receive the Sacraments, so they could appeal his decision. He refused.

  88. Different says:

    Mr. Sarsfield,

    At the risk of this becoming a rabbit hole. Do you have any proof that the SSPX made any such request of Bp. Bruskewitz?

    Thanks

  89. Habemus Papam says:

    Different: Why do you suppose JPII thought the 1962 Missal had been suppressed? Abrogation is a legal act so in this case suppression would have been illegal. Either way, permission to use this Missal was unnecessary.

  90. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    With regard to my assertion that only individuals named can appeal the excommunication:

    According to a recent letter from Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Signatura, the Supreme Tribunal cannot consider the appeal because it involves a diocesan law rather than an administrative act, such as excommunication of an individual person. Bruskewitz’s law said anyone who continued membership in Call to Action would be in a state of excommunication.

    Article here: http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2007/02/21/news/local/doc45db73d719910686576328.txt

  91. Different says:

    Habemus,

    I’m not a canon lawyer. When the 1969 missal was promulgated, most assumed that it was now the normative missal to be used. Exceptions were made for the older missal in (I believe) private Masses. I’m sure that JPII’s curia (in particular) Card. Ratzinger would have advised him on whether the 1962 missal had been abrogated or not.

    Also, doesn’t Ecclesia Dei deal with public Masses? Whereas Summorum Pontificum deals with private Masses? Is there a distinction there? Does it matter? I’m not sure.

  92. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Different,

    You can go here to see the dialogue with SSPX and the good bishop:

    http://www.sspx.org/diocesan_dialogues.htm#lincoln

    From the letter of Fr. Scott (who celebrated Mass there):

    “Furthermore, I challenge you to go ahead with your threat and declare under interdict or excommunicated, either myself or the priests of the Society who celebrate Mass in Lincoln, or the faithful who attend our Masses. However, I suggest that you first seek legal advice, for such a mockery of justice will not be accepted.”

    From a letter from a Catholic attending Mass at the SSPX chapel in question to the good Bishop:

    “I urgently request you not to leave this matter in abeyance. Go ahead and excommunicate the priest members of the Society of Saint Pius X on legitimate canonical grounds and justify yourself, or make the public apology in the Southern Nebraska Register that you owe them. Moreover, I challenge you to declare me under interdict or excommunicated on account of my public support of the Society of Saint Pius X.”

  93. Geoffrey says:

    I believe John Paul the Great convened a commission of cardinals to examine whether or not the 1962 Missal was ever abrogated. They concluded no. He was going to issue a statement saying that, but some bishops (I think French and German?) protested and threatened schism, which was the Servant of God’s biggest fear. Those same bishops protested Summorum Pontificum, but if memory serves, Pope Benedict XVI called them on the telephone to calm their fears.

  94. TNCath says:

    Christopher Sarsfield wrote: “..none of the quotes from Cardinal Re apply to anyone but Call to Action. Nowhere that I am aware of does Cardinal Re refer to any other organization…”

    This is true. However, the excommunication itself applied to ALL groups en masse. My interpretation was that, even if sloppily done by Bishop Bruskewitz, the excommunications were valid. Of course, I may be wrong about this.

    As for Cardinal Castrillon’s being an “expert” in his area, it doesn’t take an “expert” in liturgy or theology to be able to interpret a Motu Proprio. Such documents are written for all the faithful to be able to understand and accurately interpret, albeit we all know that doesn’t always happen. All one has to do is re-read the interpretations of Summorum Pontificum by some bishops.

    Finally, in an earlier post I suggested that we may never hear any further clarification of Cardinal Castrillon’s remarks. In light of the rather hearty discussion we’ve had on this blog posting regarding the obvious confusion these remarks have caused people on both sides of this issue, I now believe we might very well get a clarification from the PCED. In fact, I think we really need one!

  95. Ottaviani says:

    Hmm, I thought the SSPX didn’t like post-Vatican II ecumenism. Anyway, there’s nothing obsessive about my quoting an authoritative and binding juridical document of the Church. In discussions like these, it’s obligatory that we quote such documents and actually address what the Church or her officials have said on the subject. I rather think the mental gymnastics are encountered in those who, in the absence of documents, can only speculate and try to read Pope Benedict’s mind.

    They don’t but it is quite incredible to see the hypocrisy that is shown in dealing with the SSPX, in comparison to other groups, who are de facto schismatic but will not be declared so – all in the name of Kasperite-false-ecumenism.

    Paul VI said that he did not want to hear of excommunications, after the new era inaugurated after Vatican II – so why the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebrve? Why is one baseball cap worn for the Patriotic Chinese “Catholic” church and another for the SSPX?

  96. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Different quotes the Pontifical Council for the Interpretatin of Legislative Texts:

    “6. In the case of the Lefebvrian deacons and priests there seems no doubt that their ministerial activity in the ambit of the schismatic movement is a more than evident sign of the fact that the two requirements mentioned above (n.5) are met, and thus that there is a formal adherence.”

    Notice however that the Council does not say that anyone in particular is excommunicated; nor does it proclaim that the Society clerics as a group are excommunicated for schism. All it says is that their activity is a *sign* that they may have a formal adherence to schism. It even says that this adherence only *seems* to be such a sign. It takes more than that to conclude that they are a schismatical group. They are not.

    Once again, it may be that the Church could find that certain individual Society priests have imbibed a schismatic attitude or even that they are formally schismatical, and we can have an opinion of such priests on an individual basis, given some of their statements. But this is no less true of regularised priests. Moreover, I would say that it is much easier to find regularised priests who are schismatic or who are heretical. So this has no bearing on anything.

    P.K.T.P.

  97. EDG says:

    This is probably totally off-topic, but everybody should visit the (English language) site of the monastery mentioned in the article, the “Oasis de Jesus Sacerdote” near Barcelona. Here’s the address: http://www.thesimplicityofalife.com/oasis.htm#why_oasis

  98. JP says:

    Ottaviani asked: Why is one baseball cap worn for the Patriotic Chinese “Catholic” church and another for the SSPX?

    One important reason is that excommunicating Archbishop Lefebvre carried no risk of provoking a monstrous dictatorship into mass murder of Catholics. My own worthless opinion is that the Patriotic Association and the SSPX are equally Catholic — meaning they’re not in full communion with the Church. But the circumstances attending to each “embryonic schism” are very different, so the Church is wise to approach each situation differently.

  99. Different says:

    Mr. Perkins,

    That same document by the PCILT declares: “…the whole Lefebvrian movement is to be held schismatic, in view of the existence of a formal declaration by the Supreme Authority on this matter.” So, it’s pretty clear that there is a schism. Not really much to debate there.

  100. malta says:

    Will:
    “1. SSPX causes extreme grief to three Roman Pontiffs-check
    2. SSPX causes confusion in the minds of the faithful-check
    3. SSPX bishops believe certain aspects of Vatican II are hogwash-check”

    1. without sspx no summorum pontificum–check
    2. without sspx modernism in the Church would have continued unabated–check
    3. certain aspect of Vatican II are non-dogmatic, changeable and, quite frankly, hogwash, just as an ecumenical council requiring those of different faiths to wear a badge have declared in the past–check

  101. Different says:

    Malta,

    Without the Original Sin, no Christ dying on the Cross for us – check

    It doesn’t mean Adam and Eve did something good. It just means God can bring great good out of evil. He’s talented that way.

  102. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter refers to Milingo for comparison here. I can’t see how this is a true analogy. The Moonie sect claims to be a religious organisation and not a Catholic one. Also, I believe that Milingo claimed to marry outside the Church and contrary to Church law.

    And then Potter misparaphrases the P.C.E.D. finding:

    “And as long as one cannot make it to a Catholic Mass that Sunday. That was only a stipulation of Ecclesia Dei’s answer.”

    No, it is true that the Cardinal leans towards that interpretation in this interview. But if you look at the P.C.E.D. finding (Protocol 539-99), incredibly, this restriction is NOT in place. In other words, the P.C.E.D. found that attendance at a S.S.P.X. chapel can fulfil the Sunday obligation *even if* there is a regularised Mass nearby. The only restriction was not having a schismatic intent. As I have stated before, however, there are canonists who strongly disagree with this finding and say that the P.C.E.D. lacked the competence needed here. Futhermore, this finding only applies to the addressee of the private communication in question and relates to a particular person’s circumstances.

    Lastly, I believe that the good Cardinal said that attendance at a Society Mass is “not recommended [encouraged]” and not that it is “discouraged”. Protocol 539-99 used the expression “not encouraged”. There is a difference between these. The Church never encourages attendance at a Protestant service, for example, but does not positively discourage it either. The Church will obviously recommend attendance at a regularised Mass as a general norm but not in every case. There may be cases in which the regularised Mass, while not being illicit, nevertheless scandalises someone or undermines his faith. So the Church cannot recommend attendance at an irreular Mass as a general norm, but she might very well recommend it in certain circumstances (the difference between ‘not encourage’ and ‘discourage’: the first may be a narrower category).

    P.K.T.P.

  103. Maynardus says:

    OK, each of these statements is basically true, if highly generalized:

    1. SSPX causes extreme grief to three Roman Pontiffs-check
    2. SSPX causes confusion in the minds of the faithful-check
    3. SSPX bishops believe certain aspects of Vatican II are hogwash-check

    1. The papacy of Paul VI caused extreme grief to his successors. Check.
    2. The papacy of Paul VI caused confusion in the minds of the faithful. Check.
    3. Many bishops appointed by Paul VI believe certain aspects of Vatican II (e.g., preservation of Latin liturgy and the teaching authority of the Church) are hogwash. Check.

    There is much that can be adduced further to flesh-out each of the above statements, and indeed to add some much-needed context. It’s obvious from some of the comments in this thread that there is a certain amount of ignorance of the details and conditions of the entire Lefebvre/SSPX saga as well as a great deal of myth which has been substituted for fact.

    Every Catholic – not just those of us with a deep attachment to the usus antiquor – should be aware of the events of the post-Conciliar period which so drastically affected the liturgy and the Church. I would heartily recommend reading (or re-reading) the three-volume “Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre” by the late Michael Davies, and also his three-volume “Liturgical Revolution” set. The text of the former is available online at:

    http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/Apologia/index.htm

    Mr. Davies had great respect for Archbishop Lefebvre but was not a partisan, as can be seen from his fairminded criticism of the Archbishop over the 1988 episcopal consecrations. While the Apologia is certainly focused upon Lefebvre and the SSPX it provides a great deal of context which really helps to put the events of 1970-91 into perspective with regard to the entire Church.

  104. Gerard says:

    JP wrote:

    “I’m not aware that he redefined schism, though if he did, since he was the Pope it would have been his place to do so. A pope who is remiss in some areas of governance does not lose his divine right to govern in other areas.”

    I disagree. A Pope can’t in justice, inequitably distribute laws and redefine language for a specific case in order to increase the sanction against one particular party.

    Also, a Pope who is given a Divine right to govern can also abuse that authority and in cases such as those, eg. the trial of Formosus) obedience may not always be required and disobedience may be the only moral course of action.

  105. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    In response to Aaron Sanders.

    I think that Mr. Sanders may be confusing two categories which are, unfortunately, constantly confounded today. I once wrote a very detailed response on the abortion issue, a response to a pro-abortionist writer named Susan Teft Nicholson. I admit to pride (the good kind) here because I demolished her entire argument by pointing out that, in the second rule for the principle of double effect, she had confused the concepts of intention and desire.

    The reason for this confusion is definitely not the fault of Mr. Sanders. It is owing to a semantic problem in our culture. This is now supported by very incorrect idioms, such as ‘Good intentions are not enough’ and ‘The road to Hell is paved with good intentions’. In fact, both those expression are entirely untrue: good intentions ARE enough. What is not enough is good desires, and the road to Hell is paved with good wishes, not good intentions. I had to correct my parish priest on this distinction during Lent because he misled the entire congregation and affirmed from the pulpit that we commit sin when we do something forbidden by the Church, even if we never intended to do it.

    To intend something means to put that thing before the mind and resolve to do it. One might be prevented from doing it by extraneous forces but it is the resolve to do something that constitutes intention. One cannot sin, even venially, if one honestly intends to do that which one considers to be good. One can commit a wrongdoing in such a case, but not a sin. There must be knowledge and consent to commit sin.

    To desire something, on the other hand, is to want or wish to do it. That is entirely a different matter. To illustrate the difference, let us imagine little Johnny playing with his toy soldiers. Mummy asks him to go to the corner and buy her some milk. Out of a sense of duty to and love for his mother, he reluctantly decides to go. As he heads out the door, we can say that he intends to go there, but we cannot say that he desires to go. If he was like me at that age, nothing grieves him more than leaving those toy soldiers!

    Now it is true that most of the people in prison did not desire to hurt anyone, perhaps. But most of them did intend to hurt someone. The judge may believe them when they say that they did not wish to inflict harm. But he finds that, despite their best wishes, when they decided to inflict harm in order to extract some benefit, they broke the law. So they go to gaol. They no doubt would have extracted the benefit without inflicting harm WERE THAT POSSIBLE to them, but it was not, so they did.

    Now the priests of the S.S.P.X obviously did not desire to foment schism or to enter into it. But they may have intended to do so if they knew their actions were schismatic and went ahead for some other reason. But I am claiming that they did not intend schism either. Would this make schism almost impossible? Not at all. Presumably, when Milingo attempted marriage outside the Church, he knew that his action was disordered (assuming that he was sane, which is very questionable) but did it to secure a benefit to himself. But he might very well have not desired to do wrong–only God knows and that is a question for the internal forum. Presumably, he desired that the Church ‘wake up’ and ‘learn the truth’, but he intended to break her laws.

    The Society priests did not intend schism because they never intended to adhere to a parallel hierachy: they have always recognised the jurisdiction of the Pope and the local bishops as a general norm. They have a *plausible* argument for ‘rightful disobedience’ which, they think, constitutes a state of necessity and thereby invokes supplied jurisdiction, a recognised legal possibility.

    This is not the same as the case of the Liberal Catholic Church or the Old Catholic Communion, which intentionally set up parallel hierachies. Nor is the same as the case of the Eastern Orthodox, the Lutherans, the Anglicans, the Presbyterians, and so on. They clearly renounced and denied papal and local episcopal authority on principle, and thereby became schismatical (and most or all of them are heretical as well insofar as they deny the principle of papal authority as defined at Vatican I).

    The Protestants and Liberal and Old Catholics may not have desired schism, Mr. Sanders, but they certainly did intend it. And since there are far more of them than of the S.S.P.X, I would not say that it is not ‘almost impossible’ to intend schism. Another example are those in the Womanpriest movement who are setting up their own church. They may not desire schism, but they certainly intend it when they deny papal and episcopal authority on principle.

    P.K.T.P.

  106. Gerard says:

    Different wrote:

    “Please explain for us what this “simple logic” is?”

    Reasoning used to determine whether something is true or false.

    “You seem to propose that John Paul II was disobedient and therefore incapable of declaring others to be disobedient. Please explain that.”

    JPII did not in any way follow the criteria for the Liturgy established at the Council. All rites in the Church were not treated with dignity and respect. Latin was not fostered and Chant was not given pride of place.

    Liturgical abuse was rampant at his own papal liturgies. There was often a conflict between papal actions and papal statements in JPII’s pontificate.

    But anyway, If disobedience is the factor by which someone is determined to be schismatic, and LeFebvre was disobedient, than JPII was also a schismatic.

    So, either the definition of schism is incorrect by JPII’s standards or both he and archbishop LeFebvre were disobedient and schismatic.

    I subscribe that schism means something other than what JPII presented it as.

  107. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    J.M. writes:

    “How can a group that advises people to stay home on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation when they can’t attend an SSPX Mass even though there is an local valid, licit, and even potentially reverent Novus Ordo Mass or EVEN a traditional Mass, prayed by a perfectly traditional priest in the good graces of the Church like Fr. Z (or a priest from the ICK, FSSP, GS, etc), be viewed as not in some sort of state of schism. And of course they also advise that you shouldn’t attend an eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy. Advising people to stay home and avoid valid Masses said by priests in communion with their bishops and the Holy Father, thus committing a mortal sin in the process, is not the advise of a group in communion with the Catholic Church. (And for those of you who don’t believe that this is their advise, go to http://www.sspx.org to read their terrible scare tactic and unconscionably universally applied arguments.)”

    I don’t know if this is an official Society policy or only a widespread practice.

    From their point of view, attendance at a regularised Mass can endanger one’s faith. They then conclude that, since the salvation of souls is the highest law, attendance at a regularised Mass is likely to be ‘morally impossible’. One is excused from the Sunday obligation if, under the norms of ecclesiastical law, attendance is physically or morally impossible.

    I think that the Society might say that this is a general recommendation. But they would not say that it must needs be exceptionless because they have declared elsewhere that the Church includes some who are obedient (mistakenly) to legitimate authority.

    Frankly, I find that the Society’s position on this is ‘way over the top’. On the other hand, there certainly are some parishes where some people’s faith would be endangered by the goings-on.

    P.K.T.P.

  108. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On Aaron Sanders’s last paragraph:

    To adhere to a schism, one must deny the papal and/or episcopal authority as a matter of principle and then set up your own hierachy.

    The main Protestant bodies have done this; so have the Liberal Catholics, the Old Catholics, the Easterners Orthodox, the Monophysites churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and a new Womanpriest Church I’ve heard about. Other Protestant bodies descend from schismatical Protestant bodies and inherit schism thereby (e.g. the Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists).

    Bishop Fellay has repeatedly stressed that the disobedience of the Society is only in matters of necessity, not in all matters. He said on one occasion: If the Pope calls me, I don’t just come to him, I run.

    P.K.T.P.

  109. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On Gerard’s excellent comment:

    If Abp. Lefebvre was schismatic for being disobedient, then Pope John Paul II was schismatic for being disobedient.

    Quite so. Gratian held that even a Pope must obey his own laws. He can change his laws in order to free his actions but he cannot violate them licitly without changing them first. It would indeed seem that Paul VI and John Paul II disobeyed their own laws. Insofar as (and if) they did so, their later actions were illicit. But that certainly does not make them schismatic!

    To be schismatic, one must intend to break communion with the Holy See and with the local bishops as a group. One must renounce papal and episcopal rights pubicly and on principle, and then proceed to establish a parallel hiearchy. But Society bishops have not done this, and they are operating de facto as ‘episcopi vagantes’.

    P.K.T.P.

  110. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On Will’s comments, I would go further:

    Without the S.S.P.X, no 1984 Indult. Check.

    Without the S.S.P.X, no 1988 expansion of the Indult. Check.

    Without the S.S.P.X, no F.S.S.P., no I.C.R., no I.P.B., no Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, no Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, no Fontgombault, no Le Barroux, no Riaumont, no Society of St. Vincent Ferrer in the Diocese of Laval, no Institute of St. Philip Neri in Berlin, no Oasis, even in Barcelona. Check.

    Without the S.S.P.X, no Campos precedent of a personal apostolic administration, which is the juridical guide for the future. Check.

    Without the S.S.P.X, no “Summorum Pontificum”. Check.

    Yes, God can bring good out of evil, but He can also bring good out of good. Judge them by their fruits–but that brings us to the seminary document. Fortunately, the S.S.P.X has *not* rolled out the pink carpet.

    P.K.T.P. (not a Society supporter or attender)

  111. On Mr Perkins comments, I only have this, with tongue firmly in cheek:

    Without Martin Luther and the Reformation, no Council of Trent. Check.

    Wow, that was fun!

    DLA (Not a Lutheran.)

  112. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Different quotes the P.C.I.L.T.:

    That same document by the PCILT declares: “…the whole Lefebvrian movement is to be held schismatic, in view of the existence of a formal declaration by the Supreme Authority on this matter.” So, it’s pretty clear that there is a schism. Not really much to debate there.

    Comment by Different

    Schism is a condition of persons, not of movements per se. So what does this mean? It must mean that at least one person is in schism. Presumably, the Council is saying that the four bishops, who direct the movement and ensure its Sacraments, are schismatic. This does not mean that everyone who supports these bishops in any way is schismatic. I realise that we have the adjective “whole” here but, again, that refers to the movement in general, not to specific persons.

    By the way, could you please direct me to a copy of this finding?

    P.K.T.P.

  113. JP says:

    Gerard said: A Pope can’t in justice, inequitably distribute laws and redefine language for a specific case in order to increase the sanction against one particular party.

    True, but you only said John Paul II had redefined schism, not that he had done so just for the case of the SSPX. If John Paul II redefined schism (which I don’t think he did), then he redefined for all cases, not just for the SSPX.

    Also, a Pope who is given a Divine right to govern can also abuse that authority and in cases such as those, eg. the trial of Formosus) obedience may not always be required and disobedience may be the only moral course of action.

    And as I said, papal abuse of authority in one area does not cause the cancellation of his divine right to govern in other areas.

    Peter Karl T. Perkins said: Jordan Potter refers to Milingo for comparison here. I can’t see how this is a true analogy. The Moonie sect claims to be a religious organisation and not a Catholic one.

    But Msgr. Milingo’s group is not formally affiliated with the Moonies – it’s a Moonie front group, though of course he denies that and claims he is still Catholic, that his Married Priests Now group is not in schism. Based on what we’ve been learning about the status of the SSPX and how easy it is for bishops and priests to separate themselves from the Church without being in formal schism, one must wonder if Milingo’s group is in formal schism or not.

    Also, I believe that Milingo claimed to marry outside the Church and contrary to Church law.

    That has bearing on his excommunication, on whether or not his in communion with the Church, but doesn’t help to establish that he and his group are in schism.

    And then Potter misparaphrases the P.C.E.D. finding:
    “And as long as one cannot make it to a Catholic Mass that Sunday. That was only [sorry, I meant to say ‘also’] a stipulation of Ecclesia Dei’s answer.”

    I don’t think that’s a misparaphrase. The answer I had in mind were these words from Ecclesia Dei: “The Masses the SSPX celebrate are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844.2). The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called ‘Tridentine’ Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such Masses..” (Protocol N. 117/95)

  114. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On Mr. Alexander’s comments:

    Yes, Councils have nearly always been held to clarify matters and to defend the Church against popular new heresies. This is especially true of the early Councils of Nicæa, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople 1 & II, and so on. It is true also of Trent. It is Vatican II which stands out as the most obvious exception to this.

    But you are wrong to say, Without Luther, no Trent. There were many calls for reform in the Church from people who were entirely Catholic, such as Erasmus and More, and I think that the need for seminaries would have been met without Trent. Moreover, Trent merely reiterated what was done in the past. For example, it decided to continue Communion in one kind.

    The Church before Trent was entirely Catholic, and my favourite Council is Lateran IV of 1215, not Trent. Frankly, I much prefer the Church of the Late Middle Ages, even with priests garbling Latin they did not understand, to the one of the post-Tridentine reforms.

    P.K.T.P.

  115. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    To Jordan Potter:

    First, you need to clarify more about the Milingo case. Has the Church declared him or his group to be in schism or not? On what grounds? Or has he been excommunicated for some other reason? In any case, the analogy you draw is false for the simple reason that Milingo’s group has never argued for supplied jurisdiction in a case of necessity as a justification for its disobedience. Without invoking a canonical cause, its actions must be presumed to imply rejection of papal authority or communion with fellow Catholics.

    On the matter of the P.C.E.D., we have been confusing documents here. I thought that you were referring to Protocol 539-99, not to Protocol 117-95. I thought that you were misparaphrasing the former, not the latter. It would seem to me that the two lack correspondence with each other (which does not mean a contradiction). Keeping in mind Protocol 117-95, note this from Protocol 539-99: “No. 3. The situation of the faithful attending chapels of the Society of St. Pius X is more complicated. They may attend Mass there primarily because of an attraction to the earlier form of the Roman Rite[,] in which case[,] they incur no penalty”. Now, it is true that one can do something that is “morally illicit” without incurring a penalty, because not all morally illicit actions carry a canonical penalty. However, I cannot see how it can be “morally illicit for faithful to participate in these Masses” if, under the new Code, it is not considered to be illicit to attend Protestant services without restriction.

    I submit that Msgr. Perl’s expression is incomplete in Protocol 117-95. He meant only that it is morally illicit to attend Society Masses with a schismatic intent unless there are regularised Masses available at which attendance is not physically or morally impossible. Perhaps you could quote more extensively to see if this is what he meant. I’m not sure.

    Where does he get the idea that it is illicit to attend a Society Mass? The question is whether or not it can fulfil the obligation. Moreover, in your Protocol 117, Perl quotes Canon 844.2, which has to do with approaching non-Catholic ministers for Sacraments. But Society priests are Catholic ministers of the Sacraments. Frankly, I wonder if Perl and company have been making it up as they go along.

    P.K.T.P.

  116. Aaron Sanders says:

    K.P.T.P.,

    I thank you for the clarification on intent and desire, but I think it helps me reformulate my question; that’s the direction I was trying to head toward in marking off their subjective view of the matter from what the accumulation of evidence might suggest as an objectively different situation. I think the clearest point of clarification, though, would be this:
    No one seems to argue over whether the SSPX desired to foment schism, but mightn’t there indeed be ample room for debating whether they intended to do this, at least in the case of the bishops who were warned that the consecration was considered a schismatic act?

  117. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    One thing that has been missed in all these discussions is the Cardinal’s reference to bodies not in ‘full communion’ with the Church, bodies which now desire this. He sees this as a fruit of S.P. I suggest that he is referring especially to the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) and that we shall be hearing more very soon about their application for “full corporate and sacramental” union with Rome. They are asking for a uniate church, clearly. Will they get it? Yes, I think so, even if Kasper the Unfriendly Ghost pulls out all the stops against them.

    P.K.T.P.

  118. Habemus Papam says:

    Different: I’m not a canon lawyer either but I think JPII imposed his will in this situation, partly through disinterest in administration and partly through his tendency to bully those who disagreed with him. He knew in 1986 (if not before) that the 1962 Missal had not been abrogated but he was frightened of being seen as responsible for a formal schism between Traditionalists and Modernists. Hence his Indult and Excommunication. Now we know Indults were unnecessary. No doubt Benedict XVI was threatened but he called their bluff (the Progressives, that is). My point here is that the motu propio Ecclesia Dei issued the excommunications on the basis of a so-called schism. Part of ED has now been abrogated by SP so these other parts may well be next.

  119. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    To answer Aaron Sander’s question:

    I think that the Society bishops would say that they regret the unapproved episcopal ordinations but held at the time and continue to hold that they were necessary to protect the Church in a state of widespread and very frightening heresy and other error. I think that they deliberately acted (and therefore intended) believing honestly that a state of necessity existed, on the grounds that the salvation of souls is the highest law and that, clearly, souls were being lost in huge numbers thanks to the reforms following the Council.

    But only God can judge the extent to which their intention was true, and it may differ from bishop to bishop. Rome seems to hold that they incurred the automatic penalty of excommunication but not that they necessaily sinned in doing so, of course.

    I’m not sure that the matter really can be argued. As long as they had a recognised and plausible canonical reason for their action, we can only surmise what the intention of each of them was, unless we see direct evidence in individual cases.

    The case of Protestant bodies, the Liberal and Old Catholics, and even the Easterners Orthodox, is different because they rejected papal and/or episcopal authority on principle and proceeded to erect parallel jurisdictions. They may have had the best of wishes not to harm anyone but they clearly intended to break with papal authority because they openly claimed to do so.

    What is open for debate, however, is whether or not a case can still be made for a state of necessity given Pope John Paul II’s suggestion through Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos in 2000 that they be granted a structure which would make them independent of all the local ordinaries. I cannot see how obedient sons of the Church could reject that protection, and we must also consider that the Church was offering them far more than Abp. Lefebvre was prepared to accept in 1988. Bishop Fellay et alii claim, in response to this argument, that much has changed since 1988. But the Society’s main complaint is Assisi, which occurred in 1986. According to elementary mathematics, 1986 is before 1988. During this new pontificate, I can’t see how the conditions today are worse than those of 1988. The only really horrifying thing this Pope has done is the seminary document, and the Society never even mentions it.

    A fortiori, “Summorum Pontificum” is causing the old Mass to spread like wildfire everywhere. The ancient Mass itself is grounding the Church in truth and calling into question post-conciliar innovations.

    They want a lifting of the declarations of excommunication, declarations which they consider to be invalid anyway. Fine. But, in negotiation, a move by one party is customarily answered by a move from the other. The Society has not responded adequately. What is needed is an open letter to the Pope expressing regret but not remorse for the 1988 consecrations, thanking the Pope for S.P. (even if S.P. is deemed to be imperfect or not enough to fulfil their original demand), and asking formally for a withdrawal of the declarations, without admitting that they are valid.

    A withdrawal of all the penalties on all Society members would then follow.

    At this point, Williamson and various Society hardliners want to argue for decades over Vatican II documents. Instead, the Society could agree to accept them in conformity with a definition of Tradition to be decided through discussions (let’s avoid that horrible word ‘dialogue’).

    Williamson and others in the Society would like to postpone regularisation for decades, until they are long dead and they get a pope they’d prefer. This is not the attitude of good Catholics. Granted that they have refused a settled canonical structure pending discussions of doctrine. But it would still be possible for them to accept a provisional (ad experimentum) structure able to be dissolved by either party once a year (for example). Without at least a provisional structure, the Society is shooting itself in the foot. Without having the colour of law, its Masses are held to be illicit and millions of faithful (esp. in Latin America, where half the faithful live), will avoid them. Meanwhile, thanks to S.P., regularised Masses will take over from the Society everywhere. Williamson must have a death wish. Let’s just hope that his implied threats of separation from the S.S.P.X will not kill the Society by keeping it separate from Rome. S.P. now threatens the Society directly: Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!

    My advice to the S.S.P.X, then, is to write the letter of regret and thanks and petition, and then ask for a provisional structure to be granted during a period of discussions. The letter would ask that a commission be formed by the Holy See with the purpose of reviewing difficulties without polemics and then reporting to the C.D.F. The commission would include an equal number of Society and non-Society members plus a chairman trusted by all the parties concerned. Finding a chairman might be hard. What is needed is a true-blue traditionalist who does not support the S.S.P.X.

    As for the structure, it must be, de facto, an international and personal jurisdiction equivalent in law to a diocese, and must be directly subject to the Holy See. It could be a structure for the Society alone or a larger one that would include the Society as a society of apostolic life together with others. Subjects would be those who register in Society parishes or missions. The S.S.P.X would be guaranteed a certain number of bishops.

    Let’s get the ball rolling. The Society has delivered so much good, including the entire regularised traditionalist movement. Let’s hope it can still help, ultimately by removing heretical interpretations from Vatican II documents and by providing all traditionalists with a structure which satisfies their charism. The sheep are pastored best if the shepherd understands them.

    P.K.T.P.

  120. Sean McCollister says:

    Folks, this discussion is amusing, in an almost sad sort of way.

    Law is a means to an end, not an end in itself. As I follow this thread, I see visions of pharisees straining at gnats, while they allow camels to pass.

    We live in a time of great crisis in the Church. As great, or possibly greater, than in the days of the Arian crisis. I doubt that many of you would disagree.

    Many of us are simple in faith, and in the midst of this crisis, simply wish to be fed with the truths of our Catholic Faith. We have no time or use for pharisaical, legalistic arguments about the finer points of canon law, or the contradictions between what the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts said last week, and what His Eminence Cardinal Hoyos said this week.

    We ask ourselves where that faith can be found. In Cardinal Roger Mahoney’s or Bishop Matthew Clark’s jurisdictions, for example, it can be mighty hard to find. Or here in the Diocese of Dallas, where the new bishop (appointed by Benedict, I might add), continues to restrict the growing FSSP congregation to the tiny Carmelite chapel in a highly inconvenient and less-than-desireable location, refuses to help them find a larger Church, and prohibits them from celebrating the Triduum in the traditional rites. The sheep are not being fed. We will follow our “sensus catholicus” to find the places where we can and will be fed. Sometimes that will be the nearby SSPX chapel, a place of verdant repose from the strife of the post-Conciliar Church.

    We see the power of the law being wielded against those who simply wish to practice their faith as it has been practiced for centuries, while many who can barely be called Catholic in anything but name only are our lawful ecclesiastical superiors. And in forums like this, we see ourselves mocked and derided as schismatics by self-appointed pharisees who appear to think that adherence to every jot and tittle of “The Law” is more important than The Faith. We listen to discussions like this one, and conclude that the crisis is so great that the law itself, so useful and necessary in “normal” times, has been corrupted as well.

    We recognize our superiors, and obey when their orders are in harmony with the faith. We pray for them daily, as charity and obedience demands, and most of all, we pray to God ceaselessly that this crisis come to an end.

    But we say with St. Athanasius, that they may have the churches, but we have the faith. And we think of Cardinal Newman’s wise reminder that in the time of Arius, the learned and those in positions of authority lost the faith, while the simple kept and preserved it. A great lesson in humility, and a warning, for the learned and those in positions of authority today. And for some of you on this thread.

  121. Will says:

    I, for one, would be interested in hearing Fr. Z expound some more on the SSPX and why it believes the way it does. Perhaps then Fr. Z can respond to their claims.

    Fr. Z: Any possibility of this, perhaps in a PODCAzT? I apologize in advance if you have already addressed this issue. If you unable to do this, do you (or others) have any suggestions of reading material which responds to the SSPX, particularly on matters of religious liberty and ecumenism?

  122. Jordan Potter says:

    Sean said: We have no time or use for pharisaical, legalistic arguments about the finer points of canon law, or the contradictions between what the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts said last week, and what His Eminence Cardinal Hoyos said this week.

    Well, you know, there wasn’t actually any obligation for you to comment here if you really have no time or use for what we’re talking about here.

  123. Sean McCollister says:

    Jordan, I think you missed the point of my comment.

  124. Mr Perkins (who should really consider starting his own blog, as it is obvious he has a great deal on his mind), I was sorta making a joke. I always wondered how someone would respond to that. I should have known better. And while we’re at it, I’m becoming more partial to the earlier Middle Ages myself, the Romanesque period, to be exact. Maybe the High Gothic. It depends. If there’s no Plague…

  125. BobP says:

    Say what you want about the SSPX, but, residing in the Chicago area, there are quite a few EF Masses available to us. I don’t think there would be any if it hadn’t been for the work of the SSPX since their inception, so let’s be appreciative a little even if they are in irregular canonical status. After all, at our hour of death, an SSPX priest is all we may have.

  126. Sean McCollister says:

    Will: With all due respect to Fr. Z, why not just check “with the horse’s mouth,” so to speak, and consult the numerous SSPX web sites, books from the Angelus Press, and other resources the SSPX makes available. They’re certainly not bashful about explaining why they believe as they do.

    And just for the record, I do want to add that I don’t consider myself an “adherent” of the SSPX. I think very highly of them, and have known several fine SSPX priests. I think Bishop Fellay will make a wonderful Pope some day. :) But to balance my previous post, I will also add that, sadly, the SSPX has its share of Scribes and Pharisees as well. Bishop Williamson is a devout and orthodox man, but sometimes his rather, uh, “wide-ranging” commentaries do more harm than good, IMHO.

  127. Sharon says:

    I started wearing a chapel veil five years ago at the NO Mass during Lent. I viewed it as a form of penance. I hate to be the center of attention, yet there I was at daily Mass and Sundays in the front row with my veil. My husband and I choose to sit in the front so that the children could pay better attention, but wearing the veil and sitting in the front set me up as a person claiming to be “holier than thou.” A Korean woman made the suggestion to me, kindly, and I decided to do it.

    Since then, I have read various articles on the wearing of the veil and what it all comes down to for me is that I have no doubt the Blessed Mother, our model, would wear a veil. My seven year old became completely fascinated with the beautiful Korean woman (with whom we are now friends) and she has worn a veil for a couple of years now. She seems to have found a closeness to Our Lady. Our family has been blessed with the institution of a Traditional Rite community and now my other daughter, a very ornery one who is about to turn four, has recently been wearing a veil to both the NO (where we attend daily Mass) and the Traditional Mass. I don’t wear a dress to daily Mass and feel quite awkward wearing a veil with jeans, but I give it to Mother Mary. The First Lady and her daughter Barbara wore veils in the presence of the Pope (we have a picture). I was impressed with their respect.

    You can’t force an idea on women today. An examination of conscience for any inkling of pride (in the decision to wear or not wear a veil) may be a consideration.

  128. Sharon says:

    Please excuse me for posting this comment on the wrong thread.

  129. Woody Jones says:

    Sean,

    I am very sorry to hear that news about Bishop Farrell’s approach to the EF. I fear that Cardinal DiNardo here in Houston may not be much better in that regard, although a couple of other EF locations have more or less spontaneously appeared. He has not taken up the FSSP’s offer to come into the Archdiocese. The chancery is still full of the old crowd who are not well-disposed to traditional worship or thought, also.

    Thank you, Fr. Z, and the other knowledgeable posters for clarifying the situation of the SSPX for everyone. I join those who have made mention of very earnest and pious SSPX priests, my own favorite having been Fr. Daniel Cooper, who is now in the West I think. You can catch some of his talks on YouTube, though.

  130. Stephen says:

    I’m confused. If the bishops are excommunicated and the priests only suspended, what of new men to be ordained. If they go through with being ordained, don’t they risk excommunication knowing their bishop is excommunicated? That would mean half of the SSPX priests are excommunicated and not suspended.

  131. Habemus Papam says:

    Stephen: Thats the mess you’re left with after 40 years of nonsense.

  132. Jordan Potter says:

    Sean said: Jordan, I think you missed the point of my comment.

    I understand your point, I think, and I’m not unsympathetic to it (though I would say the mian reason the SSPX chapel is a place of “verdant repose from the strife of the post-Conciliar Church” is because it’s not affiliated with the Church). It’s just that in making your point, you said something (which I quoted above) that means you aren’t interested in the topic of Father Zuhlsdorf’s weblog post, which shows that you had no need to comment here at all.

    Peter Karl T. Perkins said: First, you need to clarify more about the Milingo case. Has the Church declared him or his group to be in schism or not? On what grounds? Or has he been excommunicated for some other reason?

    I don’t know if the Church has declared him or his group to be in schism. He was excommunicated for pretending to be married and for doing what Msgr. Lefebvre did (and the bishops he consecrated were excommunicated for doing what the SSPX bishops did). My point isn’t that Milingo’s group has been declared to be in schism but isn’t really, but that his group has all the appearances of being in schism (more so than the SSPX) but apparently isn’t (as the SSPX apparently isn’t).

    In any case, the analogy you draw is false for the simple reason that Milingo’s group has never argued for supplied jurisdiction in a case of necessity as a justification for its disobedience. Without invoking a canonical cause, its actions must be presumed to imply rejection of papal authority or communion with fellow Catholics.

    Even invoking that canonical cause, which the Church does not accept, the illicit consecration of bishops apart from papal consent and communion, must be presumed to imply rejection of papal authority or communion with fellow Catholics.

    Keeping in mind Protocol 117-95, note this from Protocol 539-99: “No. 3. The situation of the faithful attending chapels of the Society of St. Pius X is more complicated. They may attend Mass there primarily because of an attraction to the earlier form of the Roman Rite[,] in which case[,] they incur no penalty”. Now, it is true that one can do something that is “morally illicit” without incurring a penalty, because not all morally illicit actions carry a canonical penalty. However, I cannot see how it can be “morally illicit for faithful to participate in these Masses” if, under the new Code, it is not considered to be illicit to attend Protestant services without restriction.

    I don’t think under the new Code it is not considered to be illicit to attend Protestant services “without restriction” The Code of Canon Law acknowledges the obligation of Catholics to assist at licit Catholic Masses on Sunday and to be involved in and support their parish community. Choosing to attend Protestant services instead of Mass would make that impossible, so there is some kind of “restriction” on attending Protestant services, even if there is no specific canon addressing the question and prescribing a penalty.

    More than the danger of schism and loss of communion with the Holy See that laity can suffer, what makes it particularly illicit to assist at SSPX Masses is that the priests are suspended a divinis and therefore are not allowed to celebrate Mass. Protestant ministers are not, as a rule, subject to any discipline from the Church, and rarely if ever celebrate Mass even when they are ex-Catholics who had been ordained to the priesthood — so Protestant services are not like illicit Masses. Particularly because of the priests’ suspension by the Church, it would be morally illicit to assist at SSPX Masses, even though it would not necessarily incur any canonical penalty.

    I submit that Msgr. Perl’s expression is incomplete in Protocol 117-95. He meant only that it is morally illicit to attend Society Masses with a schismatic intent unless there are regularised Masses available at which attendance is not physically or morally impossible. Perhaps you could quote more extensively to see if this is what he meant. I’m not sure.

    Msgr. Perl alludes to the issue of schismatic intent in Protocol 117-95, but not in a way that suggests it would be licit to attend SSPX Masses without a schismatic intent unless licit Masses are available. Rather, he brings it up only to warn against the danger of developing a schismatic intent by affiliating with the SSPX. The protocol may be read in its entirety here:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CEDSSPX.HTM

    Here is a fuller quote from Protocol 539-99, showing the same emphasis on discouraging Catholics from assisting at SSPX Masses, and advising the recipient of the protocol to do what he can as soon as possible so that he may stop assisting at SSPX Masses:

    The situation of the faithful attending chapels of the Society of St. Pius X is more complicated. They may attend Mass there primarily because of an attraction to the earlier form of the Roman Rite in which case they incur no penalty. The difficulty is that the longer they frequent these chapels, the more likely it is that they will slowly imbibe the schismatic mentality which stands in judgement of the Church and refuses submission to the Roman Pontiff and communion with the members of the Church subject to him. If that becomes the case, then it would seem that they adhere to the schism and are consequently excommunicated. For these reasons this Pontifical Commission cannot encourage you to frequent the chapel of the Society of St. Pius X. On the other hand it would seem that you are among those who attend Mass in chapels of the Society of St. Pius X because of the reverence and devotion which they find there, because of their attraction to the traditional Latin Mass and not because they refuse submission to the Roman Pontiff or reject communion with the members of the Church subject to him. At the same time it must be admitted that – this is an irregular situation, even if the circumstances which have caused it have come about through no fault of your own, and it should be remedied as soon as circumstances permit.

    Where does he get the idea that it is illicit to attend a Society Mass?

    Probably in part he got that idea from Ecclesia Dei adflicta, which calls on Catholics not to participate in any way with Msgr. Lefebvre’s movement. But the main source of that idea would be the fact that when a priest is suspended a divinis he has no authority to celebrate Mass, and it is not licit to help someone do something illicit. Indeed, if it is licit to receive the sacraments from suspended priests in non-emergency situations, what’s the point of suspending them at all?

    The question is whether or not it can fulfil the obligation.

    The Church holds that one can fulfill the Sunday obligation at a schismatic Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy (though I know the Church today doesn’t like to refer to them as schismatic), and if that’s the case, then surely one could fulfill the Sunday obligation at an SSPX Mass. But that doesn’t mean it’s recommended that one do so, or that it is licit to do so. To use a deliberately extreme example, I can fulfill my obligation to financially support my wife and children by robbing banks, but that doesn’t mean it is licit for me to rob banks or that I have fulfilled all my obligations as a husband and father to choose to engage in illicit activity. By analogy, a Catholic may fulfill one’s Sunday obligation by assisting at an illicit Mass, but what about the other moral obligations of a Catholic?

    Moreover, in your Protocol 117, Perl quotes Canon 844.2, which has to do with approaching non-Catholic ministers for Sacraments. But Society priests are Catholic ministers of the Sacraments.

    No, it doesn’t “quote” Canon 844.2, it cites that canon for comparison’s sake, because in practice the Church treats suspended priests as if they were non-Catholic ministers. That is, even though they are Catholic, they are not permitted to exercise Catholic ministry, and therefore they are not, properly speaking, Catholic ministers of the Sacraments. In that sense, Canon 844.2 applies.

    Christopher Sarsfield said: The good bishop [Bruskewitz] gives communion to all the people falling under his excommunication according to his statements.

    He has said what he would do, but I don’t know that he’s actually had any occasion to do that. After all, SSPX priests and those who assist at their Masses are not likely to go to a regularised Mass for Communion, so in a practical sense Msgr. Bruskewitz’s legislation likely has no actual effect, as you’ve said. It’s not a formal excommunication, but is “enabling legislation,” so to speak, and a means to admonish his flock to avoid the groups that the legislation lists.

  133. Habemus Papam says:

    So. What this all boils down to is that SSPX priests, their Masses and Sacraments are valid but illicit and only the four Bishops are excommunicated but they have valid faculties to ordain.

  134. malta says:

    re: SSPX, the whole, “God can bring good out of evil,” discussion is absurd for two reasons:

    1. SSPX is not “evil,” nor were the consecrations done for an illicit purpose. The consecrations were performed to uphold tradition in the face of an unprecedented crisis in the Church. The future Church will look back and will see the crisis of modernism in the same light as the Arian crisis. In that sense, the “excommunications” of Saint Athanasius and Lefebvre will be seen in a similar light. Erasamus was the first to really expound on the idea that God brings a greater good out of every evil act. But, again, comparing Lefebvre to, say, Martin Luther is absurd. Where the former fought to uphold the Church and Her Traditions, the latter sought to break Her down, and, in fact, married a Nun and broke his own Priestly vows.

    2. There is nothing “evil” in disobeying an illicit order from the Pope. Since the Church was and is undergoing an unprecedented crisis, it was illegal and illicit for John Paul the not great to order, in essence, the elimination of SSPX (not allowing the elderly Lefebvre to consecrate bishops to keep his society alive was in a real sense ordering its destruction.)

  135. schoolman says:

    “I join those who have made mention of very earnest and pious SSPX priests, my own favorite having been Fr. Daniel Cooper…”"

    There are some really great priests in the SSPX, however, not all are of the same mind regarding regularization and the relations with the Holy See. I think the Fr. Michael Mary described it as if there are so many boats out of port on different compass bearings — that are not able to move together as a moral body. At some point Bishop Fellay will need to take some decisive decisions and riksk loosing some. If he does not act then surely some boats will move to port on their own initiative — as Cardinal Castrillon has already indicated here.

  136. TNCath says:

    Malta wrote: “But, again, comparing Lefebvre to, say, Martin Luther is absurd. Where the former fought to uphold the Church and Her Traditions, the latter sought to break Her down, and, in fact, married a Nun and broke his own Priestly vows.”

    LeFebvre may not have broken his promise of celibacy, but he certainly broke his promise of obedience and defied the Church.

    Malta then wrote: “There is nothing ‘evil’ in disobeying an illicit order from the Pope. Since the Church was and is undergoing an unprecedented crisis, it was illegal and illicit for John Paul the not great to order, in essence, the elimination of SSPX (not allowing the elderly Lefebvre to consecrate bishops to keep his society alive was in a real sense ordering its destruction.)”

    What makes you uniquely qualified to make the determination that the Pope’s order was “illicit”? Your post is a good example of why I believe the SSPX and its leaders will never reconcile with the Church. I agree with schoolman that people in the SSPX who wish to reconcile with the Church will have to do so on their own initiatives and not via the leadership of Bernard Fellay and company.

  137. Sean McCollister says:

    Jordan,

    Are you suggesting that my thoughts on the overall usefulness of the discussion are irrelevant to the discussion? I can’t say that I’d agree, but I’ve stated my persepctive, and you continue to state yours. We’ll simply have to agree to disagree.

    His Eminence Cardinal Hoyos has plainly stated that in his view, the priests and faithful of the SSPX are not schismatic.. This appears to contradict authoritative legislative texts. This is a contradiction emblematic of the confusion that reigns even in the highest quarters. I can do nothing to resolve it, other than pray. Your arguments on the topic are interesting and erudite, but ultimately they do nothing to clarify or resolve the situation. Such discussions are much sound and fury signifying nothing, until, in God’s good time, things are sorted out; and they do nothing to strengthen my faith.

    This “sorting out” is starting to happen, thank God, and I pray that he grant the Holy Father many more years to see his “gentle revolution” through. But those of us of Tradition, and especially, as Mr. Perkins has pointed out, the SSPX, need to leave the polemics aside, as Cardinal Hoyos is attempting to do, focus on the faith and charity that should bind us together, and support the Holy Father in his “brick by brick” efforts to bring the large and unwieldy ship that is the Church back into port.

  138. Habemus Papam says:

    Marcel Lefebvre kept the Oath against Modernism which he, like every priest before Vatican II had sworn to do.

  139. Sean McCollister says:

    schoolman, I think your comments on the factions within the SSPX are spot on. It’s interesting that in some ways, Bishop Fellays situation is analagous to that of the Holy Father. There are factions that each must contend with. Rather than casting thunderbolts from Olympus, our Holy Father is attempting to take a gentler approach and bring as many along with him as he can. I think the same is true of Bishop Fellay. Given the complexity of the overall situation, I think we should cut him some slack. But I agree that at some point, he’ll need to acknowledge the fact that some simply will not follow and act accordingly. As will the Holy Father or one of his successors.

  140. Geoffrey says:

    TNCath: Your comments are right on.

    It’s been a while, but I was once viewing the SSPX’s website and found it very disturbing. They attacked everything from the FSSP, “Indult” Masses, the “Novus Ordo” Mass (saying it’s better to stay home), the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, and of course Vatican II. I own a prayer-book of theirs (“Christian Warfare”) that has attending a “Norvus Ordo” Mass as a sin under the examination of conscience! They seem more like hostile Protestants than obedient Catholics, no matter what they’re trying to “preserve” (which Protestants think they’re doing too). Sadly, I don’t see how reconciliation could ever happen.

  141. Habemus: Marcel Lefebvre kept the Oath against Modernism which he, like every priest before Vatican II had sworn to do.

    And violated his oath as a Catholic Bishop to obey the Pope, I think.

  142. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    This will be my last on the the Bruskewitz excommunications. I just want to some up my problem with it.

    First, I have a sore spot for this type of abuse of authority for personal reasons. I am not affected by the excommunication, however, I knew a priest that was “excommunicated” who immediately wrote a complaint of nullity. According to canon law the complaint of nullity must be answered within 30 days and if it is not the complaint is granted. The complaint was not answered by the competent authority, therefore the excommunication was null. The reason why competent authority did not answer, was because they knew they would most likely lose, and did not want the bad press. So to the world the priest in question was “excommunicated” but in reality he was not. The authority in this case only wished for the priest to be kept permanently under a cloud.

    To the point at hand. Bishop Bruskewitz placed all Catholics in these groups (some no doubt who deserved to be excommunicated, others that did not) under a cloud. These people are seen to Catholics in this country (some probably family members and friends) as excommunicate non Catholics. Yet none of the Catholics involved have any recourse to canonical protection under the law of the Church, and therefore have no ability to remove the cloud. Unlike what some have maintained the Vatican did not confirm the excommunication. The tribunal applied to by Call to Action (a group I have no sympathy for) said they did not have any authority to judge the case, because no one was condemned by name. (see my previous post 12:12 pm). So the Vatican did not even hear the case. Bishop Re did make statements about Call to Action, and he gave his personal opinion on the matter with regard to them (an opinion I agree with), but there was no hearing or decision given, except that the tribunal had no competency in the matter to judge the legislation. What Bishop Bruskewitz did was a complete abuse of power in the worst tradition of the Church, and something that violates the ethics of natural justice. The SSPX involved begged to be excommunicated/censured by name so that they would have the right to canonically appeal in order to remove the cloud Bishop Bruskewitz placed over them. This was denied them by the Bishop Bruskewitz because he did not want his excommunications reviewed (and most likely overturned) by competent authority. As much as I have a great distaste for most of the groups involved in the excommunication (and I am not a great fan of the SSPX, though I sympathize with them) everyone has a natural right to remove a cloud that has been placed over them by the Bishop even the members of Call to Action. I was and am disgusted by Bishop Bruskewitz’s actions, and by the complete misrepresentation of what happened as recorded in the Catholic press. The good Bishop wished to present to world a picture that had no basis in reality. This he accomplished which makes me even more indignant. Sorry for the rant, but this discussion had gone off in so many directions, I felt I needed to summarize my problems with this issue.

  143. JM says:

    To malta:

    “…. the elimination of SSPX (not allowing the elderly Lefebvre to consecrate bishops to keep his society alive was in a real sense ordering its destruction.)”

    What? Hopefully you realize that there was an agreement that would have brought the SSPX back into the Church and allowed Lefebvre to consecrate a bishop to keep “his society alive.” Rome didn’t break that agreement. He did and it was a terrible, prideful, and sinful decision.

  144. TNCath says:

    Geoffrey wrote: “They seem more like hostile Protestants than obedient Catholics, no matter what they’re trying to “preserve” (which Protestants think they’re doing too).”

    Ummm, yep. They have been “protesting” for nearly 40 years now.

  145. Habemus Papam says:

    Fr.Z: This is where the State of Emergency argument comes in. Otherwise this would be an act of formal schism? Something we are now told is not the case.

  146. Sean McCollister says:

    TNCath, I think it’s relevant and only fair to point out that in regard to their major “protest” on the ancient liturgy, their position was recently validated by the Holy Father.

    And in regard to the discussion of the excommunication or schismatic state of the priests and laity, I have only one final comment. Regardless of the legal texts being thrown about, in practical terms, it would seem that the Holy Father, through the statements of Cardinal Hoyos, has decided to take a different approach, in an attempt to facilitate their return. I’d suggest that those of you who continue to tar the priests and laity with that brush, take that into account.

    Blessings and best regards to you all.

  147. TNCath says:

    Sean McCollister,

    Once again, and for the last time as this too will be my final post on this topic, the major issue with the SSPX is NOT NOT NOT the liturgy. As Pope Benedict reminds us in his “Letter to the Bishops” upon the publication of Summorum Pontificum:

    “We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level.”

    Catholics who wish to attend Masses according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII can do so legitimately all over the country. It may not be as readily available in some places, but, if it’s that important for people to do so, they’ll find a way. And, as time goes on, more Masses will be available as demand and appreciation for this Mass increases. There is absolutely no viable reason for anyone to validly attend SSPX Masses. No one ever separated themselves from the See of Peter and became a better person for having done so. The SSPX and its leaders are operating against the wishes of the Church and do not seem interested in returning. All we hear are the same old tired complaints about how they perceive that the Church “sold herself up the river” after Vatican II.

    Sean says that “it would seem that the Holy Father, through the statements of Cardinal Hoyos, has decided to take a different approach, in an attempt to facilitate their return.” Okay then, fine. Then here’s the bottom line: the Church has bent over backwards to accommodate these folks and cannot do any more. The ball is in their court and that’s that. Period. Amen.

  148. Sean McCollister says:

    TNCath, I think to some extent we’re in violent agreement. :) I didn’t mean to imply that the Mass was the only issue, or that deeper issues in regard to doctrine don’t exist. They do. But it doesn’t hurt us to recognize the fact that in regard to the Mass, they turned out to be right, and many who criticized their position in the harshest, most uncharitable terms possible, were wrong.

    And I would also encourage you not to make assumptions about the intransigence of those symapthetic to the SSPX. Sure, that’s the case with some; but based on my personal experience, it’s not the case with all, or even a majority. Let us not rush to such extreme judgements, but simply follow the Holy Father’s and Cardinal Hoyos’ example; and most importantly, pray and trust God to resolve the situation, as he will according to his own good pleasure, in his own good time.

  149. TNCath says:

    Sean McCollister,

    Well, now we both have broken our pledge for this to be our last posting on this topic, but I feel this is necessary. I’m glad to hear we are in agreement, although I would say we are in “animated agreement,” not violent. :) And I also agree that, as far as the Mass is concerned, there were very painful issues that people unnecessarily suffered. As the Holy Father himself stated in his “Letter to the Bishops” when referring to the changes in the liturgy after Vatican II:

    “I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.”

    I am sympathetic to and even identify with people who love the old liturgy, and I do pray that the Holy Spirit will eventually fill the hearts of those on both sides of this issue so that all may be one again.

    God bless!

  150. Habemus: This is where the State of Emergency argument comes in.

    Ah… the legendary “State of Emergency”!

    Otherwise this would be an act of formal schism? Something we are now told is not the case.

    I am not entirely convinced that it wasn’t.

  151. malta says:

    Father Z:

    “Habemus: Marcel Lefebvre kept the Oath against Modernism which he, like every priest before Vatican II had sworn to do.

    And violated his oath as a Catholic Bishop to obey the Pope, I think.”

    It looks as though P. John Paul and Benedict both broke their oath against Modernism, doesn’t it, although it seems the latter is seeing the error in breaking that oath?

  152. malta: It looks as though P. John Paul and Benedict both broke their oath against Modernism…

    I think that is a public violation of both the truth and of charity, it is an imprudent thing to post and scandalous. I will not have it.

  153. Habemus Papam says:

    Fr Z: Okay, but given those criteria i.e. Catholic Bishops violating their oath to obey the Pope, half the Church would be in schism. The older generations often defend Vatican II by saying “things were much too strict before Pope John”. Well, maybe they were and this intransigence on the part of the SSPX could be because of that. The Oath against Modernism was part of that “strictness”,and I think thats where Lefebvre was coming from.

  154. Habemus: Okay, but given those criteria i.e. Catholic Bishops violating their oath to obey the Pope, half the Church would be in schism.

    That is just a supposition, of course, though one I am in harmony with.  I have posted and written in articles that one of the things JPII did was haul the Church back from the brink of schism.   

    The Oath against Modernism was part of that “strictness”, and I think thats where Lefebvre was coming from.

    However, the Oath against Modernism really didn’t work in the long run.

  155. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter writes:

    Even invoking that canonical cause, which the Church does not accept, the illicit consecration of bishops apart from papal consent and communion, must be presumed to imply rejection of papal authority or communion with fellow Catholics.

    That depends whether you are referring to Moral Law or Canon Law here. In the Canon Law, you are right because, if there is a canonical reason for for an exception, the party invoking that reason must take canonical action, and the S.S.P.X did not. However, in Moral Law, it can be a different matter altogether. I was referring to the Moral Law here. The two cases are not parallel insofar as the Milingo sect, as far as I know, has never cited a case of necessity. But even the Pope has at least recognised that the S.S.P.X invokes that cause because, in his discussions with Bishop Fellay at the beginning of this pontificate, the Pope reportedly told Bishop Fellay that the conditions for arguing a state of necessity are no longer present. I have been arguing exactly that point since 2000. I have been arguing that the conditions changed the instant the Holy See suggested an exempt international diocese (or its equivalent) for the Society. I am not at all sure that the Pope had the same idea in mind because I did not hear of any report of the reasons he gave. But I think that this is most likely the case.

    P.K.T.P.

  156. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter wrote:

    I don’t think under the new Code it is not considered to be illicit to attend Protestant services “without restriction” The Code of Canon Law acknowledges the obligation of Catholics to assist at licit Catholic Masses on Sunday and to be involved in and support their parish community. Choosing to attend Protestant services instead of Mass would make that impossible, so there is some kind of “restriction” on attending Protestant services, even if there is no specific canon addressing the question and prescribing a penalty.

    I meant that there is no specific restriction on attending Protestant services in the 1983 Code, whereas there certainly was one in the 1917 Code. If you wish to be technical, yes, there is a restriction in that we must fulfil the obligation and cannot be in two places at once, unless, like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, we have the gift of bilocation.

    But this does not affect my point in the least. The point was that, if we are free to attend Protestant services [when we are not busy fulfilling the Sunday obligation], then we are certainly free to attend S.S.P.X Masses mutatis mutandis. So, once again, I cannot see how it can be “morally illicit” per se to attend Society Masses. If it is, several local priests and one local monsignor in my Diocese are in real trouble, since they have been seen at the local Society Mass. Frankly, it still looks very much as if Protocols 117 and 539 fail to correspond to each other, which is not to say that there is a direct contradiction between them. There needs to be a clarification here. It certainly does look as if Perl has been making it up as he goes along.

    P.K.T.P.

  157. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter wrote:

    “More than the danger of schism and loss of communion with the Holy See that laity can suffer, what makes it particularly illicit to assist at SSPX Masses is that the priests are suspended a divinis and therefore are not allowed to celebrate Mass.”

    Where, I wonder, do we find this in law? Mr. Potter continues,

    “Protestant ministers are not, as a rule, subject to any discipline from the Church, and rarely if ever celebrate Mass even when they are ex-Catholics who had been ordained to the priesthood—so Protestant services are not like illicit Masses.”

    Well, Orthodox Divine Liturgies are, and we may attend them in normal circumstances, as is proved by Canon 844.2. But they are valid but illicit Masses . . . This Canon even holds for the Old Catholic and Liberal Catholic Masses . . . . Mr. Potter continues,

    “Particularly because of the priests’ suspension by the Church, it would be morally illicit to assist at SSPX Masses, even though it would not necessarily incur any canonical penalty.”

    I don’t see how this follows and, nor, it appears, does Msgr. Perl. If it were morally illicit (which, by the way, is a redundant expression, but it is not Mr. Potter’s expression) to attend the Masses of suspended priests, then he could not approve participation at such Masses, as he says in Protocol 539, “primarly because of an attraction to the earlier form of the Roman Rite . . .” Note that, in this sentence, he not only says that there is no penalty but “they may attend Mass there”. Clearly, this is not the *may* of reportage but the *may* of permission, proved easily by the context. How can one be permitted to do something if it is illicit? That *is* a direct contradiction.

    When you combine the two Protocols, the only reasonable explanation is that Msgr. Perl is saying that attendance is *generally illicit* or else ‘not licit in every case’. He cannot say that it is illicit to attend if one goes there with no schismatic intent and “primarly because of an attraction to the earlier form of the Roman Rite”.

    While it is true that Perl discourages attendance in Protocol 539, it is crystal clear that he does not forbid it, and it can be inferred from his statements that it is not illicit to attend if one has a good motive, such as wishing to benefit from the ancient Mass of the Western Church which was never abrogated. Even a frivolous motive would be adequate if it were not immoral per se, like preferring the Society Mass to the regularised T.L.M. simply owing to better music or furnishing at the former. Note that Perl never once writes in Protocal 539 that one may not attend a Society Mass if there are other options. He only recommends this strongly. A recommendation is not a command; nor is it a stricture.

    Sorry, Mr. Potter, but there are problems in reading the two Protocols together. It may be a problem of translation but we must also keep in mind that the P.C.E.D. does not have the competence to make legal findings on such matters. This is a matter for the P.C.L.T.

    P.K.T.P.

  158. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter writes:

    “Probably in part he got that idea from Ecclesia Dei adflicta, which calls on Catholics not to participate in any way with Msgr. Lefebvre’s movement. But the main source of that idea would be the fact that when a priest is suspended a divinis he has no authority to celebrate Mass, and it is not licit to help someone do something illicit. Indeed, if it is licit to receive the sacraments from suspended priests in non-emergency situations, what’s the point of suspending them at all?”

    First of all, the point in suspending them is to encourage their own reform. You are not reading the law in its proper spirit. The Canon Law is, first and foremost, medicinal. It is meant not to harm the wayward son but to bring him back into the fold.

    Second, I cannot see how mere attendance at an illicit Mass is a necessary means of helping the suspended priest, since that Mass would proceed with or without the attendance of any one person. The law is also reasonable. Moreover, if you were right here, how could Perl even say in 539 that it is permitted for the addressee to give the S.S.P.X a small monetary donation at its Masses. Is this not a truly concrete way of helping the suspended priest?

    P.K.T.P.

  159. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter wrote this:

    “The Church holds that one can fulfill the Sunday obligation at a schismatic Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy (though I know the Church today doesn’t like to refer to them as schismatic), and if that’s the case, then surely one could fulfill the Sunday obligation at an SSPX Mass.”

    No, that is completely wrong. The Church does NOT say this. The New Code says that one may attend an Eastern Orthodox Mass and receive the Sacraments there (Canon 844), but not that this fulfils the Sunday obligation (Canon 1248.1). That is the point made against the Society by some canonists. They say that “Catholic” has a canonical meaning in 1248.1. It does not mean a Eucharistic liturgy which is used in the Catholic Church; it means one that is in union with the Catholic Church.

    The matter of fulfilling the obligation is primarily an objective one. We either fulfil it or not. Whether or not we commit sin in not fulfilling it depends on circumstances and is another matter entirely. There may be a case in which you are unable to fulfil the obligation and so go to an Eastern Orthodox liturgy instead. In such a case, we say not that you have fulfilled the obligation but that you have failed to fulfil it but without fault and without sin.

    What is amazing in Protocol 236-98 is the contention from Msgr. Perl that we may not only attend Society Masses but even fulfil the obligation there. This is reiterated in his letter of 18 January, 2003 (go here:

    However, a number of canonists would seem to disagree with this, and it should be clarified by the P.C.L.T.

  160. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Fr. Z. wrote of Abp. Lefebvre:

    And violated his oath as a Catholic Bishop to obey the Pope, I think.

    No, this is too simplistic. The oath may only be understood in the context of Moral Law, and he salvation of souls is the highest law. Lefebvre argued validly that his action was a case of ‘rightful disobedience’. That concept is well established in Moral Law. Real obedience–legitimate obedience–must take into account the end of each law. No law can be understood or interpreted apart from its end.

    I am not trying to defend Abp. Lefebvre here. Were that the case, I’d be a Society supporter. I am merely pointing out that, from L.’s point of view, he was not disobedient to the Pope. That is, his view is plausible but not necessarily correct. I mean that his action may or may not have been correct but only God knows that.

    I would be more worried about those priests who have deliberatly disobeyed legitimate authority and meant to do so. For example, when Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez ruled that no laic could assume the title of ‘chaplain’ at a Catholic university, one priest in New England called together his parishioners outside his church and then burnt the Cardinal’s document in front of them.

    Such cases are so common we yawn when we hear them now. And yet people constantly go after Lefebvfe on the charge of disobedience. Rightful disobedience is not true or legitimate disobedience because Moral Law takes precedence over any positive law.

    P.K.T.P.

  161. Jordan Potter says:

    Peter Karl T. Perkins said: The point was that, if we are free to attend Protestant services [when we are not busy fulfilling the Sunday obligation]

    and busy volunteering in one’s parish, and fellowshipping with one’s fellow parishioners, and praying, and reading Holy Scripture, and spending time with one’s family, and just resting and keeping the Lord’s Day holy . . . . there are so many things that are generally more profitable to do than attending Protestant services or illegal Masses.

    then we are certainly free to attend S.S.P.X Masses mutatis mutandis.

    Canon law does not at this time have a proscription on being present at non-Catholic liturgies and services. There can be legitimate reasons to be present there, even on a Sunday. But that doesn’t mean we can substitute attendance at non-Catholic services for attendance at Catholic services.

    I said: . . . what makes it particularly illicit to assist at SSPX Masses is that the priests are suspended a divinis and therefore are not allowed to celebrate Mass, and Peter responded, Where, I wonder, do we find this in law?

    The Scriptures teach that we should be complicit in another’s sins. Or do you mean where in law does it say priests who have been stripped of their authority to celebrate the sacraments and to exercise priestly ministry are not permitted to celebrate Mass?

    If it were morally illicit (which, by the way, is a redundant expression, but it is not Mr. Potter’s expression) to attend the Masses of suspended priests, then he could not approve participation at such Masses, as he says in Protocol 539, “primarly because of an attraction to the earlier form of the Roman Rite . . .”

    Why not? The Church as a rule doesn’t want us to attend the services and liturgies of Protestants and Orthodox, but allows it in exceptional and emergency situations. It stands to reason that it can be generally wrong to attend the SSPX’s illegal liturgies, but not in every single case.

    While it is true that Perl discourages attendance in Protocol 539, it is crystal clear that he does not forbid it, and it can be inferred from his statements that it is not illicit to attend if one has a good motive, such as wishing to benefit from the ancient Mass of the Western Church which was never abrogated.

    Perhaps that is why he said it is “morally illicit,” not “absolutely illicit” or “strictly illicit.”

    Note that Perl never once writes in Protocal 539 that one may not attend a Society Mass if there are other options. He only recommends this strongly. A recommendation is not a command; nor is it a stricture.

    Let’s not forget that Protocol 539 was private correspondence addressing the specific circumstance of one man only. Msgr. Perl was not issuing a juridical document or legal text to provide guidance or commands for the faithful. He was just sharing some insights and advice to help answer some questions for one person. But we don’t know what that man’s circumstances were — we’re only privy to Msgr. Perl’s reply, not to the letter the man wrote to the Holy See.

    Sorry, Mr. Potter, but there are problems in reading the two Protocols together.

    There are always problems in reading any two documents together, especially documents of the Church.

    It may be a problem of translation but we must also keep in mind that the P.C.E.D. does not have the competence to make legal findings on such matters. This is a matter for the P.C.L.T.

    The questions were referred to Ecclesia Dei because they involved matters within Ecclesia Dei’s competence. Some of Msgr. Perl’s answers could be incorrect, or not phrased as clearly as one may prefer. But the message from the Church about attending SSPX Masses has been clear and consistent: the Church has always said clearly and strongly, “Please don’t do it.”

    I said: Indeed, if it is licit to receive the sacraments from suspended priests in non-emergency situations, what’s the point of suspending them at all?” Peter replied: First of all, the point in suspending them is to encourage their own reform. You are not reading the law in its proper spirit.

    Just because I question the effectiveness of the manner a juridical remedy is applied does not mean I do not know the point of juridical remedies or am not reading the law in its proper spirit.

    The Canon Law is, first and foremost, medicinal. It is meant not to harm the wayward son but to bring him back into the fold.

    So if suspension a divinis is a meaningless act and a medicine-free medicine, how does suspension encourage the wayward son to reform and return to the fold? Frequenting Masses of suspended priests is like going into the sick person’s medicine cabinet and substituting sugar pills for all of his medications.

    Second, I cannot see how mere attendance at an illicit Mass is a necessary means of helping the suspended priest, since that Mass would proceed with or without the attendance of any one person.

    Mere attendance doesn’t necessarily help the priest. More than mere attendance, however, probably does.

    Moreover, if you were right here, how could Perl even say in 539 that it is permitted for the addressee to give the S.S.P.X a small monetary donation at its Masses.

    It’s impossible to say. Msgr. Perl didn’t explain himself here, and we’re not privy to the specific circumstances of the man whose letter he is answering.

    Is this not a truly concrete way of helping the suspended priest?

    Very probably. I wouldn’t be able to give a Sunday offering at an SSPX Mass, unless I were sure the offering were to be dedicated to some activity not specifically supporting SSPX activities. On the other hand, even suspended priests have to eat, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a sin to keep SSPX priests from starving.

    I said: The Church holds that one can fulfill the Sunday obligation at a schismatic Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy, and Peter replied: No, that is completely wrong. The Church does NOT say this.

    Yes, I misremembered what the law currently says about that. A while back it apparently was the case, for a little while, that Orthodox liturgies could fulfill the Sunday obligation, but the 1983 Code of Canon Law and other documents definitely closed that loophole. Msgr. Perl was probably wrong about an SSPX Mass being able to fulfill the Sunday obligation, but as you say, the Church will have to clarify things for us.

    Such cases are so common we yawn when we hear them now. And yet people constantly go after Lefebvfe on the charge of disobedience.

    Almost sounds like the “But what about all those other people!” excuse. No other instances of disobedience, no matter how numerous or grievous, will mitigate or justify Archbishop Lefebvre if he was unjustified in his illicit consecrations. Really, it’s inevitable that people “go after” him on the charge of disobedience when the topic at hand is the SSPX and that which Ecclesia Dei adflicta classfies as a schismatic act.

  162. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter writes:

    “and busy volunteering in one’s parish, and fellowshipping with one’s fellow parishioners, and praying, and reading Holy Scripture, and spending time with one’s family, and just resting and keeping the Lord’s Day holy . . . . there are so many things that are generally more profitable to do than attending Protestant services or illegal Masses.”

    But that is completely beside the point. The point was that we are free to attend even Protestant services. Whether or not our time would be better spent doing other things is irrelevant. We might also spend it better than be attending one of the thousands of scheduled New Masses that is illicit for using invalid matter, or whatever. I repeat: if we are free in law to attend Protestant services, then we are free in normal circumstances to attend Society Masses. Msgr. Perl agrees. Here is his letter of clarification following Protocol 539:

    Pontificia Commissio “Ecclesia Dei” January 18, 2003

    Greetings in the Hearts of Jesus & Mary! There have been several inquiries about our letter of 27 September 2002. In order to clarify things, Msgr. Perl has made the following response.

    Oremus pro invicem.

    In cordibus Jesu et Mariæ,
    Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins

    Msgr. Camille Perl’s response:

    . . . . [words here about the private nature of the original letter]

    In a previous letter to the same correspondent we had already indicated the canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X which we will summarize briefly here.

    1.) The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but they are suspended from exercising their priestly functions. To the extent that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre [and not otherwise], they are also excommunicated.

    2.) Concretely this means that the Masses offered by these priests are valid, but illicit i.e., contrary to the law of the Church.

    Points 1 and 3 in our letter of 27 September[,] 2002 to this correspondent are accurately reported. His first question was “Can I fulfil my Sunday obligation by attending a Pius X Mass” and our response was

    “1. In the strict sense you may fulfil your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X.”

    [Now, obviously, if one can fulfil the obligation at such a Mass, one may attend it, for a law cannot be satisfied by an illicit act; therefore, attending is not illicit in every case. Perl says elsewhere that it is not illicit to attend if there is no schismatic intent and the object is to benefit from celebration of the T.L.M.]

    His second question was “Is it a sin for me to attend a Pius X Mass” and we responded stating:

    “2. We have already told you that we cannot recommend your attendance at such a Mass and have explained the reason why. If your primary reason for attending were to manifest your desire to separate yourself from communion with the Roman Pontiff and those in communion with him, it would be a sin. If your intention is simply to participate in a Mass according to the 1962 Missal for the sake of devotion, this would not be a sin.”

    His third question was: “Is it a sin for me to contribute to the Sunday collection a Pius X Mass” to which we responded:

    “3. It would seem that a modest contribution to the collection at Mass could be justified.”

    Further, the correspondent took the Commission to task for not doing its job properly and we responded thus:

    [Here follows a part no longer relevant under S.P. and not on our topic here.]

    We hope that this puts in a clearer light the letter about which you asked us.

    With prayerful best wishes for this New Year of Our Lord 2003, I remain

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl Secretary

    Case closed, Mr. Potter, case closed.

    Except that it is not. Some canonists are saying that the P.C.E.D. does not have competence in this matter and that participation at Society Masses does not or cannot fulfil the obligation. Of course, if the Society would accept a juridical structure from Rome (such as the one offered to it)–even a provisional one–the case really would be closed.

    All the more reason to pray for that.

    P.K.T.P.

  163. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Jordan Potter writes:

    “Canon law does not at this time have a proscription on being present at non-Catholic liturgies and services. There can be legitimate reasons to be present there, even on a Sunday. But that doesn’t mean we can substitute attendance at non-Catholic services for attendance at Catholic services.”

    And I never suggested otherwise. It is only Msgr. Perl who suggests that (a) either Society Masses are ‘Catholic services’ or (b) that participation at them fulfils the Sunday obligation if one has no schismatic intent and does so for devotional reasons, although his restriction on the reasons is only partial. Notice that, in Protocol 539, he nowhere says that one *must* fulfil the obligation at a regularised Mass if possible. Apparently, even if a regularised F.S.S.P. Mass and an S.S.P.X one were both readily available, one could prefer the latter, as long as one did not do so for an immoral reason.

    I have not said that I agree with Perl. What I am saying is that this is coming from an organ of the Holy See.

    P.K.T.P.

  164. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Mr. Potter writes:

    “The Scriptures teach that we should be complicit in another’s sins. Or do you mean where in law does it say priests who have been stripped of their authority to celebrate the sacraments and to exercise priestly ministry are not permitted to celebrate Mass?”

    In order to be complicit in another’s sins, there must be an intention to be complicit in them. But somebody who attends only for the sake of devotion need not make the supposed sin of the celebrant the object of a positive act of the will.

    Furthermore, there is no sin on the part of the Society celebrant, only a supposed wrongdoing (a disorder) unless he intends sin.

    But Perl covers this entirely. He answered the question about sin and he must agree with my interpretation here, for he is saying directly that it need not entail sin to attend a Society Mass.

    P.K.T.P.

  165. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Mr. Potter writes:

    The questions were referred to Ecclesia Dei because they involved matters within Ecclesia Dei’s competence. Some of Msgr. Perl’s answers could be incorrect, or not phrased as clearly as one may prefer. But the message from the Church about attending SSPX Masses has been clear and consistent: the Church has always said clearly and strongly, “Please don’t do it.”

    This first assertion might not be correct. I know that the P.C.E.D. does consult other dicasteries for advice on legal matters. I know of a Society Protocol in which a consultation with the P.C.L.T. was actually mentioned. We simply don’t know in this case if this finding of the P.C.E.D. is correct.

    Whether correct or not, Protocol 539 only affects the case for the addressee in Moral Law. In Moral Law, if the Church gives one reason to believe something, that can be the basis for moral certitude. It enables action. But that would not apply to the rest of us. I am not sure who the addressee was in the case of Protocol 236-98, which clearly states that attendance at a Society Mass does fulfil the obligation.

    P.K.T.P.

  166. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I had written:

    “If it were morally illicit . . . to attend the Masses of suspended priests, then he could not approve participation at such Masses, as he says in Protocol 539, “primarly because of an attraction to the earlier form of the Roman Rite . . .”

    Mr. Potter responds:

    “Why not? The Church as a rule doesn’t want us to attend the services and liturgies of Protestants and Orthodox, but allows it in exceptional and emergency situations. It stands to reason that it can be generally wrong to attend the SSPX’s illegal liturgies, but not in every single case.”

    But the Church does not say that it is illicit to attend the services of Protestants. That is the point. Were it illicit, it could not be all right to attend them ‘primarly out of devotion’. If something is illicit, it cannot be right to do it for any reason. Illicit means ‘contrary to both positive and Moral law’. It is distinct from the concepts of ‘illegal’ or ‘unlawful’.

    P.K.T.P.

  167. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    “Let’s not forget that Protocol 539 was private correspondence addressing the specific circumstance of one man only. Msgr. Perl was not issuing a juridical document or legal text to provide guidance or commands for the faithful. He was just sharing some insights and advice to help answer some questions for one person. But we don’t know what that man’s circumstances were—we’re only privy to Msgr. Perl’s reply, not to the letter the man wrote to the Holy See.”

    This is true. The fact that the addressee may do x or y under Protocol 539 does not mean that any other particular person may. But it also follows in logic that there are circumstances in which x or y is licit.

    Anyway, the follow-up letter of Perl clarifies all these point.

    I think that Mr. Potter may be missing my point about the medicinal nature of penalties in this case. Suspension of a priest is a penalty imposed on the priest, not on someone who attends his Masses. Msgr. Perl has stated directly that someone who attends these Masses with the right disposition “incurs no penalty”.

    The medicine is not medicine-free at all. The point is that a suspension undermines the authority had and respect accorded the priest in question. It serves as a deterrent and a gentle rebuke. And it sometimes works. Many Society priests have been regularised in recent years, either as individuals or groups (e.g. the I.P.B.). Many faithful prefer not to attend unregularised Masses, and this limits their popularity. That inflicts a certain pain on celebrants of such Masses. Medicine is usually not pleasant but is done for one’s benefit.

    P.K.T.P.

  168. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Mr. Potter writes:

    “Very probably. I wouldn’t be able to give a Sunday offering at an SSPX Mass, unless I were sure the offering were to be dedicated to some activity not specifically supporting SSPX activities. On the other hand, even suspended priests have to eat, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a sin to keep SSPX priests from starving.”

    Well, Msgr. Perl has now expanded the applicability of his findings by his follow-up letter to U.V.A. of 18 January, 2003. So we now know that others can even make a monetary contribution, for the follow-up letter was *not* restricted to one addressee.

    By the way, following this logic, one might refrain from giving donations to a N.O. parish on the grounds that money was going to support our now-pinker-than-ever seminaries (thanks to this Pope’s seminary document) or for a host of other reasons. I wouldn’t want money to go to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example. That organisation doesn’t look very Catholic at all.

    Potter continues:

    “Mere attendance doesn’t necessarily help the priest. More than mere attendance, however, probably does.”

    But is it wrong to pray for that priest and all those present? That might be the more than mere attendance involved.

    Mr. Potter writes:

    “Almost sounds like the “But what about all those other people!” excuse. No other instances of disobedience, no matter how numerous or grievous, will mitigate or justify Archbishop Lefebvre if he was unjustified in his illicit consecrations. Really, it’s inevitable that people “go after” him on the charge of disobedience when the topic at hand is the SSPX and that which Ecclesia Dei adflicta classfies as a schismatic act.”

    Yes, I agree with this point: two wrongs don’t make a right. Obviously. But I suppose I am really questioning here the sincerity of those who attack Abp. Lefebvre while ignoring things that are a hundred times worse. For example, in my truly insane Diocese, under the infamous Bishop De Rogue (um, I mean, De Roo), it was hard to find a licit Mass, and easy to find one which was not only illicit but also invalid. If Perl is right and one can fulfil the obligation at a Society Mass, would it be right to prefer that Society Mass to one of Remi’s Clown Shows? Or should we shun both and smoke our peace pipes at home? Or should be drive miles and miles to go Byzantine? Food for thought.

    P.K.T.P.

    P.K.T.P.

  169. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Final Note: What do I think on attendance at Society Masses?

    First, it is crystal clear to me that one may, without sin or the breaching of any positive law, attend a Society Mass whenever one likes, provided that one fulfils one’s obligation and has no schismatic intent. The Code does not forbid it, just as it does not forbid attendance at Protestant services or Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgies.

    Second, I am not convinced that one can fulfil the Sunday obligation at a Society Mass, despite what Msgr. Perl says. However, one could attend a Byzantine Divine Liturgy each Sunday and a Society Mass on the same day and never once go to a regularised Mass of one’s own rite–and yet fulfil the obligation. The Byzantine Liturgy would ‘cover’ the obligation.

    Third, under ecclesiastical law, one does not sin if attendance at Mass is physically or morally impossible. Under ‘physically impossible’, the law considers that an expected travel time of more than one hour satsifies the condition. Attendance at New Mass clown shows with invalid matter or serious breaches of the rubrics (such as extemporaneous Eucharistic Prayers, which we had in my old parish sometimes), does not fulfil the obligation for one who is aware of this fact, and one cannot be obliged to attend them because such attendance could be ‘morally impossible’. In such cases, while a Society Mass might not fulfil the obligation, it would certainly be justified.

    I think that, if any Mass would cause the Massgoer excessive anger and feelings of hatred, such as the feelings I have whenever I hear contemporay music, attendance is not mandatory. Law must be read in terms of its end. If it undermines faith or creates hatred, it surely cannot be good or impose an obligation to participate, for the end of Mass, in part, is to foster love and engender faith.

    Fourth, under Moral Law, in a case of doubt, the law favours the action. Regardless of whether or not Msgr. Perl is right in Canon Law about the ability of Society Masses to fulfil the obligation, his findings create a state of doubt which allows some people (those who know about his findings) to attend Society Masses without sin even in an attempt to fulfil the obligation.

    Nevetheless, it is very bad when the Canon Law does not correspond with Moral Law (note I do not say ‘contradicts’: there is no contradiction alleged here). Hence, yet again, we need a clarification on this matter.

    To close, yet again, if the Society would only accept the structure Rome wants to give it, this entire issue would go away.

    P.K.T.P.

  170. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    For the Benefit of Mr. Jordan Potter and others:

    Error in Protocol 117-95?

    Mr. Potter quoted this Protocol of the P.C.E.D., signed by Msgr. Camille Perl, to show that it was illicit for faithful to attend Masses of the S.S.P.X. The question posed by unknown addressee is this: “Is it schismatic in attending [sic] the Society of St. Pius X chapels”.

    Msgr. Perl addresses this question in three numbered parts. In part 1, Msgr. Perl asserts that Society priests have valid orders but that their Masses are illicit. In part 3, he admits that attendance at such Masses does not per se constitute formal adherence to a schism, although it subjects the attender to a risk of eventual schism.

    In part 2, Msgr. Perl asserts that it is “morally illicit [sic] for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844.2). The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called ‘Tridentine Mass’ is not considered [to be] a sufficient motive for attending such Masses.”

    Note here how Msgr. Perl is addressing the question of whether or not one may licitly *attend* Society Masses. (He is not addressing the question of fulfilling the obligation to assist at Mass on certain days.) But, to support his contention, he quotes Canon 844.2. However, Canon 844.2 HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH MATTERS OF ATTENDANCE. Canon 844 pertains, instead, to the circumstances under which one may receive Holy Communion from non-Catholic ministers. Quite apart from the fact that Society priests are Catholic (although perhaps not in the canonical sense here), Canon 844 has to do with receiving Holy Communion, not attending Mass or fulfilling obligations to attend Mass. Here is the text of Canon 844.2 (non-American official English translation but with liberalist errors of capitalisation corrected):

    “Whenever necessity requires and a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ’s faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, may lawfully RECEIVE THE SACRAMENTS [emphasis added] of Penance, the Eucharist, and Anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose churches these Sacraments are valid.” What on earth does this have to do with a right to attend Mass?

    It follows logically that Msgr. Perl’s contention in this Protocol has no given foundation in law. Therefore, we can ignore it.

    Whether or not this letter really did issue from the P.C.E.D. is also questionable. The copy referenced by Mr. Potter has no name for the addressee on it. But whoever did write that response clearly erred in law, at least by quoting the wrong Canon.

    I find no Canon anywhere in the 1983 Code forbidding attendance at non-Catholic (let alone S.S.P.X) religious services. Indeed, it can be inferred from Canon 844 that attendance at non-Catholic services must be licit at least sometimes because, otherwise, how could Catholics receive Holy Communion from, say, the Orthodox? Under the 1917 Code, there were specific restrictions. These seem to be absent from the 1983 Code. If Mr. Potter knows of any such restrictions in the new Code, he is free to quote them.

    Anyway, whoever really wrote this letter, it is false. We can safely ignore it.

    P.K.T.P.

  171. PKTP: I think you have beaten this to death.

    And despite your creative opinion, I don’t think letters from the PCED can simply be blown off as you advance.