Please read this excellent article by Fr. David Hewko.
May 1988 Protocol signed by Archbishop Lefebvre:
“We declare that we recognize the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of doing what the Church does, and according to the rites indicated in the typical editions of the Roman Missal and the Rituals of the Sacraments promulgated by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.”
April 2012 Doctrinal Declaration of Bishop Fellay:
“We declare that we recognize the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of doing what the Church does, and according to the rites indicated in the typical editions of the Roman Missal and the Rituals of the Sacraments legitimately promulgated by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.”
“Legitimately” is the one word that differentiates the clause in the Protocol formulated by Rome in 1988 in regards to the New Rite of Mass (i.e., Novus Ordo Missae) from the respective clause of the Doctrinal Declaration formulated by Bishop Fellay in 2012. At first glance, it may not seem like a big deal, but further analysis will show that the addition of this one word actually presents a world of difference.
Archbishop Lefebvre admitted that the New Rite of Mass, when celebrated by a priest with the intention to do what the Church does while adhering strictly to its rubrics, was valid. In other words, the host and wine truly became the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord at the Words of Consecration. On the other hand, however, Archbishop Lefebvre rejected the idea that the Novus Ordo Missae was legitimate. After the Archbishop’s death in 1991, his acceptance of the validity and rejection of the legitimacy of the New Rite of Mass lived on within his Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). It was one of the things that clearly distinguished the SSPX from pseudo-traditional communities like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
Before we go on, however, it is important to understand what is meant by the term “legitimate”. We are not so much interested here in the term “legitimate” as meaning that the New Rite of Mass was promulgated according to all the necessary canonical procedures and formulas. This is a very legalistic meaning of the term and is not the meaning that has been at the very essence of the disagreement between the SSPX and Rome over the New Rite of Mass. Furthermore, it is safe to assume that canonists unanimously agree that the New Rite of Mass was at least permitted by Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Constitution “Missale Romanum”, which was promulgated in 1969. Instead, the use of the term “legitimate” in this article is to be understand as meaning “morally lawful”. During a sermon on August 29, 1976 Archbishop Lefebvre called the New Rite of Mass a “bastard” rite, thus indicating that it is not a morally lawful rite of Holy Mother Church. It is in this sense that the SSPX and Rome have essentially disagreed in regards to the New Rite of Mass. Rome understood this well when in April 2011 the Instruction called “Universae Ecclesiae” on the application of Pope Benedict XVI`s “Summorum Pontificum” stated in Article 19 that:
“The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.”
This was clearly an affront towards the faithful who assisted at Masses of the priests of the SSPX. The New Rite had to be accepted as both valid and legitimate.
In the second half of 2011 and the first half of 2012, Rome and the SSPX’s leadership were trying to iron out a doctrinal preamble or declaration on which both parties could agree. Inevitably, the position of the SSPX on the legitimacy of the New Rite of Mass could not be overlooked as this was a key point in almost two years of doctrinal discussions between Rome and the SSPX. So how then was Bishop Fellay, who eagerly wanted a canonical regularization for the SSPX, going to address this point? The answer is given in his Doctrinal Declaration of April 15, 2012, which is quoted above. By adding the word “legitimately” in front of the word “promulgated”, Bishop Fellay seems to have found a way to satisfy Rome and at the same time give himself wiggle room with his priests and faithful. For Rome, the impression would be given that the SSPX accepts the New Rite of Mass as legitimate (i.e., morally lawful); for the priests and faithful, he could defend himself by proclaiming that he never explicitly said that the New Rite of Mass is legitimate (again, morally lawful). One would need to read “more into it” in order to accuse him of accepting the New Rite of Mass as legitimate. Let us then indeed read “more into it” in order to see that Bishop Fellay’s formulation is actually quite dangerous.
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us in his Summa Theologica (First Part of the Second Part, Question 90) that a law is:
“An ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.”
There are four essential elements in this definition:
1) An ordinance of reason
2) for the common good
3) made by him who has care of the community
Two of these elements are of most interest for the purposes of this article. The first is that a law is directed to the common good. The Society of St. Pius X published a formal study called “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform” in 2001 that included a letter from Bishop Fellay to Pope John Paul II as an introduction to the study. In the chapter entitled “The Canonical Status of the Tridentine Mass”, Point #5 states that “Paul VI’s Missal does not have the character of a true law” and then goes on to state the following:
“Even if the canonical forms abrogating or obrogating the missal revised by St. Pius V had been perfectly respected; even if it were possible to abrogate an immemorial liturgical custom, protected as well by a specific, perpetual indult, the obligatory character of Pope Paul VI’s missal would still not be established. ‘For an ordinance promulgated by a legislator to be a true law, obligatory for the community concerned, it is necessary by the nature of things that it be in itself and in relation to its object, right and just, possible to observe and truly useful to the commonweal. These qualities constitute the intrinsic reason for the existence of laws.’ And yet, Paul VI’s Missal, by reason of it serious theological defects, contributes directly to the lessening of faith, of piety, and of religious practice, as experience shows daily. For this reason, it is neither right, nor just, nor helpful to the common good. Thus it does not have the character of a true law, and cannot be obligatory.”
We see here that the SSPX claims that grave defects in the New Rite of Mass render it against the common good, thereby making it illegitimate (morally unlawful). Therefore, it cannot compose the substance of a true law.
The second element of the definition of most interest is that a law needs to be promulgated, that is, publicized or announced so that the subjects of the law are aware of its existence and can consequently observe it. This promulgation is the final step necessary in the establishment of a law. St. Thomas Aquinas, in the same Question 90 mentioned above, states that “promulgation is necessary for the law to obtain its force”.
Applying what was said above to the case of the New Rite of Mass, we had Pope Paul VI promulgating the New Rite via his Apostolic Constitution “Missale Romanum” in 1969. At the very least, this Apostolic Constitution permitted priests to use the New Rite. Several years later, Archbishop Lefebvre condemned this New Rite as a “bastard” rite, thereby declaring it illegitimate (i.e., morally unlawful). In 1988, the Archbishop signed a protocol that simply said that the New Rite was promulgated (i.e., published or announced). In 2001, in the footsteps of the Archbishop, the SSPX composed a formal study in which the New Rite was declared illegitimate by reason of it not being directed towards the common good. In 2012, Bishop Fellay revives the statement of the 1988 Protocol regarding the New Rite, but adds the word “legitimately” in front of the word “promulgated”. So the question must be asked, “How can the New Rite of Mass, which was earlier condemned as illegitimate, be later declared legitimately promulgated (i.e., via the Apostolic Constitution ‘Missale Romanum’)?” Since promulgation is the last step necessary for a law to obtain its force and if that law was indeed legitimately promulgated, it would mean that the substance of the law is also legitimate. In other words, the law is truly an ordinance of reason for the common good made by the lawful authority. Consequently, its promulgation is legitimate. To make the point more clear, one cannot say that a child born out of an adulterous union was “legitimately” conceived. In an analogous manner, one cannot say that a rite of Mass born out of the union of churchmen and the modern world was “legitimately” promulgated. I hope the reader follows the line of reasoning.
In conclusion, what we have deduced from Bishop Fellay’s statement concerning the New Rite of Mass in his April 2012 Doctrinal Declaration is that it is legitimate. Whether Bishop Fellay truly believes it is legitimate, however, is open to question. Nonetheless, his even toying with the idea is unacceptable and a scandal to Traditional Catholics. Therefore, I would most welcome a public repudiation by His Excellency of this infamous statement. And if His Excellency believes that I have in any way misunderstood him, I would most welcome any clarifications.
Listen here to an extract of a sermon given on April 26, 2013 by a true son of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Fr. David Hewko, instructing us that we must rather die than agree to the treacherous Doctrinal Declaration of Bishop Fellay dated April 15, 2012.
A thank you goes out to Pablo the Mexican for providing the audio.
Question: Some people say, “Yes, but Archbishop Lefebvre should have accepted an agreement with Rome because once the Society of St. Pius X had been recognized and the suspensions lifted , he would have been able to act in a more effective manner inside the Church, whereas now he has put himself outside.”
Archbishop Lefebvre: Such things are easy to say. To stay inside the Church, or to put oneself inside the Church – what does that mean? Firstly, what Church are we talking about? If you mean the Conciliar Church, then we who have struggled against the Council for twenty years because we want the Catholic Church, we would have to re-enter this Conciliar Church in order, supposedly, to make it Catholic. That is a complete illusion. It is not the subjects that make the superiors, but the superiors who make the subjects.
The above is an extract taken from an interview given by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to Fideliter magazine and published in its July/August 1989 issue. Note how the Archbishop makes it clear that to think we could enter the conciliar church in order to make it Catholic is a complete illusion. Yet today we have the superiors of the SSPX stating the opposite of what the good Archbishop emphatically claimed, despite the fact that these same superiors were once on board with his position. These superiors now claim that we must join them in order to beat them! The irony of it all is that the way the current SSPX superiors have acted towards those who have spoken out against a canonical regularization and the way most of these priests (and faithful) have responded have only demonstrated how right the Archbishop was.
Back around the Spring/Summer of 2012, two bishops and several priests had spoken out against a canonical regularization, but where are they now? After the July 2012 General Chapter, they are no longer fighting the good fight. Some of them have even come to make excuses for the SSPX leadership or, even worse, have jumped on board the Bishop Fellay train. There are also those priests who watched from a distance and never took a public stance one way or another, but were privately against a canonical regularization. They cringed at the way their brother priests had been treated for speaking out. I am sure many of us know some of these priests as we had come to respect them in their preaching of the truth and defence of the Faith prior to this SSPX crisis. We thought them to be warriors. However, to our disappointment, they never took a public stance in agreement with their private one. Instead, they became either too busy making excuses for the SSPX leadership or have also jumped onto the Bishop Fellay train, albeit with one foot still not firmly entrenched on it. Then, several weeks ago, the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration of Bishop Fellay came to light. We thought we finally had what we needed to clearly demonstrate that Bishop Fellay had deviated, no longer simply from a position of prudence but from Catholic doctrine itself. Our confidence was even further strengthened when Bishop Williamson, unjustly booted from the SSPX, wrote an open letter to SSPX priests that they ought to speak out against Bishop Fellay’s Doctrinal Declaration for the sake of the faithful. “Yes! The priests have to speak out now”, we declared. But….unfortunately….’til this day, there has been hardly a whimper coming from the priests. Instead, we hear Resistance priests telling us that they had spoken to several priests who had either defended Bishop Fellay’s Doctrinal Declaration or had brushed it off. What a disappointment!
I ask, “What has happened to the SSPX of old? Where did it go?” Barring a miracle, I think it is now safe to say that it has gone down the memory hole. I hope to be proven wrong, but I am afraid not. The slide of the SSPX will continue until it is in the arms of conciliar Rome. And most of priests will go along for the ride until they find themselves at a point of no return. Very sad indeed – the years after Vatican II all over again.
Archbishop, you were right. The superiors do make the subjects. What has transpired in the past year within the Society you founded is just a case in point.
You may find here a commentary on the treacherous Doctrinal Declaration of Bishop Fellay dated April 15, 2012 and submitted to Rome.
Please note that the Catholic Resistance in Canada website address has changed to:
For those websites that have linked to our site, please change the link accordingly.
In the link below you can hear an excellent sermon by a true son of Archbishop Lefebvre, Fr. David Hewko.
In this sermon, Father compares Bishop Fellay’s Doctrinal Declaration of April 15, 2013 to Judas’ selling out Our Lord for 30 pieces of silver! Yes. Not only has Bishop Fellay betrayed Archbishop Lefebvre, but infinitely more important he has betrayed Our Lord by his Doctrinal Declaration. And yet to this day there is no public retraction of that Declaration. His latest letter to friends and benefactors doesn’t say a word about it. Instead it pretends that he is and has always remained faithful to Our Lord and the Archbishop. How long will the priests of the SSPX refuse to speak out on such treachery? Were they not molded for the precise reason of defending the Faith? Is this not a grave failure in their duty? It has been several weeks since the Declaration has been made public and we have heard hardly a whimper. It is very disappointing. The fight goes on nevertheless. Let us wholeheartedly support Bishop Williamson and those priests who have felt the axe of Menzingen simply for doing their duty.
For the Reign of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts!
March 29, 1988
The rector of the Seminary of the Society of St. Pius X in Switzerland, Fr. Lorans, having asked me to help in drawing up this issue of the Letter from Econe, it seemed to me, in these circumstances, that it would not be without benefit to put before you again what I wrote on January 20, 1978, concerning certain objections which could be made as to our attitude with regard to the problems created by the present situation of the Church.
One of these questions was: ”How do you see obedience to the pope?” Here is the reply I gave ten years ago:
The principles governing obedience are known and are so in conformity with sane reason and common sense that one is driven to wonder how intelligent persons can make a statement like, “They prefer to be mistaken with the pope, than to be with the truth against the pope.”
That is not what the natural law teaches, nor the Magisterium of the Church. Obedience presupposes an authority which gives an order or issues a law. Human authorities, even those instituted by God, have no authority other than to attain the end apportioned them by God and not to turn away from it. When an authority uses power in opposition to the law for which this power was given it, such an authority has no right to be obeyed and one must disobey it.
This need to disobey is accepted with regard to a family father who would encourage his daughter to prostitute herself, with regard to the civil authority which would oblige doctors to perform abortions and kill innocent souls, yet people accept in every case the authority of the Pope, who is supposedly infallible in his government and in all words. Such an attitude betrays a sad ignorance of history and of the true nature of papal infallibility.
A long time ago St. Paul said to St. Peter that he was “Not walking according to the truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:14). St. Paul encouraged the faithful not to obey him, St. Paul, if he happened to preach any other gospel than the Gospel that he had already taught them (Gal. 1:8).
St. Thomas, when he speaks of fraternal correction, alludes to St. Paul’s resistance to St. Peter and he makes the following comment: “To resist openly and in public goes beyond the measure of fraternal correction. St. Paul would not have done it towards St. Peter if he had not in some way been his equal…. We must realize, however, that if there was question of a danger for the faith, the superiors would have to be rebuked by their inferiors, even in public.” This is clear from the manner and reason for St. Paul’s acting as he did with regard to St. Peter, whose subject he was, in such a way, says the gloss of St. Augustine, “that the very head of the Church showed to superiors that if they ever chanced to leave the straight and narrow path, they should accept to be corrected by their inferiors” (St. Thomas [in the Summa Theologica] IIa, IIae, q.33, art. 4, ad 2).
The case evoked by St. Thomas is not merely imaginary because it took place with regard to John XXII during his life. This pope thought he could state as a personal opinion that the souls of the elect do not enjoy the Beatific Vision until after the Last Judgment. He wrote this opinion down in 1331 and in 1332 he preached a similar opinion with regard to the pains of the damned. He had the intention of putting forward this opinion in a solemn decree.
But the very lively action on the part of the Dominicans, above all in Paris, and of the Franciscans, made him renounce this opinion in favor of the traditional opinion defined by his successor, Benedict XII, in 1336.
And here is what Pope Leo XIII said in his Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20,1888: “If, then, by any one in authority, something be sanctioned out of conformity with the principles of right reason, and consequently hurtful to the commonwealth, such an enactment can have no binding force of law.” And a little further on, he says: “But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest while obeying man, we become disobedient to God.”
Now our disobedience is motivated by the need to keep the Catholic Faith. The orders being given us clearly express that they are being given us in order to oblige us to submit without reserve to the Second Vatican Council, to the post-conciliar reforms, and to the prescriptions of the Holy See, that is to say, to the orientations and acts which are undermining our Faith and destroying the Church. It is impossible for us to do this. To collaborate in the destruction of the Church is to betray the Church and to betray Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now all the theologians worthy of this name teach that if the pope, by his acts, destroys the Church, we cannot obey him (Vitoria: Obras, pp.486-487; Suarez: De fide, disp.X, sec.VI, no.16; St. Robert Bellarmine: de Rom. Pont., Book 2, Ch.29; Cornelius a Lapide: ad Gal. 2,11, etc.) and he must be respectfully, but publicly, rebuked.
The principles governing obedience to the pope’s authority are the same as those governing relations between a delegated authority and its subjects. They do not apply to the Divine Authority which is always infallible and indefectible and hence incapable of failing. To the extent that God has communicated His infallibility to the pope and to the extent that the pope intends to use this infallibility, which involves four very precise conditions in its exercise, there can be no failure.
Outside of these precisely fixed conditions, the authority of the pope is fallible and so the criteria which bind us to obedience apply to his acts. Hence it is not inconceivable that there could be a duty of disobedience with regard to the pope.
The authority which was granted him was granted him for precise purposes and in the last resort for the glory of the Holy Trinity, for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the salvation of souls.
Whatever would be carried out by the pope in opposition to this purpose would have no legal value and no right to be obeyed, nay, rather, it would oblige us to disobey in order for us to remain obedient to God and faithful to the Church.
This holds true for everything that the recent popes have commanded in the name of Religious Liberty or ecumenism since the Council: all the reforms carried out under this heading are deprived of any legal standing or force of law. In these cases the popes use their authority contrary to the end for which this authority was given them. They have a right to be disobeyed by us.
The Society and its history show publicly this need to remain faithful to God and to the Church. The years 1974, 1975 and 1976 leave us with the memory of this incredible clash between Ecône and the Vatican, between the Pope and myself.
The result was the condemnation, the suspension a divinis, wholly null and void because the pope was tyrannically abusing his authority in order to defend laws contrary to the good of the Church and to the good of souls.
These events are an historical application of the principles concerning the duty to disobey.
That clash was the occasion for a departure of a certain number of priests who were friends or members of the Society, who were scared by the condemnation, and did not understand the duty to disobey under certain circumstances. Since then, twelve years have passed. Officially, the condemnation still stands, relations with the pope are still tense, especially as the consequences of this ecumenism are drawing us into an apostasy which forced us to react vigorously. However, the announcement of consecration of bishops in June stirred Rome into action: it at last made up its mind to fulfill our request for an Apostolic Visitation by sending on November 11, 1987, Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl. As far as we were able to judge by the speeches and reflections of our Visitors, their judgment was very favorable indeed, and the Cardinal did not hesitate to attend the Pontifical Mass on December 8th, at Econe, celebrated by the prelate suspended a divinis.
What can we conclude from all this except that our disobedience is bearing good fruit, recognized by the envoys of the authority which we disobey? And here we are now confronted with new decisions to be taken. We are more than ever encouraged to give the Society the means it needs to continue its essential work, the formation of true priests of the holy, and Catholic, and Roman Church. That is to say, to give me successors in the episcopate.
Rome understands this need, but will the pope accept these bishops from the ranks of Tradition? For ourselves it cannot be otherwise. Any other solution would be the sign that they want to align us with the conciliar revolution, and there our duty to disobey immediately revives. The negotiations are now under way and we shall soon know the true intentions of Rome. They will decide the future. We must continue to pray and to watch. May the Holy Ghost guide us through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima!
† Marcel Lefebvre
Source: posted by LordPhan http://www.cathinfo.com/catholic.php/Obedience