3, Chapter I
Celibacy, Invalid Masses, Individual Confession
Pope Condemns French Theological Work
Remnant -30 Apri1 1979
POPE JOHN PAUL
II, in his first such act as Pontiff, has approved a Vatican declaration
stating that a book by a French Catholic theologian presents views
which conflict with Catholic dogmas.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a carefully
worded statement (3 April) which declares that Father Jacques
Pohier's book Quand je dis Dieu (When I Say God), contains
"affirmations which manifestly fail to conform to Revelation and
the teaching of the Church."
was signed by Cardinal Franjo Seper, Prefect of the Congregation
and Archbishop Jérôme Hâmer, O.P., its secretary. Among its criticisms
of the book, the Vatican agency said that it denies such tenets
of the Faith as: "the Christian idea of a transcendent God;
the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which was taught
by the Council of Trent and, recently, by Pope Paul VI in his
encyclical Mysterium Fidei; the specific role of the priest
in the actualization of the Real Presence; and the exercise of
infallibility in the Church." The declaration added further
that ''as far as regards the divinity of Christ, Father Pohier
expresses himself in so singular a manner that it is not possible
to determine if he still possesses such truth in the traditionally
Rejects Laicization Trend: Strongly Reaffirms Priestly Celibacy
Remnant - 30 April 1979
Pope John Paul
II has strongly reconfirmed celibacy for Latin Rite priests and,
in a major document, has indicated that he will not easily grant
laicizations or special dispensations from priestly life from now
is a papal letter addressed "to all the priests of the Church
on the occasion of Holy Thursday, 1979." In it the Pope said
objections raised against priestly celibacy are based on arguments
"whose anthropological correctness and basis in fact are seen
to be very dubious and of relative value." The Church therefore
urges "that all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders should
embrace this renunciation (of marriage) for the sake of the Kingdom
of Heaven," the
In a shorter
companion letter addressed to the world's bishops, the Pope asked
them to, intensify " every possible effort" to encourage
new vocations to the priesthood.
were linked in their titles to Holy Thursday, the day on which priests
renew their promises to their bishops. In the 35-page letter to
priests, the Pope placed strong emphasis on lifelong fidelity to
the vows of their ordination, comparing their commitment at the
time of ordination to the lifelong commitment made by married couples.
"It is a matter of keeping one's word to Christ and the Church,"
he said. He rejected laicization as an easy answer to a crisis in
one's vocation, although the words of the text do not rule out all
possibilities of granting laicization in certain cases. The Pope
did not say what he will do with laicization requests from now on,
but his words indicated a "tough line" will be taken,
according to the NC dispatch from Rome.
He asked priests to re-read sections of Vatican II documents that
highlight the "common priesthood" of the faithful and
urged them to note the essential difference between this priesthood
and the ordained priesthood under Holy Orders. "You priests,"
he noted, "are expected to have a care and commitment which
are far greater and different from those of any lay person."
He urged priests not to succumb to calls to be like other people,
when in fact they are" always and everywhere the bearers of
a particular vocation." " And this," he continues,
"you can never forget; this you can never renounce; this you
must put into practice at every moment, in every place and in every
way." "Those who call for the secularization of priestly
life and applaud its various manifestations will undoubtedly abandon
us when we succumb to temptation. We shall then cease to be necessary
and popular," he wrote. He conceded that although priests must
be "close to the people and all their problems," their
work must be done "in a priestly way" and they must be
in first place men of prayer and must be especially devoted to the
Mother of Christ, "who in a special way is the Mother of priests."
the idea of the laicization process as simply an "administrative
intervention," the Pope took pains to emphasize that priesthood
and celibacy presume freely chosen, mature commitments for life,
similar to the kind of permanent commitment given by a married couple.
fifteen years of Pope Paul VI's pontificate, an estimated 2,000
laicizations were granted per year, according to the NC dispatch.
Then, after Pope John Paul II’s election last October, the processing
of such cases came to an abrupt halt, the explanation being that
the Pope wanted "to reconsider the question in its entirety."
Several years ago, before Pope Paul VI sped up the laicization process
and began granting requests more readily, the requests usually involved
complex factors, such as serious psychological problems. More recently,
however, the requests for laicization became a more or less routine
matter, with not a few priests virtually demanding dispensations
as a matter of "right."
The NC noted
that Vatican sources hold that the Pope can
stop laicizations of priests without any change in Church law. The
reason is that, under the law, dispensation from priestly duties
or from the promise of celibacy is considered a "gift"
or a "grace" from the Pope, not something to which a priest
has a "right" under any and all circumstances. In other words,
unless there is serious reason to doubt the validity of the ordination
itself, normally there is no juridical process involved.
Pope John Paul
II's newly evinced stance on the laicization and celibacy question
was immediately criticized in certain quarters. Frank Bonnike, for
instance, a facilitator for CORPUS, a U.
S. organization for resigned priests,
faulted the Pope. "It [the Pope's letter] may meet the needs
he said, "but not serve the Church elsewhere." Bonnike, himself
a former priest of the Roc-ford, Ill.
diocese, criticized the Pope for what he called his "hard-line"
policy and said that the reaffirmation of priestly celibacy is "once
again a put-down for women."
To take a "tough
line" on granting laicizations "is like putting a pregnant woman
on hold," Bonnike said. "If a person reaches that point in their
life when they're recognizing their need to continue their work
with a soul mate, I don't see how taking a tough line is going to
stop that" (Catholic Bulletin, April 20, 1979).
Acts Against Invalid Masses in the U.S.A.
There is not
the least doubt as to what constitutes valid matter for the Holy
Eucharist. Where the bread is concerned, it must be pure wheaten
flour kneaded with natural water. The bread must be unleavened in
the Latin Church and leavened in the Eastern rites. If a Latin priest
used leavened bread or an Eastern rites priest used unleavened bread
the Sacrifice would be valid but illicit, unless it was a case of
of the New Mass in the United States
was followed by widespread stress on the Mass as a meal. Less and
less was heard of its sacrificial nature. In order to accentuate
their belief that the "Sunday liturgy" is essentially a community
meal, Liberal clerics began to encourage the preparation of altar
breads by their parishioners. The very fact that the altar breads
had been prepared by the local community was, in itself, supposed
to make the celebration more "meaningful."
Many of the
faithful began to wonder whether the altar breads used in their
parishes constituted licit matter; and, in some cases, whether the
validity of the sacrifice itself was endangered. Their fears proved
to be only too well founded. An examination of some of the recipes
used made it clear that they constituted cake rather than bread,
2and that those celebrations
of Mass in which they were utilized were invalid. Worse still, when
the indignant faithful complained to such prelates as Archbishop
Bemardin of Cincinnati
or Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle,
their protests were received with reactions ranging from indifference
to hostility. Not surprisingly, they complained to Rome.
Many letters were received from American Catholics making the very
modest request that they should be able to fulfill their Sunday
obligation in their own parish, something which was not possible
if their parish priest was celebrating invalid Masses. They were
equally reasonable in suggesting that when they offered stipends
for the celebration of Masses, then these Masses should indeed be
celebrated for their intentions.
eventually acted through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith. On 11 May 1979 Pope John Paul II approved
the text of a letter to be sent to the President of the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops requiring that the law of the Church
be observed in the preparation of Eucharistic bread. Cardinal Seper
concluded his letter as follows:
As Your Excellency
is aware, it is particularly important to ensure careful observance
of the traditional theological interpretation about the making
of Eucharistic bread, so that the faithful can be assured that
every Eucharist is celebrated with matter that is both valid and
also stressed in his letter that: "There is an obligation in
strict justice regarding the application of Masses for intentions
promised by the stipend."
the American bishops have never shown a moment's hesitation in disciplining
or even persecuting any priest who dared to say the Tridentine Mass,
but in some cases they appeared totally indifferent to the fact
that many of their priests were taking stipends for celebrating
invalid Masses which involved material idolatry on the part of the
congregation (as they were worshipping a piece of cake). The Bishops'
Committee on the Liturgy referred the matter back to the Holy See
and advised that "the present practice of many parishes
not be disturbed until there are other directives from the Holy
after the letter from Cardinal Seper, Archbishop Bernardin conceded
reluctantly that, where the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was concerned,
"many - perhaps most - of the recipes in use will have to be
rejected." He also expressed considerable concern, but not
for those who had provided stipends for invalid Masses, nor for
the faithful who had not, in some cases, assisted at Mass for several
years as the celebrations at which they had been present were invalid.
Archbishop Bernardin's concern was expressed as follows: "I
realize, of course, that those people who have become accustomed
to the newer breads will be disappointed. I ask you, therefore,
to do all you can to help them accept this decision." In view
of the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre had been suspended a divinis
for a disciplinary matter, it seems legitimate to wonder what
adequate penalty might have been devised for Archbishop Bernardin.
The answer is that he was eventually elevated to the rank of cardinal.
One shudders to think that men such as this, who have clearly lost
all sense of what being a Catholic means, will play a part in the
election of the next pope!
Hunthausen of Seattle
carried his defiance of the Holy See to extraordinary lengths, and
even claimed that the faithful owed their allegiance primarily to
him rather than Rome.
He could be induced to make at least a token gesture of compliance
only after public protests and paid advertisements in newspapers
protesting about his refusal to insist that valid Masses were celebrated
in his archdiocese. The extent to which Archbishop Hunthausen was
leading his flock out of the Church became so manifest and so notorious
that in 1986 an auxiliary bishop was appointed for the Archdiocese
of Seattle and given responsibility for certain aspects of its government.
But in 1987 the Vatican
surrendered to pressure from the Liberal hierarchy of the United
States, removed the auxiliary bishop,
and restored full authority to Archbishop Hunthausen. The case of
Archbishop Hunthausen will be documented in due chronological order,
and compared with that of Archbishop Lefebvre. It will be apparent
that the difference in their treatment by the Vatican,
and the sanctions imposed upon them, constitute a scandal of the
Insists on Individual Confession
Remnant - 16 May 1979
Pope John Paul
II has again stressed the importance of individual or private confession
and has again called for diligent observance of the strict Vatican
norms governing general absolution in special circumstances.
In an address
April 26 to various bishops who were making their official (ad
limina) visits to Rome, the Pope recalled his first encyclical
letter in which he had noted the "need to guard the Sacrament
of Penance" and "stressed that the faithful observance
of the centuries - old practice of individual confession with a
personal act of sorrow and the intention to amend and make satisfaction
(for sin) is an expression of the Church's defense of man's right
to a more personal encounter with the crucified forgiving Christ."
He pointed out that the documents cited in that encyclical "make
reference to a point of capital importance: the solemn teaching
of the Council of Trent concerning the divine precept of individual
in this perspective," Pope John Paul continued, "the diligent
observance by all the priests of the Church of the pastoral norms
of Sacramentum Pænitentiæ (rules on Penance published by
the Vatican's Doctrinal congregation in 1972) in regard to general
absolution is both a question of loving fidelity to Jesus Christ
and to His redemptive plan, and the expression of ecclesial communion
in what Paul VI called' a matter of special concern to the Universal
Church and of the regulation of her supreme authority' ." Pope
John Paul also quoted Pope Paul's words last year to a group of
bishops concerning priestly ministry: "Other works, for lack
of time, may have to be abandoned, but not the confessional."
Valid: i.e., transubstantiation would take place and the bread would
become the Body of Christ, Illicit: contrary to the law of the Church
Documentation concerning these recipes and all the points which
follow concerning invalid eucharistic matter in the U.S.A.
is provided in Appendix VI to Pope Paul’s New Mass
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109