“No Canonical Agreement Prior to a Doctrinal Resolution” Is a Catholic Principle

Since especially after the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre held to the principle that he would not negotiate with Rome for a canonical regularization until she accepted the teachings of the pre-Vatican II Magisterium:

 

“I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue.  No more.  I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level:  ‘Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you?  Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII?  Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings?  Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath?  Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ?  If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk!  As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible.  It is useless.’”1

 

After the Archbishop’s death in 1991, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) leadership continued to keep the same principle and fortified it during the 2006 SSPX General Chapter:

 

“…….the contacts made from time to time with the authorities in Rome have no other purpose than to help them embrace once again that Tradition which the Church cannot repudiate without losing her identity.  The purpose is not just to benefit the Society, nor to arrive at some merely practical impossible agreement.”2

 

It was not until February 2, 2012 that this principle was publicly made known to have changed.  During a sermon a St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Bishop Bernard Fellay said the following:

 

“We told them (i.e., Rome) very clearly, if you accept us as is, without change, without obliging us to accept these things (i.e., Vatican II, etc.), then we are ready.”3

 

So the SSPX leadership was willing to become canonically regularized as long as Rome did not expect the SSPX to change from its current position.  However, this caused an uproar within the SSPX, including the other three SSPX Bishops:

 

“Your Excellency, Fathers, take care!  You want to lead the Society to a point where it will no longer be able to turn back, to a profound division of no return and, if you end up to such an agreement, it will be with powerful destroying influences who will not keep it.  If up until now the bishops of the Society have protected it, it is precisely because Mgr. Lefebvre refused a practical agreement.  Since the situation has not changed substantially, since the condition prescribed by the Chapter of 2006 was by no means carried out (a doctrinal change in Rome which would permit a practical agreement), at least listen to your Founder.  It was right 25 years ago.  It is right still today.  On his behalf, we entreat you:  do not engage the Society in a purely practical agreement.”4

 

Bishop Fellay and the First and Second Assistants of the SSPX, Frs. Niklaus Pfluger and Alain-Marc Nely, responded to the three SSPX Bishops and questioned their acceptance of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI:

 

“Reading your letter one seriously wonders if you still believe that the visible Church with its seat in Rome is truly the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Church horribly disfigured for sure from head to foot, but a Church which nevertheless still has for its head Our Lord Jesus Christ. One has the impression that you are so scandalised that you no longer accept that that could still be true. It Benedict XVI still the legitimate pope for you?”5

 

This response brought about a debate within and without the SSPX as to how exactly the Conciliar Church (i.e., the new religion started at Vatican II) is related to the Catholic Church.  Is the Conciliar Church really and truly distinct from the Catholic Church or can we only speak of it in an analogical sense?  When Archbishop Lefebvre referenced the “Conciliar Church”, what did he really mean?  The debate became so heated that there were some who used this disagreement to claim that those who resisted the new position of the SSPX leadership were really Sedevacantists.  Others claimed that the “resistors” had a false understanding of ecclesiology and that this false understanding was the basis of their resistance.6  Whereas there can be legitimate debate about how we are to understand the crisis of Faith in Rome and how it has “infected” the Catholic Church, it is the purpose of this article to show that this debate need not take place.  After all, there was hardly a peep on this matter amongst the SSPX clergy prior to the leadership’s change in position.  Instead, we shall show that the principle of “no canonical agreement prior to a doctrinal resolution” (or more accurately, “a canonical recognition cannot be had if it is not based on the Catholic Faith” – we shall keep to the former wording as it is the one most often used) is itself a Catholic principle due to its intimate relationship with fundamental Catholic doctrine on the unity of the Church and therefore cannot be transgressed without offending the sensus catholicus.

 

We look to Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical “Satis Cognitum” to know and understand what constitutes the unity of the Catholic Church:

 

“But He (i.e., Jesus Christ), indeed, Who made this one Church, also gave it unity, that is, He made it such that all who are to belong to it must be united by the closest bonds, so as to form one society, one kingdom, one body…..

 

“Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful – ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. iv., 5).  That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith.  And so the Apostle St. Paul not merely begs, but entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid difference of opinions:  ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms amongst you, and that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment’ (I Cor. i., 10).  Such passages certainly need no interpreter; they speak clearly enough for themselves.  Besides, all who profess Christianity allow that there can be but one faithIt is of the greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity, as to which many are deceived, that the nature and character of this unity should be recognized.”7

 

Pope Leo XIII continues:

 

“Besides Holy Writ it was absolutely necessary to insure this union of men’s minds – to effect and preserve unity of ideas – that there should be another principle.  This the wisdom of God requires:  for He could not have willed that the faith should be one if He did not provide means sufficient for the preservation of this unity; and this Holy Writ clearly sets forth as We shall presently point out.  Assuredly the infinite power of God is not bound by anything, all things obey it as so many passive instruments.  In regard to this external principle, therefore, we must inquire which one of all the means in His power Christ did actually adopt.  For this purpose it is necessary to recall in thought the institution of Christianity.”8

 

This “external principle” that Pope Leo XIII goes on to speak about is the Magisterium of the Church and ultimately the Pope.

 

Note that Pope Leo XIII states that “Faith” is “a virtue which is the first of those which unites man to God”.  This “Faith” is of the “greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity”.  In other words, we can say that “Faith” is an internal principle of unity.  On the other hand, whereas Pope Leo XIII most definitely extolls the Magisterium of the Church as a principle of unity, it is only an external principle.  This we can easily understand by the truth that Our Lord did not need to assign St. Peter and his successors to teach and govern the Church.  He could have done this Himself until the end of the world or could have even established His angels or saints as His representatives on earth.  However, Jesus Christ cannot forgo our belief in Him.  As St. Paul teaches, “Without faith it is impossible to please God”.9  And it is to this “Faith” that the successors of St. Peter are duty bound to teach and preserve:

 

“For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter, that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered through the ages.”10

 

Therefore, if a pope was to teach a doctrine different than that of Christ, he would fail in his duty.  And any attempt to impose this teaching by censures or penalties would be an abuse of the authority for which it had been given him by Christ.

 

Now throughout the history of the Church, the Popes have generally been faithful to their office to teach and preserve the Faith.  However, we live in an age where several popes since the Second Vatican Council have taught a new doctrine, thereby posing a problem of conscience for bishops, priests, and faithful alike.  What do we do?  Well, we had and still have a model to follow, and that is the mission and memory of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.  Most definitely the Archbishop made mistakes on the way (e.g., signing the 1988 Protocol), but nobody would be flawless given this unprecedented Church crisis.  Nonetheless, one of the most important and definitive principles that the Archbishop left us is that there can be “no canonical agreement prior to a doctrinal resolution”.  As we’ve mentioned earlier, this principle is itself a Catholic one due to its intimate relationship with fundamental Catholic doctrine on the unity of the Church and therefore cannot be transgressed without offending the sensus catholicus.  Let us continue.

 

“Canon law is the assemblage of rules or laws relating to faith, morals, and discipline, prescribed or propounded to Christians by ecclesiastical authority…..The definition shows that the object of canon law is ‘faith, morals, and discipline’; and nothing but these is its object.”11

 

An object is a thing towards which another thing is directed.  On the contrary, a thing which is directed away from its object cannot be said to faithfully address it.  The object of canon law must include “faith”, at least implicitly.  This would mean that any piece of legislation by the Church authorities that contravenes this object or at least does not assume it, cannot be said to be faithful to it.

 

Let us now sum up the key points:

 

1)      Faith is an internal principle of the unity of the Church.

2)      The Pope is an external principle of the unity of the Church, whose office is directed towards the teaching and preservation of the Faith, the internal principle.

3)      Canon law has Faith as one of its objects and must therefore faithfully address it or at least assume it.

 

Given these key points, then, if the SSPX makes an agreement with Rome without first resolving the doctrinal differences, we can conclude that:

 

1)      The agreement would not represent a true and authentic Catholic unity.  This would hold true even if the Pope did not require the SSPX to change one ounce of its doctrinal position.  As a matter of fact, this would hold true even if the SSPX was not required to change its doctrinal position and the Pope commanded the SSPX to become regularized under the pretext that it concerns the unity of the Church.  The reason is because the Pope is only an external principle of the unity of the Church and this external principle is directed towards preserving the Faith, the internal principle.  Any position of the Pope showing indifference or opposition towards this internal principle makes his command, under the pretext that it is a matter of the unity of the Church, null and void because his command would not serve the purpose of achieving a true and authentic Catholic unity.  It simply would not be true that the matter concerns the unity of the Church.

2)      Since the unity in the Faith would not be one of the objects of the agreement, it could not therefore be called “canonical” in the sense that the Church has historically applied the term.  The reality instead is that any agreement made between the SSPX and Rome not based on the unity in the Faith would be a mere contractual relationship analogous to that of a serf and his lord.

3)      Those Traditional Catholics who oppose a canonical regularization of the SSPX are not heretical, schismatical, or disobedient.  It is probably true that most of these Traditional Catholics do not consciously oppose it because of the reasons explained in this article; rather, they simply sense that the SSPX placing itself under the Church authorities would present a grave danger, by circumstance, to the Faith of its bishops, priests, and faithful.  The history since the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations definitely favours the judgement of these people in this respect.  Just look at what has happened to the several religious communities who have joined Rome – they have fallen in line with Vatican II.  The Archbishop did not have the luxury to witness the fall of these religious communities, but he predicted it!  Nevertheless, the key point is that their position can be defended from a theological standpoint and not one simply based on the present circumstances in which the Church finds herself.

 

Endnotes

 

  1. Interview of Archbishop Lefebvre Given to “Fideliter” Magazine, November-December 1988.
  2. Declaration of the 2006 SSPX General Chapter.
  3. February 2, 2012 Sermon of Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, U.S.A.
  4. April 7, 2012 Letter from Three Bishops to the SSPX General Council.
  5. April 14, 2012 Letter from the SSPX General Council to Three Bishops.
  6. http://tradicat.blogspot.ca/2014/02/sspx-and-resistance-comparison-of.html
  7. Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (On the Unity of the Church), June 29, 1896, Paragraph 6, Unity in Faith.
  8. Ibid., Paragraph 7, The Kind of Unity of Faith Commanded by Christ.
  9. Hebrews 11:6.
  10. First Vatican Council, Chapter 4, On the Infallible Teaching of the Roman Pontiff.
  11. Addis, William and Arnold, Thomas, A Catholic Dictionary, 1887, The Catholic Publication Society Co., New York.

2nd Anniversary of Infamous Sermon of His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay

Today is the second 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.  It is true that there were almost two years of doctrinal discussions between Rome and the SSPX prior to this sermon, but the conclusion reached was that each party could not convince the other of its position.

 

My friends, does this make any sense?  The SSPX starts the doctrinal discussions with Rome in 2009 with the position that the doctrinal differences between the two parties must be resolved prior to any canonical regularization.  Then almost two years of discussions are held after which both parties cannot come to an agreement on the doctrinal discrepancies.  Nonetheless, soon after Bishop Fellay is willing to accept a canonical regularization so long as Rome accepts the SSPX “as is”.  Huh?  It does make sense, however, if the doctrinal discussions actually convinced Bishop Fellay that Rome was not so wrong after all.  Hmmm.

 

You may also listen to the Feb. 2, 2012 sermon here.  Start at the 39:50 mark if you want to hear Bishop Fellay’s statement quoted above.

 

For a history of the changes in the SSPX leadership’s attitude regarding a canonical regularization, please download the article I wrote one year ago entitled “The Society of St. Pius X and the Diocesan Bishops”.

Should We Continue to Attend Neo-SSPX Masses – Fr. David Hewko Answers

Below is a conference given by Fr. David Hewko in St. Catharines, Ontario on January 19, 2014.  Father answers someone’s question as to whether we should continue to attend neo-SSPX Masses.  Hear Father’s answer, which is essentially the position held by other SSPX-Marian Corps priests, which in turn is the same as what the SSPX of Archbishop Lefebvre taught about attending Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) Masses.  The difference between the neo-SSPX and the FSSP is not one of substance, but only one of degree.

 

This YouTube video is programmed to start and finish at the relevant portion which is from 17:00 to 21:08.

 

SSPX-Marian Corps Is Not Sedevacantist

The SSPX-Marian Corps is not Sedevacantist.  We simply carry forward the work of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, which is none other than Catholic Tradition.  Since the neo-SSPX under Bishop Fellay has abandoned his work, we have no other option but to carry the torch ourselves.

 

Fr. Francois Chazal’s Letter to Fr. Paul Kramer

 

Dear Fr Kramer,

 

In the course of this year you have been a great help to  our Resistance against the liberalisation of the world of Tradition, especially  with your conference in London a few months ago about the new mass.

 

Alas  I cannot follow you when you publicly declare that Francis is no pope while  Benedict is instead. Yet I must thank you from the onset because you are dealing  a severe blow to sedevacantism in the process.

 

It confirms that  sedevacantism is in fact a logical Pandora s box, leading more to confusion than  order, since, yet again, another theory emerges… one among so many  species.

 

Just recently I bumped into another sedevacantist who told me  that mgr Guerard des Lauriers is a traitor. But that Bishop is a founding father  of the movement. Among the non conclavist sedevacantists, it is getting harder  and harder just to know what the different schools think. Such total  talmudization I refuse to find myself embarked on.

 

Archbishop Lefebvre  was keen to say that the theory has some serious reasons, but it leads to no  certain conclusions. It looks very clear at the start, yet ends in great  confusion, leading to a dangerous fragmentation of the Remnant of the Faith.  Theologians are split into those who don t even consider  the case ant those who  do… and among those who do, there again, their sentences are split.

 

We  should be content with the principle of Nullam Partem with heretics, not denying  the existence of heresies when they appear in Rome, unlike the XSPX, who threw  us overboard on account of us sticking to that principle.

 

But the  Archbishop always refused to tread beyond this point, the overall sterility of  the sedevacantist movement proved him right. Just one look at the city of  Cincinatti is enough to see: the turf wars, the mutual excommunications, the  endless doctrinal hair splitting,  the comparatives between the different lines  of bishops and the quarrels around the validity of this or that line… all of  it like the vain genealogies denounced by St paul.

 

I am aware that you  believe that somebody is still on the See of Peter,  but that reminds me too  much of the theory of the two Paul VI, or the theory that cardinal Siri is the  Pope (and the theory went on with a secret, Siri appointed successor of Peter).  Conclavist sedevacantism is back.

 

Knowing you as a Fatima priest,  especially as somebody so aware of the wickedness of ex pope ex card. Ratzinger,  in your book “The Devil s Final Battle”, in which Ratzinger plays second fiddle  only to the Devil, I don t see why you make such a difference betwixt Francis  and Benedict.

 

That Bishop Fellay mourns the good old days of pope  Benedict in his recent DICI interview is no surprise… his liberal mind wanted  to have a deal with the darling of the conservatives…. and such a deal would  be much harder with the Francis administration (even if he still calls them the  Church, and he denies that Francis is a theoretical modernist, and leaves many  doors open, maintains the AFD…).

 

I don t see a difference of degree  between these two modernists, between these two heretics. Only their approach  differs. Benedict would do things differently, but the Revolution must move on;  Francis has a “charism” that he lacks. Benedict recognizes and encourages that  so called charism, for destruction.   This recent attack on the authority of  Peter, which is going to turn the office of the Papacy into a presidential job,  was concocted, not by Francis, but by Benedict. Some of his unknown speeches  refer to the redefining of the “Petrine ministry”.  Francis just executes the  sentence of his predecessor.

 

I am very sure that you studied both of them  sufficiently to see that their principles of theology are the same. They are two  faces of a same coin, just like the parties in our modern masonic democracies.  Francis is going to wreck further the faith in the official church, but there is  no questionning that Benedict proved extremely dangerous to us, Traditionnal  Catholics. I am glad he is gone, with Francis there is clarity to some  extent.

 

So I hope and pray you will give us some relief on this issue. As  you say, we are in the final moments. It is much better to keep our heads up to  the Great Sign in the Heavens (Apoc XII), than to lower our spirit into some new  confusion. Our poor little sheep are shepherdess enough as they are.

 

With  all my best compliments on this wonderful feast of the Immaculate  Conception,

Francois Chazal+

 

Read more: http://cor-mariae.proboards.com/thread/870?ixzz2n0Y7xU36=undefined&ixzz2n3HI594d=undefined#ixzz2n4pEZeQI

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre vs. Bishop Bernard Fellay on the Second Vatican Council

There are too many in the world of Catholicism that somehow try to reconcile Vatican II with Catholic Tradition.  Whether it be that Vatican II can be read in the light of Tradition, that it is in continuity with Tradition (e.g., Pope Benedict XVI’s Hermeneutic of Continuity), or even that there are errors in the Council’s documents but that these errors can be corrected and when done so would consequently make the Council acceptable, none of these positions are in line with what the saintly Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre taught, especially during his latter years, about the Council.  The Archbishop saw the Council as perverted through and through.  And what do you do with such a thing:  condemn it, as a whole, into the dustbin of history!

 

Here are a few quotes of the Archbishop regarding the Council:

 

“It is certain that with the 250 conciliar fathers of the Coetus we tried with all the means put at our disposal to keep the liberal errors from being expressed in the texts of the Council.  this meant that we were able all the same to limit the damage, to change these inexact or tendentious assertions, to add that sentence to rectify a tendentious proposition, an ambiguous expression.

 

 “But I have to admit that we did not succeed in purifying the Council of the liberal and modernist spirit that impregnated most of the schemas.  Their drafters indeed were precisely the experts and the Fathers tainted with this spirit.  Now, what can you do when a document is in all its parts drawn up with a false meaning?  It is practically impossible to expurgate it of that meaning.  It would have to be completely recomposed in order to be given a Catholic spirit.”

(Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, “They Have Uncrowned Him”, Angelus Press, English Edition, 1988, quote is contained in the Chapter called “The Robber Council of Vatican II”, Emphasis Mine)

 

“I do not hesitate to affirm that the Council brought to reality the conversion of the Church to the world.  I leave it to you to reflect who the moving spirit of this spirituality was:  it is enough for you to remember the one whom Our Lord Jesus Christ calls the Prince of this World.”

(Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, “They Have Uncrowned Him”, Angelus Press, English Edition, 1988, quote is contained in the Chapter called “A Pacifist Council”, Emphasis Mine)

 

This fight between the Church and the liberals and modernism is the fight over Vatican II. It is as simple of that. And the consequences are far-reaching.

 

“The more one analyzes the documents of Vatican II, and the more one analyzes their interpretation by the authorities of the Church, the more one realizes that what is at stake is not merely superficial errors, a few mistakes, ecumenism, religious liberty, collegiality, a certain Liberalism, but rather a wholesale perversion of the mind, a whole new philosophy based on modern philosophy, on subjectivism.” 

(Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, “Two Years after the Consecrations”, Address Given to Priests in Econe, Switzerland on September 6, 1990, Emphasis Mine)

 

From these quotes, we can readily ascertain with what vehemence the Archbishop opposed the Second Vatican Council.  He clearly understood the poison contained throughout its documents.  This poison could not simply be separated from the texts that were in accordance with Tradition; rather, the poison was well mixed in the cake thereby making only one solution possible, and that is to reject the Council as a whole.  Now although the Archbishop did not explicitly state that the Council’s documents must be rejected as a whole, it forcibly follows from he did say.

 

Let us now contrast the Archbishop’s words regarding Vatican II with those of Bishop Fellay as proclaimed in the Doctrinal Declaration of April 15, 2012 (emphasis mine).

 

“The entire tradition of Catholic Faith must be the criterion and guide in understanding the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which, in turn, enlightens – in other words deepens and subsequently makes explicit – certain aspects of the life and doctrine of the Church implicitly present within itself or not yet conceptually formulated.”

 

“The affirmations of the Second Vatican Council and of the later Pontifical Magisterium relating to the relationship between the Church and the non-Catholic Christian confessions, as well as the social duty of religion and the right to religious liberty, whose formulation is with difficulty reconcilable with prior doctrinal affirmations from the Magisterium, must be understood in the light of the whole, uninterrupted Tradition, in a manner coherent with the truths previously taught by the Magisterium of the Church, without accepting any interpretation of these affirmations whatsoever that would expose Catholic doctrine to opposition or rupture with Tradition and with this Magisterium.”

 

Furthermore, here is an interview that Bishop Fellay gave to Catholic News Service, which was published on May 11, 2012 (emphasis mine):

 

Although he stopped short of endorsing Pope Benedict’s interpretation of Vatican II as essentially in continuity with the church’s tradition — a position which many in the society have vocally disputed — Bishop Fellay spoke about the idea in strikingly sympathetic terms.

 

“I would hope so,” he said, when asked if Vatican II itself belongs to Catholic tradition.

 

“The pope says that … the council must be put within the great tradition of the church, must be understood in accordance with it. These are statements we fully agree with, totally, absolutely,” the bishop said. “The problem might be in the application, that is: is what happens really in coherence or in harmony with tradition?”

 

So on the one hand the Archbishop tells us that the Council’s documents would need to be completely rewritten to give them a Catholic spirit, that the devil was the spirit guiding them, and that they represent a total perversion of the mind.  However, on the other hand, Bishop Fellay tells us that the Council documents enlighten and deepen the understanding of certain aspects of the life and doctrine of the Church, that they must be understood in the light of Tradition without rupture, and that they must be given their place within Tradition.  It is evident how radically opposed these two positions are.

 

For those who argue that Bishop Fellay has turned away from what he had stated last year, please be under no illusion.  The conference that he gave in Kansas City on October 12, 2013 actually demonstrates that he does not find anything fundamentally wrong with what he had spoken or written.  He basically only admitted that he should have been more clear in his meaning.  But even to this I protest that what he had spoken and written is clear enough.  And that by his words he had publicly exposed himself as an adversary, objectively speaking, of Catholic Tradition and an unfaithful son of Archbishop Lefebvre!

 

Dear bishops and priests of the Society of St. Pius X, please come to understand where your leader is taking you, that is, away from the position of your founder (which was nothing other than that of Catholic Tradition) and towards the “Hermeneutic of Continuity” of Modernist Rome.  For those who do realize the new direction, will you not stand up and fight for the Faith?  Nothing less than souls are at stake!