Rorate Caeli

Decree of the Congregation for Bishops

By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Bp. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Bp. Fellay affirms, among other things: "We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial disposition. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much."

His Holiness Benedict XVI - paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter of not sparing any effort to deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters, so as to achieve shortly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin - decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, arisen with their episcopal consecration.

With this act, it is desired to consolidate the reciprocal relations of confidence and to intensify and grant stability to the relationship of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also intended to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division.

It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity.

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.

Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, January 21, 2009.

Card. Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

Translation: RORATE


The excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009.
We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of “silent apostasy.”
Besides our gratitude towards the Holy Father and towards all those who helped him to make this courageous act, we are pleased that the decree of January 21 considers as necessary “talks” with the Holy See, talks which will enable the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church.
In this new atmosphere, we have the firm hope to obtain soon the recognition of the rights of Catholic Tradition
Menzingen, January 24, 2009
+Bernard Fellay


  1. Anonymous11:31 AM

    I am crying of joy - dear Virgin Mary, I cannot in words express my gratitude for this your tremendous gift to the w h o l e church!

    adveniat Regnum Tuum..

    Per Mariam ad Jesum/ a catholic in the diaspora, Sweden

  2. Anonymous11:39 AM


  3. Anonymous11:40 AM

    My initial impression is not good. They were really excommunited before today, then? The excommunications were not null and void from the beginning? Not a word about Archbishop Lefebvre and Castro Mayer? This can't be!

  4. Anonymous11:43 AM

    Excellent news. Wonder what the situation will be regarding Archbishop Lefebre and Bishop Castro de Meyer.

  5. All glory and thanks be to God and to the Blessed Virgin who has intervened and directed this wonderful Grace by the Holy Father. Deo Gracias!

  6. What a moment.

    Am I right in saying that excommunications do not apply after a person dies so there would have been no issue about lifting the order on Archbishop Lefebvre.

  7. Anonymous11:48 AM

    No word about Mgr Lefebvre and Mgr de Castro Mayer, but I do read the following:

    [qoute]... 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 date. [/quote]

    I would think these two bishops were (said to be) excommunicated latae sententiae by exactly the same decree. So, although not mentioned with their names, I think juridically they are declared free of excommunication, too!

    My 2 cents :)

    Pax et bonum!

  8. Dear new Catholic.

    Thank you so much for posting this so quickly.

    Had you noticed though on the Vatican bulletin, there was a second letter below this.

    Could you kindly give this us please in English as well.

    Thank you so much

  9. Anonymous11:49 AM

    @Henry94: no that is not correct as far as I know. Basicly, the idea of excommunicating is that you are expelled, not for a life-time but for ever.

  10. I agree with the interpretation of the last anon's "two cents". This is typical subtle (in the good sense) language from the Holy Father.

  11. Anonymous11:51 AM

    Oh Happy Day! I have been a Catholic for four years, and this is certainly one of the happier moments in a wonderful journey!

    Bishop Fellay has responded well on the SSPX website, and I hope the nay sayers will be drowned out. Thank you Holy Father. Thank you Mary Queen of Heaven. Thank you Lord Jesus King of Kings...

  12. Anonymous11:55 AM

    No, that's not true from what - heard yesterday. Excommunication ends at death.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Andyjourn,

    The Decree is the essential text. In the Bollettino, the Press Office of the Holy See merely presents its content before the actual text, but with no new information.

  15. Laudetur Iesus Christus. Let the "discussions" begin!

  16. Anonymous12:40 PM

    And just as big news is that they got their "talks" about doctrinal issues -- the third piece of the puzzel!!!

    And has anyone noticed they haven't had to conceed a thing :)

  17. Anonymous12:43 PM

    The statement of the German bishops:

  18. Anonymous12:47 PM

    Not strong enough, but at least the leader had the sense to distance himself from his vicious holocaust-denying anti-Semetic colleague:

  19. Anonymous12:55 PM

    PSALMUS 23 (22)
    1 PSALMUS. David.
    Dominus pascit me, et nihil mihi deerit:
    2 in pascuis virentibus me collocavit,
    super aquas quietis eduxit me,
    3 animam meam refecit.
    Deduxit me super semitas iustitiae propter nomen suum.
    4 Nam et si ambulavero in valle umbrae mortis,
    non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es.
    Virga tua et baculus tuus,
    ipsa me consolata sunt.
    5 Parasti in conspectu meo mensam
    adversus eos, qui tribulant me;
    impinguasti in oleo caput meum,
    et calix meus redundat.
    6 Etenim benignitas et misericordia subsequentur me
    omnibus diebus vitae meae,
    et inhabitabo in domo Domini
    in longitudinem dierum.

  20. This is one way to get good bishops! But rather circuitous and painstakingly prolonged I'd say.

  21. Anonymous1:09 PM

    This is awesome news, fantastic.

    But I read the German statement of the Bishops Conference which is a bunch of BS because their last comment says loosly that "this proves the indispensibility of Vatican II for the life of the Church" the 4 SSPX Bishops totally surrendered and acknowledged Vatican II.


  22. "Et l'archevêque de Paris a conclu : « ........ le Pape exerce son ministère de communion, comme il l'a fait par exemple par la lettre qu'il a envoyée aux catholiques chinois l'année dernière, avec l'intention de les aider à retrouver une pleine unité. »

    Which "unity" the cardinal archbishop & many bishops of France have damaged severely by their neomodernist insistence on a French church that continues its downward spiral into extinction. The SSPX, the FSSP & Institut and other traditional Roman Catholic groups are the only ones, your grace, who are expanding Catholicism and the Kingdom of God in France. Your wing of The Church is downsizing it. Time has come to distinguish yourself between "good tradition and bad tradition".

  23. "Der Papst zeigt die Möglichkeit der Rückkehr in die volle Gemeinschaft mit der katholischen Kirche und lässt zugleich keinen Zweifel daran, dass die Beschlüsse des II. Vatikanischen Konzils unabdingbar Grundlage für das Leben der Kirche sind.“

    It is in following the post-conciliar pathway that The Church has led to such an impasse. On the contrary, we have a pope who realises that The Church will go nowhere without its traditional liturgy and a traditional approach to the Faith. The German NO church is like many other fellow national churches - confused, self-destructive and given over to un-Catholic radical compromises with modernism that have scandalised millions of Catholics who have drifted away from The Church over the last 40 years.

    The SSPX and other traditional organisations are telling you that your post-conciliar processes are in dire need of revision.

  24. Anonymous2:27 PM

    "The SSPX and other traditional organisations are telling you that your post-conciliar processes are in dire need of revision."

    This is at the heart of what the SSPX has always stood for, and it is 100% true.

    Fortunatly we now have a Pope (and some others in the Vatican such as the new Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Disipline of the Sacraments ( Arinze the enemy is gone), who realizes with the Pope that this is true.

    There are close to 1,500 SSPX religious in 30 Orders, in addition to 560 SSPX priests and 260 seminarians, and close to 250 SSPX sisters ready along with 2,000+ religious from other traditionalist Orders to help at last restore the Church.

    The "CHurch of Vatican "", "New Springtime" etc. is a dead Church.
    It should be obvious to the Pope.
    Increasingly, I think it is.

  25. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Thank God!

    Long live the Pope!

    Now, when will the suspension a divinis be lifted? Only after the full reconciliation

  26. Anonymous2:36 PM

    God bless the Pope and help him to fight against all enemys of Christ! Give him courage, health and many days as Bishop of Rome.

  27. Anonymous2:53 PM

    "while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time."

    That would seem to remove any concerns that some had about the original decree also having a juridical effects on laity attending and supporting the SSPX. No?

    Pope Benedict seems to be fearlessly leading down a path towards greater Christian unity, and surely TAC and the East must take no small notice of his generous and humble ways.

    When all is settled on these matters of Christian unity, John Paul may not be the only "The Great."

    Praise God for Pope Benedict. Praise God in his greatness. The Lord is the King of Glory.

  28. Anonymous2:55 PM


  29. "And has anyone noticed they haven't had to conceed a thing :)"

    Maybe not yet.

    This appears to be an interesting trend with the Holy See: i.e., lift the excommunications and harsh decrees first; then deal with the specifics later.

    You've seen it done with the Eastern Orthodox, Fr. Feeney, the Chinese Patriotic Association, and now the SSPX. This doesn't mean Rome has vindicated any of their original positions. Rather, it's a very kind and gracious ecumenical gesture on our Holy Father's part.

    God Bless B16!

  30. Anonymous3:17 PM

    Can you imagine this morning the reaction of the JEWS !!!!

  31. Deo gratias! I was moved to tears as well.

  32. Anonymous4:05 PM

    Thank you, Holy Father!

    Dear Benedict XVI is not a Pius X or Pius IX (my favorite) but he has done 2 things that will resound down the years: the Motu Propio and the lifting of the excommunications. Neither of them are perfect, but the little snowball that starts at the top of the mountain soon becomes an avalanche.

    There is a long hard road ahead and the enemy is evil and cunning, but we have now started on that road and I will always give thanks to God and His Blessed Mother and to our Holy Father for these two gifts of the Motu and the Decree.

    We should be like His Excellency Bishop Fellay and be grateful for the courage of that little German in the Vatican (said with all due respect and love) against the forces that are arrayed against him but without diminishing the struggle ahead.

    God bless Holy Mother Church and His Holiness Benedict XVI!

    Michael Yoder

  33. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Re. Archbishop Lefebvre and Castro Mayer:

    The wording of the decree makes clear that it is made in response to the request of the four living SSPX bishops, as communicated by bishop Fellay, and pastorally in response to the expression of suffering in that request.

    Nothing can be assumed about the relevance of this decree to Archbishop Lefebvre and Castro Mayer. On the contrary, given that the decree is clearly made in response to the present situation and the present desire of the SSPX bishops, it cannot be seen as relevant to the deceased.

  34. Anonymous4:26 PM

    On the second reaction here, I need to read over this once I've woken up entirely, but I don't think the new decree either denies OR AFFIRMS that the excommunication was valid all along. It uses the formula, "I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the decree emanated at that date". So it says that there is no juridical effect from this day forward but avoids saying whether or not there was any such effect from 1988 to the present (while the text *assumes* that there was such an effect, it avoids affirming this). As I initially suspected, they are not answering one way or the other the question of whether the declarations of excommunication were valid all along, thereby allowing the two different sides to continue disputing this. They are simply saying that any effect it MAY have had is hereby removed.

    This saves face for both sides, for both can continue to contend their own view as regards the situation from 1988 to 2009. So the Mr. Veres and others can continue to insist that they've been right all along, whereas their opponents will say the same.


  35. You are correct, Mr. Perkins (PKTP). The decree was appropriately (and beautifully) written in such a way as to avoid complex canonical questions at the current moment. It is a temporary measure of a practical nature, a step on the way to some kind of canonically stable settlement. Those deeper questions remain unresolved, and the Supreme Authority, acting through his Prefect for Bishops, had no intention to consider them at this moment (and the reactions of the FSSPX clearly show that it did not expect anything greater presently).


  36. Anonymous4:39 PM

    Glory be thee O Holy God upon High!
    Praise be unto thee, O Lord Jesus Christ!!
    Laudatur Jesus Christus!

  37. Anonymous4:45 PM

    The Enemy's amen chorus here in the USA has also cast it's first handful of predictably expected mud (or worse) at BXVI's action. Note the headline.


    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict Saturday rehabilitated a traditionalist bishop who denies the Holocaust, despite warnings from Jewish leaders that it would seriously harm Catholic-Jewish relations and foment anti-Semitism."

  38. Anonymous4:47 PM

    The Press Office communiqué does expressly mentions, more than once, that the four bishop had incurred excommunication: "la scomunica in cui erano incorsi vent’anni fa"; "erano incorsi nella scomunica latae sententiae"; "la scomunica che gravava sui menzionati Presuli".

  39. Anon, is this really the moment to renew the pseudo-canonical arguments?... Please, discuss, by all means, but only based on what the actual documents say, and on what they do not say.

  40. Anonymous5:04 PM


    We praise you O
    we acknowledge
    you to be the Lord;
    all the earth now
    worships you,
    the Father
    To you all angels
    cry aloud,
    the heavens and all
    the powers therein;
    to you cherubim
    and seraphim
    continually do cry:
    Holy, holy, holy
    Holy Lord, God of
    heaven and earth
    are full of the
    majesty of your
    The glorious
    of the apostles
    praise you,
    the goodly
    of the prophets
    praise you,
    the noble army of
    martyrs praise you,
    the holy Church
    throughout all the
    does acknowledge
    the Father of an
    infinite majesty,
    your adorable,
    and only Son,
    also the Holy Spirit,
    the counselor.
    You are the King of
    glory, O Christ.
    You are the
    everlasting Son of
    the Father.
    When you took
    upon yourself
    to deliver man,
    you humbled
    yourself to be born
    of a virgin.
    When you had
    overcome the
    sharpness of death,
    you opened the
    of heaven to all
    You sit at the right
    hand of God
    in the glory of the
    We believe that you
    will come to be our
    We therefore pray
    you help your
    whom you have
    redeemed with your
    precious blood.
    Make them to be
    with your saints in
    glory everlasting.

  41. Anonymous5:07 PM

    I must have been unclear. I am not arguing for or against anything. While the Congregation's decree said nothing on the matter, the Press Office did. Perhaps the Press Office was mistaken. Perhaps the Press Office was right. I make no judgement. I have only remarked on the fact.

  42. Anonymous5:10 PM

    What of Archbishop Lefebvre's status?

  43. Anonymous5:21 PM

    The Jews are outraged.

    Boo Hoo Hoo!!! : (

    So much for dialog : )

  44. Anonymous5:30 PM

    "I buoni frutti del concilio sono innumerevoli" LOL

  45. Anonymous5:34 PM

    Yes, the wording of the withdrawal/lifing/whatever was so lawyerlike that it gave me a fit of the giggles. (I am a lawyer.)

    But I hope nobody thinks that the Vatican had a leg to stand on in the excommunications. It's quite clear that in this case under the 1983 Code of Canon Law, automatic excommunication could not apply if the consecrators and consecrated believed in good faith the rightness of their position. But what informed person could think in good faith that they were not in good faith?

    This is hardly arcane. It's just like the supposed abrogation of the traditional Mass: everyone around the Vatican knew that the excommunications didn't happen, but found it convenient to mislead the faithful.

    As regards that systematic misleading over nearly twenty years: we must forgive, but we should not forget. Perhaps the Vatican will play it straight from here on out; perhaps not. The issues will get a lot tougher from here on out, and so will the temptations.

    So don't misplace those beads; there's still the triumph of her Immaculate Heart to go.

  46. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Can anyone tell me if My wife and I may validly go to confession to an SSPX priest, now?

    Thank you.

  47. That is enough, anon. It is a mere presentation of the actual document prepared by the Holy See Press Office, nothing else. No canonical consequence can be derived from it. The document is the Decree of the Congregation for Bishops.

    Your last comment was deleted, and any other comment of the sort will be deleted, as well as any comment which does not aid the Holy Father in his quest for unity, in charity and truth, but avoiding empty or unnecessary arguments.

  48. Anonymous5:52 PM

    DEO GRATIAS! In order to truly show our Catholic JOY...let us all offer OUR ROSARY Today and Holy Communion Tomorrow showing Our Lord how much we Love and Appreciate the Grace He has bestowed upon us via Pope Benedict!

    I truly believe now that the Devil will unleash all he is allowed to at the SSPX & Catholic Church...Bishop Williamson's personal opinion on the WWII atrocities as being the 1st lob...

  49. Anonymous6:07 PM

    Thank you dear Pope! This is a happy, happy day! Great job Bishop Fellay! God bless the Catholic Church! Long live the Pope! :) Let's all be positive and not negative nerds! I am a parishoner of the SSPX and give thanks to almighty God and His Blessed Virgin mother for this day :) Hurray!

  50. Erudite and polyglot contributors to this blog (or commentors, if you can help), have mercy on us poor products of provincial American education! Please translate relevant parts of the French and German bishops' statements!

    I can figure out about half of what the Frogs are saying, and about 20% of what the Gerries are. That's worse than nothing. Help!

  51. Happy news indeed!

    Now the real work--and martyrdom--may begin at last. This lifting of "excommunications" will be but the first in a long series of events which will have deep consequences for the holy Catholic Church. May Our Lady of Fatima guide us through the difficulties ahead.

  52. We need to congratulate our Holy Father for doing this even though it was done through the congregation of bishops. He will go down in history for what he has done and I thank God for his election. Even now he is still hearing from "the wolves" who are out to scuttle his pontificate. Let us hope that the matter of jurisdiction for the Society bishops and priest will be resolved soonest. Ad multos annos, Holy Father.

    At the same time we should congratulate Bishop Fellay for the manner by which he has led the Society to this point. He has my vote for one of the most incredible bishops of all time.


    The Traditionalists said as much as 1,703,000 Rosaries the last two monthes 2008 in the intention this day event to happen.

    May the theme of the next FSSPX Rosary Crusade be the true Fatima consecration of Russia: the Pope in unity with all the Bishops, explicitely Russia, not "the country to need it most".

    When the Catholic people says Rosariy regulary in the same intention, it's invincible.

  54. Anonymous7:43 PM

    Dan Hunter,

    No, not yet.

    The jurisdiction for absolution is supplied by the local ordinary not the superior of a society. Unless your local bishop grants the SSPX jurisdiction, which is highly unlikely since the priests and bishops of the SSPX remain suspended a divinis, the absolution granted by the priest is invalid.

    In time, as they are brought into full communion, I'm sure many bishops will extend such priviliges to the priests of SSPX within their jurisdiction.

    Keep praying!

  55. Anonymous7:48 PM

  56. Dan Hunter,

    Yes, you can and may.


    Please, stop deceiving people. The validity of a Sacrament (any) does in null degree depend of "jurisdiction" nor even of Catholicity of a priest but only of the validity of his preishood ordination (it must be celebrated by a valid Bishop posessing apostolic succession and using a valid formula of the Sacrament. So, in case of necessity a Catholic may go to confession enen to a 'pravoslavny' (Eastern "Orthodox") priest.

  57. Anonymous8:06 PM

    What about Lefebvre and Castro De Mayer's excommunications?

  58. Anonymous8:10 PM

    Mr. Sigurd,

    I am deceiving no one.

    The ability to give valid absolution depends on the power of Holy Orders (which the SSPX priests certainly have) as well as jurisdiction (which they currently do not have).

    The only exception to this is if the penitent is in danger of death, in which case any validly ordained priest (even if suspended or excommunicated or dismissed from the clerical state) may give valid absolution.

    Mr. Hunter asked if he could receive absolution validly from an SSPX priest. The answer is unfortunately, he cannot.

  59. Regarding the excommunications of the deceased:

    Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the following regarding lifting Luther's excommunication: "Since the Church's jurisdiction naturally only extends to the living, the excommunication of a person ends with his death. Consequently, and questions dealing with the lifting of Luther's excommunication become moot: Luther's excommunication terminated with with death because judgment after death is reserved to God alone. Luther's excommunication does not have to be lifted; it has long since ceased to exist."

    The same applies equally to Lefebvre and Castro Mayer.

    The whole text can be found here.

  60. Regarding whether someone could go to an SSPX priest for confession:

    Could they go to an EO priest for confession? I have no idea if it would be valid if they did, but they ought not do so unless they cannot receive the sacrament from a Catholic priest.

    A Catholic may receive communion from an EO priest, or a Polish National priest, or an Old Catholic priest, if he is unable to receive communion from a Catholic priest. But if he can receive communion from a Catholic priest and yet goes to a EO priest a Polish National priest, or an Old Catholic priest, he sins.

    I think the same would apply to confession. There's a statement of the American Catholic Bishops on this issue, though I can't seem to find it right now.

  61. Ahhh, and when Benedict was elected, on this very blog and others, I predicted that he would do two things:

    1. Regularize the Old Mass, and
    2. Simply lift the excommunications.

    It seemed to me that that was the only way forward...the SSPX SAID it was within the Church, so put them back there and challenge them to act from WITHIN, subject to the Church's laws.

  62. Anonymous8:36 PM

    Curmudgeon, since no one else has stepped up to the plate, I offer you:

    The statement of the chairman of the German Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Dr. Robert Zollitsch
    regarding today's (Saturday, 24. January 2009) lifting of the excommunication of the bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, which Pope Benedict revoked by means of a decree of the Congregation for Bishops dated 21. January 2009:

    "The revocation, which was made public today, of the excommunication of the four bishops who were consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without permission on 30. June 1988, shows the willingness of Pope Benedict XVI to make a further accommodation with the schismatic movement of the late Archbishop in order to promote the unity of the Church.

    Pope Benedict XVI is offering his extended hand to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X. With him, I hope and pray that they will grasp it.

    The Pope is making possible the return to full communion with the Catholic Church while, at the same time, permitting no doubt that the decisions of the 2nd. Vatican Council are the indispensable foundation of the life of the Church."

  63. Thanks, wsxyz.

    Typical Rhineish intrangigence, using the "schism" thing still, eh?

    I don't think Cardinal 23 went that far, from what I could pick up, but we can expect no better from the French hierarchy.

  64. Anonymous8:45 PM

    On supposed Jewish outrage:

    Notice how everything has to be about them? They think that the world revolves around 18 million out of 6,000 million people, an insignifcant one-third of one per cent of the world's population.

    This decision of the Pope was made long before the interview with Willilamson was made public. There is obviously no intent here to legitimate Williamson personally. Rome could not withdraw the censure from only some of the bishops because they were all censured in 1988 for the same reason, and that reason had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

    They are a bore.

  65. Patric,

    Can. 974 & 1 makes null every "suspension" because of want of a "grave cause".

    Moreover, the "Catholic" Bishops preaching religiopus freedom and imposing the faithful a Protestant McMass merely lose right to suspend and bind: God doesn't infuse His power for bad actions, or, "immoral law doesn't bind". No authority, temporal or ecclesial, possess any power to bind by itself, the power each case is infused by Lord.

  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. The Traditionalists said as much as 1,703,000 Rosaries the last two monthes 2008 in the intention this day event to happen...."

    And the rosaries that have been said since 1988, as well as the rosaries that have been said for this and other related intentions by Trad people who are in no way affiliated with the SSPX.

  68. Anonymous8:55 PM

    On anonymous's remarks about whether they had incurred excommuncation.

    Rome's view was and is that they had. However, the decree itself does not address the issue of whether their claims to the contrary are valid.

    The Society, therefore, will continue to argue that no excommunication was ever incurred in the first place, and Rome will continue to insist that it did. But the decree does not address the matter and I very much doubt that Rome will ever require the Society to renounce its position on the subject. There would be no point.

    Keep in mind that a censure is a judgement, an 'estimation'. It is not absolutely certain in its application because the Pope is not infallible in matters of law, only supreme.

    The Pope could have imposed an excommunication rather than declared one, but even that is open to question at least insofar as it might violate a norm of Moral Law.

    Note also that, canonical arguments aside in the case of latæ sententiæ excommunications, no penalty can apply if its imposition violates a norm of Moral Law. As St. Thomas affirmed, An ordinance which violates Moral Law is not bad law but, rather, no law at all. The Society, in addition to its canonical arguments, also affirms that its actions were morally necessary to preserve rights of the faithful and to save souls.

    But enough for today. Time to go out and buy some champagne.


  69. Anonymous8:58 PM

    On John McFarland's comments:

    Well, lawyers who are canon lawyers seriously disagree with your assessment. I too have argued that Canon 1323 protected the S.S.P.X bishops. But the matter is far more complex than the plain words might suggest.

    I think it best to say the following:

    (1) Whatever was the case in the past, the censure is remitted and

    (2) The new decree does not affirm or deny the arguments raised by Society apologists in the past.


  70. Carlos Antonio Palad

    Ceartainly, we contributed much, and I fell a strong desire not only to bye some champagne but to shot to air from a Kalashnikov :). And I want a one :(.

    A Victory Day!

  71. Regarding absolution from an SSPX priest:

    I do not have my references with me right now, but it is my understanding that when a penitent goes to confession to a validly ordained priest in the sincere and inculpable belief that the said priest could grant absolution to the said penitent, then the confession will be valid and the penitent will indeed be absolved from his sins, regardless of the actual canonical status of the said priest.

    Now, the lay faithful who go to confession to the SSPX are obviously doing so because they sincerely believe that the priests to whom they are going do have the power and authority to absolve sins. It doesn't make any sense to go to a priest whom you know, or suspect, couldn't forgive your sins!

  72. Anonymous9:05 PM

    On Patrick's remarks:

    Patrick is generally correct. However, there is an exception and the Society claims to act under it. The Church supplies jurisdicion, such as that needed even for validity in the case of the Sacrament of Penance, in the case of necessity.

    My own position is that such a state did indeed exist between 1976 and 2000 but ceased when Bishop Fellay refused the Pope's offer of a proper jurisdiction which would have afforded the Society with all the means necessary to fulfil its divine mission.

    At any rate, this decree itself in no way CHANGES the situation for Confession; nor does it, in itself, make Society Masses licit.

    According to Rome, Society Masses are (a) valid but (b) illilcit and yet nevertheless (c) able to fulfil the Sunday obligation. In the case of (c), Msgr. Perl has made this assertion to several private persons in private letters, and it s now a matter of public knowledge. However, Rome has not issued a public statement on the matter.


  73. Anonymous9:09 PM

    Patrick was wrong when he wrote that danger of death is the "only" exception. It is established in the Canon Law that a state of necessity is a second exception. For example, priests in some places behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s enjoyed 'supplied jurisdiction' to absolve penitents.

    The S.S.P.X claims to be absolving penitents under this exception. To my knowledge, Rome has never ruled on the matter. It may be that such a state exist even if the confessor, through no falt of his own, honestly believes that such a state exists. But I'm not sure on that. I haven't checked on it recently.


  74. Anonymous9:13 PM

    On Mr. Palad's last comments:

    Yes, this is right *in addition to* the argument from necessity. It is the same with the Eucharist. If you attend an invalid Mass in good faith, not knowing it to be invalid, while you cannot receive our Lord in Holy Communion, you nevertheless do receive 'the grace and virtue' (spiritual effects) of the Sacrament.

    I reiterate again, however, that this latest decree in no way changes the sitaution in regard to the Sacrament of Penance or the liceity of Society Masses (which are valid).


  75. Anonymous9:28 PM

    New Catholic,

    Might you kindly provide your opinion regarding whether or not there is any ramifications to the late Abp. Lefebvre with this? I know someone commented above regarding Martin Luther & excommunication, but to compare Luther with Abp. Lefebvre borders on a sin. As far as I am concerned, Abp Lefebvre will one day be canonized for risking his eternal soul to save Holy Mother Church. Perhaps, even now, he is having a chat in Eternity with St. Athanasius about what it was like to be excommunicated.

  76. I am honored that you wish to know the opinion of this weak Catholic... but my only opinion is that this is a matter best left to the Supreme Authority of the Church, if he ever wishes to make any pronouncement on the matter.

  77. The victiry gained, the war is not over...

  78. Anonymous9:56 PM

    "On supposed Jewish outrage:

    Notice how everything has to be about them? They think that the world revolves around 18 million out of 6,000 million people, an insignifcant one-third of one per cent of the world's population. "

    There's less than that of Jews in the world. There are about 12 million Jews in the world. Four countries have the most:

    USA (lucky us) 5.4
    Israel- approx. 4.0
    Russia- approx. 1.0
    France- approx. 500,000

    And the rest scattered around the world.
    India has one of the smallest Jewish populations (less than 6,000), but at one time, there were even Chinese Jews (but they died out before the old Imperial system in China did....before 1911).
    Italy, where the chief rabbi whined to the Pope to stop the lifting of the excommunications yesterday, has about 25,000 Jews.

    I think that Benedict XVI and the Vatican are paying less and less attention to the Jews and their concerns after all these unacceptable complaints, threats, and other subtle protests by them from everything from Pius XII being declared Venerable and then Blessed, to the Vatican's stand on Israel, and now to this.
    Jews in Israel pressured Benedict XVI to arrange for a visit. It wasn't his idea, nor on any itinerary.
    I wouldn't be surprised if now we see two things:
    1) Benedict XVI either cancel or shorten his trip to Israel.
    2) the Cause of Pius XII sail thru the Vatican and be declared "Venerable Pius XII", before Autumn 2009.

  79. Anonymous10:01 PM

    Further to the excommunications of Archbishop Lefebvre and Castro de Mayer:

    As others have noted, the jurisdiction of the Church Militant ends at death, so the effects of excommunication only apply to the living. However, the Roman Ritual contains a rite for absolving an excommunicated person already dead (Tit. III, cap. iv: Ritus absolvendi excommunicatum jam mortuum). Public application of that rite to Lefebvre and Castro de Mayer would be, in some respects, more significant than the lifting of the decree of excommunication on the living bishops.

  80. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Earl Sigurd,

    I totally agree with your last post...the Hill has been taken and this small battle has been won, but the War is FAR from being over...Our Lady of Fatima Pray for Us, St. Don Bosco, Pray for Us! Viva Christo Rey!

  81. JWDT

    The Rosary Crusade 2009 - consecration of Russia, quite grave necessity.

    The Rosary Crusade 2010 - the V-2 to shredder.

  82. Anonymous10:19 PM

    The power of the Papacy is limited to this Vale of Tears, an Excommunication is the strongest action that can be taken on earth to bring back a wayward child of the church. IT IS NOT A SENTENCE TO HELL which is strictly reserved to ALMIGHTY GOD on judgement day. But it neither is something that can be ignored because it was JESUS who gave the church these powers and unless they were given by faulty unjust HUMAN judgements ,he will ratify them on JUDGEMENT DAY for that person.

  83. an Excommunication is the strongest action that can be taken on earth to bring back a wayward child of the church.

    To bring back? Excommunication expells and is, in certain meaning, a sentence to Hell thus no one outside the Church can be saved. Penance to be the "strongest action".

    unless they were given by faulty unjust HUMAN judgements

    That's quite right: unjust law is not a law, since the very moment of promulgation.

  84. Curmudgeon said:

    I don't think Cardinal 23 went that far, from what I could pick up, but we can expect no better from the French hierarchy.

    helas ! Un autre stereotype encore! The good archbishop said the following:

    The Pope has the ability, if he wishes, to do it [lift the excommunications]. If he has decided to do it today, it is because there are sufficiently positive elements to justify it.

    Each time the Church can suspend a penalty, I rejoice. It is an opportunity, an open door, to allow Christians to rediscover the fullness of communion with the Church, on condition that they wish it or accept it. It is a gesture of mercy and a gesture of openness to strengthen the unity of the Church.

    Some people who, for the most part, sincerely present themselves as defenders of Tradition give themselves the magisterial power to distinguish good Tradition from bad Tradition. But such an act of discernment can only be an act of the Church and not of a particular group in the Church.

    The lifting of excommunication is a juridical act. I can't know in advance the way people will react or behave following this juridical act. The difficulties that have traversed the history of the Church over the past 2,000 years are regulated by the conversion of hearts and by the renewal of the life of the Spirit in the heart of Christians.

    The ministry of Benedict XVI is not reduced to occupying himself with the Society of St. Pius X. Certainly within this particular domain the Pope exercises his ministry of communion, as he has done, for example, by the letter that he sent to Chinese Catholics last year, with the intention of helping them find full unity.

  85. Anonymous12:06 AM

    I'm not a lawyer, but why would the issue of local availability of other options be any different for participation in masses as for Confessions? After all, the Hawaii SSPX ruling was given with full knowledge of the local availability of Novus Ordo masses, so it would seem local availability of other confessions would not be a factor in the matter either. The Roman justification for the one - simple preference - applies to the other as well, since these people go to confession there for exactly the same reason they go to mass there.

    They're just trying to live the faith as they received it, and by their fruits it would seem they're doing a good job of it in God's eyes, and one ruling at a time, in Rome's eyes as well. Millions of Rosaries.

    I say the Mother of God has weighed in. Now get out of the way.

  86. Anonymous2:25 AM

    Glad am I to be alive on this day. Glory to God in the highest, for peace and vindication has been given to men of good will.

  87. Anonymous3:39 AM

    It will be interesting to see how our local bishops respond to all this. Where we live in Seattle the Bishop is not known for his generous application of the latin mass. It is something done with hesitation at best. Will we soon be able to satisfy our Sunday obligation by attending a Pius X mass? Is it really the start of the Church coming back together as I remember it from my youth in the 40s and 50s? Will churches look like they did then?

  88. Anonymous7:16 AM

    These days I offer a chaplet of the Sorrowful Mysteries in thanks
    to Heaven for the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops and that Pope Benedict will consumate all of our Lady's
    Fatima related requests. This covers the consecration of Russia,
    the secret of 1960 and the propagation of the First Saturdays
    of reparation among other things which we may not be aware of yet.

    A.M. LaPietra

  89. Late night here on the West (Left) Coast, I note that Fox news is running a scandal-mongering piece featuring Bp. WIlliamson mouthing off about the Holocaust. Well, remembering Archbishop Milingo, it is evident that one doesn't have to be entirely sane to be a validly ordained Bishop...though unlike Milingo he'll be in good standing...but for how long, I wonder. I thought for a long time that he and Bp. Fellay were doing a "good-cop, bad-cop" routine, but in light of this latest interview, if it's new, he may be delusional. And I'm a supporter:-/

  90. "...but to compare Luther with Abp. Lefebvre borders on a sin"

    The only comparison drawn between Luther and Abp. Lefebvre is that they are both dead. There is no sin in stating the obvious.

  91. Wouldn't you know it, on the morning of this wonderful news my computer's harddrive breathed its last. So this morning I express here my belated thanks to God and to the Holy Father for this act of mercy and reconciliation. There is still much work ahead, and I pray all further obstacles and difficulties will soon be overcome so the SSPX's gifts can be of the greatest benefit to the Church.

    Earl Sigurd said: To bring back? Excommunication expells and is, in certain meaning, a sentence to Hell thus no one outside the Church can be saved.

    Excommunication is NOT in any way a sentence to hell. The Church is emphatic that She does not have the authority to damn anyone. Excommunication ceases at the point of death: after that, the soul is judged by God, and if the excommunication was unjust or invalid, then it will have no bearing at all on the soul's fate. Or do you think St. Joan of Arc was sent to hell when she was martyred?

    No one outside the Church can be saved, but sometimes it can be that it appears someone is outside the Church when in fact they are not. I doesn't happen very often, the Church can reexamine a case after someone has died and cancel or remove a sentence of excommunication. And the Church certainly does regard excommunication as a harsh spiritual medicine for wayward souls, with the goal of achieving reconciliation, not permanent exclusion. The point is not to simply announce that someone has been expelled from the Church, but to inform the sinner that his actions have separated him from the Church, to warn him that he is in grave danger of hellfire if he does not repent, and to warn others to avoid the path he has taken. As always the point is the care and welfare of souls, never to condemn someone to hell.

  92. Anonymous4:51 PM

    Jesus said "Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16:19). I was a seminarian in Econe at the consecration of the 4 Bishops, and disconnected myself from SSPX shortly thereafter due to these words of Jesus. Personally I would not want to leave this world officially excommunicated by Our Lord's Church no matter how right I thought I was (is there any excommunicate who didn't think he was right?). If the Church can make mistakes on something like this, would this not negate Our Lord's words? Nevertheless, I am glad the excommunications are lifted, and I hope the members of the SSPX are fully reconciled to the Church. I never thought I'd live to see the things that are happening today. Congratulations on your prayers!

  93. Anonymous11:05 PM

    Greetings from the island Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. Malo Lelei! Just wanted to share my joy with all you traditionalists out there for this very happy news. God bless Pope Benedict XVI. Thank you Most Holy Trinity and thank you our Blessed Mother. Just a little over a month ago 15th December, 2008 the SSPX of Australia under Father Edward Black administered the Tridentine Mass here in Tonga for the first time in 40 years. I'm a recent convert to our traditional faith and am so happy that this joyous occasion has come about so soon, since my conversion anyway. God bless you all, and God bless the SSPX.


  95. Oh Happy Day! I have been a Catholic for four years, and this is certainly one of the happier moments in a wonderful journey!

  96. Thanks for give me the correct information.


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