LEFEBVRE and the
Considerations Regarding Episcopal Consecrations
canonical considerations are excerpted by Fr. Patrice Laroche
from a study by Dr. Georg May, President of the Seminary of Canon
Law at the University of Mainz, entitled Notwehr, Widerstand,
Notsand (Legitimate Defense, Resistance, Necessity), drawn
up in 1984. These furnish interesting points for reflection
regarding the canonical penalties incurred after the episcopal
consecration administered in the case of necessity.
State of Necessity
Code of Canon Law spoke of necessity in Canon 2205, §2 and §3;
the 1983 Code of Canon Law deals with it in Canon 1324, §4
and 1324, §1, 5. The law does not say what is meant
by this term, it leaves to jurisprudence and doctors the task of
giving it a precise meaning. But it is clear from
the context that necessity is a state where goods necessary for
life are put in danger in such a way that to come out of this state
the violation of certain laws is inevitable.
The Code recognizes
necessity as a circumstance which exempts from all penalties in
case of violation of the law (1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon
1324, §4), provided that the action is not intrinsically bad or
harmful to souls; in this latter case necessity would only mitigate
the penalty. But no latę sententię penalty
can be incurred by anyone who has acted in this circumstance (1983
Code of Canon Law, Canon 1324, §3).
of Necessity in the Church
In the Church,
as in civil society, it is conceivable that there arrive a state
of necessity or urgency which cannot be surmounted by the observance
of positive law. Such a situation exists in the Church,
when the endurance, order or activity of the Church are threatened
or harmed in a considerable manner. This threat can
bear principally on ecclesiastical teaching, the liturgy and discipline.
of Necessity in the Church
A state of
necessity justifies the law of necessity. The law
of necessity in the Church is the sum total of juridical rules which
apply in case of a menace to the perpetuity or activity of the Church.
This law of
necessity can be resorted to only when one has exhausted all possibilities
of re-establishing a normal situation, relying on positive law.
The law of necessity also includes the positive authorization
to take measures, launch initiatives, create organisms which are
necessary so that the Church can continue its mission of preaching
the divine truth and dispensing the grace of God.
The law of
necessity uniquely justifies the measures which are necessary for
a restoration of functions in the Church. The principle
of proportionality is to be observed.
and in the first place its organs, has the right but also the duty
of taking all the measures necessary for the removal of dangers.
In a situation of necessity the pastors of the Church can
take extraordinary measures to protect or re-establish the activity
of the Church. If an organ does not carry out its
necessary or indispensable functions, the other organs have the
duty and the right to use the power they have in the Church, so
that the life of the Church is guaranteed and its end attained.
If the authorities of the Church refuse this, the responsibility
of other members of the Church increases, but also their juridical
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