From a reader…
I am a relatively new re-convert to Christiantiy. I have learned much from Dr. Taylor Marshall and I have started attending my local Traditional Latin Mass and have picked my latin missal at his recommendation.
Some pastors and critics accuse Dr. Marshall, Timothy Gordon, and even Archbishop Vigano, and others like them of being schismatic. Is this true? What would make schism a schism, and how would Dr. Marshall be any different? I can’t help but agree with some points with Dr. Marshall and that the church is in trouble, but isn’t Papal authority infallible? And aren’t we supposed to treat the councils like Vatican II in a similar manner? I feel so conflicted about this, and I don’t know how to resolve it. What would be the correct way to go about what these men are doing, if such a thing were even possible?
Are they and other Trads correct in doing what they are doing?
I don’t want to be a schismatic, heretic, blasphemer, or to be sacrilegious and in rebellion to God.
How do I move forward?
But I am glad that you are finding sustenance in difference places. Tutto fa brodo!
Do NOT worry about being a schismatic or a heretic. I’ll explain.
You ask, how do you “move forward”? Be careful of those who don’t know what they don’t know.
When it comes to Latin Mass hand missals, I have my own recommendations, based on the last three decades of being at this.
Schismatic.. heretic…. These terms are technical terms.
Let’s get some things straight.
First, a primary text. What does the law really say?
Can. 751 – Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.
A Catholic is not a formal heretic unless he or she has been declared to be one by the competent authority. Until that time, a person might “hold heretical views” but he is not formally a heretic. A Catholic who stops practicing the Catholic faith and attends a Methodist chapel is a lapsed Catholic and probably believes some things which are heretical.
The same for apostasy. One would either need to be declared an apostate by the competent authority, or would have to have one’s defection or apostasy be public. What would that look like? Get “ordained” as a “priest” or “priestess” in the Anglican Communion or Wymyn thing. Until that time, a Catholic who stops the practice of his or her Catholic faith is simply a lapsed Catholic.
The same for schism. Wanna be a schismatic? Get yourself declared a schismatic by the competent authority.
“But Father! But Father! You hate Vatican II! Therefore you ignore that Lefebvre commited a ‘schismatic act’ in 1988! HAH HAH! You are hoist on your… high … thing.”
Even committing “a schismatic act”, such as the when Archbp. Lefebvre consecrated bishops without pontifical mandate in in 1998, did not in and of itself suffice to establish that the individuals involved were schismatics. That declaration would have had to come from the Roman Pontiff. It did not. Those involved were excommunicated but never formally tried and declared each to be schismatics.
A Catholic might have “schismatic” views etc., but is not actually a schismatic until such time as he or she would undertake something of a public nature. For a man that might be diaconal or presbyteral ordination in the Greek Orthodox Church, or Russian Orthodox Church. They fit the qualification of “refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”
Other than 1988 consecrations, the SSPX has never refused submission to the Roman Pontiff, nor have they refused to be in communion with the members of the Church subject to the Roman Pontiff, viz., other Catholics.
Think about this. The Pope can only excommunicate and then lift the excommunication from his own subjects (cf. can. 205: “Those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance.” That “governance” part is why the SSPX is not schismatic. The Pope exercises “governance” toward his own Catholic subjects. He does not exercise it toward the Coptic Orthodox, or Baptists, etc.
You asked about “councils like Vatican II“.
Regarding General or Ecumenical Councils (all 21 of them), it is possible to be a valid Council but a failed one. Consider Lateran V. Utter failure. Its legislation on ecclesiastical pawn shops went nowhere, which is a darn shame. I’d really appreciate well regulated ecclesial pawn shops. And – hey! – what ever happened to the “spirit of Lateran V”? Moreover, Lateran I and Lateran II weren’t even classified as General or Ecumenical Councils until after the Council of Trent (500 years later).
And Vatican II was a “pastoral” Council…. Whatever that means.
You don’t ignore it, but let’s not make it into something that it isn’t.
You asked about Taylor Marshall, Timothy Gordon and Archbp. Viganò.
No. Agree with them or disagree with them, Taylor Marshall, Timothy Gordon and Archbp. Viganò are not formal heretics. If you can find something that they have said that contradicts teaching which Catholics have to accept, they may be in error and they may materially be in heresy. Make your case. They are not schismatics either, obviously.
Or rather DON’T. I can’t imagine much that would be more tedious than people without the best tools applying themselves to cobble something together.
I’ll show you much clearer case! At the Catholic Herald read about that Irish hack Tony Flannery. Flannery, a founder of the Ass. of Catholic Priests in Ireland, has refused to submit to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on clearly taught doctrinal positions, about the ordination of women, same-sex marriage, and homosexuality. He refuses, contumaciously, calling the propositions “appalling”. He is suspended from ministry. He has been questioned by proper authority, admonished, allowed a chance to recant his heretical notions. I fully expect that the CDF will issue a statement that Flannery is, for all intents and purposes, a heretic and, therefore, he cannot function as a priest and his views are to be rejected.
It is tempting, and sometimes useful for the sake of shorthand, to use “heretic” or “heresy”. But when we get really serious about the words and their implications, we have to go back to the fundamentals.