issue of the Angelus English-Language edition of
SISINONO is the fourth installment of the
second half of a double study regarding the “state of necessity”
invoked by Archbishop Lefebvre to justify his consecration
of four bishops on June 30, 1988. In our issues of SISINONO
of 1999, we discussed the theological
aspects. Starting with the November
1999 we are discussing the canonical
aspects. These remarks are for those who admit the existence
of an extraordinary crisis in the Catholic Church but do
not know how to justify the extraordinary action of Archbishop
Lefebvre on June 30, 1988 when lacking permission from Pope
John Paul II, he transmitted the power of episcopal orders
to members of the Fraternity founded by him.
The bulk of Part
3 of this ongoing canonical study of the 1988 episcopal
consecrations (The Angelus English-Language Edition
2000, #37) dealt with the notion of "mandate."
It was conceded that these consecrations took place without
the mandatum ("mandate"), that is, the
authorization of the Pope. Despite this, we proved in Part
3 that these consecrations were not, therefore, a formally
schismatic act. In any case, a mandate was read at the consecrations
ceremony in Ecône. With what right?-We answered in Part
3, "With the right that springs from necessity, correctly
Do you have an
We have it!
Let it be read.
have this Mandate from the Roman Church, always faithful
to the Holy Tradition which She has received from the
Holy Apostles. This Holy Tradition is the Deposit of Faith
which the Church orders us to faithfully transmit to all
men for the salvation of their souls....[Archbishop
Lefebvre and the Vatican, Angelus Press, p. 123]
this part of our canonical study, Part 4, we will attempt
to better understand what "schism" actually means.
STUDY – PART 4
"Schism" in the Formal Sense;
Virtual Schism, and "Legitimate" Disobedience
we analyze the mandate read at Ecône on the occasion of
the episcopal consecrations, no will to be "schismatic"
appears. No desire to establish a parallel hierarchy emerges,
neither from the words nor from the actions of Archbishop
Lefebvre. And it is known that, subsequent to the ordinations,
he never conferred any "canonical mission" upon
the bishops. In the years since 1988, none of the four bishops
consecrated that day has behaved as if he were titular of
accusation of schism in the formal sense contained in the
Vatican documents is based on the text of the mandate of
Ecône and on the act represented by it. The consecrations
performed (by necessity, we argue) against the will of the
Pope are considered by the Vatican to constitute an act
of disobedience further considered by it to be "schismatic."
This opinion is contrary to the accepted principles according
to which, as we have seen, it is necessary always to distinguish
between "disobedience" and "schism."
This appears in a clear manner from the decree of Card.
Gantin (see the Angelus English-Language Edition
1999, §35, pp. 20ff.) who speaks of an act "by its
nature" schismatic. In the opinion of the Cardinal,
the consecration without mandate is an act "in itself
of disobedience, and this disobedience, regarding a most
grave matter concerning the unity of the Church through
apostolic succession, involves a true repudiation (“vera
repudiatio”) of the Roman Primacy and for this
reason is to be considered a "schismatic act."
His claim is because it denies the unity of the Church "this
disobedience effects a schismatic act."
sense of the text is clear: the disobedience of Archbishop
Lefebvre was so serious it implied a refusal of the primacy
of Peter, putting into doubt the unity of the Church, and
therefore, must be considered "schismatic." In
fact, the Cardinal has attributed a new quality to disobedience
which makes him now consider
the disobedience to be "schismatic." The
Archbishop found himself accused of a "schismatic act"
in the objective sense, an accusation derived from the assumed
quality of the act alone attributed to it by Cardinal Gantin,
which, through itself, is not
In addition, there exists no declaration of will by Archbishop
Lefebvre to be schismatic, nor of further acts necessary
to prove the existence of schism in the formal sense.
concept of schism is totally unknown either to canon law
or to theology. The Holy See made an innovation with regard
to the current law, enforcing against Archbishop Lefebvre
a notion of schism in the formal sense, different from what
is admitted by Church doctrine and the 1983 Code of Canon
Law. This new notion of schism is unacceptable because
it does not distinguish between disobedience and schism,
that is, between legitimate and illegitimate disobedience.
Instead, it interprets any act of disobedience as an act
the case of these episcopal consecrations, can a schism
in the purely objective sense exist? That is to say, can
a schism exist in the absence of a will annunciated and
in the absence of the institution of a parallel hierarchy
through an illegitimate "canonical mission"? No
canonist or theologian would admit the existence of a schism
thus conceived. It is true that the 1983 Code of Canon
Law does not define the specific "schismatic act,"
but merely the concept of schism which refers substantially
to St. Thomas Aquinas, but that does allow the Holy See
a new category of
schismatic act, moreover one which is contrary to what doctrine
has always maintained!
course, the Pope, supreme legislator and foremost teacher
of the Church, has the power to innovate with respect to
the Code. But, for him to do so, he must proclaim
he is doing so, namely, by establishing and defining a new
type of offense. Whatever he may call it-"objective
schism," or "objectively schismatic disobedience"-he
cannot sneak around doing so nor establish a proper procedure
as if it were a question of the mere application of the
law in force. The fact that the Code does not define
"schismatic act" does not mean that the supreme
authority can establish, between today and tomorrow, without
creating new norms to which it assumes legislative responsibility,
that a determinate act must be considered "by its nature"
schismatic. On the contrary, it means that the Code of
Canon Law must be interpreted by deferring the determination
of a "schismatic act" to the consolidated canonical
and theological doctrine of the Church and her practice
through the ages. The supreme authority cannot ignore this
deferment without falling into arbitrariness.
is then the notion of "schism" in the
In Canon 751 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law "schism"
is defined as "the withdrawal from submission to the
Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the
Church subject to him."1
withdrawal gives life to a separation
the body of the Church and represents a rupture of the unity
of the Church. It is to be noted that, on the conceptual
plane, schism can be had also by withdrawing oneself from
communion with members of the Church only, who are subject
to the Pope, without, at the same time withdrawing oneself
from subjection to the Pope, or vice versa. The sin of schism
is contrary to charity because it "directly and through
itself opposes unity," given that not accidentally,
but through its nature, a schismatic "intends to separate
himself from the unity which charity produces." Schismatics
are those who, in violating the command of charity, separate
themselves from the Church willfully and intentionally.
The unity of the Church must be considered in two ways in
themselves linked together: 1) "in the mutual
connection or communion of the members of the Church"
and, 2) "in the subordination of all the members
of the Church to the one head according to Colossians 2:18-19."
The head "is Christ Himself, whose Vicar in the Church
is the Supreme Pontiff." That is why St. Thomas Aquinas
are those who refuse to submit to the Supreme Pontiff,
and to hold communion with those members of the Church
who acknowledge his supremacy.2
gives therefore the concept of schism just as we find it
even today in the Code of Canon Law.
is a special type of sin in itself that demands proper qualifications.
It cannot be reduced to simple disobedience as such, as
the Vatican wishes, inasmuch as disobedience is the source
of every sin, as St. Thomas Aquinas recalls in this objection
to which he then proceeds to reply:
a man is apparently a schismatic if he disobeys the Church.
But every sin makes a man disobey the commandments of
the Church, because sin, according to St. Ambrose, is
"disobedience against the heavenly commandments."
Therefore every sin is a schism.3
reply of St. Thomas to this objection hinges on his indisputable
reasoning that in disobedience that gives life to schism
there must be a "certain rebellion" ("rebellio
The essence of
schism consists in rebelliously disobeying the commandments:
and I say rebelliously, since a schismatic both
obstinately scorns the commandments of the Church, and
refuses to submit to her judgment. But every sinner does
not do this, wherefore not every sin is a schism [Summa
Theologica, II-II, Q.39, A.I, Obj.2].
one to be in schism, there must be a manifestation of a
rebellion which must appear from the fact of "despising
with pertinacity the teachings of the Church and of refusing
to submit to its judgment. And every sin does not have this
attitude in it. Therefore every sin is not schism."4
is a "special" sin, which is to say, it can't
be assimilated to another sin simply on the grounds of the
principle that in every sin there is a disobedience. For
St. Thomas, schism must be characterized by "rebellion."
If expressed by a "rebellion," then the schism
is a question of illegitimate
for if the disobedience is legitimate,
there is no question of rebellion! Torquemada says that
theologians of at least the 14th century and later:
out that schism is an illegitimate
from the unity of the Church; they assert in fact that
there could be a legitimate separation, as in the case
of him who refuses to obey the Pope, if the Pope commands
of him something evil or illegal [emphasis added].5
such a case, as in an unjust excommunication, "there
would be a purely exterior and putative separation from
has therefore elaborated the concept of schism as the illegitimate
refusal of submission and communion. This refusal must be
understood in an act or in acts in which an illegitimate
disobedience (or, rebellion) to authority is unequivocally
manifested. In formal
the intention of the acting subject must be clearly manifest
to consciously deny submission and communion on which is
founded the unity of the Church. Otherwise schism is virtual;
is present, that is, in the intention, but not yet brought
into action, not yet carried into an effective separation.
It can already be a sin, even if it does not fall under
the sphere of the norms of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
by the notion of virtual schism is meant not only the attitude
or the intention of the potential schismatic (schismatic
in potency), but also behavior (conduct) that objectively
reveals a non-participation in the communion of the Church's
members, even in the absence of an actual schism in the
formal sense. This behavior, which manifests a separation
in fact, would reveal the existence of a situation of virtual
schism. According to Fr. Gerald Murray in his interview
published in The Latin Mass (see the Angelus English-Language
Edition of SlSlNoNO,
2000, #36), this is the situation of the priests of the
Society of Saint Pius X and of the Catholics who attend
the Tridentine Mass in the churches and chapels of the Society.
They cannot be defined as schismatics in the formal sense,
because Fr. Murray denies that Archbishop Lefebvre can be
considered schismatic in the formal sense, but they would
be presumed nevertheless to be considered as separated from
the official Church and therefore as schismatics in the
virtual sense, canonically not condemnable but theologically
consideration, however, is totally erroneous. At the same
time, however, the concept of virtual schism is also used
in connection with heresy. St. Thomas reminds us that while
schism is a sin opposed to charity, heresy is a sin opposed
to the faith. Schism and heresy are different vices, although
whoever is a heretic is also schismatic.8
In this way a grave doctrinal error can be professed which
per se implies a virtual separation from the Church.
In substance, this is precisely the accusation Archbishop
Lefebvre charged against the hierarchy that was condemning
him as schismatic. Afflicted itself with the modernist heresies,
the present hierarchy is to be considered virtually excommunicated
because the modernists have been formally excommunicated
by Pope St. Pius X.9
Insofar as it is afflicted with a grave error such as that
of §8 of Lumen Gentium about the notion of the Church,
an error that breaks per se unity with the doctrine
taught for almost 20 centuries by the Church, we can apply
this concept to mean that the present hierarchy has placed
itself outside the Church of All Time and put itself in
a position of virtual schism.
us now put aside virtual schism and discuss the notion of
a "schismatic act," the decisive point for the
concept of schism in the formal sense. Yves Congar, a Vatican
II liberal theologian, summarized St. Thomas this way:
schismatic act is therefore that evil act which has directly,
properly, and essentially as its specific object one thing
contrary to ecclesiastical communion, that is to say,
to that unity which, among the faithful, is the proper
effect of charity. An act, in effect, is characterized
through the object to which it tends per se, through
the fact itself of what it [i.e., the act-Ed]
is. An act will show therefore the quality of a schismatic
act when, through its very own nature, it will have as
its object the separation from unity, the spiritual fruit
act is, and cannot not be, that which has as its object
the rupture of Church unity "directly, properly and
essentially." Note that an indirect approach
is not applicable. Therefore, it can be said that a schismatic
act has this aim, it has a certain sign, given not by disobedience
as such, but by "the will of constituting through one's
own account a particular Church," according to the
clear enunciation of St. Thomas.11
It is not enough "not to preserve concord," nor
is disobedience alone. The manifest will of constituting
a separate Church is necessary. A schismatic act cannot
be confined to mere disobedience, such as an episcopal consecration
without papal mandate; on the contrary, a schismatic act
will be that which institutes a hierarchy of a parallel
church with "canonical mission." But if this were
to happen, such an act certainly aims at a "separation
from unity, the spiritual fruit of charity." It is
the absolutely sure sign. Such an act is schism in the formal
sense because with it one withdraws himself formally from
submission to the Pope, denying him the authority as Supreme
Pontiff, namely as the head of the universal Church.12
This was the case with King Henry VIII of England who by
his own will set himself up as head of a self-styled national
"Catholic" Church with its own hierarchy after
having degraded the authority of the Pope to that of a simple
bishop of Rome at a session of the English Parliament (Nov.
the schismatic act, without the "canonical mission,"
schism in the formal sense is impossible. And when is it
that a schism in the virtual
can be had?-Certainly not when an exterior separation imposed
by necessity is had. For a virtual schism, it is necessary
that there be an effective will for schism, though in time
it has not yet come to happen. This certainly was not the
case of Archbishop Lefebvre, nor of his priests and of the
faithful who attend the Latin Mass at the centers of worship
of the Society of Saint Pius X. Contrary to the opinion
of Fr. Gerald Murray, the Society maintains that it is incorrect
to speak of it in regard to its being schismatic in the
virtual sense. The signs of any will of schism whatever
are lacking on its part. In this case, any separation is
imposed by the existing state of necessity and does not
express a schismatic will of any kind. The separation is
not willed; it is endured. It is the price that must be
paid for being able to celebrate a non-ambiguous Mass (as
is the Novus Or do Missae), surely Catholic, which
preserves intact the Roman Rite which dates to the first
centuries of Christianity, in order to be able to administer
the sacraments, as for example Confirmation, with a rite
which is certainly Catholic. It is the price that must be
paid in order to assist at this Mass and in order to receive
those sacraments. It is the price that must be paid in order
to be faithful to the Church of All Time.
is a separation de facto from the official Church
provoked by the official Church itself. The official Church
obstructs those who desire to be able to celebrate and assist
at the Tridentine Mass without having to pledge against
their conscience to the "doctrinal correctness"
of the protestantized rite of Pope Paul VI. There is separation
because the character of the official ecclesial society
and of the faithful themselves is gravely corrupted by modernism
in all its various forms-theological, moral, political,
etc.-so as to place the faith of the Catholic who
would be constrained to have contact with it in grave danger
(see the Angelus English-Language Edition of SiSiNoNo,
Nov., 1999, #35). We are here considering a Catholic
who considers the salvation of his soul as the most important
thing for him. Are we to define him as a "virtual schismatic"
who is not able in conscience to have anything to do with
the priests of the present hierarchy nor with the laity
who gravitate around them, given their corrupted faith?
Can we say he who is at least uncertain and constrained
in an unprecedented state of necessity to live in such a
condition of separation is virtually schismatic? We don't
he is a virtual schismatic, then so were those who were
kept separated from the Arians while the Arians were ruling
over the official Church of that time. Even St. Athanisius
would have to be considered a virtual schismatic. His famous
passage, "They [the Arians] have the churches, we have
the faith," reveals that such a separation was there
even in the absence of a new rite of Mass.
there is no virtual schism for the priests of the Society
of Saint Pius X nor for the faithful who attend their functions
and listen to their teachings in the sermons, spiritual
exercises, and catechism classes. Their position is simply
that of him who, on account of the state of necessity, is
forced into a temporary legitimate disobedience.
is legitimate disobedience to disobey the implicit and explicit
command to consider Vatican II doctrinally correct and to
behave accordingly. It is legitimate disobedience to disobey
the command to assist at the Mass of Pope Paul VI, so protestantized
and so agreeable to heretics and non-Christians. Legitimate
disobedience has always been admitted by theologians when
the legitimate Catholic authority orders the doing of things
contrary to the faith or which put into danger the salvation
of the soul. "Justified separation from the orientations
of the hierarchy for the time," which are in contradiction
to the Magisterium of All Time, is not equivalent to "separation
from the Church." The separation now is only for a
time from the error unfortunately professed by the hierarchy
and has been amply reaffirmed and illustrated by the essay,
"Neither Schismatic Nor Excommunicated" to which
we defer.13 (See Is Tradition Excommunicated?
Available from Angelus Press. Price: $7.95.)
those forced to exercise it, this disobedience is conceived
as temporary because it is imposed by the state of
necessity which will last as long as the crisis in the Church
lasts. One day, however, the crisis will end and the Catholic
hierarchy will return to sane doctrine.
It is of faith: "the gates of hell will not prevail
against it." The present state of necessity will faint
away along with its right to disobey the illegitimate commands
of formally legitimate authority.
the schism declared against Archbishop Lefebvre is not included
in any category known and recognized as schism. There is
no schism in the formal sense; there cannot be schism in
the virtual sense. The judgment of condemnation of the Holy
See was fabricated from a "pseudo-category" on
theological and canonical planes. We find ourselves confronted
with a monster. But such arbitrariness always tries to defend
itself as good law by using appealing arguments which seem
to have foundation. In our case, the monster uses two arguments.
We will proceed to give those two arguments here and then
shoot them down. Let us begin with the first:
the grounds that Vatican II has approved of a new concept
of collegiality, it is maintained that bishops receive at
the moment of episcopal consecration the power of jurisdiction
(1983 Code of Canon Law, can.375, §2). It follows
from this that a consecration without mandate would be ipso
facto schismatic. In consecrating without mandate, the
acting subject (i.e., Archbishop Lefebvre) would
ipso facto confer on the candidates the power of
jurisdiction without mandate.14
But if the power of jurisdiction is also given, then there
is schism. The fact that, once consecrated, the bishops
were not given effective jurisdiction by Archbishop Lefebvre
would not prevail to avoid schism objectively on account
of Canon 375, §2 already cited.
answer that this argument is totally unacceptable. What
in fact is the logic of Canon 375, §2 of the new Code?
Let's read it:
episcopal consecration, Bishops receive, together with
the office of sanctifying, the offices also of teaching
and of ruling, which however, by their nature, can be
exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head
of the College and its members.
canon contains two propositions; one principal and one relative
depending on it. The principal proposition states: "...Bishops
receive, together with the office of sanctifying, the offices
also of teaching and of ruling,...."15
age-old dispute, whether a bishop at consecration receives
ipso facto the power of jurisdiction or only at its
exercise, seems to have been resolved by the 1983
Code of Canon Law in a way favorable to the thesis that
maintains the ipso facto position. In this matter
the new Code has expressly applied the directive
of Vatican II, as appears in Lumen Gentium (§21)
and in the Decree Christus Dominus (§23).16
The text of §21 of Lumen Gentium is taken word for
word by the 1983 Code:
episcopal consecration confers, together with the office
of sanctifying, the duty also of teaching and ruling,
which, however, of their very nature can be exercised
only in hierarchical communion with the head and members
of the college....
that both Lumen Gentium (§21) and Canon 375, §2 of
the 1983 Code of Canon Law begin with the same primary
proposition delineating the episcopal offices and also include
the same relative proposition regarding the exercise of
those offices: "which [offices-Ed], however,
by their nature, can be exercised only in hierarchical communion
with the head of the College and its members."17
The texts distinguish therefore between the powers received
the consecration and their exercise.
is a traditional distinction, that between possessor of
a right (i.e., a power) and its exercise.18
The realization of this exercise needs an act that authorizes
it. It is not left to the whim of the consecrated bishop.
The exercise of episcopal "offices" must take
place "in hierarchical communion with the head of the
College and its members," namely, in communion with
the Pope and the members of the College of Bishops. In practice
that means as related in the nota praevia in Lumen
Gentium, that these powers can be exercised only uiuxta
normas a supreme auctoritate adprobatas." That
means that communion is "hierarchical" and requires
for its "activation" respect for the qualifications
guaranteed by the canonical mission related expressly by
§24 of Lumen Gentium.19
us not enter into this arena on the merit of the erroneous
semi-Conciliarist conception of collegiality which Vatican
II attempted to introduce.20
For our purpose, it is important to indicate the following
point: if the power of jurisdiction given the bishop at
his consecration must have also the "canonical mission"
in order for that power to be exercised [a mission which
has not been completely abolished by the 1983 Code of
Canon Law-Ed], the canonical mission is always necessary
for the institution of a hierarchy. And since schism in
the formal sense is, as we have seen, the separation of
oneself in order to institute the hierarchy of a parallel
church, then for formal schism to be had an illegitimate
"canonical mission" is always necessary,
too. It is true that with the system established by Vatican
II, the qualification for "canonical mission"
has changed: from the act that confers
a power (of
jurisdiction) is derived the act that confers the exercise
of a power, which
would already be intrinsically present in the bishop from
consecration. But, despite this new system, for the purpose
of the concept of schism there has been no change because
the "mission" always remains the preeminent schismatic
act. It is the "mission" alone which confers the
exercise of that power of jurisdiction from which a parallel
hierarchy is derived. According to the current Code,
lacking such an act, as in the case of the consecrations
carried out by Archbishop Lefebvre, there is no schism.21
us proceed to the second
condemnations declared against Archbishop Lefebvre point
out how he, besides having acted without mandate, proceeded
against the express will of the Pope, who on June 29, 1988
requested him "paternally and firmly" to postpone
it can happen that a consecration without mandate is not
necessarily against the will of the Pope. If there is a
state of necessity when it is not possible to obtain the
mandate, one can proceed to the consecration relying on
the fact that the Pope will approve post factum. This
is what happened for the bishops ordained secretly under
in regard to the consecrations of Ecône, it is true that
Archbishop Lefebvre received an "invitation"-in
reality a warning-from the Pope not to proceed which was
communicated to him the day before the date established
for the ceremony. Therefore against Archbishop Lefebvre
weighs the double accusation of having acted not only without
the authorization, but also against the express
will of the Pope. Does the action of the Archbishop
against the express will of the Pope have an effect on the
determination of the criminal charge imputed to him? It
is inquired here, therefore, whether his having acted against
will of the Pope was able to have made the action itself
make a leap
of quality such
as to confer on it the nature of a schismatic act. The argument
is for a new type of schism through the declaration of censure
"by the law itself," a composite of two elements:
1) a consecration without mandate, and 2) a
consecration against the expressed will of the Pope. This
is the juridical and theological monstrosity that has been
instilled into the soul of the simple faithful so summarized:
"Archbishop Lefebvre disobeyed the express will of
the Pope; therefore he is a schismatic!"
fact that, beside the absence of the mandate, there has
also been a negative will expressed by the competent authority,
does not change the quality of the unlawful act, which remains
always an act of disobedience, but of its nature alone not
schismatic. It must not be forgotten that the Code includes
in it a canon quite distinct from that which establishes
the penalty for schism, and that the link between the two
not possible on the basis of other canons, according to
the principle of systematic interpretation.22
That which makes the consecrations become schismatic is
not the absence of the mandate for the consecration, as
we have made clear by now, but its conjunction with an illegitimate
canonical mission. Neither does a declaration by competent
authority make the action schismatic, which, besides the
absence of the mandate, discloses also the contrary will
of him who must admit it. The presence of this declaration
of will can constitute at most an aggravating circumstance
for the disobedient subject, but only in the internal forum,
from the moral point of view, since the 1983 Code of
Canon Law does not consider it among the aggravating
the case of Archbishop Lefebvre we do not believe the existence
of an aggravating circumstance of the kind can be admitted,
since he was acting in the state of necessity. The state
of necessity renders just every possible aggravating circumstance
of this type, because the lack of the will of the legitimate
authority [that which Professor Romano Amerio calls "systematic
desisting," in Iota Unum, available from Angelus
Press. Price: $24.95-Ed.] to carry out the particular
acts necessary for the maintenance of sound doctrine and
for the salvation of souls, is in a certain sense really
the major cause of the necessity in which a bishop faithful
to dogma comes to find himself. It is irrelevant to the
purposes of the imputation ascribed to Archbishop Lefebvre
that the so-called lack of will in authority may be implied
or unexpressed or manifested under the form of prohibition.
It is always a question of simple disobedience, nevertheless
performed owing to a cause beyond control and therefore
any case, the fact that it has been manifested under the
form of prohibition of an act in itself legitimate and necessary
for the salvation of souls, is not able to justify in any
way the charge of a new type of schism and in the formal
to the exceptional circumstance faced by Archbishop Lefebvre
to work even against the express will of the Pope, undue
consequences have been drawn. It is falsely maintained,
for instance, that his act, precisely due to that exceptional
circumstance, is not limited to violating only "ecclesiastical
law," but has represented a "break with tradition,"
reasons for which what he did is to be considered "intrinsically
evil" and totally "unjustifiable." Archbishop
Lefebvre has been rendered responsible "for the intrinsically
evil act of an episcopal consecration against the will of
If this particular assertion corresponded to truth, we would
be dealing with a new type of offense springing from an
unprecedented new category of "intrinsically evil acts."
This is an untenable interpretation. Sound moral theology
teaches us that an "intrinsically evil act" is
prohibited because it is evil; it is not evil because it
is prohibited. It is a question of an act that is an evil
in itself according to the "negative natural law"
which prohibits doing it even if danger to one's very life
is present. For example: blaspheming, perjury, lying, murdering
an innocent person.24
Disobedience to a command of a superior, however grave,
certainly cannot be compared to an act of such a kind, in
itself evil, through its nature, independently from the
law which punishes it. The consecration of a bishop, done
for the salvation of souls, according to the intention of
the Church, is certainly not an "intrinsically evil
act." If, in the specific circumstance, it is preliminarily
prohibited, it only means that in consequence of this prohibition
it belongs, if anywhere, in that category of acts that are
evil because forbidden, and not to that category of acts
evil in themselves and therefore "intrinsically evil."
thesis critiqued here presents still another aspect which
is quite deviant from what has ever been known in the Church:
that of placing the express prohibition from the Pope to
carry out the consecration on the same level as natural
law, that is, the Ten Commandments. If disobedience to a
pontifical warning expressly directed to a person who disobeys
is said to be an "intrinsically evil" act, the
same value is given to this warning as is given to the negative
natural law [e.g., "Thou shalt not kill,"
etc. -Ed], since only their prohibitions are
applied to the act in itself evil. The warning of a pope
is only one of the ways in which the supreme power of jurisdiction
that he has in the universal Church is expressed. This is
a power which, even though founded on the divine constitution
of the Church, is certainly subordinated to the natural
law created by God and occupies a position clearly inferior
consideration of those who say that no theologian or council
has ever maintained the legitimacy of an episcopal consecration
against the express will of the Pope25
is irrelevant. The proof is obvious: what theologian or
council could ever have been able to maintain the principle
that the pope must be refused in order for the faithful
to obey God?! Even speculatively, the question was never
posed. But, that is because there has never been a situation
as that of today! No theologian or council could have foreseen
a crisis such as the one which has raged throughout the
Church since Vatican II, a crisis more grave than the Arian
crisis. Church theologians and councils aim to resolve the
problems of the time in the light of dogma. While the problem
in question has never been posed practically by the Church,
it does not automatically mean that it never could be posed.
On the contrary, what we are living through today demonstrates
that the pinnacle of the present Church prefers novelties
that contradict Tradition instead of defending Tradition
against the novelties and the innovations. Immersed in these
novelties, the Church has deprived itself of comprehending
a consecration which had to be done against
express will of the Pope, since the same express will of
the reigning Pope has itself systematically defended the
novelty of the new rites, the new concept of the Church,
the new humanist concept of the liberty of man, and all
the other novelties of the "conciliar" Church
which are contrary to Tradition.
critics of Archbishop Lefebvre are constrained to maintain
contorted and even deviant theses because they want to make
the facts say something that the facts do not demonstrate.
It is false reasoning to claim that the supposed "intrinsic
evil" of the episcopal consecrations of Ecône is such
as to render them "an act in themselves schismatic"
in accord with the untenable thesis of the Holy See.
and abridged by Rev. Fr. Kenneth Novak)
article continues in a fourth episode the canonical
aspect of the double study of the 1988 Episcopal Consecration
of Archbishop Lefebvre. The SiSiNoNo issues of July
and September (1999) dealt with the theological aspect.
The fifth installment of the canonical study will appear
in the September 2000 issue of SlS/NoNo.-Ed.]
Commento al Codice
di Diritto Canonico (hereafter abbreviated, "Commento")
op tit., p.473.
Theologica, II-II, Q.39, A.I., sed contra
Cf., Dictionnaire de theologie catholique under "Schism,"
under "Schism," col. 1302.
under "Schism," op. tit.
they schismatic in spirit? I think some of them are, from
what I've read;..." (The Latin Mass, Fall, 1995,
p.52). "Yes, and as I've made the distinction before,
it may be in fact a schismatic movement [i.e., the
Society of St. Pius \—Ed.\, but without the canonical
penalty of schism attached to it,..." (ibid., p.53).p.5.).
The accusation of virtual schism seems evident.
Theologica, II-II, Q.39, A.I, op.cit.
is not we, but rather the modernists who leave the Church.
As for saying 'leave the Church,' it is to make a mistake
by assimilating the official Church and the visible Church.
We well recognize the Pope's authority, but when he uses
it to do the opposite of that for which it is given him,
then it is obvious that we cannot follow him. Are we "leaving"
the Church, then? In a certain measure, yes, obviously.
The whole book of Mr. Jean Madiran, L'Heresie du XXeme
siecle [i.e., The Heresy of the 20th Century-Ed] is
the history of the heresy of the bishops. To save one's
soul, it is necessary, then, to leave the ambit of the bishops."
(Quoted from the Official Bulletin of the SSPX, French District,
no. 29, Sept. 29, 1988, p.7.) And furthermore, "we
are condemned by people who are themselves condemned, and
who should be publicly condemned. Has there been a declaration
of schism? Schism with what? The successor of Peter? No,
schism with the modernist Pope, schism with the ideas that
this Pope spreads everywhere-modern, revolutionary ideas.
Yes, we are in schism with all that. We do not accept it,
of course" (Quoted from Fideliter, June 1988,
Dictionnaire de theologie Catholique under "Schism,"
op.cit., coll. 1299-1300.
Ibid, under "Schism," op.cit., col.1301.
Schismatic Nor Excommunicated," in Is Tradition
Excommunicated?, Angelus Press, 1993 [Available from
Angelus Press. Price: $7.95], pp. 1-40.
is mentioned in Most Asked Questions About the Society
of Saint Pius X, Angelus Press, Kansas City, 1997 [Available
from Angelus Press. Price: $6.95].
point is recalled in Commento, op.cit., pp.226, 227.
On the matter see also the cited notapraevia in the
footnote of Lumen Gentium, at n.2. On the age-old
dispute: Dictionnaire de Droit Canonique, V, under
"Eveques," col. 569ff, col.571-574. For
a defense of the stance adopted by Vatican II and by the
1983 Code of Canon Law. W. Bertrams SJ., II potere
pastorale del Papa e del Collegia dei Vescovi. Premesse
e condusioni teologiche giuridiche,
Herder, 196, pp.8-25ff.
Commento, op.cit., p.226.
while admitting the possibility of immediate communication
by the Christ, it is recognized that episcopal jurisdiction
depends, in its exercise, from the supreme power of the
Pope, who can determine its scope, suspend and limit it.
(Dictionnaire, op. tit. col. 572).
Nota praevia affixed to Lumen Gentium in // Documenti
del Concilia Ecumenico Vaticano II (the Latin-Italian
text), Padua, 1966, p.278.
which we make reference to F. Spadafora, La tradizione
contro il Concilia. L'apertura a sinsitra del Vaticano,
2°, Roma, 1989 (reprinted),
Bertrams, op.cit.: "Insofar as it concerns
the office of teaching and of governing of the bishops,
the Councils clear and unequivocal distinction between
its conferring, which is had in Episcopal consecration,
and its exercise, which can be had only in hierarchical
communion" (p. 2 7; n. 14); that is through canonical
mission. In fact the power created in Episcopal consecration
(according to its substance) receives its juridical constitution
in canonical mission because specified in relation to the
passive subject" (ibid., p.26).
The fact has been recalled with vigor by Fr. Simoulin in
Valeurs actuelles (July 4, 1988).
Noldin De Principiis Theologiae Moralis, 1911, pp.202-203;
Roberti-Palazzini, Dizionario di teologia morale, Roma,
1954, under "Causa Scusante", p.207; G.G. Guzzetti,
Morale generale, Marietti, 1955, 1, p.152.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Kansas City, MO 64109
translated from the Italian
Fr. Du Chalard
Via Madonna degli Angeli, 14
Italia 00049 Velletri (Roma)