Rorate Caeli

Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (Consecrations)

[Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
on the correct application of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law
(i.e. excommunications latae sententiae for episcopal consecrations 
without Pontifical mandate)]

Dichiarazione del Pontificio Consiglio per i Testi Legislativi 
sulla retta applicazione del canone 1382 del Codice di Diritto Canonico

Un'esigenza di comunione


[RORATE note: this declaration is motivated mostly, but not only, by the government-induced episcopal consecrations without pontifical mandate in certain nations, and deals with relevant subjective and objective extenuating circumstances, including state of emergency. See also this Catholic News Service news story.]


Negli ultimi decenni hanno avuto luogo in diversi Paesi varie ordinazioni episcopali senza il mandato pontificio. Esse rompono la comunione con il Romano Pontefice e violano in maniera grave la disciplina ecclesiastica. Come ricorda il Concilio Vaticano II, se il Successore di Pietro rifiuta o nega la comunione apostolica, i Vescovi non possono essere assunti all'ufficio episcopale (cfr. Lumen gentium, 24).

Trattandosi di una questione assai importante e delicata, la Santa Sede ha sempre prestato ad essa grande attenzione, adoperandosi in tutti i modi per impedire che avvengano consacrazioni episcopali illegittime.

In tale contesto, il Pontificio Consiglio per i Testi Legislativi ha compiuto uno studio approfondito della problematica, connessa con la retta applicazione del can. 1382 del Codice di Diritto Canonico, con particolare riferimento alle responsabilità canoniche dei soggetti coinvolti in una consacrazione episcopale senza il necessario mandato apostolico.

Frutto di tale studio è la Dichiarazione che si pubblica qui di seguito.

1. Il Pontificio Consiglio per i Testi Legislativi è stato sollecitato a chiarire alcuni particolari riguardanti la retta applicazione del can. 1382 cic, in rapporto soprattutto con le responsabilità canoniche dei soggetti coinvolti in una consacrazione episcopale senza il necessario mandato apostolico.

La questione, in quanto tale, non solleva dubbi di diritto propriamente tali, ma richiede soltanto talune delucidazioni utili all'adeguata conoscenza dei punti più salienti della norma penale e al modo in cui essa debba ritenersi applicabile ai casi concreti, tenendo conto delle circostanze personali dei soggetti che prendono parte alla commissione del delitto.


2. Come è noto, il can. 1321 definisce il delitto come la violazione esterna di una legge o di un precetto, gravemente imputabile per dolo o per colpa. Il canone aggiunge che, posta la violazione esterna, si presume l'imputabilità, salvo che non appaia altrimenti (can. 1321 § 3). Perché esista il reato è sufficiente che il reo sappia che sta violando una legge canonica; non è necessario che sappia che alla legge canonica è annessa una pena.


Il can. 1382 cic punisce con scomunica latae sententiae riservata alla Sede Apostolica il Vescovo che senza mandato apostolico consacra qualcuno Vescovo e anche quanti in questo modo ricevono l'ordinazione episcopale. Tale delitto viola la dottrina cattolica confermata, tra l'altro, dalla cost. dogm. Lumen gentium nn. 22 e 24 e dal decr. Christus Dominus n. 20, e accolta nel can. 377 § 1 cic: «Il Sommo Pontefice nomina liberamente i Vescovi, oppure conferma quelli che sono stati legittimamente eletti», e nel can. 1013 cic: «A nessun Vescovo è lecito consacrare un altro Vescovo se prima non consta del mandato apostolico».


Il can. 1382 cic è, anzitutto, una norma disciplinare della Chiesa che, come segnala il can. 11 cic, vale unicamente per i battezzati nella Chiesa cattolica o per quanti in essa sono stati già accolti. Inoltre, corrisponde col reato tipizzato dal Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium nel can. 1459 § 2, anche se nella tradizione penale di quelle Chiese non esistono pene latae sententiae, per cui la stessa pena viene inflitta ferendae sententiae.


3. Il delitto sancito dal can. 1382 cic è commesso sia dal Vescovo che consacra sia dal chierico che è consacrato. Inoltre, essendo quello della consacrazione episcopale un rito in cui è solita la partecipazione di più ministri, coloro che assumono detto compito di co-consacranti, e cioè impongono le mani e recitano la preghiera consacratoria nell'ordinazione (cfr. Caeremoniale Episcoporum nn. 582 e 584), risultano coautori del reato e quindi ugualmente sottoposti alla sanzione penale. Tale interpretazione risulta anche confermata dalla tradizione della Chiesa e dalla sua recente prassi.


4. Per quanto riguarda, invece, la punizione del delitto, la pena di scomunica prevista dal can. 1382 cic è sottoposta alle comuni condizioni richieste dalla legge canonica perché si incorra in una sanzione latae sententiae effettivamente e con certezza. Com'è risaputo, oltre alle comuni sanzioni penali ferendae sententiae inflitte dall'Autorità legittima per mezzo di una sentenza o di un decreto a conclusione delle corrispondenti procedure penali, nell'ordinamento canonico vi sono anche le cosiddette pene latae sententiae, che non dipendono da un giudice esterno che le imponga, ma solo dal compimento del delitto, fatto salvo quanto è prescritto dal can. 1324 § 3. Quest'ultimo esime dalla specifica pena latae sententiae se si verificano circostanze che, a norma del § 1 dello stesso canone, pur non escludendo la pena in quanto tale, la mitigano. Il canone 1324 § 3, infatti, specifica che il reo non incorre nella pena latae sententiae se esiste una delle circostanze elencate nel can. 1324 § 1.


Pertanto ciascun soggetto, nel caso di una consacrazione episcopale senza mandato apostolico, va considerato singolarmente e secondo le proprie circostanze personali per quanto attiene all'incorrere nella pena di scomunica latae sententiae riservata alla Santa Sede. Dette circostanze personali possono essere molto diverse e, in taluni casi, possono costituire circostanze attenuanti previste dalla legge. Al riguardo, il can. 1324 § 1 cic segnala che l'impeto passionale, la minore età, il timore grave, anche soltanto relativamente tale, la necessità, l'ingiusta provocazione, o l'ignoranza della pena canonica, per esempio, sono circostanze attenuanti che escludono la pena latae sententiae nelle forme indicate dalla legge.


Poche di queste circostanze possono essere configurabili nel reato di consacrazione senza mandato. C'è, però, un insieme di attenuanti delineate dal can. 1324 § 1, 5° cic che la storia ha dimostrato compatibili con delitti di questa natura: quando la persona, che commette il delitto come ordinante o come ordinato, è «costretta da timore grave, anche se soltanto relativamente tale, o per necessità o per grave incomodo». Nel concreto caso di una consacrazione episcopale senza mandato, l'attenuante del timore grave o del grave incomodo (o l'esimente della violenza fisica) va, dunque, verificata in merito a ciascuno dei soggetti che intervengono nel rito: i ministri consacranti e i chierici consacrati. Ciascuno di loro conosce in cuor suo il grado del personale coinvolgimento e la retta coscienza indicherà a ognuno se è incorso in una pena latae sententiae.

5. In merito alle responsabilità canoniche dei soggetti coinvolti in una consacrazione episcopale senza il necessario mandato apostolico va comunque aggiunto quanto segue.

Porre esternamente un atto punito dal can. 1382 cic provoca spontaneamente nei fedeli delle reazioni, anche di scandalo e di confusione, che in nessun modo possono essere sottovalutate e che postulano -- nei Vescovi coinvolti -- la necessità di ricuperare autorevolezza mediante segni di comunione e di penitenza, che possano essere apprezzati da tutti e senza i quali il governo pastorale del Vescovo «difficilmente potrebbe essere recepito dal Popolo di Dio come manifestazione della presenza operante di Cristo nella sua Chiesa» (Pastores gregis n. 43). Essi, infatti, come insegna il Concilio Vaticano II, reggono le Chiese particolari loro affidate «con il consiglio, la persuasione, l'esempio» (cost. dogm. Lumen gentium n. 27; cfr. can. 387 cic).

Inoltre, si ricorda che il can. 1331 § 1 CIC segnala che, allo scomunicato, è proibito: 1) prendere parte come ministro alla celebrazione dell'Eucaristia o di qualunque altra cerimonia di culto pubblico; 2) celebrare sacramenti e sacramentali e ricevere qualunque sacramento; 3) esercitare funzioni ministeriali ecclesiastiche e porre atti di governo. Queste proibizioni scattano ipso iure dal momento stesso in cui si incorre in una pena latae sententiae. Non occorre perciò che intervenga alcuna Autorità che imponga al soggetto dette proibizioni: la consapevolezza del proprio delitto è sufficiente perché chi è incorso nella sanzione sia tenuto davanti a Dio ad astenersi da tali atti, pena la commissione di un atto moralmente illecito e pertanto sacrilego. Tuttavia, anche gli atti derivanti dalla potestà di ordine e realizzati nelle succitate circostanze di sacrilegio sarebbero validi. 

6. Com'è ovvio, tutto quanto precede non esclude che, nei casi di ordinazione episcopale senza mandato pontificio, la Santa Sede possa trovarsi nella necessità di infliggere direttamente al soggetto delle censure, per esempio, qualora dalla sua condotta successiva o dalla sua riluttanza a fornire le necessarie spiegazioni circa il proprio grado di partecipazione al delitto emergesse un atteggiamento non compatibile con le esigenze della comunione. Inoltre, sopraggiunte nuove e certe informazioni, la stessa Santa Sede potrebbe addirittura trovarsi nella necessità di dichiarare la scomunica latae sententiae, o di imporre altre sanzioni o penitenze, se ciò si rendesse necessario per riparare lo scandalo, per dissipare la confusione dei fedeli e, più in generale, per salvaguardare la disciplina ecclesiastica (cfr. can. 1341).

La pena della scomunica latae sententiae stabilita dal can. 1382 cic è una censura riservata alla Santa Sede. In quanto censura, è una pena detta «medicinale», perché ha per finalità muovere il reo al pentimento: una volta che ha dimostrato di essersi sinceramente pentito, questi acquista il diritto di essere assolto dalla scomunica. Inoltre, essendo riservata alla Santa Sede, solo ad essa può rivolgersi il reo pentito per ottenere l'assoluzione dalla scomunica, riconciliandosi con la Chiesa.

Dal Vaticano, 6 giugno 2011

Francesco Coccopalmerio 


Presidente

Juan Ignacio Arrieta 

Segretario
(L'Osservatore Romano, June 11, 2011)

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, it would seem that the Holy See has formally recognized that if a bishop has a subjective and relative grave fear out of necessity or inconvenience, there is no excommunication. The text here says it is truly subjective, i.e., only known to the individuals involved, and perhaps confirmed by external conduct or comments.

Archbishop Lefebvre always maintained his consecrations were of grave necessity in order for "Tradition to survive". Indeed, he died less than 3 years later. If he, and the 4 consecrated bishops, subjectively had a relative grave fear out of necessity or inconvenience (which they always claimed) they were guilty of a crime, but were never excommunicated.

Alan Aversa said...

Is this to prevent another Lefebvre-like incident?

Anonymous said...

The Latin text? A translation into French or English, s.v.p.? Italian? Who reads Italian or German?

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Anon.:

Thank you. Could you please translate just the relevant passage?

P.K.T.P.

New Catholic said...

Yes, dear anon., that is a very probable understanding. Naturally, due to current affairs, this declaration seems to be related to certain events in the PRC - but it is an interpretation of the Canon by authentic authority, and not limited to 2011 contingencies (in fact, its presentation begins with, "In the past decades...")

NC

Anonymous said...

Mr. Aversa:

I suspect that this may have more to do with events in China.

In fact, if Anon. is right, this could protect the S.S.P.X. Sooner or later, it will need some new bishops. In that sense, yes, it could prevent another round of excommunications--or declarations of such.

P.K.T.P.

New Catholic said...

"Who reads Italian?"

Tutta la Curia, Sig. Perkins, tutta la Curia...

Anonymous said...

The language of the Church is Latin. Why is this presented in Italian?

Hans Coessens said...

Please answer this. Is this letter Basically saying that there was never an excommunication given that the SSPX believes to be acting out of necessity? If so, it certainly changes the entire canonical status of the SSPX and even my place for a religious vocation. I honestly want to know this. Thank you. In Christ

Cruise the Groove. said...

I am confused.

The FSSPX consecrations of 1988 where accompanied with an automatic excommunication which then was officially declared.
Am I wrong?

Archbishop Lefebvre said he performed the consecrations out of grave fear that the TLM and traditional rites would not be passed on, therfore out of conscience.
Am I wrong?

He apparently really believed the consecrations were the right thing for the Church.
Am I wrong?

This recent decalaration would seem to say, under these circumstances, he and the other 5 bishops were not excommunicated.

But wouldn't one have to be a mind reader to know ones true intentions?

Were the SSPX bishops excommunicated or not?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Coessens:

No, the decision does not change the canonical status of the S.S.P.X. That was changed in 1975 and 1976 when, first, Rome suppressed the Society and then suspended a divinis Archbishop Lefebvre. The excommunication declared in 1988 is a separate matter.

I'm wondering, however, if the Pope is setting about to reverse past actions one by one. He could, of course, remove the suppression and suspensions ab initio (as if they had never applied).

This is an interesting question. Suppose the Pope were to offer the Society an international and personal ordinariate say, today, the Vigil of Pentecost. Then the Pope removes the 1975 and 1976 penalties. Where does that leave the S.S.P.X? It makes them a regularised 'pious union' (or the equivalent in the 1983 Code); it puts them in the same situation as the F.S.S.P., having no right to implant apostolates without episcipal permission. That would then impel the Society to accept the offer of the ordinariate!

Is this what that German fox is up to? Let's just hope that, when he replaces the bear with the fox on his shield he also replaces the mitre with the tiaria ....

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Cruise the Groove:

It is always possible that those declaring an automatic penalty have misinterprted the law or the scope of its application. They are no more infallible than was Bugnini when he cococted a Mass.

There has been serious contention over the years about the applicability of this Canon. Lefebvre and company clearly expressed a real fear, and their actions, taken as a whole over the years, indicate taht it was real.

When will this declaration come in some *international* language or in the language of the Church. Italian is only the language of Italy and San Marino.

P.K.T.P.

P.K.T.P.

Jack said...

This is what Pope Benedict XIV has actually said about the ministry of SSPX clergy.

"The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church" (Pope Benedict XVI, Letter of 10 March 2009 to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre)

Anonymous said...

So all you need to evade excommunication is claim fear or subjectively think what you're doing is necessary?

Well, with these exceptions who could ever incur excommunication?

Jordanes551 said...

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has previously upheld the validity of the excommunications of Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops he illicitly consecrated. The Pope's remission of the four bishops' excommunications is in line with that prior judgment, for if he believed the excommunications were not binding he would have said so -- one cannot remit an invalid excommunication. Now, both of those judgments can later be revisited and revoked, but if that ever happens, it will have to involve a public statement on that specific case. This declaration doesn't mention Archbishop Lefebvre or the four SSPX bishops, so it has no bearing on their case.

Anonymous said...

A current non-Papal document from the Vatican contradicting a prior Papal document (moto proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta?) I am shocked! Shocked!

Louis

Cruise the Groove. said...

Jordanes,

But what if Archbishop Lefebvre really believed in the deep recesses of his heart that the Consecrations were absolutely needed for the Faith,
even if they were not and was told they were not beforehand?
Would he still have been excommunicated?

Jordanes551 said...

That's a good question, Cruise. In my opinion, the implications of this new declaration open the door to a reversal of the prior statement on the SSPX excommunications from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. However, we'd still need a statement explicitly, not just implicitly, reversing that judgment.

Paul M said...

Jordannes
If you read the last line of the doco 'remitting' the excomunications, you will realise it is in fact, a declaration that the excomunications were null from the beginning. Given that the declaration was made after no change of heart of the SSPX: (ie: the SSPX still thinks the same as when the excomunications were imposed), the staement declaring that Ecclesia Dei is'void of juridical effect' (quoting from memory)can only mean that the canonical sensure was invalidly applied.

Anonymous said...

Jordanes is wrong yet again. What was revoked was the *declaration* of excommunication. There is a difference between automatic and imposed penalties, eh?

The P.C.I.L.T. moves at its own pace and in its own way. It also did not mention any other cases, such as those in China (not that I know of).

Jordanes claims that the Council upheld the 1988 declaration. That's news to me. Is he confusing the P.C.I.L.T. with the Congregation for Bishops? I'm not sure. Reference, please?

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

You know, Jordanes, if a certain consecration never resulted in an automatic penalty in the first place, and the Congregation for Bishops said that it did, it would make sense to remit the mistaken declaration, no?

Then, later, it might make sense to clarify the scope of Canon 1382 and Canon 1323. You never know.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Cruise:

Archbishop Lefebve made it crystal clear that he held a relative fear both that the situation was a case of necessity and of grave fear, even "grave inconvenience" applies. This finding the of the P.C.E.D. obviously examines the applicatibility of Canon 1323 Nos. 4 and 7 to Canon 1382.

It is no coincidence that this finding is coming at this time. One day, the S.S.P.X will need new bishops. Will there be declarations of excommunication. I would answer this if I could read Italian. Would someone please link to a translation into English, French or Latin?

I'm not saying that this finding was prompted by the Lefebvre case. It was more likely prompted by the sitaution in China with the Patriotic Church. But it does pertain to the Lefebvre case as a subject.

P.K.T.P.

Joe B said...

But this decree, unlike the excommunication decree, is consistent even with prior Canon Law. It has throughout this entire period stated that charity for souls is the highest law and that excommunication is not a valid penalty for a consecration in a perceived crisis, whether one actually exists or not. Since the Holy Archbishop was not declared to be excommunicated by the Holy Father, but to have excommunicated himself according to this very law that denies that penalty, it follows that he was never validly excommunicated.

You most certainly can write that an excommunication is lifted that never existed. It's sometimes called false and other times called tactical.

As for the rest, SSPX has remained far more Catholic than the Holy See throughout this period, so I'll stand with them confident that in the end they will be shown to have been correct as well as extraordinarily holy and courageous, and none of the sanctions against them (really against Catholic tradition) will hold a drop of water. Error has no rights, you know.

Jordanes551 said...

Paul M, your memory is faulty. The last line of the remission of the SSPX bishops' excommunications is as follows:

"Based on the faculties expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time."

Note: what was remitted was not the declaration of an excommunication, but an excommunication that had been declared. Since it is impossible to remit an invalid censure, it follows that it is currently the judgment of the Church that the decreed censure, which was deprived of any juridical effect, was validly imposed. That judgment could change in the future, but this is the state of things at this time.

Jordanes551 said...

Jordanes is wrong yet again.

No, Jordanes is right.

What was revoked was the *declaration* of excommunication.

Nope. See above. It was precisely excommunications that were declared that the Pope ordered the Congregation of Bishops to remit, not the declaration of those excommunications.

There is a difference between automatic and imposed penalties, eh?

Yes, as there is a difference between a declared automatic excommunication (which is what we're dealing with here) and an undeclared automatic excommunication.

Jordanes claims that the Council upheld the 1988 declaration. That's news to me. Is he confusing the P.C.I.L.T. with the Congregation for Bishops? I'm not sure. Reference, please?

At your service (emphasis added):

In Italian:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt/documents/rc_pc_intrptxt_doc_19960824_vescovo-lefebvre_it.html

In English:

http://sspx.agenda.tripod.com/id58.html

*******

THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF FOLLOWERS OF ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE

Annexe to Prot.N. 5233/96

Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts

NOTE: On the excommunication for schism which the adherents to the movement of Bishop Marcel Lefebvre incur.

1. From the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia dei" of 2nd July 1988 and from the Decree "Dominus Marcellus Lefebvre" of the Congregation for Bishops, of 1st July 1988, it appears above all that the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre was declared in immediate reaction to the episcopal ordinations conferred on 30th June 1988 without pontifical mandate (cf CIC, Can. 1382). All the same it also appears clear from the aforementioned documents that such a most grave act of disobedience formed the consummation of a progressive global situation of a schismatic character.

2. In effect no. 4. of the Motu Proprio explains the nature of the "doctrinal root of this schismatic act," and no. 5. c) warns that a "formal adherence to the schism" (by which one must understand "the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre" ) would bring with it the excommunication established by the universal law of the Church (CIC, can. 1364 para.1). Also the decree of the Congregation for Bishops makes explicit reference to the "schismatic nature" of the aforesaid episcopal ordinations and mentions the most grave penalty of excommunication which adherence "to the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre" would bring with it.

PCILT document concluded in next comment . . . .

Jordanes551 said...

3. Unfortunately, the schismatic act which gave rise to the Motu Proprio and the Decree did no more than draw to a conclusion, in a particularly visible and unequivocal manner - with a most grave formal act of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff - a process of distancing from hierarchical communion. As long as there are no changes which may lead to the re-establishment of this necessary communion, the whole Lefebvrian movement is to be held schismatic, in view of the existence of a formal declaration by the Supreme Authority on this matter.

4. One cannot furnish any judgement on the argumentation of Murray's thesis (see below) because it is not known, and the two articles which refer to it appear confused. However, doubt cannot reasonably be cast upon the validity of the excommunication of the Bishops declared in the Motu Proprio and the Decree. In particular it does not seem that one may be able to find, as far as the imputability of the penalty is concerned, any exempting or lessening circumstances. (cf CIC, can. 1323) As far as the state of necessity in which Mons. Lefebvre thought to find himself, one must keep before one that such a state must be verified objectively, and there is never a necessity to ordain Bishops contrary to the will of the Roman Pontiff, Head of the College of Bishops. This would, in fact, imply the possibility of "serving" the church by means of an attempt against its unity in an area connected with the very foundations of this unity.

5. As the Motu Proprio declares in no. 5 c) the excommunication latae sententiae for schism regards those who "adhere formally" to the said schismatic movement. Even if the question of the exact import of the notion of "formal adherence to the schism" would be a matter f
or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it seems to this pontifical Council that such formal adherence would have to imply two complementary elements:

a) one of internal nature, consisting in a free and informed agreement with the substance of the schism, in other words, in the choice made in such a way of the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre which puts such an option above obedience to the Pope (at the root of this attitude there will usually be positions contrary to the magisterium of the Church),

b) the other of an external character, consisting in the externalising of this option, the most manifest sign of which will be the exclusive participation in Lefebvrian "ecclesial" acts, without taking part in the acts of the Catholic Church (one is dealing however with a sign that is not univocal, since there is the possibility that a member of the faithful may take part in the liturgical functions of the followers of Lefebvre but without going along with their schismatic spirit).


Okay, still too long. Concluded in NEXT comment then . . . .

Jordanes551 said...

6. In the case of the Lefebvrian deacons and priests there seems no doubt that their ministerial activity in the ambit of the schismatic movement is a more than evident sign of the fact that the two requirements mentioned above (n.5) are met, and thus that there is a formal adherence.

7. On the other hand, in the case of the rest of the faithful it is obvious that an occasional participation in liturgical acts or the activity of the Lefebvrian movement, done without making one's own the attitude of doctrinal and disciplinary disunion of such a movement, does not suffice for one to be able to speak of formal adherence to the movement. In pastoral practice the result can be that it is more difficult to judge their situation. One must take account above all of the person's intentions, and the putting into practice of this internal disposition. For this reason the various situations are going to be judged case by case, in the competent forums both internal and external.

8. All the same, it will always be necessary to distinguish between the moral question on the existence or not of the sin of schism and the juridical-penal question on the existence of the delict of schism, and its consequent sanction. In this latter case the dispositions of Book V1 of the Code of Canon Law (including Cann.1323-1324) will be applied.

9. It does not seem advisable to make more precise the requirements for the delict of schism (but one would need to ask the competent Dicastery, cf. Ap. Const. "Pastor Bonus", art 52). One might risk creating more problems by means of rigid norms of a penal kind which would not cover every case, leaving uncovered cases of substantial schism, or having regard to external behaviour which is not always subjectively schismatic.

10. Always from the pastoral point of view it would also seem opportune to recommend once again to sacred pastors all the norms of the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei' with which the solicitude of the Vicar of Christ encouraged to dialogue and has provided the supernatural and human means necessary to facilitate the return of the Lefebvrians to full ecclesial communion.

Vatican City, 24th August 1996.

Jordanes551 said...

You know, Jordanes, if a certain consecration never resulted in an automatic penalty in the first place, and the Congregation for Bishops said that it did, it would make sense to remit the mistaken declaration, no?

Yes. However, the declaration of the excommunications was not remitted -- rather, the excommunications themselves were remitted, and the declaration was declared of no juridical effect from that point on.

Then, later, it might make sense to clarify the scope of Canon 1382 and Canon 1323. You never know.

I'm pretty sure that's not what has happened here. As I said, because the PCILT has previously stated in a declaration that the SSPX excommunications were valid -- indeed that their validity could not reasonably be questioned -- what we need is a formal declaration from a competent authority that reverses the PCILT statements of 26 Aug. 1996.

Now, I think that this new PCILT declaration does lay the judicial groundwork for just such a reversal -- but it is not a reversal. As I said, for that, we'd need a declaration that explicitly mentions the case of the SSPX excommunications.

Joe B said...

"... such a state must be verified objectively, and there is never a necessity to ordain Bishops contrary to the will of the Roman Pontiff, Head of the College of Bishops."

Jordanes, you aren't suggesting that for a subject of debate, are you? No crisis, not even at the time of the original decree? Surely we don't have to go through all those objective stats again.

I can't believe the Roman Pontiff doesn't see the carnage. He must. He does. He just has a fear of a major schism keeping him from openly acting on it, or perhaps his objectivity is severely clouded by personal involvement with the massive failures of his era in the government of the church. Either way, I don't need to wait for anyone to verify for me that there was and still is a crisis.

And there may be such a verification requirement in Jordanes Law, but there is no such criteria in Canon Law. That's the whole point of this document, Jordanes - we can't see a man's thoughts. The Holy Archbishop's work is evidence enough to me to say he truly believed there was a crisis, and I agree with him.

"... there seems no doubt that ... the schismatic movement is a more than evident sign ... that there is a formal adherence".

This is a lie. There is no schism. How many times does the Roman Pontiff have to say it before you get off?

Jordanes551 said...

Joe, Mr. Perkins asked me for a reference to back up what I said about the PCILT previously stating that the SSPX excommunications were valid. So I provided the reference, including the entirety of the 1996 PCILT Note. You don't have to like what it says or agree with what it says, but you are obliged to accept that it says what it says, and that it helps to shows some of the legislative/juridical background for the Holy See's 2008 remission of the SSPX excommunications.

And there may be such a verification requirement in Jordanes Law, but there is no such criteria in Canon Law.

Your beef is not with me, but with the 1996 PCILT Note.

"... there seems no doubt that ... the schismatic movement is a more than evident sign ... that there is a formal adherence".

This is a lie. There is no schism. How many times does the Roman Pontiff have to say it before you get off?


Who are you talking to? I didn't say that -- it was the PCILT that said it in 1996

Joe B said...

Jordanes, I owe you one. Anytime you and your family want to get away for a few days on a beautiful North Carolina lake, just let me know. It's only a one-bedroom apartment, but it's yours. And from my end, it would be a pleasure! And I think you would be absolutely amazed at the Catholicism you would see here on Sunday at this SSPX chapel.

Anytime.

Anonymous said...

Jordanes writes:

"However, the declaration of the excommunications was not remitted -- rather, the excommunications themselves were remitted"

No, Jordanes, that is not true. Read the January, 2009, statement. It said that the *declaration* of excommunication was withdrawn.

Thank you for providing the earlier quotation from the P.C.I.L.T. But the P.C.I.L.T., however august, is not infallible in matters of law or in any matter. Therefore, it remains possible that the earlier (or later) P.C.I.L.T. declaration was mistaken. We can, of course, only go by the most recent statement and the most recent one does not mention the Lefebvre case by name--but nor does it mention any other case by name.

I suspect that the latest statement of the P.C.I.L.T. is meant to prevent future declarations of automatic excommunication against the S.S.P.X when it needs new bishops.

There is a compatible possible explanation: both statements are correct per se but they relate to different information. Remember that what is crucial here is the disposition of the consecrators. What Rome knows about that disposition today from, say, evidence supplied by the S.S.P.X, may differ from what was known in the past. The P.C.I.L.T. does not read minds; it only sets norms and makes declarations on matters of fact in accordance with available evidence.

To develop this last explanation, perhaps the new P.C.I.L.T. statement is a guideline for the S.S.P.X. In other words, the 1988 consecrations did indeed incur excommunications but they would not have done so had the consecrators made clear their dispositions. This possibility would make real sense here. It would be a way to clarify to Bishop Fellay what he must do in future to avoid the same penalties under similiar circumstances.

Why help him in this way? To sweeten the coming offer, perhaps? H.H. does not want another round of excommunications all over again as the Society bishops retire and die and need to be replaced. Having gone to such trouble and having gotten past the Williamson débâcle, I think that this Pope wants to move forward and not go back!

What do you think of this possibility? In due humility, my ruminations here are entirely speculative, as I don't read Italian.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

I have read the 1996 statement and Jordanes fails to make his case. Here is the relevant quotation:

"However, doubt cannot reasonably be cast upon the validity of the excommunication of the Bishops declared in the Motu Proprio and the Decree. In particular it does not seem that one may be able to find, as far as the imputability of the penalty is concerned, any exempting or lessening circumstances. (cf CIC, can. 1323) As far as the state of necessity in which Mons. Lefebvre thought to find himself, one must keep before one that such a state must be verified objectively, and there is never a necessity to ordain Bishops contrary to the will of the Roman Pontiff, Head of the College of Bishops. This would, in fact, imply the possibility of "serving" the church by means of an attempt against its unity in an area connected with the very foundations of this unity"

So, my point from the last post makes sense: there must be objective verification of any exemption to the automatic excommunication. In other words, the consecrators must make clear the special circumstances of their dispositions.

Then Jordanes is fooled by the quotation from Canon 1323. Look again, my friend. "Necessity" is not the only exempting circumstance. It was dealt with in 1996 only because the Murray thesis based its case on it:

"acted under the compulsion of grave fear, even if only relative, or by reason of necessity OR GRAVE INCONVENIENCE [emphasis added]"

It can never be necessary to odain bishops contrary to the will of the Roman Pontiff [provided, I assume, that there is no evidence that he lacks sanity]. But perhaps one may do so to avoid grave inconvenience. If the Latin Mass was never abrogated but was de facto suppressed, this unlawful abuse of power creates grave inconvenience.

The P.C.I.L.T. does not deal with the subjective element in No. 7 of Canon 1323, merely noting that one cannot assume a subjective fault as an excuse because this state on the part of the consecrator must be verified objectively. In other words, the P.C.I.L.T. is not ruling on whether or not Lefebvre might be exempt on these grounds; it is merely saying that one cannot assume this without adequate evidence, which evidence was not before the Council in 1996. The P.C.I.L.T. is only ruling that the 1988 declaration of the Congregation of Bishops must be assumed to be true given the evidence available to it at the time. At that time, the Latin Mass was thought by most to be abrogated, since Paul VI illegally claimed its suppression in "De Missali Romano", 1971.

What evidence is available in 2011 could be different, resulting in a change of judgement but not a contradiction, since the 1996 ruling is neutral on this this point.

P.K.T.P.

Jordanes551 said...

Read the January, 2009, statement. It said that the *declaration* of excommunication was withdrawn.

I already did. Again, as I told Paul M, the key passage of the document of remission of the excommunications says:

"Based on the faculties expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time."

As you can see, it doesn't say, "I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the declaration of the censure of latae sententiae excommunication issued by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time." Rather, it says, "I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time."

So, the declared censure of excommunication was remitted -- not the declaration of the censure -- and the Decree that declared that censure was declared to be deprive of any further juridical effect.

That means that the current judgment of the Holy See is that the excommunications were valid. As I said above, that judgment could change in the future, but this is the state of things at this time.

Thank you for providing the earlier quotation from the P.C.I.L.T. But the P.C.I.L.T., however august, is not infallible in matters of law or in any matter. Therefore, it remains possible that the earlier (or later) P.C.I.L.T. declaration was mistaken.

Quite so.

We can, of course, only go by the most recent statement and the most recent one does not mention the Lefebvre case by name--but nor does it mention any other case by name.

I have opined that the principles of the new PCILT declaration, if applied consistently, open the way to a reconsideration of the question of the validity of the SSPX excommunications. The new declaration does not, however, of itself constitute a reconsideration of the SSPX case, but they make it juridically possible.

I suspect that the latest statement of the P.C.I.L.T. is meant to prevent future declarations of automatic excommunication against the S.S.P.X when it needs new bishops.

You could be right about that. At any rate, it certainly makes that possible even if that is not the intention.

What do you think of this possibility? In due humility, my ruminations here are entirely speculative, as I don't read Italian.

I find your ruminations possible, plausible, and hopeful. I hope you're right.

I have read the 1996 statement and Jordanes fails to make his case.

My case, which I am confident I have made, is that because the Church currently regards the remitted SSPX excommunications as having been valid, and the PCILT previously stated so, we will need a new, superceding statement from the competent authority (the PCILT, I have said, though it could be another competent dicastery or even a formal declaration from the Pope himself) that reverses that judgment in order to say that the Church regards the excommunications as never having been valid -- and in order to be able to say uncontroversially that the excommunications never were valid. This new PCILT declaration does not constitute a formally reversal of the Church's current judgment, but opens the way to such a reversal.

Joe B said...

You know, I'm thinking you can come too, P.K.T.P., but maybe not at the same time as Jordanes.

Except maybe on the 4th of July. Might fit right in.

Jordanes551 said...

Thanks, Joe. That's a kind and gracious invitation!

Anonymous said...

Jordanes writes:

"So, the declared censure of excommunication was remitted -- not the declaration of the censure -- and the Decree that declared that censure was declared to be deprive of any further juridical effect."

Yes, I admit that Jordanes's conclusion here is correct on this major point and that I have been dead wrong on it. I should have checked the wording before making the point. I apologise to Jordanes on this. I may be a nasty winner but I'm not a sore loser!

The rest of what I wrote stands, especially the bit about the changed circumstance of the T.L.M. having been illegally suppressed. Of course, as the P.C.I.L.T. says, any extenuating circumstance must be verified objectively. So the S.S.P.X might wish, one day, to provide evidence that Archbishop Lefebvre regarded the suppression of the T.L.M. to be a case of "grave inconvenience" and/or necessity.

I think that a good case for Lefebvre can be made here. The argument, in essence, would be that the P.C.I.L.T. could not take into account an argument regarding the suppression of the T.L.M. because this was not declared to be unabrogated until 2007.

Return to the words of Cardinal Stickler regarding the findings of the 1986 Commission of Cardinals. He was quite emphastic in saying that the Church had not *and probably could not* suppress something so ancient and so venerable, a Mass that was gifted to the Church by God the Holy Ghost.

Pope Paul VI, he said, could only ask that the New Mass be said. He indirectly referred to Moral Law in this matter. Note that, according to St. Thomas, an ordinance of positive law fails to qualify as law if it violates a norm of Moral Law. The findings of 1986 were assented to privately by John Paul II (according to Stickler) but Cardinal Benelli convinced him not to declare them for practical reasons. However, those findings have been finally confirmed in 2007 by one of the Cardinals who voted in their favour. He is now Benedict XVI.

I think it clear that ++Lefebvre proceeded with the consecrations for more than one reason but one of them definitely was an attempt to preserve a Mass that was being unlawfully suppressed. That could be cited as objective proof for a disposition regarding all three excuses: grave fear, grave inconvenience, necessity.

I agree with Jordanes that the P.C.I.L.T. has not reversed the declaration of the Congregreation of Bishops. Of course, whether or not this is important is another matter. The Council is only asserting that there was, in 1996, no reason to doubt the 1988 declaration. This does not mean that the 1988 declaration was necessarily correct at law, and the censure has been withdrawn from the four bishops and cannot apply to deceased bishops after death (dealth with here before, I believe).

So the importance of this 2011 declaration is what it might mean for the S.S.P.X in the future. If the Society thinks it needful to proceed in the future, it must consider what extenuating circumstances apply. It cannot use the excuse that the T.L.M. is being illegally suppressed because it no longer is *IF* Rome offers the Society a juridical solution. In my view, should Rome offer the S.S.P.X an international ordinariate, given also S.P. and U.E., there is no obvious cause for proceeding with unapproved consecrations on liturgical grounds.

The other possible cause would be a failure of Rome to clarify doctrine as needed for the salvation of souls. But if Rome offers to answer any ambiguities in ongoing discussion, where is that excuse?

Is the Pope removing all possible excuses for unapproved consecrations? That puts the S.S.P.X on a stopwatch as its youngest bishops, de Galarreta and Fellay, approach death.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Joe B:

The 4th of July is a black day for me. We close the curtains that day to mourn the loss of the Thirteen colonies. My three-times great-grandfather fought for the Crown in the War of 1812; his father, in that 1776 rebellion by some pirates and bridgands in the Thirteen Coloines. We won the War of 1812, of course, but should have sent in more troops in 1776.

How about Victoria Day? It's the Monday on or after 24th May. That is fireworks day for me!

P.K.T.P.
Canada

Anonymous said...

In regard to Archbishop Lefebvre’s case, I do wish to add a clarification. ++Lefebvre never attempted to appeal the decree issued against him, as required by law. So while a future review might find that the penalty might never have applied in the first place, this could only be a finding of what might have happened had he appealed.

To my recollection (and I don’t have the time to find the references but I know that they are there—check Daviese’s Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre), ++L. deliberately did not appeal because he took the higher position that the entire case against him was invalid from its origin on grounds of Moral Law. At this point, we must stress that Moral Law is not some theoretical system that we tip our hats to and recognise for the sake of form, and then ignore. On the contrary, it is as far above any species of positive law as the sun is above the earth. No ordinance of positive law has any validity whatsoever if it violates a norm of Moral Law. Lefebvre would likely argue that he held a profound conviction that there was a crisis in the Church at the time. The Canon Law is only an extension of the Pope’s authority and the end of that authority is the salvation of souls and the fostering of Christ’s Mystical Body on earth. So he acted in a case of true necessity in a forum that is above a compromised Canon Law—compromised because its fount was compromised. ++Lefebvre did not found his action on fancy or whim or private judgement but on a very serious and informed consideration of the situation—informed, that is, by a very thorough knowledge of doctrine. (This does not guarantee that he was right, of course.) If you believed that your house was collapsing in an earthquake and the Pope said that it was not, you would not be wrong to run for your life.

So ++Lefebvre would argue, like Arius, that the very source of positive law in the Church was unsure. He acted honestly and carefully for the salvation of souls. Again, this does not mean that his action was objectively correct but it was more than an exercise in private judgement. It was one profoundly informed by the constant teaching of the Church.

Had Archbishop Lefebvre appealed his case, regardless of the outcome of that appeal, the appeal would have implicated him (in his view) in the cause of the crisis. So he had to avoid an appeal if he wished to make an argument from Moral Law, with its sources in Divine and Natural Law; and the sources for Divine Law are Scripture and Tradition.

In the end, Lefebvre has won. His case from Moral Law remains intact, his excommunication (if it were valid) ceased upon his death, and the excommunications of his ordinands (presuming they were valid) have been remitted.

PART II to follow, P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

PART II, P.K.T.P.


The situation today is different in some ways. The crisis in faith and morals in the Church continues but we have a Pope who is at least addressing the problems, as his predecessor addressed some of them also. Arguably, U.E. finally liberated the Latin Mass because it subordinated the authority of the bishops to that of the Pope through the P.C.E.D. On the other hand, on purely practical grounds, it can be argued that, de facto, the T.L.M. has not yet been liberated, as the mechanism in U.E. is inadequate. But if the Pope should grant to the S.S.P.X an international ordinariate, the liberation of the T.L.M. would be assured. A suppression of the N.O.M. cannot be demanded unless the full reasons for this are raised and considered. Rome has not refused to consider problems with the New Mass; in fact, Bishop Fellay confirmed that liturgy was an item in the discussions.

On the doctrinal problems (especially religious liberty, œcumenism, collegiality, inculturation, liberation theology, most prelates’ obvious socialism, &c.), the Pope is apparently offering to consider any concerns one-by-one. No power on earth can constrain the Sacred Magisterium but the Pope is apparently willing to address the Society’s concerns. We know this because Bishop Fellay has recently called the present talks the “first phase” of them.

If the Pope offers a universal ordinariate or a particular church under these conditions, the S.S.P.X should accept this for the good of souls, including those of many traditionalists and others who are currently confused or lost. The S.S.P.X must look to its own sheep first but then to the others. Christ came to save everyone.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

One quick note regarding Arius: I meant those *opposing* Arius in my last post. Sorry for the slip.

P.K.T.P.

Joe B said...

P.K.T.P., come on down anytime. I would enjoy the company.

As far as the American colonies go, you will fit right in up to a point with the numerous Confederates that still populate this area and even the chapel I attend. They're not going to let you win the argument about the War of 1812, though. They had to have that win to have won the Civil War later.

Anonymous said...

Interesting the text refers not only to those illicitly episcopally ordained Chinese bishops but also according to Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative
Texts, to those bishops ordained by the former Archbishop of Lusaka, Mons. Emmanual Milingo. See:
http://www.zenit.org/article-32850?l=english
Also interestingly, Bishop Arrieta does not refer to the Episcopal Ordinations conferred by Milingo as 'schismatic' but refers to those ordinations conferred by Mons. Thuc as 'schismatic".
JAMIE