Wonder what “schism” is? There is a good example in St. Louis.

People often use the word "schism" to describe the irregular situation of the bishops and priests of the SSPX.  They have reason to.  In his 1988 Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta, Pope John Paul II used the word "schism". 

Today, the Holy See is backing away from applying "schism", saying that the 1988 consecration of bishops was a "schismatic act", but not stating clearly just what happened as a result. 

Okay fair enough.

So what do you have to do to get yourself officially identified as a schismatic?

Schism is defined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law:  "schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him." (1983 CIC 751)

Here is an interesting story from CNA with my emphases and comments:

Schismatic St. Louis parish loses appeal to Vatican

St. Louis, May 29, 2008 / 01:03 am (CNA).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has confirmed Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke’s decree excommunicating the board of directors of a schismatic parish.  Archbishop Burke had excommunicated the leaders of the breakaway ethnically Polish parish for hiring a suspended priest to celebrate the Sacraments and sacramentals. 

The priest could be defrocked for remaining in schism, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has warned.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish had operated under a structure in which the pastor is subject to the authority of the parish governing board, in violation of canon law. [Effectively, what we call "trustee-ism"] Archbishop Burke sought to bring the parish into line with canon law, but the parish resisted his efforts.  In August the archbishop removed priests assigned to St. Stanislaus and moved Polish language masses to a nearby parish.  In January 2005 parishioners voted 299-5 to retain full control of the parish[So, they formally acted against the bishop.]

In December 2005 Archbishop Burke issued a decree of excommunication condemning the church’s board of directors and the priest they had hired to celebrate their sacraments at the church.

According to Archbishop Burke’s May 30 column in the St. Louis Review, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has taken two actions.  First, it has rejected the recourse (appeal) presented by the Board of Directors of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Corporation, including the recourse of suspended priest Reverend Marek B. Bozek. 

“In other words, it has found the recourse to be without foundation,” Archbishop Burke said.

The Congregation communicated its decision in a May 15 letter signed by its head, Cardinal William Levada.  The archbishop said the Congregation has confirmed his December 15, 2005 decrees declaring the board of directors had incurred the penalty of excommunication because of “persistence in schism.”  [There it is: schism.]

Archbishop Burke said the Congregation gave two reasons for its decision. First, the board of directors did not observe the time limits set for recourses and neglected to fulfill the formal requirements for a recourse. [So, this was a flaw in procedure which a canonist should have paid attention to.]  Second, it said the members of the Board of Directors of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Corporation have committed schism and continue to persist in it.  [This is the more substantive reason.]

The Congregation said in its letter that the board of directors had turned the former St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish into “an independent entity capable of appointing its own clergy apart from the hierarchy of the Church,” gradually removing it from the “jurisdiction of the local ordinary.”  [Does this not sound also like the SSPX?]

Archbishop Burke regretted that the controversy surrounding the board of directors had been presented by the media as a personal conflict between the board members and the archbishop.  

“As their pastor, I have been obliged to call them to reconciliation and repentance for the good of the salvation of their souls and the good of the whole Church. In doing so, I have acted in accord with what the teaching and discipline of the Catholic Church require. My actions have nothing to do with any personal conflict but, rather, with the integrity of the Catholic faith and its practice, which I have the solemn responsibility to safeguard and promote,” he said.

The archbishop said that members of the church’s board of directors could appeal the Congregation’s decision to its Ordinary Session of the Cardinals and Bishops, or they could reconcile with the Church and “withdraw from the state of schism.”  The Congregation’s letter said “reconciliation with the Church necessarily includes repentance for the grave harm which their schismatic actions have caused to individual souls and to the whole Church.”

Archbishop Burke pledged to offer the board of directors “special pastoral care and kindness” if they accept the Congregation’s decision.  He expressed his commitment to reconciliation and said he will continue to act on that commitment.

In a separate letter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed the case of Father Marek Bozek, saying he could be defrocked if he does not renounce his schismatic acts and continues to celebrate the sacraments illicitly.  Unless the priest reconciles with the Church, the Congregation said it will “present his case to the Holy Father for his dismissal ex officio from the clerical state.”  [If the Congregation goes that far, it will probably happen.]

Father Bozek is a priest of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.  He had left his priestly assignment to join St. Stanislaus against the expressed will of his ordinary, Bishop John Leibrecht.

Archbishop Burke said the situation was “profoundly sad” and had caused “great spiritual harm” to the archdiocese.  He finished his column by asking for prayers from the faithful.

 

This is pretty interesting stuff.

So, in order to get yourself officially labelled a schismatic, you have to refuse to submit to the authority of the Pope, which is in part laid down in canon law, and refuse the authority of the local bishop in those things which he has the right to govern.

So, the sad situation of the many good and well-intentioned priests of the SSPX come to mind again.  The bishops involved violated a clear canon when they consecrated bishops and received consecration.  That wasn’t only the Code.  The Pope himself pled with them not to do it. 

So, on 1 July 1988, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which has competence in matters concerning bishops, Card. Gantin (who recently passed away) issued a formal decree of excommunication stating that Archbp. Lefebvre, Bp. Castro Mayer, and the four priests they consecrated in violating of law and the Pope’s expressed will, had performed a schismatic act.  They excommunicated themselves, latae sententiae, in accordance the Code of Canon Law which applies an automatic excommunication for episcopal consecration without Pontifical mandate and for schism.

Cardinal Gantin wrote:  "The priests and faithful are warned not to support the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre, otherwise they shall incur ipso facto the very grave penalty of excommunication".  This would be because they would be adhering to schism.  

On 2 July Pope John Paul II issued his Motu Proprio Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei adflicta in which he confirmed both the excommunications and the state of schism.  He said the consecrations were schismatic not just because they were without the necessary mandate, but also because they were disobedient.  He had specifically called for them not to do what they did (par. 3):

In itself this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act.

Therefore,

In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops last 17 June, Archbishop Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law.

John Paul II warned against formally adhering to schism:  "Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law".

So, back in 1988 it seems that the Lawgiver and interpreter of the law, the Pope, thought there was a schism and warned about adhereing to schism  which  is rooted in rejecting the primacy of the Holy and refusing unity.

You reject the primacy of the Holy See when you violate the law the Pope gives to the Church and when you violate formal unity with the Church.  This is manifested also when you refuse submission to the local bishop when he is applying the Church’s laws.

I have always found it really hard to figure out how lay people adhere to schism.   If…if… the 1988 consecration constituted an act of schism, and Card. Gantin and John Paul II thought it did at the time, then it seems to me fairly clear that priests who would receive ordination, a salary and take assignments from the SSPX would be adhereing to schism.  Lay people?  Harder to say.  Given money to the SSPX chapels?  If so, how much?  Acting on the board of their chapels?  Its a problem.

But now we read that the Holy See says lay people can be excommunicated for schism by a local bishop if they act in a body in a formal way against the authority not just of the Holy See but also of the local bishop.  Interesting.

Frankly, I think that if the SSPX claims they are not in schism, and if the Holy See isn’t ready to speak clearly about this one way or another, then the SSPX deserves a formal canonical hearing or trial to make a determination and the Holy See ought, in justice, give it to them. 

The SSPX ought to make a formal appeal to the decree of 1988 and the Holy See ought to consider the appeal.

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154 Responses to Wonder what “schism” is? There is a good example in St. Louis.

  1. Jrbrown says:

    The Holy See DOES speak clearly about it, and I am perplexed as to the confusion. Cardinal Hoyos is charged with handling relations with SSPX, and he says quite clearly that they are not in formal schism, that the faithful are Catholic, that their Masses fulfill Sunday obligation, and that the bishops themselves (or at least Bp Fellay) hold the Catholic faith, including the doctrine of papal supremacy. There is no other organ of the Church whose sole mission is to deal with traditionalists, and if I understand the legislation, Ecclesia Dei is in fact given primary jurisdiction over SSPX. I personally think it is fundamentally against the policy of this Pope and Cardinal Hoyos to claim that SSPX is schismatic, that its faithful are excommunicated and that its priests are non-Catholic ministers under Canon Law.

  2. Patrick says:

    It is interesting that Archbishop Burke has issued stern warnings to the people of St. Louis:

    “The faithful who approach a schismatic priest for the reception of the Sacraments, except in the case of danger of death, commit a mortal sin. All of the faithful of the Archdiocese should guard against any participation in the attempt to celebrate the Sacraments or sacramentals at Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church. Also, they should caution visitors and others who are unaware of the status of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish, lest they unknowingly participate in the schismatic acts.”

    Notice that he is not saying “adhering to the schism is a mortal sin.” No, just approaching for the Sacraments is itself a mortal sin, even if one does not embrace a schismatic mindset. So great is the danger to one’s soul that, apparently, even unknowingly participating in a schismatic act ought to be avoided. This would seem to hint that participating in an SSPX Mass even without a schismatic intent, would be strongly inadvisable because approaching a schismatic priest (which the PCILT has declared the priests and deacons probably are) is a mortal sin.

  3. patrick f says:

    I live in this Diocese. I have personally met, and talked with his grace Raymond Burke several times. There isnt a more humble, Christ minded bishop in the country in my opinion, now keep in mind I am probably biased. This is of course our Shepherd in St. Louis, so I tend to show favoritism.

    Sadly much of what the public , and the lay faithful have known on this issue, is distorted unfortunately by the media. This parish, if you read the history was a gift from the Arch Diocese to the polish faithful. However from the start people distorted it, eventually adding “parish laws” and all that stuff.

    Now what really is sad, is people dont know that this process had started years ago, even when Arch Bishop John L May was around. Justin Cardinal rigali also tried to bring them inline. It was Burke that took the much needed steps, and possesed the knowledge of canon law that he has, that finally broke down the walls. (I of course, am not knocking the efforts of his predecessors in the least). So the media got hold of it, and ran with it. People started thinking here goes Burke again. See, previously, we had several Parishes that closed about the same time . That was blamed on him too. So, rather then looking at a parish that had 10 families (literally some of them were that bad) and applying simple economics, people got angry with him. This also had been in place by predecessors .

    A Bishop has the responsibility to preserve the Catholic Identity and integrity of his flock. Sometimes this does make him “unpopular”. But lets not forget , the Apostles were martyred, Our Lord was crucified. So, Bishops (and popes) by their very nature and heritage, are destined to be “un popular”

    Father Z, thanks for bringing this article up. I know the whole situation has been a source of division for the “Rome of the West” as people affectionately call our great Arch Diocese. Hopefully now, these people will submit to the Apostolic Authority of Holy Mother church, and the healing can indeed begin. For Does not a Shepherd go after the lost sheep? This is precisely what happened here. Please folks pray for our Arch Bishop. He has done so many wonderful things for St. Louis. He is a great patron of Sacred music, the arts, and of traditional catholicism. He has given us 2 oratories for the TLM, has instituted an insitute for sacred music, and has steadfastly defended the church.

    This is what a Bishop does. This is what the martyrs did.

    now the St. Pius thing. Yeah, they should have a trial, especially since the TLM has been restored. However, there are still doctrinal issues there from what I know. Its one thing to point out the abuses from misinterpretation of V2, however they outright deny the council, and also have clearly violated canon law. So they like the St Stan lay board, forgot one VERY important key to being catholic. Obedience. All of the great saints were obedient. I think for the St. Pius X situation to be fully healed, they have to be obedient to whatever the chair of peter instructs them too, but also people need to show them the compassion for some of what they did accomplish (preserving the TLM in a very public, even if in disobedient matter)

  4. magdalen says:

    I have the greatest respect for this Archbiship; he is one of the best
    and holiest shepherds in this country. And I TRUST him (and I do not
    trust just any bishop).

    The SSPX make for an interesting situation. And , father, you are right in that the
    Vatican needs to address this situation and not just keep it a grey area.
    There are many elements of schism as you noted. But then many of the
    followers here do pray for the Pope and do consider themselves Roman
    Catholic. Clarification is needed. They either need to be fully
    restored to union–which will not ever happen for all of them–or they
    need to be declared formally separate from the Catholic Church. I know
    many could not give obedience to a local ordinary with deep seated distrust
    and bitterness towards the post-conciliar church that many have. Perhaps
    an apostolic community of some sort would be the answer.

    I would like to see many of the SSPX come home.

  5. Patrick says:

    A political consideration on the SSPX appeal idea…What would they gain? Let’s say the Holy See declares that there is no schism. Well, they already claim that based on comments from Card. Castrillon Hoyos. I suppose the confirmation might be nice, but it wouldn’t change much. Now, what if the Holy See declares there is a schism. Well, that’s a huge problem. Some of their faithful would leave and all Catholics would be forbidden from attending their chapels under the pain of mortal sin. That’s a pretty big risk for a pretty small gain. Of course, in the interest of Truth, they should appeal, but the political considerations will not be small.

    Perhaps the biggest risk that they take in an appeal is that, even if the appeal finds they are not in schism, it is very likely that the appeal would also find that the bishops are, in fact, excommunicated. That would be a devastating blow to the current situation of the SSPX. It would force their hand a bit. The bishops would have to work to remedy their status quickly or risk losing many of their followers. As we have seen thus far, they seem to be interested in resolving their situation on their own timetable and not on Rome’s.

  6. Mr. WAC says:

    Two things:

    1) St. Stan’s is an old parish, and I wonder how it is that the Archdiocese allowed the property to be held under a corporation of laics with an elected board of trustees to begin with. Was this some kind of frontier concession, or perhaps a concession to the Polish community which was (in some parts of the US) threatening to leave the Catholic Church en masse for the PNCC in the 19th century?

    In such was the case, perhaps this schism has been on its way for a long, long time, kind of like the Schism of Utrecht after Vatican I (which, ironically, is where most of the PNCC’s orders come from.)

    2) Fr. Z says: Does this not sound also like the SSPX?

    Yes, and that is problematic for the Society’s apologists. How is it that the SSPX can operate parishes outside of any diocese, and, furthermore, presume to witness or confect those sacraments which require either faculties from or the approval of a competent ordinary in order to be licit and/or valid (in the case of Confession,) and NOT be schismatic? Does not the SSPX’s operational structure form a kind of “Shadow Diocese” within legitimately erected dioceses? Do not their “chapels” operate as “Shadow Parishes” within the territorial boundaries of legitimately erected parishes? Is such a situation not schism by definition?

  7. Boko Fittleworth says:

    “An independent entity capable of appointing its own clergy apart from the hierarchy of the Church,” gradually removing it from the “jurisdiction of the local ordinary.”

    Great description of how a schism can occur. It well-describes the direction in which I thought the Tom Monaghan/Ave Maria University oratory situation was heading before the recent rapprochement.

  8. Patrick says:

    Mr. WAC,

    I believe that St. Stanislaus has had this odd “lay board” organization for over 100 years. It was not uncommon with Polish parishes. I know there were a couple like this in Chicago that went in and out of schism over pastor choices and so forth. I think it was sort of a cultural thing. Unfortunately, Archbishop Burke was the one who finally put the hammer down and when they ignored his demands, he had no choice but to follow through with the appropriate penalties.

  9. magdalen: I would like to see many of the SSPX come home.

    You and me both. What a great help they would be in Benedict’s Marshall Plan!

  10. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Before the SSPX appeals, they need to have a clear formal declaration from Rome that they have censures against them. For example the Hawaii group of SSPX where excommunicated for schism for attending a confirmation ceremony at an SSPX chapel. That was appealed and they won. Bishop Bruskewitz “excommunicated” those that attend the SSPX, but failed (really refused) to name anyone in the decree, so there was no ability to appeal. So I think you are putting the cart before the horse in asking the SSPX to appeal. First they need something to appeal.

  11. Jordanes says:

    Christopher said: Before the SSPX appeals, they need to have a clear formal declaration from Rome that they have censures against them.

    Father Zuhlsdorf said the SSPX needs to make a formal appeal of the 1988 decrees against them. If a declaration of automatic excommunication of their bishops is not a clear formal, formal declaration, what is?

  12. cresci says:

    Father,
    I believe it is not with “bogus wording” that this situation will come to an end. It always remembers me of the historical quote in 1994 by that journalist to secretary Albright (on the Rwandan massacre): How many “acts of genocide” does it take to have “genocide”?
    Can we substitute “genocide” for “schism” in this situation? How many “acts of schism” does it take to have schism? One by the ordainees and ordained ones in 1998? Two by the setup of parishes and sacraments without jurisdiction? Three by making people hate the official hierarcy and openly disobey or at least siply ignore the authority of the ordinary instances (the diocesan bishop) – and this is harder because it involves the laypeople? Four by setting up tribunals – also involving the laypeople?

  13. Patrick says:

    Christopher,

    They have plenty of basis on which to appeal: “Ecclesia Dei” (Pope John Paul II), the decree fropm the Congregation for Bishops, “The Excommunication of Followers of Archbishop Lefebvre” (PCILT), and subsequent letters published by the Ecclesia Dei Commission which declare that the bishops have incurred excommuncation. The argument that they have not been declared excommunicated is silly. Of course, they have. The next step is for them to appeal this judgement.

  14. Jordanes says:

    Mr. WAC said: Do not their “chapels” operate as “Shadow Parishes” within the territorial boundaries of legitimately erected parishes? Is such a situation not schism by definition?

    That’s a very good point. Nevertheless the Holy See seems to be taking the approach that, in seeking to reconcile the SSPX, they want to avoid declaring a formal schism has taken place. By analogy, I look at the Church’s current avoidance of the terms “schism” and “schismatic” in reference to the Eastern Orthodox, since we are in dialogue with the Orthodox aiming at achieving a reconciliation. I rather think the Church doesn’t want to have to plainly say to the SSPX, “You’re in schism,” since it would be expected to be harder to achieve reconciliation.

  15. TNCath says:

    Magdalen wrote: “I would like to see many of the SSPX come home.”

    I suspect many of their priests and laity will in time. As the Extraordinary Form becomes more widespread and if the leadership of the SSPX continues to resist a reconciliation, I trust and pray that the Holy Spirit will take care of it.

  16. malta says:

    Adherence to the authority of the Pope is of the greatest importance, however some of you seem to gloss-over the extreme emergency (yes, Emergency) SSPX was in, [Piffle. – Fr. Z] and the Church was (and still is) in from the 70’s (if not earlier) forward:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_St._Pius_X

    SSPX was lampooned because of their adherence to the T. Latin Mass, and were treated with contempt by C. Jean Marie Villot.

    And here’s the main point–the most important point–they largely preserved the TLM at the point where it was nearly doomed; the Liturgy spanning nearly a millenia and a half which formed many, if not the majority, of the Great Saints. And there is no doubt, none whatsoever, that they were initially persecuted because of their adherence to this Liturgy. Were they in an emergency which would have allowed disobediance ala St. Athanasius (who was also “excommunicated” by a Pope)? [A limping and faux analogy.] Only God knows and time will tell; but, yes, they need a full hearing–an appeal.

  17. Matt of South Kent says:

    Amen, amen, to those who pray for SSPX’s return to the Holy See.

    Isn’t this a case of apples and oranges?

    According to articles, SSPX’s acted because they believed there was emergency situation as defined in Canon Law. Archbishop Lefebvre actions where not motivated by or for personal gain. He wanted to ensure that a group of Catholics whose needs were not being met by the Church (Arch Lefebvre’s opinion) would be met by SSPX.

    However, SSPX actions of late – failure to accept the change in the Good Friday pray and the recent rebuff of the Pope Benedict’s overtures seem to be leading the current leadership toward establishment of a new something. These are actions seem to be schematic.

  18. Mr. M. M. Regan says:

    The SSPX Bishops have usurped no Ordinary’s jurisdiction, [Though they have no regard for the rights of the local bishops at all, though the Supreme Pontiff properly appoints them and issued the law that spells out their rights and duties. – Fr. Z] they acknowledge the universal jurisdiction of the Successor of St. Peter, [Except insofar as he is the Lawgiver of the Church.] and they do not have a schismatic mentality. There is no SSPX schism. [Please explain the decree of the Cong. of Bishops and the Pope’s words in Ecclesia Dei adflicta.] Father, you have made no reference here to the post-Vatican II emergency situation that, in the wake of the Assisi gathering, could no longer be denied and justified Msgr. Lefebvre’s actions. [How about this: A fantastical justification for acting in a way that was contrary to the Church’s law and the expressed will of the Holy Father.]
    Jordanes, the Eastern Orthodox prelates are pretenders to jurisdictions that are immediately dependent on the Apostolic See. They are indeed schismatics. [Perhaps. But they are not relevant to this discussion.]

  19. Ron says:

    This discussion is quite interesting. I think it terms of the SSPX, we all want them to return to full, regular communion and, honestly, why not?

    It seems to me that if Vatican II were interpreted – and if it were allowed to be interpreted – in accord with the whole Tradition, the problem would cease. Archbishop Lefebvre signed the Vatican II documents originally. He certainly would not have signed heretical documents, only to go on later to fight for the Tradition. I don’t see what is keeping the SSPX from full communion except the excommunications which seem like there is no reason why they cannot be lifted.

    It just amazes me that the traditionalists and those who desperately want to be faithful to Christ and His Church face censure at every turn, face opposition from all over within the Church, but if a heterodox “catholic” believes some heretical thing or does some immoral thing, they are endured under the banner of “tolerance.” Why?

    Maybe I am just skewed in my thinking…but that is how it seems to me and that seems wrong side up.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  20. dcs says:

    Notice that he is not saying “adhering to the schism is a mortal sin.” No, just approaching for the Sacraments is itself a mortal sin, even if one does not embrace a schismatic mindset. So great is the danger to one’s soul that, apparently, even unknowingly participating in a schismatic act ought to be avoided. This would seem to hint that participating in an SSPX Mass even without a schismatic intent, would be strongly inadvisable because approaching a schismatic priest (which the PCILT has declared the priests and deacons probably are) is a mortal sin.

    I’ve seen this reference to the PCILT before, but no confirmation. Do you have a link to this decree? Or a citation where it might be found?

  21. Mr. M. M. Regan says:

    Ah, now you have made a reference to it. Could you elaborate though?

  22. Federico says:

    Fr. Z: “The SSPX ought to make a formal appeal to the decree of 1988 and the Holy See ought to consider the appeal.”

    If you’re referring to JPII’s document, canonically, they can’t. Consider c. 333 §3: “Contra sententiam vel decretum Romani Pontificis non datur appellatio neque recursus.”

    They had best work behind the scenes to a contrary decree or repeal by Benedict XVI.

  23. malta says:

    “Were they in an emergency which would have allowed disobediance ala St. Athanasius (who was also “excommunicated” by a Pope)? [A limping and faux analogy.]”

    Not so much an analogy as an historical example of how almost the entire Church can find themselves adhering to ideas contrary to the faith: then it was Arianism, now it is Modernism (or relativism, take your pick–perhaps not so much at the heirarchical level–may God preserve P. Benedict–but certainly at the universal level.)

  24. Patrick says:

    dcs,

    Here is the link to the PCILT document:

    http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=1224

    You’ll note that it also directly addresses the “necessity” argument and states that it doesn’t fly. It says that “doubt cannot reasonably be cast upon the validity of the excommunication of the Bishops declared in the Motu Proprio and the Decree.” This further bolsters Fr. Z’s assertion that the next move ought to be the SSPX appeal of these excommunications, rather than their sometime insistence that they were never even declared.

  25. Ron says:

    malta said: “And here’s the main point—the most important point—they largely preserved the TLM at the point where it was nearly doomed; the Liturgy spanning nearly a millenia and a half which formed many, if not the majority, of the Great Saints. And there is no doubt, none whatsoever, that they were initially persecuted because of their adherence to this Liturgy.”

    This point is where I get stuck. Honestly, without Archbishop Lefebvre and SSPX standing firm, would we have the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI? Would we have Ecclesia Dei? Would John Paul II have made any provision, of his own accord apart from some protesting within the Church, for the TLM? [Personally, I doubt it based on his generally ‘modern’ Novus Ordo ‘celebrations.’] We all know Pope Benedict is more traditional than John Paul II. I just don’t know if we’d have even had an indult much less the Motu Proprio.

    It makes one wonder if truly the consecrations were an act of disobedience to the Pope or a true act of obedience to Christ? No one says the Pope is infallible when excommunicating or when making juridical decisions.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  26. Federico says:

    Fr. Z: “The SSPX ought to make a formal appeal to the decree of 1988 and the Holy See ought to consider the appeal.”

    If you’re referring to JPII’s document, they can’t. C. 333 §3: Contra sententiam vel decretum Romani Pontificis non datur appellatio neque recursus.

    They had best work behind the scenes to a contrary decree or repeal by Benedict XVI.

  27. schoolman says:

    As far as I know, when individual Bishops have moved to excommunicate members of the SSPX, these were upheld by the CDF. I am thinking of the Lincoln diocese and the more recent case of the St. Josephat group. So, it would seem that Rome is hesitant to paint the SSPX with a broad brush, however, individual cases brought forward by the Bishops seem to be generally upheld.

  28. Mr. WAC says:

    ” Honestly, without Archbishop Lefebvre and SSPX standing firm, would we have the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI? Would we have Ecclesia Dei?”

    Oh Happy Fault! Oh necessary sin of Marcel, that won for us so glorious an indult!

    Nope-I don’t buy it. That’s a materialistic cause-and-effect argument to justify a means to an end.

    To do evil so that good may come about is never justified. The indult, et. al., are examples of the grace of God bringing good out of evil. We have Lefebvre to thank for nothing but a whole lot of misery and pain in the Body of Christ.

  29. Patrick says:

    Imagine if the SSPX priests had remained within the Church. Some of them may have worked in the Vatican. Some might be bishops by now. How many more vocations might have been produced? How many diocese could have really used 2 or 3 solidly traditional parishes in the 1980’s?

    Don’t give the SSPX credit for the good things that have recently happened. That credit belongs to those priests who have worked tirelessly WITHIN the Church to promote traditional Catholicism.

  30. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Sorry, I thought we were talking about the SSPX as a whole and schism. They will never appeal the excommunications against the bishops because they know they will lose. So it would be in their best interest to work for a lifting of the excommunications in the same way that the Society of St. John Marie Vianney did.

    Schoolman,

    With regard to the “excommunications” in Lincoln, the SSPX begged the bishop to declare them excommunicated so that they could appeal. He refused, because he knew he would lose. If you go to the following website you can read the communications between the SSPX and the bishop:

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

    The only part of the excommunication that was upheld was done so because of a technicality. Call to Action appealed and the tribunal ruled that they could not hear the case because no sanctions had been placed on anyone by name. There is also a letter from Bishop Re saying how bad Call to Action is, but never mentions the SSPX.

    Do a google search for the Hawaii excommunications and you will see that the CDF overturned the excommunications.

  31. adamsaj says:

    “Honestly, without Archbishop Lefebvre and SSPX standing firm, would we have the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI? Would we have Ecclesia Dei? Would John Paul II have made any provision, of his own accord apart from some protesting within the Church, for the TLM? [Personally, I doubt it based on his generally ‘modern’ Novus Ordo ‘celebrations.’]”

    This sort of speculation is irrelevant. Ethics 101: a good intention never excuses an inharently evil action (which a schismatic act most certainly is).

  32. Michael says:

    This topic has been beat to death. There are good and reasonable arguments on both sides, and they are endlessly repeated. Nobody on either side will budge(and I include myself in that) so this whole debate is rather pointless. Tthe bottom line is that Rome has declared that the SSPX is not in schism. Accept it or not. Rome’s declaration may or may not make sense, but I find it quite hypocritical that those who most ardently accuse the SSPX of schism refuse to give their assent.

  33. Patrick says:

    I know we’ve discussed this here before, but I have to ask…

    In light of the fact that:

    1. It would appear from documents from the Holy See that the SSPX is “schismatic”

    and

    2. Archbishop Burke’s clear statement that “The faithful who approach a schismatic priest for the reception of the Sacraments, except in the case of danger of death, commit a mortal sin.”

    Then, how on earth can Msgr. Perl and others state that it is morally permissible to attend an SSPX Mass?

    Either they must not be schismatic (which directly contradicts the documents of the Holy See) or Archbishop Burke is wrong (I highly doubt that) in his warning to the faithful to totally avoid Sacraments from schismatic priests.

  34. Mr. M. M. Regan says:

    Father, thanks for your comments on what I said. I strongly disagree, however, that the emergency argument is a mere fantasy. I cannot accept that Msgr. Lefebvre was bent on carrying out the consecrations and simply contrived a justification for them. His actions in 1988 were the consequence of convictions that had developed consistently over the course of almost two decades.
    Patrick, that PCILT document is interesting but does not expand on what it means for a state of necessity to be “verified objectively”.

  35. Warren Anderson says:

    Not to put too fine a point on matters, but why is it necessary to coddle the SSPX? Born of an act of direct disobedience to the Pope (consecrating bishops without permission!), frequent statements by their leaders that reject the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and attempts to blackmail Rome by forcing an agenda on the whole Church – these are not the actions of Catholics who value submission to legitimate authority (despite lip service toward the Holy Father). Obedience, obedience, obedience! The Church is right to reject the manipulations of groups on the left and right that amount to the same kind of interference. The Church is not a democracy. Why, then, do groups like the SSPX or WomenPriest think they can foist their agendas on the Church? Any way you want to slice it, an appropriation of power belonging to a legitimate pastor, bishop, pope is still an appropriation of power and the person or persons committing such an act deserves censure. These SSPX-ers, WomenPriest-ers and whoever else thinks they can dictate terms to the Holy Roman Catholic Church are simply wrong minded about their relationship to the Church. The path home seems straight enough: humble submission to legitimate authority; rejoice in the authority God Himself gave us in the Office of Peter; worship God in communion with the Church Christ Himself established. The door is open. SSPX – leave the egotism aside, drop the theological and pastoral distortions and come on home! If we’re looking for a group that has everything the SSPX claims to have – the FSSP seems to have got it right: old school AND faithful.

  36. Patrick says:

    Michael wrote: “The bottom line is that Rome has declared that the SSPX is not in schism.”

    Can you refer to a document that states this? The only one’s that I can find indicate that they are schismatic.

    Thanks

  37. Michael says:

    Patrick,
    We went round-and-round with this very same topic the other day and parted on good terms. Why would you now want to start this up again, “innocently” pretending that you have no idea what I am talking about unless you are trying to pick a fight?

  38. paladin says:

    (*sigh*) The discussion about the SSPX (may they soon reconcile fully with Rome, and help the win the battle against the diseases of heterodoxy and liturgical abuse) aside, I’m suffering from a bad case of Archbishop-envy. :) No disrespect to our current bishop intended, but I seriously miss Archbishop Burke (our previous ordinary)…

  39. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    One point with regard to the excommunications. It is a principle of Moral Theology that a person can not be excommunicated for an offense unless he is GUILTY of a mortal sin in committing the offense. Therefore, you can not be excommunicated for something that you did in good faith. Pope Benedict can not be unaware of this. And I think it is clear from the reconciliation of the Society of St. John Marie Vianney that Rome accepts this principle. If you notice the members of the SJMV never admitted to being guilty of anything. They maintained that they did what they did in good faith, because they felt it was necessary for the good of the Church and their souls. They only asked for conditional forgiveness. They said in effect that if they had done something that caused difficulty for the Pope or had harmed the Church, they were sorry, but they never said that they were sorry for the consecration of the bishop. This argument would probably not fly on an appeal, but could be used to declare the excommunications were invalid, ie since the bishops involved appeared to be acting in good faith the excommunications are lifted and declared null. Only the Pope could do this, and only after working behind the scenes for reconciliation, not through the courts.

  40. Patrick says:

    Michael,

    I am sorry. I did not mean to appear rude. I was merely trying to point out that there does not seem to be any document from the Holy See which supports what you wrote. Perhaps I should have worded it differently. Please accept my apology.

    I will say that, if “schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (1983 CIC 751), then it is difficult to imagine how the SSPX priests and bishops are not schismatic.

  41. Habemus Papam says:

    The Society of St Pius X was born of the need, in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II which some men felt for a sound priestly formation. The “schismatic act” occurred 20 years later. Is the SSPX in schism today…I dunno.

  42. schoolman says:

    The following confirms that the excommunications in Lincoln (including SSPX) remain in effect after the Vatican reviewed the appeal from Call to Action::
    http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=48072

    In his decision to excommunicate members of the SSPX, the Bishop of Lincoln stated the following with respect to the Honolulu case:

    “Cardinal Ratzinger’s decision reversing the excommunication of six members of the faithful in Honolulu is used in an attempt to legitimatize the SSPX. As most of you know, the St. Joseph Foundation assisted in defending the “Hawaii Six” and I can say that the status of the Society was not at issue in that case. What was at issue was the conduct of the defendants which, while admittedly blameworthy in some respects, did not constitute schism. The records of the case show that the former Bishop of Honolulu, Most Rev. Joseph Ferrario, tried to use penal law to silence chose six Catholics who were calling the attention of the public to what they perceived as the bishop’s follies and misdeeds. Cardinal Ratzinger has never explicitly or implicitly approved of the actions of the SSPX.”

    The following is another recent example of the Vatican affirming excommunication in connection with SSPX. In this case, Fr. Kovpakwas excommunicated for his involvement in illicit ordinations performed by Bishop Williamson. This was upheld by the CDF.

    http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=54919

    “Last November, SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson illicitly ordained two SSJK priests and seven deacons. Father Kovpak has been excommunicated for his attendance at those ordinations.”

  43. Jeff says:

    I dunno.

    I mean setting up your own parallel authority structure and refusing to live as a juridical part of the Universal Church seems to me pretty darned schismatic.

    I think Cardinal Castrillon and others are sort of bending over backwards in an act of extreme charity and insisting on technicalities. That’s all to the good when you are engaging in a sort of quasi-ecumenism.

    But suppose your son or daughter decided that he was going to support the SSPX and only attend their Masses and follow their “views” and “teachings” about revelation and the Church. What would you tell them?

    “Fine dear, they’re just Catholics like the rest of us.”

    I certainly couldn’t say that. I’d have to say, “Your immortal soul might be in danger…don’t do it!”

    They may be schismatic. Or they may be in a sort of corporate schism, but individuals may be just sort of hanging on the borderline.

    Or, they might pretty much all be in mortal sin.

    I don’t know.

    But I feel pretty sure that though I have sympathy with them they are not simply “OK” as far as their standing within the Catholic Church goes.

    Heck, I can well understand that if you are suffering under quondam Bishop Untener or Bishop Lucker you might find you have to take risks one way to avoid an impossible situation in regular diocese.

    And I can well understand being driven out of your gourd by the modern Church and lapsing into theapeutic lunacy.

    I’m sympathetic to these guys. And many of their concerns are reasonable.

    But please: the way to submit to the Pope and the bishops is to submit to them. That’s the ticket. It’s not rocket science.

    The way things are going, the “emergency” these guys have been screaming about has been going on for well nigh fifty years. They don’t seem to think it will get fixed anytime soon. How many decades or centuries does it take til you come to the conclusion that what you really believe is that the Catholic Church has failed?

  44. Patrick says:

    Christopher,

    The big issue is not that the SSPX bishops were excommunicated, it is how they acted once this was declared. Did they appeal to Rome and abide by the terms of excommunication (not saying Mass, etc.) until resolved? Or did they ignore the statement of excommunication and pretend as though the Supreme Pnotiff’s judgement was not important.

    The traditional thing for them to do can be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia (published in 1909):

    “Consequently, a person unjustly excommunicated is in the same state as the justly excommunicated sinner who has repented and recovered the grace of God; he has not forfeited internal communion with the Church, and God can bestow upon him all necessary spiritual help. However, while seeking to prove his innocence, the censured person is meanwhile bound to obey legitimate authority and to behave as one under the ban of excommunication, until he is rehabilitated or absolved.”

    It is the traditional moral teaching of the Church that one who is unjustly excommunicated, is still bound “to behave as one under the ban of excommunication.” Clearly, the bishops of the SSPX did not do this at all. They disregarded the authority of the Church and began operating independantly, and at this point became schismatic.

    Interestingly, the Catholic Encyclopedia also identifies two types of schism which is punishable by excommunication reserved to the Pope. It states:

    “(3) ‘Schismatics and those who elude or obstinately withdraw from the authority of the reigning Roman pontiff.” The schismatics here referred to are of two kinds: those who are such because they belong to separated Churches which reject the authority of the pope, and those who, being Catholics, become schismatics by reason of obstinate disobedience to the authority of the pope as such.'”

    Obviously, the SSPX bishops did not become schismatic because they belong to a separated church, but because they obstinately disobeyed the authority of the Pope by refusing to behave as excommunicated.

  45. Norman Lee says:

    Fr Z, I agree with you on the need for clarity and definitive statements. The SSPXers I\’ve encountered tend to make most of the positive-sounding portions of statements from the Holy See, and conveniently ignore the negative portions. They should learn how to examine all the evidence :)

    Take for example the letter appearing on the Internet from Ecclesia Dei saying one may fulfil sunday obligation at SSPX chapels. Then the part about \”we cannot recommend your attendance\” is ignored. Similarly, Cardinal\’s Castrillon-Hoyos\’ remarks in 30giorni, they are happy to hear the good cardinal say \”they are not in schism\” but conveniently ignore, \”a situation of separation\”.

    Then of course there are the sacraments celebrated by the SSPX without jurisdiction (which they wriggle out of by claiming the Church supplies jurisdiction…) and marriage annulments.

    I\’ve also heard positive comments about SSPX priests, like one who admonished his congregation for pride in thinking that they are somehow more holy/better than the rest. So I hope this priest crosses over :)

  46. Habemus Papam says:

    Hmmm. If PCED or even “Rome” were singing from the same hymn-sheet on this there would’nt be such a big question mark. Cardinal Hoyos saying some pretty ambiguous things about the exact status of SSPX, Msgr.Perl saying attending Mass at an SSPX chapel fulfils the obligation. Its as though some highly placed churchmen are challenging John Paul IIs declaration of schism.

  47. Matt of South Kent says:

    I think everyone should go over and read Tucker’s post on the New Liturgical Movement.

    http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/

    It reminds me that a lot has been accomplished in the last year. And there is more to do.

    Pray for unity.

  48. Michael says:

    The oft-invoked historical precedent for all of this is the excommunication of St. Athanasius and how this illustrious saint behaved in the aftermath. For those who would claim that the situation with Levebvre is *relevantly* different, please provide the specific (again, relevant) points wherein they differ. Merely stipulating that the analogy is “specious” and “faux” does not a counter-argument make.

  49. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Schoolman,

    Unfortunately, the article you quote does not give any information that would allow you to understand the decision. This is article gives you a better idea of the ruling:

    “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

    Notice the tribunal did not uphold the excommunication. It said it could not judge the case. There is a tremendous difference. As I said you can not appeal to this Tribunal unless there is an administrative act against an individual. The bishop in question knows this, and therefore did this to remove any legal recourse to the people affected. This is grave sin against justice. Just last night I was watching A Man for All Seasons with my family, and the part where St. Thomas is arguing with Roper seems to apply. Everyone is allowed protection under the law, and the law should not be ignored (or in this circumvented) even to prosecute Satan. This is an act of tyranny on the part of the bishop and unworthy of his office. If you read the last link I posted, you will see that he refused to pronounce any censors on the priests serving the chapel, even though they begged him to, so they could appeal.

  50. Prof. Basto says:

    Insofar as the substance of Cardinal Gantin’s Decree of Excommunication was restated by the wording of the Pope himself in the Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei adflicta , there can be no appeal against it, because the declaration of the schism, and excommunication, were confirmed by the Roman Pontiff, and against his decisions there is no appeal, no canonical possibility of recourse.

    *****

    No matter what good Cardinal Castrillón may informally state, the only two formal declarations of the Holy See on the state of the Lefebvreites (The Congregation for Bishops’ Decree of Excommunication and the Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei) specifically mention “schism”.

    And the SSPX is indeed in schism today, for it refuses submission to the authority of the Pope as Lawgiver. One need not found a new Christian denomination in order to be a schismatic.

    **********

    As for this St. Louis group, I have only one doubt: why weren’t all the 299 parishoners that voted to disobey Archbishop Burke and retain full control of the parish in violation of Canon Law also excommunicated?

    I mean, I certainly understad why the board of directors was excommunicated, but I believe the suspended priest in question also should have suffered the penalty of excommunication, together with dismissal from the clerical state, and that the parishoners who voted to remain separated from the Hierarchy, in violation of the Church’s law, should also be declared excommunicated.

    After all, in the case of those parishoners who voted in that way, it is not a mere passive cooperation or attendance to a schismatic entity. No. They actually took active part in making the decision to remain separated. That is schism.

  51. Ron says:

    I think what gets lost in all this discussion about the SSPX is whether or not their the basis for their actions was necessary. I mean, all of the Doctors and Fathers agree that a Pope could, theoretically, be a heretic. Now let’s say he allows something heretical to be allowed to exist in the Church (I’m not talking about an infallible decree of Council or ex cathedra statement). If an Archbishop disobeys the decision of the Pope who allows this heresy to exist in the Church, and then the Pope excommunicates him, is the Archbishop in the wrong solely for disobeying the Pope – even though his act was remaining faithful to the Tradition?

    I am just wondering if the necessity of retaining the traditional liturgy was of such a necessity. In the face of such a new liturgy fraught with dangers, couldn’t the Archbishop have had cause to do what he did?

    I just don’t think we can say, “If the Pope excommunicates you, then you’re excommunicated” since that decision is not infallible. He could be wrong. In the worst case, a Pope could hypothetically allow heresy to exist so then would it be wrong to go against that decision too?

    Just thoughts. Personally I think without Archbishop Lefebvre we wouldn’t have the Motu Proprio.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  52. Angelo says:

    Regarding the episcopal consecrations, Archbishop Lefebvre presented a beautiful explanation of the case of necessity in which he found himself and of his duty to pass on the episcopacy: “I am simply a bishop of the Catholic Church who is continuing to transmit Catholic doctrine. I think, and this will certainly not be too far off, that you will be able to engrave on my tombstone these words of St. Paul: ‘Tradidi quod et accepi — I have transmitted to you that which I have received.’ ”
    Together with Bishop de Castro Mayer, the Archbishop performed “Operational Survival” for Catholic Tradition. “When Tradition has recovred its rightful place in Rome, we will be embraced by the Roman authorities & they will thank us for having kept the Faith.”

    In the aftermath of the consecrations, the liberal media hounded the Archbishop. After the Archbishop calmly answered all the reporters’ questions with kindness, this did not stop one reporter to say to an Econe seminarian, “I’m going to bring your boss down in flames!” Indeed, the following day the headlines in the press all crowed in chorus: “Archbishop Lefebvre: the schism announced” (Jean Bourdrias, Le Figaro), “Archbishop Lefebvre at the gates of hell”, (Le Quotidien); “He is defying John Paul II”, (Tribune de Geneve). There were other more fanciful headlines: “The Holy War”, or “Miter Wars.” And the more conventional: “Schism Scheduled.”
    Many Catholics have unfortunately been infected in their thinking regarding these matters from the liberal press and its leftist propaganda machine.

  53. Fr. Angel says:

    I know that in the 1917 Code, there was provision for a person receiving sacraments from a suspended or excommunicated priest when that person was in danger of death. However, where in the 1917 Code is there provision for direct disobedience of the Roman Pontiff for the sake of an “emergency” occasioned by a Council? This is why Fr. Z called this provision of emergency “fantastical.” There is no canonical basis for it *clearly stated in the 1917 Code, much less in the present Code. As per the state of schism, John Paul II and Gantin alluded to this clearly but Hoyos avoids the term because he is trying to patch things up with the SSPX. Also, excommunications incurred “ipso facto” have lots of grey areas, unlike a declared or imposed sentence “ferendae sententiae” which the Bishop clearly inflicts upon a subject or subjects. So long as he follows the proper canonical form and spells out his case, Rome will back up the bishop, as it has with Bruskewitz and Burke. Personally, I have no doubt that canonically, clergy and laity of the SSPX are in schism. However, when there is hope to patch things up, I have my doubts as to whether it is prudent and for the good of souls to openly declare this at this point and renew the inflicting of penalties.

  54. Jrbrown says:

    Fr. Angel, You are in disagreement with the Curial body charged with relations with SSPX, and which I believe has primary juridiction subject to the Pope himself of dealing with all traditionalists, including SSPX. Cardinal Hoyos is not making these statements for our amusement-he is apparently correcting opinions such as yours, which he evidently believes worthy of public correction. I presume this is due to great opposition among certain bishops to ANY idea of SSPX reconciliation, or even dealing with them at all. You would have to ask him why he thinks it is necessary, but suffice it to say that in every public interview he has given in the last 5 years Cardinal Hoyos states that the faithful and priests of SSPX are not in schism and are, in fact, of the Catholic faith, while the bishops are excommunicated due to an act whose moral character is that of schism.

  55. Michael says:

    Fr. Angel,

    You began to make a compelling argument, but then lost me. First you said ” Hoyos avoids the term”. This is patently false. Far from avoiding it, Cardinal Hoyos explicitly denies that a schism exists. Then you said “However, when there is hope to patch things up, I have my doubts as to whether it is prudent and for the good of souls to openly declare this at this point and renew the inflicting of penalties.” This is perhaps the most disappointing of all. A priest suggesting that it is acceptable to lie for pastoral reasons. Yes, I know there is a difference between avoiding openly declaring something and explicitly lying, but nobody involved (including you) has avoided declaring anything. Additionally, if you suspect that it is imprudent and harmful to the good of souls to openly declare that a person is in the state of schism, why did you openly declare precisely that in your immediately preceeding sentence?

  56. Patrick says:

    Michael,

    I believe the Cardinal says that a formal schism does not exist. Perhaps this is a distinction between the two types of schism that I noted earlier, one involves a separated Church, the other is “‘those who, being Catholics, become schismatics by reason of obstinate disobedience to the authority of the pope as such.’”

    And again, as we’ve previously discussed, we can’t go taking the Cardinal’s comments in a newspaper interview as THE definitive position of the Church, when the definitive documents of the Church consistently use the term “schismatic” to describe the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre. Call me crazy but I’m more inclined to stick with motu proprio’s instead of a Cardinal’s interview.

    It is difficult to see the difference between Fr. Bozek and the SSPX bishops. Both have refused to obey their bishop and have been excommunicated.

    I am curious why no one has responded to the traditional idea that one who is excommunicated (even unjustly) is still obligated to behave as excommunicated until his situation is resolved. The SSPX bishops and priests clearly do not do this.

  57. Michael B. says:

    It seems that traditional/conservative Catholics don’t like uncertain situations in the Church, as the vehemence against the SSPX here demonstrates, and so must make things certain. I think this is a weakness of Faith, as Rome has not decided an outcome yet, and it is not up to us do so.

    Before the indult, conservative Catholics urged those going to Tridentine Masses to simply go to valid Vatican II Masses, problem solved. In Pope Benedict’s Moto proprio, he did not declare the EF Mass valid because of the indult, but said it was never abrogated, this despite the words of Paul VI to the contrary. This seems to vindicate of SSPX in this manner.

    No doubt, there are problems with the SSPX, even so many of their criticisms of what has happened over the last 45 years cannot be contended with by glib dismissals. Many Catholics are deeply scandalized by what has happened since the Council, this has been a unique and unhappy time in the history of the Church, and will take much time and work, and a Pope who understands what is at stake, to heal the Church. Until now, the Vatican has merely trumpeted on about the great fruits of the Council and the “restoration” of the Liturgy.
    Finally, we are blessed with Pope Benedict, who seems to understand that the reality has been different. Cardinal Ratzinger in the Spirit of the Liturgy said that even the Pope is the servant of the Liturgy, and there are limits to what the Pope can do with the liturgy. This seems to be the approach the Pope has taken with the Motu proprio.

    Please give the SSPX a little breathing room, don’t be in such a hurry to throw them out, and allow things to work out, and pray for reconciliation. We have several examples of reconciliation already happening, and it wasn’t through an approach of “unconditional surrender”. (We have the FSSP, the Institute of Christ the King, (I’ve forgotten the name) the Good Shepherd group in France, Campos, and the Transalpine Redemptorists now seeking reconciliation, please don’t try to tell me that nothing good has come from the SSPX.)
    Oh happy fault is not an argument, but legitimate resistance to an orchestrated attack on the Church is. Strange times without precedent were answered with improvised responses, as they sometimes are, but that is not the same as an evil act in response.

    As far as the situation in St. Louis, I don’t know how this remnant of nineteenth and early twentieth century Polish Nationalism has anything to do with the SSPX.

    I submit this with the intention of good will towards all in this comment box.

  58. Patrick says:

    Michael B. wrote: “As far as the situation in St. Louis, I don’t know how this remnant of nineteenth and early twentieth century Polish Nationalism has anything to do with the SSPX.”

    They both involve priests or bishops who obstinately disobey legitimate authority which makes them schismatic.

  59. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    The situation in St. Louis has some things in common with the SSPX, some not.
    The illicit episcopal consecrations in China have some things in common with the SSPX, some not.
    The cases have sufficient differences that one should not judge bureaucratically.

    The argument of “necessity” may have some degree of acceptance even by the Holy Father, if we can trust what some reports of the meetings say. One would expect this necessity to wither with time given SP but the reality is even now there is too much heterodoxy and liturgical abuse in parishes. Brick by brick, indeed; it will take time.

    I read in The Wanderer some time ago the analysis that the schism, if one exists is not because the SSPX refuses obedience to the Pope but that the large majority of the bishops, supposedly in union with the Pope, refuse communion with the SSPX, (read: French and German bishops do NOT want the SSPX in their dioceses at all) and thus force the Pope’s hand, or at least JP II who therwise would be amenable to the reasonable requests of the SSPX. This actually makes the most sense of the current situation and the contradictory ambiguities which abound.

    After all they have suffered for the Church, the SSPX needs to come back and be welcomed back. If they don’t, with time, with SP, their status may become irrelevant. Just like the Polish church which may have had a different set up for good reason 100 years ago, time was ripe for change and they chose not to.

  60. Michael B. says:

    Patrick,
    What about the rest of what I said? Any room for compromise?
    Piers the Ploughman seems to have a handle on what I said.

  61. patrick f says:

    quote

    “As for this St. Louis group, I have only one doubt: why weren’t all the 299 parishoners that voted to disobey Archbishop Burke and retain full control of the parish in violation of Canon Law also excommunicated?

    I mean, I certainly understad why the board of directors was excommunicated, but I believe the suspended priest in question also should have suffered the penalty of excommunication, together with dismissal from the clerical state, and that the parishoners who voted to remain separated from the Hierarchy, in violation of the Church’s law, should also be declared excommunicated.

    After all, in the case of those parishoners who voted in that way, it is not a mere passive cooperation or attendance to a schismatic entity. No. They actually took active part in making the decision to remain separated. That is schism. end quote

    To Answer your question, you have to live here. These people were easily swayed. They hold on to their old world ties, which is a ban together mentality. I also think many of them were very decieved by this “board” into thinking that the parish was the ends all says all. Here you also had an area that was flooded with sex abuse scandals, probably as much as new york and boston. So people spread the lie that the Bishops (both regali and burke) were looking for money.

    So I think the Bishop in his wisdom, and the Holy see, pronounced the excommunication on the board, for two reasons, they are the face of the schism, and they knew fully, what they were doing. I am not so sure the faithful had a clear understanding. think of the people in your own parish who , though very faithful, know only the core values of faith. They certainly arent the type to come to blogs like this. Now consider how easily the right people could sway those souls. I think that alone puts it into perspective

    Also, these guys went out, found their own priest, who furthered the schism by defying the magisterium, and putting himself as a champion for them. the simple lay person, presurred by those from the outside looking in, and identifying his polish heritage, is naturally going to go with his/her own people. So you have 299 people, who potentially might not have understood totally what they were in for. Remember you had a Catholic Priest(and he is still a priest folks till Rome Speaks..) legitimizing it.

    I think the Arch Bishop showed great wisdom. The instigator here was the board. You take the board out of the picture, the parish eventually fixes itself. Did the parishioners excommunicate themselves (remember all a bishop/pope does is “pronounce” excommunication, its not something they bestow, and his excellency also explained that)? Yes, in every sense of the word. But I think part of a Bishop’s duty is determining if a person was in their sound mind in the schismatic act. You see the same throughout history, with some of the other schisms that have occured. It was always the leaders who excommunication was pronounced on, for those who teach or lead are always to be held to higher standards

    Again this is why the situation is so sad. That Board is a sinking ship, and there are 299 innocent souls who are getting sucked down with it.

  62. Jordanes says:

    Michael asked: For those who would claim that the situation with Levebvre is relevantly different, please provide the specific (again, relevant) points wherein they differ.

    This has been gone over here before, and I believe Father Zuhlsdorf even addresses it in one of his podcasts, but briefly: When St. Athanasius was excommunicated, it was the result of a conspiracy of heretics seeking to silence him, and there apparently was imperial meddling (a heretical emperor too). There is also doubt whether or not the Pope really signed off on the excommunication — there were forged letters circulated in this matter, and certainly St. Athanasius believed the Pope had given his approval, even if St. Athanasius was mistaken about that. Others bring forward reason to believe that the Pope’s actions were made under duress, and therefore invalid.

    But not of those kind of considerations can be brought forward in the case of Msgr. Lefebvre and the SSPX bishops. There is no doubt that the law and the lawgiver had cause and authority to pronounce the excommunications, they were pronounced lawfully and validly and without any duress or loss of freedom on the Pope’s part. So, with St. Athanasius there are reasons to doubt the validity of his excommunication, whether or not the Pope approved of it; with Msgr. Lefebvre and the SSPX bishops, there can be no such doubts. There is simply no comparison between the two cases.

  63. David Kastel says:

    Father Z,

    We must not simply look on each of these acts of disobedience to the Church’s lawful authorities and be done with it. Everyone has a reason for his own disobedience. Father Bozek’s disobedience stems from his advocacy of liberation theology and women priests (i.e. – heresy) Archbishop Lefebvre’s and the SSPX’s disobedience (in 1988 and before) stemmed from their insistence, against the rest of the Church, that the traditional mass was never legally abrogated and all priests (not only themselves) had the right to celebrate the traditional mass. (See Summorum Pontificum to see whether SSPX or the rest of the Church was right about that.)

    Is it not an obligation to disobey one’s lawful superior in the event that he gives you an unlawful order, assuming that one has a grave reason for doing so? The SSPX believed that the crisis in the Church was grounded in large measure in the deterioration of the liturgy. For that reason, they were “disobedient” to their lawful superiors in the Church in continuing to train and ordain traditional priests, and eventually in consecrating bishops.

  64. Allen says:

    May I put this on a personal level? I live in a diocese where the bishop
    blesses the four directions at Mass. Few priests believe in mortal sin or
    the resurrection.

    I have a friend at work who is interested in the Catholic Church. I’m
    scared to death that he will want to convert, and I, in good conscience,
    can’t recommend that he attend any RCIA. The only orthodox instructions
    would be from the SSPX who are in an irregular situation.

    Doesn’t this sound like an emergency?

  65. Michael B. says:

    What I don’t understand is the desire to render judgement on the SSPX while the Vatican is quite openly suspending judgement in order to further a reconciliation. Clearly the situation is much more complicated than that of a bunch of schismatics who disobey the Pope and Bishops. As I said earlier, conservative Catholics seem to want everything settled. However, much in Catholic life and discipline is not settled, some is, some isn’t, to paraphrase Piers. To force everything into the “settled” column may betray a weakness of Faith.
    At the very least, shouldn’t one at least wonder why the Pope has not followed the advice offered by the contra SSPXers here and has chosen a different approach, or wait to ratify his decision should he come to agree with them?

  66. Bud says:

    Yes!

  67. Mark says:

    The case of St. Stan’s in St. Louis is a long and interesting one. It seems that both sides (The Bishop vs The Board) are now playing hardball on a potentially and historically volatile field of Irish bishops and Polish congregations. And the temporal stakes are also high – reportedly, the assets in question include the church, 8 acres of land, plus the estimated cash on hand of about $9.5 million. All legitimately controlled by The Board.
    But the whole situation is starting to stink, temporally and spiritually. I think it would be best for the Board to walk away from all its money and property, give it all to the diocese, and end the affair with this grand gesture and a big party for the Bishop. Poles, of all people, should be capable of grand gestures, God gave us this gift. Also, the spiritual power to excommunicate trumps $$$ every time.

    Any similiarities here to SSPX are accidental – the dry technicalities of excommunication. However, they too should be capable of grand gestures, and reconcile themselves to the Church.

  68. patrick f says:

    hmm immortal soul state or money? I choose StATE OF IMMORTAL SOUL!

    I think the big thing people are missing here is the obedience aspect, regardless if money is involved or not. When you think you are outside the reach of a Bishop, you are asking for trouble in my opinion. Go through the proper channels that are there thanks to canon law. Dont outright publicly disobey and then run to canon law because you are in the wrong. Submit, obey. Obedience is the key.

  69. Gerard says:

    Here’s how to solve the problem of the SSPX:

    Name the names of the bishops and priests that are persecuting traditional priests.

    While this discussion is going on. Fr. Pfleger is on international news making the entire Catholic Church in America and the Pope by association, look like nincompoops by the inaction against this miscreant who is as far as I know, in “full communion” with the Church.

    Let’s stop enabling papal mistakes, miscalculations and flat out blunders.

    JPII was a lousy Pope. Maybe a good man, I don’t know. But he was wrong. LeFebvre was right. It is self-evident. To think otherwise is madness.

    This false argument about canonical “communion” versus the reality of who actually holds the Catholic faith has too much of a ring of “Sons of Abraham”

    Christ could make the stones themselves “In full canonical communion” with the Holy Father if he so chooses.

    LeFebvre didn’t provoke this crisis in the Church. But he sure did more to stop it than any Pope or bishop in the Church. He backed up his words with actions. Which one of those two sons really did the Father’s work?

    Start laying the blame at the feet of the people who are truly at fault. John XXIII, Paul VI, JPII and the current Holy Father as much as he complied. All of the bishops that allowed this travesty to go on, and those that continue the circus: Cardinal Mahoney, Cardinal George, Cardinal Rigali, Cardinal Egan and others.

    Let’s also get real about the “cream of the crop”:

    Bishop Bruskewitz hates the SSPX because they rebuked him publicly for his breaking of the first commandment in his “ecumenical” endeavours. Like anyone, he didn’t like criticism and instead of accepting the rebuke, he used his authority to retaliate.

    Until there is a lot more frankness and clarity and the actual names of the players and the events are described in full,these exercises in ascribing guilt to the SSPX while leaving the whole debacle brought on by the duly appointed leaders of the Church (who are erroneously assumed to be guilt free,) there is never going to be a solution and Benedict’s “marshall plan” if it really exists, is doomed to failure.

    The house is on fire and the blame is put on the people spraying the hoses while the custodians of the household are standing there with empty gas cans and burnt matches condemning the firefighters for trespassing.

    “Pray, Pay and Obey” is no longer an option for Traditional Catholics trying to save their souls. You must learn the faith, test the priests that affect your life, weigh what they say and support or denounce them accordingly and justly. That’s the reality that we live in.

  70. patrick f says:

    If you know your faith, and the bishop is doctrinally wrong, yes by all means i would say appeal. I mean if a bishop came out tomorrow and told us all to set a feast aside for ashura since its in Hebrew tradition, well yeah everyone here would stand up and say something.

    It is different for a bishop to defend the church though. When you publicly disagree with the church, and are a general trouble maker, well then yes, you are in schism, and have thus excommunicated yourself. If I am in a room of people and refuse to acknowledge them, because they are different…who is in the wrong, myself or the group of people.

    Regardless of what you can lay on certain bishops either truthfully or not, all the above mentioned topics are Rome Based at this point. SPPX excommunication is a declaration from rome. St Stan, is a declaration from rome. Once you are at that level, you submit. Its the pope. Thats why we are the roman catholic church, and not protestant or something else. We hold an allegience to the Bishop of rome, and his fellow bishops. Thats why they carry that funny looking stick thats called a Crozier. They are shepherds in every sense of the word

    Ever watch a shepherd work? Most times they are pretty pleasent folks. Then there is that one thats making trouble in the flock. So the shepherd gives him/her a pat on the rump. Thats what both of these cases are except a much larger scale. But notice in both cases, the Shepherd/Shepherds never stopped to try to convince the lost sheep to not walk off the cliff and turn around

    Its not just the Bishops who let these things happen to blame. In your reasoning we are all to blame. So lets all take the blame as one Church, one Holy Catholic, Apostolic Church, like we claim to be every week (or day those whose schedules permit) , and fix it. Pray for the bishops. They are doing the best they humanly can. But they will fail without our prayers and our support. One thing that Burke said to me when I first met him was “Say a prayer for me”. These men need our prayers, not our criticisms. They have an enormously difficult job. pray for them, and support them

  71. patrick f says:

    Amendment: Was referring to the ancient canaan deity . I wasnt implying hebrew to Jewish :) Sorry just reread my post and realized I was confusing

  72. Jordanes says:

    David Kastel said: Archbishop Lefebvre’s and the SSPX’s disobedience (in 1988 and before) stemmed from their insistence, against the rest of the Church, that the traditional mass was never legally abrogated and all priests (not only themselves) had the right to celebrate the traditional mass.

    If that’s what is at the bottom of it, then since 7 July 2007 we should have been seeing the SSPX pounding on the Church’s doors, eager to be let back in. No, the liturgical reform, and the ensuing liturgical disaster, is just one of the SSPX’s chief concerns, but it is inseparable from their theological and doctrinal concerns, which were really at the heart of Msgr. Lefebvre’s defiant and unnecessary ordinations and consecrations.

  73. Michael B. says:

    Gerard,
    My biggest problem with individual SSPXers is their refusal to acknowledge signs of return to tradition in the Church: the positive changes Pope Benedict has brought, the Motu proprio, the traditional Catholics who are sympathetic to the SSPX but not a part of their community, the tradtional Catholics who might be more sympathetic to the SSPX with a little encouragement. The “restoration” will not come in one fell swoop. Shouldn’t we follow John Senior’s advice and work together as much as possible? How can there be reconciliation if you don’t acknowledge and encourage the shoots of progress?

  74. Gerard says:

    patrick f,

    Wrong is wrong even if it comes from Rome. You don’t submit to error when you know it’s an error.

    We also don’t need absurd errors on the part of bishops to resist them. Subtle errors are all the more deadly and all the more in need of resistance. We’ve had 46 years of subtle errors getting the wink and the nod. Now we have major errors being promulgated from the pulpits, the bishops letters, the newspapers and the electonic media. And a lot of silence when it comes to correcting them clearly and directly.

    The problem of the specific Shepherds we’re talking about is that they are not shepherding the trouble makers. They are encouraging the bad sheep to lead the faithful over the cliff and slaughtering the good sheep for resisting the bad.

    Now, Back to specifics, JPII was wrong. He skewered archbishop LeFebvre for being one of two bishops in the whole world willing to take action because the Popes and the other bishops would not. Any appeal to legalism on this matter is just excuse-making out of a false zeal for the person of the Pope.

    And No. The blame isn’t to be equally distributed among everyone. That is just an enabling technique to remove the blame where it ultimately belongs. Popes were given time and power that the faithful were not. Securing the deposit of faith, rebuking errors, strengthening the faithful is their job more than anyone else’s. They are to be blamed as St. Paul clearly stated. He rebuked St. Peter because the scandal was Peter’s fault, not anyone else’s. And God made that event known to us in Scripture precisely because the Popes can, often do and have recently faltered in the performance of their duty. To ignore these facts is to deny an essential part of the reasonableness of the Catholic Faith.

    We have the full right to make maximalist demands from his Holiness Pope Benedict, not just to re-establish tradition, but to defend the faith against error. No Hegelian dialectical thinking, no living in peace and harmony with error. We have the right to demand the full use of the power of the keys to the kingdom in order to stand up for Holy Mother Church, her supremacy in the world, her unicity as the one and only true religion and the only means of salvation. God will not punish anyone for making this demand, only grace can flow from a position like this. We cannot allow him to flee for fear of the wolves. It’s too important.

    There is no compromise on Catholicism, modernism must go. Moderate modernism must go just as quickly. The gates of Hell will only prevail as long as the Churchmen do nothing of consequence. When they decide to stop the games and start addressing the real problems, (heresy, apostasy within the Church) then the gates of Hell will start to creak and get torn asunder like Samson tearing away the gates of Gaza.

  75. Fr. Angel says:

    Jrbrown:
    You believe, but you have not demonstrated, that Cardinal Hoyos and his dicastery has the proper jurisdiction not only to deal with the SSPX but to pronounce on the question of schism amongst their clergy and laity. I contend that the question of schism among the clergy and laity of the SSPX is actually doctrinal and must be rendered by Levada and the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. When and if Hoyos publishes his stance as an actual decision of the Roman Pontiff, then I will abide that such is the judgment of the Church. Until then, it appears to me as a controverted subject about which people may legitimately disagree. Please note, for instance, that Bruskewitz’ sanctions against the SSPX faithful were upheld, and so there must be a canonical case for bishops who wish to disagree with Hoyos’ more benign assessment of the SSPX.

  76. patrick f says:

    Modernism must go yes, but with an aire of compassion. “Of the Greatest of these is Love” … that’s also in Paul’s letters.

    Being orthodox to the faith is one thing, but you cant approach it in a way that puts people off. It has to be done with Charity and Compassion.

    I agree with you, the St Pius folks did keep alive a tradition. BUt , as you said wrong is wrong. To go against the pope, is to go against the church, most of the time. this Bishop, did that. That puts him in the wrong area, despite the popes and any supposed heresies they might have had. There is a way to do things. Its not stamp your feet and run off. We call those protestants. You make the change from within.

    You gotta approach it with compassion friend, or you have missed a big point of the Christian ideal. Hate, and anger is what drove these wedges, love will heal them. Has to be from all people, even the educated laity. And especially directed towards the Bishops

  77. Gerard says:

    Michael,

    What sort of acknowledgement do you want from the SSPX beyond that which they’ve given already?

    The SSPX isn’t the problem. As bishop Fellay said, “When you take care of your problem, you’ll have no problem with us.”

    The SSPX isn’t the crisis. It wasn’t started by the SSPX but it has been heroically fought by the SSPX without a bit of papal help.

    Let’s get the facts straight. This crisis was brought on by papal fiat and it will end only by papal fiat or Supernatural Intervention by Our Lady or St. Micheal or Divine Intervention by Our Lord Himself.

    Maybe our different outlook stems from what seems to be your position,(correct me if I’m wrong) that this is a mild crisis and everyone is generally of good will in the matter and the Church will coast out of it, contrasted with mine which is based on the warnings of the pre-conciliar Popes and a study of the movers and shakers prior to, during and after the Council. This is a full fledged knock down, drag out war of immense proportion with the stakes being higher than any physical world war. It involves angelic and demonic forces as well as human action and has political, social, economic and most importantly spiritual consequences.

    Our Divine Lord says we must agonize for our salvation. I see too much of a desultory tone evoked as a sign of the crisis even among those who profess themselves to be devout and faithful. Fr. Fullerton of the SSPX once said, “Are you heading in the direction of Christ in your life? And if you are walking in that direction, should you be running?”

  78. Cory says:

    Gerard, I understand your position, since I myself am a Traditional Catholic. However, your position is, IMHO, is likened to Luther’s. You don’t like what the Pope does, so you immediately take action that is detrimental not only to the Church, but to the faithful that you’re leading. Luther could’ve devoted time to work with the Church to hammer out the problems and urge the Church to do something about them. Instead, he put up his theses and scores of people were led astray. Look where we are 500 years later. We have numerous protestant denominations, all of which are contrary to the Gospel message. SSPX are the same way. Instead of remaining in full union, Lefebvre consecrated 4 priests to the office of Bishop. Was this necessary? Not really. Yes, I know he was reaching the end of his life, but did he lack that much faith in Christ that he had to “hurry up” the process instead of letting the Shephard take care of the matter?

  79. patrick f says:

    LIke I said, pray for the bishops…they need it. Support them. Let the holy spirit do its work. Let go, Let God

  80. anonymous says:

    Father,

    I teach Latin at an SSPX school, although I generally attend the FSSP parish nearby. I, like you, am sympathetic and not an enemy of the society, but agree they can’t claim to be obedient to the Pope and then disobey him. Their position is untenable if we look to Church history for an example, as much as I love some of their priests.

    Could one mount a canonical case that I am in schism just for working at their school? No one would mount such a case if I worked at a Greek Orthodox school, or at a Jewish day school. But I am worried, what if my Bishop would make a similar decree concerning the faithful who teach at SSPX schools (taking a salary from them, occasionally attending Mass there, etc.)? I’m interested in teaching Latin and saving souls, and the diocesan school hires wiccans to teach religion. Should I resign from there? This concerns me a lot. Thanks and God bless,

    anonymous

  81. Gerard says:

    Modernism must go yes, but with an aire of compassion. “Of the Greatest of these is Love” … that’s also in Paul’s letters.

    There can be no greater love than a stern rebuke that helps someone get to Heaven. Read Pascendi by St. Pius X. Mildness does not work with modernism. Modernism feeds on it. The first couple of paragraphs show how a Sainted Pope viewed the situation and his duties.

    Being orthodox to the faith is one thing, but you cant approach it in a way that puts people off. It has to be done with Charity and Compassion.

    Our Lord was very divisive. You don’t get put on a cross for not putting people off. Those with ears to hear will hear.

    … BUt , as you said wrong is wrong. To go against the pope, is to go against the church, most of the time. this Bishop, did that. That puts him in the wrong area, despite the popes and any supposed heresies they might have had. There is a way to do things. Its not stamp your feet and run off. We call those protestants. You make the change from within.

    No. The SSPX were not wrong. The Pope was wrong. If the Pope wasn’t keeping tradition alive, then the Pope was wrong.The SSPX did not “stamp their feet and run off.” Read the detailed history. They marched right into the heart of the war zone and did something good for the people that cried for help. The scandal is why Popes Paul VI and John Paul II did nothing to help them and persecuted them for attempting to stop the destruction. And to add insult to injury they refused to condemn the rampant heresy and apostasy committed by those “in full communion.” Who can defend this behavior?

    They were making the changes “within” and the Pope “put them out” canonically speaking. Paul VI and John Paul II let the worst distorters of the Catholic faith run amok in the Church but they just had to take care of archbishop LeFebvre. It’s inexcusable, the shabby treatment, the injustice and the malfeasance in high office committed. Hopefully Pope Benedict will correct this injustice properly while he has time.

    You gotta approach it with compassion friend, or you have missed a big point of the Christian ideal. Hate, and anger is what drove these wedges, love will heal them. Has to be from all people, even the educated laity. And especially directed towards the Bishops

    Hate has nothing to do with it. Anger is righteous when it is in defense of the faith. There is no need for me to have soft feelings for anyone who is an enemy of the Church, I can love them but not like them at all. We are a Church Militant, battling to save souls, confirmation is to make you into a soldier for Christ.

  82. Fr. Angel says:

    Michael:
    “A priest suggesting that it is acceptable to lie for pastoral reasons.” There is no need to accuse me of being a liar. Define your terms and then exercise a little more common sense (and charity for that matter). There are two issues here: 1) What is my personal opinion as regards the disputed question of the state of schism of clergy and laity of the SSPX? 2) What course is prudent for the Holy See as it negotiates with the SSPX for reconciliation? The answer to #1 is that I see the clergy and laity of the SSPX as being in schism—this is a personal opinion which any member of the Church may voice until Pope Benedict states otherwise. Now, #2 deals with a completely different issue—even if my answer to #1 was correct, which we are all free to dispute, is it helpful or necessary for the Holy See to publish such a judgment and declare canonical penalties against the SSPX at this time? I am personally entitled to my opinion, but the Church has no obligation to publicly take action based upon my conclusions. If you can sort these two issues through on their own terms, we can fruitfully debate the issues without you attacking my moral character.

  83. patrick f says:

    Read your scripture …what was Christ’s prayer at the last supper “I pray that they might be one” WWJD. You really think Jesus would want us tossing blame around at each other?

    I feel where you are coming from I really do, But I think its too much from a soldier perspective.

    Our Lord was devisive…he also said turn the other cheek.

    And I have read the history. They defied the Vicar of Christ “Tu es Petros” . That is enough for me. Do I have compassion for these folks, yes. Do I feel that there were abuses from Vatican II that on the outside it appeared no one did anything to fix? Yes. But its not my place as a lay person to call the magisterium wrong. It is my place as a lay person to support and defend the Holy Catholic Church, and The Pope. When I am elected pope (God help us when that happens..I would be the worst possible candidate, plus I am married.,…that makes the celibacy aspect difficult), when I am elected pope, then I will proceed to call the Pope Wrong. Heck, even make me a Bishop, then I would have the right, for the pope is a first among equals. But until then, I will follow where peter leads, for where there is peter, there is the church.

  84. Gerard says:

    Gerard, I understand your position, since I myself am a Traditional Catholic. However, your position is, IMHO, is likened to Luther’s. You don’t like what the Pope does, so you immediately take action that is detrimental not only to the Church, but to the faithful that you’re leading.

    Cory, You’re putting the cart before the horse. What I “like” or “dislike” doesn’t matter. I’m obligated to stand up against error. And that’s honestly the last thing I feel like doing. I would rather paint or play music.

    Luther could’ve devoted time to work with the Church to hammer out the problems and urge the Church to do something about them.

    At least Luther was clear. He was a heretic and people sided with him or not. And the Vatican was clear in it’s condemnation of his 40 errors. Now we have heretics “in full communion” getting away with anything and everything. Wasn’t JPII lauding Luther a few years back for ecumenical purposes? Where has the Vatican been in the last 40 years with the medicine of condemning errors as in the day of Luther?

    Instead, he put up his theses and scores of people were led astray. Look where we are 500 years later. We have numerous protestant denominations, all of which are contrary to the Gospel message.

    Scores of people are being led astray today without having the benefit of a condemnation from Rome. Protestantism is all throughout the Church. There are more errors being promoted on Catholic Answers and EWTN than there are truths. (has anyone ever seen a theological correction on EWTN? Or have they batted a thousand for 25 years?)

    SSPX are the same way. Instead of remaining in full union, Lefebvre consecrated 4 priests to the office of Bishop. Was this necessary? Not really.

    You’ve got to be kidding. It was probably the single most prudent religious event in the latter half of the 20th century. The condemnation and decree of excommunication was probably the least prudent response to it.

    The real issue is instead of defending tradition and supporting the efforts of LeFebvre, JPII sided with the modernists against him. Why? Was it necessary to lower the boom on the only bishop willing to fight for the Catholic faith whole and entire? No.

    Yes, I know he was reaching the end of his life, but did he lack that much faith in Christ that he had to “hurry up” the process instead of letting the Shephard take care of the matter?

    Ahem..the Shepherd caused the matter. He didn’t take care of it at all even though he lived another 16 years. If anything Christ sent LeFebvre to do what St. Paul did to St. Peter. Who lacked faith? I don’t think it was LeFebvre.

  85. Fr. Angel says:

    Anonymous:
    I am not sure which priest you are addressing, but I will try to answer your question. Michael B. wisely stated above: “Please give the SSPX a little breathing room, don’t be in such a hurry to throw them out, and allow things to work out, and pray for reconciliation.” Bishops are loathe to inflict public penalties as it is and by and large ignore the SSPX in their dioceses. And there is more common ground in the essentials with the SSPX than with any other group that is split from episcopal jurisdiction, making them a unique group among those who fight the Holy See. Also, a layperson teaching at their school who is loyal to Pope Benedict does not commit any crime for which canonical penalties can be imposed.

  86. Gerard says:

    Read your scripture …what was Christ’s prayer at the last supper “I pray that they might be one”

    That prayer is already fulfilled in the Catholic Church.

    WWJD.

    Tell the Pope when he’s wrong “Get behind me Satan!”

    You really think Jesus would want us tossing blame around at each other?

    Not “tossing” it around. But a just judgment that speaks the truth he encourages.

    I feel where you are coming from I really do, But I think its too much from a soldier perspective.

    Church Militant, Soldier for Christ. Christ brought a sword to set men against each other.

    Our Lord was devisive…he also said turn the other cheek.

    He also didn’t become an insipid victim when struck in the house of Caiphas. “If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me?”

    And I have read the history. They defied the Vicar of Christ “Tu es Petros” . That is enough for me. Do I have compassion for these folks, yes. Do I feel that there were abuses from Vatican II that on the outside it appeared no one did anything to fix? Yes.

    Why feel compassion if they were wrong? You should be feeling that JPII acted prudently and fairly and that they were treated justly. Also, you seem to be justifying inaction by appealing to a legalism. There is a contemporary phenomenon that when all evidence points to a need in charity and justice to heed the word of God as spoken by the First Pope and defend the faith if necessary, something seems to fail in people.

    But its not my place as a lay person to call the magisterium wrong.

    The Pope is not the Magisterium. When the Pope is ignoring, avoiding or not invoking the Magisterium, there is something wrong. Seriously wrong. And if the error is public and objective, it is incumbant on you to act.

    It is my place as a lay person to support and defend the Holy Catholic Church, and The Pope.

    Is that Pope, right or wrong? It is my place as a lay person to support and defend Holy Mother Church and the Pope as well. So, what is the quantifiable difference between us? Wrong has no rights.

    When I am elected pope (God help us when that happens..I would be the worst possible candidate, plus I am married.,…that makes the celibacy aspect difficult), when I am elected pope, then I will proceed to call the Pope Wrong.

    You don’t have to be Pope to recognize error.

    Heck, even make me a Bishop, then I would have the right, for the pope is a first among equals.

    No. The Pope is supreme. He has no equal. Vatican I defines it clearly. And he is owed true heirarchical obedience. The word “true” is essential for understanding obedience correctly.

    But until then, I will follow where peter leads, for where there is peter, there is the church.

    Not to be invidious, but you may be putting your faith in slogans instead of Catholic teaching. Cardinal Ottaviani once stated that the first act of the bishops in union with the Pope was to flee from the Garden of Gethsemane. St. Paul told us he stood up to St. Peter when necessary if St. Paul said it, it’s the word of God.

    One can be a perfectly good Catholic and recognize error on the part of the Pope and be in de facto perfect communion with the Church and his Holiness.

    I must say that it really is surprising to see the refusal to look at the causes for the crisis in the Church. There doesn’t seem to be a willingness to acknowledge that the SSPX is a necessary reaction to a preceding action. Had a Pope given the proper reaction, the SSPX wouldn’t even exist.

  87. patrick f says:

    Trust me friend, my faith is more then just slogans. But the last thing you said is more an ecclesiastical statement.

    Yes one can be a good catholic, and recognize error. One shouldnt make a specticle out of himself pointing it out though

    You should always feel compassion, even for those that are in the gravest of error. While they are still living, there is still help for them.

    And the latin mass isnt the only reason SSPX exists. They deny the Second Vatican Council, pretty much in its entirity. They for some reason have a beef with FSSP ..and its only because they view the FSSP as having “conceeded”… even though the FSSP is obedient…which is why the FSSP is not excommunicated. That bishop however, was not obedient…thus he sets himself apart from the church. Further more…I am sorry, you ready from their site, and they play the victim. Granted the situation is sad, but Rome wants them back, but on Rome’s terms. Just like any of the greek churchs that have come back, have come back under rome’s terms

    Why have a Pope, and claim him supreme, if one is to challenge every step he takes. The causes for the crisis in the church are primarily laity who no longer know their place, and its on both sides, not just the folks with the puppets but those who think they know more in their every day life then those who are doctors in theology and canon law. This is why they are bishops. Its called apostolic succession. To react in the way some have is to be no better then Luther. sure, he stood on something, and how many protestant churches are there now?

    Recognize the error. Point it out. But it has to be done in an obedient way, and not in a manevolant way.

    When one presumes to act as a pope of their own, which if you read some of the SSPX writings it hints at, you have schism. Do I think everthing every pope including JP2 did was right..no. Am I going to presume to tell him things like what the secret of fatima is? (look on their site.. he is kind enough to tell Holy mother church how to interpret secrets that he only knows because..oh yes..the Pope revealed, as commanded by our blessed mother) . I am sorry I just find it as arrogance to presume to stand from the outside and point out every little thing.

    All one has to do is work within the system, church included, and all will be right. The Church isnt one right now. We have groups who think they are preserving the church, by breaking away from the papacy and forming their own islands. Thats not unity. Unity exists in rome, and no where else. Not my standing around waiting for the walls to come down.

  88. Michael B. says:

    hat sort of acknowledgement do you want from the SSPX beyond that which they’ve given already?”

    I am talking about the recognition that others outside of the SSPX have thought about these problems and appreciated the depth of the problem-surely you have read Iota Unum-Romano Amerio was not SSPX. There is an understandable circle the wagons mentality in the SSPX, and it is exhibited in the idea that you are the only guys who have read Pius X, but there are plenty of ohters who are equally convinced that the modernist heresy has been alive and well in the problems of the last fifty years, that Popes have abandoned their authority in the face of attacks on the Church. It should be possible for individual SSPXers and the Society to find friends in the Church, but that seems to be a difficult proposition for them. I’m suggesting that it is time for the SSPX to survey the changing reality in the Church, allying with friends in the Church should be a more important part of the SSPX position than it has been.

  89. Michael says:

    To fully understand/appreciate the position of Msgr. Lefebvre, one should read Iota Unum, that non-polemic by Romano Amerio, such placing the whole in context. The conundrum, as created by the Vatican, is mind-numbing. In the [UK] Catholic Herald, of 25/04/08, an un-named “Curial source say SSPX is ‘more Calvinist than Catholic'”. To which Catholic Church was that source referring: the mad-house diocese of Linz; the sodomite diocese of Mahony and Levada (ex); the Hindu inculturation in Indian diocese; the English & Welsh Bishops’ Conference – which have ignored the papal edicts for the past forty years; et al. An almost endless list. If such is the Catholic Church to which the “Curial source” is referring, then the Calvinist approach is preferable is it not. How can we argue about the status of SSPX, when the foregoing is allowed to progress unhindered – the argument in nonsensical. All that said, SSPX are at a cross-roads and I am in fear they will take the wrong turning. Msgr. Lefevbre made one mistake, the elevation of the silver-tongued Fr. Richard Williamson – in slight mitigation an English speaker was required, but was there no alternative! The SSPX in America contains elements of the objectionable and akin to the weird sects found in that country, examples being: condemnation from the pulpit of those possessed of disagreement on grounds of Conscience; those having sinned; etc; and, in one area, the use of so-called “Honor Guards”, as far as I can see may be the euivalent of an “Hitler Youth” to do the bidding of the clergy concerned and inflict abuse on the perceived miscreant(s) including clergy. SSPX presently does not possess the wisdom, charisma and experience of the late Msgr. Lefebvre, consequently, they are utilising the wrong battle-plan. The should support BXVI, instead of nit-picking his previous history. Finally, were it not for SSPX, the UK Hierarchies would have restricted the the TLM to a much greater degree than they have. The hierarchies have lied to us, and their clergy, for forty years, attack them, not SSPX.

  90. Michael UK says:

    Comment by Michael @ 04:38 should read Michael UK to diferentiate from others. Please refrain rom castigating other “Michaels” for my own sins.

  91. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Dear Fr. Angel,

    Could you please point out the decision of Rome supporting the Diocese of Lincoln’s excommunication? I provided a link above showing that the tribunal clearly said they had no jurisdiction to judge the case. This is not the same as saying the excommunications were upheld. The bishop involved is abusing his authority and sinning gravely against the virtue of justice. He has tarred all the people affected by his decree, and not given them any means to appeal. As the tribunal said, they can only judge matters when censures have been applied to specific individuals. The SSPX challenged him to censure them by name, so they could appeal. The bishop in an act of utter cowardice refused, because he knows he will lose. These tactics are unworthy of his office, and represent a truly infamous tradition in the Church. The pope when he was still a priest criticized these same tactics when they were being used by the Holy Office in the 1940s and 50s, but I suppose Fr. Ratzinger should have just shout up and allowed these injustices to continue without objection. After all he was only a lowly priest, so who was he to criticize Rome. He must have been a schismatic. :)

  92. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    STUPID TYPO ARGGGGG! Shut up not “shout up” above. That is what happens when post first thing in the morning. Perhaps Fr. Z should add a new Anti-spam phrase “WAKE before posting.” :)

  93. Paul Haley says:

    Frankly, I think that if the SSPX claims they are not in schism, and if the Holy See isn’t ready to speak clearly about this one way or another, then the SSPX deserves a formal canonical hearing or trial to make a determination and the Holy See ought, in justice, give it to them.

    The SSPX ought to make a formal appeal to the decree of 1988 and the Holy See ought to consider the appeal.

    Amen, and Amen, and Amen!

  94. Patrick says:

    Is it really true that a decision issued by the Supreme Pontiff (like Ecclesia Dei) cannot be appealed?

    If it cannot be appealed then, it would appear the decision that they are schismatic stands. It can only be lifted by the Holy Father, and from what we have seen, that won\’t be done unless some sort of agreement is in place.

    It seems now that the Holy Father’s tactic is to show the priests of the SSPX the goodness that is happening because of Summorum Pontificum, in the hope that they will leave the SSPX schism. This way, over time, they will come back. The SSPX that will be left will be the more extremist priests (and perhaps bishops) who will, over time, morph into a separate church.

  95. Gerard says:

    Michael,

    Bishop Williamson is a blessing to the Church and a true champion of the Catholic faith. He’s brilliant, clear thinking, articulate and a very sensitive shepherd of souls. He is probably the best Thomist wearing a Mitre in the world.

    If there were ever an audience I would want to watch and listen to, it would be an audience between the Holy Father and Bishop Williamson with the Holy Father allowing his Excellency to speak his mind. The Holy Father should call him to Rome to speak with him.

  96. Gerard says:

    patrick f,

    Your argument mainly consists of an appeal to blind obedience. If you want to make assertions about the positions of the SSPX you should quote them directly and then explain specifically why you believe them to be wrong. Your own personal preferences about what one “should” or “should not” do don’t carry weight beyond the subjective.

    The term “Obedience” is being distorted in this conversation into servility. The Church teaches true and false obedience. Only God Himself deserves absolute obedience.

  97. Fr. Angel says:

    Christopher:
    Schoolman above already cited the link you asked for; it specifies that Bishop Bruskewitz’ decree of excommunication was upheld by Cardinal Re of the Congregation of Bishops, who was the competent prefect to hear the case. Schoolman cited additionally a link in which the excommunication of a Ukrainian priest was upheld for participating in an ordination conferred by the SSPX. Again, we have to clarify terms here: 1) A declared, canonical penalty may be inflicted on an individual or a group 2) Depending on the penalty, any appeals are heard by either dicasteries of the Roman Curia or a tribunal such as the Rota 3) Penalties, even though warranted, can be voided if canonical form or process is not followed. This does not exonerate the group, but merely stipulates that the bishop must follow canonical form where he is declaring a penalty against a person or an individual.

    If against a person, he must cite their actions, and that appeal would be decided by the Rota. If against a group, he must make clear that adherence to the group is dangerous to faith or morals, and that decision would be decided by a Congregation, either of Doctrine of the Faith or the Bishops, depending on the nature of the decree. The Lincoln excommunication was upheld by the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Re deciding the case. This decree specifically mentions Call to Action and the SSPX. In no part of the decision does Cardinal Re state that the penalty for Call to Action only is valid, and the penalty for SSPX is invalid. Rather, Cardinal Re upheld the decree in its totality, but mentioned Call to Action specifically because that is the only group that lodged an appeal (correctly) to the Congregation of Bishops.

    It is not correct to state that the SSPX are unable to appeal. They are able to appeal, but not to the Rota. They would have to write to the Congregation of Bishops, which under Cardinal Re already clearly stated the decision was canonically just and intact.

  98. Patrick says:

    Gerard,

    How convenient for you that you are the sole judge of what constitutes “true” obedience and “necessity.” It must be nice to be free to pick and choose which Church documents are correct and which are in error.

  99. Gerard says:

    Patrick,

    Despite your invidious comment, the first step in the discussion would be for an agreement to be reached that the Church actually does teach that there is a difference between true and false obedience.

    You’d have to stipulate to that fact before you can enter into a debate on the validity of any claims that some appeals and commands of the Popes impel justifiable and moral disobedience.

    If you can stipulate that true and false obedience is taught by the Church we can get past square one.

  100. Fr. Angel says:

    Christopher:
    You wrote: “The SSPX challenged him to censure them by name, so they could appeal. The bishop in an act of utter cowardice refused, because he knows he will lose. These tactics are unworthy of his office, and represent a truly infamous tradition in the Church.” Your smoke and mirrors argument here has no basis. The bishop’s decree is the establishing of a diocesan law, and there is nothing cowardly or infamous about a bishop legislating, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” If a bishop’s law is unjust, the laity and clergy do have a course of appeal—before the Congregation of Bishops. It is different than appealing an individual excommunication, which is an administrative act of a bishop and goes before a tribunal. But an appeal is an appeal, and losing is still losing, whether you lose your case before the tribunal or in the Congregation. Inflicting excommunication, person by person, and getting tied up in church courts with appeals to these acts of administration, would have been ridiculous for any bishop. It is more practical and sends a clearer message to the faithful to establish a general law and command the penalty for breaking it.

    But if we are going to talk about cowardly or infamous, what appeals are given by the SSPX to those priests or laity who are expelled from chapels or service in the SSPX? What justice or charity is rendered by fellow members of the Society once they are dismissed? The Society possesses no canonical standing, and therefore no authority whatsoever to bind and to lose or posit any acts of administration over clergy or faithful, yet that does not stop them from inflicting penalties for which there is no recourse.

  101. Michael J says:

    Fr. Angel,
    My apologies. When you wrote “However, when there is hope to patch things up, I have my doubts as to whether it is prudent and for the good of souls to openly declare this at this point and renew the inflicting of penalties” I thought you were referring to your earlier statement in which you wrote “Hoyos avoids the term [schism] because he is trying to patch things up with the SSPX”.

    It appeared to me that you were offering an explanation of why Cardinal Hoyos would explicitly state something that was not true.

    As you later claified though, you were instead explaining why the Holy See does not “publish such a judgment and declare canonical penalties against the SSPX at this time” This seems to be a bit odd to me but I accept that you were not trying to explain away what you considered to be a lie.

  102. Martin Riker says:

    Jordanes wrrote:

    “This has been gone over here before, and I believe Father Zuhlsdorf even addresses it in one of his podcasts, but briefly: When St. Athanasius was excommunicated, it was the result of a conspiracy of heretics seeking to silence him, and there apparently was imperial meddling (a heretical emperor too).”

    “There is also doubt whether or not the Pope really signed off on the excommunication—there were forged letters circulated in this matter, and certainly St. Athanasius believed the Pope had given his approval, even if St. Athanasius was mistaken about that. Others bring forward reason to believe that the Pope’s actions were made under duress, and therefore invalid.”

    “But not of those kind of considerations can be brought forward in the case of Msgr. Lefebvre and the SSPX bishops. There is no doubt that the law and the lawgiver had cause and authority to pronounce the excommunications, they were pronounced lawfully and validly and without any duress or loss of freedom on the Pope’s part. So, with St. Athanasius there are reasons to doubt the validity of his excommunication, whether or not the Pope approved of it; with Msgr. Lefebvre and the SSPX bishops, there can be no such doubts. There is simply no comparison between the two cases.”

    Thanks for your input, Jordanes!

    Though I am *not* a supporter of the 1988 consecrations, I still believe there are relevant similarities between this case and various, possible scenarios that may have played out in the case of St. Athanasius’ excommunication by the pope.

    I guess the real question for me is as follows — being directed to Father Z, Jordanes and all others who would argue that the two cases are not sufficiently analogous (at any rate, at least because of the purported evidence for St. Athanasius being under the impression — rightly or wrongly — that no _valid and free_ excommunication by the Pope had actually been forthcoming):

    *_If_ the Pope _had_ freely excommunicated Athanasius _and_, further, Athanasius _was_ aware of said excommunication, do you (that is, Father Z, Jordanes et al) presume that the great St. Athanasius _would_ (or, at least, _should_) have behaved differently than he in fact did — _even if_ this meant allowing semi-Arianism to gain the upper hand and the leading of even more souls into possible peril?*

    *After all, such a “hypothetical” is, _at least_, well within the realm of possibility: Popes can and do make errors of judgment on the individual level.*

    *Can it be reasonably supposed, therefore, that this illustrious saint, under said hypothetical scenario, would and/or should have acknowledged and given full obedience to the Pope after being thus unjustly excommunicated (even if, as I say, St. Athanasius’ exiting of the ecclesiastical “scene” would have involved a grave danger to souls)?*

    If Father Z, Jordanes, et al would agree that Athanasius would and/or should have thus obeyed, then I would concur that Lefebvrists have no grounds for citing Athanasius in defense of their case.

    _On the other hand_, if we would grant that under such a hypothetical scenario St. Athanasius would and/or should have _reverently yet firmly_ *disobeyed* the pope’s hypothesized free and juridically valid excommunication(due to an overriding consideration of concern for souls), then it seems to me a reasonable case can likewise be made for someone doing the same thing in the wake of the dangers that neo-Modernism posed (and still poses), it having won over — to greater or lesser extent (whether intellectually, culturally or merely through human respect) — the greater portion of the Church’s hierarchy.

  103. Mr. M. M. Regan says:

    Gerard, thanks very much for your comments. It is important to be reminded that this is not just a matter of liturgical preference but of the guarding of the very Deposit of Faith and its related binding moral truths against modernism.

  104. Michael B. says:

    Michael of the UK,
    If I wasn’t clear, (it was early for me) I more or less agree with you. I think Iota Unum should be required reading for every Catholic, it is a virtual catechism of Church tradition, (enlightening especially for those of us who missed the end of the living culture of the Church as it existed until recently) as much as it is a patient and scholarly catalog of what went wrong.

    Fr. Angel, your comments are well-measured and informative.
    Many thanks,

  105. Michael J says:

    Patrick,

    It is quite interesting and telling that you would state “the definitive documents of the Church consistently use the term “schismatic” to describe the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre.”

    I think that if you take the time to re-read the documents you cite, you’ll find that this is actually not the case. The consistently used term is “schismatical act” or “schismatic act” and refers to the 1988 consecrations not to the society or its followers. I’ll grant, easily, that what you say the documents mean is a reasonable interpretation so I really cannot find logical fault in your belief that the “SSPX is scismatic”, but this is entirely the point. In order to arrive at your perfectly reasonable conclusion, you’ve had to interpret what was written and assign meanings to the words that the documents themselves do not explicitly state.

    So now I am faced with a quandry. Patrick, a guy who posts on a blog gives a reasonable explanation of some Church documents. On the other hand, Cardinal Hoyos, who is in charge of said documents, direcly contradicts what Patrick says and does so in a newspaper interview. Who do you suppose I should believe?

  106. Patrick says:

    Michael J,

    Actually, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, issued this statement in 1998:

    “1 . From the Motu Proprio “Ecclesia dei” of 2nd July 1988 and from the Decree “Dominus Marcellus Lefebvre” of the Congregation for Bishops, of 1st July 1988, it appears above all that the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre was declared in immediate reaction to the episcopal ordinations conferred on 30th June 1988 without pontifical mandate (cf CIC, Can. 1382). All the same it also appears clear from the aforementioned documents that such a most grave act of disobedience formed the consummation of a progressive global situation of a schismatic character.

    2. In effect no. 4. of the Motu Proprio explains the nature of the “doctrinal root of this schismatic act,” and no. 5. c) warns that a “formal adherence to the schism” (by which one must understand “the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre”) would bring with it the excommunication established by the universal law of the Church (CIC, can. 1364 para.1). Also the decree of the Congregation for Bishops makes explicit reference to the “schismatic nature” of the aforesaid episcopal ordinations and mentions the most grave penalty of excommunication which adherence “to the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre” would bring with it.

    3. Unfortunately, the schismatic act which gave rise to the Motu Proprio and the Decree did no more than draw to a conclusion, in a particularly visible and unequivocal manner — with a most grave formal act of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff — a process of distancing from hierarchical communion. 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.”

    You can see there is a clear understanding from the Vatican that there is a schism, not just a “schismatic act.” So, it’s not just “Patrick’s” interpretation, it is the authoritative interpretation of the Vatican Council that has competence over matters of legislation (which includes Ecclesia Dei because it was issued motu proprio. So, the choice is between Card. Hoyos in a newspaper interview, or a published note from a Pontifical Council.

  107. patrick f says:

    Well, Gerard, I guess the thousands of saints, all had it wrong. I guess the council of jeruselam had it wrong.

    I am not stating what I think people should do. People are most certainly free to say or do whatever they want, as has been evident throughout history.

    Despite what his intentions may have been, Lefebvre defied the supreme pontiff in his ordinations, and SSPX continues to defie him in their continued ordinations.

    Padre Pio covered his hands for years, and said mass at an extreme hour of the day, simply because he was instructed to do so. Francis of Assisi was denied his first time when he tried to create the Franciscans. I could go on and on. that is what true obedience is. sure in both cases one could say the pope was wrong. Obviously the franciscans have done marvelous things, and Padre Pio (well he is one of my more favorite saints), has also proven that patience eventually yields the truth. Patient obedience.

    This man, when he was made a priest, swore his obedience to his bishop, and ultimately the pope. That is why this was schismatic. He broke his vow when you get down to it. NO other way to explain that one. Its nice to say that he was engaged in a noble cause, but in the end, he broke his vow, thus, any ordination he instituted from there on out, would also be suspect. that is where the disobedience is greatest. A priest, defied the directive of his Bishop, and the supreme pontiff of rome.

    Same thing with St. Stan. A priest, defied his bishop, defied the bishop of the diocese he was in, and thus is also being hendled appropriately. So there is your simularity. two priests broke their vow of obedience to their bishop. That alone is grounds for any pronouncement of excommunication. Take the Vatican II out of it. Take the NOvus ordo out of it. The vow of obedience was broken. I dont know what else to say other then that. So.. if the “head” of the SSPX is in schism, which by his act of breaking his vow (vow, thats something you make till you drop, and beyond), how can any bishop or priest he consecrates be truly licit. No Vatican II, No Novus ordo. Doesnt play into the fact the vow was broken. Just like at st stan’s , no rightful possession. no “it was this way for years, why change”. The ordinary was ddefied in both cases by a Priest, who broke his vows. People in the latter case supported it, and nourished it. Thus why you have both situations.

  108. Mark says:

    It seems to me that as the motu propio takes root in Church soil, the subject of SSPX, its tantrums, and the endless speculation about its status, should matter less and less. There are seminaries inside the Church that are filled to capacity, it seems more important to ensure that they teach the TLM and authentic Tradition, than to ponder the latest pronouncements of SSPX bishops. I feel this subject is not worth all this memory space on the web servers.

  109. Gerard says:

    patrick f,

    The council of Jerusalem is irrelevant. It has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

    Despite what his intentions may have been, Lefebvre defied the supreme pontiff in his ordinations, and SSPX continues to defie him in their continued ordinations.

    This is news? The disobedience is not in question. The justification for the disobedience is the matter at hand.

    The very fact that you are unwilling to acknowledge the truth of the Church’s teaching about the nature of obedience. That it’s being subordinate to Justice and having three forms, perfect, true and false seems to have no place in your theology.

    Padre Pio covered his hands for years, and said mass at an extreme hour of the day, simply because he was instructed to do so.

    What does that have to do with the price of eggs? A cloistered monk has a different mission and charism than a bishop.

    St. Gerard Majella (my patron obviously) was ordered to lick the pavestones in the form of crosses along the path. He was a bloody mess as a result. When St. Alphonsus Ligouri returned and saw what happened, he realized that the man he’d left in charge was mentally unstable and St. Gerard’s “obedience” was not necessary in this circumstance. He gave a man opportunity to sin that his resistance may have prevented. If you ask me, St. Gerard was a cross for St. Alphonus.

    Francis of Assisi was denied his first time when he tried to create the Franciscans. I could go on and on. that is what true obedience is.

    Specific souls were not at stake and neither Francis nor Pio were bishops.

    sure in both cases one could say the pope was wrong. Obviously the franciscans have done marvelous things, and Padre Pio (well he is one of my more favorite saints), has also proven that patience eventually yields the truth. Patient obedience. This man, when he was made a priest, swore his obedience to his bishop, and ultimately the pope.

    It’s thought that Judas had the same strategy concerning Our Lord and the Sanhedrin.

    No priest swearw blind or servile obedience. That would be sinful even for the Jesuits. Catholics are supposed to believe in true and false obedience. That is a fact. While we’re at it, what about the anti-modernist oath taken by both the Pope and LeFebvre? Was LeFebvre to break his oath to follow the Pope? Do you think Popes are intrinsically irresistible? Was LeFebvre supposed to lie in the “apology” written for him after he signed the protocol in 1988? Is that the price of being in good graces with the Pope?

    That is why this was schismatic.

    No. That doesn’t even qualify as a definition of schism. Schism means that someone is denying the right of the Pope to his authority in principal. Disobedience is not schism. It’s disobedience.

    He broke his vow when you get down to it. NO other way to explain that one.

    Here’s how to explain it. His vow was for TRUE obedience. Do you believe this is the Church’s teaching or not? Ask Fr. Z. He’ll tell you the truth.

    Its nice to say that he was engaged in a noble cause, but in the end, he broke his vow, thus, any ordination he instituted from there on out, would also be suspect.

    That is wrong. Sacraments operate in and of themselves provided form, matter and intention are observed.

    that is where the disobedience is greatest. A priest, defied the directive of his Bishop, and the supreme pontiff of rome.Same thing with St. Stan…two priests broke their vow of obedience to their bishop. That alone is grounds for any pronouncement of excommunication.

    The situations are not similar in any way shape or form. The whole point of Fr. Z’s column is that they are not the same.

    Take the Vatican II out of it.

    You can’t take Vatican II out of it. Vatican II is the prime cause. Take Vatican II out of it and you have no crisis on the same scale or of the same nature.

    Take the NOvus ordo out of it. The vow of obedience was broken.

    You are resting your whole argument on a fallacy regarding obedience. And people call the SSPX “integrists?”

    I dont know what else to say other then that.

    You can say, “Yes Gerard. I understand, I was mistaken about the nature of obedience. You’ve quoted St. Thomas and Vatican I correctly. The situation is less cut and dry than I previously thought.”

    So.. if the “head” of the SSPX is in schism, which by his act of breaking his vow (vow, thats something you make till you drop, and beyond), how can any bishop or priest he consecrates be truly licit.

    Now we’re talking about the legal definitions? No one is claiming any of the post 1976 or so SSPX priests are licit. If we’re talking validity, there is no question about it.

    No Vatican II, No Novus ordo. Doesnt play into the fact the vow was broken.

    No Vatican II, No Novus ordo, No need for the SSPX. No persecution of LeFebvre. No need for consecrations. It seems the history, the facts, the injustices heaped upon LeFebvre have no bearing on a false legalistic and unCatholic definition of “obedience”

    Just like at st stan’s …The ordinary was ddefied in both cases by a Priest, who broke his vows. People in the latter case supported it, and nourished it. Thus why you have both situations.

    Not so. I don’t know why Bishop Burke wanted the property and I think he was imprudent in demanding it. Since he obviously had terribly catechized Catholics attending the Church. But that has nothing to with LeFebvre who did not want to participate in the auto-demolition of the Church and was compelled to act by the pleading of the suffering masses of faithful at the mercy of wolves.

    Are you going to acknowledge the teaching of the Church on true and false obedience or are you going to deny it with silence?

    I’m becoming convinced that there is a psychological syndrome that refuses to integrate the antecedent factors concerning the crisis in order to whitewash the papacies of Paul VI and JPII. I can think of no other reason why people refuse to engage a simple clear teaching of the Church on the virtue of Obedience.

  110. Patrick says:

    Gerard,

    So, you think Archbishop Burke was imprudent. You think Bishop Williamson to be some brilliant hero. And you think Fr. Z wrote this to show that the SSPX was not in schism and that their disobedience was justified? Did you even read what Fr. Z wrote?

    You are really out there.

  111. patrick f says:

    Disobedience, is disobedience. Disobedience to vows, is grave. If there is any persecution (which there isnt, Rome has continually tried to embrace them ..Rome in the magisterial sense) , then it was only brought on by the disobedience. Thats like saying..give the child a cookie for throwing a fit. If the child hadnt thrown the fit you wouldnt have had to punish him right? Still doesnt take away from the fact the child is disobedient.

    Thats like saying… My wife cheats on me….so there for I can go cheat on her. Thats the same logic. In LeFebvre’s case, he thought the church was wrong. So he defied the church…its illogical. No one is saying we dont feel sympathetic, but they need to make the first move, they need to ask the forgiveness of the Pontiff, and bring their appeal. Thats all anyone is saying. They need to prove they werent disobedient to the pope. As far as anyone including yourself has pointed out, that is going to be hard pressed to do.

    In alot of ways you almost sound like a very dear friend of mine, that is a member of the Church of Christ. Very sola scriptura. Thinks that because we add things like the traditional heritage of mary we are heritics…even though all of scripture, in reality though divinely inspired was passed on through tradition. He gets hung up on that. I think you get hung up on the letter of the law in these regards.

    I will end with the fact that, for a priest to disobey his bishop is where this issue lies atleast for me.Also please if the priests (as neither I nor Gerard are) could speak to that affect I think it would enlighten all of us.

  112. Gerard says:

    Patrick,

    Yes, of course. I’m “out there.” Thanks for clearing up all the issues.

    I see you have not, nor has anyone else admitted that the Church teaches true and false obedience.

    Of course that’s a hinge point. Because if you admit that, then you admit that Holy Mother Church didn’t empower Churchmen with impeccability. At that point, heterodox policies run the risk of losing their effectiveness.

    And yes, Bishop Burke was imprudent in this situation as was Bishop Rigali before him. This fight was unnecessary. The plea to take over the financial assets of a cash flush Church that had sustained itself for over a century in order make it conform to Canon Law is not all that convincing. There are multiple parishes in the U.S.A. that have lay boards of trustees handling the financial stability of the parish. Isn’t there a board of trustees handling the finances of the Shrine of St. Joseph just a short jog away?

    It was imprudent to remove the priests from the parish, it was imprudent to move the “service to the Polish Community” to another location. (Wouldn’t have that problem is everyone said Mass in Latin)I’m reminded of the U.S. blockade of Japan in 1941 when we were “neutral” regarding WWII.

    And considering the heterodox fallout of the parishioners as a result of this turf war, Bishop Burke should have taken time to catechize the faithful properly and perhaps the appearance of “the Church being out for money” would not have been apparent. And perhaps he would have been more pastoral and reconsidered his demands.

    And let’s not forget about the imprudence surrounding the handling of the Julie/Joel Green transexual taking vows as a nun when he was bishop of LaCrosse.

    So, yes. I have reasons for thinking a certain imprudence being manifest, despite his Excellency’s conservative reputation.

    I think a copy of Pope St. Gregory the Great’s pastoral guide would be helpful.

  113. Gerard says:

    patrick f,

    I will conclude that you oversimplify the details of the situation concerning the crisis in the Church and the SSPX reaction to it.

    Conversely, you are overly rigoristic on your interpretation of Canon Law in view of overriding moral circumstances as well as an inaccurate understanding of the nature of the heirarchy and the magisterium of the Church. And there is the pervasive attitude of impeccability regarding the Popes and Curia.

    My points on obedience are the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, THE theologian of the Church. He’s essentially only gathering the common sense of the Church from Augustine and Pope St. Gregory and the Scriptures to formulate his approved answer. I am correct on this.

    You’ll find it in the Summa, second part of the second part starting at question 104.

  114. Patrick says:

    Gerard wrote: “Schism means that someone is denying the right of the Pope to his authority in principal. Disobedience is not schism. It’s disobedience.”

    That is just not traditional Catholic teaching. The Catholic Encyclopedia quotes Apostolica Sedis and notes:

    “(3) “Schismatics and those who elude or obstinately withdraw from the authority of the reigning Roman pontiff.” The schismatics here referred to are of two kinds: those who are such because they belong to separated Churches which reject the authority of the pope, and those who, being Catholics, become schismatics by reason of obstinate disobedience to the authority of the pope as such.”

    As noted here, there are two kinds of schismatics, not just the one kind that you note. And the second kind is through obstinate disobedience.

    And of course, there is true and false obedience. If a man is commanded by a legitimate authority to do something immoral, he is bound to refuse. But, obviously, Lefebvre was not commanded to do anything immoral, there was no immoral command that he was bound to disobey.

    Lefebvre also failed to act as a traditional Catholic when he was excommunicated. The Catholic Encyclopedia also tells us that:

    “Consequently, a person unjustly excommunicated is in the same state as the justly excommunicated sinner who has repented and recovered the grace of God; he has not forfeited internal communion with the Church, and God can bestow upon him all necessary spiritual help. However, while seeking to prove his innocence, the censured person is meanwhile bound to obey legitimate authority and to behave as one under the ban of excommunication, until he is rehabilitated or absolved.”

    A faithful Catholic would abide by the terms of his excommunication while waiting to be exonerated. Like St. Pio or St. Francis.

    And of course

  115. Jordanes says:

    Martin Riker said: _If_ the Pope had freely excommunicated Athanasius and, further, Athanasius was aware of said excommunication, do you (that is, Father Z, Jordanes et al) presume that the great St. Athanasius would (or, at least, should) have behaved differently than he in fact did—even if this meant allowing semi-Arianism to gain the upper hand and the leading of even more souls into possible peril?

    It is impossible to say how St. Athanasius would have behaved in different circumstances, only how he should have behaved. If the excommunication of St. Athanasius was valid and lawful, then yes, he should have submitted and taken measures to restore himself to communion with the Pope — especially if he is concerned that semi-Arianism might triumph.

    However, I again point out that the cases of St. Athanasius and Msgr. Lefebvre are not analogous. St. Athanasius was unjustly and invalidly excommunicated due to his rejection of heresy, Msgr. Lefebvre was excommunicated due to his violation of canon law (a violation that was an implicit rejection of the Catholic doctrine of Petrine Primacy). For all the noise about “true obedience versus false obedience” that SSPX apologists make, Msgr. Lefebvre’s disobedience of the Church’s law was not an instance of true obedience, but has been judged by the Church to be a schismatic act and a manifest breach of communion with the Body of Christ. There can never be any necessity for schismatic consecrations of bishops apart from communion with the Pope. No doubt Msgr. Lefebvre was provoked and panicked by the post-Vatican II crisis afflicting the Church, mitigating his culpability for what he did — but what he did is still wrong and cannot be justified. Msgr. Lefebvre’s disobedience wasn’t a refusal to assent to heresy, but a refusal to delay consecrating bishops even though the Pope had told him not to do it. So, as I said, there is no true analogy between the cases of Msgr. Lefebvre and St. Athanasius.

    Can it be reasonably supposed, therefore, that this illustrious saint, under said hypothetical scenario, would and/or should have acknowledged and given full obedience to the Pope after being thus unjustly excommunicated (even if, as I say, St. Athanasius’ exiting of the ecclesiastical “scene” would have involved a grave danger to souls)?

    Remember what God told Elijah when he complained, “They have slain the prophets of the Lord, and I, even I, alone am left!” “Elijah, you’re not the only one — I still have 7,000 men who have not bent the knee to Baal.” A saint sees his own littleness and unimportance, and realises that God doesn’t need him, he needs God.

    Anyway, in your hypothetical scenario, the excommunication of St. Athanasius would have been freely decreed by Pope and Council, the Pope would have clearly and freely given his agreement to the compromised creed of Sirmium. In such a circumstance, St. Athanasius would have had no recourse but to assent or to defect from the Church. But then in such a situation, the Church herself would have defected from the truth and the gates of hell would have prevailed, so it hardly would have mattered what St. Athanasius would have done or should have done, since in such a case Christianity would be a false religion and Christ’s promises would have been shown to be lies. So, in that circumstance, the right thing for St. Athanasius to do would be to abandon the Christian religion.

  116. RBrown says:

    Disobedience, is disobedience. Disobedience to vows, is grave. If there is any persecution (which there isnt, Rome has continually tried to embrace them ..Rome in the magisterial sense) , then it was only brought on by the disobedience.
    Patrick

    Disagree. There was a persecution, and it occurred long before the episcopal consecrations. The schismatic ordinations were very much a function of the distrust caused by the persecution.

  117. Gerard says:

    Okay,

    Time will not allow me today to get into all the nitty gritty of the arguments But…

    patrick f,

    1)You admit that long dead Popes were stinkers. I posit that we’ve had recent Popes who are just as deceased who did worse damage by their policies than the miscreants who lived life according to their fleshly desires.

    2)We are not discussing the bishop’s rights. We are discussing the bishops lack of prudence. Slumlords usually have their “rights” and exercise them to the detriment of their tenants.

    If you don’t think there is gamesmanship going on between the bishops and the Congregations against the faithful, then you are in for a surprise.

    I’m amazed at this topsy-turvy attitude in which those with the responsibility are not even considered responsible for the consequences of what happens to their charges.

    This parish stopped being Catholic long ago. Why is the big “problem” financial? If the bishops had looked after souls it would look more like tending the flock instead of fleecing the flock.

    3)RE: Salary. Priests need to eat and it’s usually the nickels and dimes of the faithful that feed them. I personally know a priest, headmaster and principal of a religious order’s High School. When he determined that the priests weren’t to be paid $40,000 per year in salary plus, room and board, plus insurance and other benefits, it caused a split in the order. Needless to say, they were already living in a mansion on the campus.

    Plainly put, in the situation being discussed, Burke could have chosen a different time to resolve the issue.(one not so soon after the child rape/molesting/homosexual scandals broke out into the mainstream)

    4)With regard to LeFebvre, he demanded that the Pope actually use his power to rectify the crisis in the Church that the Popes had permitted to occur. How is that a denial of the power and authority of the Pope? There is no schism, never was.

    As Stan Lee said in Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility”. The Popes have the most power. The Popes have the most responsibility. The crisis wasn’t started by LeFebvre, it wasn’t permitted by LeFebvre. LeFebvre’s inaction didn’t promote it in any way. The reverse is however true of the Popes. To deny this simple truth and exonerate the Popes is to deny the truth of the papacy, Catholicism and reason itself.

    It was heroic virtue for LeFebvre to sacrifice himself as he did. What are we to conclude about the actions and inactions of the recent Popes?

    Patrick,

    1) We are in disagreement about the morality of the command not to consecrate the bishops in 1988. I would go so far as to say it was immoral for the Popes not to support LeFebvre wholeheartedly from 1971 onward.

    2) You’re cherry-picking your quote from the Catholic Encylopedia. Look at the section where “invalid” excommunications are discussed. It say they are to be ignored.

    3) The Catholic Encyclopedia is not exactly correct when it discusses unjust excommunication should be obeyed. That goes against the logic that Obedience is subordinate to Justice. To follow the CE’s description that would mean obedience would be subordinate to injustice,which would be immoral.

  118. Jon K says:

    I was once a seminarian with the Society of Saint Pius X. After I had left, I went to Rome and asked whether I had been excommunicated. I met Msgr C. Perl whose answer was very clear: no. He offered to give me a letter stating this in case my bishop wondered.

  119. Jon K says:

    Ah yes… I forgot to say what decency demands of me, so here it comes: 1) I keep a filial devotion to the Archbishop. 2) What Rome allowed to happen in the church is quite shocking. 3) I have no sympathy whatsoever for the legalistic point being made against the Society of Saint Pius X – a Society I, by the way, do not support. 4) The crisis in the Church cannot be boiled down to matters of obedience. 5) I for one am very grateful that the Archbishop, dom Gérard and so many others resisted. One must have lived through the 70s and 80s in France to understand what they were facing. – And Rome did nothing.

    Now I´ll be off.

  120. Patrick says:

    Gerard,

    You skipped the part about obstinate disobedience being schism. That’s why Apostolicae Sedis notes both ways of being schismatic.

    Ultimately, you position requires taking your personal judgement of Lefebvre above the judgement of the Holy See. That’s dangerous ground. Good luck with that.

  121. Michael B. says:

    Patrick,
    The reason your arguments are unpersuasive is that they don’t take into account the fact that the Vatican is actively seeking reconciliation with the SSPX. There is so much more going on beyond the legal argument of whether the SSPX Bishops are in schism or not, but your argument simply seems to trim everything to this proposition: shut up and submit. It’s not going to work that way. The Church doesn’t approach us like that, and your interpretation of events is not authoritative enough for that result. I suggest giving a little ground to your opponents, (there is plenty for you to admit without undermining your positinon) and actually talk with them.

  122. Jordanes says:

    Gerard said: Look at the section where “invalid” excommunications are discussed. It say they are to be ignored.

    True — but then that is irrelevant to the topic at hand, since the excommunications of Msgr. Lefebvre and the four SSPX bishops were unquestionably valid.

  123. Spiggle says:

    Michael B: “There is so much more going on beyond the legal argument of whether the SSPX Bishops are in schism or not”

    Maybe so, but that is the precise subject under discussion in this post, no?

    The arguments that the disobedience was justified seem rather similar to the argument of the Women Priests movement that their disobedience was justified, as referenced here and here.

  124. patrick f says:

    very nice spiggle. its also similar to the reformation, well the early reformation (which for the record, I am not defending, using as an example)

    One could argue luther was “justified” in what he did too, if you went down the rat hole enough. Man.. its staggering to think what luther could have accomplished had he stayed in the church, because not all his ideas were incorrect. In fact, he had a remarkable devotion to mary. But, when you do things like nail your thesis to the door of the church, a VERY symbolic act of communication, then you are naturally going to get excommunicated.

    Same thing with SSPX. They put themselves outside, and it hurts their cause more then helps it. One can make their point, without being belligerent. One can be obedient, and still disagree. Its their behavior in the matter that causes the disobedience. I pray for these people that they can be reconciled to rome. There is so much the could offer Holy mother church when back in the fold, if of course they approach it with a bit more compassion, and less “You are wrong, and we are going to keep telling you how wrong you are” . The only thing that SSPX did that was incorrect was their disobedient approach. Nothing they do isnt “catholic” . Their mass is the traditional mass. They teach the faith. And yes, they support the Holy Father. Stated clearly on their site.

    So yes I see where the situation is complicated. But in the end, the approach has to be different. Maybe we could argue Rome could give a little too (there are items from the council that need to be interpreted more clearly for the faithful, and I certainly think the Holy Father is accomplishing that). But the first thing, as was stated at the very top of this discussion, is an appeal. But I just dont see how that can occur without an acknowledgement that there was definate disobedience that occurred, regardless of the morals involved. In the end, it didnt justify the means. What do we have from it. A divided church. Yes it is divided, to admit it isnt divided would discredit both sides. I guess it would be different if Lefebvre wasnt the superior of the order. Then it wouldnt trickle down to the others the way it has, and perhaps we would have a very different set of circumstances, that we are discussing

  125. Michael Riker says:

    Jordanes wrote:

    “In your hypothetical scenario, the excommunication of St. Athanasius would have been freely decreed by Pope and Council, the Pope would have clearly and freely given his agreement to the compromised creed of Sirmium. In such a circumstance, St. Athanasius would have had no recourse but to assent or to defect from the Church. But then in such a situation, the Church herself would have defected from the truth and the gates of hell would have prevailed, so it hardly would have mattered what St. Athanasius would have done or should have done, since in such a case Christianity would be a false religion and Christ’s promises would have been shown to be lies. So, in that circumstance, the right thing for St. Athanasius to do would be to abandon the Christian religion.”

    Given the other relevant facts – facts I was assuming to remain identical save for the one execption of the hypothesized obtaining of a free excommunication –, I submit the conclusions you draw regarding said scenario (viz., its entailing disproof of the Catholic religion) is unwarranted.

    For one, the would-be excommunication of Athanasius had as its object Athanasius *qua* individual; under any scenario being put forth, it would not have been the result of his falling under some general “anathema” solemnly leveled against whosoever did this or believed that. Yet an excommunication of an individual person *qua* individual (_justified or not_) could have no objective bearing on the credibility of the Catholic Church. As I mentioned in previous email, popes can, in principle, make errors of policy and judgment (even intrinsicially erroneous) yet, so long as such judgments or policies are not directed at the Church universal, no promise of Christ is contravened.

    Thus, even if St. Athanasius were thus excommunicated by Pope Liberius (as hypothesized, with full freedom on the latter’s part), said excommunication would *not* be akin to a blunder on the Church’s part regarding, say, “anathemas” directed at “whosoever” may hold a particular proposition or engage in a certain act. (Indeed, the _latter_ sort of blunder *is* impossible, given the promises of Christ.)

    Nor can it be argued that at least the _basis_ which would have served for Pope Liberius’ condemnation would have somehow cast serious aspersions on the divine prerogatives of the Roman Pontiff. After all, the document (that one which the pope in fact signed under duress) was *capable* of orthodox interpretation. Indeed, the final, posthumous judgment of the Church concerning Liberius purposefully refrained from charging him with heresy. This was *not*, I dare say, merely because it was signed under circumstances of coercion. It was also (and perhaps more pointedly) because — spiritually dangerous though the document was (due the proximate danger it posed of being interpreted heretically), it was yet *objectively capable* of an interpretation _consistent with_ the true and integral Faith of the Church.

    (Note, of course, that said document, being penned by semi-Arians, was *purposefully* left ambiguous. And, indeed, a similar ambiguity haunts certain aspects of the documents of Vatican II. In either case, however, such ambiguity does not render the respective texts less than orthodox. The Holy Spirit is not in the “business” (so to speak) of protecting the Church against the specter of mere _ambiguity_ – even if should such ambiguity be purposeful. Recall that infallibility is not of the same character as divine inspiration. Unlike the latter, infallibility is a purely negative charism – “merely” guarding against formal doctrinal or moral error. It provides no guarantees whatsoever that truth will be as clearly and forthrightly explicated by the Magisterium as would be desirable.

    Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that a document signed under duress counts as magisterial. It wouldn’t (and, in the case of Liberius, doesn’t). My point, however, is that *even if* said document *had* been freely signed (or, for that matter, even proclaimed to the Church _en toto_) this would in no way disprove the divine origin of the Catholic Church. To be sure, it would, no doubt, have likely lead to a good deal of confusion and multifarious evils for the Church (just as the misinterpretation of ambiguous statements of Vatican II _has_ done), but said evils do not in themselves contravene either infallibility or indefectibility.

    However, since Liberius (under duress or otherwise) based the “excommunication” of Athanasius on his purported disagreement regarding the propriety of a doctrinally *ambiguous* document, even if (as hypothesized) Liberius *freely* excommunicated Athanasius, no disproof of our faith would be entailed.

    In light of these considerations, and at least to my mind, the original question is still begged (notwithstanding your assertion that the saint should have acquiesced to the demands being made if the Pope had freely thus engaged him): we would agree, I take it, that Athanasius’ excommunication would have been ill-founded and unjust _even if_ it had been freely carried out. Yet we have seen that such a scenario is well within the realm of possibility even _granting_ the truth of the Catholic Church. Hence the issue of what the saint *should* have done in such a scenario (wherein he himself would have been convinced that the excommunication was indeed ill-founded) _is_ roughly analogous, for better or worse and despite many and obvious dissimilarities, with the case of Archbishop Lefebvre.

    After all, Lefebvre likewise had a subjective conviction that disputed the appropriateness of a decree concerning excommunication. (Of course, for Lefebvre as opposed to Athanasius, said decree was a case of being declared _already_ excommunicated.) Canonically speaking, that Lefebvre _was_ thus subjectively convinced of the canonical grounds for his actions *is* of import – _regardless_ of whether or not he may have, in fact, been incorrect in terms of his estimation of the state of necessity.

  126. Patrick says:

    Michael B.,

    I am well aware that a reconciliation is being worked on, and I hope that it comes soon. However, there is nothing good about misrepresenting the status of the SSPX, and, in doing so, aiding and abetting those who make the spiritually dangerous choice of attending their Masses. That is my concern. So, yes, I will continue to speak up against those who say, “Lefebvre was right and Rome was wrong.” If the SSPX priests are schismatic(as everything from the Holy See indicates), then telling people to attend their masses is spiritually dangerous.

    I’m sorry you don’t find my arguments persuasive. I just don’t see how making Arch. Lefebvre a hero, making Bp. Williamson an intellectual heavyweight, and slamming Arch. Burke as imprudent and unwise, gets us any closer to a reconciliation.

  127. Gerard says:

    Comparing LeFebvre to Luther is wishful thinking on the part of many it seems. Of course,this is more of a distraction to avoid dealing with the behavior of the Popes which is inextribably linked to LeFebvre’s reactions. The logical course would also be to compare the papacies of Luther’s day and the post-conciliar era but that is conveniently ignored.

    I suggest those who are touting Luther as a great “if only” thumb through the book of Concord and see what the foul mouthed heretic had to say.

    Luther was a heretic, LeFebvre was not. Luther was condemned for errors. LeFebvre was condemned for trying to put a stop to errors when the rest of the hierarchy would not.

    Luther was disobedient to legitimate correction. LeFebvre was obedient to the tradition and the faith and disobedient to a stream of destruction that has resulted in worldwide apostasy.

    It’s amazing to look at this string from the perspective of some people wanting to avoid looking at papal missteps at all costs. Now Martin Luther is being lionized in order to show how “wrong” archbishop LeFebvre was in defending tradition, orthodoxy and responding to the needs of people that asked him to help.

    ps. LeFebvre was heroic. Williamson is an intellectual heavyweight (read his letters and commentaries on the writings of the Holy Fathers or listen to his doctrinal conferences on the anti-modernist encyclicals.) and Archbishop Burke has done some imprudent things.

    I’ll take an SSPX mass any day over a Fr. Pfleger social activism/screaming session anytime or a phoned in Novus Ordo. When push comes to shove…Who is really in communion?

  128. patrick f says:

    How you gonna bring pfleger into this? I seriously doubt anyone here claims him. Has nothing to do with the discussion. Luther is a schismatic heritic, the St Stan’s people are schismatic, and the SSPX is being debated as schismatic. All Pfleger is is a misguided person. Thought I wouldnt lump him in with a St Stan board of directors

    The papacies in luther’s day many of them were weak, no one will argue that.Luther isnt being lionized at all, simply being used to compare and contrast. Luther also responded to people asking for help, also put a stop to errors (paid indulgences comes to mind). So it does put him in somewhat a similar light. Both didnt try to make change within. Both did things under their own will.

    The points I was making is Luther was disobedient to abuses by the papacy. Your whole support of Lefebvre seems to be he is standing up to the abuses in the papacy. HOwever, the missteps are not as much the papacies as they are A) The Magisterium, and B) the Laity. The laity is more to blame, and so are people like Lefebvre. He should have stayed and “fought” for lack of a better word, but did it within his bounds. He didnt, so Pope John paul took the only action he could against someone that had placed themselves in schism, by the inappropriate ordinations. The society wasnt in that state until he did the ordinations. That is why he was “condemned”. So if it can be said we are ignoring the errors the subsequent papcies from Vatican II made, then I can easily say you are ignoring the fact of WHY lefebvre was excomunicated. Episcopal ordinations require the approval of the Pope. While he did recieve permission originally for one concsecration, after he rejected the document he signed with then cardinal ratzinger, he consecrated 4 bishops. So , not only did he break an agreement signed with the church, he also consecrated 4 bishops, without Papal permission. This was deemed inappropriate, and He and the Co Consecrater, as well as the 4 bishops were excommunicated.

    So,when “push comes to shove” , those who are excommunicated arent in communion. Sure the Novus Ordo has its issues in most cases. I say most, because , when it is celebrated properly, it can be as beautiful. Problem is most cases it isnt. But , it is approved by Rome, where as because the Ordination of Bishops in the SSPX wasnt approved by rome, thus attendance at those masses is in fact dangerous, as the priests and bishops there do not have the capacity to celebrate, as their priestly powers are under suspension.

    Therefore, I would be more suspect of a SSPX mass of being in communion with rome, then any NOvus Ordo mass (unless I previously had been there and saw for a fact there were obvious abuses). Atleast in most cases the presider doesnt think that all the rest of the church is wrong and he is right. Also in most cases at a novus ordo mass the priest has the proper facilities to celebrate the mass licitly. (not in any way saying the Novus ordo is perfect and nothing else is needed, I think most of us here are traditionalists.) Given the fact that per Rome, the SSPX doesnt have the facilities to celebrate mass, that their priestly powers are suspended, that denotes the mass itself is supsect.

  129. Michael B. says:

    Patrick,
    For a much more moderate and encouraging tone from the SSPX, please follow this link to this reaction to the motu proprio from the Transalpine Redemptorists:http://papastronsay.blogspot.com/2008/04/immaculate-heart-of-marypray-for-us.html

    We are simply at a stalemate, partly due to the complexity and ambiguity of the situation, partly because I’m not the best messenger. I recognize and applaud your desire to help people avoid spiritual danger, however, given the current Vatican attitude towards reconciliation, the public and private statements about the Society not being in schism or schismatic, the ability of the faithful to attend Mass at a SSPX Chapel and receive communion under certain circumstances, statements that the laity are not under excommunication, it seems clear that this Pope , far from allowing the door to slam shut on the SSPX, is holding it open. Until he makes things clearer, it is hard to say just where they will end up, or even exactly where they stand now. That all seems to be under negotiation right now, and I’ll bet we’re not hearing much of it at all.

    I have to say that here in my diocese at the Tridentine Mass I attend one is about three times more likely to hear a homily with confused and even incorrect Catholic teaching than orthodox teaching, while at the local SSPX Chapel, one is guaranteed a solidly Catholic homily, with references to Rome so mild that they can’t possibly be viewed as schismatic. It is very frustrating, but more importantly, the SSPX is more likely to serve as a safe haven for Catholics in troubled times than as a jumping off point to schismatic teachings, although that can happen. I think that it is more likely that one can go through one’s entire life in my diocese and not really know what it is to be Catholic, one has to find the very few orthodox priests in the diocese, and even most of these are confused about the Faith. This is a spiritual danger too.

    Now is a unique time for the SSPX to work with a sympathetic Pope who can set them up in a position unimaginable four years ago. I hope they are able to make something good come of it.
    Pax tecum,

  130. Michael B. says:

    Patrick F.
    I would like to recommend a book that will put the blame for the abuses after Vatican II squarely where they belong: with Paul VI, John Paul II, and the many bishops of the time, specifically, he shows how they abandoned their authority at critical times of abuse. It is Iota Unum, by Romano Amerio. He was not a SSPXer, but a Swiss scholar and theologian who was faithful to the Church his entire life. The tone is balanced, restrained, scholarly. It is a virtual catechism of lost Church traditions and teachings. I think you will find it most helpful in sorting out that terrible time that, God willing, is rapidly coming to a close!
    Also, it may help you see Archbishop Lefebvre’s actions in a more sympathetic light, although he is not a subject of this book. (Even without having to agree with his actions).
    God bless you!
    God bless you,

  131. Gerard says:

    patrick f,

    Pfleger was mentioned because he is symptomatic of the crisis in the Church. I’m supposed to believe that he is “in communion” and can expect him to guide the faithful to Heaven? Sorry. He’s actively supporting a candidate who endorses the legal murder of millions of babies. He’s not a Catholic. Yet, he’s “in communion.” Barack Obama has condemned Pfleger and cut ties with him. Where’s Cardinal George? This man is a public heretic. He needs to be dealt with publicly. If Cardinal George does nothing, why should I believe in anything Cardinal George says or claims? Silence is consent. And Cardinal George gets to vote in conclaves. (shudder)

    You need to bone up on your history. Luther did not respond to the needs of the people or any cries for help. He was a rabble rouser who wrote propaganda.

    You keep saying that LeFebvre didn’t try to fight from “within.” That is simply untrue. From the preparatory commission of the Council, to within the Council, to the frustrations at running the Holy Ghost fathers, to his inability to gain the post to control the French Seminary in Rome, to the establishment of the SSPX, LeFebvre followed every channel available to him.

    It was the illegal, immoral and unconscionable behaviors of the liberals prior to and during the Council, the Apostolic Visitors to the SSPX denying the historicity of the resurrection, the mock Trial he recieved in Rome, the false censures, the lies about the “oath against Paul VI” the promise that a bishop would “be considered” not guaranteed, the false apology that he was told to sign after he signed the protocol in 1988. As LeFebvre said it was a “dialogue with the deaf.”

    As a famous Jesuit once said about 15 years ago, “Rome doesn’t care about theology. What LeFebvre represented was Power. Rome is willing to wait for any number of priests to die out saying the old mass in pockets here and there. But LeFebvre was going to consecrate bishops and that means they can consecrate young priests and give the sacraments. That means influence and money from the faithful. They tried to kill him off with the excommunications, but now they are financially independent and they can’t do anything about it. And they are growing. The SSPX can wait right alongside Rome for a long, long time.”

    You say JPII could do nothing but excommunicate him? I beg to differ, JPII could have supported him. Or he could have done nothing and treated LeFebvre the way he treated the extreme liberals who walked all over him when they wanted to. At least in that case it would be an equitable distribution of the law. Not the favortism toward liberal dissenters and persecution of traditionalists.

    Also, you need to read up on what the “Magisterium” is. You’re willing to throw something into the fire in order to spare the Popes their share of the blame, but I can guarantee you, you don’t mean the Magisterium.

    You are missing a lot of important details in your understanding of the history of the SSPX. It seems you’ve only read biased histories from the “Catholic Answers/EWTN” type of apologetics groups.

    Finally with regard to the Novus Ordo. It’s “beauty” is irrelevant. The TLM’s “beauty” is irrelevent. The important thing is if the rite best expresses the faith.

    I recommend Charles Coulombe’s and Williams Biersach’s monumental 17 hour tape lecture series comparing the Novus Ordo in Latin and English with references to other translations with the TLM Latin with English translations line by line, stage by stage. Coulombe was made a papal Knight by JPII and pointed out at each “difference” how a particularly Catholic element that firmly rules out modernism and protestantism was weakened, reworked to be ambiguous or cut. Coulombe at one point says, “They wouldn’t have touched it if it wasn’t important. Right?”

    The fact that Rome hasn’t supported the SSPX is the scandal not the SSPX’s lack of support for bad liturgy, heterodoxy and neo-modernistic phenomenological mumbo jumbo.

    I saw a reference to Romano Amerio’s Iota Unum, the chapters on Mobilism and Pyrhonnism are especially telling about the modern Churchmen’s mentality and why it is not bearing fruit with the laiety.

  132. RBrown says:

    And of course, there is true and false obedience. If a man is commanded by a legitimate authority to do something immoral, he is bound to refuse. But, obviously, Lefebvre was not commanded to do anything immoral, there was no immoral command that he was bound to disobey.
    Comment by Patrick

    You seem to have adopted the Franciscan/Jesuit understanding of obedience. According to which, obedience is required unless the command directly contradicts moral precept.

    St Thomas’ approach is different. It permits more freedom and is, not surprisingly, more intellectual: A person can legitimately follow his conscience even when it means disobedience.

    It is often said that St Thomas’ moral theology is more about prudence than obedience.

    The example I often use is of a bishop commanding a priest to give Communion to a pro-abortion politician. According to the first approach, the priest should be obedient. According to the second, he is permitted to not obey the bishop’s command.

    Thus:

    1. I don’t deny that juridical schism occurred with the consecration of bishops. Moral schism, however, is another matter.

    2. This entire issue is clouded because a very good argument can be made that Paul VI abused his authority by all but eliminating the Church of Gregory the Great. I don’t deny that he had the juridical authority to do it. But whether he had the moral authority is quite another matter.

    If Paul VI lacked the moral authority for his plan to Protestantize the Church, then I would have to say that would definitely obscure any consideration of the moral aspect of schism.

    3. One other point: The SSPX has never really been out of touch with the Vatican (even after the schismatic consecrations) and has expressed a desire for reunion with Rome.

  133. Jordanes says:

    RBrown said: The example I often use is of a bishop commanding a priest to give Communion to a pro-abortion politician. According to the first approach, the priest should be obedient. According to the second, he is permitted to not obey the bishop’s command.

    It seems to me that according to the first approach, the priest would be obliged to disobey the bishop, whose command direct contradicts moral precepts regarding the need to guard against sacrilege and to keep someone from eating and drinking their damnation.

  134. Patrick says:

    RBrown,

    Your example doesn’t fly. Giving Communion to a pro-abortion politician clearly violates canon 915 and would be sinful because it would be contributing to the scandal of the faithful, a violation of divine law.

    Which canon does “not consecrating bishops” violate? Which divine law does “not consecrating bishops” violate?

    Anytime the SSPX wants to home they can. All they need to do is follow the model of Campos and submit to legitimate authority and take an oath of loyalty to the Holy Father.

  135. Jordanes says:

    Gerard quoted: “Rome is willing to wait for any number of priests to die out saying the old mass in pockets here and there. But LeFebvre (sic) was going to consecrate bishops and that means they can consecrate young priests and give the sacraments.”

    If that was Rome’s strategy and hope, then establishing the FSSP wasn’t a very smart move, nor was Summorum Pontificum. It seems to me that the priests and bishops that Rome was waiting for to die out were those with an irrational loathing for the traditional liturgy.

  136. Jordanes says:

    Michael Riker said: Given the other relevant facts – facts I was assuming to remain identical save for the one exception of the hypothesized obtaining of a free excommunication –, I submit the conclusions you draw regarding said scenario (viz., its entailing disproof of the Catholic religion) is unwarranted.

    In this case, we would be talking about the Pope, and even Ossius of Cordova, the Pope’s legate at Nicaea, freely and without coercion, and without any stated caveat or reservations, signing the compromised semi-Arian formula of Sirmium, and the Pope freely and without coercion assenting to the excommunication of St. Athanasius. If such a retreat from the Nicene dogmas and endorsement of semi-Arianism had happened, without any factors that would mitigate their validity or legitimacy, then yes, I’d say the Catholic religion would have been falsified.

    For one, the would-be excommunication of Athanasius had as its object Athanasius qua individual; under any scenario being put forth, it would not have been the result of his falling under some general “anathema” solemnly leveled against whosoever did this or believed that. Yet an excommunication of an individual person qua individual (_justified or not_) could have no objective bearing on the credibility of the Catholic Church. As I mentioned in previous email, popes can, in principle, make errors of policy and judgment (even intrinsicially erroneous) yet, so long as such judgments or policies are not directed at the Church universal, no promise of Christ is contravened.

    But the only way Pope Liberius would have acquiesced to the ambiguous formula of Sirmium and agreed to the fourth condemnation of St. Athanasius is if he had been coerced in some way, if his freedom had been impaired — which apparently is what happened. Why would he agree only under duress to the Sirmian retreat from Nicaea and yet freely approve of the machinations of the Arians and semi-Arians at Milan against St. Athanasius? That scenario doesn’t make any sense. If the Pope’s approval of the excommunication of St. Athanasius was free, lawful, and just, then St. Athanasius would have no other recourse but to acquiesce to it (which is just what he did — and anyway it’s not like he had any choice when he was forcibly driven into exile).

    However, since Liberius (under duress or otherwise) based the “excommunication” of Athanasius on his purported disagreement regarding the propriety of a doctrinally ambiguous document, even if (as hypothesized) Liberius freely excommunicated Athanasius, no disproof of our faith would be entailed.

    Even granting that, there is still no analogy between the fourth condemnation of St. Athanasius and Msgr. Lefebvre’s excommunicating himself for schismatically consecrating priests and bishops after his faculties for doing so were withdrawn by the Pope. Msgr. Lefebvre was not excommunicated after refusing to sign an ambiguous formulary — indeed, Msgr. Lefebvre freely signed all the documents of Vatican II — he was excommunicated for wounding the Church with an act of schism. And yes, the “progressive” Spirit of Vatican II types were also wounding the Church in their own ways, but everyone knows that another person’s sin cannot justify one’s own sin (“two wrongs don’t make a right”).

    In light of these considerations, and at least to my mind, the original question is still begged (notwithstanding your assertion that the saint should have acquiesced to the demands being made if the Pope had freely thus engaged him): we would agree, I take it, that Athanasius’ excommunication would have been ill-founded and unjust even if it had been freely carried out.

    No, we wouldn’t. If the Pope’s approval of the council’s excommunication of St. Athanasius was free and uncoerced, and if the formula of Sirmium was merely ambiguous but not heterodox, then in such a circumstance St. Athanasius’ excommunication could presumably have been well-founded and just.

    The problem with these kind of “what if” scenarios is that history didn’t happen that way. The fact is that St. Athanasius’ fourth condemnation was invalid and unjust, it’s not clear if Pope Liberius even assented to it, and if he did we know he was under duress. And the fact is that Msgr. Lefebvre’s actions in 1988 were unquestionably schismatic and unjustifiable, he really committed the crime that brought about his excommunication, and his excommunication and that of the four SSPX bishops was lawful and just — and there is no analogy between these two cases. The response of these two men to their excommunication is also not analogous. St. Athanasius was not excommunicated for establishing a parallel hierarchy in Alexandria, whereas schismatic consecration was the cause of Msgr. Lefebvre’s excommunication — and St. Athanasius did not proceed to consecrate bishops or ordain priests while in exile, quite unlike what Msgr. Lefebvre did during his self-caused exile from the Church. No, St. Athanasius wrote letters and memoirs while exiled, and waited patiently for heretical emperors to die.

    Pardon me for borrowing the words of the execrable Lloyd Bentsen, but I know St. Athanasius, St. Athanasius is a friend of mine, and Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre was no St. Athanasius.

  137. RBrown says:

    Your example doesn’t fly. Giving Communion to a pro-abortion politician clearly violates canon 915 and would be sinful because it would be contributing to the scandal of the faithful, a violation of divine law.

    If it so clearly violates canon low, please explain why Rome named Bishop Wuerl was to the DC Archdiocese. His policies–well known for some time–contradict that interpretation.

    Which canon does “not consecrating bishops” violate? Which divine law does “not consecrating bishops” violate?

    I already noted that I acknowledge the juridical component of the schism. But, as I said, there also is a moral component to schism.

    Anytime the SSPX wants to home they can. All they need to do is follow the model of Campos and submit to legitimate authority and take an oath of loyalty to the Holy Father.
    Comment by Patrick

    Not only incorrect but naively so.

    First, Campos is a much different situation than the SSPX, which has properties in French and German dioceses headed by bishops who are hostile to Latin liturgy.

    In case you didn’t know, when BXVI visited Germany a few years ago, he met with German and some French bishops, who told him directly that they didn’t want any FSSP priests or Latin liturgy in their dioceses.

    Second, there is the lack of trust the SSPX has for Rome. It is well known that just after the formation of the FSSP there was some pressure on some of the priests to also say NO vernacular mass. This is another reason why the SSPX still doesn’t trust Rome.

    Third, in the 80’s a house was set up in Rome to accommodate those who left the SSPX seminary. The young men were promised that daily mass would be said using the 1962 Missal. In fact, what happened was that NO Latin was said only once a week and Vernacular NO on the other days.

    More distrust.

    Fourth, although I think some of the SSPX dissatisfaction concerns matters of marginal importance (e.g., Dignitatis Humanae), I doubt that there will be reunion until use of the 1962 Missal has become a normal part of the fabric of the Church (i.e., available in most parishes).

    Fifth, in 1986 JPII convened a commission of Cardinals, whose report recommended weekly Latin masses in most parishes. JPII put the document in a drawer, and that was that. And so the anti-Latin hostility continued for another 20 years.

    Sixth, you seem to think that SP was somehow a magic banner that read: Welcome SSPX. What SP did was begin the process to change the situation.

  138. RBrown says:

    Gerard quoted: “Rome is willing to wait for any number of priests to die out saying the old mass in pockets here and there. But LeFebvre (sic) was going to consecrate bishops and that means they can consecrate young priests and give the sacraments.”

    If that was Rome’s strategy and hope, then establishing the FSSP wasn’t a very smart move, nor was Summorum Pontificum. It seems to me that the priests and bishops that Rome was waiting for to die out were those with an irrational loathing for the traditional liturgy.
    Comment by Jordanes

    Originally, the FSSP was to be the new name of the SSPX. When the agreement broke down, Rome simply continued with the FSSP. But there was never any recognition by JPII that Latin ad orientem liturgy had anything to do with the reform of the Church.

    All that changed with the conclave of April 2005.

  139. Mr. M. M. Regan says:

    RBrown, how can you dismiss Dignitatis Humanae as being “of marginal importance”? That document contains propositions that are the polar opposites of those that the Church taught and practiced for some fifteen hundred years; it overturns the traditional understanding of the Social Reign of Christ in favour of an accommodation of modern man’s liberal-democratic sensibilities. Its errors are at the heart of the post-Conciliar emergency that forced Msgr. Lefebvre’s hand. Its significance cannot be underestimated. If one wants ‘objectively verifiable’ proof of a state of necessity then one hardly needs to look elsewhere.

  140. Habemus Papam says:

    RBrown:2. This entire issue is clouded because a very good argument can be made that Paul VI abused his authority by all but eliminating the Church of Gregory the Great. I don’t deny that he had the juridicial authority to do it. But whether he had the moral authority is quite another matter.
    If Paul VI lacked the moral authority for his plan to Protestantize the Church, than I would have to say that would definately obscure any consideration of the moral aspect of schism.

    Why is no-one challenging this crucial point?

  141. Michael B. says:

    Since this is far beyond my competence, I’ll ask for help: is there such a thing as a formal distinction between Papal judicial and moral authority? I know that Cardinal Ratzinger said in The Spirit of the Liturgy that even the Pope is the servant of the liturgy, but is there someone with expertise on this point?

    Even so, it would be very difficult to create anything but a general rule showing when the Pope exceeds his authority, it would have to be taken case by case. Then, who would decide? Most likely a later Pope. As anyone can see in this comment box, the idea that a Pope can exceed his authority runs counter to popular piety for the Papacy. Romano Amerio’s argument was that the Pope abandoned his authority at crucial times. This is much easier to demonstrate.

  142. Habemus Papam says:

    Re: Moral authority. It would be interesting to know whether the SSPX have assembled a case which could be used in an appeal suggested by Fr.Z. The first step would be to produce evidence of Paul VIs plan to Protestantize the Church and then prove that Arch.Lefebvre had the moral authority to counter this. The Pope himself would decide, though obviously in this case it would have to be a later Pope i.e. Benedict XVI. Not sure that popular piety for the Papacy would of itself have a role to play in this process. Demonstrating the fact that Paul VI intended to all but eliminate the Church of Gregory the Great would constitute proof of an abuse of authority. In all of this I think I’m making RBrowns point of what would actually form the basis of an appeal by SSPX.

  143. Patrick says:

    HP,

    And that’s why it’s also very important to answer the question of whether the excommunications can even be appealed. Some have written much earlier here that decisions of the Supreme Pontiff cannot be appealed. Does anyone know if this is true or not? Can one appeal a papal decision issued motu proprio?

  144. RBrown says:

    RBrown, how can you dismiss Dignitatis Humanae as being “of marginal importance”? That document contains propositions that are the polar opposites of those that the Church taught and practiced for some fifteen hundred years; it overturns the traditional understanding of the Social Reign of Christ in favour of an accommodation of modern man’s liberal-democratic sensibilities. Its errors are at the heart of the post-Conciliar emergency that forced Msgr. Lefebvre’s hand. Its significance cannot be underestimated. If one wants ‘objectively verifiable’ proof of a state of necessity then one hardly needs to look elsewhere.
    Comment by Mr. M. M. Regan

    Although I’m not fond of DH, its ambiguities are such that it can be interpreted harmlessly. Any problem with any document was exacerbated by the Protestantization of the liturgy and the priesthood, both of which are independent of DH.

  145. D.S. says:

    RBrown:

    There are some passages in DH that are not or hardly interpretable according to tradition (eg. DH 2:”..neque impediatur…agat…publice..” and “..ita est agnoscendum, ut in ius civioe evadat.” or in DH 4 concerning freedom of press etc.).

    But even if the other passages are “only” ambiguous and can be interpretated “harmlessly” or even also those passages quoted above could be interpretated so (by a “lectio optimevolentiae”) then this “only” ambiguity or possibility of (“miss”-)interpretation is no valid argument to justify it.

    Yes, every text has some ambiguity and can have different interpretqtions – BUT:

    a) there are degrees of ambiguity or degrees of probability of interpretations
    b) there is a big difference between a common, unintended (and “low-level/degree”-ambiguity) and a intended/willingly one.

    Here you can show (btw: as in the NOM!) that there is an INTENDED and therefor culpable ambiguity, ie. tendentious ambiguity: that is promoting some heresy.

    That is culpable and blameable – and worth to blame/blaming – as the synod of Pistoia was blamed and censurated also for “only” ambiguous things – because willingly, intended and obviously tendentious (tending to heresy) ambiguity, which is to be distinguished from common, unintended and non-tendentious ambiguity!

    in Cho per Mam

  146. Mr. M. M. Regan says:

    But RBrown, the teachings of DH are unambiguous; they admit of no interpretation. It is impossible to harmonise them with the previous 1500 years of doctrinal development.
    1) DH 1.: “it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ”—but then it does the very opposite, so the document isn’t even internally consistent.
    2) DH 4.: “religious communities rightfully claim freedom in order that they may govern themselves according to their own norms . . .”
    “Religious communities also have the right not to be hindered in their public teaching and witness to their faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word.”
    3) DH 6.: “Therefore the care of the right to religious freedom devolves upon . . . the Church”
    And these among others.
    I see the “Protestantization of the liturgy” and other developments as the symptom or outgrowth of the revolution of Vatican II, as contained in its documents, DH among them.

  147. RBrown says:

    Mr. M. M. Regan,

    Internal inconsistency is ambiguity. Someone (I think a liberal theologian or Church historian) once said that Vat II is the only Council that didn’t try to settle disputes–rather it merely juxtaposed differing positions (Hello, Ambiguity). I agree with that opinion.

    It can be seen in Sacrosanctum Concilium no 101, which first endorses Latin liturgy (incl the Divine Office), then permits exceptions which, if implemented–and they were–destroys Latin liturgy. In fact, Chapter IV on the Divine Office is mess.

    As I’ve often told people, I know my liturgical opinions are found in SC because everyone’s liturgical positions are there–there are texts in the document that can justify everything from the Lefebvrist position to those who want celebrants in clown suits with balloons on the altar.

    Whether the Protestantization of the Church began at Vat II is a complex question. There were obviously Protestantizing forces at work, mostly coming from Northern Europe. IMHO, these forces were interested in a Church who identity would be based on first eliminating any medieval influence, then combining certain pre-selected Patristic writings with postmodern. The result would be a Church without distinctive understanding of the Eucharist and Priesthood.

    Did they succeed? Yes and no. In so far as they seemed to have had control over the implementing commissions, the answer is yes. But in so far as the ambiguities in the documents are read according to

    Let me take this opportunity to engage in a bit of self-promotion and recommend an article I wrote:

    http://christianorder.com/features/features_2001/features_nov01.html

  148. RBrown says:

    Re: Moral authority. It would be interesting to know whether the SSPX have assembled a case which could be used in an appeal suggested by Fr.Z. The first step would be to produce evidence of Paul VIs plan to Protestantize the Church and then prove that Arch.Lefebvre had the moral authority to counter this. The Pope himself would decide, though obviously in this case it would have to be a later Pope i.e. Benedict XVI. Not sure that popular piety for the Papacy would of itself have a role to play in this process. Demonstrating the fact that Paul VI intended to all but eliminate the Church of Gregory the Great would constitute proof of an abuse of authority. In all of this I think I’m making RBrowns point of what would actually form the basis of an appeal by SSPX.
    Comment by Habemus Papam

    Rome is loathe to reverse anything done by a recent pope.

    I was told the following: Soon after the election of JPII he wanted to give carte blanche for the use of the 1962 Missal. He was told by very prominent Cardinal who was a sympathizer with Lefebvre that it would not be a good idea because it would spit in the face of the recently departed Paul VI.

    There was no spittle on the Paul VI, but later there was a schism–perhaps too much emphasis on protecting the image of the papacy and not enough on protecting the Church.

  149. Habemus Papam says:

    Hmm. So it may be Pope Benedicts successor who reverses the excommunications? Difficult though if John Paul has been canonised by then. I was thinking of the Abbe de Nantes famous accusations against Paul VI and John Paul II and his appeal to the ecclessiastical courts. However if Canon Law forbids an appeal against a motu propio declaration well, the SSPX were well and truley stiched up like a trussed turkey in 1988.

  150. RBrown says:

    I don’t think any excommunication will be lifted unless it’s preceded by an act of loyalty to the pope.

    Was Lefebvre’s treatment by Rome unjust? Yes. Did he commit a schismatic act by the consecration of bishops against the wishes of the pope? Also yes.

    My point–and I think also that of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos–is that consideration of whether the SSPX is in schism is more complex than just the matter of the illicit consecrations. The following link to Brian Merschon’s blog has some quotes from CH, who BTW has a doctorate in a canon law from the Greg.

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/070410

  151. RBrown says:

    Should be:

    “Did they succeed? Yes and no. In so far as they seemed to have had control over the implementing commissions, the answer is yes. But in so far as the ambiguities in the documents are read using the hermeneutic of history of the Church, the answer is no.”

  152. Habemus Papam says:

    An ironic footnote to the case of the Abbe de Nantes. When he asked to be judged by Rome Cardinal Lefebvre, cousin of the Archbishop told him “that was no longer done”!

  153. RBrown says:

    Cardinal Lefebvre was the archbishop of Bourges, where I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, about 2.5 years after his retirement.

  154. Mr. M. M. Regan says:

    RBrown,
    Clearly, DH taken as a whole is ambiguous. But each of its propositions, the ones I cited, for example, are articulated unambiguously so that once one gets past the first few paragraphs it reads like a manifesto for liberal religious toleration. To follow your comparison with SC, the granting of exceptions is compatible with an hermeneutic of continuity (granting religious liberty during a truce or after the restoration of a Catholic monarch to a country in which a sizeable non-Catholic faction has arisen, for example), though of course open to abuse. But DH, on the other hand, does not speak in terms of exceptions, unless the exceptions are to its proposed new order of religious liberty. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on the gravity of the errors of DH.
    (I don’t have time to read your link at the moment, but I should get to it soon.)