Wednesday, January 22, 2014


If a cardinal of the Catholic Church is willing to be blessed by a female Methodist minister in order to promote ecumenism and I have no problem with this:
Then why in the name of God and all that is holy doesn't the same cardinal or any cardinal attend Mass with a bishop of the SSPX in choir dress and at least receive his blessing at Mass and more importantly receive Holy Communion from his hands? I'd have no problem with that! The only thing preventing the Holy Communion reception is a silly canonical interdict that could be easily lifted for that ecumenical celebration!

First a disclaimer from me. I am a person who thinks it is very important to be on the same page as our Holy Father and local bishops as it concerns ecumenism and interfaith relations. In my 34 years as a priest  I have participated in a variety of ecumenical and interfaith initiatives and endeavors. I see the greatest area of our common interest and collaboration not so much in worshiping and praying together although that occurs sometimes and usually annually in interfaith and ecumenical services at Thanksgiving and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in which we are currently celebrating, but in common good works. Pope Francis like is predecessor will celebrate Solemn Vespers in an ecumenical way on January 25th at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Roma. But our ecumenical and interfaith relations should be more so in collaborating in providing services for the poor and dispossessed and advocating for social justice and the right to life. 

Here in the south most rank and file Catholics attend weddings and funerals during the year of their Protestant and Jewish friends and thus pray with them in that forum and Protestants frequently come to our funerals and weddings and do the same. And as in my family, Protestants are welcomed into our families through marriage. So there is plenty of grassroots ecumenism which is far more important than attending highfaluting conferences and workshops with academics who bloviate about it endlessly.

But my point is that if we as Catholics are willing to have ecumenical relations with Protestants and more importantly with the Eastern Orthodox and we are willing to dialogue in Interfaith ways and even pray together in those forums, how much more should we be ecumenical with our Catholic brothers and sisters who tend toward schism with the pope and bishops in union with him both on the left and the right?

For example, the SSPX has far more in common with their Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, including the pope and bishops than a female ordained Methodist minister. Yet Cardinal O'Malley allows a female minister in the Methodist Church whose denomination rejects the Sacrament of Holy Orders and thus has invalid Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist and completely reject the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick and are quite open to redefining marriage which they do not view as a Sacrament to include homosexual unions, to place unblessed water on his head to remind him of the lowest common denominator he shares with her and her denomination. Should we glory in the lowest common denominator when we don't really share that much more together after Baptism in terms of what most Protestants reject of the vast majority of ecumenical councils and even of Vatican II and also their rejection of the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick and what the Church actually believes about Holy Communion, not to mention the authority of Catholic bishops including the Bishop of Rome?

On the other hand the SSPX deny none of these Sacraments or the moral teachings of the Church in any way whatsoever. They are on the same page with us. But like their Protestant counterparts they question the authority of the Pope and local bishops in union with the successor of Saint Peter when it comes to some aspects of Vatican II as it concerns ecumenism, interfaith relations and dialogue with the secular world to include agnostics and atheists.  For the most part they reject the Second Vatican Councils document on religious freedom. They also reject the aberrations of the post-Vatican II revision of the 1962 Roman Missal and the liturgical confusion and disunity this has caused in the Universal Church. I don't believe though they they reject the post-Vatican II Mass as outright invalid though.

So in the name of God and all that is holy, our beloved Pope Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI tried mightily hard to reestablish full communion with the FSPX who have far more in common with being in full communion with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith than the Methodists do only to be rebuffed by them on certain points that Pope Benedict demanded in order for them to be regularized in the Church and to be completely reconciled to the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in union with him.

Nonetheless, from an ecumenical point of view, should not Cardinal O'Malley and other bishops reach out to the FSPX at least once a year and actually celebrate Mass with them as the celebrant of the 1962 Missal since this is permitted? Or shouldn't Cardinal O'Malley attend an FSPX Mass and participate in choir and there recieve Holy Communion at the hands of an FSPX priest?

And if that isn't possible due to some canonical red tape and unnecessary rules that prevent it, how about simply celebrate together Vespers and Solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament? How much more ecumenical can you get with that?

Of course if one follows my logic to its conclusion, this ecumenical magnanimity on the part of Catholic bishops and cardinals extended to the SSPX could also be extended to the actual schismatics on the progressive heterodox, heretical left where the feigned "ordination" of women as priests and bishops have occurred. Is there anything different about that compared to a female Methodist minister blessing Cardinal O'Malley?


Anonymous said...

Thank you Father. At last you aren't trying to rationalize questionable acts of the hierarchy while demonizing and trying to make those of us who love our Faith, all 2000 years, not just the last 50, look like fools. We get furious with what is happening in the Church not because we love silk and incense but because we believe that sacrifice, the Mass, is the heavenly liturgy as described in the book of the Apocalypse and deserves the very best. The Divine Liturgy that St. John saw when the door was opened. The Mass as offered throughout the centuries shouldn't be a product of a select committee of elitists. It is an organic expression of the Church's teaching, it is Calvary. Yes we get furious when ugly vestments, impious behavior and downright heresy take place during the sacrifice of the Mass. At every Mass are we not present on the slopes of Calvary at the foot of the Cross? We do not think this a proper place for joking and non stop laughter and chatter. Cardinal O'Malley and those like him may be nice people but are they willing to do what is right regardless of the consequences. I don't know if he is. Cardinal O'Malley will never show charity and understand towards the SSPX as he did towards the Protestant minister because he knows the backlash will be to great. Cardinal Burke has the strength to do it, but those inside the Church have been doing their very best to destroy him like they did to poor Pope Benedict. It's easy to eat with Jews and kiss disfigured people. It's hard to try and restore hundreds of good priests to full communion with the Church while the whole world calls you a Jew hater. That's the difference between two popes.

Rood Screen said...

Good Father,
Most Protestants ministers (outside of Latin America) were not raised Catholic only to fall later into heresy. Most clergy of the SSPX, however, were baptized in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, but then freely chose schism over unity. I think that could be the difference.
Further, no Protestant minister thinks he/she is a Catholic minister in union with Rome. The SSPX ordained ministers, on the other hand, confuse the faithful in this regard, so that faithful Catholic bishops must not give any appearance that the SSPX is a legitimate Catholic institution.

Gene said...

Now, what on earth was wrong with my last post?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

good point, but what if the women Methodist minister had been a Catholic and left the Church to become a Methodist Minister?

John Nolan said...

The problem with the SSPX is that the Vatican has a very, very guilty conscience about the way that it treated Archbishop Lefebvre in the 1970s. It also treated Mindszenty in a very shabby way, although for different reasons. Lefebvre went out of his way to abide by the rules, but the liberal French hierarchy were not going to let him run a successful and traditional seminary when their "spirit of Vatican 2" seminaries were failing to attract. They exerted considerable pressure, were not ashamed to lie through their teeth, and had the advantage of the weakest pope in modern times.

If the SSPX has to wait another hundred years, then so be it. Magna est veritas, et praevalebit. I have nothing against Gerhard Mueller, but trying to take a hard line on the one hand yet trying to mollify the liberals by talking up the benefits of the post-V2 liturgical reform won't cut the mustard.

The elderly heretics of the LCWR are no threat. They're not recruiting and will soon be dead. But the increasingly youthful advocates of tradition are a different matter - they represent the future. I'm not really involved with them (except for fostering Gregorian Chant) because it is their future and not mine, although at the age of 62 I can tell them something of the experience of living through the madness.

Rood Screen said...

There are certainly troubling trends within the Church disturbing the tranquility of faith, but we must address these trends together with prayer to God, fasting for conversion, and petitions to the proper authorities. The SSPX is a community of cowards unwilling to do this hard work of building up the kingdom of God on Earth. They carry the spiritual genes of the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. Those of us still dedicated to the Roman liturgical tradition and to the Deposit of Faith must counter their behavior with prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. Rebellion and divisiveness are not spiritual virtues, but the sacraments of the devil.
I give a categorical "no" to receiving a blessing from an SSPX bishop. I would not even address him as a bishop.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,
I think in that case delicacy is certainly called for, but public displays of approval for her adopted leadership role should be avoided.

Православный физик said...

Religious indifferentism should be avoided...

Well, considering that the great schism started with an invalid excommunication, our situation with the Orthodox might just be a matter of putting politics aside and understanding each other's theology through our own lenses.

As for the ecclesiastical communion situation a la what happened in the picture, I do not like it one bit.

I believe it has happened in the past Bishops celebrating Mass for the SSPX. Since the SSPX have real priests and real sacraments, to receive a blessing from them would be fine. Just as I'm completely comfortable asking an Orthodox priest for a blessing, they're real priests, validly ordained.

I think somehow the problem is we've lost the ability to have an actual discussion on the various issues that are matters of prudential judgement. The Church certainly does not teach religious indifferentism, however how we approach them can always be up for debate. I think a plurality of approaches can work, but only with the common understanding that they are 2 sides of the same coin.

rcg said...

First, what real weight does Vatican II carry that any Pope would be challenged by a loose interpretation of it? If I understand correctly SSPX went off the raile when they ordained bishops without approval from the Holy See and that was an administrative block caused by the French or German bishops.

FWIW, if we can ride this out the seminaries will only have FSSP acolytes in them anyway. My tiny parish must have about ten young men either in seminary or strongly considering it. My only problem with that is that I still have daughters to marry off.

Rood Screen said...

I have a solution to your problem: convent!

rcg said...

I had that in mind when they turned thirteen. Seriously, The youngest has thought about it, but not sure she is going to make that discernment.

John Nolan said...


I suggest that before rushing to condemn the SSPX you read the 'Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre' by the late Michael Davies (a writer much admired by Joseph Ratzinger). To suggest that Lefebvre or the Society he founded are heirs of the Protestant Reformation or French Revolution is quite simply absurd. Lefebvre was a monarchist who detested the Revolution. Had he lived at the time he would not have sworn to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and in all probability would have been martyred.

When I was in Paris just over 20 years ago the only Mass in the traditional Roman Rite was at St-Nicholas-du-Chardonnet. I was happy to attend, but would not attend the Pontifical High Mass (despite the fact that at that time I had not experienced one) because Bishop Fellay was then excommunicated.

More recently, in Brussels, the only place where I could find a recognizably Catholic liturgy was at the SSPX church, an imposing 19th century building which also happens to be the Belgian National Shrine. It was packed with young families and the confessionals were busy (everywhere else they are never manned and simply gather dust).

Had Lefebvre not made a stand there would be no FSSP, no ICKSP, no traditional monasteries and no Summorum Pontificum. By the way, would you give a categorical 'yes' to a blessing from Rembert Weakland, a confessed sexual pervert and crook, who tried to defame Pope Benedict but who is still in good standing?

Gene said...

French Revolution? Prot reformation? How in the world could anyone associate SSPX with either? You are reaching in an effort to condemn what may be the Church's only hope…at least the traditional Catholic Church…or do you want parishes full of jokers like Ignotus?

Rood Screen said...

In medio stat virtus.

John Nolan said...

In medio stat virtus. Pursuing the via media, avoiding the extremes of Rome or Geneva, thus achieving the perfect synthesis - this is how the Church of England likes to see itself.

In medio stat mediocritas.

Gene said...

Fr JBS, What does "in medio stat virtus" have to do with this? I am disappointed that you so blindly condemn SSPX. You should be condemning the mainstream Catholic hierarchy and pretenders like Ignotus. Catholics everywhere should be up in arms over what continues to happen to the Church. Priests are a generally passive, conciliatory lot. Shame, that...

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - Our Dear Fr JBS is following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict regarding the SSPX. They are schismatics.

I would not go so far as to equate them with French or Protestant revolutionaries, but they are schismatics.

Oh, and I look forward to seeing my name in EACH of your posts. I've really gotten under you skin!

Thaddeus Scotus said...

Disobedience to authority is not the definition of schism, and such assertions border on bearing false witness for the purpose of calumny, both of which are grave sins.

Though I appreciate the difficulty everyone suffers, which I too suffer being a member of indult communities, the "hey, I stayed canonically regular and suffered for it, why can't those cowards?" attitude is just sour grapes.

The SSPX's canonical regularity could have been granted to them by a stroke of a papal pen anytime since its inception in 1970. Canonical regularity has been used as a crass compliance mechanism by Rome for the past 44 years, and the willing toolery amongst priests and laity needs to stop. Parroting the standard talking points and modus operandi "Oh, there in schism!" has become a tiresome trope amongst neoconservatives and neocatholics.

People act like the SSPX have the cooties, and if you share their mindset or concerns or Lord help us, attend their Masses, well you're just going to go to Hell for it.

The SSPX follow the norms of structure for any other society of apostolic life of pontifical right, which is the canonically valid form that they share with the FSSP.

The bishops of 1988 serve a titular, utilitarian role, for ordinations, confirmations, and negotiations. What they have NOT done is elect a metropolitan, set dioceses, form territorial parishes, or anything else that actual schismatic groups do.

This charge of schism has been bandied about with no real definition, even by the Holy See, to be used as a public relations ploy, since the excommunications occurred in 1988.

It is part straw man and part red herring, and fallacious by two.

Archivist said...

Regarding the SSPX's situation:

"In itself, this act [illicit ordination of bishops] 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" (John Paul II, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, 3).

If a person commits and adulterous act, he/she is an adulterer. If a corporate person (the SSPX) commits a schismatic act, it is schismatic.

"It is impossible to remain faithful to the Tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond [schism] with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ himself entrusted the ministry of unity in his Church" (Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, 4).

"In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church's law" (Ecclesia Dei Adflicta 5:C).

Cardinal Ratzinger also referred to the SSPX as a schism in his 1988 comments to the Bishops of Chile. His statements are worth quoting at length:

"...the movement led by Lefebvre has separated itself by a clean break with the Church. A Christian never can, or should, take pleasure in a rupture. Even though it is absolutely certain the fault cannot be attributed to the Holy See. Thus we will be able to offer a place within the Church to those who are seeking and demanding it, and succeed in destroying all reason for schism. We can make such schism pointless by renewing the interior realities of the Church....If once again we succeed in pointing out and living the fullness of the Catholic religion with regard to these points, we may hope that the schism of Lefebvre will not be of long duration" (Speech to the Bishops of Chile, July 13, 1988).

Anonymous said...

The Holy Roman Catholic is led by Peter like it or not . Of you do not submit or follow him, you can not call yourself Catholic. Plain and simple. Call yourself any other name you like, SSPX or else. But you will not be Roman Catholic. SspX has no canonical status within the Church. Ban was lifted on 4 bishops. Who by the way get themselves tired of badmouthing the Pope every chance they get it as they did in my city of Buenos Aires , storming the Cathedral shouting to interrup the joint commemoration of Kristalnacht,

John Nolan said...

When the English Church went into schism in the 1530s Parliament declared that the king, rather than the pope, was Supreme Head of the Church under God. The pope's name was removed from the Mass, and those who maintained their allegiance to him, such as the Carthusian monks, were murdered by the state. When the 'Old Catholics' broke with the Church after 1870 they removed not only the pope from the Canon of the Mass, but the Roman martyrs as well. The Church is not in the business of driving people out - even those excommunicated are still obliged as Catholics to hear Mass, and excommunication is seen as essentially medicinal. One would expect schismatics to make it clear they were going into schism.

But the SSPX didn't do this; the Pontiff is prayed for in every Mass celebrated by the Society. Schism involves the refusal to accept the existence of the legitimate authority of the pope, not the refusal to accept a decision of that legitimate authority. Thaddeus Scotus is right, and Archivist is wrong.

The Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (1988) was drafted by Cardinal Gantin. It is wrong in Canon Law, which does not hold the illicit consecration of bishops to be a schismatic act, and even if it did, it would only apply to the Archbishop and the four priests he consecrated, and not to the Society as a whole. It is also doubtful if the latae sententiae excommunications announced by Gantin were actually incurred under Canon Law, since Lefebvre was acting, as he saw it, out of necessity.

Ratzinger's comments to the Chilean bishops in the same year come over more as an admonition to his audience than a rebuke of the SSPX. Neither this nor the Motu Proprio constitute anything like a formal declaration of schism. Add to this four separate statements from the PCED that the SSPX is NOT schismatic, and that negotiations with the Society's leaders were regarded as an internal matter, which would hardly be the case if the Vatican had been dealing with a schismatic body.

When in Paris I now tend to visit St-Eugene & Ste-Cecile which does EF Masses using the Propres de Paris (which include a Sequence for L'Assomption). They also offer the OF in French, celebrated ad orientem. Next time, though, I shall drop in at St Nick's (the organ, first played by Couperin, has recently been renovated). And I will be sure to light a candle for Marcel Lefebvre, whom I saw on his visit to London in 1976.

Archivist said...

"Hence such disobedience (ordaining bishops without Rome's approval) - which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy - constitutes a schismatic act."

A person or a group that commits a schismatic act is schismatic.

"It is impossible to remain faithful to the Tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond [schism] with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ himself entrusted the ministry of unity in his Church" (Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, 4).

Breaking the ecclesial bonds with Peter is an act of 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."

It is impossible to adhere to schism unless there is an act of schism. The act of schism was the unauthorized ordination of bishops and those who adhere to that act are schismatics.

"...the movement led by Lefebvre has separated itself by a clean break with the Church."

A clean break is schism. This was not merely an admonition, but a statement of fact.

John Nolan said...


Simply quoting from a Vatican document, even one issued motu proprio by a reigning pope, or citing remarks made in a different context by a CDF Prefect a quarter of a century ago does not prove anything; particularly since EDA 1998 was superseded by SP 2007 and the CDF Prefect, when he became Pope, did not contradict Cardinal Castrillon when he asserted on four occasions that the SSPX were not schismatic. Since the cardinal was head of the Pontifical Commission charged with negotiations with the SSPX, this is surely significant.

These things are determined not by opinion, but by law, in this case the Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) promulgated in 1983 to replace the Code of 1917. Canon 751 defines schism tersely as "subiectionis Summo Pontifici aut communionis cum Ecclesiae membris eidem subditis detrectatio" Since schism does not admit of degree, this definition must be applied in the strictest sense, and (like the rest of Canon Law) in favour of the perpetrator. Refusal to be subject to the Roman Pontiff or to be in communion with those members of the Church subject to him is not the same as disagreeing with the pope, criticizing him or even disobeying him.

Consecrating bishops without papal mandate (sine pontificio mandato) is a serious matter, and according to Canon 1382 the parties involved occur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Holy See. Lefebvre had indeed been put on notice that if he continued with the consecrations he would incur this penalty. But Gantin's judgement, repeated in EDA, that the consecrations constituted a "schismatic act" has no basis in Canon Law, and is therefore not binding. Ironically the 1917 Code specified for the offence the lesser sanction of suspension 'a divinis', a sanction that the Archbishop was already under, for refusing to close his seminary and continuing to ordain priests.

It's doubtful if the excommunications were valid anyway. Canon 1323 gives a list of reasons why penalties may not apply. Number 4 is the salient one: "metu gravi, quamvis relative tantum, coactus egit, aut ex necessitate vel gravi incommode, nisi tamen actus sit intrinsice malus aut vergat in animarum damnum". No-one is suggesting that illicitly consecrating bishops is an intrinsically evil act, and if the Archbishop believed he was acting out of necessity (and he knew he had not long to live) Canon 1323 would apply, even if his belief was erroneous to the point of culpability. As I pointed out earlier, Canon Law tends to favour the "defendant".

I don't adhere to the SSPX, and it is quite possible it may end up in schism, which will please the heretics who pretend to remain in communion no end. But I pray it won't happen.

Gregorian Mass said...

I think the Pope and Church itself carried and still does the seeds of the French Revolution. It just smacks of hypocrisy when they teach all people to love and forgive no matter what, and yet the Pope and Church can not do the same..For political reasons...Blah Blah...Sad.

Archivist said...

The idea that one can commit a schismatic act and not be a schismatic, is double-speak worthy of George Orwell.

By that same reasoning, a person who commits an adulterous act is not an adulterer or a person who commits murder is not a murderer.

Such is not reasoning at all, but duplicity.

Canon 1323 does not apply to this ordination of bishops without Rome's approval. Had the irregular ordination not taken place, no one would have been deprived of the sacraments, the Church's authoritative teaching, the leadership of our bishops, etc. He acted out of disobedience and ideology, not necessity.

Archbishop Lefebvre's actions were based on ideology, not theology. Having been convinced that he, and those who thought like him, were following the true teaching of the Catholic Church, and that the rest of the Church had, in one way or another, strayed from that truth, he took it upon himself to make a determination that was not his to make.

Archbishop Lefebvre did not need to be "put on notice" that his forthcoming actions would result in excommunication. Such advance warning is not required for the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae.

John Nolan said...

Archivist, you must be painfully aware that a lot of the ambiguity and 'double-speak' is far more characteristic of the post-Conciliar Church than that of the pre-Conciliar one. If a pope (Benedict XVI) can criticize a Council document, in this case Gaudium et Spes, as verging on the Pelagian, then the SSPX's questioning of other documents can surely not be regarded as heretical.

Your first sentence indicates that you have not read my post and are either ignorant of Canon Law, or, worse, believe that it does not apply and only opinion counts. Consecrating bishops without papal mandate is not a 'schismatic act' in either the present or the preceding code of Canon Law. That is a fact.

You obviously don't understand Canon 1323. "Had the irregular ordination not have taken place, no-one would have been deprived of the sacraments, the Church's authoritative teachings, the leadership of our bishops, etc."
EXACTLY! So the clause beginning 'nisi tamen ... " which I quoted does not, on your own admission , apply.

I don't expect you to be either Latin-literate or conversant with Canon Law. However, simply repeating the same arguments after they have been seriously questioned, if not demolished, does you no credit.

John Nolan said...

In the interests of clarity, there is a redundant and certainly misleading "not" in the penultimate paragragraph of my last post. It is a typographical error.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if one's arguments were actually countered, thus adding to debate, rather than have one's antagonists simply repeat what they said before? I suspect Archivist and Pater Ignotus are one and the same person, so utterly convinced of the rightness of his view as to be impervious to all and any argument.

John Nolan said...

Also, Achivist, Canon 1323 applies to what it applies to, not what you think it should apply to. Who knows, one of these days you might have to rely on the Law. Power without law cannot make law, as Charles I stated at his trial.

Archivist said...

Schism is "the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

Ordination of bishops, without the approval of the Roman Pontiff, is the refusal of submission.

If, as Cardinal Gantin says, the SSPX has committed schismatic acts, and if the ordination of bishops without Rome's approval is not the schismatic act, then what is?

John Nolan said...


If you had been paying attention (sigh!) you would not be still asking the question. The consecration of bishops sine pontificio mandato is not a schismatic act. In fact, the CIC does not identify any single act as being schismatic. Gantin did not say that the SSPX had committed schismatic acts, he maintained (erroneously) that Lefebvre, who at the time was retired and no longer the Superior of the SSPX, had committed a schismatic act.

If consecration of bishops without papal mandate made one a schismatic, then Canon Law would say so; but neither the 1917 nor the 1983 Code does. During the Cold War bishops in the Ukraine were consecrated without papal mandate, since to have sought it would have alerted the KGB.

It was the liberal theologian Yves Congar who insisted that schism was the refusal to accept the existence of the legitimate authority of the pope, not refusal to accept a decision of that legitimate authority.

So, in maintaining that the SSPX is not in schism, we have:
1. The stated position of the Society, its actions, its faithful adherence to the 1962 Roman Rite, and its refusal to embrace anything that may be regarded as heretical.
2. Canon Law, which is the definitive authority on these matters.
3. Definitions of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and the actions of Pope Benedict, whose aim was to regularize the canonical status of the Society and who lifted the 1988 excommunications without requiring any action on the part of the Society, something that could not happen if those excommunicated were schismatic.
4. The lack of any formal pronouncement of schism by the Holy See.
The opinions of Cardinals Gantin and Ratzinger, or even Pope John Paul II in 1988 carry no juridical weight, all the more so as they are not in accordance with Canon Law.

So the glib syllogism of your last post might convince the uneducated, but is based on false premisses which are easily refuted by referring to the facts.

And before you come back with the same inane argument, I shall give you my reply in advance: vide supra.

Archivist said...

John - How do you know that Gantin's description of Lefebvre's acts is "erroneous"?

The definition of schism as "the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him" is not Congar, but Canon law, no. 751.

The act of refusing to submit to the legitimate authority of the Supreme Pontiff is an act of schism - decided not by Congar but my canon law with the full authority of the Church.

Lefebvre refused to submit to the authority of the pope regarding the ordination of bishops, a schismatic act.

Gene said...

Archivist smells just like Ignotus, now that you mention it.

John Nolan said...


"Actus schismaticus" as used in EDA in the accusative case, can imply an act that might tend to schism, or an act that might be regarded by some as indicating a de facto schism, but the inconvenient fact remains that according to Canon Law, which is the defining authority in these matters, the action of Lefebvre in 1988 was not in itself schismatic, nor could it have been.

An interesting comparison could be made with the Institute of Catholic Womenpriests (North America). In terms of obedience they certainly do not submit to the Roman Pontiff. According to Canon Law their offence comes under the heading of "graviora delicta" and their excommunication latae sententiae is reserved to the Holy See. But are they schismatic? No. They are Catholic laywomen who are excommunicated. Full stop. And no-one in the SSPX is even excommunicated, still less schismatic.

Archivist said...

John - because a specific action - ordaining bishops without Rome's approval - is not listed as a schismatic act does not mean that it is not a schismatic act.

"Illicit ordination of bishops is not listed as a schismatic act, therefore, it is not a schismatic act" is not a valid argument.

As you note, there are NO specific acts listed as schismatic.

Schism is, however, defined. "the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

In refusing to submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff in the matter of choosing bishops, the Lefebvrites committed a schismatic act.

This was not criticism, disagreement, or disobedience. It was refusal to submit to the Roman Pontiff in the matter of choosing bishops.

John Nolan said...


Charles I at his trial had to remind Bradshaw that "it is not your opinion, nor mine, which should decide the issue".

The lack of clarity in your thinking is evidenced by your assertion that "the Lefebvrites committed a schismatic act". Even if you maintain that illicit consecrations are proof positive of schism, which according to Canon Law they are not, then the act was committed by Archbishop Lefebvre. It cannot be a corporate act, since only Lefebvre had the authority to consecrate bishops.

I would like to ask why you are so keen to stigmatize a large number of orthodox Catholics as schismatic. I don't expect an answer, since all you have done so far is to reiterate your original opinion, without volunteering any additional evidence.

The other reason why I don't expect an answer is that your last post, both in its layout and in its tortuous illogical argument which holds that if there is no legal definition of a schismatic act then it must exist sine lege is so Ignotian (to coin a phrase) that you must be Fr Kavanaugh. He won't answer questions either.

Archivist said...

John - Those who "adhere" to a schismatic act - ordaining bishops without the approval of the Supreme Pontiff was a schismatic act - share in the consequences.

And you never answered my question - if ordaining bishops illicitly is NOT the act of schism to which Pope John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger and cardinal Castrillon referred, what WAs the act?

John Nolan said...

"How do you know that Gantin's description of Lefebvre's acts is erroneous?"

I don't know, and neither do you. It is my opinion based on a study of the evidence and of Canon Law. But schism is an all-or-nothing matter, legally defined, and if there is any doubt then the benefit thereof must go to the accused. And there is plenty of doubt.

Most schismatics make it clear in word and action that they do not accept the legitimate authority of the pope. The SSPX has never done this. Disobedience on a particular matter does not imply a refusal to recognize the authority of the pope per se. If disobedience on a particular matter makes one schismatic, then it would be stated in Canon Law, but it isn't.

If a group is sedevacantist, then it has declared that it does not accept that the pope is the pope, and is in effect an anti-pope. This would be schismatic according to Canon 751 which, as I mentioned earlier, must be interpreted strictly.

John Nolan said...


Your question of 6:34 I have already answered (vide supra).

Archivist said...

John - Lefebvre, by his refusal to submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff in the ordination of bishops, was excommunicated.

The refusal to submit is an act of schism - this was not merely a disagreement.

No, Canon Law does not have to name or identify individual acts as schismatic for them to be, indeed, schismatic.

Lefebvre was given the benefit of the doubt and warned, repeatedly of the consequences of his actions. He rejected the authority of the Roman Pontiff (there's that pesky canonical definition again) and, using a bogus application of the law of "necessity," ordained bishops.

Obviously we will continue to disagree on this one.

John Nolan said...


The fact that you and I disagree is immaterial. The debate is wider than that. The consequences of which Lefebvre was warned prior to his illicit consecrations were the penalties prescribed in Canon 1382, which were excommunication latae sententiae both for himself and the four piests he consecrated. Canonical penalties cannot and do not apply to schismatics. Nor were any other priests of the Society excommunicated. Lefebvre was also aware that Canon 1323 could well make the excommunications invalid.

"Canon Law does not have to name or identify specific acts as schismatic for them to be, indeed, schismatic".

On what authority do you base this statement? To be in schism is to be in schism; it is defined juridically. The specific act in question is indeed named and identified by Canon 1382, and the canonical penalty specified.

What you say makes no sense at all.

Archivist said...

John - The fact that we disagree is not immaterial.

Does it have an effect on the negotiations between the Vatican and the SSPX? Nope. But I suspect neither you nor I had any such delusion.

Yes, the debate is wider than "that," but the discussion was localized. I don't see it as "immaterial" at all.

If canon law lists specifics acts as acts of schism, cite the reference. Can 1382 does not refer to schism.

John Nolan said...

Archivist, you're not paying attention. Canon Law does not specify schismatic acts, which is the point I have been making all along. The specific act referred to in Canon 1382 is the consecration of bishops without papal mandate. Some schismatic groups, e.g. Old Catholics and Anglicans do this (although in the case of the latter such consecrations are neither valid nor licit) but it is not this that defines their status as schismatic.

Schism is neither a matter of degree (one can't be partly schismatic) nor of opinion.

I cannot understand your last comment. To what does the 'it' in your second sentence refer? You have moved from nonsense to incoherence.

Archivist said...

John - Clearly the "it" in my second sentence refers to the fact of our disagreement.

Clearly it - our disagreement - does not have an effect on negotiations....

No incoherence here.

No, Canon Law does not specify schismatic acts. That is not in dispute. But you stated, "If consecration of bishops without papal mandate made one a schismatic, then Canon Law would say so; but neither the 1917 nor the 1983 Code does."

No, it would not say so because - and I am quoting you here - "Canon Law does not specify schismatic acts, which is the point I have been making all along."

So, non-philistine, how can you make the argument that Canon Law would specify that illicit ordination of bishops is a schismatic act and at the same time declare "Canon Law does not specify schismatic acts..."?

John Nolan said...

Put it this way, Archivist/Ignotus. Canon Law defines schism, along with heresy and apostasy. If a group makes it clear, in word and deed, that it no longer accepts the authority of the pope, and removes his name from the Canon of the Mass, as Henry VIII did, it is schismatic. If it claims to represent the true Catholic faith but claims the present pope is not legitimate and the See of Peter is vacant, it is schismatic.

Lefebvre stated in 1988: "We are not schismatic ... there is no question of our separating ourselves from Rome or of putting ourselves under a foreign government, [a reference to the bishops appointed by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, who are not automatically considered by Rome to be schismatic] nor of establishing a sort of parallel Church as the Bishops of Palma de Troya have done in Spain. They have even elected a pope, formed a college of cardinals ..."

If the SSPX leadership had declared that it no longer accepted the authority of the pope, then it would be in schism, and its followers would he adhering to a schism, regardless of whether Lefebvre performed illicit consecrations or not.

Archivist said...

John, so I ask again, "how can you make the argument that Canon Law would specify that illicit ordination of bishops is a schismatic act and at the same time declare "Canon Law does not specify schismatic acts..."?

John Nolan said...

Achivist/ PI

Simply because having identified what is schism, the acts that mark one as a schismatic are implicit in the definition. Schismatics leave the Church of their own accord; the Church does not throw them out, indeed she does her utmost to try and prevent those who are in disagreement with certain doctrinal matters from formally separating themselves. There is nothing in the constitutions of the SSPX that suggests that they regard themselves as separated from Rome, or suggest that they ever wish to be. One of Lefebvre's objections to Lumen Gentium was that its definition of collegiality undermined the authority of the papacy (he wasn't the only one; over 300 bishops voted 'non placet' and Paul VI had to withdraw the document and amend it.

To return to the point at issue, if someone illicitly consecrates bishops with the intention of setting up a separate Church, as the Old Catholics did in the 19th century, then that could be called a schismatic act in that the act was designed to ensure the continuation of the schism. Otherwise it is a delict, albeit a serious one, which incurs canonical penalties, in this case a disputed latae sententiae excommunication which was lifted anyway on the three survivors in 2009.

What I was saying was while Canon Law certainly recognizes certain acts as being schismatic, it is careful not to specify any delict as constituting an act of schism per se. In effect, schismatics define themselves as such.