Salvation of souls is the paramount necessity!
"Whatever such a state may be, if the conditions necessary to meet the requirements for a state of necessity are not fulfilled now, then there simply is no state of emergency. In other words, even if the neo-catholic wishes to claim all day long that we cannot know when exactly there is, objectively, a state of emergency, the crisis in the Church has grown to such dramatic proportions by now that no matter what the requirements are that must be met, they have been fulfilled now. That's how bad it is."
Having considered the basic canonical facts that justify the claim that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre cannot have incurred excommunication, we would do well to look at little more into the notion of "grave necessity" (or "state of emergency") that we have invoked to justify Lefebvre's action.
While I think that what I have presented so far makes the case that Lefebvre's unlawful consecrations were necessary, it is nevertheless important to flesh out a bit more the notion of the state of necessity or emergency which serves as a kind of backbone that is presupposed in much of traditionalist literature. In order to understand traditionalist actions and arguments better, it is useful, therefore, to look more closely at the state of emergency, what it means, and what it entails.
What is a State of Necessity/Emergency?
My informal answer is: "Whatever such a state may be, if the conditions necessary to meet the requirements for a state of necessity are not fulfilled now, then there simply is no state of emergency." In other words, even if the neo-catholic wishes to claim all day long that we cannot know when exactly there is, objectively, a state of emergency, the crisis in the Church has grown to such dramatic proportions by now that no matter what the requirements are that must be met, they have been fulfilled now. That's how bad it is.
To say that there is no state of emergency even though
…..is insane. Because, if all this doesn't qualify for there being a state of emergency in the Church, then, frankly, what does? If this doesn't cut it for "state of emergency," then the very notion is meaningless, don't you think?
- we have a Pope who invites heretics, schismatics, pagans, Voodoo
witchdoctors, pro-abortion self-proclaimed "Christians," animists, etc., to
pray for "world peace" (thus giving legitimacy to their false religions)
- we have countless bishops, even cardinals, who protect, support, and cover up for pederasts and homosexuals among the clergy and may themselves be of that ilk
- we have cardinals denying the True Faith and teaching that Jews do not need Jesus Christ
- we have prayers in the (Novus Ordo) Good Friday liturgy that ask God to help the Jews "grow in their covenant" with God (??!!!)
- we have the Pope kissing the Koran, asking St. John the Baptist to protect Islam, encouraging us to reflect on the importance of water, and looking for the satanic-secular United Nations as our "only hope for peace" in the world
Now, you may say that some of the above-quoted items refer to issues or evidence after the 1988 Consecrations. That's true. For instance, the Pope did not kiss the Koran in public until 1999. But so what? These are just a few of innumerable examples. Probably the main event that made Lefebvre realize he had to act was the 1986 Assisi "interfaith prayer for peace" meeting in which the Pope made it abundantly clear that he had-putting it bluntly-abandoned Catholicism and was not interested in preserving the True Faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The "mere fact" that Pope Pius XI had condemned such interreligious assemblies in no uncertain terms in his 1928 encyclical Mortalium Animos could not stop a Pope who is in love with novelty, man, and phony "unity." I surmise that this was the final straw Archbishop Lefebvre needed to see that Rome could not be trusted and was heading towards a frightening apostasy. John Paul's perfidious encyclicals up until 1988 had furthermore testified to the fact that the Pope himself, the highest authority in the Church, was interested, not in teaching and safeguarding the True Faith, but in establishing a "religion of man," a novel humanistic, syncretistic, and pluralistic cult (this is perhaps no more clearly evident than in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis).
So, I maintain that no objective look at the situation in the Church up until 1988 can possibly conclude that Archbishop Lefebvre's characterization of it being a state of necessity/emergency is a stretch.
But now for the formal and canonical answer.
The "canonical answer," if I may call it that, is that there is no answer. Canon law (whether the 1917 Code or the 1983 Code) does not say what it means by "necessity" or "grave inconvenience." Nevertheless, it uses the terms (in the 1917 Code at 2005 §2; in the 1983 Code at 1323, 4°, 1324 §1, 5°). So, absent any technical definition, one cannot help but conclude that the terms are to be understood in their "common sense" meaning. To argue that since no technical definition was given, the concept of necessity or grave inconvenience cannot be used in a canonical dispute, is absurd, since Canon Law specifically allows for exceptions to the general law on account of necessity and grave inconvenience.
In fact, the term "unjust aggressor," for instance, is not defined by Canon Law, either, even though it appears twice in the 1983 Code. Are we to assume that this notion, too, is unusable in a canonical defense of an action merely because canon law does not give a technical definition thereof? Or is it not rather much more reasonable to assume that "unjust aggressor" simply means what it means? So, why can the same not be true for "necessity" and "grave inconvenience"? Since canon law does not further specify what it means by these terms, it should be assumed that canon law takes them to mean simply what they mean in everyday ecclesiastical life and context-and I do not see why, absent a canonical definition, these notions should not be used to the advantage of the accused-in our case, His Grace Marcel Lefebvre-if thereby we do not do violence to the entire spirit of Canon Law and ecclesiastical discipline.
Now, according to Canon 1752, the salvation of souls is the supreme law in the Church. Therefore, it seems to me entirely reasonable to say that a state of necessity or emergency is one in which following the letter of canon law, one would seriously place into danger the salvation of countless souls, thereby breaking the spirit of the law. But, as Canon 1752 implies, putting into danger the salvation of souls is no laughing matter. In fact, the salvation of souls is the most important thing in the world-the very and only reason why the Triune God humbled Himself and became man!
So who could possibly disagree that a state of necessity is one in which the salvation of souls would be placed in grave danger if the letter of canon law were followed? Now, some might say that this could never happen-i.e., that it is never necessary to break the letter of canon law in order to uphold its spirit. But such an objection is not only gratuitous, it is also plainly false. Imagine if we had a wicked Pope who one day would wake up and say, "From now on, I forbid every bishop in the Church ever to ordain any priest or consecrate any bishop, for as long as I live." Is such a hypothesis thinkable?
Yes. Granted, it is not very likely, but it's certainly not impossible. If the Pope were only, say, 50 years old and lived to be 90, then the Church would be in trouble - in serious trouble, as, if obeyed, this wicked command (albeit a command by the legitimate authority!) would basically ruin the Church, since there would be almost no bishop left after the death of the Pope. Would it be licit to disobey the Pope in such a matter? No question about it! In fact, it would not only be licit but necessary! But note that this would entail breaking the letter of canon law and defying the Pope to his face! But surely (and I would think everyone, neo-catholic or not, would agree with me here) this Pope would have to be disobeyed. But this, in turn, would mean consecrating bishops without and against papal mandate.
But no Catholic bishop in his right mind should think twice about disobeying the Pope in such a matter! Why? Because of the salvation of souls! The Pope has not been invested with supreme authority in order to destroy the Church but in order to build her up; not to prevent souls from being saved but to enable them to be saved, to be protected from error, and to be fed true doctrine. So here we have a scenario that disproves the silly objection that it is never necessary to break the letter of canon law in order to uphold its spirit, or to disobey the Pope when he forbids an episcopal consecration (an objection which the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts makes; see their Protocol 5233/9624).
Thus, I have given an entirely reasonable definition for the "state of necessity," I have shown that it is not always wrong to violate the letter of canon law in order to uphold its spirit and the Church's Supreme Law (the salvation of souls), and I have shown that it is not always wrong to disobey the Pope in such grave a matter as the ordination of bishops.
Whether the case of Archbishop Lefebvre and the illicit consecration of 1988 fit this scenario of necessary disobedience to the Pope is another matter, but one that I have already examined in the previous installments. To sum up again, Lefebvre defied the Pope and consecrated four bishops without papal mandate in order to:
ensure the preservation of the Catholic Faith as it had always been taught by the Church and which has been in extremely grave danger of total distinction
- guarantee really Catholic priests for the faithful
- guarantee really Catholic sacraments for the faithful
- guarantee unquestionably valid ordinations of priests and bishops and thereby the continuance of the apostolic lineage
- guarantee an authentic voice of Catholic orthodoxy in the midst of Rome's apostasy and doctrinal confusion all over the globe
- provide a living opposition to the errors of modernistic Rome which, perhaps one day by God's grace, might be able to convince the modernist hierarchy of their errors and bring Rome back to the True Faith and initiate the Great Restoration.
All of these points have only one end in sight: the salvation of souls, which is the Supreme Law of the Church. Lefebvre's patience with Rome and his willingness to wait and make a deal in order to get a bishop approved for consecration show that he did not reject the authority or the primacy of the Pope but was entirely willing to proceed according to canon law. It was only when he saw no other way, experiencing failing health and realizing Rome's true intentions, that he decided to act even without and against the Pope's permission, thus breaking the letter of canon law for the salvation of souls. But as we saw in last week's installment, even canon law exonerates him with its canons making room for a state of necessity. So, technically, His Grace did not even break the letter of canon law.
I realize that numerous objections can be leveled at what I have written here. But let me assure you again that I will deal with all of them towards the end of this series, where I will devote one or more installments entirely to answering objections - objections made by Rome, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, canon lawyer Pete Vere, Mr. Bill Grossklas, and others.
My next installment will deal with the question of schism.
Editor's Note: So many of the post-conciliar bishops today refer to those clinging to the true Roman Catholic traditions that were in vogue for 2000 years prior to the reforms of Vatican II as 'fossils,' 'dinosaurs,' 'old folks who will die off soon.' We beg to differ and offer as proof the youthful wisdom and enthusiasm of the younger generation in the Traditional Insights of Mario Derksen who exemplifies the thinking of many more young men and women today who realize the new thinking of the post-conciliar church does not add up to true Catholic teaching. Thus they long for those traditions so tried and true. His insight shows great promise, optimism and hope for the future of Holy Mother Church.
Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]
For past columns by Mario Derksen, see Archives for www.DailyCatholic.org/2002mdi.htm
Second Week of Advent Issue
December 8-14, 2002
volume 13, no. 146
Mario Derksen's young and refreshing TRADITIONAL INSIGHTS