Thursday, May 1, 2008

SSPX vs. Your Humble Correspondent

Here you go Steve - let's have at it in my combox instead of Dymphna's.


SSPX/Abp. Lefbvre committed "schismatic acts" by defying Pope John Paul II's direct order NOT to consecrate its 4 bishops.


Excerpts from Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter, Ecclesia Dei:

"In itself this act [of consecrating those four bishops] was one of disobedience to 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 [Code of Canon Law, 751]. In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops last June 17, 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 [Cf. Code of Canon Law, 1382].
In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law [Cf. Code of Canon Law, 1364]."

To this day, SSPX proclaims its "filial devotion" to Rome, but stops short of proclaiming its FIDELITY. SSPX masses graciously include prayers for the Pope. Well, we should pray for the reversion of SSPX'ers worldwide, too. They know their stuff and their devotion and love of orthodoxy are admirable. We want them back in full unity - yes, Steve, FULL UNITY - which means you have to take the whole Roman package. Picking and choosing, as SSPX'ers have done, exposes them to the same "cafeteria Catholic" argument that we traddies toss at the liberals, non? Just as you point out, you can't be "a little pregnant" - you can't be "mostly Roman Catholic." You have to commit.

In terms of semantics, well, some scholar-sympathizers may have done doctoral dissertations on this issue and concluded that the consecrations were valid AS TO FORM, but the key issue is not validity - these were not LICIT consecrations, as they were done in defiance of Rome's directives


SSPX justifies its position and attempts to excuplate itself by basing its arguments on canon law, but such arguments fail both factually and canonically.

Example: Canon 1323 provides that a canonical penalty is not binding when a person has acted "by reason of necessity or grave inconvenience, unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls." Canon 1324 states that, if the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls, the penalty must be diminished or replaced by a penance if the offense was committed by a person who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relative, or by reason of necessity or grave inconvenience. It also states that the penalty is to be reduced or replaced if the perpetrator erroneously, but culpably, thought that necessity or grave inconvenience existed. [Emphasis mine.] In all these circumstances, canon 1324 concludes, automatic penalties do not apply.


The facts are indisputable. Pope John Paul II expressly warned Abp. Lefebvre/SSPX NOT to consecrate its own bishops before Lefebvre did so, and His Holiness advised him of the consequences - excommunication. Lefebvre was in his 80's and had no real successor within his own or any other bishopric, just his own ordained priests, so when the Vatican was too slow to come to his heel, as opposed to the other way around, he went ahead and consecrated his own, chosen four bishops in direct defiance of papal authority and direction. This resulted in the excommunication of the Abp. and his bishops, and extends to SSPX followers.

Because the precise nature of excommunication was not stated at the time, SSPX'ers choose not to believe that excommunication is applicable. (This is not an uncommon phenomenon, after watching our favorite CINO, pro-abort, thrice married, twice-divorced politicians take communion during the Papal Masses in DC & NYC a few weeks back - "I don't agree, so I will go ahead and do what I want to anyway.") Claiming "error" as an excuse under canon law does not cut it - the facts of the illicit consecrations undercut that argument. One man's "error" has placed tens of thousands of souls in peril.

Back to the books, Canon 1325 states: "Ignorance which is crass or supine or affected can never be taken into account when applying the provisions of canons 1323 and 1224."

(Hubris should be in there, too. Not liking modernism or the Novus Ordo is not sufficient grounds for splintering from Mother Church - it does not constitute "necessity" or "grave inconvenience" to submit to Papal authority if you are a true Roman Catholic.)

The shame of it is, as I stated to Steve in our previous discussion, is that SSPX's devotion to Tradition (big and little "t") and the Tridentine rite is a beautiful thing. The methodology chosen by its founder, however, was misguided and, I believe, a result of very human feelings of superiority, vanity, pride, arrogance, and presumption - literally, Abp. Lefebvre's conduct indicates that he fully believed he was "more Catholic than the Pope."

Steve will undoubtedly respond with the usual SSPX talking points and ask the usual loaded "questions." (Ever notice how, when people ask the wrong questions, no matter what you say, they are going to get wrong answers. Unless you agree with everything they say within the "question," they will not be satisfied.)

So Steve, here you go: there is one, holy Roman answer to your questions. The Catholic Church, is, was, and always will be the one, true, universal Church, and it is led by the Successor of Peter, Vicar of Christ on Earth, Bishop of Rome - the Pope - who, by dogma, is infallible. Period. Rogue Bishops, however well intended, misguided, or both, are fallible. They hurt us all, and do grave damage by leading souls astray in inviting them into their own "cult of personality."

This is not a matter of me disagreeing with you, Steve, or being overly "sensitive" about the questions you pose. As I said, we agree in principle on many things, but we diverge sharply when it comes to practice. No, I am not a Novus Ordo fan. Mass said in the vernacular brought the message to the people, but at the same time created a modern-day Tower of Babel. I have to look at crib notes during a Latin Mass. I don't know all of my prayers in Latin, because I was born in 1968, my parents divorced when I was 6, and I was not allowed to go to Catholic school in my small town because of the divorce. I got pissed off as a teenager and left until after I married and had my first child (about the same time I sat next to Jim's friend the first day of law school, actually).

So I am self taught, and not all that well, obviously. But I do know one pretty basic thing: what Papa says, goes. Not Cdl. Arinze, not (gasp) Bp. Clark, not my favorite priest....and not the late Abp. Marcel Lefebvre.

Okay. I will await my virtual thwacking from Steve now, but other readers, feel free to dive in.


The Digital Hairshirt said...

Oh, this oughta be good! (Settling down with a beer and a hot dog . . .)

Kasia said...

Right next to ya, Digi - you can have the beer; I'll have some soda.

Yoo-hoo! Cotton candy man! Over here!

The Digital Hairshirt said...

I got peanuts! In da shell!

Kit said...

Hmmmm....after a fast and furious exchange yesterday afternoon, I must say that the silence at 3pm ET is deafening.

Kit said...

[...crickets chirping...]

The Digital Hairshirt said...

Bueller? Bueller?

Kit said...


(I guess Steve is still checking his sources?)

Adrienne said...

All Steve has is his opinion and, in my opinion, that doesn't mean much....

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Is it not simple? Reconciliation must happen before the excommunications are removed. had I known the oppisite was true, i would have asked for absolution before i confessed my sins

Dymphna said...

Thanks Kit! I had a feeling that Steve wouldn't show.

Kit said...

Hi D - yep, still waiting. Love your new lounging cleric - who is he? A saint or a regular lounging priest?

a thorn in the pew said...

I think he took his ball and went home.

Kasia said...

Hey Digi, send over some of those peanuts!

Kit said...

OK, I've given up on my chat with Steve. But let's leave it at this: now that the TLM is safely "back" and not suppressed, COME HOME TO ROME, SSPX'ers! We need your scholarly and unfailingly orthodox devotedness to serve as an example from within!!!