Rorate Caeli

From DICI: SSPX & Rome, Present Day

On Saturday, October 13, 2012, on the occasion of the “Tradition Days” in Villepreux (France), Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta gave this conference, in which he analyzes the state of the relations of the Society of Saint Pius X with Rome. 
Dear confreres, dear religious, very dear faithful, dear friends,
My intention is to speak to you about the qualities of the spiritual, Christian, Catholic militia, about the conditions that the combat for the faith must assume, and obviously to tell you a few words about the situation of the Society vis-à-vis Rome.
The Book of Job says:  “Militia est vita hominis super terram et sicut dies mercenarii dies ejus” (Job 7:1).  Man’s life on earth is a time of military service, and his days are like those of a mercenary.  This is Scripture, the Book of Job, that offers this very interesting image.

If the life of every man on earth is a combat, then much more so the life of the Catholic, of the Christian who is baptized and confirmed and therefore engaged in this combat for Christ the King.  And I would say that if the life of every Christian is a combat, then the life of a Christian today is par excellence a struggle, a combat, a time of service.

In this sentence we find a statement of the necessity of combat;  it is necessary, it is our human condition, and that is not something new;  always and everywhere people have had to fight.  There is a combat in life, but above all a combat in order to win eternity, which implies many things.
This is why a combative spirit is necessary.  What is required on the part of a soldier?  Certainly, that he be capable of struggling, of fighting, that he be courageous and valiant.
This very short text refers to Providence, because both a soldier and a mercenary are at the service of a master, and therefore we battle for God, we fight for Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is our Head, He is our Master, but He is also the Lord of history, and His Providence governs all particular circumstances.
Saint John of the Cross says that everything is Providence, in the sense that everything that happens to us is sent to us in an altogether conscious and deliberate way by Providence.
A supernatural view of the combat of faith
A soldier, then, and a mercenary struggle and fight for a victory, and if life here below is a combat, that means that the victory is not on this earth.  If our whole life is a combat, that means that our victory is in Eternity.
I think that we have to keep this supernatural, Faith-filled view of combat.
We struggle in this life on earth for an eternal crown.  But that does not mean that you are to be demobilized, because a Christian, a Catholic knows that this combat is waged in this life, that it is very real, that one must fight.  But knowing that the definitive victory is found in Eternity, we do not really need, so to speak, to have victory in this life, if God does not want it, since our victory, ultimately, is to win Eternity both for us and for those dear to us.
Moreover this short verse from Job shows us other aspects of this combat, for example:  it is laborious—laborious in the etymological sense of the word.  The combat for the Faith, the supernatural, spiritual combat, involves sufferings and trials, contradictions, and even defeats in this life.
Saint Teresa of Avila has one very beautiful passage in which she says that what is demanded of the Christian is not to win but to struggle, or rather she shows that fighting for the Faith is already the Christian’s victory.
And one author said:  Indeed, God does not require victory of us, but He requires that we not be vanquished.  This reflection is quite interesting;  you see how you can apply all this very well to the crisis in the Church today.
God does not ask us to conquer;  He is the one who gives the victory, if He wills, when He wills, as He wills.  That costs Him absolutely nothing.  But what He demands of us is to defend the good that we have and not to be conquered.
The teaching of Cardinal Pie
There is a passage by Cardinal Pie that I would like to read to you;  it is filled with Faith and instruction, and it is admirably well expressed.  “The wise man of Idumea said:  ‘The life of man on earth is a combat’ (Job 7:1), and this truth is no less applicable to societies than to individuals.  Being composed of two essentially distinct substances, every son of Adam carries within him, like Isaac’s wife, two men who contradict and fight one another (Genesis 25:22).  These two men, or, if you prefer, these two natures have contrary tendencies and inclinations.  Drawn by the law of the senses, the earthly man is in a perpetual uprising against the heavenly man, who is ruled by the law of the spirit (Galatians 5:17).  This is a deep-seated antagonism, which could end here below only by the shameful defection of the spirit, surrendering its arms to the flesh and placing itself at the latter’s discretion.”[1]
So therefore the only way of attaining peace in this combat, or of practicing pacifism, is victory over the flesh, and if we do not want that peace, we are obliged to fight until our death;  because the triumph is in the next world.  That is indeed what Cardinal Pie means to tell us:
“Let us say it, therefore, my Brethren:  man’s life on earth, the life of virtue, the life of duty, is the noble coalition, the holy crusade of all the faculties of our soul, supported by the aid of grace, its ally, against all the united forces of the flesh, the world and hell:  Militia est vita hominis super terram.
This is a combat for us, but it is also a social, public combat.  “Now if you come to consider these same rival elements, these same antagonistic forces, no longer in the individual man but in that assemblage of men that is called society, then the struggle takes on grander proportions.”  And the Bishop of Poitiers cited Scripture, the Book of Genesis:  “‘And the Lord said to Rebecca: Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be divided out of thy womb, and one people shall overcome the other, and the elder shall serve the younger’ (Gen 25:23).  So, my Brethren, the human race is made up of two peoples, the people of the spirit and the people of matter;  the one which seems to be the personification of the soul with everything that is noble and exalted about it;  the other represents the flesh with all that is coarse and earthly about it.  The greatest misfortunate that can befall a nation is a cease-fire between these two contrary powers.  This armistice was found in paganism.  And the Holy Ghost, who drew for us the picture of all the social and domestic evils that followed from this monstrous capitulation (Wis 14), completes the portrait with this final stroke:  the fact that men, unwittingly living in that stagnation that was a thousand times more deadly than war, deceived themselves to the point of giving the name of peace to such numerous and great evils.”  That is precisely the situation nowadays, isn’t it?  Peace, peace, peace!
“Fatal senselessness,” Cardinal Pie continues, “which was none other than the senselessness of death, a lugubrious peace that should be compared with the silent, calm work of the worms that gnaw at the cadaver in its tomb.”
“The human race was languishing in this state of humiliation and moral prostration, when the Son of God came to earth, bringing not peace but the sword (Mt 10:34).  God the Creator had placed in man’s hands this sword of the spirit so that he might fight against the flesh, but man shamefully allowed it to fall from his hands.  Jesus Christ, as others before me have said,[2] picked it up from the ignoble dust where it had lain for a long time;  then, after dipping it into His Blood, after having tested it, so to speak, on His own Body, he returned it, sharper and more penetrating than ever, to the new people that He had come to establish upon earth.  And then began again within humanity the antagonism between the spirit and the flesh, never to cease again until the end of the world:  Non veni pacem mittere, sed gladium [I did not come to bring peace, but a sword].”
This is a long passage from Cardinal Pie, but you see that one could say that everything is there, everything is said, and very well said.  The necessity of this combat that Job speaks about, the word of God, is not just an interior, individual conflict, confined to the home or the school, it is also essentially a social, political and religious combat.  And there are the two spirits, the two cities.  We must engage in this unavoidable combat and we must continue it.
In my opinion, this picture allows you to understand well what the combat of the Faith consists of, the Catholic combat, the Christian combat in the city, the combat of Tradition in this horrible crisis of the Church, in this apostasy.  And so I will move on now to some reflections on our recent battle, the one that we went through during this past year, which was extremely difficult—to tell the truth, not because of the enemy, who is the same as ever, but because of the differences among us, altogether logical, explicable, human differences.  We don’t have to rend our garments because we discover that we are all human beings.  We have the same limitations as the rest, I mean radically, ever since original sin:  ignorance, malice, weakness.
That is indeed, practically speaking, the cause of all the difficulty of what happened during the past school year:  the difficulties and the trials among us, which are moreover the most difficult and the most painful trials.  That is why we must not take them lightly, much less resolve them carelessly.  It is like a little family conflict:  it must be resolved with a lot of tact, a lot of charity, a lot of prudence, a lot of shrewdness, but it certainly must be resolved!
A short historical account of our relations with Rome
I want to tell you what I think, since in this crisis we hear a lot of different opinions, conflicting voices, and maybe there is still some fall-out, and so I said to myself that you should know my thoughts at least.  I will therefore rapidly review a few facts in order to explain myself:  a short historical account, starting with the end of the Rosary Crusade, our prayer campaign with the goal of offering twelve million rosaries, a campaign that ended of Pentecost of this year.  After the end of this crusade we received three responses from Rome, one right after the other.  At that moment the Society’s proposal (for a doctrinal declaration), which had been submitted in April, was there in Rome, and it was after Pentecost that we received a first response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In this response, the Roman authorities clearly told us that they rejected, that they did not accept our proposal, and they made several corrections that amounted to telling us:  it is necessary to accept the Second Vatican Council, it is necessary to accept the liceity of the New Mass, it is necessary to accept the living Magisterium, in other words, those authorities that are the authentic interpreters of Tradition, and therefore they say what is Tradition and what is not Tradition;  it is necessary to accept the new Code of Canon Law, etc.  That was their response.
Then, and I think that this was a Providential response, there was the appointment of Archbishop Müller.  They appointed him head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and also as President of theEcclesia Dei Commission—the one that has charge of all the groups affiliated with Ecclesia Dei and that is in contact with the Society of Saint Pius X.  Well!  This bishop who was appointed to head that dicastery and the Ecclesia Dei Commission—besides the fact that he has called into question several truths of the Faith—is today the guardian of the Faith.  This is, let us say, an old acquaintance of the Society, since he was Bishop of Regensburg, the diocese where our seminary in Zaitzkofen is located, and since we had already had difficulties, confrontations with him.  Three years ago he had threatened to excommunicate the bishop who was going to perform the ordinations in Zaitzkofen, and I happened to be the one on that occasion.  Thus he threatened me with excommunication as well as the deacons who were going to receive priestly ordination, the new priests.  Then he backed down, but this is someone who does not respect us, who does not like us, that’s clear, and he already said that the bishops of the Society have only one thing to do:  send their resignations from the episcopate to the Holy Father and go shut themselves up in a monastery.  Rather cruel all the same, isn’t it?  Then he quite simply said that we have only to accept that Council, and that is all.  There was no longer anything more to discuss.
Just when we were waiting for the light of the Holy Ghost, we got that response.
Then, before the General Chapter, our Superior General had written to the pope to find out whether it was really his response, since a large part of the problem that we experienced was due to the fact that there were mixed messages from Rome.
Some authorities told us:  the response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is official, they are doing their job, but don’t pay attention to it, just file it;  in any case we want an agreement, we want to recognize you as you are.
But the response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the appointment of Archbishop Müller were not in keeping with this second message.  And so in order to get to the bottom of the matter, Bishop Fellay wrote to the pope to find out whether that really was his response, his thought.  And just before the Chapter, during the retreat that preceded it, Monseigneur received a response—this was the first time that there was a response from the pope to Bishop Fellay—and he told us at table on Sunday, at the end of the retreat:  here I have received a letter from the pope in which he confirms that the response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is indeed his response, that he approved it.  And he recalls their demands, their sine qua non conditions for a canonical recognition, summing them up in three points:
1) acknowledge that the living Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of Tradition—in other words, the Roman authorities;
2) that the Second Vatican Council is in perfect agreement with Tradition, that it is necessary to accept it;
3) that we must accept the validity and the liceity of the new Mass.
They wrote “liceity”, -in French that word has probably a slightly ambiguous meaning- for them that simply means “legal”, something that has all the legal forms, but in canonical language it goes much deeper, it means that it is a true law, that it has the force of law.  The Church, however, cannot have any law contrary to the Catholic faith.  And we have all disputed, in that sense, the legality of the liturgical reform and of the new Mass, because it cannot have the force of law in the Church;  that is impossible, because it is contrary to the Faith, because with it they are demolishing the Faith, and they really wrote “validity and liceity”.
In other words, you see that concerning everything that is essential in our combat—this combat between the two cities, the two spirits—it was necessary to give in and betray.  Obviously, then, on this point, Divine Providence had traced out for us the pathway of the Chapter.  Rome was the one saying:  No, we will remain at the doctrinal level, and you will accept everything that you have rejected until now.
The General Chapter (July 9-14, 2012)
Then there was the Chapter.  I cannot give you too many details, since we are bound by confidentiality, but Bishop Fellay himself has already revealed certain things, and some elements were specified in the Final Declaration.  These are the conditions that you already know.  What I can tell you is that Divine Providence helped us during the Chapter clearly and perceptibly.
It went very well, I tell you quite frankly;  we were able to speak calmly, freely, openly;  we were able to address the crucial problems, even though we had to omit other questions that had been on the initial agenda.  We took all the time necessary to debate and we compared points of view, as is fitting among members of the same congregation, of the same army.  That causes no problem;  the Society is not a girls’ school, right?  Then if from time to time there are debates among us, one should not make a big thing out of it either.  Read Cardinal Pie when he supports public debate with the bishops, in France, in the nineteenth century.  He justifies them, he explains why, he says that it is a combat, and so there you have it!  That is to say, one should not make a tragedy out of it either.  The tragedy would be to abandon the Faith, but it is normal that there are debates on questions of prudential judgment about one thing or another.  There are different aspects, there are temperaments, there are situations….  It is extremely complicated, and one cannot draw a sword to cut the Gordian knot by saying:  “There, I resolve the question in one fell swoop.”  No!  The Chapter took place, as I told you, and I think that we really drew some useful lessons from the trials that we have had, even though it is not perfect, which is another aspect to keep in mind.  In our life, everything happens in imperfect circumstances;  read the history of the Church!  We must not demand a perfection that is not of this world, but we must have our eyes fixed on the essentials, on what counts;  afterward you can let a lot of things slide.  Don’t you do that in your family life?  Yes, you do that.  Otherwise nothing stands in this world, in this life, and even among us.
Some people worry:  “Oh, yes, but…!”  It is necessary to see the complexity of the problem, of the situation.  And don’t forget that there is also the part played by the passions.  They exist even among us.  All this is to say that in my opinion we must not carp about these questions.  We have to see whether the essentials are there or not.
As I see it, we have truly overcome the crisis, we got through it, and in the way that we were supposed to, especially in the practical measures, thanks to the debates that allowed us to clarify some points face to face, to weigh the arguments well, under all their aspects, to sort through them, to arrive at a more perfect insight and clarity about the situation, which is the good thing about trials if you learn from them.  Based on these extremely important and productive discussions, we have established some conditions that could allow us to envisage hypothetically a canonical normalization.  In this regard, if you really reflect on it, what was accomplished amounted to taking the whole doctrinal and liturgical question so as to make of it a practical condition.
The conditions for a possible canonical normalization
Now certainly, as I said to you, it is not perfect, and we ourselves saw rather quickly afterward that the distinction between sine qua non conditions and desirable conditions was not very accurate, nor … desirable.  In fact, as far as we are concerned, among the conditions that we indicated as desirable, there are some sine qua non conditions, but rather in the practical, canonical, concrete order.  The General House of the Society had already demanded these conditions of Rome, and for the most part—after repeated quarrels, and a lot of back-and-forth—Rome was ready to concede them, even at the present moment.  But the purpose of the Chapter, its concern was to define clearly not the consequence, i.e. what will ensue, but rather the essential prerequisite that we had not clearly defined until now.  To put it differently, in the case in point of a pope, a future pope who would really like to reach an agreement with the Society, what are the conditions of a doctrinal order, which concern doctrine, fidelity to the Faith, to Tradition, to the public profession of the Faith, and even to public resistance against those who spread errors, even when they are ecclesiastical authorities.  This is the point on which we defined with great precision the first two sine qua non conditions.
And it is obvious that everything is there.  I can reread them for you.
The first:  “The freedom to keep, transmit and teach the sacred doctrine of the constant Magisterium of the Church and of the unchangeable Truth of divine Tradition”.  No doubt this language seems to you a bit difficult, while in fact it is extremely precise.  “To keep” means that we have a guarantee of it in any normalization on the part of the pope who would recognize us.  To put it differently:  to assure us in a written agreement that we can keep, transmit and teach the sacred doctrine, the sacred doctrine of the constant Magisterium.  Because the Roman authorities have an evolving notion of the Magisterium, and if we say “Magisterium” that is not enough;  if we say “the Magisterium of all ages” that is still ambiguous in their language, and so we specified “unchangeable Truth of the divine Tradition”.  Why “unchangeable Truth”?  Because for them the tradition is living….  And so you see that it is very precise, by virtue of the experience of the discussions that we had for almost a year and a half with the Roman commission.  Let us continue with this first point:  “The freedom to defend the truth, to correct and reprove even publicly those who promote the Second Vatican Council’s errors or novelties of modernism, of liberalism, and their consequences”.  I think that it would be difficult to add anything.  Everything is there.  This is about a freedom to acknowledge errors and to attack them publicly, a freedom to teach publicly the truths that have been denied or diluted, but also for us to oppose publicly those who spread the errors, even ecclesiastical authorities.
What errors?  The modernist, liberal errors: those of the Second Vatican Council and of the reforms that resulted from it or of its consequences in the doctrinal, liturgical or canonical order.  Everything is there.  Even public resistance, up to a certain point, to the new Code of Canon Law, to the extent that it is imbued with the collegial, ecumenical, personalist spirit, etc.  Everything is there.
Next, the second point:  “To use the 1962 liturgy exclusively”, and therefore the whole liturgy of 1962, not just the Mass:  everything, even the Pontifical.  To preserve the sacramental practice that we have presently, including what concerns Holy Orders, Confirmation and Matrimony.  You see here that we have included some aspects of sacramental and canonical practice that are necessary in order for us truly to have, in the event of an agreement or a recognition, real practical freedom in a situation that would continue to be more or less modernist.  We re-ordain, if necessary, we re-confirm, and then [as for] marriages, we obviously do not accept some new causes for nullity.
Then, still within the sine qua non conditions:  the guarantee of at least one bishop.  You see, I told you that this is not perfect, for we all agree in the Society about the fact that we have to demand several auxiliary bishops, a prelature.  We all agree, there is no problem.  That was not the problem before and it is not a problem now.  Therefore one should not nitpick about that.
On the other hand, we did define what was a problem, because in fact that was not clearly defined on our side, and also because there was a mixed message on Rome’s part.
It was also decided in this Chapter that if ever the General House attained something valuable and interesting with these conditions, there would be a deliberative Chapter, which means that its decision is necessarily binding (on the members of the Society).  When there is a consultative Chapter, the authority asks for advice but then decides freely.  A deliberative Chapter means that the decision made by the absolute majority—one half of the votes plus one, which seemed reasonable to us—that decision will be followed by the Society.
As the recent Chapter proved, on the day when we were able to speak face to face, as it should be, we overcame the problem of the misunderstandings that we had experienced.  It is evident that a deliberative Chapter is a very wise and sufficient measure for possibly approving what will have been obtained from Rome.  For it is almost impossible that with the majority the Superior of the Society… [starting the sentence over:]—after a frank discussion, an in-depth analysis of all the aspects, of all the ins and outs—it is unthinkable that the majority could be wrong in a prudential matter.
In this life there is no absolute guarantee, because no individual—starting with oneself—has every possible guarantee as to what he will do tomorrow.  And so a Chapter is broadly adequate to break the deadlock in which we found ourselves, for if you carefully examine it, our last Chapter set exactly the same conditions as Rome did, but in reverse:  they require this of us, and we demand the contrary.  Obviously the possibility of an agreement becomes more distant, but most importantly the risk of a bad agreement is, in my opinion, definitively removed.  “Definitively” means not forever, but for this time.
We also avoided a division among us, and that is no mean feat.  Nevertheless it was necessary to think about it and to understand that we were going to divide all of us, in the Society, in the [affiliated religious] Congregations, in the families, and since we are rather formidable in combat, we would have torn each other apart vehemently and persistently, as you can imagine!  That was indeed the reality.  But thanks to that understanding among us, thanks to this decision, even though it is imperfect, we overcame a division that would have been a form of dishonor for what we are defending, for the true Faith, for our combat, for those who preceded us, Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer.
Conditions in View of the Good That We Could Do in the Church 
Next, as I said, thanks to our experience, to the trials, discussions and sometimes the contradictions that we have gone through, we have come to a better understanding, and a better definition of the reality.  The Society’s position is much more precise and clear now than it was six months ago; it is much better, for we do not exclude the possibility of Providence choosing to bring about a return to the Faith through a conversion first of all: through the return of the Pope and some of the cardinals to the true doctrine; we do not exclude this.  It is no more difficult than the other way, the practical way.  We have simply said: if there is not firstly a return on the part of Rome or of the next Pope to Tradition in theology, in principles, in the Faith, in their teaching, but if this Pope wishes simply to allow Tradition;  what are the conditions that would allow us to accept a canonical normalization, in view of the good that we could do in the Church and this good is considerable? – we must not deny this possibility.
I believe that this, too, is an improvement.  We have clearly defined the conditions that will be able to protect us completely in the Faith and in the complete combat for the Faith.  But guessing the future is for prophets or fortune tellers;  we do not know what God will send us.  I am presenting you with an example, a hypothesis;  imagine that tomorrow there is a pope in the same situation as at present, but he is not modernist in his mind, as is the case today;  imagine that he is not modernist in his theology either, nor in his mind, nor heart, and that he wishes truly to return to Tradition;  but he lacks the conviction to resist in the true Faith and to persevere;  it takes a truly heroic conviction to confront all the modernism that infests the Church.  Imagine that he does not have this conviction, or that he is fairly convinced, but weak, fearful, conditioned by those around him:  the example I give you exists in the history of the Church;  there have been bishops and popes like this.  There have been popes who were very good as far as doctrine goes, but who had very bad morals, and vice versa very weak popes;  and there have been popes who made mistakes;  we say now that they were mistaken in certain historical decisions that had enormous consequences.
So, in the eventuality of a pope who lacks conviction, strength or the means to solve on his own the present situation in the Church, he could very well use us as the blade of his lance in this crisis of the Faith;  he could very well accord us the conditions necessary for us to be able to be the blade of his lance against this abscess.  Besides, if we think about it, if a pope one day grants us these conditions, he is the one who will be dealing the first blow to the edifice of Vatican Council II and the conciliar Church, for he would be admitting by this very act that the Council contains errors, that we can refuse it, and that a return to Tradition is necessary.  As soon as a Pope takes into consideration these demanding conditions, all but impossible from a human point of view, there would be war in the conciliar Church.  The so-called conciliar Church would be blown up, that is for sure.  And that is why the canonical question is nothing but a little detail in our eyes.  For if a pope decides to grant us the first two points, that means that he is ready to grant us everything, including on the canonical level; and we are of course going to ask for it.
The Necessity and Usefulness of Trials 
I obviously had many more things to say;  I think I have told you the most interesting things.  Just a thought to end with, concerning the necessity and usefulness of trials;  it is a Catholic and traditional teaching, contained in Holy Scripture, when the angel says to Tobias:  “Because you are pleasing to God, it was necessary that you undergo a trial,” (Tobias 12:13) for much good comes of trials.
And St. Augustine says that the worst thing that can happen, the worst misfortune, is that of those who draw no lesson, no profit from their misfortunes;  so the most miserable man in the world is the one who draws no lesson from his misfortune, nor the good that could come of it, and so his trial is worse than before.  Be careful!  If a trial is useful, that means that we must seek its utility and harvest its fruits.
Now we always tend to draw lessons for others from their calamities, sufferings and trials: “See! I was right, you sure got a heavy blow there.”  But there are many lessons in a trial, and we might say that it is all our own weaknesses and defects that are revealed through trials.  So each one must draw from them a lesson for oneself, in order to correct oneself and avoid committing the same error again, for often, even when we are defending a good cause, we do it very poorly.  There are lessons of humility to be learned, and it is just as well, for that reminds us to be vigilant.  Maybe we are sleeping, maybe we are not passing on well enough to future generations the spirit of the combat, maybe we must depend more on God, maybe we must have more patience, fortitude, hope in the combat.  It all goes together: fortitude, courage, and patience.  The virtue of fortitude has two acts: sustinere et aggredi.  This means that we must suffer, undergo, endure, but also undertake and attack – not aggress;  aggredi does not mean to aggress, it means to attack and undertake.
Magnanimity is also a part of the virtue of fortitude.  And patience, says St. Paul, engenders hope, patience in the combat, in trials.  Let us pay attention to hope today, for we can fall by lack of Faith, by lack of charity, but also by lack of hope.  We become pessimistic or defeatist, and that is a form of surrender.  When we no longer have hope, we are no longer committed, and we are conquered.
Trials are also a means of merit, of expiation, and often they are a vaccination.  Indeed, maybe we had just the flu today, but it will spare us catching pneumonia tomorrow.  And I think that is the case.  Often trials are a preparation for other combats, to make us more lucid, more decisive, more vigilant for what is to come. Who knows?
I wanted to say this because if we do not draw fruits from trials, we turn down the wrong path.  For God sends us these trials precisely in order to keep us on the right path, and He makes re-examine everything in order to see where we were beginning to weaken or to deviate a little, sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right, and often downwards.
In this crisis, one of the teachings that could still be brought to light even better is the goal of trials, which is precisely to show us where the excesses and defects are, for sometimes there are both excesses and defects.  In other words, to see where there is a disorder, and I mean a disorder of reason, in prudence above all, for obviously these questions of prudence are questions for the intelligence.  To see where reason and measure were lacking;  sometimes there are excesses in the defense of what needed to be defended;  we let our excessive passions loose, look at our impatience and hurry to resolve the crisis.  This can go in many directions, so we must be very careful in all these aspects.  And if we have been weak in this sense, we must correct it: that is the lesson.  That is why God has allowed this trial.  And if we do so, the whole body will come out of the trial much stronger and ready for more, even greater combats.
Do Not Oppose the Truth of Charity 
But let us always be very careful of the false dilemmas that are presented to us, and that sometimes tempt us because of the situation itself.  Yes, it is inherent in our situation.  They say that we have to go either against the truth or against charity, against the Faith or against mercy, against prudence or against fortitude.  Well!  No, not at all!  We must keep them all;  we must have all of the above to remain on the right path.  But we tend to favor whatever is more adapted to our temperament, our character, whatever is easier for us. And we often neglect all the other aspects.
When we say that we need order, balance, measure, that does not mean that we must be mediocre everywhere.  We know very well that that is not what virtue is.  Moral virtue is a summit between excess and defect.  And even the theological virtues, in their application to life, to works, to action, to circumstances, can have excesses and defects;  not the virtue in itself, in its proper object, which is God, for we can never love God too much.  But we can very well love God badly, all the while thinking we love Him well.  How often do we see this, especially among ourselves!
So we have a constant double risk, and in trials, we must draw a lesson for ourselves and for all;  but we must not plan too much on people and their future evolution.  There is God’s grace, and we can all be bought back and redeemed.
There are also falls, and so long as the crisis is not over, we must not sum it up.  Some of us who may have been a bit unprepared in the trial, may in the end have a very good reaction.  And others who at first had a very good reaction may go downhill.
The Faith, the confession of the Faith, is not the only thing to be kept.  There is also true charity, love, prudence, fortitude, love of the Holy Church.  We are Catholics, and we tend to remain fully Catholic, and for that, it is not enough to keep the Faith.
To conclude, I think that we have three stars, three lights that have gone before us and that can guide us without the risk of misleading us in doctrine, prudence, or the Catholic spirit.  These three persons are Cardinal Pie, Pope St. Pius X, and Archbishop Lefebvre;  each of them was perfectly adapted to his times, and perfectly adapted to the needs of the Church, each with a different style, different qualities, but also with so many similar qualities, that are especially necessary today, in the combat for the Faith.  In this way, we can draw a line from Cardinal Pie to St. Pius X to Archbishop Lefebvre, and if we continue the line, we have the path we must follow laid out.  Exactly.  Be it on the doctrinal level, the level of the Faith, the level of holiness of life – yet another chapter on which we could continue for a long time! -  the level of prayer, of the confession of the faith, of fortitude, of prudence.
They are exemplary;  we must take them as models to follow.  And the path is, so to speak, laid out.
Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, especially today, Saturday, October 13, the anniversary of the miracle of the sun in Fatima, to give us the grace to persevere in the true Faith, in the true combat for the Faith, but also in the true spirit of the Church, and to make us every day more faithful to grace, to God and to the demands for holiness of our day and age.
May Our Lady give us the grace to be worthy successors and worthy sons of these great champions of the Catholic Faith! 


  1. Incisive analysis by Bp. De Galarreta
    Thanks for posting

  2. But thanks to that understanding among us, thanks to this decision, even though it is imperfect, we overcame a division that would have been a form of dishonor for what we are defending, for the true Faith, for our combat, for those who preceded us, Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer.

    This doesn't exactly leave one with the impression that the division in the SSPX is (as some have speculated) between Bp. Fellay and Fr. Schmidberger on the one hand, and Bps. Tissier, de Galarreta, and Williamson on the other. I'm sure the "we've got to get rid of Fellay" crowd will have a different spin on it though.

  3. Another point, I think, that despite many valuable insights, bp. Galarreta acts as a judge, and he judges pope Benedict XVI, calling him heretic. Well, not with this word, but talking about some pope in the future, who would be of really traditional mind and not of modernist (modernism is heresy, as we all know) and the like as "this pope" (in his words). Thus, it seems as if he is not far from sedevacantism. So either, or... Either you recognise this pope as pope, or you claiming that he is something else. Well, heretic pope, logically would mean antipope, i.e. sede vacans.

  4. Templar8:20 PM

    Our Lady of the Rosary promises to save us if we embrace devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Our Lady is still giving us signs: The Lourdes Shrine has flooded and pilgrims forced to evacuate, on the very day a relic of John Paul II was scheduled to arrive at the Shrine.

  5. I give the man credit for his courage. He boldly calls the Pope a modernist heretic but is generous enough not to discount the possibility that God could convert the Pope to the Faith.

    The Society’s position is much more precise and clear now than it was six months ago; it is much better, for we do not exclude the possibility of Providence choosing to bring about a return to the Faith through a conversion first of all: through the return of the Pope and some of the cardinals to the true doctrine; we do not exclude this. It is no more difficult than the other way, the practical way. We have simply said: if there is not firstly a return on the part of Rome or of the next Pope to Tradition in theology, in principles, in the Faith, in their teaching, ...

    I am presenting you with an example, a hypothesis; imagine that tomorrow there is a pope in the same situation as at present, but he is not modernist in his mind, as is the case today; imagine that he is not modernist in his theology either, nor in his mind, nor heart, and that he wishes truly to return to Tradition;

  6. @Jonvilas

    I'm willing to cut him a bit of slack on that, since he could mean "tolerant of heresies" (i.e. weak Pope) which is not at all heretical. It's even possible for a Pope to be privately heretical as long as he doesn't teach heresy (e.g. Pope Honorius might have been a monophysite),

    What is unacceptable is "We re-ordain, if necessary, we re-confirm, and then [as for] marriages". These sacraments leave an indelible mark and to deny this is to deny a doctrine of the faith, or to declare that Catholic holy orders and Catholic confirmations are invalid. Orthodox choosing to become Catholics before Vatican II do not need to be re-ordained or re-confirmed or remarried. Archbishop Lefrebrev would never demand such an absurdity.

  7. Brian K9:53 PM

    They do conditional confirmations, etc. because of the sad reality we find ourselves in. If a Priest doesnt have the intent to confect the sacrament, it does not work. It is a fact that the Priesthood has been infested with pedophiles, heretics, and according to Fr. Amorth, even Satanists have reached high positions in the Vatican. If a Bishop is a Satanist, or does not intend to confect the Eucharist for example, it is not valid. Therefore any Priests who were ordained by a bishop who had evil intentions, and we have seen many reports of bad bishops, these men arent even Priests. Therefore, they cannot confect any sacraments at all. The SSPX perform these conditional sacraments when a legitimate doubt exists. If we have been confessing to someone who was never been validly ordained, because The Bishop was evil and never intended to ordain him, we have not been absolved of those sins. The SSPX does this for the safety of our souls, not to attack the Church.

  8. @ Templar. Hmmmm. No one was harmed in the flood at Lourdes. Did the relic of JP-II cause of the flood or was it the olive branch brought back to the Ark by the dove? Or maybe, as in the Apocalypse, the dragon tried to sweep Our Lady and Her Offspring away with flood waters, but the earth swallowed them up.

  9. TY Brian K for the explanation of that obscure remark about "re-ordaining", etc.

  10. Brian

    Using the correct words [form] indicates for validity the intent.

    No matter how depraved the minister of the sacrament is, if he says what the Church says and uses Her matter, he intends to do what the Church does.

  11. Inquisitor10:18 PM

    Well, heretic pope, logically would mean antipope, i.e. sede vacans.

    Not necessarily; some theologians could argue that it is possible for a pope or an ecumenical council to teach heresy so long as the council/pope does not invoke his Supreme Magisterium or the Ordinary Universal Magisterium.

    If this theory were true, then it would be possible for the pope to be a heretic, but still be a valid pope holding his universal jurisdiction and teaching authority, and even still holding his ex cathedra infallibility. After all, there is no dogma that says that the pope ceases to be pope if he teaches heresy, likewise there is no dogma that states that it is impossible for a pope to ever teach heresy under any circumstances. So at least in theory, it is possible to envisage the possibility of the a pope teaching heresy and still being pope.

    The fact that a pope could be shown to be be a heretic doesn't logically require that the papacy must be vacant. It just means that the pope is a heretic.

    The second thing is that no mortal is competent to judge a pope--not even an ecumenical council-- and therefore no one could ever declare the previous pope to have authoritatively taught heresy, except a subsequent pope or the heretic pope himself rendering a negative judgment against his own person. Thus even if you could say that the pope ceased to be pope if he became a heretic, there would be no possible mechanism in the Church to remove the pope, because the only earthly authority capable of judging the pope to be guilty of heresy is the pope himself.

  12. @Brian K
    Remember, ex opere operato ?

    If the priest has to be pure and have pure intentions, all sacraments are suspect. How on earth did you know every single priest in the apostolic succession of any priest in the SSPX or Catholic faith has been done according to the Donatist criteria exposed here? You simply can't know. A single broken link invalidates the entire chain that follows.

  13. The bishop's zeal is admirable, but I think he flirts with the limits of what is acceptable by passive-aggressively calling the Pope a heretic and suggesting that he needs to "convert."

    Also, this nonsense about re-doing confirmations and ordinations bothers me with the Society, of which I generally think highly. It is blasphemous to repeat a Sacrament. No matter how banal the prayers to consecrate holy oil are in the new Pontifical or how theologically bland the new ordination rites are, there is no reason to suppose they are intrinsically invalid. Even if the minister in either case had no faith, the Sacraments would still be valid. One needs a positive contrary intention to invalidate a Sacrament, which one cannot assume in any case.

    As I remember, there were three main reasons the "Nine" sedevacantists broke from the SSPX in 1983:
    1-The Society's recognition of annulments granted by diocesan bishops
    2-Mandatory use of the 1962 Missal only—including a cut-down office and that funny Holy Week
    3-Lefebvre's refusal to re-ordain some diocesan clergy who had joined the Society but who had been ordained using the 1968 rites

    Bishop Williamson is usually the one who repeats Sacraments. I know Fr. Ronald Ringrose of St. Athanasius in Vienna, VA was a diocesan priest before coming to Bishop Williamson for re-ordination so he could go "independent." Similarly, Fr. John Rizzo, FSSP, tells of how then-Fr. Williamson re-confirmed him at St. Thomas Aquinas seminary in Ridgefield, CT. This has to stop if the Society is to gain canonical recognition. If Fellay has to push the envelope to get this element to leave, so be it.

  14. Matthew Rose11:19 PM

    Brian K,

    You are wrong. A Satanist Bishop may confer valid sacraments. An atheist may confect the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

    Anil Wang,

    I suggest you read more carefully and try to figure out what +de Gallareta is saying about re-ordination and re-confirmation. You slanderously accuse the Bishop of believing heresy about the nature of those Sacraments which leave an indelible mark. He did not deny this Dogma of the Faith; he simply implied that some Novus Ordo sacraments possess positive doubt for one reason or another. Furthermore, ++Lefebvre did re-ordain priests who came to Tradition, so nice try.

  15. Brian K11:21 PM

    The link above presents different opinions on what the Council of Trent taught on intent, and "doing what the Church does".

    Below, I will let the SSPX speak for themselves.

    There can be no doubt as to the necessity of the correct intention for the valid reception of the sacraments. This is explicitly declared by the Catechism of the Council of Trent, when it states that the ministers of the Sacraments:

    ...validly perform and confer the Sacraments, provided they make use of the matter and form always observed in the Catholic Church according to the institution of Christ, and provided they intend to do what the Church does in their administration (p. 155).

    The Baltimore Catechism explains what the expression "intending to do what the Church does" really means, namely:

    the intention of doing what Christ intended when He instituted the Sacrament and what the Church intends when it administers the Sacrament.

    As a consequence, it follows that if a priest has a positive intention against what the Church does, namely of specifically not intending what Christ intends and what the Church intends, then one of the three elements necessary for the validity of the Mass is absent, and the Mass is invalid.

    That is from:

  16. Picard11:29 PM

    What´s up!

    Sorry but that´s wrong - this pure external intention is not enough, see any good dogmatics or moral handbook.

    so Anil Wang:
    ex opere operato is irrelevant here in the discussion. If there is a defect of intention there is no operatio at all. The sacrament is invalid.
    please also check any moral handbook or dogamtics!


  17. I have to say I find Mgr. de Gallaretas thoughts fine and profound. His analysis is also very to the point. He sees clearly the contentious issues that he, unfortunately, does not accept:

    1) acknowledge that the living Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of Tradition—in other words, the Roman authorities;

    2) that the Second Vatican Council is in perfect agreement with Tradition, that it is necessary to accept it;

    3) that we must accept the validity and the liceity of the new Mass.

    Now what he fails to answer is this:

    Ad 1) Who is then the authentic interpreter of Tradition if it is not the Roman authorities - the FSSPX? In fact it is precisely the traditional understanding that it is the Pope and the curial dicastery charged with interpreting the Faith that have this competence, and them alone. Traditional Catholic theology does not in fact have any place for a group such as the FSSPX.

    Ad 2) Here I must give him that the CDF communiqué seems not to have made a proper distinction: i.e. in what sense must Vatican II be "accepted" - because clearly no-one can claim that every little bit of Vatican II must be accepted as infallible. But as teaching which must be submitted to with religious assent, notwithstanding the possibility of respectful theological discussion of certain points. If this is not the case, is there then not many non-infallible texts from previous councils and Popes that are open to denunciation and rejection?

    Ad 3) What is the FSSPX's basis for wanting to impose the opinion - for that is what it is - that the new Mass is displeasing to God on the rest of the Church? The rejection of the new Mass as "contrary to the Faith" builds solely on the FSSPX's peculiar theological analysis. It is a claim that must be submitted to the Apostolic See for acceptance or rejection, and before that has been the case they have no right to claim that what they teach is the absolute and immutable Truth.

  18. CredoUtIntelligam12:03 AM

    There is something very strange about the sacramental theology discussed above.

    So a manifest heretic, an atheist, and even a Satanist can confer valid sacraments so long as they use the correct words, but an Anglican Catholic ordaining a priest in the rite of Edward VI does not validly confer holy orders?

    This sounds like the triumph of form over substance.

  19. Brian K and Picard,

    You are right, but how does one prove - for that is what one must when one wants to re-ordain or re-confirm someone - that the intention was defective, and so defective that it necessarily invalidates the Sacrament?

    If one thinks there is reasonable doubt as to the intention, that is a slightly other matter - then one might conditionally re-ordain or re-confirm. But that is to the competent authority to determine, and that is also difficult to ascertain. It is surely not enough that the Bishop who conferred the Sacrament at some point has said something that you thought sounded heretical.

    Remember that even atheists can validly baptize, and the intention required for this must necessarily be extremely rudimentary and implicit.

  20. Brian K, you're wrong. Someone else pointed out the Donatist connections to that comment.
    I know this goes for ordinations-you literally have to say 'I do not intend to ordain him to the sacrificial priesthood of the Catholic Church' or something very similar for it to be invalid.
    Picard, I guess I'm going to have to disagree. The Church already ruled on matters such as baptism by atheists; as long as the words are correct, using water, it is valid.
    CredoUtIntelligum, yes, and the Church ruled on this. The rites of the Anglican ordination explicitly deny the sacrificial priesthood and transubstantiation (in the 39 Articles of Religion).
    They walk and talk like Orthodox with all this re-conferring Sacraments. This bishop is off his rocker by calling +Muller doctrinally suspect; at least he's in good standing with the Bishop of Rome.

  21. Edward1:04 AM

    October 13, 2012, Feast of Edward the Confessor.

    English take note!

  22. Scott Quinn1:12 AM

    Ah, I love it. It sounds like at least 3/4 of the bishops are back on the same page. I wish Bishop Fellay's lectures at the Angelus Press conference this past weekend could have been broadcast worldwide. His presentation was at once reassuring, hopeful, comical, sad, and maddening, what with his description of the dysfunctional apparatus that is the Vatican bureaucracy.

    The only thing I wish Bishop de Galarreta had done was make an unambiguous statement in support of Bishop Fellay.

    Meanwhile, I urge the weak-willed that it is time to have courage and support the SSPX. The future of the Church with with Tradition.

  23. @Picard

    I don't think you understand the implications of what I've said are.

    Yes "If there is a defect of intention there is no operatio at all. The sacrament is invalid."

    However, how do you know that every single bishop in the apostolic success of, say Archbishop Lefebrev had a valid intention? Can you prove it? No, since we do not know the interior disposition of any person. If during a crisis of faith (or out of spite) a single bishop did not intend to do what the Church intended, every bishop afterwards, including all the bishops of the SSPX would be invalid. Not only that, every marriage and confirmation in that line is also invalid. Given enough time, all sacramental orders would be invalid.

    *That* is the problem I was highlighting. If you assume that Catholic orders are potentially invalid, you're assuming that all Catholic sacraments are potentially invalid. This is precisely the reason the Donatist heresy is actually more dangerous than sedevacantism. With sedevacantism, only the Pope is potentially "invalid" but bishops are valid so a "valid" Pope may eventually be chosen. With Donatism, no "valid" Pope may ever be chosen since one doesn't know who the "valid" bishops are to be able to make such a choice.

    One simply has to accept that Catholic orders are valid unless proven otherwise or declared to be so by the Pope, or the whole faith falls apart.

  24. @ge,
    This is an over simplification.

    The points of v2 that are in conflict do not align with past magisterial interpretation of various declarations. When the pre-v2 declarations were made there was a lot of work done expounding upon them. The theological stance is head upon these explanations. In other words they are not California up on their own, but on what the Church taught pre-v2.

    In essence they are asking for a coherent explanation of how these elements do not do deduct each other.

  25. Pedro3:25 AM

    no theologian here, but I think that in general the duty of submission to the Papal Magisterium does not dispense with recognition of reality. A Pope can go on and on all he wants about hermeneutics of continuity and what have you, but if the New Mass is bad, it is bad, and no pronouncement from Rome will make it suddenly good.

  26. Benedict Carter3:35 AM

    This is pretty much the first piece I have ever read by this Bishop.

    I am very impressed.

  27. I don't think that Bishop de Galarreta understands Modernism -- he seems to think that it means "novelties", whereas in fact, it's the heretical notion that doctrine and theology are to be subjected to human thought, rather than being provided by Revelation, and received as gifts from God.

  28. All of this said and done, now what? Is there really still a chance for dialogue, and if so, who's going to ask first, Rome? What would be the occasion?

    Back to the Hatfields and the McCoys again.

  29. Common Sense9:24 AM

    Dear GE,

    I presume that, most likely, you have heard the Scripture-based truth that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This revelation is simply timeless. I assume that you are not just trolling.

    Over the years I've heard a lot of polemical verbiage coming from supporters of the Novus Ordo with little substance to it. Just look at the world today with open eyes and see how it has changed in the last fifty years, and, I'm afraid, not for the better. While attributing every problem the world now experiences exclusively to Vatican II and ignoring the signs of deteriorating Catholocism prior to the 60s would be ignorant, to dismiss the argument that Vatican II had no role in it is a terrible self-deception. I'm not surprised people still stick to the Novus Ordo, because it's comfortable and cushy. It's no wonder they don't want Tradition, because Tradition means the Cross of Christ. What they forget is that it also means peace.

    I'm not sure whether any reasoning avails those who refuse to have any sense of reason. The SSPX is not teaching any "peculiar" doctrines or interpretations - it has simply done what the Church always did before Vatican II. Why is this so difficult to understand?

    May God always bless the SSPX.

  30. My understanding of intention necessary for valid sacraments is the general intention to do what the Church does or what Christians do or what Jesus instituted, etc., but one may be totally wrong about what the Church actually intends or even what is the true Christian Church, or what Jesus actually instituted.

    For example, the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments, in 1872, said a Methodist Baptismal rite, that explicitly denied that baptism has any affect other than being a symbol (it specifically says it does not regenerate), was valid. (see page 246, the decree date 18 Decem. 1872).

    On the other hand, Mormon baptisms are invalid due to defect in intention, despite their rite being better than the Methodist one above, because they explicitly are not intending to do what they think the Christian Church does or what they think Jesus instituted, but some other thing instituted by Adam.

    Furthermore, when the minister of the sacrament uses the rite approved by the Church, he is presumed to have the intent to do as the Church does. What causes the defect of intention is the principle of positive exclusion. So, for example, if a Catholic were to deliberately choose to use a rite not a approved by the Church for the very purpose of not doing what the Church does, then there would be a defect in intention.

    This is presumed, for example, when a Catholic chooses to "marry" while rejecting the rites and disciplines of Catholic marriage (say, by going before a justice of the peace or getting married in a Protestant church without permission). This is why the Church presumes such marriages to be invalid.

    On the other hand, the Church presumes marriages between baptized non-Catholics as valid because they have not made such a positive exclusion. They are generally presumed to be doing what Christians do when they get married however.

    This was the same principle behind the invalidation of Anglican orders. The problem was with the first generation of rebel Catholic bishops who each expressly chose to use a new rite not approved by the Church for the very purpose of not conferring the sacerdotal powers. They broke the line of succession, which is why subsequent ordinations are invalid, despite subsequently presumed intentions to do what the Church does.

    There's a good book on this by Francis Clark, SJ in 1956 entitled "Anglican Orders and Defect of Intention".

    Anyway, Catholic clergy, no matter how many mortal sins they commit or how faithless, are presumed to have the proper intention when they use the rites approved by the Church, which the Novus Ordo and subsequent rites have been. Otherwise we would be left to guess at secret intentions--using the rites of the Church is sufficient evidence of intending to do what the Church does.

  31. Andrew11:10 AM

    Part of fighting well is knowing who are one's allies and who are one's true enemies. Pope Benedict is an ally of the orthodox Catholic faith, as are orthodox Catholics (including those who attend the Novus Ordo). It seems though that by attacking the entire post-Vatican II Church the SSPX has decided to wage war against all Catholics in communion with Rome. They should join forces with the Holy Father and work from within to reform the reform (like the FSSP, ICRSP or solid orders like the Norbetines of St. Michael's Abbey, the Franciscans of the Immaculate, the Nashville Dominicans, the Benedictine nuns of Regina Laudis Anney etc. etc. etc.). There are many fighting the good fight. Its about time the SSPX stops the firendly fire and join the cause!

  32. "...but an Anglican Catholic ordaining a priest in the rite of Edward VI does not validly confer holy orders?"


    An Anglican cannot validly ordain using the rite of Edward VI, because that rite is fundamentally altered from the Catholic Rite of Ordination, so much so that it is invalid and has no valid form or matter and therfore no valid intention.

  33. Bp. de Galarretta speaks a lot more clearly that Bp. Fellay. This is why, I think, that a number of Rorate commentators have picked up on the theological peculiarities of the SSPX ecclesiology.

    1. "Reviewing the Magisterium." Yes, SSPX does indeed believe it can conduct an ongoing "review" the teachings of "the Roman authorities" (=pope, Roman congregations, etc.) and inform followers which teachings are in accord with "tradition" and which are not.

    On the face of it, this would seem to be a deal-breaker for the Vatican.

    But since neither Rome nor SSPX have definitively called a halt to the negotiations, one could see Rome offering to paper over the apparent problem with language about the degrees of assent required by "theological notes."

    Presto — the problem disappears!

    2. Re-Conferring Sacraments. Rorate posters have also picked up on the peculiarity of SSPX "judging the intention" of the minister of a sacrament (for ordination and confirmation) and then conferring it conditionally whenever it judges the "correct" intention to to be lacking.

    This, of course, it the opposite of standard pre-Vatican II sacramental theology, where if a Catholic minister used the prescribed matter and form, especially for a rite as solemn as an ordination, he was automatically presumed to have the requisite intention, until the contrary was positively proven.

    The SSPX position, however — presuming to judge sacramental "intention" — was formulated precisely in order to give it "wiggle room" in negotiations with the Vatican.

    "We don't say, Your Eminence, that the new sacramental forms are invalid in themselves. No, no, we examine everything on a case by case basis, in the event that there might be some cause for scruples, in case the recipient is worried, etc., etc."

    Sounds reasonable, eh?

    It also placates hardliners in the SSPX laity who really DO believe that the new ordination rite could be invalid. "See, we take your worries very seriously."

    For these reasons, I don't think the deal is dead yet. Someone on the Vatican's side of the negotiations who is well-informed enough about the rather peculiar ins and outs of SSPX's ecclesiology and sacramental theology (and who actually WANTS the deal to go through) would find a sufficiently anodyne formula to satisfy SSPX's decision makers.

    And as I have said before, once Benedict XVI dies, there will be no more talk of negotiations for a long, long time.

  34. I love how ECCLESIA SUPPLET ECCLESIA SUPPLET when it comes to jurisdiction for your illicit and possibly invalid sacraments, but there is no similar charitable assumption of validity and liceity when the ministers of the actual Ecclesia Herself, the Catholic Church, use Her papally-promulgated liturgical books to confect Novus Ordo sacraments. Amazing.

  35. WhyMeLord2:38 PM

    Common Sense nails it.

    "Saving souls", after all, is really what it is about. All else is simply noise.

    I really like your "Cross of Christ" image, Common Sense . . . sums it up nicely. I differ slightly in that the Cross is not exclusive to only Tradition, it is the responsibility of Church at large too. It is especially a heavy burden for those that are accountable to God for the souls entrusted.

    My image back to you is Simon of Cyrene, the Cross bearer for Jesus. In my spiritual life struggles I love to visualize him.

    God Bless.

  36. BXVI is not an heretic [though he is a theologian and they, as a body, are known to tread weird paths from time to time]but, if his response to the +Muller 'ultimatum' is correct, he lacks the courage to enforce his office. Now both +Fellay and Fr. Schmidberger have hinted at both German Bishops' Conference and German State intervention in the matter of SSPX. If this be true, as I believe it to be, then it should be exposed and shouted from the rooftops.

    Of course there is the argument, under Vatican II, the BXVI possesses no power to act without the agreement of his Bishops. Again, this was alluded to by +Fellay when he reported BXVI as stating 'my powers end at the door of my chambers'.

    I believe the foregoing aspects are crucial and should be exposed.

  37. @Andrew:

    You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the ICRSS or FSSP who really believe in the "reform of the reform" program. For the most part they just want the old Mass and old spirituality without any scruples over their canonical standing. They are not in some enterprise to make the new Mass more palatable or nicer.

  38. Chris5:33 PM

    There is a key point lacking in the intention/ validity debate on this thread.

    In the Pre-VCII sacramental rites, the Catholic intention was clearly stated in the rite surrounding the form, if not the form itself. This is the problem with the NO sacraments, or most of them. The rite has been changed from expressing clear Cathlolic intention to ambiguity.

    Prior to the new Rites intent was assumed because the priest/bishop was publicly stating Catholic intent as he administered the sarament.

    The new rites are ambiguous. Thus one can take them with a Cathlolic intent or a myriad of other intentions. Thus the sacramental rites no longer guarantee the proper intent can be assumed. Therefore we are left to the intention of the particular priest or bishop who is administering said ambiguous rite. If that bishop or priest intends to do what the Church does, then the sacrament is valid. If he does not, it is not.

    This is why, in the case of the new rites, the Society examines each one case by case. There are so many priests and bishops confused today on Cathlolic doctrine, Lord knows what they think they are intending by conferring the sacraments.

    This was all predicted by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci as well as Archbishop Lefebvre. With the Novus Ordo you also have the problem of making the consecration part of a narrative. If the priest simply reads the text as if he is recalling a past event or telling a story and does not form the specific intention to consecrate, the sacrament is invalid.

    The bottom line is that the new sacramental rites are not invalid in and of themselves. They are ambiguous. Thus intention is not assumed as it used to be with clear rites. Thus, stripped of clear rites, the responsiblity falls back on the priest to form a good intention.

    The example given from 1872 in the Acta Sanctae Sedis by a previous poster concerns heretics administering baptism with the correct form, but stating a contrary teaching beforehand as to the EFFECTS of the sacrament. In this case the Church ruled that erroneous beliefs about the EFFECT of the sacrament is not the same thing as erroneous INTENT.

    This is not what the Society is saying. A hypothetical priest may preach erroneously on the EFFECTS of receiving the Eucharist, but if he intends to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ (even in the New Mass) he confects the sacrament validly.

    On the other hand if by consecrating, he has no intention to do what the Church does, but instead intends to reinact a memorial meal, he does not consecrate validly. We can't assume he intends to consecrate as the Church does because the ambiguity of the Novus Ordo Rite lends itself to an interpretation of a memorial meal. The rite itself does not give a clear Catholic intention we can rely on and assume validity on. That is what the Society is saying.

  39. Chris5:51 PM

    Footnote 29 to, "A Critical Study of the New Mass" by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci.

    "29. As they appear in the context of the Novus Ordo, the words of Consecration could be valid in virtue of the priest's intention. But since their validity no longer comes from the force of the sacramental words themselves (ex vi verborum)--or more precisely, from the meaning (modus significandi) the old rite of the Mass gave to the formula--the words of Consecration in the New Order of Mass could also not be valid. Will priests in the near future, who receive no traditional formation and who rely on the Novus Ordo for the intention of "doing what the Church does," validly consecrate at Mass? One may be allowed to doubt it."

  40. Chris6:00 PM

    Archbishop Lefebvre- An Open Letter to Confused Catholics:

    "You may have noticed that most priests nowadays recite as one continuous passage the principal part of the Canon which begins, “the night before the Passion He took bread in His holy hands,” without observing the pause implied by the rubric of the Roman Missal: “Holding with both hands the host between the index finger and the thumb, he pronounces the words of the Consecration in a low but distinct voice and attentively over the host.” The tone changes, becomes intimatory, the five words “Hoc est enim Corpus Meum,” operate the miracle of transubstantiation, as do those that are said for the consecration of the wine. The new Missal asks the celebrant to keep to the narrative tone of voice as if he were indeed proceeding with a memorial. Creativity being now the rule, we see some celebrants who recite the text while showing the Host all around or even breaking it in an ostentatious manner so as to add the gesture to their words and better illustrate their text. The two genuflections out of the four having been suppressed, those which remain being sometimes omitted, we have to ask ourselves if the priest in fact has the feeling of consecrating, even supposing that he really does have the intention to do so...

    ...A Mass celebrated with the American bishop's honeycakes of which I have spoken is certainly, invalid, like those where the words of the Consecration are seriously altered or even omitted. I am not inventing anything, a case has been recorded where a celebrant went to such an extent of creativity that he quite simply forgot the Consecration! But how can we assess the intention of the priest? It is obvious that there are fewer and fewer valid Masses as the faith of priests becomes corrupted and they no longer have the intention to do what the Church--which cannot change her intention--has always done. The present-day training of those who are called seminarians does not prepare them to accomplish valid Masses. They are no longer taught to consider the Holy Sacrifice as the essential action of their priestly life."

  41. Chris,

    Without belaboring the point, I know what you are getting at about "intention" when it comes to the "Narrative" that replaced the sacramental form in the New Mass. Many who have written about the Novus Ordo, including myself, would agree with you, because the recasting of the form into a narrative necessarily changes the intention.

    But here we are talking about Holy Orders and Confirmation which impart a character and may be conferred only once.

    Since SSPX cannot very well impugn the validity of the new sacramental FORMS without sinking once and for all any discussions with "the Roman authorities" — Why would Abps. Muller or di Noia bother to "negotiate" with an outfit that dismissed the ordinations and confirmations they conferred as invalid? — SSPX retreats to "judging the intention" of particular ministers.

    This allows for the wiggle room in the negotiations. "Surely, Your Excellency, we do not believe that YOUR sacraments or those of our beloved HOLY FATHER are invalid. We only examine PARTICULAR CASES to see if there could be any question about intention..."

    Under the principles of traditional sacramental theology, it doesn't make any sense, but it is, as I see it, an "out" SSPX has created for the purposes of negotiations.

  42. Reluctant Pessimist7:54 PM

    Dear Father Cekada,

    While I am ever more inclined to regard the NO rites of ordination and of episcopal consecration as ipso facto invalid as well as illicit, there is an aspect of the traditional conferral of the latter rite that suggests that the Church has always been concerned about the conferrer's intent. I refer, of course, to the insistence that at least two bishops take part in any episcopal consecration to remove any reasonable doubt about the sacramental validity of the conferral.

    If the potential failure to do what the Church intends is admitted in this sacramental rite, can it definitively be excluded from any other, especially from those where, as you write, a sacramental character is imparted?

  43. Chris8:11 PM

    Fr. Cekada,

    The Society's principle regarding conditional confirmations and ordinations is the same as Rome. Both believe that if there is doubt a sacrament was valid performed, the Church allows a conditional sacrament to provide certainty.

    They simply disagree whether a Catholic can assume a confirmation/ ordination in the New Rite is per se valid by simply performing the Rite. Where Rome would have to see some alteration of the form or evidence of an explicit contra-intention, it seems the Society would look at the history/ statements/ beliefs of the particular priest/ bishop in question and see if they have exhibited a clear understanding of what the Church intends in these sacraments or, at minimum, no evidence that they intend something different. By nature of this approach it has to go case by case.

    I agree this position may provide hope of an agreement where your position provides none, however I have no reason to believe this is the only or primary reason for this approach on behalf of the Society. I think it has been their position from pretty near the beginning and is consistent with the approach of ABL.

  44. Dear Pessimist,

    Yes, correct intention is required, but when a Catholic minster confers an ordination with an approved rite, the presumption of law is always in favor of the validity of the act (says Gasparri). An attempt by a private party (such as an SSPX "tribunal") to judge a bishop's intention years after the fact while relying on Karnak-like questions about his orthodoxy seems to overthrow all the presumptions of canon law and be an exercise in futility, How can one possibly claim to know such things?

    Dear Chris,

    During my first year at Econe (75–76), Abpl Lefebvre personally told me that he thought the new rite of priestly ordination was doubtful and that the new rite of episcopal consecration was invalid. This came up when I went to ask him about former seminary classmates possibly joining the Society.

    The Archbishop at some point changed his position on this. My guess is that it was after John Paul II was elected, so I see the shift to judging "intention" (rather than rejecting the new ordination forms as invalid or doubtful) as connected with the reopening of negotiations.

    Abp. Lefebvre's former position would have been an insurmountable obstacle to negotiation. The latter one, however, — as much as I disagree with it — can be "finessed."

  45. To those who are concerned about how "institution narrative" changes the intention: - reply to objection 3.

  46. Picard7:55 PM

    Rev. Fr. Cekada,

    to be fair: if you admit that there is an argument re the Hl. Eucharist that the new form makes the intention doubtfull

    methinks there is an analog argument to consider the new ordination-rites as making the ordinations doubtfull via defect of intention (in those cases were we have not traditional-minded ministers or at least orthodox ministers).

    Or in other words: If you admit that the argument from the Ottaviani-intervention seems to be valid, then you could not reject it re ordinations/consecrations.

    Perhaps the re-confirmations are some different, the form has not changed that much - and the Archbishop did not like to re-confirm, perhaps out of this context(? - can you confirm this?)

    And you said:
    "Yes, correct intention is required, but when a Catholic minster confers an ordination with an approved rite, the presumption of law is always in favor of the validity of the act (says Gasparri)"

    But you know, the sspx does not consider the new rites to be authentic catholic ones - so they deny your premise.

    You may now argue that then they get a problem with ecclesiology and that the only solution were sedevacantism - but that is another discussion.

    According to their principles - if right or wrong ones, that is another discussion - it is logical that they (sspx´ers) can doubt the intentions via changing of the forms and rites into non-authentic-catholic forms and rites (like in the argument of the Ottaviani-intervention).


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