Rumor: Pope Benedict considering lifting SSPX excommunications

Our friends at Rorate have an intriguing rumor.

Decree for the removal of excommunications on the Pope’s desk?

From Spanish blog La Cigüeña de la Torre:

    On the Holy Father’s bureau [read=desk] stands a prepared decree which will lift that of [excommunication], of 1988, which applied to the consecrating [Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer] and consecrated bishops [Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Richard Williamson]. I mean removing the decree, and not absolving of the excommunication. [If I understand this correctly, that would mean the Holy Father would declare that the excommunication would have been, effectively, confirmed by the Cong. for Bishop in error.]

    The thesis of the subjective element, extenuating or mitigating of fault, and, therefore, of the penalty, according to Canons 1323, 4 and 7, and 1324, 1, 8, and 3, has prevailed.  [The idea is this: in order to incur a penalty you have to have sinned.  You must know what you are doing and will it.  If there are forces working on you from outside, so that you act under compulsion, the guilt for the objective wrong act is mitigated.  If forces are acting on your will from withing, that is, you are emotionally or mentally unstable or impaired by substances, etc., that mitigates the guilt of the act.]

The information sounds highly credible, it matches recent events (including the Rosary Crusade), and Spanish conservative Catholic lawyer Francisco José Fernández de la Cigoña usually only posts on future events (such as the nomination of Bishops) when he is truly certain of the matter. Nonetheless, even if the information is accurate, there is no way of knowing when [if] the Holy Father will sign the document, or when it will be made public.

The referenced canons of the Code of Canon Law (CIC) are the following:

    Can. 1323 The following are not subject to a penalty when they have violated a law or precept:
    …
    4/ a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;
    …
    7/ a person who without negligence thought that one of the circumstances mentioned in nn. 4 or 5 was present.

    Can. 1324 §1. The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed:
    …
    8/ by a person who thought in culpable error that one of the circumstances mentioned in can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5 was present;
    …
    §3. In the circumstances mentioned in §1, the accused is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty.

I am reminded of something the Holy Father said last summer during his "vacation" to a gathering of priests in N. Italy.  If my memory serves, a priest asked the Holy Father what to do about people who present their children to be baptized when there is little or no chance they will practice their Catholic faith. 

The Holy Father replied along the lines that when he was a young priest, he was far more strict in these matters.  Now that he is more than 80, however, he would be inclined to baptize.

Tangentially, last night I was watching an episode of the Forsyte Saga.  Old uncle Jolyon toward the end of his life softens about the split in his family, about which he had been quite stern years before.

 

I am not suggesting that the Holy Father is an old man, "foolish, fond", as the poet says.
 
Perhaps this rumor is too optimistic.  The Holy Father seems to move slowly and reflect for a loooong time about certain things… even dither. 

Still, there was the letter sent back by Bp. Fellay to Card. Castillon about the infamous "conditions". 

There has been a bit of a softening of rhetorics from the SSPX.

The SSPX went to Lourdes and asked or a Crusade of prayer through the Rosary for the lifting of the excommunications.

I fear this new report is overly sanguine… which is better than the opposite tack… but I hope it is true.

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50 Responses to Rumor: Pope Benedict considering lifting SSPX excommunications

  1. Chris says:

    Here is the link to pray the rosary for the lifting of the excommunications. You don’t have to be SSPX laity to do this (you simply fill out the sheet and send it to the North American HQ if you don’t have a chapel near by to drop it off):

    http://sspx.org/relaunched_million_rosary_crusade.htm

    This is only for the excommunications to be lifted — not for full communion to be reached. That will come only when the time is right on both sides. Keep laying brick.

  2. TNCath says:

    Fr. Z: “There has been a bit of a softening of rhetorics from the SSPX.”

    Before the lifting of the excommunication, mitigating circumstances or not, would Bishop Fellay and the SSPX be asked to repudiate the statements they have made about the Church and the Holy Father? In light of any reconciliation, would Bishop Fellay and any others under this excommunication still be expected to go to confession and make public repentance? Just asking.

  3. The other David says:

    I’m inclined to think this is wishful thinking on the part of Rorate and La Cigüeña de la Torre. I do not believe the actions of Lefebvre and the four he consecrated can be considered under any of the cited canons. They cannot claim ignorance… the correspondence between Rome and Econe was quite clear.

    I do not think fear really counts as a motive either. Presumably fear would not count either, else one could make that argument with the others who were performing illicit acts (womynpriests anyone?) could justify this. This blog does not cite the full canon of 1323 4:

    “4/ a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;”

    I think one could make a strong case that the act in question (performing a consecration of a bishop against the explicit wishes of the Pope) falls under “intrinsically evil”and being harmful of souls.”

  4. The other David says:

    my error they did cite the full canon of 1323 4… scrolling error caused me to misread this

  5. Geoff says:

    If Brian Merschon sp? doesn’t provide more info on this, I’ll remain skeptical

  6. dcs says:

    I think one could make a strong case that the act in question (performing a consecration of a bishop against the explicit wishes of the Pope) falls under “intrinsically evil”and being harmful of souls.”

    The act for which Msgr. Lefebvre and the four bishops were excommunicated was consecration without a Pontifical mandate. We know this is not intrinsically evil as it occurred behind the Iron Curtain and more recently in Communist China. An intrinsically evil act is one that can never be justified for any reason, such as abortion. Now one might argue that there were not sufficient reason for the SSPX consecrations but that itself doesn’t render the act intrinsically evil.

    Hope this helps.

  7. Jordanes says:

    a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls

    Whether or not Msgr. Lefebvre and the four bishops were acting in grave fear or due to necessity or grave inconvenience (I’m not sure a convincing case can be made they were), Consecration of bishops is not intrinsically evil. However, consecrating them without papal mandate and when one does not have faculties does tend to the harm of souls. Thus it does not appear that their excommunications are invalid as the SSPX and its adherents argue.

    But of course it is for the Holy Father to judge these matters and issue his verdict.

  8. Rick says:

    If there is credibility to this reporting it is good news. The canonical action of the decreee of excommunication upon msgr. Lefebvre and the Econe Four by the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, appears to be an impediment for msgr. Fellay et. al. to proceed in dialogue. The author of the article says: “I mean removing the decree, and not absolving of the excommunication.” To lift the decree is not the same as absolution ( forgivness of the act) . What follows thereafter in the suppposed report creates the framework upon which the Pontiff may proceed with them. Did they act in fear, whether grave or relatively grave and out of a perceived necessity? Did the four have this state of mind ( soul) when they accepted the “ordinations”? The ‘perpetrators’ may not be exempt but the penalty may be tempered. “Come forward , my brothers,” the Pontiff may be saying to them, “explain your case.” This is a very very generous act, if true: giving the benefit of the doubt with the requirement of explanation. But I am so afraid, that once again, the Four will slap the Supreme Pontiff in the face as they have in the past. They say they follow the Pope, if only they would love and obey him. It is Jesus they do not want to obey. “Habe fiduciam in Domino ex toto corde tuo et ne innitaris prudentiae tuae.”

  9. Ron says:

    Jordanes said, “However, consecrating them without papal mandate and when one does not have faculties does tend to the harm of souls.”

    But when there was so much confusion, when teaching contrary to the Tradition was flourishing and when the traditional Mass was being forbidden (forbidden!) then I think those things constitute far more danger to the salvation of souls than consecrating Bishops without Papal mandate. Can you explain how those consecrations were endangering souls?

    Pax Christi tecum.

  10. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    If in 1988, the FSSP and ICK were 20 years old and we had Summorum Pontificum for a year, (instead of Assisi I) does Archbishop Lefebvre consecrate the bishops? The act of consecration should be judged in the context of the time.

    If this report is true, it is wonderful how the Holy Father once again can find a way to get to the heart of the matter: lift the decree because he knows that the penalty in light of all facts is surely excessive, but suspensions remain intact because of disobedience. But since now SP is the practice of the church, it should be easier to solve that issue as well.

  11. John says:

    If, the excommunication is lifted, then the SSPX IS in full communion! The habit on the part of SSPX bishops regularly indulging in searing rhetoric aimed at Vatican bureaucrats and even the Pope himself is troubling but if that were the basis for unity long lists of liberal bishops would have to be declared not in union with the Pope.

    Unfortunately, this is how far the Church has fallen in the estimation of many people. The SSPX, perhaps mistakenly, do make a claim that Vatican 2 has lead to apostasy on a grand scale. The Pope and many other thoughtful people say the Council has been hijacked or misapplied. The difference between the Pope and the SSPX is not that great. It seems, they both see the current situation of the Church as bad. The SSPX wants to right things all at once whereas the Pope is wiser and wants to take it step by step. The SSPX should follow the Pope.

  12. Scott says:

    Hopefully Bishop Fellay may succeed Benedict XVI as Supreme Pontiff!!

  13. The other David says:

    “Consecration of bishops is not intrinsically evil.”

    Doing so against the express will of the Pope is indeed so. Let us not get caught up in the semantics of the issue. Lefebvre consecrated four to be bishops against the direct statement of the Pope he was not to do so.

    The irony is that in his actions in the name of “tradition” he defied the teaching of Vatican I “Pastor Aeternus” on the authority of the Pope to act

    In his claiming he had to do this for the good of the Church is very much akin to the infamous Vietnam era statement (possibly apocryphal) that “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

  14. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Wouldn’t excommunication be lifted after proof of a change of behavior and clear submission to the Pope and the Magisterium?

    We excommunicate ourselves with behavior, and we can change that again with a change of behavior.

    A document and the charge simply defines the behavior and officially recognizes it.

    If I excommunicate myself as a politician publicly supporting abortion, I return to the Church by first apologizing for my behavior and submitting to the laws of the Church. It wouldn’t make sense for the Church to say “okay you aren’t excommunicated” before I agree to return and submit.

    Wouldn’t this same thing be expected of the SSPX hierarchy?

    Another point: Many are angry because so many other crimes against the Church went unpunished at the same time [heretical teachers at Catholic colleges, grievous abuses against the Liturgy, etc]. Because the Church chose to identify bad behavior of traditionalists over other bad behavior, is not a reason to reject that action.

    Open disobedience [on either side] leads to more disobedience and confusion. I hope that the Church will not pretend that open rebellion is irrelevant.

    Also there appears to be a difference of approach by the Church to the SSPX hierarchy and to its followers. While trying to placate the followers and laity so they don’t “feel” separated from the Church, and thus act like it, the signals are getting confused. I see followers who don’t see the difference between submitting to a diocesan bishop and a SSPX bishop “because we are not excommunicated”. Something’s gotta be clarified quickly for the sake of us all.

  15. dcs says:

    Doing so against the express will of the Pope is indeed so.

    But that’s not why the SSPX bishops were excommunicated – they were excommunicated for consecrating (or being consecrated) without a Pontifical mandate.

    And I am not entirely certain that consecrating bishops against the will of the Pope is intrinsically evil.

  16. Ron says:

    The other David said, “The irony is that in his actions in the name of “tradition” he defied the teaching of Vatican I “Pastor Aeternus” on the authority of the Pope to act.”

    No one is denying the Pope’s authority to act. The question is whether the excommunications were just and whether the circumstances were grave enough to call for disobedience. The Pope can very well err in his disciplinary decisions and I do not think the Pope was right to excommunicate Archbishop Lefebvre given the circumstances of the time.

    I for one long and hope that this story is true. Time will tell. I’d love to see SSPX back in full, perfect communion with Rome! We should all pray for it daily.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  17. Against the will of the Pope? No, not intrinsically. It becomes a wicked thing by the circumstances.

  18. Brian says:

    Abortion is the greatest moral evil of our age.

    A recent poll reported that 80% of “modernist” Catholics agreed that abortion, killing an unborn child, should be “legal and solely up to the woman to decide.” Overall, 51% of surveyed Catholics agreed to legalizing this form of infanticide.

    If Obama, who proclaims that he will further the cause of the woman’s “right to choose” to kill her baby, wins this election, he will only do so because the support of 40% of Catholic voters.

    I doubt if many, or any within the SSPX will be voting for any candidate that supports abortion.

    Whether or not a state of emergency justified the SSPX ordinations is not mine to decide; but the Church is clearly in a state of emergency. Millions of babies are being murdered as a result of misguided, deluded, poorly formed Catholics.

    The disobedience of the SSPX ordinations does not compare to the damage caused by the disobediience of Catholics who enable legalized, Mass Murder (no pun intended).

    The Church needs the SSPX. I pray that the excommunications are lifted.

  19. Geoffrey says:

    I don’t see how the excommunications can be lifted without some form of public repentance on the part of the SSPX bishops. Not just for the illicit consecrations, but for their vast amounts of literature condemning Vatican II, the Ordinary Form of Mass, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul the Great, etc. If this rumour is true, I would probably avoid the SSPX just as I avoid liberal/heretical parishes, etc.

  20. Lawrence says:

    We should all pray for this unity, as it is a good thing. I will pray along with the SSPX for unity. It would strengthen the Church and those who are obedient to the Holy Father.

    There are many who are opposed to this, as any movement toward closer unity with the SSPX is something to be feared by those who oppose orthodoxy. This is scary news for some and great news for the faithful. I also hope this story is true and we see the SSPX in full fruitful communion soon.

  21. It seems to me there are two simple principles that might be relevant here, one for the mainstream Catholics and one for those who are loyal to SSPX. In the first case, ‘do not break the bruised reed or extinguish the smoking flax’. If there is some chance of patching up this division, then let it be seized. The second principle, for the SSPX, is ‘To whom shall we go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life.’ The SSPX have to recognise that their intepretation of the problems and solutions of the crisis in the Church is not normative. But are there any signs of that?

    Oh, here’s a third principle: watch and pray. I can just about see Pope Benedict prising open a gap for these people to slip through. Whether or not they will take the opportunity remains to be seen.

  22. Michael J says:

    Geoffrey,

    To be fair, from what I have seen and read (and no, I have not read everything) the actions and errors condemned by the SSPX are the very same actions and errors condemned right here in this blog. The main difference (and I admit that this can be significant) is that people here generally attribute the source of the problem to an incorrect implementation (read: hijacking) if the intent of the Vatican II council whereas the SSPX generally seem to believe that what was implemented after the council was, in fact, intended by that council.

  23. vox clamantis says:

    Never underestimate the ability of Church bureaucrats to interpret canon law creatively. Consider how we arrived at girl servers.

    I pray for the lifting of the excommunications of Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops whom he consecrated.

    The return to full and perfect communion of the Society of St. Pius X and its followers can only help the further return of sanity and order and sound doctrine to God’s Holy Church.

  24. Geoffrey says:

    Michael J:

    From the SSPX prayerbook “Christian Warfare”, Devotions before Confession: Examination of Conscience (p. 289)…

    “Have you attended and actively participated in the ‘New Mass’? Have you received Holy Communion in the hand?”

    If the SSPX thinks that attending the Ordinary Form of Mass and receiving Holy Communion in the hand are sins that need to be confessed in and of themselves, that is a pretty big problem that needs to be addressed.

  25. Emilio III says:

    I think it would be wise to quote the end of the article from La Cigüeña de la Torre:

    It is wonderful that they are praying many rosaries, but they are not needed to get rid of the excommunications. It would be enough for the four bishops to request it humbly, explaining that they understood in good faith that there was a great need to oppose the many excesses and misinterpretations and misapplications of the Council.

    They will never in their lives find a Pope more favorable to their cause than Benedict XVI. It would all be resolved immediately with a fraternal embrace. Which the Pope is hoping for.

    Once more the ball is in the court [literally the roofs] of the four bishops. Will they take advantage of it? I cannot be sure of it because on more than one occasion they have appeared disconcerted and disconcerting. But I believe that all should know the Pope’s wishes in this matter. And that if this is not resolved, and in such a favorable manner, it should also be known that this was due to the bishops’ wishes.

    The author did not say that he thinks the Pope is getting ready to lift the excommunications motu proprio. But that he is ready to do so as soon as the bishops ask.

  26. Michael J says:

    Geoffrey,

    What is the rest of the context? I seriously doubt that the SSPX teaches that attendance at a Novus Ordo Mass is in and of itself inherently sinful, especially given other SSPX “literature” I have seen that explicitly affirms the validity of the rite.

    If I had to speculate though, I would assume that this is saying that an otherwise good act can be made sinful by one’s interior disposition and that (and this is where the SSPX differs significantly) the rite itself tends to lead the faithful to form an improper disposition.

    All of this is speculation though and is really beside the point. If I read La Cigüeña de la Torre correcly, His Holiness is considering a juridical removal of the decree as a matter of justice. In other words, the way I see it, the four Bishops of the SSPX were accused of a crime. Nobody denies the action but they do claim extenuating circumstances which, as far as I know, havenever been addressed. Why you insist on an admission of guilt before it goes to trial, so to speak, is beyond me.

  27. Volpius says:

    The problem is that okaying the actions of the Bishops of the SSPX gives the green light to all kinds of other rebels against Rome and will thus weaken the hierarchical structure of the Church, the Pope’s authority and the Unity of the Church which is built upon that.

    If the Bishops of the SSPX truly love the Church they will not hold out for the Pope to okay their past actions but will admit their wrong doing however well intentioned ask for forgiveness and return to full communion with their Father in humility and obedience.

  28. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Just a quick note. The lifting of the excommunications, would not put the SSPX in good standing. The priests and bishops would still be suspended. The lifting would seem to me to be a recognition of good will on the part of Rome. Rome lifts the excommunications and then the negotiations begin in earnest. This would only be an early step in the SSPX journey to regular status. I do not feel there is any great need for Rome to insist that the SSPX negotiate with them under the cloud of excommunication. Contrary to the opinion of some, the Church has never insisted that former members come crawling back on their hands and knees in sack cloth and ashes, especially when those members are organized into a group with apostolic succession.

  29. dcs says:

    Contrary to the opinion of some, the Church has never insisted that former members come crawling back on their hands and knees in sack cloth and

    Indeed, there is even one example of an anti-pope being made a Cardinal (this was in the wake of the Great Western Schism IIRC).

  30. Tecumseh says:

    This is great news and I hope that the Day is Seized. My wife has recently strted attending the Traditional Mass, a Diocesan approved mass. I have, for the momment diverted from the SSPX Mass in order to guide her as far as my poor skils will allow. Archbishop Lefebvre was right and Pope John Paul II should have given him his full suport, rather than leaving him and the Traditional Mass open to ridicule. This is the greatest scandal in recent times.

  31. Alan says:

    I for one am very skeptical about the SSPX submitting themselves. I have attended one of their churches and then I switched to a different Catholic church that
    was in full communion which offered the TLM. The SSPX were constantly throwing bitter thinly veiled attacks at the RCC in their homilies. It was very depressing.
    I fear the four bishops are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a lack of charity when discussing the RCC.

  32. Pardon me, but given Bishop Williamson’s world view as displayed on his blog I can’t help thinking conspiratorially.

    The SSPX got wind of this.
    And THEREFORE they called for a rosary campaign.

  33. Jordanes says:

    Ron asked: But when there was so much confusion, when teaching contrary to the Tradition was flourishing and when the traditional Mass was being forbidden (forbidden!) then I think those things constitute far more danger to the salvation of souls than consecrating Bishops without Papal mandate.

    That may well be so, but that wouldn’t mean consecrating bishops after being expressly forbidden even to ordain a deacon, let alone consecrate a bishop, doesn’t tend to the harm of souls.

    Can you explain how those consecrations were endangering souls?

    In such circumstances, they are wounds to the Church’s unity and charity. Saintliness always abhors schism, or even the danger of it. COnsecrating contrary to papal instruction is so serious that it is subject to automatic excommunication. Thus, one could argue that this action was so grave that it is not covered under the exceptions.

    But again, the Holy Father is the judge of these matters, and if he decides otherwise, then that’s that. I’m neither a canon lawyer nor the Pope (for which everyone should thank God).

  34. Papist says:

    The new Mass was promulgated to conciliate protestants. It has led to the demise of the Catholic faith throughout the world.
    As for the excommunications. Why did Rome choose to issue formal excommunications for the SSPX but remain silent on the Chinese Patriotic Church which has illicitly been consecrating bishops since the 1950’s?

  35. Jordanes says:

    Papist claimed: The new Mass was promulgated to conciliate protestants. It has led to the demise of the Catholic faith throughout the world.

    Arguable to say the least.

    As for the excommunications. Why did Rome choose to issue formal excommunications for the SSPX but remain silent on the Chinese Patriotic Church which has illicitly been consecrating bishops since the 1950’s?

    Rome did not formally excommunicate the SSPX bishops. Rather, she announced that they had excommunicated themselves.

    As for why Rome has not made similar announcements regarding the illicit consecrations of the Patriotic Association, that is because Rome knows that in the bloodsoaked Chinese totalitarian system, PA bishops must be presumed to be acting while coerced by grave fear or due to necessity or grave inconvenience. Most likely the Chinese Patriotic bishops have not incurred automatic excommunication.

  36. Geoffrey says:

    Michael J asked: “What is the rest of the context?”

    I gave the quote from the SSPX’s “Christian Warfare” in full. There are no footnotes, clarifications, or explanations given.

    Michael J also said: “Why you insist on an admission of guilt before it goes to trial, so to speak, is beyond me.”

    I don’t recall reading anything about a trial. The illicit consecration of bishops is a very serious matter. It is an act of open disobedience against the Vicar of Christ that needs to be repented of.

    If the excommunications are lifted without any concession or repentance on the part of the Lefebvrists, what will stop Archbishop Milingo and his groupies from demanding the same thing? All of these breakaway groups, including the “women-priests”, use practically the same arguments: “extenuating circumstances,” “Vatican II said this or that”, etc. Where does it stop?

    “Where Peter is, there is the Church.”

  37. Malta says:

    Pope Paul VI said that it was his intention to assimilate as much of the Calvinistic worship as possible into the new mass (cf, see Cardinal Stickler’s piece in Latin Mass Magazine, 1995.). I hope and pray this news is true.

  38. Antiquarian says:

    From the SSPX official website–

    “…the New Mass still remains a sacrilege, and it is still in itself sinful. Furthermore, it is never permitted to knowingly and willingly participate in an evil or sinful thing, even if it is only venially sinful. For the end does not justify the means. Consequently, although it is a good thing to want to assist at Mass and satisfy one’s Sunday obligation, it is never permitted to use a sinful means to do this. To assist at the New Mass, for a person who is aware of the objective sacrilege involved, is consequently at least a venial sin. It is opportunism. Consequently, it is not permissible for a traditional Catholic, who understands that the New Mass is insulting to Our Divine Savior, to assist at the New Mass”

    http://sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/catholic_faqs__traditional.htm#attendnovusordo

  39. leprechaun says:

    A form relating to Bishop Fellay’s Rosary Crusade for the Liberation of Tradition (Lifting the Excommunication) can be printed out from this link:

    http://www.latin-mass.org.uk/page_rosary.htm .

    It runs from All Saints Day to the end of this year.

  40. Patrick says:

    Thanks to Antiquarian for posting the excerpt from the SSPX website.

    There is no way that any excommunications are getting lifted until statements like that disappear and/or are repudiated.

    You simply can’t have Catholic bishops and priests “in union with the Church” if they believe that a form of Holy Mass is intrinsically evil. They tell people that attending Holy Mass is “at least a venial sin.” That is simply a diabolical position to hold. Rhetoric like that comes from the Evil one himself.

  41. Maureen says:

    There’s no point getting worked up about this, unless you’re an SSPX bishop or an influential friend to one. Prayer is good and useful. Freaking out in a combox isn’t.

  42. therese says:

    Re Antiquarian

    You make a fair point, and I don’t wish to take away from it, but in fairness I would point out the particular webpage you linked to was last updated in 2004, since when there has been a lot of water under the bridge. A quick trawl round the net throws up lots of SSPX websites – all looking official (to the unwary). It is incumbent on Bp Fellay to make sure these are tidied up, updated, and don’t mislead people. If there are breakaway factions forming (which I strongly suspect will be the case, remembering the outcome of Vatican) then this becomes even more urgent. The request for prayer was not, however, couched in triumphalist terms.

  43. therese says:

    Correction. Vatican should read Vatican 1.

  44. Michael J says:

    Geoffrey,
    I agree that the illicit consecration of bishops is a very serious matter. I disagree though that it is an act of open disobedience against the Vicar of Christ that needs to be repented of. I would instead add the qualifier that repentence is required if the act were performed without sufficient reason, either real or sincerely believed. All I am saying (and hence the reference to a “trial”) is that this latter point has not been addressed.

    Rome can (and should, in my opinion) lift the decree of self-excommunication on those grounds – and those grounds only. Archbishop LeFebvre and the four Bishops consecrated by him have not had the opportunity to defend their actions.

  45. Michael J says:

    Patrick,
    Speaking of rhetoric, your paraphrase of the statement made by the SSPX and the actual statement referenced by Antiquarian do not mean the same thing.

    Tell me, does a person sin who performs a good act while beleving it to be sinful?

  46. Tina in Ashburn says:

    So if the Church lifts the SSPX excommunication as an admission of a mistake [instead of following the SSPX contrition for defiant disobedience and making reparation] then what are we to make of other statements and decrees of the Church?

    Let’s see…doesn’t the SSPX think that just about everything during and after the Council of Vatican II is a mistake?

    Let’s see… who is in charge here?

    I pray that the good people of SSPX can return to and participate in, and bring the good they can contribute to, the visible living Church, and let the ill-willed go on their way.

  47. Patrick says:

    Michael,

    To say a thing is “in itself sinful” is to say it can never be the subject of a moral choice; it is intrinsically evil. My paraphrase is accurate.

    “Tell me, does a person sin who performs a good act while beleving it to be sinful?”

    Of course.

  48. Matthew says:

    Watch for youself the consecrations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAr0psfJGeg

    The ArchBishop explains why the consecrations are necessary. Watch for yourself and listen to his explanations.

    Keep in mind that SSPX ranks continue to grow. Those that are drawn to tradition are drawn to SSPX parishes in many parts of the world. In France more than 25% of Catholics belong to SSPX parishes. Novus Ordo parishes are closing or dying in France.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why the consecration of Bishops would be banned by the vatican for any reason other than to allow the SSPX order to die. Without new Bishops the order would have died with the dead of AB Lefebvre. This, in my opinion, was the intent of the vatican at that time. Which is the greater potential evil? To intentionally try to kill off those who are attached to tradition or to ordain Bishops who adhere to tradition in the face of sweeping changes?

    Luckily we have many priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest who say daily latin Mass so I do not need to choose to go to the SSPX chapels. For so many years I felt lost attending the Novus Ordo. There were and still are so many abuses. So many beautiful prayers and traditions that have been abandoned in the modern Church. Too many things changed too fast and not for the better. The liturgy of the novus ordo was not an organic development over time. It was a swift and radical departure from tradition.

    Cause and effect are two mutually exclusive things for people today. The radical change in the Mass and lower percentage of people who are Catholic compared to the whole of humanity are not recognized or even acknowledged by the church. It is explained away that people are just more secular in the modern world. Any why are they more secular? Could it be the people do not SEE a difference or a purpose to Mass or living their religion. Could it be that our Catholic teachers and leaders have not stood up and rebuked the evils of so much of our modern world?

  49. I’m not sure about the calming of SSPX rhetoric, Fr John. See this sermon of Bishop Tissier from 12 October this year: http://www.leforumcatholique.org/message.php?num=442815

    My comments on it here: http://thesensiblebond.blogspot.com/2008/11/excommunications-grounded.html

  50. Peter Sudlow says:

    Fr John, in view of the above comments in respect of the Society’s position, it would be as well in the interests of clarity for people to read the latest Friends and Benefactor’s Letter sent out by Bishop Fellay which can be found at http://www.dici.org/fraternite_read.php?id=000065. Bishope Tissier’s statements referred to above can be read in the light of this letter. This is an accurate portrayal of the Society’s position out of their own mouths. Whether you share the perspective, or not, is a question of great moment and debate. Better to have clear ideas when one is debating, I would submit, than the rhetoric which one comes across continuously, on both sides.