Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ex Excommunications?

By Patrick Archbold

For the record, Rorate is reporting that the Pope has on his desk, well you read it for your self...
On the Holy Father's bureau stands a prepared decree which will lift that of excommunion, of 1988, which applied to the consecrating [Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer] and consecrated bishops [Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Richard Williamson]. I mean removing the decree, and not absolving of the excommunication.

The thesis of the subjective element, extenuating or mitigating of fault, and, therefore, of the penalty, according to Canons 1323, 4 and 7, and 1324, 1, 8, and 3, has prevailed.
What do you think, should the Pope do it?


b. said...

Yes, absolutely. De Church needs them. All must fight against modernism (see the opinion of Cardinal Martini of Milan about "Humane Vitae" or the question of "woman-lectors".
Let's pray the Rosary for the Pope.

Jim said...

Yes. For no other reason than that it is the juridically correct thing to do. That will leave it where it leaves us, but without the taint of an unjust decree.

Dymphna said...

Yes. If priests in Australia who openly say that Jesus was not God can still be priests in good standing why can' the SSPX excomunications be lifted?

Peter Shaw said...
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Peter Karl T. Perkins said...

This is simply a matter of justice. If the legal experts at Rome have found that such extenuating circumstances apply, then the Pope is bound in Moral Law to lift the declarations of excommunication the moment he comes to believe that the experts' advice is accurate.

It is not a question of should he or should he not. He must do that which is just. The real question is what he might offer the S.S.P.X or what he might command them, as Christ's Vicar, to submit to.

Should they be offered or commanded to accept a canonical structure, and should they refuse it, the Holy Father may wish to erect such a structure for those among them who may wish to embrace it. His Holiness might also permit others to benefit from this structure, especially in order to fulfil the requirements of Article 1 of "Summorum Pontificum" that the Traditional Rite of Mass must be admitted for the faithful in order to honour its ancient and venerable usage. Given the limited resorces of so many local bishops at a time of a shortage of priests, only a universal and personal diocese for tradition will fit the bill.

Of course, if such an arrangement might begin to put a recalcitrant S.S.P.X out of business, more and more of its priests might decide to join the new structure. Finally, the S.S.P.X might join it corporately, even if some of its members refuse.

As for resolving matters of conciliar doctrine, this Pope is an intellectual who is committed to an heuristic approach. Furthermore, as a man of clear faith, he does not believe that all depends on himself. Surely, he will agree to form a commission to address doctrinal difficulties as posed by the S.S.P.X, all to be resolved one-by-one over the next several decades. In the mean time, the Society will not be asked to accept anything which other faithful are not required to accept. For example, the Society will not be asked to affirm that conciliar documents have infallible force in anything new which they proclaim.

Peter Karl T. Perkins
Victoria, B.C., Canada

David said...

I am sure that Pope Benedict will do what is right and just but be careful about saying how the church needs them. Some of their bishops e.g. Bishop Williamson have some wierd ideas and the Society in general seems to still be rigid and bitter. If the excommunications are lifted and all traditionalists are lumped together they would make up a large part and they could give Traditionlists a very bad name, especially among bishops.

pascendi said...

It says it would remove the decree, but not absolve the excommunication. In short, it concludes nothing which would seem to be of interest to those who desire to have the excommunications lifted. It is unclear what good this would do, and in fact, it seems at first glance to make the waters even murkier.

It seems to at least be logically consistent, however... how is it that a declaration of latae sententiae excommunication can be removed? After all, it was by an act having been committed, in violation of canon law, that the sentence is said to have been brought down upon the individuals in question. When the act is uncontested by both parties, how can the sentence be then lifted? It cannot; therefore, only the declaration can be removed, but no absolving declaration can be rendered.

The will of the Holy Father in 1988 was disregarded. Nothing is going to change this fact; not even the just intention of those who wanted to preserve, rightfully so, the traditional latin Mass. It will forever be the case that a just intention can never justify a wrong course of action. "Extraordinary circumstances" can not be invoked, because the truth remains that the Church can, and did, survive intact without the traditional latin Mass.

No correct and holy objective can ever justify a wrong course of action employed in order to obtain that objective. It is the truth that the individuals of the SSPX have acted outside the authority of Rome, and have continued to do so in all this time since then, and in truth, none of it was truly necessary for the salvation of souls or for the Church to remain in existence. Catholics have lived and died Catholic, with access to the sacraments of course, without the assitance of the SSPX since 1988, so clearly, their presence has not been absolutely necessary.

Latin Mass? Yes. Justified complaints about a deficient liturgy, and ambiguous blather and so forth? Sure, if it doesn't take one off course in their personal spiritual progress. Longing for the day when the Church will once again express dogma with clarity and without fear? Absolutely. But operating outside the authority of Rome? Nah. Never justified. Absolutely not.

It was God's will that we have suffered all these things for all these decades. But it has always been of the utmost importance that we suffer them while remaing well within the good graces of the Catholic Church.

So... no. It's just an opinion, but no, removing a decree without absolving guilt does nothing for anyone at all.

In the meantime, just let the Church correct Herself in Her own time. She doesn't need any help.

seego said...
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Peter Karl T. Perkins said...

On Pascendi's comments:

It is true that one may never do evil that good may come from it (Romans, 3.8). This is a dictum of Moral Law. However, it is not necessarily the case that the act done by the six bishops in 1988 was immoral per se.

The fact that the Church survived may be incidental to the case. The question is whether or not a de facto suppression of the Traditional Latin Mass was just. We now know that it was not (cf. S.P.). It follows that "De Missali Romano" of 1971 and all other instruments of suppression were null and void ab ovo. An unjust ordinance is not bad law; rather, if fails to qualify as law at all.

Obedience to legitimate authority is not an absolute. One need only obey that authority in its legitimate laws. The matter is more complex, therefore, even though my points do not demonstrate adequately that the six bishops were justified in 1988.

Should the decree be lifted, the assumption in law is that there was no offence; and the onus probandi is reversed. It becomes a matter of the internal forum.

Of course, a lifting of the decree will affect only the four bishops. Society Masses will remain what they are today: valid but illicit, and yet nevertheless able to fulfil the Sunday obligation (according to the P.C.E.D.). If they can fulfil the obligation for those who do not intend schism, it follows logically that the Society can continue to open new Mass centres where bishops obstruct the old Mass, and we can all ignore said bishops and attend such Masses as one (of several) means of avoiding that joke liturgy, the New Mass.

Peter Karl T. Perkins
Victoria, Canada

Convenor said...

We’d just like to let you know about two new posts on our blog. The first is a report of a Mass in the Traditional Latin/Gregorian Rite in Co. Laois, Ireland.


The second post is a report of news, just received, of a weekly Mass in Co. Meath, Ireland.


I hope that you’ll be able to feature both reports. Feel free to lift photos.

God bless you!

Saint Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association

Richard said...

Funny how the SSPX bishops, who bring the TLM and holiness to Catholics, are "outside" the Church.

Conversely, bishops and pastors who refuse to allow the TLM to take root within their dioceses and parishes are "within" the Church.

I know a Dallas priest who has been forbidden to celebrate the TLM.

There are, of course, a great many priests throughout the Church who have been forbidden by bishops and pastors to offer the TLM.

Who has done more harm to the Church...SSPX bishops or bishops and pastors who refuse to allow the Faithful to worship God via the TLM?

Chironomo said...


I totally agree with the point of view you put forward above... in the end, this WILL be the 64,000 dollar question, and there will have to be an honest assesment of what constitutes a "Catholic" and what makes an individual "not a Catholic". This can already be seen in a very real sense in the debate (argument?) over "Catholic" politicians receiving communion. If in the end it is established that there are simply some behaviors that make you "less Catholic" or "not Catholic" (such as the Priest supporting the Womynpriest movement), that opens the door to making such distinctions on other issues of belief and doctrine. Part of the problem in the last 40-50 years is that there doesn't any longer seem to be ANY behavior that a person can indulge in and still call themselves a "devout, practicing Catholic". I'm NOT talking about people who sin and repent, or who are truly struggling with issues of their faith and are actively trying to work it out. I'm talking about those with a political agenda who are trying to change the church rather than allowing the church to change them.

Chironomo said...

Excuse me... I meant

"ANY behavior that a person can't indulge in and still call themselves a "devout, practicing Catholic"."

That makes a big difference in my point... sorry!