Newsletter of the District
- September 1998
Letter to Cardinal Sin
September 8, 1998
the love of the truth, please allow me to bring some clarification
on certain points of your Circular No. 98-59 on the Society of St
of the Society of St Pius X
may I remind you that the Society of St Pius X was canonically erected
in the Catholic Church, in the diocese of Fribourg, in Switzerland,
by Bishop Francois Charriere, on Nov. 1, 1970.
this Society is still formally part of the Catholic Church can be
proven in many ways. For instance, last Dec. 8, 1987, H.E. Cardinal
Gagnon, sent by the Holy Father to the SSPX as an Apostolic Visitor,
assisted officially, in view of the whole congregation present,
at a Holy Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lefebvre. During this Mass,
more than 20 seminarians were incardinated in the SSPX. This was
an explicit recognition of the legal existence and good standing
status of our Society within the bosom of the holy Catholic Church.
The events that followed in 1988 concerned individual members of
this Society, not the Society itself.
'schism' and the 'excommunication'
in 1993, Bishop Ferrario, of Honolulu, wrote a letter to his diocese
in the same lines as your Circular, declaring the Society and its
followers ‘schismatics’ and ‘excommunicated’. The matter was brought
to Rome, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. On
June 28, 1993, Cardinal Ratzinger declared that such condemnation
was ‘lacking foundation and hence validity’, thus
denying explicitly the ‘schism’ and the ‘excommunication’ to which
you allege. And he reversed the bishop’s condemnation.
validity of this ‘excommunication’ has been seriously questioned
by some of your fellow Cardinals, in high position in Rome itself,
thus in the very entourage of the Holy Father. To mention another
one by name, let me tell you that, in 1994, 6 years then after the
consecrations, someone wrote to Cardinal Cassidy, President
of the Pontifical Council for Church Unity, asking him if he dealt
with the SSPX as he dealt with other schismatic groups, such as
the Protestants, or the Greek Orthodox. The Cardinal replied in
a letter dated May 3, 1994: “The situation of the members of
this Society is an internal matter of the Catholic Church. The
Society is not another Church or Ecclesial community” (emphasis
mine). “Internal” obviously means ‘inside’. Moreover, notice that
he speaks of the “members” of the SSPX in general, thus including
its bishops. Therefore, the whole SSPX, with its bishops, priests
and faithful is truly part of the Catholic Church.
Catholics, we recognize and respect the authority of the Holy Catholic
Church, especially, all the infallible declarations of the Councils
and the Popes. These “authorities”, not us, have condemned some
documents of Vatican II and other post-Counciliar texts. Let me
just mention a few major ones: Pius XI, in his Encyclical
Mortalium Animos of 1928, has condemned the false ecumenism
promoted by Unitatis Redintegratio of Vatican II,
and may I add, a false ecumenism as seen in Manila Cathedral last
May 8. Another ‘authority’ is no less than St Pius X, who,
in his Encyclical Vehementer of 1906 condemned the separation
of Church and State, highly pushed by the Conciliar decree Dignitatis
Humanae. A third of our ‘authorities’, is only the venerable
Pius IX who, in his Syllabus of errors, has condemned
Gaudium et Spes. This is explicitly said by Cardinal
Ratzinger, in his book, ‘The Principles of Catholic Theology’,
when the Cardinal declares that Gaudium et Spes “is an
relation to the so-called ‘excommunication’, many sound canonists
have this to say : Firstly, no penalty is ever incurred without
grave moral imputability (Canon 1323, 7), that is, a subjective
mortal sin. Archbishop Lefebvre acted only after many years of
thought and months of negotiations with the Holy See. He was acting
in conscience. Therefore, even if his decision is judged a mistake,
it cannot amount to a subjective mortal sin.
Canon 1324,4 states that even where an offence carrying a penalty
has been committed, the penalty is not incurred if the act was performed
out of necessity. Again, the Archbishop felt obliged to consecrate
these four bishops out of the necessity of providing traditional
priests for the tens of thousands of faithful asking for them worldwide.
defined in Canon 751, means refusal of subjection to the Supreme
Pontiff or refusal of communion with other members of the Church.
A mere act of disobedience to a superior does not imply denial that
the superior holds office or has authority. The child who says,
“I won’t!” to his mother does not deny that she is his mother.
Similarly, for the charge of ‘schism’ to stick, it must be certain
beyond all reasonable doubt. To prove that there is a legitimate
doubt on the accusation is easy.
validity of our ministry
regards our jurisdiction, we do admit not having an ordinary jurisdiction.
However, as it is clearly stated in canon 213, the faithful 'have
a right … to the sacraments'. We have come to the Philippines
only at the persistent requests of these devout Catholics who were
unjustly denied the traditional rites of the Sacraments, and forced
by the circumstances to attend liturgical ceremonies (confession,
matrimony, Mass, etc.) putting their faith and their soul seriously
in danger. In this case of necessity, of danger of spiritual death,
the Church supplies jurisdiction as the whole Code of Canon Law
is guided by the salvation of souls, ‘Suprema Lex Salus Animarum’.
Cardinal Cassidy himself explicitly said, in the letter quoted
above, “obviously, the Mass and the Sacraments administered by
the priests of the Society are valid”. He makes no distinction
between the sacraments needing special jurisdiction (confession,
matrimony) and the others.
Holy Mass that we celebrate is the Mass of your own ordination,
the Mass that made all the Saints. The new Code itself says that
“the obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass
is celebrated in a Catholic rite” (Canon 1248,1). Cardinal
Stickler has stated recently that, in 1986, 8 Cardinals told
Pope John Paul II that “the Mass of St Pius V was never suppressed”
(‘Latin Mass Magazine’, May 5, 1995). So, any Catholic may attend
this Mass with a clear conscience.
at the end of your Circular, you encourage your priests to “preserve
the sense of the sacred” and “to preach the perennial truths”.
Very well, but as I have mentioned above, not all of Vatican II
is “in continuity with the unbroken and unique Tradition of the
Church”. This is perhaps the heart of the problem: Vatican
II has in fact broken the constant teaching of the Church, especially
in relation to the modern errors which have been repeatedly condemned
by all the Popes until 1960 especially during the last 200 years,
and which are now taught by the “Counciliar Church” (expression
of Cardinal Benelli).
we are willing to meet with you and to discuss these matters. We
are simple Catholic priests who hold fast to the profession of faith
of the Vatican I Council; we want to be faithful to the anti-modernist
oath which we – and you too – took solemnly before the altar. We
are ready to obey our Pope John Paul II, when he exhorts us to keep
the true Catholic Faith. Following the precise orders of St Pius
X, in his encyclical Pascendi and his Motu Proprio Sacrorum
Antistitum, as well as the regulations of Pope Pius XII in Humani
generis, we want to help others also keep the Catholic Faith
in these troubled days. We believe that obedience is at the service
of Faith, not the reverse.
forward to hear from you and to meet you, I remain yours truly in
the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of His Immaculate Mother.
Daniel Couture SSPX
Superior for Asia
to our readers: the complete text of this letter was published
in Manila Standard, Sunday, September 13, 1998. The Cardinal’s
condemnation had appeare in the media three days earlier.