Objections and Replies |
Why not the indult?
"In short, the indult is one huge compromise. I surmise that some bishops only have diocesan indult Masses where there is also the SSPX in that area, in order to keep people away from the SSPX. I believe the indult movement is being used to keep traditionalists quiet. As long as they go to the indult, they're away from the SSPX and therefore from the Resistance. We've already seen in the cases of the FSSP, the Abbey of Le Barroux, and now a little already with the diocese of Campos, that the intention is to get the traditional indult orders to accept the changes of Vatican II and the New Mass - gradually, but fully nonetheless. That's what the indult is for, I think: to gradually make traditionalists into Novus Ordo Neo-Catholics."
After my previous five installments demonstrating that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishops de Castro Mayer, Tissier de Mallerais, de Galarreta, Williamson, and Fellay have not incurred ipso facto excommunication, nor created a schism, on account of the illicit 1988 episcopal consecrations, it is now the time to answer all sorts of objections to the theses advanced in my previous five installments. My answers will necessarily contain some repetition of what I have already written in my previous installments.
Objection 1: The Pope said that Lefebvre's act of consecrating these bishops illicitly was schismatic. Since the Pope holds the keys, and not Archbishop Lefebvre, I side with the Pope. It is not up to each individual to decide what is schismatic and what isn't. Rome has spoken, the case is closed.
Answer: Slowly now. Let's take one thing at a time. The first issue would be, "What makes an act schismatic?" If the answer to that were, "The Pope's mere say-so," then you'd have a point. But that is not the right answer. As I mentioned and documented in installment #5, in order for an act to be schismatic, the perpetrator has to intend to deny the divine right of the superior (and this case, the Pope) to command - i.e. the authority of the superior. Mere disobedience of a command by itself is not schismatic-there must be the intention of denying your superior's legitimate right to command. But this Lefebvre manifestly did not do, as I showed. Someone who does not believe the Pope has the divine right to command doesn't spend months and months in trying to get his episcopal candidates approved by him! Neither does he bend over backwards to find some sort of agreement he can sign with the Vatican. There is really no question that Archbishop Lefebvre did not deny the Pope's authority or his divine right to command. The question for Lefebvre was not one of the Pope's authority, but whether he could in good conscience obey the Pope's command in this instance, namely, the command not to ordain orthodox Catholic bishops when the entire world desperately needed them and the flock was starving. Please review my fifth installment again for detailed discussion of this.
The second point we need to look at is the fact that the 1917 Code of Canon Law, up until 1951, decreed that the punishment for illicit consecration of bishops was mere suspension, not excommunication (as in the 1983 Code and the Old Code from 1951 onwards). But this shows that the illicit consecration of bishops cannot be an intrinsically schismatic offense, as the Code would then have had to call for excommunication, because the same 1917 Code teaches, as the 1983 Code does, that schismatics incur latae sententiae excommunication (Canon 2314 in the 1917 Code; Canon 1382 in the 1983 Code). Therefore, the mere act of consecrating bishops cannot be schismatic in and of itself. This means that the Pope was wrong when he said that the illicit consecrations of Lefebvre were schismatic.
Thirdly, as to the charge that "Rome has spoken, the case is closed." This phrase is easily misunderstood and misapplied. It refers to dogmatic definitions. When Pope Pius XII solemnly proclaimed on November 1, 1950, that Mary's body was assumed into Heaven at the end of her earthly life, he engaged in a pronouncement that closed the book on the issue because the pronouncement was infallible. So that would be an instance where "Rome has spoken, the case is closed." No further debate is permissible on whether or not Mary was assumed into Heaven, because we have God's divine assurance that she was. But to suggest that "Rome has spoken, the case is closed" refers to disciplinary decisions of the Pope or to the Pope's ability to recognize a schismatic act when he sees it, that is simply wrong. Anyone who thinks otherwise would do well to comb the Church's history, and he will see rather quickly that not everything the Pope does and says, even in his official capacity as Pope, closes the book on an issue.
If anyone disagrees, let him try to apply the principle "Rome has spoken, the case is closed" to what Popes Stephen VI, Theodore II, and Sergius III said about their predecessor Pope Formosus!
Lastly, I must address the entirely correct statement that what is and is not schismatic is not up for each individual to decide. That is quite true, of course, and no one on Archbishop Lefebvre's side disagrees with that. But no one is saying that the 1988 consecrations were not schismatic simply because the SSPX side wanted them not to be schismatic. Rather, we are saying that whether or not something is schismatic is determined by the facts, and these facts include what the Church has taught about schism, what St. Thomas Aquinas has said about schism, what Canon Law says about schism, and what reason says about schism.
No Pope can simply "wish" or "pronounce" a schism into existence in any morally binding manner. He cannot simply say, "This act is schismatic" and that's the truth." Let me illustrate this. Imagine that an evil Pope said that going to confession is now a schismatic act - just like that. Would you say then, "OK, well, the Pope said it's schismatic and therefore it is"? I sure hope not! It would be totally absurd for him to say something as nonsensical as that. Now, you may reply that this will never happen, but that's not the point. The point is that the Pope's mere statement that something is schismatic does not make it so. Or imagine that you just come home from Sunday Mass and that the Pope tells you that you just committed a schismatic act because you went to Mass. Absurd! The Pope would simply be wrong. Would you not agree that even the Pope has to go by objective standards that determine what schism means and what constitutes a schismatic act? These standards are laid out by canon law, by disciplinary tradition, and by perennial Church teaching, and they do not contradict reason.
Canon 1629 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law says: "No appeal is possible against: 1° a judgement of the Supreme Pontiff himself, or a judgement of the Apostolic Signatura. . . ."
Answer: Fine with me. Let's not appeal, then. But that does not mean that the Pope's statements about schism and excommunication in the SSPX documents concerning the consecrations (i.e. Ecclesia Dei, the Decree of Excommunication, etc.) are correct. Let's furthermore remember that the Pope never excommunicated Lefebvre or any of the other five bishops. He only said that they had excommunicated themselves, by what they did. But if their act did not incur latae sententiae excommunication per Canon Law, as I've shown very forcefully in my previous installments, then the Pope's observation that they had excommunicated themselves is wrong. Only the past facts-those of June 30, 1988 - can determine whether or not they incurred excommunication. No pronouncement by the Pope about the past can change the past. If, on the other hand, John Paul II had excommunicated the six bishops, i.e. ferendae sententiae, then this would be a slightly different issue. But since this did not happen, we need not worry about it. In any case, Canon 1629 does not say that every judgment of the Supreme Pontiff is necessarily true-it merely says that it cannot be appealed. But false is false, with or without appeal. So this argument holds no water, either.
There is no reason for the SSPX to exist. There is the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and other papally-approved groups like them, and they operate with the permission of the Pope and the Church. There are also diocesan traditional Masses that people can go to.
Answer: The so-called "indult" orders (like the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King) and diocesan indult priests do indeed have the permission of the Pope (and/or the local bishop), but they are not allowed to resist in any meaningful way the modernist destruction of the Church. With the FSSP and groups like them, the Vatican gives the faithful the True Mass but still does not allow them to hear the True Faith. It is absolutely imperative that we realize that this is not fundamentally about the Mass only but about the entire preconciliar and perennial Faith, of which the True Mass is an integral part and the most beautiful expression. I surmise that the Vatican apparatus knows fully well that they can mollify a large group of the faithful by simply giving them the Mass. They figure that this way, as long as the traditionalists have their Mass, they will not resist any changes going on around them. Give them their Mass, and they'll be silent. Send them to one parish in the darkest corner of the diocese, and keep them there till the Revolution is complete. But this is a concerted effort to suppress the Resistance! The more people the Vatican can take away from the SSPX and other groups that are part of the Resistance, the better for the modernists in the Vatican. Their goal is to destroy the Resistance, and by giving them the FSSP et al., they can weaken the resistance a great deal. If a priest from the FSSP were to really resist the changes (for instance, by refusing to say Mass on a Novus Ordo altar or in a Novus Ordo church, or by preaching against the New Mass, Vatican II, ecumenism, etc. from the pulpit), let me guarantee you that it would not be long until this priest would lose his faculties.
In many cases, the indult Mass is said in a Novus Ordo church, where particles of the Blessed Sacrament (if the masses there are indeed valid) are scattered all over the place due to Communion in the hand. The "altar" may just be a table, and the priest may be forced to use hosts for Communion that have previously been "consecrated" at a Novus Ordo mass. Oftentimes, the indult communities don't have a traditional Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation, or the priest is only an appointed one who does not share the traditional Catholic faith and only says the traditional Mass because the bishop asked him to. Some priests may mix the traditional Mass with the Novus Ordo, or use Novus Ordo readings instead of going by the traditional cycle. And some may give typical Vatican II homilies that give the faithful nothing but empty words.
Another major issue are the other sacraments aside from the Holy Mass. Do the indult priests use the traditional formula of absolution in the confessional? Can an indult priest celebrate a traditional nuptial Mass? Will he? Does he want to? What about the sacrament of confirmation? Here of course the faithful will have to wait for the local Novus Ordo bishop, and then they will probably have to receive confirmation in the Novus Ordo rite. What about Extreme Unction? What indult priest anoints in the traditional way? Can the faithful receive a traditional baptism? And, of course, as far as Holy Orders is concerned, that's a total no-no, at least on the diocesan level, and even in the indult orders where traditional ordinations are conferred, the ordaining bishop is necessarily Novus Ordo.
In short, the indult is one huge compromise. I surmise that some bishops only have diocesan indult Masses where there is also the SSPX in that area, in order to keep people away from the SSPX. I believe the indult movement is being used to keep traditionalists quiet. As long as they go to the indult, they're away from the SSPX and therefore from the Resistance. We've already seen in the cases of the FSSP, the Abbey of Le Barroux, and now a little already with the diocese of Campos, that the intention is to get the traditional indult orders to accept the changes of Vatican II and the New Mass - gradually, but fully nonetheless. That's what the indult is for, I think: to gradually make traditionalists into Novus Ordo Neo-Catholics. We all remember only too well the big fuss with the FSSP in 1999, when 16 priests of the FSSP wanted to be allowed to say the Novus Ordo chrism mass together with their bishop once a year. The Superior of the FSSP at that time, Fr. Josef Bisig, forbade them, and before you knew it, Rome stepped in and threw out Fr. Bisig, replacing him with the liberal Fr. Devillers. Their Nebraska seminary is already shepherded by the liberal Fr. Jackson, and some want to go by the 1965 missal (a hybrid between the traditional Mass and Novus Ordo) already.
Let's face it: the entire existence of the indult movement is totally at the mercy of the Pope and the local bishop: if the Pope wakes up one morning and says, "Today I'll put an end to the indult," what could any of the indult priests do? Nothing. They could either become Novus Ordo and follow suit, or they could resist - but then they'd be in the same camp as the SSPX! So there you go. I think John Paul II's immediate successor will put an end to the indult. Hopefully, by then many people will realize that their indult position was built not on rock but on sand - on quicksand! The Resistance cannot work if it depends on the mere whim of modernists in the Vatican, people who do not share the True Faith and are actually hostile to it. That's no basis for a real resistance; it's a joke.
We traditional Catholics have asked the hierarchy to give us the seamless garment of the True Faith, but instead they only give us a sleeve. This sleeve is the Mass. "Here, take this," they say. We respond, "No, thanks. If you're not willing to give us the entire garment, you might as well keep your sleeve also."
More objections and replies next time.
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/2003mdi.htm
Time of Quadragesima
volume 14, no. 5
Mario Derksen's young and refreshing TRADITIONAL INSIGHTS