Summer Hiatus Issue
Centennial of the Election and Coronation of St. Pius X
volume 14, no. 33

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Objections and Replies

Part Six:
Photo insets l-r, Top Row: Bishops Tissier de Mallerais, de Galarreta, and Lefebvre; Bottom Row: Bishops Fellay, Williamson, and de Castro Mayer.

Admissions of Acceptance
Part Eleven of the Series:

The Illicit Episcopal Consecrations of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

       "Seven prominent Roman canonists and/or hierarchs have gone on record stating that illicitly ordaining bishops is not a schismatic act. But if that is the case, then Archbishop Lefebvre cannot have committed a schismatic act merely by ordaining bishops illicitly."

   I am now answering the last objection that can be or has been brought up against my theses in installments 1-5, which exonerate Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishops Antonio de Castro Mayer, Richard Williamson, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Bernard Fellay from the charges of excommunication and schism due to the illicit episcopal consecrations of June 30, 1988. In installments 6-10, I answered 27 possible objections. This is where I'm picking up now. I am hoping this will be the last installment with questions and answers.

    Objection 28: I would think that men who have received canon law degrees from Pontifical colleges perhaps are more qualified to analyze the situation than you.

Answer: Oh, I am in pretty good company: at least eight prominent Roman canonists and/or hierarchs have gone on record stating that illicitly ordaining bishops is not a schismatic act. But if that is the case, then Archbishop Lefebvre cannot have committed a schismatic act merely by ordaining bishops illicitly. Here are the names:

  • Rosalio Jose Cardinal Castillo Lara, J.C.D., former President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts
  • Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, former President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity
  • Count Neri Capponi, D.Cn.L., Ll.D, Professor of Canon Law
  • Fr. Gerard E. Murray, J.C.D., of the Catholic University of America
  • Fr. Patrick Valdini, J.C.D., Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at the Catholic Institute in Paris
  • Fr. Rudolf Kaschewski, Canon Lawyer at University of Munich
  • Professor Geringer, J.C.D.
  • Fr. T.C. G. Glover, Oratorian canonist who used to work for the Vatican

   Of course, I can't just mention those names and leave it at that. Here are what each of these has said:

Cardinal Castillo Lara: "[T]he act of consecrating bishops [without papal mandate] is not in itself a schismatic act." (Letter to John Beaumont, dated May 26,1993)

Cardinal Cassidy: "The situation of the members of this Society [SSPX] is an internal matter of the Catholic Church. The Society is not another Church or Ecclesial Community in the meaning used in the Directory" (letter dated May 3, 1994). Given this testimony, it is impossible that Archbishop Lefebvre should have created a schism in 1988.

Count Neri Capponi: "[T]his act [of episcopal consecration on June 30, 1988] was not, per se, schismatic" (Latin Mass Magazine, May/June 1993).

Fr. Murray: "[C]anonically speaking, he [Archbishop Lefebvre] [i]s not guilty of a schismatic act punishable by canon law" (Fr. Murray may have changed his view with regards to this conclusion; I do not have access to the Summer 1996 issue of the Latin Mass and am therefore unable to verify if he has or not).

Fr. Valdini: "It is not the consecration of a bishop which creates the schism. What makes the schism is to give the bishop an apostolic mission" (Question de Droit ou de confiance, L'Homme Nouveau, Feb.17, 1988). Of course, Archbishop Lefebvre never gave any of his 4 bishops an apostolic mission.

Fr. Kaschewski: "[T]he widely spread opinion that the consecration of one or several bishops without papal mandate would cause an automatic excommunication and would lead to a schism is false" (in Is Tradition Excommunicated?, p. 110; available from ).

Prof. Geringer: "With the Episcopal consecrations, Archbishop Lefebvre was by no means creating a schism" (source unknown to me, but this testimony is accepted as authentic even by Neocatholics).

Fr. Glover - he exonerates Archbishop Lefebvre of schism and excommunicaton in a November 1988 article appearing in The Northern Catholic, reprinted in Is Tradition Excommunicated? (Kansas City, MO: Angeles Press, 1993), pp. 97-110.

   Now, if you are internet-savvy, you may already have come upon people like Shawn McElhinney, Pete Vere, and others, who are trying to dismantle these quotes by "showing their context." I saw that in at least one case, the Neocatholic had to go so far as to concede that indeed illicit ordinations of bishops was not an intrinsically schismatic offense, but then, to my utter surprise, proceeded to argue that this "wasn't the issue." Oh, no? Beats me…

   Now, I will say here that, for instance, Cardinal Lara does believe the SSPX is schismatic - but he believes it (falsely, of course), for different reasons. So, if the Neocatholic points out to you that "oh, Cardinal Lara was not in favor of the SSPX, believing them to be schismatic," then that's a non-sequitur, because all I quoted him on was his testimony that illicit ordination of bishops is not schismatic in itself. That's all I needed him to affirm, not what else he thinks about the SSPX. That was not the issue at hand.

   So, my point here is that these quotes here have come under fire, but I assure you that as they stand here, they show exactly what we need them to show, and that this is the proper context. If you have any problems with any of the quotes, please contact me privately and I will be glad to respond to any counter-argument anyone might make. I cannot do all of this online here, as I would barely ever finish.

   But, of course, the purpose of giving you these quotes is only to lend further credibility to the facts. Regardless of what other people may think, even if they be highly-regarded prelates or canon lawyers, the facts are the facts and cannot be changed. I believe that the case that I have made in these installments can stand on its own, for anyone willing to see.

   Facts cannot be changed, even by someone in high authority. That is, I guess, one of the most fundamental things the Neocatholics don't seem to understand. Alas, they always ask, "Who said it?" and wonder less and less, "Is it true?"

   I believe I have demonstrated that no case can be made against Archbishop Lefebvre with regards to either excommunication or schism on account of the illicit episcopal consecrations of June 30, 1988. Given all I have said and proved, and given that the 1983 Code of Canon Law says that "[l]aws which prescribe a penalty, or restrict the free exercise of rights, or contain an exception to the law, are to be interpreted strictly" (Can. 18), there is really nothing left for the opposition to complain about. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was responding to a state of emergency in the Church, and his response (the illicit consecrations) mirrors that of St. Athanasius back in the time when the Arian heresy dominated almost the entire episcopate and the orthodox Christians were denounced as "Athanasians."

   Debate Challenge:

   Let it be known to everyone that I will gladly debate online Mr. Pete Vere, Carl Olson, Shawn McElhinney, Bill Grossklas, or anyone else about the matter of whether or not the consecrations of Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer on June 30, 1988, were a schismatic act or made them incur latae sententiae excommunication. I will consider the matter closed until someone challenges me to a debate, either online or over email at Mario.

   The next installment will be a conclusion on the series. May St. Athanasius, the honorable defender of the Faith during the Arian persecution, intercede for us, that the traditionalist cause may speedily triumph. Amen.

Mario Derksen

    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

Summer Hiatus Issue
Centennial Celebration of the Election and Coronation of St. Pius X
volume 14, no. 33

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