issue of the Angelus English-Language edition of
SISINONO is the third 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.
STUDY – PART 3
The State of Necessity
what has been seen in Part II of this canonical study of
the 1988 Consecrations by Archbishop Lefebvre (SiSiNoNo,
#36 in The Angelus, Jan. 2000), it is certain that
through the 1983 Code of Canon Law the attenuating
and exempting circumstances have not only objective
force, but also subjective force.
This means that the canon is to be applied even if the situation
of crisis, such as the state of necessity, of grave fear,
etc., exists merely in the mind of the acting subject,
that is to say, be it the fruit of his own erroneous judgment,
an error which can even be due to his own fault, namely
to a culpable ignorance which leads the subject to a "false
judgment about some thing."1
Let us return to the text of canon lawyer Fr. Rudolf Kaschewski,
whom we have been quoting from in this series [see Is
Tradition Excommunicated?, "The Episcopal Consecrations:
A Canonical Study," available from Angelus Press. Price:
if one were to call into question, or actually deny altogether,
the existence of a situation of emergency, as we have described
it [i.e., his analysis of the dreadful situation
of today's Catholic Church - Ed.], the following
would still apply:
one will deny that a bishop who, in the aforementioned
situation, consecrates another one, would be at
least subjectively of the opinion that he is in
a situation of necessity such as we have described above.
Thus one cannot speak of a premeditated violation of the
law: for one who goes against the law but believing even
Wrongly that his action is legitimate, does not act in
a premeditated way. The New Code [of 1983]
is even clearer:
person who thought, without fault on his
part, that a circumstance foreseen in Canon 1323, Numbers
4,5, and 7 applied when he was breaking the law or an
administrative order, does not incur any punishment.
The violator of the law is not exempt from all penalty
but the penalty laid down in the law or in the administrative
order must be mitigated, or a penance must be substituted,
if the offense was accomplished by someone believing through
an error, even if culpable, that he was in a circumstance
foreseen in Canon 1323, Numbers 4 and 5 (Canon 1324, §
those who would suppose that the emergency exists only
in the fantasy and the imagination of the bishop concerned
could hardly argue that this supposedly erroneous conception
would be punishable.
if someone were to put it to him that he was guilty for
having arrived at such a mistaken notion of the existence
of an emergency (not, in fact, existing), still:
automatic excommunication could not follow as mentioned
in Canon 1382 [i.e., it could not be automatic].
In any case, an eventual penalty which a judge might apply
would have to be more clement than that foreseen in the
law, so that here, too, an excommunication would be out
of the question.2
[All emphasis in original.]
can it be denied that, in the case of consecrations imposed
by necessity, "a bishop is at least subjectively convinced
that it is a question of a state of necessity detrimental
to souls"? The 1983 Code of Canon Law protects
this very consideration by establishing a true and proper
presumption of good faith, since it protects it even when
it is erroneous, that is, even when it may be the result
of an error of judgment to be ascribed to the acting subject
and not to the circumstances. It is evident that the current
law renders the application of a latae sententiae
excommunication to the consecration of a bishop without
mandate practically impossible, and that, therefore an excommunication
declared in contempt of that 1983 Code of Canon Law
(especially of Canons 1323,1324) must be considered completely
invalid with the consequent intrinsic nullity of all the
effects which canon law attributes to it.
was the Holy See able to make such a mess of the case of
Archbishop Lefebvre? - It has judged him to have had bad
faith. Perhaps, while violating the principle that the Church
does not judge internal matters, the Church has conducted
a trial on the intentions of Archbishop Lefebvre, something
that only God can do.
"Notice" that appeared in L 'Osservatore Romano
(June 30 – July 1,1988) addressed the fact that in some
circles the latae sententiae excommunication was
considered completely invalid. L 'Osservatore Romano
took action against Archbishop Lefebvre's intentions
by accusing him of bad faith. It said that in this situation
"Canon 1323 [of the 1983 Code of Canon Law]
cannot be applied," which considers, as we know, the
state of necessity among those reasons that exempt one from
penalty. L 'Osservatore Romano proposed that even
the supposed "state of emergency" in the Church
was deliberately created by Archbishop Lefebvre
in order to preserve his position of defending tradition
within the Catholic Church!3
This insanely ludicrous proposal does nothing more than
show the bad will of L 'Osservatore Romano! It is
clear! Obviously, it felt it necessary to embrace this proposal
because saying so means Archbishop Lefebvre acted in bad
faith, preventing the application of Canon 1323 and thereby
justifying the bogus excommunication!
"Notice" in question does not mention Canon 1324
at all, which establishes the ten famous attenuating circumstances
exempting one from penalty, even in the presence of error
imputable to the acting subject. That which we have called
the subjective relevance concerning the state of
necessity, as conceived by the 1983 Code of Canon Law
so as to exclude every action against intentions, is passed
over in silence by L 'Osservatore Romano.
is sure that the Vatican authorities know canon law. The
silence on Canon 1324 has, according to us, a specific reason.
Please tell us, how can the supposed bad faith of a bishop
who believes (even erroneously!) in a state of necessity
in the Church and who acts as he feels he must as a consequence
be proven conclusively? It is a proof that can follow only
from judgments against his intentions, that is, a proof
that is impossible to make. Yet the allusion to bad faith
is quite clear in the "Notice." From this, the
antagonists will advance the proposal that this "bad
faith" arose from a schismatic will which they attribute
unjustly to Archbishop Lefebvre. The "Notice"
says that the consecrations of bishops in Ecône which were
"performed expressly against the will of the Pope,"
are to be absolutely considered an "act formally schismatic
according to the norm of Canon 751 [of the 1983 Code],
by holding that Archbishop Lefebvre openly refused submission
to the Supreme Pontiff and communion with the members of
the Church subject to him."4
The so-called "schismatic will" of Archbishop
Lefebvre will then be used to "prove" his bad
faith in invoking the "state of necessity" in
the Church. The whole circular argument boils down to its
central point: What is schism?
analyzing schism from the juridical point of view, we want
to observe how the non-mention of Canon 1324 [which was
heavily discussed in Part II of this canonical study in
#36, The Angelus, Jan. 2000 - Ed.] is tantamount
to the exclusion by the Conciliar Church of every possible
attenuating circumstance useful to defending Archbishop
Lefebvre and those others who, such as Bishop Antonio de
Castro Mayer, maintained and are maintaining themselves
faithful to the dogmas of the Faith. This has become a constant
in the Conciliar Church which has provoked a distorted representation
of Canon 1324 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
this in mind, we make reference to the opinion of the Pontifical
Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts which
attempts to debunk the well-founded thesis of canonist Fr.
Gerald Murray regarding the validity of the latae sententiae
excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre. Fr. Murray is an
American priest who has no connection with the Society of
Saint Pius X. The "Murray Thesis," receiving the
highest grade at the Pontifical Gregorian University in
Rome, holds that the excommunication latae sententiae
declared against Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishop Antonio
de Castro Mayer, and the four bishops consecrated, was not
valid according to strict canonical law nor is the accusation
of schism valid in the formal sense (see SiSiNoNo,
#36, The Angelus, Jan. 2000, p.18). Against the Murray
Thesis, the Pontifical Council said:
the validity of the excommunication of the Bishops, declared
by the motu proprio and by the decree, cannot be reasonably
doubted. In particular, the possibility of looking for
attenuating or nullifying circumstances concerning the
imputability of the offense (Canons 1323,1324 of the 1983
Code of Canon Law) does not seem admissible. As far
as concerns the state of necessity in which Archbishop
Lefebvre would have been able to find himself, it is necessary
to remember that such a state must exist objectively
and that the necessity of consecrating bishops contrary
to the will of the Roman Pontiff, head of the College
of Cardinals, never happens [emphasis added].5
"clarification" clearly contradicts what is established
in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It affirms, in fact,
that for the 1983 Code the state of necessity "must
objectively exist," but in fact, according to the same
1983 Code, the state of necessity, as we have already
shown, can exist only subjectively. Hence, the "clarification"
misrepresents the norms in force, as if the 1983 Code
considered the state of necessity only in its objective
reality, as is the case of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.
The Pontifical Council passes over in silence the attenuating
circumstances that the Holy See should have legitimately
considered had it wanted to, in order to prevent the application
of a latae sententitae excommunication that was not
only unjust but also invalid.
and Consecration Without Mandate
was written by Prof. Kaschewski and reported above (SiSiNoNo,
Jan. 2000, p.18; also in this issue, p.18) shows how consecration
without pontifical mandate and schism
are two totally independent things which by their very
nature are not related. They are governed by two distinct
canons of the 1983 Code of Canon Law [i.e.,
Canon 1382 for consecration without pontifical mandate,
and Canon 1364, §I for schism - Ed.] even if the
penalty provided is the same.
the documents which declare or explain the condemnation
of Archbishop Lefebvre all contain the accusation of schism,
and of schism in the formal sense, beginning with the already
cited anonymous "Notice" from L 'Osservatore
Romano of June 30 - July 1, 1988, published two days
before the official documents of the Holy See. In the "Notice,"
it is affirmed that, since to "no bishop is it permitted
to consecrate anyone as Bishop, unless it is first established
that a pontifical mandate has been issued (1983 Code,
Canon 1013 ), the episcopal consecrations which took place:
performed expressly against the will of the Pope with
a formally schismatic act according
to the norm of Canon 751 , he [Archbishop Lefebvre] having
openly refused submission to the Supreme Pontiff and communion
with the members of the Church subject to him.
are not schismatic and we do not want to found a new
Church. Our attachment to the ternal Church is obvious.
But today there is an emergency situation. The "modern"
Church is apostatizing: it is not doing what it was
founded to do. What the Churchhas always condemend is
now permitted: liberalism and communism are acceptable:
ecumenism is in the process of destroying our Faith.
If I too were to teach error, I would aid in this destruction
and the loss of souls."
a consequence of this, the "Notice" says that:
cannot even apply Canon 1323, any relevant matter foreseen
by him not being verified in this case, since even the
alleged "necessity" was deliberately created
by Archbishop Lefebvre in order to preserve a posture
of separation from the Catholic Church, notwithstanding
the offers of communion and the concessions made by the
Holy Father John Paul II.6
official declarations of excommunication on the part of
Cardinal Gantin Guly 1, 1988) affirm likewise that Archbishop
Lefebvre has "...performed a schismatical act by the
episcopal consecration of four priests without pontifical
mandate and contrary to the will of the Supreme Pontiff..."7
Also the motu proprio of the Pope, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta
July 2, 1988), condemns the consecrations of Ecône as a
"schismatic act" using the same faulty theological
and canonical reasoning as that in the "Notice":
itself, this act was one of disobedience towards the Roman
Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance
for the unity of the Church, such as is the ordination
of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally
perpetuated. Hence such disobedience - which implies in
practice the rejection of the Roman primacy - constitutes
a schismatic act. [A citation of Canon 751 of the 1983
Code of Canon Law defining "schism" is inserted
here. - Ed.] In performing such an act, notwithstanding
the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on June 17 last,
Archbishop Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard
Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso
de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication
envisaged by ecclesiastical law… [The reference to Canon
1382 is inserted here which, as we know, provides for
latae sententiae excommunication for consecration
without pontifical mandate.8]
the anonymous "Notice" of L'Osservatore Romano
speaks expressly of a "formally" schismatic act.
As already mentioned, this "Notice" furnishes
the so-called "canonical motivation" for the condemnation
which would appear in the same paper two days later (July
3) with the simultaneous publication of the Decree of the
Office of the Congregation for Bishops (see Archbishop
Lefebvre and the Vatican, p.126) and of the motu proprio,
Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. The "Notice" is
therefore of extreme importance because it makes clear that
the Vatican did not consider applying the nullifications
provided by Canon 1323 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law
because it accused Archbishop Lefebvre of giving life
to a true and proper schism in the formal sense, which,
by definition, is manifested by the denial of the primacy
of Peter and the creation of a parallel "Church."
This being the mindset of the Vatican, it is not possible
for it to invoke any circumstance nullifying imputability.
This imputation of schism by the Vatican was not repudiated
by the Decree of the Office of the Congregation for Bishops
nor by Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, although both use the
adjective "schismatic" without the adverb "formally."
Lefebvre has been charged twice over, that is, with both
disobedience and schism in the formal sense. Be it the one
or the other, they cause the acting subject to incur excommunication
ipso iure. If two offenses have been imputed to Archbishop
Lefebvre, has he incurred two excommunications
at the same time? The dean of the faculty of Canon Law at
the Institut Catholique (Paris, France) maintains
that schism is not created per se by the consecration
of a bishop without papal mandate. What causes schism is
the subsequent conferral of an Apostolic Mission upon this
bishop, a symbol of the usurpation of power of the Supreme
Pontiff proving one wishes to constitute a parallel Church.9
the same note, the canonist Neri Capponi of the Faculty
of Jurisprudence of the University of Florence states that
in order to consummate a schism, Archbishop Lefebvre would
have had to establish his own hierarchy.10
Theological and canonical doctrine hold that the essential
requisites for a schism in the formal sense consist in 1)
the express denial of the papal primacy; 2) the
denial of communion with members of the Church, and 3)
the conferral of the power of jurisdiction.11
first two requisites do not necessarily have to concur;
only one of them is enough. And if they are not explicitly
affirmed, by themselves or together, the act of the conferring
of the power of jurisdiction is sufficient to create schism.
This act, implying the establishment of an official ecclesiastical
jurisdiction over a determinate territory, causes a proper
hierarchy to be born, created with that act and therefore
distinct from that of Holy Church and parallel to it. Here
we have a formal rupture of unity. The act of disobedience
alone (such as an episcopal consecration without papal mandate)
does not create schism through itself.
Not every act of disobedience is schismatic, but only those
that meet any or all of the three aforementioned criteria.
In the case of the episcopal consecrations for the Society
of Saint Pius X, nothing done applies to be called "schismatic."
Though, yes, the act was disobedient (through force of events),
no act conferring any "apostolic mission" was
act imputed to the Archbishop was only one according to
the terms of law - the consecration of bishops. The excommunication
is, therefore, one only. But the fact that one unique act
has received two imputations of illegality - i.e.,
"disobedience" and "formal schism" -
shows that the Holy See wanted to establish an intrinsic
relation between the consecration without mandate
and schism. For the excommunication to be valid from
the point of view of the 1983 Code of Canon Law,
the connection of these two different imputations must find
its foundation in the one act performed by Archbishop Lefebvre.
The "Mandate" at Ecône
episcopal consecrations for the Society of Saint Pius X
took place without the mandatum, that is, the authorization
of the pope. Nevertheless a mandatum was read during
the ceremony. With what right? - With the right that springs
from the state of necessity, correctly understood. At the
beginning of the rite of consecration of the four bishops,
the following dialogue took place between the consecrating
bishops and the Archpriest who presented the bishops-elect
you have an apostolic mandate?
We have it!
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….12
the authorities of the Church refuse their permission for
an episcopal consecration required by the state of necessity
created by a Catholic clergy infected with postmodernist
errors and which no longer transmits the deposit of the
Faith, then it is totally legitimate to hold that the "Roman
Church" of 19 centuries (excluding Vatican II) "orders"
those who have remained faithful to the Magisterium to "faithfully
transmit" the Deposit of the Faith for the salvation
of souls. The "authorization" of Archbishop Lefebvre
to consecrate these bishops comes from the Catholic Church
of All Time and its Head of All Time. Our Lord Jesus Christ
is the Head of the Church, not properly the Holy Father,
who by definition is only its Vicar pro tempore.
If, in a case like the consecration of these four bishops,
the earthly ruler refuses to authorize an act required by
the public and general necessity and totally in accordance
with the Church of All Time, it is lawful to maintain that
the Church supplies jurisdiction.
conceived in this manner is totally legitimate from both
the theological and canonical points of view.
having declared in the first part of the mandatum the
Authority which conferred this mandate, the dialogue continued:
the Second Vatican Council to this day, the authorities
of the Roman Church are animated by the spirit of modernism.
They have acted contrary to the Holy Tradition since "...there
shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine;…..and
will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but
will be turned to fables...," as says St. Paul in
second Epistle to Timothy (II Tim. 4:3-5). This is why
we reckon of no value all the penalties and all the censures
inflicted by these authorities.13
which is affirmed here is not a refusal of submission to
the Pope nor a refusal of communion with the members of
the Church. And neither is it the denial of the authority
of the present hierarchy, insofar as it is the legitimate
Catholic hierarchy. More simply, validity is denied to "penalties
and censures" inflicted or declared by an authority
which at the present moment is infected by a postmodernist
spirit and professing grave errors and ambiguities such
as to lead souls into error.
this case, the understanding of the authority of the Holy
Father to govern the Catholic Church is not taken in a purely
formal sense, that is to say that, as though his authority
extends to making valid everything the pope says or does
simply by the fact alone that he is formally invested with
the authority of the papacy. This simplistic
idea of authority has never been Catholic. On the contrary,
the perennial principle prevails, that is, "The corruption
of law is not law." Therefore it is not enough that
authority be legitimate, it is also necessary that its commands
are legitimate and do not contradict the reason for being
of the authority itself. The sole reason for papal authority
is that the Holy Father propagate the Faith and extirpate
authority is clearly infected by a postmodernist spirit,
the spirit of heresy which has penetrated the Church through
Vatican II documents like Lumen Gentium [which gives
a new definition of the Catholic Church (§8) contrary to
that given by the Church herself for 19 centuries and thus
placing the Church in contradiction with herself - Ed.];
if legitimate authority shows itself by consistent and various
acts and declarations to have lost the sense of the Catholic
Faith, then let it be resolved that it is lawful to often
ask how much value ought to be attributed to the decisions
of the Conciliar Church and if it ought to be always unquestionably
obeyed as expressing the will of the God.
actions made in the spirit of postmodernism and hence manifestly
in contradiction with the purposes of the Church are "devoid
of weight" and therefore invalid. On the contrary,
when Pope John Paul II reaffirms in conformity to Tradition
the prohibition against women being ordained priests (L
'Osservatore Romano, May 30-31, 1994), this action
is unquestionably valid because it corresponds to the doctrine
and purposes of the Holy Church of All Time. When, however,
the same Pontiff declares Archbishop Lefebvre - a bishop
most faithful to the papal primacy, whose desire owing to
the urgency of the age was to consecrate bishops to preserve
the life of his priestly fraternity which Rome had enthusiastically
approved and which was found unreproachable in doctrine
and ecclesiastical discipline, devoted to the formation
of priests for the purpose of helping souls in the state
of grave general necessity - to have incurred a latae
sententiae excommunication, we call this action invalid
in the substantial plane, considered apart from the formal
plane already examined [i.e., constituted by conformity
to what has been established expressly by the pertinent
canons of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which nevertheless
we claim exclude the possibility of Archbishop Lefebvre's
excommunication ipso iure - Ed. ]. The action is
invalid and without weight because it wishes to exclude
from the Catholic Church the defenders of Tradition with
totally unfounded theological and canonical imputations
because these defenders do not accept the New Theology's
concept of "living" Tradition professed by Pope
John Paul II and other members of the present hierarchy.
the validity for "penalties and censures" inflicted
with a "modernist spirit" by Vatican authority
does not indicate a rejection of the legitimacy of this
authority insofar as with this denial we do not confess
any act of schism. It indicates that we declare unacceptable
and invalid every act of authority that is contrary to the
preservation and perpetuation of the doctrine of the Catholic
these acts considered invalid are the suppression of the
seminary of Ecône and subsequent suspension of Archbishop
Lefebvre a divinis. The latter is to be judged invalid
because the Vatican did not consider the state of necessity
in which Archbishop Lefebvre found himself as a consequence
of the illegitimate suppression of the Ecône seminary.
mandatum of the episcopal consecrations reaffirmed
a truth in the form of a general principle which implies,
in the concrete case, the invalidity a priori of
the penalties and censures already inflicted or to be declared
by an authority that is fundamentally postmodern and acting
with a false notion of Tradition.
Vatican's false notion of Tradition shows up in an explicit
manner in the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta
where Archbishop Lefebvre is accused of having accomplished
an act to be considered schismatic for not having sufficiently
embraced "the living character of Tradition."
l4 In the language of modernism, "living tradition"
is tradition as understood by the New Theology, not the
tradition which the Magisterium of the Church has always
understood. "Living tradition" moves (that is,
lives) by a dynamic concept, moving to see truth evolve
and see that evolution applied to Church doctrine, whose
content is no longer unchanging but must be updated to the
times. Thus in the already cited §8 of the Vatican II document,
Lumen Gentium, the notion of the Catholic Church
is adapted to the demands of ecumenism, fundamentally denying
that the Catholic Church is the one and only Church of Christ,
that the Christian denominations which cut themselves off
from Her are not the Church of Christ. The notion of "living
tradition" in the New Theology is nothing more than
passing off as being in harmony with true Catholic Tradition
any adaptations to the falsehoods of heretics and schismatics
by the Conciliar Church of the past 40 years.
mandatum concludes with the explicit, official motivation
of the episcopal consecrations of 1988:
for me, "I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and
the time of my dissolution is at hand" (II Tim. 4:6).
I heed the call of souls who ask for the Bread of Life,
Who is Christ, to be broken for them. "I have pity
upon the crowd" (Mk. 8:2). It is for me therefore
a grave obligation to transmit the grace of my episcopacy
to these dear priests here present, in order that in turn
they may confer the grace of the priesthood on other numerous
and holy clerics, instructed in the Holy Traditions of
the Catholic Church.
is by the Mandate of the Holy Roman Catholic Church always
faithful, then, that we elect to the rank of bishop in
the Holy Roman Church the priests here present as auxiliaries
of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X: Fr. Bernard Tissier
de Mallerais, Fr. Richard Williamson, Fr. Alfonso de Galarreta,
Fr. Bernard Fellay.15
text is most clear. On account of the state of necessity
in which he had come to find himself, Archbishop Lefebvre
knew he had to "transmit his episcopal grace"
without further delay to other priests, satisfying the legitimate
expectations of seminarians and faithful, for the salvation
of their souls. To the bishops consecrated by him he gave
the power of order, not the power of jurisdiction,
so that they "might be best called "auxiliaries"
of the Society of Saint Pius X.
Lefebvre was consistent with the general stance taken and
maintained by him for a long time. In the letter addressed
to the future bishops, already prepared on August 28, 1987,
in which he was inviting them to take upon themselves this
grave responsibility, it was declared in an explicit manner
that he would confer on them only the power of order:
principal object of this transmission [of my episcopal
grace - Ed.] is that of conferring the grace of
the sacerdotal order for the continuation of the True
Sacrifice of the Holy Mass and to confer the grace of
the sacrament of Confirmation to children and the faithful
who ask it of them.16
you see, there is no intention to create a parallel hierarchy,
and therefore, no power of territorial jurisdiction conferred.
The jurisdiction that he did confer was unicamente supplita
ad actum, that is, a jurisdiction on a case-by-case
basis at the request of souls in the state of necessity.
more important for showing the consistency and good faith
of Archbishop Lefebvre is what he wrote Pope John Paul II
(Feb. 20, 1988) six weeks after a presumably favorable report
had been given the Holy Father by Edward Cardinal Gagnon,
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who
had been assigned by the Vatican to make an Apostolic Visitation
to seminaries, schools, and priories of the Society of Saint
Pius X. Told by Cardinal Gagnon the Pope had read the report
and yet not receiving any response from the Holy Father,
Archbishop Lefebvre wrote this letter to Pope John Paul
II expressing once again the three requirements he understood
to be necessary for a happy resolution of problems: 1)
a Roman Secretariat composed exclusively of members
chosen from within Tradition; 2) consecration of
several bishops to be decided on or before June 30, 1988;
and 3) exemption vis-à-vis the local Ordinaries.
It is the part of this letter which talks about the second
of these requirements that we quote:
consecration of bishops succeeding me in my apostolate
appears indispensable and urgent
the first designation, and while waiting for the Roman
Office to assume its functions, it seems to me that you
can entrust it to me, as is done with the Eastern patriarchs.
this is agreed to in principle, I will present the names
[of the episcopal candidates - Ed]. to Cardinal
second point is the most urgent one to be resolved, given
my age and my fatigue. It is now two years that I have
not done any ordinations at the seminary in the United
States [in Ridgefield, CT at the time - Ed.] The
seminarians ardently aspire to be ordained, but I no longer
have the health to be crossing oceans.
is why I entreat Your Holiness to resolve this point before
June 30 of this year .
These bishops would be in the situation vis-à-vis Rome
and vis-à-vis their Society [i.e., the Society
of Saint Pius X - Ed.] that the missionary bishops
were vis-à-vis the Congregation for the Propagation
of the Faith and their own Society. Instead of a territorial
jurisdiction, they would have a jurisdiction over individuals.
goes without saying that the bishops would always be chosen
from among priests of Tradition.17
this text, the state of necessity for the Church and in
the person of Archbishop Lefebvre himself clearly appears.
What is more interesting is the qualification he gives concerning
the jurisdiction of the future bishops. There is no question
here of threatening a schism. Archbishop Lefebvre is inspired
with the precedent familiar within the Church of the "missionary
bishop," a prelate devoid of territorial jurisdition.
with a jurisdiction only over individuals. These
individuals are not predetermined by belonging to any particular
diocese, but are those who would be qualified before the
bishop as persons in need of an act of his power of order.
Lefebvre remained faithful to this letter to the Holy Father
and to the mandatum of the consecrations by conferring
only the power of order upon the four bishops consecrated
by him. While it can be maintained that the bishops consecrated
by him are not exactly identical to "missionary bishops,"
it can be said that the "auxiliary" bishops of
the Society of Saint Pius X are effectively "missionary,"
because they have received (only) a power of order to be
exercised with a supplied jurisdiction over individuals.18
(edited and abridged by Rev. Fro Kenneth Novak)
article continues in a third 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 fourth installment of the canonical study
will appear in the May 2000 issue of SiSiNoNo.
This is the doctrinal definition of "Error"
as found in Commento ai Codice di Diritto Canonico [a.k.a.,
Commento], p.761: "Error, which is in reference
to an action done out of ignorance, is a false judgment
about some thing." As regards ignorance, it is "the
lack of due knowledge, that is, an habitual state."
It can be culpable (i.e., "slight, grave, crass
or supine, affected or fully deliberate"). Ignorance
that "removes all penal imputability is only that which
is inculpable" (op. cit., p.761).
See Is Tradition Excommunicated?, "The Episcopal
Consecrations: A Canonical Study," by Rev. Fr. Rudolf
Kaschewsky, pp.108,109 [available from Angelus Press. Price:
$7.95], translated from Una Voce Korrespondence,
L 'Osservatore Romano, cit.
L 'Osservatore Romano, cit. Canon 751 of the 1983
Code of Canon Law reads: "Heresy is the obstinate
denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be
believed by divine and catholic faith. Apostasy is the total
repudiation of the christian faith. Schism is the withdrawal
of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with
the members of the Church subject to him."
Mise au point du Conseil Pontifical pour I'interpretation
des textes legislatifs in La documentation catholique, 79
(1997), 2163, of July 6, 1997, p.529.
L 'Osservatore Romano, 3 July 1988.
Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican, pp.126 (available
from Angelus Press).
Valeurs Actuelles, July 4, 1988, p.18.
Interview in The Latin Mass, Summer, 1993.
The word "Schism," written by Fr. Yves Congar,
in the Dictionnaire de ThIeologie Catholique, XIV,
col.1286-1312; col.1299ƒƒ. See also the words "Schisme"
and "Schismatique" in the Dictionnaire de Droit
Canonique, col. 886,887.
Excerpted from Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican,
p.123. For the text in Latin, see Fraternite S. Pie X.
Bulletin Officiel du Districtde France,July 13, 1988,
Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican, p.123.
L 'Osservatore Romano,July 3, 1988, cit.
Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican, cit.
Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican, pp.42,43.
The bishops consecrated as "auxiliaries" of the
Society of Saint Pius X are not to be included in the category
of "auxiliary bishop" without "right of succession,"
referred to in Canon 403, § I of the 1983 Code of Canon
Law. These latter enjoy the power of jurisdiction over
the territory of a diocese, being placed alongside [a
latere] the diocesan bishop when "he is not able
personally to fulfil all the episcopal offices as the good
of souls would demand" (Commento, cit., p.241).
It must be remembered that jurisdiction in actu supplita
is not the same as in actu expedita referred
to in §2 of the Nota Praevia affixed to Lumen
Gentium, this latter always resulting from a canonical
mission. That which justifies jurisdiction supplita in
actu is especially the state of necessity, in particular
in the case of grave error and of heresy which have been
publicly spread, also and above all on account of a temporary
cessation of the authority of the official Church. In a
similar situation, grave necessity of the many which
is effected by a danger of seduction to error is equated
by unanimous teaching to the extreme necessity of
the individual as can be had in the danger of death.
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)