issue of the Angelus English-Language edition of
SISINONO begins a series of two studies -
one theological and one canonical - regarding the "state
of necessity" invoked by Archbishop Lefebvre to justify
his consecration of four bishops on June 30, 1988. These
remarks are for those who admit the existence of an extraordinary
crisis in the Church but do not know how to justify the
extraordinary action of Archbishop Lefebvre on June 10,
1988 when, lacking permission from Pope John Paul II, he
transmitted the power of episcopal orders to members of
the Fraternity founded by him.
STUDY – PART I
Lefebvre justified his act by appealing to the state of
necessity .The force of this excusing cause was not undervalued
by Vatican authorites, who did not contest it on the doctrinal
level, but responded with an argument of fact, namely, that
there was not a state of necessity,1
knowing full well that, if it had been, the action
of Archbishop Lefebvre would have been fully justified,
even as much as it concerns the "no" of the Pope,
according to Catholic doctrine on the state of necessity.
strength of the justification adduced by Archbishop Lefebvre
escapes, on the contrary, most people through the simple
fact that Catholic doctrine on the state of necessity is
little known. We will try to explain it. The principles
we will use are found in any traditional treatises regarding
moral law or canon law. It is an absurdity to admit an extraordinary
crisis in the Church and, at the same time, to pretend to
measure what has been done in such extraordinary circumstances
with the rule of norms valid in ordinary circumstances.
It is contrary to logic and to the doctrine of the Church.
Law, in fact:
to be established on the more ordinary conditions
of social life and, in consequence, necessarily
leaves out of consideration those things which
occur only rarely [emphasis added].2
Thomas Aquinas reinforces this principle:
laws...are established for the good of the whole. Therefore,
in establishing them the legislator bears in mind that
which happens ordinarily and in the greater
number of the cases (Summa Theologica, II-II,
Q.147, A.4) [emphasis added].
in cases "that happen rarely" and in which "one
happens to have to act outside the ordinary laws,"
"it is necessary to judge on the basis of principles
higher than the ordinary laws" (ST,
II-II, Q.51, A.4). These "higher principles" are
the "general principles of divine and even human law"
(Suarez, De Legibus 1. VI c. VI n.5) which supply
for the silence of positive law.
Church is authorized to apply said principles when, because
of cases not foreseen by the law, it defers to the general
principles of law and to the common and constant judgment
of the Doctors, which, precisely because common and constant,
must be considered canonized by the Church.3
having been set forth, we offer for the convenience of readers
a summary of the arguments that we will treat here in succession.
DUTIES AND POWERS OF A
BISHOP IN THE STATE OF NECESSITY
State of Necessity and Its Various Degrees
state of necessity consists in "a threat to the spiritual
goods of life, of liberty or other earthly goods."4
the threat regards earthly goods, we have material necessity;
if it regards spiritual goods, we have spiritual necessity,
a necessity all the "more urgent than that material"
to the extent that spiritual goods are more important than
reality various degrees of spiritual necessity can be given,
but theologians commonly distinguish five of them:
ordinary (or common) spiritual necessity
is that in which any sinner finds himself in ordinary
grave spiritual necessity is that when
a soul finds herself threatened in spiritual goods of
great importance (e.g., faith and morals);
spiritual necessity almost extreme is
the status of a soul which, without someone else's help,
could be rescued only with great difficulty;
extreme spiritual necessity is that status
of a soul is situated which, without the help of someone
else, could not be able to be saved or would be able to
so with such difficulty that her salvation would considered
grave general (or public) spiritual
necessity is that when several souls find themselves
threatened in spiritual goods of great importance (e.g.,
faith and morals). Canonists and theologians commonly
adduce as examples of grave general or public spiritual
necessity epidemics and the public spreading of a heresy
Today's State of Grave General Spiritual Necessity
a state of grave general (or public) spiritual necessity
exists because many Catholics are threatened in faith and
morals by the public and undisputed spreading neo-modernsim
or self-styled "new theology," already condemned
by Pope Pius XII as the assembly of error which "threaten
to destroy the foundations of the Catholic Faith,"7
a revival of that modernism previously condemned by Pope
St. Pius X as "the synthesis of all heresies."8
public diffusion of errors and of heresies was dramatically
denounced by Pope Paul VI who went so as to speak of the
"auto-destruction" of the Church9
and the "smoke of Satan in the temple of God,”10
and was admitted by Pope John Paul II at the beginning of
his pontificate on the occasion of a Congress on missions
is need to admit realistically and with a deep and sober
sensibility that Christians today, for the most part,
are dismayed, confused, perplexed and even frustrated;
ideas conflicting with revealed and constantly taught
Truth have been scattered by handfuls; true and real heresies
in the sphere of dogma and morals have been spread, creating
doubts, confusions, rebellions; the liturgy has been violated;
immersed in intellectual and moral "relativism,"
and therefore in permissiveness, Christians have been
allured by atheism, by agnosticism, by a vaguely moralistic
enlightenment, by a socialistic Christianity, without
defined dogma and without objective morals.11
is, therefore, a state of grave public or general necessity:
grave, because faith and morals have been threatened; public
or general, because these spirit goods, indispensable to
salvation, have been threatened among a large part of
the Christian people. The situation has grown worse after
20 years of Pope John Paul II:
was believed [Pope Paul VI once acknowledged] that after
the Council there would have come a sunny day in the history
of the Church. There came, on the contrary, a day of clouds,
of storm, of doubt.10
these "clouds," in this "storm," amidst
these "doubts," souls nevertheless must direct
their course to the harbor of eternal salvation in the brief
time of trial allotted to them. Who can deny that today,
generally, many souls live in a state of "grave spiritual
1st Principle: the Grave Necessity of
Many Is Equated with the Grave Necessity of the Individual
is the common doctrine of theologians and canonists that
the grave necessity of many (either general or public)
must be equated with the grave necessity of the individual
(P. Palazzini, Dictionarium Morale et Canonicum,
vol.1, p.571). This is a fundamental principle because it
means that that which is lawful in the extreme necessity
of the individual is lawful in the grave necessity of many.
Theologians explain the reasons for this:
because among many persons in grave necessity individual
souls in the state of extreme necessity are not lacking,
e.g., in an epidemic souls not capable of an act
of perfect contrition are not lacking and that in order
to be saved, therefore, have need of sacramental absolution.
Likewise, if a heresy has been spread, souls unable to
defend themselves from the sophisms of the heretics are
not lacking and hence are in danger of loosing their faith;
because the grave spiritual necessity of many
is a threat as well to the common good of Christian
society . Not only is there not a spiritual necessity
of many which does not become extreme for individual persons,
but "in such kind of necessity the Christian religion
itself and its honor are very nearly always in grave danger."13
common good must be considered in danger not only when 1)
many effectively suffer harm, but also 2) when
they are able to suffer it. In the first application
to our case, people lose the faith; in the second, they
are able to lose it if, in fact, only one objective
cause exists which renders this damage possible.14
The spread of errors and heresies already condemned by the
Church is sufficient for judging the danger to the common
good. These expose the old generations to the loss of faith
and deprive the new generations of the integral transmission
of doctrine. Both old and young are robbed of the goods
due to them by the hierarchy according to the norms of divine
law, natural and positive, and also according to the norms
of ecclesiastical law (1917 Code of Canon Law, can.
682; 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 213), doctrine,
and the sacraments, the rites of which today have been left
to "creativity," as denounced by Pope Pius XII:
individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may
not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and
venerable matters [Mediator Dei (1947), available
from Angelus Press. Price: $2.50].
is enough to say that today not only do many souls live
in the state of grave necessity. The "double end which
the Church pursues: the good of the religious community
and the eternal salvation [of souls]"15
has been compromised and "the very sense and scope
of the whole life of the Church [Pope Pius XII]"16
and, hence, the common good, is at stake.
Principle: The Grave General Necessity Without
Hope Of Help On the Part of Legitimate Pastors Imposes an
Obligation of Assistance Upon Clerics
is responsible for helping souls in the state of necessity?
By way of justice (ex officio) it belongs to the
legitimate pastors, but if, for any reason, their help happens
to be lacking, this duty falls, by way of charity (ex
caritate), up on anyone who has the possibility of offering
help.6 St. Alphonsus and Saurez observe that
the power of order adds to the duty of charity a duty
of state, that is, the duty of the sacerdotal state
- instituted by Our Lord precisely for assisting the spiritual
needs of souls.17
that the duty of charity imposed by the need of souls is
a duty under pain of mortal sin. In fact, the greatest commandment,
the commandment of charity, obliges coming to the aid of
one's neighbor in necessity, especially spiritual, and demands
it under pain of mortal sin in extreme or near-extreme necessity
of the individual and in the grave necessity of many, which
is equivalent to it.l8
Rev. Fr. E. Genicot, SJ., writes that:
can be a grave [thus "sinning mortally by omitting
it - Ed.] obligation to aid people who otherwise,
through the efforts of heretics and unbelievers, would
lose the faith, especially because at times it is morally
impossible for the more simple to recognize their sophisms
and hence many will probably be in extreme necessity.19
duty of charity in some cases can oblige also at the risk
of one's own life, reputation, and goods. St. Alphonsus
says that grave public or general spiritual necessity obliges
in this way and that therefore:
is held at the risk of life to administer the sacraments
to people who otherwise would be in danger of losing the
is of the same mind:
I knew that a heresy is being preached among the people
by heretics, I would be held to oppose myself to it even
in spite of peril to me.21
his time, Billuart writes:
a heretic perverts a whole community with a false doctrine,
a private individual [e.g., the simple faithful
or the priest who is not officially invested with the
care of those souls - Ed.] is held, when he is
able to do it, to obstruct it at the risk of his life.
If, in fact, anyone is bound to assist at the risk of
life the common temporal good, [how much] greater
reason is the spiritual good. All the more in the
case where many individuals are found in extreme necessity.22
Today's State of Grave General Necessity Without Hope of
Help on the Part of Legitimate Pastors
grave general or public necessity for the souls of today
is without hope on the part of the legitimate pastors because
these generally are swept away or paralyzed by the neo-modernistic
course of the Church. Contradiction to revealed truth is
championed by the hierarchy or it is silent or in collusion.
conflicting with revealed and constantly taught Truth,
true and real heresies in the sphere of dogmas and morals
[through which] Christians today are dismayed, confused,
Church finds herself in a time of unrest, of self-criticism,
it could even be said of auto-destruction. It is almost
as if the Church assaults her very Self [Pope Paul VI]
last admission amounts to saying that today the Church and
souls are attacked by the very ministers of the Church as
at the time of Arianism, when "the priests of Christ
were contending against Christ."23
Amerio in Iota Unum [available from Angelus Press.
Price: $24.95] has been able to document the doctrinal deviations
of the Vatican Council II with conciliar texts, acts of
the Holy See, papal allocutions, declarations of cardinals
and bishops, pronouncements of Episcopal conferences, and
articles from L 'Osservatore Romano.
is to say, traditional Rome condemns neo-protestant Rome
with "official or unofficial disclosures of the Church
arriving at the conclusion that:
doctrinal corruption has ceased to be a phenomenon of
little esoteric circles and has become a public action
of the ecclesial body in sermons, books, schools, and
Iota Unum Romano Amerio illustrates the renunciation
on the part of the Holy Father to exercise the power received
from Christ Our Lord in order to condemn error and extirpate
the ones erring.26
Pope Paul VI admitted:
many expect from the Pope outspoken actions and energetic
decisions. The Pope cannot consider any other possibility
[of action] than that of confidence in Jesus Christ, for
Whom His Church matters more than anything else. It will
be to up to him to calm the tempest.9
and good, but this does not exempt Peter from maintaining
the place of Christ in the government of the Church by taking
hold of the rudder again and straightening it out!
the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, the following declaration
of the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the
Faith, Joseph Card. Ratzinger, to the Chilean Episcopal
Conference (1988) says it all:
myth of Vatican harshness in the face of progressivist
deviations has been shown to be an empty speculation.
Basically, as of today, only admonitions have been issued
[which are] in no case fully canonical in the proper sense.27
abandonment of utilizing supreme papal authority in the
face of error and the ones erring endorses the abandonment
of every other authority in the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger
continued at the same episcopal conference:
same Bishop, who, before the [Second Vatican] Council,
used to have an irreproachable professor expelled for
somewhat uncouth speech, is in no position to remove,
after the Council, a teacher who is denying openly some
fundamental truth of the Faith.
whenever souls are not able to hope for help from the legitimate
pastors, there is imposed upon anyone having the possibility
the duty under pain of mortal sin of offering help to Catholics
in large part tempted by atheism, by agnosticism, by a sociological
Christianity, without defined dogma and without objective
morals, and this duty falls first of all upon the bishops
and then the priests, because the failure to help souls
in the state of spiritual necessity is a matter not only
contrary to the precept of charity, but is also a matter
"directly inconsistent with the episcopal and sacerdotal
state,...in direct conflict with the episcopal and sacerdotal
Duty of Temporary Substitution on the Part of Bishops
duty of assistance is especially imposed upon the Bishops.
Cardinal Journet writes that the papacy and the episcopate:
two forms, one independent...; the other subordinate to
one and the same power that comes from Christ and is ordered
to the eternal salvation of souls.28
plain words, the pope and bishops are in the Church through
divine positive law as husband and wife are in the family
through divine natural law. The bishop is subordinate to
the pope, just as the wife must be to her husband, but both
ordered to the same end, that is, the good of the Church
and the salvation of souls. As the duty is imposed upon
the wife to substitute (within the limits of her capabilities)
for her husband if, with or without fault, he is delinquent
in his office, so the duty is imposed upon bishops to substitute
(within the limits their capabilities) for the pope if,
with or without fault, does not provide for the necessity
The Obligation of Assistance Is Coextensive With the Power
of Order (But Not of Jurisdiction). The Power of Jurisdiction
Springs From the Necessity of the Faithful.
necessity one is bound to offer help, while it is needed,
within the limits of one's possibilities, which, for a priest
or bishop, means within the limits of their own power of
Order. It is on account of this that in the extreme necessity
of the individual and in the grave necessity of many, any
priest is bound under pain of mortal sin to give sacramental
absolution, even if deprived of jurisdiction.6
St. Alphonsus writes that even:
excommunicated vitandus, if he can validly administer
the sacraments, is bound to administer them in danger
of death on account of divine and natural precept to which
the human precept of the Church would not be able to oppose
brief, as long as the extreme necessity of the individual
or the grave necessity of many demands it, one can lawfully,
indeed, one must under pain of mortal sin do all that he
is able to do validly in virtue of the power of order.
The necessary jurisdiction is acquired at the request of
souls. The 1917 Code of Canon Law (can. 2261, §§2,3)
states that the faithful can "on account of any just
cause" demand the sacraments from an excommunicated
priest [whom the Church has deprived of jurisdiction] and
at that time the one excommunicated, so requested, can administer
them. Fr. Hugueny, O.P. remarks that "the demand [of
the faithful] gives to the excommunicated priest the power
of administering the sacraments."30
This means that, in necessity, the exercise of the power
of order to the full extent necessary is called into act
not by the will of the hierarchical superior, but directly
by the state of necessity. "The action otherwise prohibited...is
rendered licit and permitted by the state of necessity.
[Catholic Encyclopedia, on "Necessity (State
such extraordinary circumstances, the jurisdiction lacking
is said to be supplied by the Church. The Council of Trent
(Sess. XIV, c.7) [Denzinger, 903] assures us that it is
contrary to the mind of the Church that souls be lost by
reason of jurisdictional reservations or limitations:
lest anyone perish on this account, it has always been
piously observed in the same Church of God that there
be no [jurisdictional] reservation at the moment of death
[i.e., grave necessity of the individual thus equated
with grave necessity of many - Ed.].31
Pope Innocent XI, cutting off every argument on the subject,
establishes definitively that in necessity the Church supplies
jurisdiction lacking even to heretical, infamous, and excommunicated
thought and practice of the Church has as its principle
that in necessity there is imposed, through natural and
positive law, a grave duty of charity and that against the
divine and natural law the Church does not have any power.
In addition to St. Alphonsus already quoted above, Suarez
writes, “Justice or charity command avoiding...harm to neighbor,
and to this [divine] mandate human law cannot be reasonable
St. Thomas Aquinas says that "the disposition of human
law cannot ever infringe upon the natural law and the law
of God (ST; ll-ll, Q.66, A.7).
is valid above all for human ecclesiastical law which is
meant to facilitate the exercise of charity, not obstruct
it. Fr. Cappello writes that it is certain that the Church
supplies jurisdiction in order to provide either for the
extreme necessity of the individual or "for the public
or general necessity of the faithful.34
The reason, says St. Alphonsus, is that otherwise many souls
would be lost and therefore it is reasonably presumed that
the Church supplies jurisdiction.35
In other words, as in material necessity things revert
to their primary end, which is the benefit of all men in
general, so in spiritual necessity the power of Order reverts
to its primary end, which is that of providing for the necessity
of all souls in general, and the limitation (or total deprivation)
of jurisdiction arising from ecclesiastical laws vanishes.36
St. Thomas Aquinas explains.
virtue of the power of order, any priest has power indifferently
over all [men] and for all sins. The fact that he is not
able to absolve all from all sins depends on the jurisdiction
imposed by the ecclesiastical law. But since necessity is
not subject to law [c. Consilium de Observ. Ieiun., De
Reg. Iur. (V Decretal.) c.4], in case of necessity,
he is not impeded by the discipline of the Church from being
able to absolve even sacramentally provided that he has
the power of order [Supplement, Q.8, A.6].
on "Supplied Jurisdiction" Is Applied Regarding
a Bishop Who in an Extraordinary Necessity Consecrates Another
Bishop. The Primacy of Jurisdiction of the Pope.
doctrine on supplied jurisdiction is ordinarily treated
in regard to the sacrament of Penance because the lack of
jurisdiction renders confession not only unlawful but also
invalid. This doctrine, however, can also be applied to
other areas through analogy.37
As a priest in the extreme necessity of the individual or
in grave public necessity without hope of help from the
legitimate pastors can and must absolve sacramentally "given
that he has the power of order" (St Thomas, op.
cit.), so a Bishop, if a grave and general necessity
of souls without hope of help from the legitimate pastors
demands it, is able and duty-bound of transmitting the episcopacy,
given that he has the power of order.
Cappello says that it is certain that the Church supplies
jurisdiction in order to provide for the "public or
general necessity of the faithful" in all those cases
"in which she has manifested either expressly or at
least tacitly being willing to supply it."38
Now, it is evident from history that the Church has manifested,
at least tacitly, her will to supply jurisdiction through
the consecration of other bishops in case of grave general
or public spiritual necessity. Recent history records that
"clandestine" bishops were consecrated without
Pontifical approval in order to provide for the grave general
necessity of souls. Longer ago, during the Arian crisis,
St. Eusebius of Samosata and other bishops, not only consecrated
but even established other bishops in episcopal sees,39
and the Church has not hesitated to proclaim his sanctity
Billot writes that Our Lord instituted the primacy, but
left in some way the limits of episcopal power undefined,
would not have been fitting that those things which are
subject to change would be unchangeably fixed by divine
law. Some things are indeed subject to change because
of the variety of circumstances and of times and because
of greater or lesser facility of recourse to the Apostolic
See among other such-like things [De Ecclesia Christi,
Q.XV, §2, p.713]
confirms that the state of necessity extended not only the
duties of bishops, but also their power of jurisdiction.
Dom Grea whose attachment to the pope is above all suspicion
testifies (De l’Eglise et de sa divine consitution,
vol. I) that not only at the beginning of Christianity did
the "necessity of the Church and the Gospel" demand
that the power of the episcopal order be exercised in all
its fullness without jurisdictional limitations, but that
in successive ages extraordinary circumstances required"
even more exceptional and more extraordinary manifestations"
of episcopal power (ibid., p.218) in order "to
apply a remedy to the current necessity of the Christian
people" (ibid. and ƒƒ.), for whom there was
no hope of aid on the part of the legitimate pastors nor
from the Pope. In such circumstances, in which the common
good of the Church is also at stake, the jurisdictional
limitations vanish and "that which is universal"
in episcopal power "comes directly to the aid of souls"
in the 4th century St. Eusebius of Samosata is seen passing
through the Oriental Church devastated by the Arians and
ordaining Catholic Bishops for them without having any
special jurisdiction over them" (op. cit.
jurisdiction [over a diocese] is conferred [upon bishops]
directly and expressly by the Pope…Formerly, however,
it used to derive more indirectly from the Vicar of Christ
as if from itself it flowed from the Pope onto
those bishops, who were in union and peace with the Roman
Church, mother and head of all churches [emphasis added].40
"as if from itself" seems to have flowed from
the Pope in the history of the Church whenever a grave necessity
of the Church and of souls demanded it. In such extraordinary
circumstances, says Dom Grea, the episcopacy proceeded "resolute
in the tacit consent of its Head rendered certain by necessity"
(op. cit. vol.I, p.220). Dom Grea does not say that
the consent of the pope rendered the bishops certain of
the necessity. On the contrary, the necessity rendered them
certain of the consent of the pope. Precisely why did the
necessity render the consent of their Head "certain,"
consent that in reality those bishops were ignoring? - Evidently
because in necessity the positive judgment of Peter is owed.
If from Christ, on the strength of his primacy, Peter has
the power of extending or restricting the exercise of the
power of episcopal order, from Christ he also has the duty
to extend or restrict it according to the necessity of the
Church and of souls. In the exercise of the power of the
keys, Christ remains always the "principle agent"
and "no other man can exercise [the power of the keys]
as principle agent" (St. Thomas, Supplement,
Q.19, A.4), but only "as instrument and minister of
Christ" (ibid., Q.18, A.4). The keys of Peter
are also "keys of ministry," and therefore not
even Peter can use the power of the keys arbitrarily, but
must be attentive to the divine order of things. The divine
order is that jurisdiction flows to others by means of Peter,
yes, but such that it is supplied "in a manner sufficient
for the salvation of the faithful" (St. Thomas, Contra
Gentiles, Bk.4, c.72). Therefore, if Peter prevented
it from being supplied sufficiently for the need of souls,
he would act against the divine order and would commit a
most grave fault (St. Thomas, Supplement, Q8, AA.4-9ƒƒ.).
is none other than the fullest possession of that "public
power of governing the faithful so that they may attain
It is the fullness of that power of jurisdiction which is
"granted not for the advantage of the trustee, but
for the good of the people and for the honor of God"
(ibid., Q8, A.5, ad.1) and:
principle of law and no sense of equity stands when that
which has been salutarily instituted for the advantage
of men is turned to their harm [Digesto, cit. in
ST; II-I, Q.96, A.6; II-II, Q.60, A.5, ad.2].
Dom Grea writes that the extraordinary manifestations of
episcopal power do not call into question the doctrine on
the primacy, because necessity without hope of help from
the legitimate pastors takes the "extraordinary action"
of the episcopate back to "the essential laws of the
hierarchy" which are not at all weakend by the ordinary
the hierarchical constitution of the Church, St. Thomas
who has universal power [i.e., the Pope - Ed.]
can exercise upon all the power of the keys. Those, [i.e.,
the bishops - Ed.], on the other hand, who under
him have received a distinct power, are not able to use
the power of the keys on just anyone, but only on those
who have fallen to them by lot, save the cases of necessity
(Supplement, Q.20, A.1).
means that the hierarchical constitution of the Church,
and hence the primacy, is not put into question by "action
otherwise prohibited and which is rendered licit and permitted
by the state of necessity."42
connection with the case of Archbishop Lefebvre, those eager
to save the papal primacy (which, when the state of necessity
is involved, is not in question) have protested to include
the bishops' duty to help within the strict limits of the
power of jurisdiction. For example, according to a little
work published by the Fraternity of St. Peter,43
the problem posed by the episcopal consecrations of Archbishop
Lefebvre must be dealt with not only from the standpoint
of the power of order, but also from the aspect of
the power of jurisdiction. Hence it is in the "order
of things willed by Christ Himself" that it belongs
always and only to the Supreme Pontiff"to elevate the
inferior...to the level of successor of the Apostles while
conferring on him a limited jurisdiction" (Du sacre
episcopale contra la volonte du Pape, p.15). Archbishop
Lefebvre did not do this. He specified clearly his intention
was to transmit only the power of order, not that of jurisdiction.
This book argues that in no case, not even in the case of
necessity, can a bishop ordain another bishop without papal
mandate. The rigor of this exclusion is illustrated by the
authors using an example from the sacraments:
he who does not have water for baptizing is not able to
baptize the dying child with orange juice [and] he who
is not a priest is not able to give absolution to one
dying even if he would have need (ibid., p.57).
is incompetent theology and horrible logic! We leave the
response to St. Thomas:
owes its efficacy to the consecration of the sacramental
matter [and therefore no one will ever be able to baptize
with orange juice - Ed.]...On the other hand, the
efficacy of the sacrament of Penance [just as of the sacrament
of Holy Orders - Ed.] derives from the consecration
of the minister (Supplement, Q8, A.6, ad.3).
no one but a priest can absolve, not even in the case of
necessity, because only the priest has the power of order.
And, not having the power of order, he doesn't have the
duty to do it. On the contrary, he who has the power of
order functions validly and in the case of necessity,
when there is need, is lawfully able to, indeed must, do
all that he is able to do validly, that is, a priest must
absolve and a bishop consecrate another a bishop "given
that he has the power of order" (St. Thomas, op.
cit.). The laws limiting the power of episcopal order
are not invalidating or incapacitating laws, that is, those
that render the act null or render the subject incapable
of accomplishing it validly [which are rather divine laws
governing the matter and minister of the sacraments - Ed.),
but are jurisdictional laws and therefore ecclesiastical.
St. Alphonsus says that concerning the matter and the form
of the sacraments the Church has no power, but concerning
jurisdiction the Church is able to supply and is presumed
to supply certainly for the good of souls.44
the whole history of the Church no one can be found baptized
with orange juice. What is found, on the other hand,
are bishops nominated, consecrated, and instituted though
"Peter being unadvised" (Suarez) and even during
the period of a vacant see.45
Such a thing could not have happened if it were included
in the "order of things willed by Christ Himself” that
it belongs always and only to Peter to nominate and institute
bishops and "in no case" to another bishop. If
it was really such, the "order of things willed by
Christ Himself” would have been repeatedly violated by the
Church through the centuries, which is indefensible.
authors of Du sacre episcopale contre la volonte du Pape,
confronting historical proof that bishops consecrated bishops
without the pope's express approval, assert (p.63.ƒƒ) that
this demonstrates "the Church knows how to be realistic"
and the Council of Nicea (325), while designating the metropolitans
as competent in the appointment and installation of bishops,
speaks "especially of the difficulties of a geographic
nature" (p.64). The assertion is a contradiction. Regarding
a question of the "order of things willed by Christ
Himself," the Church is not able to be "realistic."
It is not allowed to the Church to be "realistic"
about the minister or about the matter of the sacraments
and thus has never been able for "geographic reasons"
that a priest ordain a bishop46
nor that in the countries where grapes aren't grown Mass
be able to be celebrated with matter different from wine.
If, therefore, the Church, concerning the appointment and
installation of bishops, has been "realistic"
and taken account of the "difficulties of a geographic
nature," it is a sign it is not in the "order
of things willed by Christ Himself” that the nomination
and installation of a bishop belongs always and only to
the Roman Pontiff. It is not true that "in no case"
-not even in the case of necessity - can one bishop nominate
and institute another. As in the day, for example, when
the Arian heresy was threatening the whole Church, so also
in our day in Eastern Europe. As long as grave necessity
without hope of help for souls and for the Church demanded,
bishops have consecrated other bishops not only validly
but also lawfully, despite failure to receive a mandate
from the Pope. These bishops have exercised their episcopal
power not only validly but also licitly because the necessity
of the Church and of souls demanded it. It is significant
that some theologians, hypothesize that the Church tacitly
supplies jurisdiction also to the schismatic Orthodox bishops,
so that with the consecration of other bishops as well as
with the ordination of other priests, the necessity of so
many souls is provided for.47
Therefore, the problem of the episcopal consecrations of
Archbishop Lefebvre, must certainly be dealt with not only
from the standpoint of the power of order, but also
from the aspect of the power of jurisdiction, without
exclusion of the Catholic doctrine of "supplied jurisdiction"
in extraordinary circumstances. In the Church, jurisdiction
is for souls and not souls for jurisdiction. The erroneous
course taken by the authors of Du sacre episcopale contre
la volonte du Pape leads them to conclude that "the
question of the consecrations is a fundamentally dogmatic
matter and therefore [emphasis added - Ed.]
unchangeable in its solution, whatever may be the circumstances,"
and consequently, unconstrained application of the principle
"positive law does not oblige in a grave inconvenience"
seems too rapid a conclusion to justify the episcopal consecrations
(op. cit., p.7).
fact here is that "grave inconvenience" as it
applies to Archbishop Lefebvre is not treated here. But,
his absolute moral impossibility to obey either the law
or the legislator is hastily brushed aside with the "therefore"
of the authors' statement: "It is a fundamentally dogmatic
matter and therefore unchangeable in its solution
disciplinary law [and such are the jurisdictional laws which
regulate the exercise of the power of order - Ed.],
even if fundamentally dogmatic, does not lose its nature
of a disciplinary law and become a dogmatic question and
"therefore unchangeable in its solution."
canon law there are laws "proposed" by the Church
(e.g., the norms of divine natural and positive law,
among which is the canon on papal primacy), and laws "established"
by the Church (among which are the norms restricting the
exercise of the power of episcopal order, e.g., the
papal reservation on episcopal consecrations).48
Law constituted by the Church is fundamentally dogmatic
because dogma is the presupposition and the guide of the
but the canonical norm remains quite separate and distinguishable
from its dogmatic foundation. The distinction is made by
looking at the initial legislator of the norm.50
It is evident that papal primacy is of divine law,
because it was initiated by Our Lord Jesus Christ, but the
papal reservation on episcopal ordinations is an ecclesiastical
law because it was initiated directly by the Pope himself.
It is for this reason that, as the following quote exemplifies,
the modification of ecclesiastical discipline is possible.
the 11th century..., because of the abuses that arose
on the part of the Metropolitans at times, the consecration
of bishops gradually began to be reserved in some places
to the Supreme Pontiff, and then by the 15th century reservation
became universal [and only in the Latin Church].51
see that episcopal reservation is fixed in time, having
been introduced belatedly in the Church motivated by abuses
and not from divine law. Certainly, the Pope
instituted this reservation in virtue of his primacy, and
the Primacy is therefore the dogmatic foundation of this
canonical norm, but it is not lawful on account of this
to identify the canonical norm with its dogmatic foundation
and thus conclude the norm is "unchangeable" on
the same level as its dogmatic foundation! This amounts
to making void every distinction between divine law and
human ecclesiastical law, and, between dogmatic laws and
jurisdictional laws. Declaring a canonical norm "unchangeable
in its solution, whatever the circumstances may be"
only because it has a “dogmatic foundation" means rendering
unchangeable all or most of Canon Law and absurdly annulling
the doctrine on causes excusing from the obligation of the
Our Lord Jesus Christ had instituted the papal primacy but
has not directly determined the limits of episcopal jurisdiction
and has left these instead to the Roman Pontiff, it is certain
that the papal reservation on episcopal ordinations is not
of divine law, but ecclesiastical law, and hence is not
"unchangeable whatever the circumstances may be."
On the contrary, we invoke the following clause applicable
to all ecclesiastical law, that is, law constituted by the
Church, which otherwise must be followed except:
the common good and the salvation of souls prudently examined
in a particular and extraordinary case; [a clause which]
being universal and arising from the nature of things
through force of reason, is omitted from die particular
determination of law, without, however, really ceasing
to prescribe the matter and obligation determined by every
II of this theological study of the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations
will appear in the Sept. 1999 SiSiNoNo insert in
Proprio of July 2, 1988.
Brisbois Apropos des lois purement penales in Nouvelle
revue theologique, 65 (1938), p.1072
V. can. 20 of the Pian-Benedictine Code and F. M. Cappello,
S.J., Ius suppletorium in Summa iuris canonici, vol.I
(Roma, 1961), p.79.
V.E. Eichmann-KI. Morsdor, Trattato di diritto canonica,
and G. May, Legittima difesa, resistenza, necessita.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Suppl, Q.8 A.6;
v., also P. Palazzini, Dictionarium morale et canonicum,
under the word, "caritas” (erga proximum)
See, for example, P. Palazzini, Dictionarium morale et
canonicum, under the word "caritas”; Billuart,
De charitate, diss. IV, art.3; Genicot, S.J., Institutiones
Theologiae moralis, vol.l, 217, A and B, etc.
Pills XII, Humani Generis, 1950 (Kansas City: Angelus
proprio, Nov. 18, 1907.
Discourse of Pope Paul VI at the Lombard Seminary in Rome,
Dec. 7, 1968.
of Pope Paul VI, June 30, 1972.
L 'Osservatore Romano, Feb. 7, 1981.
Genicot, SJ., Institutiones Theologiae Moralis, vol.
I, 217B; Billuart, De caritate Diss., IV, art.3;
St. Alphonsus, Theologia Moralis, Book 3, n.27.
F. Saurez, De charitate disput, IX, sect.lI, n.4.
V. Roberti-Palazzini, Dizionario di teologia morale,
ed. Studium, under the word, "supplied
Naz, Dict. Droit Canonique, under the word "canon
(in French) to the Second World Congress of the Apostolate
of the Laity, Oct. 1957.
Alphonsus, Theologia moralis, 16, tract 4, n.625,
and, Opere Morali, ed. Marietti (Torino, 1848), tract.XVI,
I Jn. 3:17; S.T:, II-II, Q.32, A.I, and A.5, ad.
2; Q 71, A.I ; Billuart, De caritate, dissert.IV
E. Genicot, S.J., op.cit, vol.l, n217, B and C.
moralis, 1.3, tract 3, n.27.
F. Suarez, De charitate, disput.9, sect.lI, n.4.
caritate, D dissert.IV, art.3.
Jerome, Adversus Luciferianos.
Amerio, Iota Unum (Kansas City: Angelus Press, 1996),
Il Sabato, July 30/Aug. 5, 1988.
L'Eglise du Verbe lncame, vol.1.
Alphonsus, Theologia Moralis, I, VI, tract 4,n.560.
Theologique, t. XIII, La Petence, p.420.
(De poenitentia disp. XXVI, sect. IV n. 6), it is
asked if this constant and common custom guarded by the
Church may not be of Divine institution. In every case -
they conclude - the Church would not be able to abolish
it, because this would be to use power "not for building,
but for destroying." (ibid.)
Alphonsus, De poenitentiae sacramento, tract XVI,
De Legibus, 1,Vl,c.VIl,n.13.
M. Cappello, Summa Iuris Canonici, vol.I, p.258,
n.258, §2; see also, P. Palazzini, Dictionarium,
at the word "iurisdictio suppleta."
Alphonsus, De poenitentiae sacramento, tract XCI,
St Thomas, ST;II-II,Q.66,A.7;cƒlI-II,Q.32,A-7, ad.3.
P. Palazzini, Dictionarium morale et canonicum at
the word, "iurisdictio suppleta."
F. M. Cappello, S.J., Summa iuris canonici, vol.I
(Rome, 1961), p.252.
V. Manlio Simonetti, La Crisi ariana nel IV secolo
(Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum, Via S., Uffizio
25, Roma), 1975.
Dictionarium morale et canonicum, at the word "Episcopi"
ibid at the word "iurisdictio."
Catholic Encyclopedia, at the word, "necessity
sacre episcopale contre la volonte du Pape, joint essay
of the Fraternity of St. Peter.
poenitentiae sacramento, tract XVI, c.V, n.91.
Card. J oumet, L'Eglise du Verbe lncarne, vol.I,
p.528, note 2.
V. Salaverri, De Ecclesia in summa Theologiae (BAC,
op. cit., vol.lI, pp.656-657. Fr. Tito Centi, O.P.,
in note 1 to the ST of St. Thomas, ed. Salani. II-II
Q.39, A.4, he wirtes: "We have an indication in the
fact that the Church does not demand a general confession
of those schismatics who return to unity nor convalidation
for their practicable matrimonial impediments."
P. Palazzini, Dictionarium morale et canonicum, at
the word, "fontes iuris canonici”; Naz, Dictionnaire
Droit canonique, at the word “droit canonique."
Naz, Ioc. cit
Genicot, S.J., Instititutiones theologiae moralis,
P. Palazzini, Dictionrium, cit at the word, “mandatum
Rodrigo, Praelectiones theologico-morales comillenses,
II, tract., De Legibus (Sal terrae, Santander, 1944),
n.393, 2nd, p.294 (cit. in, Aequitas canonica, of
F.J. Urrutia, S.J., Periodica de re morali, canonica,
liturgica, vol.73, p.46, note 21, Pontifical Gregorian
Courtesy of the Angelus
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