Don Minutella honours Archbishop Lefebvre in the segment of the video below. He says, rightly, that the Archbishop will one day be canonized a saint. He shows the picture of St. Padre Pio kissing the ring of the Archbishop. I do apologize to the non-Italian speakers.
It is good to see a priest excommunicated from the Conciliar Church honour the saintly Archbishop, especially one who accepts Benedict XVI as the true pope. Priests like Don Minutella put the Resistance to shame on the matter of who is the current true pope. I wonder when one of the Archbishop’s own spiritual sons will break from the “Jorge Bergoglio is the pope” party line. Let us pray that the day will come soon!
“You have no authority to judge that this man is a heretic. You are only a layman. You have to wait for the Church to make a judgment.”
How many times we heard this in Catholic circles. Some have even erroneously pointed to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as saying something similar. The idea that one cannot form a private judgment on the status of the Catholicity of another before the Church’s judgment is simply false! Of course, one needs to be careful that he is not being trigger-happy with the term “heretic”, but abuses of the term do not justify eliminating or restricting one’s right to use it when certain conditions exist, which include:1
- The accused must deny or doubt a doctrine that must be believed with Catholic and Divine Faith.
- One must have moral certitude that the accused is aware that he is denying or doubting a doctrine that must be believed with Catholic and Divine Faith.2
- The one forming the judgment must understand that he is making a judgment of conscience and not a juridical judgment. Therefore, the judgment does not oblige on the conscience of another.
Now there is a book titled “Liberalism Is a Sin” (original title is “What is Liberalism?”) written by Fr. Felix Sarda Y Salvany in which he heavily condemned Liberalism and Liberals, so much so that the Sacred Congregation of the Index was asked to ban it! However, in a letter by the Sacred Congregation dated January 10, 1887, part of its response was the following:
“Wherefore the Sacred Congregation has carefully examined both works (the second work was a criticism of Fr. Sarda’s book), and decided as follows: In the first not only is nothing found contrary to sound doctrine, but its author, D. Felix Sarda merits great praise for his exposition and defense of the sound doctrine therein set forth with solidity, order and lucidity, and without personal offense to anyone.”
In his book, Fr. Sarda condemned Liberalism as a heresy (see Chapter 3). Furthermore, he wrote that it is rare to find a Liberal in good faith (see Chapter 15).3 Then in Chapter 32 titled “Liberalism and Authority in Particular Cases”, he states the following regarding private judgment (emphasis mine):
“How is one to tell on his own authority who or what is Liberal, without having recourse to a definitive decision of the teaching Church? When a good Catholic accuses anyone of Liberalism or attacks and unmasks Liberal sophisms, the accused immediately seeks refuge in a challenge of the accuser’s authority: ‘And pray who are you, to charge me and my journal with Liberalism? Who made you a Master in Israel to declare who is or who is not a good Catholic? And is it from you that I must take out a patent of Catholicity?’ Such is the last resort of the tainted Catholic on finding himself pushed to the wall. How then are we to answer this opposition? Is the theology of Liberal Catholics sound upon this point? That we may accuse any person or writing of Liberalism, is it necessary to have recourse to a special judgement of the church upon this particular person or this particular writing? By no means. If this Liberal paradox were true, it would furnish Liberals with a very efficacious weapon with which to practically annul all the Church’s condemnations of Liberalism. The Church alone possesses supreme doctrinal magistery in fact and in right, juris et facti; her sovereign authority is personified in the Pope. To him alone belongs the right of pronouncing the final, decisive and solemn sentence. But this does not exclude other judgments, less authoritative but very weighty, which cannot be despised and even ought to bind the Christian conscience. Of this kind are:
1. Judgments of the Bishops in their respective dioceses.
2. Judgments of pastors in their parishes.
3. Judgments of directors of consciences.
4. Judgments of theologians consulted by the lay faithful.
“These judgments are of course not infallible, but they are entitled to great consideration and ought to be binding in proportion to the authority of those who give them, in the gradation we have mentioned. But it is not against judgments of this character that Liberals hurl the peremptory challenge we wish particularly to consider. There is another factor in this matter entitled to respect and that is:
5. The judgment of simple human reason duly enlightened.
“Yes, human reason, to speak after the manner of theologians, has a theological place in matters of religion. Faith dominates reason, which ought to be subordinated to faith in everything. But it is altogether false to pretend that reason can do nothing, that it has no function at all in matters of faith; it is false to pretend that the inferior light, illuminated by God in the human understanding, cannot shine at all, because it does not shine as powerfully or as clearly as the superior light. Yes the faithful are permitted and even commanded to give a reason for their faith, to draw out its consequences, to make applications of it, to deduce parallels and analogies from it. It is thus by use of their reason that the faithful are enabled to suspect and measure the orthodoxy of any new doctrine, presented to them, by comparing it with a doctrine already defined. If it be not in accord, they can combat it as bad and justly stigmatize as bad the book or journal which sustains it. They cannot of course define it ex cathedra, but they can lawfully hold it as perverse and declare it such, warn others against it, raise the cry of alarm and strike the first blow against it. The faithful layman can do all this, and has done it at all times with the applause of the Church. Nor in so doing does he make himself the pastor of the flock, nor even its humblest attendant; he simply serves it as a watchdog who gives the alarm. Oportet allatrare canes. ‘It behooves watchdogs to bark’ very opportunely said a great Spanish Bishop in reference to such occasions.
“Is not perchance the part played by human reason so understood by those zealous prelates, who on a thousand occasions exhort the faithful to refrain from the reading of bad journals and works without specially pointing them out? Thus do they show their conviction that this natural criterion, illuminated by faith, is sufficient to enable the faithful to apply well known doctrines to such matters.
“Does the Index itself give the title of every forbidden book? Do we not find under the rubric of General Rules of the Index certain principles according to which good Catholics should guide themselves in forming their judgement upon books not mentioned in the Index, but which each reader is expected to apply at his own discretion? Of what use would be the rule of faith and morals, if in every particular case the faithful cannot of themselves make the immediate application; if they were constantly obliged to consult the Pope or the diocesan pastor? Just as the general rule of morality is the law, in accordance with which each one squares his own conscience, dictamen practicum, in making particular applications of this general rule, subject to correction if erroneous; so the general rule of faith, which is the infallible authority of the Church, is and ought to be in consonance with every particular judgment formed in making concrete applications, subject of course to correction and retraction in the event of mistake in so applying it. It would be rendering the superior rule of faith useless, absurd and impossible to require the supreme authority of the Church to make its special and immediate application in every case upon every occasion, which calls it forth. This would be a species of brutal and satanic Jansenism like that of the followers of the unhappy Bishop of Ypres, when they exacted, for the reception of the sacraments, such dispositions as would make it impossible for men to profit by that which was plainly intended and instituted for them by Jesus Christ Himself.
“The legal rigorism invoked by the Liberalists, in matters pertaining to faith, is as absurd as the ascetic rigorism once preached at Port Royal; it would result even more disastrously. If you doubt this look around you. The greatest rigorists on this point are the most hardened sectaries of the Liberal school. But how explain this apparent contradiction? It is easily explained, if we only reflect that nothing could be more convenient for Liberalism than to put this legal muzzle upon the lips and the pens of their most determined adversaries. It would be in truth a great triumph for them, under the pretext that no one except the Pope and the Bishops could speak with the least authority, to this impose silence upon the lay champions of the faith, such as were DeMaistre, Cortes, Veuillot, Ward, Lucas, McMaster, who once bore, and others, who now bear, the banner of the faith so boldly and unflinchingly against its most insidious foes. Liberalism would like to see such crusaders disarmed, and would prefer, above all, if they could succeed in getting the Church herself to do the disarming.”
I rest my case.
Today is the eighth anniversary of that infamous sermon given by His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota. The following is the quote that really caught my ear back then:
“We told them very clearly, if you accept us as is, without change, without obliging us to accept these things, then we are ready.”
By these words, Bishop Fellay publicly opposed the old SSPX adage of “no canonical agreement prior to a doctrinal resolution”. In other words, he publicly adopted a position in opposition to that of the SSPX founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who from the 1988 Consecrations onward clearly and firmly held the position that Rome must accept the pre-conciliar Magisterial teachings prior to the resumption of discussions regarding a canonical regularization.
The neo-SSPX is now (and has been for years) pretty much under the umbrella of the Conciliar Church. The only thing that is missing is a signature. What a sad end to the work of the Archbishop.
In the following video, Mr. Louie Verrechio respectfully criticizes Archbishop Lefebvre’s position on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Conciliar Church. The Archbishop held that the pope of the Catholic Church can at the same time be the head of a schismatic church (i.e., the Conciliar Church). Mr. Verrechio believes that this is false. He proceeds with using the schismatic Orthodox as an example to make his point. He states that the head of an Orthodox schismatic sect (e.g., Russian Orthodox) cannot at the same time be the head of the Catholic Church. While this statement is true, Mr. Verrechio fails to make the proper distinction in using this example to criticize the Archbishop’s position. In regards to the Orthodox sects, they are formally schismatic. They don’t claim to be Catholics. Many of them would actually be insulted to be called such. However, the Conciliar Church does claim to be Catholic even though, ontologically, it is not Catholic. So whereas the Conciliar Church is truly schismatic, it is only materially so. The matter of schism is there even though it is not acknowledged as such. The distinction between “formally” and “materially” cannot be overlooked. For example, one may perform an act that is a violation of the Divine Law. However, the person may be inculpably ignorant that such an act is so. Therefore, the act is materially sinful but not formally sinful. In other words, the matter of sin is there, but the person performing the act did not subjectively (i.e., formally) commit a sin before the Eyes of God. This distinction between “formal” and “material” is also important in its application to the subject of heresy, which Sedevacantists get wrong in regards to the conciliar popes. But that’s another story.
The distinction between “formal” and “material” gives Archbishop Lefebvre the ammunition he needs to correctly show how the pope of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church can at the time be the head of a sect. Nevertheless, the Conciliar Church will morph to become formally schismatic and will move from being a heretical sect, which it is now, to being an apostate sect (it could be argued that it is already an apostate sect). This morphing is happening right now under Jorge Bergoglio. Pope Benedict XVI and his successors will continue to rule the Catholic Church.
Here are some resources for faithful reflections of the position of Archbishop Lefebvre on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Conciliar Church:
The video will automatically start and stop at the relevant section after clicking the “Play” button. The section is 3.4 minutes long.
A valid sacrament requires the correct matter and form, the intrinsic causes, and a valid minister and the intention to do what the Church does, the extrinsic causes. For a sacrament to be intrinsically invalid, at least one of the intrinsic causes must be defective. Now in some Traditionalist circles, it is claimed that Archbishop Lefebvre held that the validity of the New Rites of the Sacraments is doubtful. By not making any qualifications, they make it seem like the Archbishop was speaking about the matter and/or form of the New Rites. If it is their intention, they are not correct. Take, for example, the Fr. Stark issue. Here are the words of the Archbishop during a 1983 conference in Ridgefield, Connecticut:
Note that Archbishop speaks about studying each case and not making one judgment across the board. If he held that the matter and/or form was doubtful, he would indeed be right to make one judgment across the board. Now, this example is for the New Rite of Ordination. What about the New Rites of the other Sacraments? For all the other New Rites, one would have difficulty finding Archbishop Lefebvre placing doubt on the matter and/or form as approved by Rome, except for the matter of the Sacrament of Confirmation because of the permission given in the New Rite to use vegetable oil instead of olive oil. For the New Rites of the Sacraments, rather, the Archbishop was chiefly concerned with the intention of the minister due to a poor formation. However, as mentioned above, this is an extrinsic factor. Therefore, these Traditionalist circles need to be careful when they make broad statements and attribute them to the Archbishop or take the Archbishop’s words out of context.
In the following sermon, Fr. David Hewko implicitly admits that he doubts whether or not Jorge Bergoglio is a true pope. Father states, “Pope Francis, he may be valid, his priesthood, his consecration. It may be valid. It may not be.” I have demonstrated in this post that by doubting Jorge Bergoglio’s episcopal consecration, it necessarily follows that his being a true pope is doubtful as well. Here, again, is the argument:
Every true pope is a validly consecrated bishop.
But Jorge Bergoglio, elected by the cardinals in 2013, is doubtfully a validly consecrated bishop.
Therefore, Jorge Bergoglio is doubtfully a true pope.
Now Fr. Hewko does not state in this sermon the same about Benedict XVI. However, at about the 8-minute mark of this sermon, Fr. Hewko leans towards the Church in the future condemning the New Rites as invalid because of a defect of intention. If Fr. Hewko applies this to the case of Benedict XVI, who was consecrated in the New Rite, then Fr. Hewko doubts whether or not Joseph Ratzinger is a true pope as well.
Fr. Hewko condemns the idea that this doubt automatically makes one a Sedevacantist; he is correct. First of all, Sedevacantism is traditionally understood to mean one who holds, whether as an opinion or with moral certitude, that the Chair of Peter has been vacant since 1958. However, Fr. Hewko accepts John Paul II as a true pope. Secondly, as you can see from the above syllogism, the most that can be concluded is doubt, but not “opinion” or “moral certitude” about whether or not the Chair of Peter is vacant. Nevertheless, Fr. Hewko’s doubt allows him to hold that the Chair of Peter has potentially been vacant1 since 2005 (i.e., 15 years), if he doubts Benedict XVI’s consecration, or since 2013 (i.e., 7 years), if he doubts only Jorge Bergoglio’s consecration. He leaves it up to the Church to finally decide in the future.
Let us analyze Fr. Hewko’s position more closely on a scale of certainty from one proposition to its opposite:
1. I am morally certain that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
2. I am of the opinion that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
3. I am of the opinion that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are not true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
4. I am morally certain that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are not true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
Fr. Hewko’s position lies somewhere between 2 and 3. It would be fair to state that his position is the following, assuming he doubts both Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio’s episcopal consecration and that he leans towards the invalidity of the New Rite of Consecration:
I doubt whether or not Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are true popes with a leaning towards the position that they are not true popes.
What I cannot accept is that Archbishop Lefebvre would hold Fr. Hewko’s same position regarding Benedict XVI (again, assuming what I wrote above). Archbishop Lefebvre never raised a doubt about the validity of the episcopal consecration of Joseph Ratzinger, with whom he had intimate dealings. Therefore, I have no doubt that Archbishop Lefebvre would hold this position:
I am morally certain that Benedict XVI is a true pope.
If Fr. Hewko, however, clearly acknowledges the validity of the episcopal consecration of Benedict XVI, then all is good because, after all, Benedict XVI is the true pope!
The video will automatically start and stop at the relevant section after clicking the “Play” button. The section is 4.3 minutes long.
In this sermon, Fr. David Hewko tries to make the case, using the teaching of Archbishop Lefebvre, that it is only up to the Church to decide on the matter of who is pope. The implication is that one cannot form a private judgment on the matter during a time of crisis before the Church gives a definitive judgment. Rather, we must in the meantime accept he who the world accepts as pope. The Administrator of The Catacombs Forum supports Fr. Hewko by making the following statement on this thread:
“This is why no ‘lay armchair theologian’ nor ‘Father X,Y, or Z’ can make declarations on who is Pope and who is not. This is one of the fundamental errors with the sedevacantist theories, including the resignationist theory.”
Where does Archbishop Lefebvre, in any of the quotes provided by Fr. Hewko in this sermon, say that as a matter of principle, one cannot make a judgment of conscience? As a matter of fact, at 10 minutes and zero seconds the Archbishop is quoted as saying, “As long as I don’t have any evidence that the pope is not the pope, then the presumption is for him.” So the Archbishop points to evidence as being the determining factor. He did not state that a judgment of conscience can never be made. Therefore, Fr. Hewko and the Admin have distorted the teaching of Archbishop Lefebvre by making it seem that he was giving a universal principle when in fact he was only making statements about the particular cases of the conciliar popes up until Pope John Paul II. Based on the evidence, the Archbishop could not judge they were not popes. So, Fr. Hewko and the Admin, the Archbishop evidently does not agree with you.
In the case of Benedict XVI, it is Benedict XVI himself who decided that he remains pope by not renouncing the munus. Hence, it is both of you and the rest of the world that are going against the definitive judgment of the Church, no less than that of the reigning pope!
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the effective date of that horrible rite called the Novus Ordo Missae. Fr. Peter Scott, SSPX, who now resides in Nigeria, wrote an article on the Novus Ordo Missae in the December 2019 Issue of “Defende Nos”, the newsletter of St. Michael’s Priory in that same country. To his merit, Fr. Scott continues to maintain the line of Archbishop Lefebvre on this subject (italics mine):
“A Mass that fails to express fully Catholic teaching concerning the sacrifice and its purpose, as it ought to do, is lacking an essential element. It manifestly suffers from a privation of the good that is due to it. It is not what the Mass ought to be, and cannot attain the purpose of the Mass. It is quite simply evil, and that privation of the due good is to be found in the assembly of ceremonies and prayers of the Mass itself…..The affirmation that the New Mass is evil is an objective statement that this liturgical act as such does not adequately profess the Faith, nor does it attain its end…..”
So what does this mean in regards to the morality of active attendance at the Novus Ordo Missae (italics mine):
“Having established that the New Mass is objectively evil, it necessarily follows that the celebration of or assistance at it is a disorder, opposed to God’s will, and a sin. It is, moreover, a sin against the virtue of religion, namely the sin of sacrilege, to attempt to give glory to God by a ceremony that is not truly, in itself, to His glory…..To assist at such (relatively reverent) Masses is a venial sin of sacrilege. We have no right to do so, just as we have no right to commit any venial sin, not even to satisfy a precept of the Church.”
Did you read that Your Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson? Did you read that Mr. Sean Johnson? Why is it that Fr. Scott, even though he is now part of the neo-SSPX, continues to maintain the line of Archbishop Lefebvre in that the Novus Ordo Mass is evil in itself and therefore one must never actively attend it, and yet you both, who claim to oppose the neo-SSPX, teach that it is morally acceptable to actively attend it under certain circumstances?
Please come back to the line of the Archbishop.
I have been accused by a few people that I am no longer in line with Archbishop Lefebvre because I now accept Benedict XVI as the true pope. Really? How do they know that Archbishop Lefebvre would undoubtedly accept Jorge Bergoglio as pope? They make the Archbishop some kind of static character who would always accept the general consensus of who is pope despite evidence to the contrary. This is a false characterization of the man. Did the Archbishop accept the general consensus of the Vatican II Council Fathers? No. So don’t fall for it if you too accept Benedict XVI as the true pope or are leaning towards this fact. This is a matter of evidence and the evidence clearly shows that Benedict XVI did not renounce the office (munus). Therefore, he is still pope.