Can the Lefebvrian Split Be Healed? On What Terms?


There has only been one official schism in the Roman Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council. That occurred in 1988, when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated four bishops against the express instructions of Pope John Paul II. That led to the excommunication of Lefebvre and those four bishops, and the schism of Lefebvre and his followers from Rome. Now 23 years have passed.

In the history of the Church, it is often the case that, once a schism endures for a certain time, it becomes less easy to restore full union. Separate ecclesial cultures evolve, positions harden. Reunion postponed is often reunion lost.

Pope Benedict XVI has made it clear that he would like to heal this schism during his pontificate.

And he has taken three dramatic steps in that regard:

(1) he lifted the excommunications on the four bishops by means of a decree from the Congregation of Bishops dated January 21, 2009, stating he took the decision “in the hope of reaching the soonest possible full reconciliation and complete communion” (so they are no longer excommunicated, though their position is not fully regularized);

(2) he promulgated Summorum Pontificum (July 7, 2007), allowing wider use of the ever new traditional liturgy of the Mass (one of the great concerns of the Society is that the ever new traditional liturgy should be not only allowed, but embraced by the Church)

(3) He agreed, starting on October 26, 2009,  to hold theological discussions with the chief theologians of the Society of St. Pius X, to see if an agreement on theological positions could be worked out.

The Vatican communiqué announcing the meetings said the questions to be examined would include these topics: “the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom.”

The meetings take place in the Palace of the Holy Office in Rome, evidently as often as two a month. The Vatican side is led by Monsignor Guido Pozzo, the secretary for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and by Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Also present are three consultors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Dominican Father Charles Morerod, secretary-general of the International Theological Commission; Father Fernando Ocariz, vicar general of Opus Dei; and Jesuit Father Karl Josef Becker.

Bishop Fellay named as representatives of the Society Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta, rector of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix Seminary in La Reja, Argentina; Father Benoît de Jorna, director of the International Seminary of Pius X in Ecône, Switzerland; Father Jean-Michel Gleize, professor of ecclesiology at the seminary of Ecône; and Father Patrick de La Rocque, prior of the Priory of St. Louis at Nantes, France.

 Almost 2 years have now passed by since the talks began. What is going on? Is progress being made? Or not?

It is hard to know, as the discussions have been secret, and there have been no official press releases of any substance regarding the content of the talks.

However, here are brief extracts from two recent interviews on the matter: (1) an extensive interview granted by Msgr. Pozzo, to Nouvelles de France, published on June 8; and (2) an interview given by Bishop Fellay during a recent trip to Gabon, Africa, published on June 1

With Msgr. Pozzo

Does the Society of St. Pius X recognize the missal (of Paul VI) as valid and licit?
Monsignor Guido Pozzo: It is the Society of St. Pius X that should be asked that.

Does the Holy Father wish the Fraternity of Saint Pius X to reconcile with Rome?
Pozzo: Certainly. The letter of removal of excommunications of the four Bishops illegitimately consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre is the expression of the desire of the Holy Father to favor the reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X with the Holy See.

The content of the discussions that take place between Rome and the Fraternity of Saint Pius X is secret, but what points do they touch and in what manner do they progress?
Pozzo: The essential point is of a doctrinal nature. In order to reach a true reconciliation, it is necessary to move past certain doctrinal problems that are at the basis of the current fracture. In the ongoing talks, there is a confrontation of arguments between the experts chosen by the Society of St. Pius X and the experts chosen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the end, conclusive summaries of the positions of both parties are written. The themes under discussion are known: primacy and episcopal collegiality; relations between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic Christian confessions; religious liberty; the Missal of Paul VI. At the end of the talks, the results of the discussions will be submitted to the respective authorized levels for an overall evaluation.

It does not seem conceivable that the Second Vatican Council may be called into question. Therefore, where will these discussions lead? To a better understanding of this?
Pozzo: They concern a clarification of points that detail the exact meaning of the teaching of the Council. It is what the Holy Father started to do on December 22, 2005, by interpreting the Council within a hermeneutic of renewal in continuity. Nevertheless, there are certain objections of the Society of St. Pius X that do make sense, because there has been an interpretation of rupture. The goal is to show that it is necessary to interpret the Council in the continuity of the Tradition of the Church.

Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge of these discussions for nearly 20 years. Does he still follow the progress now as Pope?
Pozzo: First, there is the role of the secretary, which is that of organizing and taking care of the good development of the discussions. The evaluation of these is the responsibility of the Holy Father, who follows the discussions, with Cardinal Levada, is informed of them, and  gives his opinion. The same goes regarding all points with which the Congregation deals.

(Here is a link to the complete interview in the original French:

With Bishop Bernard Fellay:

(From an interview granted by the Superior General of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, on June 1, 2011, as he visited Gabon)

Allow me to end [this interview], Your Excellency, with two questions. The first is related to the relations between the Fraternity and Rome. Where are you in your contacts? A subsidiary question: can we expect, on a mid- term, a normalization of these relations?
Bishop Bernard Fellay: The contacts continue. We are probably reaching the end of a phase of discussions. This is not yet completely clear. What will happen? What will be the outcome of this phase? This answers the second question. What does Rome foresee for us now? One should not be mistaken: we are truly within the crisis of the Church; it has certainly not ended. What is our fate in this crisis? I believe that, at some level, the Good Lord linked us with this crisis, because we work for the restoration of the Church, but this may still last for a decade, maybe two. It is necessary to have lots of courage and perseverance. This can be resolved tomorrow, this may be be resolved the day after tomorrow. All is in the hands of the Good Lord. Let us all remain simply faithful.

My second question is related to your feeling following the beatification of Pope John Paul II…
Fellay: A very mixed feeling. The impression [that is given is that]of an incredible haste, that disregarded all the rules that the Church herself sets forth before proceeding to these kinds of acts (the Beatification). The impression is of imprudence. One example: when one wishes to beatify or to canonize, what was said and written by the candidate who is called “venerable” is very closely examined. Well, here, the majority of what was written by him is located within the secret archives of the Vatican, which have not yet been opened (for his pontificate). We remain, therefore, uneasy. We fear seeing in this a desire to cement a cause that John Paul II put in place, that he wished to continue throughout his Pontificate, of which he wished to be the apostle.

(Here is a link to the complete text of the original interview in French:

An Invitation:

I’d again like to invite you to join me and a small group of pilgrims — less than 10 — for a very special pilgrimage to Russia for the Feast Day of Our Lady of Kazan.

I have traveled to Russia 15 times, and I will join you for the entire pilgrimage. 

We plan to meet with Catholic and Russian Orthodox officials in Kazan, Moscow and St Petersburg.

We have designed the trip to begin with a visit to Kazan on the feast day of our lady of Kazan, July 21 (photo of icon, left). We will celebrate this feast with pilgrims from around the world in the place where the icon was revealed in 1579.

(Click here to read the entire story of the Holy Icon of Kazan)

We will stay 3 nights in Kazan then travel to Moscow, the capital, where we will stay in the Danilovskaya Hotel located in the “Vatican” of the Russian Orthodox Church for 4 nights. We will visit the new Theological Academy being built by Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, and the tomb of Russian Orthodox St. Elizabeth Federovna, who was the sister of Empress Alexandra, and was killed when she was thrown down a mine shaft on July 18, 1918. 

In St. Petersburg we will visit the Aleksandro-Nevsky monastery, which for many years became the center of the spiritual life of St.Petersburg, and the Hermitage Museum, and the local Catholic church.

The schedule is a full and fascinating one, but time is also built in for rest.

We expect to have meetings with Catholic and Russian Orthodox Church leaders not usual for tours in Russia.


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  • florin

    There are times that i feel that the St.Pius X group feel they are bestowing a favor on the Roman Catholic Church by the possibility of their return. Remember, their founder left the Church and called P.John Paul, P.Paul VI, P. John XXIII evil – and worse. And they drew tens of thousands with them..the deliberately defied P. John Paul and consecrated Bishops – P.John Paul reached out to them and they rejected him because they believe that they have the truth and the fullness of faith…at least that’s the way that I see it. Pope Benedict is being incredibly humble and generous in his outreach to them…i believe there was an abusive misinterpretation of the Vatican Council II – but that does not mean that the Council itself was erroneous. I don’t believe the problem with Lefebrve was that the ‘traditional Latin’ Mass was ‘replaced’ by the more current way of celebration but that there was any kind of celebration other than the centuries old Mass. P. Benedict has stated over and over again that the Latin Mass was never to be discontinued – in fact, the Latin Mass continued to be celebrated in Monastic communities. Now it does seem that the Pius X group holds a more reverent attitude towards the Mass and the sacraments…we see men and women coming to Mass almost naked; we see ‘Catholic’ politicians who advocate for and support the killing of babies in the womb receive the Eucharist as Catholics in good standing; we have seen the sex abuse scandal and Religious men and women, Bishops included, defy the teachings of the Church while giving their own interpretations – however, the Pius X group was excommunicated so all they did stemmed from an evil break with the true Church of Christ – and evil can look good – so this is a very complex situation. The Roman Church has almost given away the sacraments cheaply – the others seem to hold them dear…so we really do need the Holy Spirit to guide this whole process – come Holy Spirit – for this we pray!

  • EditorCT

    I really can’t take this article seriously. The disrespectful use of Archbishop Lefebvre’s name in the headline and the incredible claim of “schism” despite all the times the Vatican has made clear that the SSPX are not and never have been in schism, make this a shoddy (to say the least) piece of journalism.

    Schism is, by definition, a refusal to recognise the pope as the Vicar of Christ and head of the Catholic Church. Archbishop Lefebvre has never held this position, nor do the other SSPX bishops and clergy.

    There is such ignorance around these days and Catholics have been so poorly (i.e. not) instructed, that they actually think that an act of disobedience to a papal instruction constitutes schism. It does not. The Holy Spirit has prevented the modern popes from commanding that we all actively participate in ecumenical and inter-religious events, but if any pope ever did this, we would ALL be OBLIGED to disobey him because obedience to the revealed Faith comes before obedience even to a pope. But, due, as I say, to the lack of proper Catholic education over the past fifty years, Catholics don’t actually know this and they have a distorted idea of obedience, not least because they believe all that they read in ill informed articles like the one on this blog. Not Archbishop Lefebvre, though, he was spot on when he said that it was Satan’s masterstroke to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition, in the name of obedience. Spot on. And much more polite than I am on the subject: “bunch of numpties” is my stated opinion. I mean, how difficult is it to check a definition of a word (schism) and come to the correct conclusion about the SSPX?

    So, let’s be clear on the Church’s teaching about what constitutes “schism” – it is NOT an act of disobedience towards any pope. That would mean that the vast majority of the world’s bishops today, who downright refuse to obey the Pope in many things, e.g. by making the Traditional Latin Mass more widely available, are in schism. Many of them are actually apostates but that’s another whole topic.

    Finally, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, speaking for the Pope in his dealings with the SSPX leadership, said, in an interview with the prestigious journal, 30 Days, that those who think the SSPX are in schism “do not understand the situation.”

    My view is, that if I don’t understand something, I keep my ignorance to myself. A word to the wise.

    • florin

      I will not reply at length because I’ve got an appointment shortly – if you really want to know the truth of the situation, just read the Motu Proprio of Juy 2, 1988. It states in part that “the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre was declared in immediate reaction to the episcopal ordinations conferred (by him) on June 30, 1988 without pontifical mandate…a most grave act of disobedience formed the consummation of a progressive global situation of a schismatic character.” The grave act of disobedience was to Pope John Paul II who told Msgr. Lefebvre not to ordain any Bishops. Msgr. Lefebvre defied the Pope publicly and went ahead with the ordinations. And didn’t Msgr. Lefebvre himself declare that all Popes following Pope Pius X to be unauthentic – in schism; and did he not declare that the Catholic Church founded by Christ was in schism because he disagreed with the way Christ’s teachings and the teachings of the earlier councils were being carried out? I could be wrong here but that’s the way I remember it. And no one is mandated ever to attend an ecumenical, interdenomination service – ever!!! And why would the Society of Pius X not want the authentic Catholic Church to have relationships with those outside the Church when Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict continued to try to relate to Msgr. Lefebvre and his followers despite the fact that they themselves were outside of the Roman Catholic Church? If a member of my family had left the family I would do everything possible to stay connected to that family member no matter what they did or were doing…that is exactly what Christ would do – remember the parable of the prodigal son? The Roman Catholic Church, founded by Christ Himself is not the only Church – but it is the only Church that holds the fullness of faith as taught by Christ Himself…we don’t run away from that Church when we disagree…we stand and respectfully state our disagreements, stay in dialogue but, in the end, we must accept the decision of the Church. I pray for us all because I’m sure we all want what is best for each one…I am grateful that Mary Kochan is so patient…

      • Tiny

        I feel that your perspective reflects a certain myopia in that you seem to think one is schismatic based on a single action, rather than an unfortunate course of events.

        Firstly, it’s somewhat erroneous to say that the moment the four were consecrated itself means that the Society is in schism. I say this because episcopal consecration without a papal mandate did not result in Latæ sententiæ excommunication until changes to the Code of Canon Law.

        Secondly, the Bishops of the SSPX were consecrated for the purpose of offering the traditional sacraments, and do not claim jurisdiction. Bp. Fellay, the conciliator, is also the Superior General, and Bp. Williamson’s opinions really don’t count for much. Of course, I don’t deny that some members of the priestly fraternity, or some supporters, are sedevacantist, the public position is not. In fact, Bp. Fellay is relatively moderate and if famous for saying that when Peter calls I come running.

        Ok, having said that, one Motu Proprio from one Pope really doesn’t really define a schism. The east-west schism was loaded with political undertones, and for many hundreds of years they came closer or further away from reunification, efforts failing usually due to a lack of humilty or an untimely death of a conciliator Pope or Patriarch ( and of course an anti-Roman Eastern emperor).

        So, when Monsignor Lefebvre reneged at the 11th hour on his agreement with Rome and consecrated the four, is it entirely fault? He founded the SSPX (after he had retired) at the behest of a number of seminarians who were essentially tired of heresy. Despite favourable visitations, the society was lawfully (but unjustly) suppressed. The power brokers in the Church at that time were extremely progressive continental Europeans, whom Pope Benedict once worked with, and whom he distances himself from even to this day.

        Mind you, the society operated without A) Canonical status and B)incardination up until 1988. Then the bishops were consecrated and all Hell broke loose, but for the most part not much had changed.

        So, are the 1988 episcopal consecrations really that big of deal, or are they the result of obduration on both sides?

        On the whole, I feel that the SSPX was pushed to “Schism” more than they did it themselves.

        I don’t lay blame at the feet of Bl. JPII, nor can we really blame the Vatican II. Call my a conspiracy theorist but I blame the leftists.

        Just look at what VII called for, look what the wolves in sheep clothing gave us, then look at what the Holy Father is saying nowadays.

        • EditorCT

          I nodded throughout your post until I reached the part where, yet again, we have a Catholic who just refuses to lay the blame squarely where it belongs – at the feet of Pope John Paul II whom history will judge to have been one of the worst popes ever. Popular, of course, contrary to the warning from Our Lord that as the world hated Him, so it will hate His (true) followers.

          Popularity is not a sign of sanctity.

          • Tiny

            I am a Society supporter, but I hold to the maxim “no enemies on the right”. My talking points are salient (especially where I defend the SSPX against charges of schism).

            The reason the SSPX is on the margins is NOT because of Pope John Paul II (I will concede that he dithered and could have given some positive sign of support to the traditional movment).

            But the suppression of the SSPX basically started right after the Vatican Council (II) under Paul VI, almost immediately after the SSPX had been founded.

            So, as a SSPX supporter yourself, realize that there was a wide spread and systematic hatred for the SSPX that spanned across continents, bishop conferences, the Curia etc. dating back to long before Vatican II. Your focus on JPII is just plain laziness.

            Might I suggest you read The Rhine Flows into the Tiber which gives the juxtaposition between the Coetus Intenationalis Patrum and Cardinal Bea’s European faction?

            Or even the SSPX apologetic archives?

            Or the book Iota Unam?

        • EditorCT

          Yet again, there is a “reply” button missing in Tiny’s post below to which I now wish to reply. This is a real weakness of this system, and a very irritating weakness at that. I’ve now copied those parts of Tiny’s post that require answering, and will respond to it here, in the hope that it doesn’t get overlooked.

          Tiny Wrote:

          The reason the SSPX is on the margins is NOT because of Pope John Paul II (I will concede that he dithered and could have given some positive sign of support to the traditional movement.)

          EditorCT replies:

          He did more than “dither” – he pronounced the bishops excommunicated. And he wasn’t a ditherer when it came to refusing to excommunicate the real enemies of the Church, the dissenters – he said openly that he didn’t want to be “divisive”: he was a liberal, in other words and he made clear who his friends were and who were his enemies. The enemies got excommunicated or suspended (SSPX and Fr Gruner). NONE of the modernists/liberals were excommunicated (even the one or two who made headlines because some action was taken against them, were quickly reinstated when their apostate associates kicked up a fuss.) So, that’s baloney. That you think he could have given more support for the traditional movement reveals an ignorance of the very essence of this crisis in the Church. He couldn’t give support for “the traditional movement” because he was a liberal and didn’t LIKE “the traditional movement”(euphemism for the undiluted Catholic Faith. Just ask the nearest animist.) He didn’t “dither” about the SSPX, he took decisive action in pronouncing them excommunicated.

          Tiny wrote:

          But the suppression of the SSPX basically started right after the Vatican Council (II) under Paul VI, almost immediately after the SSPX had been founded.
          So, as a SSPX supporter yourself, realize that there was a wide spread and systematic hatred for the SSPX that spanned across continents, bishop conferences, the Curia etc. dating back to long before Vatican II. Your focus on JPII is just plain laziness.

          EditorCT replies:

          Wrong. Your statement is true only for the period from 1975 onwards. During the initial period of the SSPX after its foundation in 1970 it was of course very much legal and viewed in a positive light. The well known and very positive comments of Cardinal Gagnon came much later – during his visitation in 1987 with a view to the possible regularisation of the SSPX’s situation (a period of discussion like the present), which nevertheless came to nothing.
          To say that “Your focus on JPII is just plain laziness” is ridiculous (and very rude). My “focus” as you put it, on JPII is due to the simple fact that (a) he became Pope in 1978, so he is implicated, almost from the outset, in this battle against Tradition and the SSPX and (b) it was his unconscionable excommunications which worsened the situation immeasurably and led the modernist clergy and increasingly protestantised and ignorant laity to conclude, wrongly, that the SSPX were in schism. Some of them cannot get out of that mindset even today.

          Tiny Wrote:

          Might I suggest you read The Rhine Flows into the Tiber which gives the juxtaposition between the Coetus Intenationalis Patrum and Cardinal Bea’s European faction?

          EditorCT replies:

          Yip. A key reference point, which I use often. On my bookshelf staring at me right now.

          Tony Wrote:

          Or even the SSPX apologetic archives?

          Editor CT replies:
          Yip. A key reference point, which I use often – among other SSPX sources.

          Or the book Iota Unam?
          Yip. A key reference point, which I use often. On my bookshelf staring at me right now.

          • Mary Kochan

            I am sorry. I don’t know why the reply button is missing on a few of the posts. I will bring it to the webmaster’s attention.

  • EditorCT

    If I’d known this was a moderated site I wouldn’t have wasted my time. Experience has taught me that “liberals” don’t allow my comments to be aired. If my comment just submitted is not published in full, I won’t be back.

    • Mary Kochan

      EditorCT, welcome to Catholic Lane. All first time postings are moderated as it is the only way to prevent a complete overrun by spammers and purveyors of porn. Fortunately, I saw your comment and approved it before you intemperately tarred and feathered us all as liberals. You should see all your comments immediately henceforth.

      BTW, this is not a blog. It is an online Catholic magazine.

  • EditorCT

    Thank you Mary and please note that I am eating, as I type, a huge slice of humble pie.

    • Mary Kochan

      Watch you don’t get any crumbs into the keyboard, then. 🙂

  • Mary Kochan

    I want to address your assertion that that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s name was made direspectful use of in the title, since the title was mine and not the author’s. This assertion is incorrect. The turning of the proper noun Lefebvre to an adjectival form is not in the least disrespectful; it is in fact correct usage. And this usage is not confined to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. For example, in discussing the theories of the philosopher Henri Lefebvre, academics commonly refer to the “Lefebvrian approach” without meaning the slightest disrespect.

    • EditorCT

      Mary, there is a huge difference between using the surname of a philosopher and that of an Archbishop of the Church. And worry not, I’m watching those crumbs!


      You make a lot of assertions about Archbishop Lefebvre without providing a shred of evidence. Give a source – any first hand source such as a direct quote – to demonstrate that Archbishop Lefebvre called the post-conciliar popes “evil” or said they were not true popes (“unauthentic”.) Let me save you a search. You will NEVER find any such quotes. Sedevacantism has been roundly condemned by the Society. The Pope is prayed for in every Mass and in Benedictions. On the contrary, I’ve attended novus ordo Masses where – on the Feast of SS Peter & Paul, no less – the Pope was mocked. I exaggerate not. I’ve walked out of more than one novus ordo Mass where my parish priest as was, attacked the pope, usually for not ditching celibacy.

      Pope John Paul II’s decree of excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre has long been dismissed by every respected Canon Lawyer in the Church. Listen. If the SSPX were truly in schism, the Vatican would not – could not – have given permission for us to attend their Masses and contribute to their collections, as has happened. Also, when the case of the “Hawaii Six” went before Cardinal Ratzinger (their bishop had excommunicated them for receiving ALL the sacraments from SSPX priests – Google and you’ll get the whole story) he, Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote to them to overturn their bishop’s decision, saying they were NOT excommunicated and were free to continue to receive the Sacraments at SSPX chapels. He could not have given such a permission if the SSPX were truly in schism. The fact is, we may not attend any of the true schismatic groups – Church of England, Scotland, Methodist, Baptist etc. even in a case of emergency. Never.

      Pope John Paul II to his eternal (no doubt) shame, singled out the holy Archbishop Lefebvre to punish for a single act of disobedience, carried out with a heavy heart and because the Archbishop thought (rightly as it has turned out) that the Church was in a state of emergency. Remember, Session 7 of the Dogmatic Council of Trent had stipulated that no-one, from the Pope down, had the right to change the Mass, so on that ground alone, the Archbishop was understandably concerned. Canon Law states that if a bishop acts in disobedience, thinking that there is an emergency in the Church, even if it turns out he was wrong, he is not to be punished. And, boy, do we know that Archbishop Lefebvfe was NOT wrong. He was spectacularly right! Yet the same John Paul II punished him in the same breath that he was writing in paragraph 5 of Veritatis Splendor, that the Church was in an unprecedented crisis, while permitting heretic after heretic to run amok in the Church, to lead souls into error and heresy, and many to damnation, no doubt. The only two priests John Paul II has punished in his terrifyingly long pontificate, are Archbishop Lefebvre and Father Nicholas Gruner, for his dogged insistence that the Pope obey Our Lady and consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Truly, you couldn’t make it up. And (to use Lenin’s term) the “useful idiots” of Vatican II think he should be dubbed “John Paul The Great”! Unbelievable.

      Popes are not gods, florin. They are not above criticism. We are perfectly free to reject their false teaching, such as that coming to us from the scandalous Assisi gatherings and through media interviews. The Holy Spirit is not guaranteed to protect the pronouncements of any pope in these situations.

      So, I suggest that all the modern Catholics who have defended the scandalous (and illegal) pronouncement of excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre who, unlike John Paul II, will one day be a canonized saint, stop digging. You’re on the wrong side in this spiritual warfare. The SSPX are not and never have been “outside the Church” – even the liberal Cardinal Cassidy when asked at a press conference if he intended (in his ecumenical work) to include the SSPX, replied “no” that the SSPX “was aninternal matter”. Well, by definition, schismatics are outside the Church, so let’s face the truth that, not for the first or last time, John Paul II got it wrong. Spectacularly.

      • Mary Kochan

        Well if it’s wrong to use the adjectival form of an archbishop’s name it must really be terrible to use the adjectival form of a pope’s name. You must just get hives when you see the words “Gregorian chant.”

        • EditorCT

          A sense of humour. I like you, Mary Kochan. I like you!

          I have, in the past, I must confess, used a bishop’s surname (I once wrote “O’Brien” when writing about Cardinal O’Brien of Edinburgh, and got it in the neck from the modernists. The same mods who wrote about the ‘Lefebvrists’ at every opportunity.

          In fact, there is a distinctiveness about the use of Archbishop Lefebvre’s surname in headlines and articles. It is generally used (in my experience) by people who detest, either the traditional Latin Mass, or the SSPX – or both. Maybe you’re the exception – but given your insistence in the article that the SSPX are in schism, I’m not so sure.

          In any case, speaking of “Gregorian chant” is not at all the same as speaking of “Lefebvrists” – as I’m sure you know.

          • Mary Kochan

            Except that I did not speak of “Lefebvrists.” That word did not appear on this page until you used it. if you don’t believe me hit control+f and search for it.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    From the Apostolic Letter, “Ecclesia Dei,” of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, given motu proprio</e. (

    "In itself, this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act” (No. 3, emphasis original).

    “The root of this schismatic act can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition” (No. 4, emphasis original).

    “Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law” (No. 5c).

    The first of the above citations cites the Code of Canon Law, no. 751. The second references the Apostolic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, no. 8, with further reference to the Apostolic Consitituion, Dei Filius, from the First Vatican Council. The final citation comes from the Code of Canon Law no. 1364.

    You are, of course, now required to refute each of these references individually and collectively. The simple fact of the matter is that Archbishop Lefebvre was formally excommunicated by the Bishop of Rome at the time of the split. Full reconciliation has not yet been achieved.

    That’s a schism, unfortunately. If you’d read the articles on this site, you would be forced to conclude that the continued insistence on schism by such a strong and morally faithful group as the Society of St. Pius X greatly saddens those of us within the Church who would like to see more prominent use of the Old Mass; who would like to see greater fervor from the pulpit, especially from our own bishops; who are struggling ourselves to test everything and keep what is good. To put it bluntly, we need you back in the fold now (emphasis mine). Please come back. Don’t wait any longer. There really is a smoke of Satan here within, and there’s too few of us to combat it alone. We need you.

    But absent such a return, schism is the only proper term to use.

    • EditorCT

      So, I take it you are calling Cardinals Cassidy, Hoyos and Ratzinger liars?

      And if a single act of disobedience is a “schism” then what is the situation of all the bishops around the world who are disobeying the Pope on everything from the use of lay people to distribute Holy Communion to Summorum Pontificum?

      Are all these disobedient bishops schismatics?

      ps the “excommunications” have been lifted, in case you’ve forgotten and the SSPX stated to be in an “irregular” situation – not in a schismatic state.

      • HomeschoolNfpDad

        Oh, please. If you cannot be bothered to cite a single source, you certainly cannot be relied upon to set up a dichotomy. After all, you are the one who has asserted that “Catholics have been so poorly (i.e. not) instructed.” If you really believe this, you might take the time to instruct us. (Hint: to accomplish this, you might cite a concrete source.)

        I am fully aware that the excommunications have been lifted, but you are the only one who has insisted that the “the SSPX… never have been in schism,” plainly a false assertion in light of the Holy Father’s motu proprio.

        • EditorCT

          I haven’t included sources about the SSPX not in schism because it is so thoroughly documented that I truly didn’t think anyone could still not know – e.g. about this interview….

          At the time he gave that interview, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos was the papal representative working with the SSPX so his public words reflect the Pope’s position.

          Here’s an excellent overview of the historical reality of papal errors being resisted by saints.

          Here’s a more developed article on the case of Bishop (now Saint) Athanasius – excommunicated not once, but twice.

          And, to nail the lie that popes are, if not perfect, unable to become heretics, here’s an interesting extract from an article on Pope Honorius:

          “Pope Honorius was condemned as a heretic by three ecumenical councils. All newly elected popes had to profess his condemnation before they could assume their office until the eleventh century and all Latin priests recited it in their breviary until the sixteenth. It is incredible that ecumenical councils under the care of papal legates and approved by popes would anathematize and excommunicate a pope without the utmost care and that Rome would have all her popes and priests confess it for a thousand years were it not justified. There is no room for doubt here. His heretical letters were burnt by order of the council and only a scrap survived; it is ridiculous that some should try to construct a case to acquit Honorious on the basis of the scrap and in the face of so much historical testimony.”

          Finally, it is useful to note that an excommunication is not an infallible act. A canonization IS regarded by the theologians as an infallible act – or has been until the current crop of fast-track canonizations – they may have to be scrutinised by a future Pope.

          I hope these sources are helpful in nailing the lies about the SSPX. You can rest assured that I would go nowhere near an SSPX chapel on Sundays were I not absolutely certain that they reflect the words of St Athanasius during his time of exile in the Church: “they have the buildings, we have the Faith.”

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    In all honesty, I am willing to concede the entire argument if the SSPX will simply take Pope Benedict up on his offer and regularize its situation within the Church. I do not much care for arguments about semantics. I’m just a bit sensitive about John Paul, who did, after all, face up to a real persecution (from the Communists) and dump it with the help of Christ.

    There is an SSPX chapel in northern Houston, not terribly far from where I live. I’d like to go to Mass there knowing that I am attending a chapel that is ministered by a religious order / ecclesial society / whatever which has a fully regularized situation within the Church. I think a lot of people would. There’s far too little Latin in the sacraments and far too much look-at-me-look-at-me-look-at-me-now-I-love-to-have-fun-but-you-have-to-know-how in the Church’s worship culture. Arguing about it is a waste of time because most people just get upset and ignore the arguments.

    But offer something that is truly beautiful and offered under a completely regularized situation and no further arguments will be required. Beauty stands out.

    EditorCT, be certain that I will pray for you and for the SSPX.

    • EditorCT

      This oft repeated myth about Pope John Paul II defeating Communism needs to be nailed as well but I’m racing out now and just don’t have time to hunt for sources for you. The fact is that Communism is not dead – not by a long chalk.

      If you go to and go to the Fatima page, you can download the talks at the recent Consecration Now! Conference in Rome. Listen to the riveting talks – especially Father Kramer’s talk where he deals with the issue of the apparent downfall of Communism. The Russians planned this to lull the west into a false security, as Fr Kramer reveals.

      As for the rest, see my post re attending SSPX chapels above.

  • EditorCT


    The system is not letting me reply directly to your post which reads:

    “Except that I did not speak of “Lefebvrists.” That word did not appear on this page until you used it. if you don’t believe me hit control+f and search for it.”

    By that stage in my post replying to your “Gregorian chant” remark, I was not referring to your headline but making a general observation. “Lefebvrian split” or “Lefebvrists” – what’s in a name, anyway? The sense is communicated that the writer is referring to a bunch of people following someone called “Lefebvre” – which is not the case. Nobody speaks of “Athanasians” when they speak about the Catholics who followed St Athanasius rather than embrace heresy. “They have the buildings, we have the Faith” was Bishop Athanasius’s watchword – much as the closing comment made by Archbishop Lefebvre in his Open Letter to Confused Catholics and it in order to face the same question reference our baptismal and confirmation graces at our judgements that Catholics stick with the SSPX:

    “…and if you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this. At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me: ‘What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?’ I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words ‘You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them.’

  • I don’t know the technical details of what constitutes a schism, and I don’t know many of the particulars of the Lefebvre case, other than what I have heard in the news. What I know is what I was taught in the monastery where I was a postulant for three months about obedience.

    Different religious orders have different approaches to obedience, but obedience is always to a person. The only time obedience is not binding is if you are commanded to do something immoral. Otherwise, at least for those communities that follow the Rule of St. Benedict, it is binding under pain of sin. That means that if you are commanded to plant a tree upside down, you go outside and give it your best shot.

    From what I’ve read, Abp. Lefebvre did what he did apart from the spirit of obedience. Does that constitute schism? Dunno, that’s for the canon lawyers to figure out.

    • HomeschoolNfpDad

      “Dunno, that’s for the canon lawyers to figure out.”

      Actually, it’s not. Church law follows the norm of legislative supremacy, not the judicial supremacy that grew out of English common law. In the end, the opinions of the canon lawyers are irrelevant if the legislators have spoken. The legislators in the Church are known as “bishops.” Two prominent bishops have spoken in this case: 1) John Paul who declared the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre and proclaimed his schism; and 2) Benedict, who lifted the excommunication.

      Schism was the fact, protestations to the contrary not withstanding (and without a single primary source cited, I might add). All we can do now is pray for full reconciliation. The rest — i.e. schism or irregular situation currently — is mere semantics.

      As for the notion that Communism is alive and well: nobody here disagrees. But the fact that John Paul did not conquer Communism everywhere and for all time is completely different from the historical fact that John Paul — with help — conquered it in a specific place at a specific time.

      • HomeSchoolNFPDad,

        You are right. I spoke carelessly.


      • EditorCT

        Listen, you cannot ignore the definition of the very term “schism” and then complain about lack of primary sources to prove the SSPX are not and never have been in schism.

        I’ve given you several instances (from liberal prelates no less) where they have acknowledged that the SSPX are in an irregular, but not schismatic, situation.

        Pope John Paul II issued his “excommunication” but the fact of the matter is that, by definition, a schismatic rejects the authority of the Pope. Archbishop Lefebvre did not do that. Just as a child may disobey a parent without saying “you are no longer my parent, I am no longer your child” so can a Catholic disobey an instruction (rightly or wrongly) without being a schismatic. Only when we are unequivocal in our rejection of the PAPACY and of PAPAL AUTHORITY per se, are we schismatic.

        And this stuff about Communism. Look. It’s not any pope’s remit to enter politics. We have a pope for one reason only: to defend and promote the Catholic Faith, which may involve disciplining dissenters.

        By his own admission, in his final book, this “great” Pope JP II, failed to do his job. He was too busy praising animists and other pagans, to worry about the heretics ruling the roost the world over.

        Don’t let’s fall into the trap of being “useful idiots” as Lenin dubbed those people who, not realizing that their support for Communism was detrimental to themselves, worked to spread the Party Message. The majority of post-Conciliar Catholics today are doing just that. Defending the indefensible ecumenical and inter-religious scandals, the new Mass, new Catechism, new rosary, new evangelisation, new morality while, at the same time, denouncing the one group of priests who are “holding fast to that which we have received” (St Paul.)

        You truly couldn’t make it up.

  • Mary Kochan

    EditorCT, as an editor, you have to make careful distinctions among words, and I try to. As I pointed out the adjectival form of the name is neither improper, nor does it connote disrespect. On the other hand I quite concur with you that the term Lefebvrists is a term of opprobrium meant to accuse members of the Society of being part of a personality cult. For that reason, it is not a term I would use, or have ever used. Please read more carefully otherwise you end up making unfounded accusations.

    I apologize that your comment with all the links in it got caught in the spam filter. I approved it. The system puts comments with a lot of links into moderation for very sensible reasons.

    • EditorCT

      Mary, I wasn’t making unfounded accusations. I have yet to read any article or report on the SSPX without some version of Archbishop Lefebvre’s name being used if not in the headline then in the body of the piece. He is seldom if ever called “Archbishop Lefebvre”. Yet these same “Catholic” journalists will write blithely about “Archbishop” Rowan Williams – the Anglican schismatic. A REAL schismatic. That’s just a fact. The real schismatics are treated with respect and given titles they do not in fact own, while a truly Catholic prelate – who will one day be canonized, no question about it – is insulted at every turn. I’m not accusing you of that, just making the general point.

      That’s fine about the post with all the links – I should have thought about that. I used to have the same problem with WordPress when I ran the Catholic Truth blog.

      God bless.

  • Trust the Church, trust the Church, trust the Church. Obey legitimate authority, put your faith in God, and follow Jesus. A few weeks ago I attended the Traditional Mass at a neighboring cathedral to see what it was all about. I deeply appreciated it and found it a beautiful form of worship.

    However, it is not offered at my parish, and my pastor has asked me to stay involved where I am. If I started attending the Traditional Mass every Sunday, I would not be attending the Rite of Paul VI at my parish. Now, I do not owe obedience to my pastor; leaving my parish for something I found objectively better would hardly be a sin.

    But what is a person to do? What I have found over the years is that we can obey each other out of a “spirit of obedience” even when it is not strictly owed. I have found that great peace attends to doing God’s will in this way. The fruit of obedience is joy and humility. It is a fruit I would wish for all Catholics.

    • florin

      PrairieHawk – what a beautiful comment. Obey and trust the Church founded by Christ, not to hurt or confuse us or to stomp on our freedom, but to open our heart to love and to joy and, as you say, to peace…I have always believed that those who leave the Church do so because they have never really known her. We can make the Church and Christ known by the love we have for each other and by cultivating and sharing a spirit of holy joy. Thank you PrairieHawk,florin

    • EditorCT

      That’s the key PraireHawk – “legitimate” authority.

      When a pope acts outside his authority (or when ANYONE acts outside their authority) we need not obey.

      When, as the post Vatican II popes have done, they introduce a new Mass (prohibited at the dogmatic Council of Trent, see Session 7) and overturn previous teaching on religious liberty and ecumenism, there is no requirement to obey. Indeed, when he saw the devastation resulting from his new Mass, Paul VI reputedly insisted that it was only intended as an “option”. Tell that to the bishops of the world who lied (saying the old rite was banned) in order to enforce it on the faithful.

      We MUST obey Tradition. We must adhere to Tradition – that is, the Faith as it has been handed down to us from the Apostles – not as it has been handed down from Vatican II. Pope Saint Pius X said “Far, far from our priests be the love of novelty.” Yet we’ve had one novelty after another thrust upon us and treated as if it were infallible dogma.

      So, by all means tell us to obey legitimate authority. You are right. But that doesn’t mean obey every utterance of every pope. Or do you intend to tell all the prostitutes you meet to use a condom? (Smile…)

      • Legitimate authority is whomever God places over you. That includes parents, police officers, civil leaders, your pastor, and the Pope. By obeying them you are obeying Tradition.

        As a practical matter, you will also be a lot happier if you make obedience your primary spiritual discipline.

        The remark about prostitutes and condoms is crude and uncalled for in polite conversation.

        • Mary Kochan

          The remark about prostitutes and condoms is more than crude and uncalled for; it is a puerile and dishonest smear against the Holy Father — that’s what it is.

          EditorCT, your next post should be an apology.

          • EditorCT

            You cannot be serious?????

            The POPE spoke about prostitutes and condoms, first. I was merely alluding to his statement.

            Was he right?

        • EditorCT

          Well, you need to rewrite Canon Law. That’s NOT the Catholic position.

          Religious make vows of obedience. That’s why they have to plant turnips upside down when their superior tells them. I don’t. I haven’t made a vow of obedience to a particular person, not even the Pope.

          Catholics do not hold the Pope to be above criticism. That is an error. It’s called papolatry – idolising a pope and to idolise anyone, is a sin.

          Read Cardinal (Saint) Robert Bellarmine on the subject of the extent and limits of a Pope’s authority.

          And there was nothing “crude” about my comment. I was reminding you of an error made by this present pope when he said that if a prostitute used a condom that could be a first step on the road to morality (crazy) but if you think we have to blindly obey everything the Pope says, then presumably you would advice prostitutes to use condoms to get them on the road to morality. Mind you, I’ve yet to meet a priest who says they would advice a prostitute to do this. Are they lacking devotion to the papacy or disobeying the Pope? Get real.

          • EditorCT

            type – “advice” should read “advise” – apologies for error, due to hasty typing.

          • Mary Kochan

            The pope was not in error. He did not retract anything the Church says about the use of birth control methods, or sexual morality. What he said was that if a prostitute has AIDS and is spreading it, the decision of that individual person to use a condom in order to protect another human being from the disease might represent for that person an advance toward morality in that the person is now beginning to consider how his or her actions affect others.

            I will chalk this up to your lack of understanding — perhaps fostered in you by others who misrepresented what the Holy Father said — and give you the benefit of the doubt that you were not being intentionally obtuse and disrespectful.

  • florin, thank you for your kind words. Everything I know about obedience, I learned at the monastery. We were to live by the spirit of the Rule at all times and never to use the letter of the law as an excuse to do our own will. We were to obey even our juniors when we knew that they were right. If my novice master had asked me to plant a tree upside down, I would have been out there with a shovel, trying not to complain (what St. Benedict called “murmuring” was itself a form of disobedience).

    The monastery made so much sense to me that I’m sure I would have stayed forever if my health had not been an issue. When I left, it was because I was asked under obedience to my novice master (they never would have gotten rid of me any other way!) I am very grateful to God for my time there and for the many lessons I learned.

    • Mary Kochan

      Hey Anthony, please email me.

  • DoninBC

    Just a quick note about the first sentence of the article. The schism is with the Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholic (or Latin Rite) is the Catholic rite to which the vast majority of Catholics belong, however there are other Catholic rites such as the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Maronite Catholic Church etc… These are all fully Catholic and under the See of Peter, just like Roman Catholics. Please be aware of the pain it can cause to Byzantine Catholics when the term Roman Catholic Church is substituted for Catholic Church – it can make you feel that you’re somehow less Catholic.

    • HomeschoolNfpDad

      Good point. Precision matters in this discussion.

  • anthony

    I wonder if I may be permitted to add a few points:

    1. According to Canon Law schism is not the refusal to RECOGNISE the Pope, it is the refusal to SUBMIT to his authority.

    2. The First Vatican Council teaches that submission to the Pope is not limited to matters of faith and morals but also in matters appertaining to the discipline and government of the church.

    3. With reason therefore, Pope John Paul II described (in Ecclesia Dei) Archbishop Lefebvre’s refusal to submit to his authority in this matter as a “schismatic act”.

    4. It is true that Cardinal Hoyos has said that the SSPX is not in formal schism, but this was essentially a diplomatic statement, rather than an official pronouncement of the magisterium. When the excommunications were lifted, the same Cardinal explained that the purpose of the lifting of the excommunications was to “heal a schism”.

    5. It is true that one act doesn’t make a schism. The problem with the SSPX is that the illicit consecrations were not a one off event. The SSPX had already been operating independently of the magisterium and continue to do so today. They claim that the Church has introduced liturgical rites which are “objectively sacrilegious” (check their websites!) and that a council of the church has taught heresy. They denounce pretty much anyone who doesn’t share their theological viewpoint, especially traditionalist societies that have reconciled with Rome.

    I hope this helps!


    • EditorCT

      Wrong Anthony. Schism occurs when Catholics refuse to recognise the authority of the Pope. There may be occasions (such as the current crisis) when we may have to refuse obedience to a particular pope on a particular matter, but that does not constitute schism. Popes are not guaranteed infallibility, for example, in Church governance. And it shows!

      And, sorry, but you are also wrong in what you say about Cardinal Hoyos. He was appointed by the Pope to negotiate with the SSPX. And what kind of cardinal, anyway, would tell a lie in order to be “diplomatic”? That’s ridiculous. He said they were not and never had been in schism. You are saying he was lying, for diplomatic reasons. I suggest you stop digging.

      Listen, Anthony; if you have no problems with a new Mass, created by a known Freemason (Archbishop Bugnini) and six Protestant Ministers, with the express aim of removing anything objectionable to Protestants, that’s your business, for which you will answer at your Judgment. But you must allow for Archbishop Lefebvre’s (and several other prelates including two notable Cardinals – Ottaviani and Bacci) who had grave concerns about this unexpected turn of events.

      The allegations you make about the SSPX websites are interesting but since you don’t provide links I can’t see the context. I have attended so many “objectively sacrilegious” Masses myself that I can’t say I’m too surprised. Balloon Masses, Clown Masses, you name it. Objectively sacrilegious is an understatement.

      Pope John Paul II had described Archbishop Lefebvre as one of his best “generals” so I think you ought to re-investigate your allegations about the Society pre-1988. They were warmly praised following Vatican visitations, e.g. so I don’t know where you are getting your information from. And right now, as the clock hits midnight, I don’t much care! Goodnight and God bless!

      • anthony

        “Wrong Anthony. Schism occurs when Catholics refuse to recognise the authority of the Pope.”

        According to Canon Law (751):

        schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

        So, the essennce of schism is concerned with submission to the authority of the Pope not merely recognising that authority.

        Hence when Archbishop Lefebvre refused to submit to the Pope in the matter of the episcopal consecrations, Pope John Paul II described it as a “schismatic act”.

        Cardinal Hoyos did NOT contradict the judgement of Pope John Paul II (and would have no authority to do so). In the quotations I have read he confirmed that the illicit consecrated a “schismatic act” but he has said that the SSPX as a body is not in formal schism. The present Pope has also said that the consecration of bishops raises a “danger of schism”.

        “There may be occasions (such as the current crisis) when we may have to refuse obedience to a particular pope on a particular matter, but that does not constitute schism.”

        Forget the ‘s’ word for the moment, obedience to the Pope, yes, even in matters appertaining to the discipline and government of the Church, is a doctrine of the Church. (see Pastor Aeternus, Vatican I). Unless the Pope was to issue an evil command, as Catholics we are bound to submit.

        With regard to the New Mass, what I took objection to is not critism of liturgical abuses (I am with you on that) but the idea that it was ‘objectively’ sacrilegious. By the word ‘objectively’ I understand to mean that it is of itself sacrilegious. So the rite of Mass celebrated by most Catholics around the world, including the Vicar of Christ himself, is sacrilegious? (See then FAQs)

        • EditorCT

          Given the diabolical state of the Church today, it never ceases to amaze me that anyone with half a brain would waste time arguing about the alleged SSPX “schism.” I found this idiotic statement (in the light of events) on a website run by a canon lawyer. God help us all if this is the quality of the average canon lawyer. He wrote:

          “SSPX Arg. 2. Even if no state of necessity existed, if one inculpably thought there was, he would not incur the penalty (Canon 1323.7). Correct, but the burden is, as above, on the SSPX to prove that they were “without fault” in thinking that it was necessary for them to ordain four bishops against universal canon law and the specific prohibitions of the Holy See. Now, if the SSPX bishops could show that, by late June of 1988, after all that had transpired to that point, they were “without fault” in still thinking it was necessary for them to violate canon law and papal prohibitions, then I don’t know who could not show themselves to be “without fault” for breaking just about any law and disregarding just about any papal directive.”

          Is this guy for real? By 1988 I had sat through lecture after lecture of teacher training defending Catholic doctrine on the Real Presence, Original Sin, papal infallibility and just about every other doctrine you can imagine – and, of course, the old moral chestnuts of contraception and abortion.

          Anyone who, by 1988 didn’t realize that the Church was in crisis should not be allowed out alone.

          • anthony

            For the record I am against clown masses, liturgical dancing, gigantic felt banners with Peace written on them AND….illicitly consecrating bishops.

            By your reckoning, I think I might just about be allowed to go out alone!

            One of the lessons that we should learn from the history of the church is that certain errors have arisen as a reaction to opposite errors. Even if we agree there is a crisis in the Church (humanly speaking of course) that does not necessarily mean that a particular action is justified as a reaction to that crisis.

            A woman is not permitted to have an abortion as a reaction to a crisis pregnancy and Fr Smith is not permitted to charge money for the sacraments as a result of a financial crisis in his parish. Why? Because abortion and simony are both intrinsically evil. In both cases, we can admit there is a crisis, but we cannot admit that the solution proposed as a result of the crisis is legitimate.

            The concept of a state of necessity in Canon Law is a perfectly legitimate one. It means that in certain emergency situations, certain laws do not oblige. However, one cannot rely on this canon if the act in question is intrinsically evil – otherwise anyone could do whatever they want and self-assert that they believed that it was justified as a necessity.

            In the case of Archbishop Lefebvre, not only did he not have a mandate from the Pope to carry out these consecrations, they were carried out against his express orders. The distinction here is important. It could be argued that in the history of the church it was not always necessary to obtain a specific mandate to carry out a consecration of a bishop. Indeed, this would not have been practicable in the days before mass communications. However, it would NEVER have been permissible to carry out a consecration against the express orders of the Pope.

            As I have stated in previous posts, the Church teaches that Catholics are bound to submit to the Pope in matters appertaining to the discipline and government of the Church. (Pastor Aeturnus, Vatican I). The problem with the illicit consecration of bishops, is that not only is this a one-off case of disobedience, but the bishops concerned are by their very nature in a “state of disobedience” i.e. they are not subject to the authority of the Pope, something which the Church teaches that all Catholics must be.

            If, despite the solemn teaching of the First Vatican Council, you still have any lingering doubts that the consecration of bishops against the Pope’s wishes is gravely against Catholic teaching, may I refer you to the encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis by Pope Pius XII. He stated categorically that to consecrate a bishop against the Pope’s wishes was against the divine law, constituted a “criminal and sacrilegious” act and was thus absolutely forbidden under any circumstances whatsoever.

            And on that note, I will bow out. If you are interested in further reading on this matter, you will find both Pastor Aeturnus and Ad Apostolorum Principis online. In the case of the latter, sections 36 to 48 are pertinent.

            Dominus Vobiscum!


  • EditorCT

    Again, Mary, there is no “reply” button on your post defending the Pope’s condom remarks. So, I have to reply here.

    No, I didn’t misinterpret what he said. He very clearly said what he said – buy the book if you don’t believe the reports. It’s all there. Indeed, when Fr Lombardi “clarified” what the Pope had said, he not merely confirmed the Pope’s words, but he extended the Pope’s original statement (about male prostitutes) to include ALL prostitutes and transgender people! Truly, you couldn’t make it up.

    It’s got nothing to do with contraception. That is not the issue. The Pope took up the same position as the “safe sex” lobby, on condoms, arguing that the “morality” of disease-prevention could be an exception to the absolute moral law which is that there must be NO sex outside of marriage, and if there is, take the consequences. He was wrong to say that. End of.

    Catholic morality does not permit evil to be done – EVER – even for a perceived good outcome.

    Only papolatrists refuse to distinguish between something a pope says in an interview with a journalist and what he makes binding on the faithful, using the proper channels.

    Melchior Cano, theologian of the Council of Trent said this:

    “Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See – they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.”

  • The Pope said:

    “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.” (Scott Richert,

    Pick up on the nuances of what Benedict is saying. The Pope is saying that condom use may be less immoral than non-use if the intention of the wearer is to prevent the spread of disease. This is what he means by “moralisation”: a step on the road to true morality. The Pope is not condoning condoms, and he’s not changing Catholic teaching. They are still an evil means to an (apparent) good end, and cannot be justified.

    As Catholics we love the Pope, because God has given him the office of universal pastor and Vicar of Christ. Obeying the Pope because we love God is 100% Catholic and is not “papolatry” or any other form of idolatry.

    I am under no canonical vow of obedience to anyone. I am however much happier for obeying the authorities God has placed in my life. That’s my witness to you and all Catholics.

    This will be my last post on this topic; you can have the last word. My advice is, wake up and smell the coffee. Be where God has put you to be. Find your geographical parish and start attending Mass there. Make friends with your pastor. Stop worrying about the legal niceties of what the Pope did or didn’t say and realize that God is bigger than all of us. Unless you have the true charism to be a reformer–in which case you can expect to be royally persecuted–seek to live quietly and in the awareness that you, too, will be judged one day.

    Enough said. May God bless you and your family.

  • Mary Kochan

    Yes, EditorCT, I know that Catholic morality does not allow evil to be done, even for a good purpose, but that is not what the pope was talking about — he was talking about culpability, not the objective sin. Intention can certainly affect culpabilty.

  • florin

    EditorCt: I don’t know who you are or if you are an ‘editor’ and frankly I don’t know why you keep going after the Catholic Church and what the Church teaches…Mary Kochran is too kind to you…you are absolutely wrong re: what Pope Benedict said about the use of condoms and Mary is right…I not only read the transcript of what he said but I heard him say it…if you want to live a homosexual lifestyle then that is your privilege and responsibility and you have to answer to God..however, do not try to justify your choices by attempting to mould the teachings of the Church to justify your choice…no one is judging you but you seem to be pretty judgemental yourself. No one is asking you to be a member of the Catholic Church or to follow the teachings of the Church. That too is your choice. But the Church is not there to serve the desires of everyone or to conform to their desires…we are to conform to the Will of God and the Church founded by Christ…so EditorCt. – please, do what you want…perhaps you do indeed want desperately to justify your choices, your actions…but I don’t understand what you are trying to do here on a Catholic web site…why try to convince anyone if you are already convinced…??? Just do what you choose to do and if you are at peace with it, so be it. But no one is here to conform to your choices or to say that the choice to engage in sex with another man is morally acceptable…God created male and female and told them to be fruitful and multiply…God created the bodies of men and women to fit – to complement – each other. Each created thing/person has a purpose…we may try to distort that purpose but then it goes outside of God’s purpose for it…and nothing we do or say makes that right or natural…

  • Mary Kochan

    florin, you have misunderstood EditorCT, who is making no attempt to defend immorality by anyone.

    • EditorCT

      Thanks Mary.

  • anthony

    I think by using words such as ‘papalotrist’ people might have got the impression that EditorCT was a fundamentalist Protestant. Sadly this sort of language is all too common amongst those who call themselves ‘traditionalist’ Catholics.

    As I said in my earlier post, the First Vatican Council solemnly taught that obedience to the Pope is binding in matters appertaining to the discipline and government of the Church. You don’t need to take a vow of obedience, you just need to believe and practice the Catholic faith.

    Now of course, nobody believes the Pope can’t sin, or that his every utterance is infallible – that is absurd. What’s more, if, heaven forbid, the Pope was to tell you to do something that evil, you would not be obliged to obey, indeed you would be obliged to disobey.

    In the case of Archbishop Lefebvre, Pope John Paul did not issue an evil command – quite the opposite in fact. Indeed, in his encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis, Pope Pius XII declared that to consecrate a bishop against the express will of the church was completely against the divine constitution of the church and thus totally forbidden under any circumstances whatsoever. Such consecrations were “gravely illicit i.e. criminal and sacrilegious.” The case of Archbishop Lefebvre is not some petty legality that can be justified by quoting a canon lawyer or two.

    In conclusion, to be a Catholic, one necessarily has to be traditional and to adhere to the teaching of the Church in its entirety, including the solemn teaching of the First Vatican Council:

    2. Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.

    3. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith , the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one Supreme Shepherd [50].

    4. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.

  • Mary Kochan

    I’ve had intermittent conversations with members of the SSPX for over 10 years. There may be some quite lovely people in that group — joyous, peacable, and friendly. But every one I have had conversation with was a bitter, angry, contentious, fault-finder. Pretty bad advertising for their movement.

    • MarkA

      Mary – I only registered on this site to reply to this comment. I only started attending Mass at a local Society chapel for the past 2 months; I have no previous experience with anyone (lay or clergy) from the Society. My experience with every single person I’ve met has been quite positive. They have been kind, patient, respectful and quite charitable. Every single person has been happy and quite helpful. I’m sorry your experience has been negative, but the people I’ve encountered have been excellent “advertising for their movement”.

      I’m sorry so many comments here are not more charitable towards our brothers and sisters.

      • Mary Kochan

        I’m glad to hear it Mark, I assumed it had to be the case. I hope now that you are here, you will stay.

        • EditorCT

          So do I – I could use some help!

          • MarkA

            Thank you. Prayers for you.

        • MarkA

          Thank you. Peace be with your spirit.

  • EditorCT

    Mary, thanks for promising to investigate what’s happening to the reply buttons. I couldn’t thank you under your post, because, well, guess what, the reply button is missing!

  • EditorCT

    Once again there is no reply button on Anthony’s post and I just don’t have the time nor the inclination to copy his post here.

    All I want to say anyway is that he is misleading people (and is probably misled) when he writes: “the First Vatican Council solemnly taught that obedience to the Pope is binding in matters appertaining to the discipline and government of the Church.” because he is giving the impression that “binding” here means the same thing as it means in terms of doctrine which it manifestly does not. That the Pope has JURISDICTION over the whole Church is not the same as saying that his every decision is binding as, e.g. belief in the doctrine of the Real Presence is binding. That should be clear to anyone with a dictionary defining “binding”.

    As to the rest – successive Popes have stated that we are in a serious crisis. All – including Pope Paul VI, architect of the new Mass – have expressed concerns about the liturgy. However, Anthony, the things you list, clown Masses etc. have been tolerated by pope after pope, without any disciplining of those responsible.

    But crucially, you have failed to comment on my initial point somewhere here, that by creating a new Mass in the first place, the Pope was disobeying Session 7 of the dogmatic Council of Trent which anathematized anyone, from the Pope down, who sought to change the Mass. If words mean anything, you need to reflect again on who, precisely WHO, holds to the schismatic mentality when that schismatic mentality is applied to Catholic Tradition and not an individual, liberal Pope, who, incidentally, disobeyed the same Vatican I document you keep recommending to me, where it states that Pope are authorized only to defend the Faith, NOT to introduce new teachings. And, as we’ve already seen, a new Mass.

    Now, I’ve got to get my head down to work on our August newsletter which is way behind schedule. I’ll make sure I return in due course, however, to put you all right.

    With that in mind, Mary, will you chase up the webmaster about those missing rely buttons – or should I take the hint?

    • Mary Kochan

      EditorCT, I have already brought this problem to the attention of the webmster. Who works more than full time in support of his family, btw. I don’t know how big a problem this is in terms of fixing, or how much time it will take, and he won’t know either until he gets the time to research it. However, he has been alerted and knowing him, I trust that he will take care of it as soon as he can in the proper order of the numerous tasks required to maintain this site.

      Any hints you take will be hints you are giving yourself.

      • EditorCT

        Since we belong to two different Churches (and I’m sticking with the Traditional Faith) and since we don’t as much as share a sense of humour, I think I’ll blow out now.

        I was only joking about “taking the hint” but I can’t stand having to watch my every word, so I’m off. If you’re ever in Scotland, keep going. You’ll reach Norway eventually.

        • Mary Kochan

          Fare thee well. God bless and keep you and yours in His tender care.

        • florin

          You stick with what you call your ‘traditional’ faith and I will stick with the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Christ stated when He founded His Church that there would be scandals but that His Church would survive – His Church, not the Church founded by Luther, or the Church founded by Calvin,or the Church founded by Lefebvre…only His Church. you have been permitted to come to a Catholic website and spout off about our Popes and the Church founded by Christ so i am not sorry to see you go…though I too wish you well. You were not here to dialogue but to put out your talking points to justify Lefebvre’s leaving the Church founded by Christ to begin his own Church – there are members of the Catholic Church, myself included, who fail and who may not agree with everyone or everything but we don’t leave to start our own Church …

    • anthony

      Having read through the canons of Session VII of the Council of Trent, I’m not entirely sure what ‘Editor CT’ is referring to. Of course, no Pope can change the substance of the Mass (or any other sacrament for that matter), but Popes can, and have, changed certain aspects of the liturgy. Whilst one may disagree with the liturgical changes brought in Pope Paul VI, you cannot say the Pope has no right to make liturgical changes.

      The following was written by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei:

      “It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.”

      It should also be noted that the SSPX does not use the unmodified Mass of St Pius V – it uses the 1962 missal incorporating changes introduced by Blessed John XXIII.

      When I spoke about the binding nature of disciplinary matters, I was not offering an opinion, I was simply stating what the First Vatican Council solemnly teaches.

      It is a common misconception that non-infallible equates to non-binding. This is a very serious error. For example, if the Pope decided to increase the fast before communion to two hours, it would certainly be binding up the faithful. It wouldn’t be infallible, but it would be binding. The origin of this teaching comes from Our Lord himself when he gave St Peter the power of binding and loosing.

      As for misleading people, here is the teaching taken verbatim from Vatican I:

      Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that
      this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both
      episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful,
      of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world.

      In this way, by unity with the Roman pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith , the church of Christ becomes one flock under one supreme shepherd.

      Both Pius XII and John Paul II cited this in condemning the illicit consecration of bishops.

      This is the teaching of the catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    The general thrust of EditorCT’s rather numerous logical fallacies makes for one inescapable point: the only person in this entire thread who opposes Tradition is EditorCT himself. It’s not the SSPX. It’s not SSPX-supporter Tiny. It’s only EditorCT. Where I commented that John Paul faced Communist persecution, EditorCT chose to ignore this historical statement, instead conflating this statement of fact in Poland at a specific period of time with a denunciation of John Paul because he was unable to completely suppress Communism everywhere and at all times. Not even Athanasius could complete suppress Arianism. Two centuries later, the Arian emperor Valens held a conversation with Arian priests from barbarian Germany. This says nothing negative about Athansius but rather serves as harsh criticism of those who – hundreds of years later – continued to choose heresy over Truth. Emperor Valens’s conversation led rather directly to the sack of Rome and the abdication of the Roman emperor in the West. Not a good thing. But heresy is never a good thing. Thus does EditorCT’s illogic serve as criticism only of himself. It ignores the specific and argues the general in such a format that is convenient only for EditorCT’s rather mythical claims about the nature of the Church.

    In another claim, however, EditorCT’s surpasses even his most pronounced ability to ignore logic where convenient for his own personal argument. He states: “So, I suggest that all the modern Catholics who have defended the scandalous (and illegal) pronouncement of excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre who, unlike John Paul II, will one day be a canonized saint, stop digging.” So John Paul will never be a canonized saint. It’s good to know that EditorCT is gifted with the charism of fortune-telling – or perhaps I should say, with the heresy of believing himself to be a divine of future events. Never mind that John Paul is already a Blessed, united to God in Heaven in an unequivocal and permanent way. We must here recall that Christ Himself has stated that man may not separate that which God has joined together. Thus, an argument against John Paul is necessarily an argument against God Himself, because the two are united in Heaven.

    EditorCT’s counterargument hinges on the formal difference between a Blessed and a Saint. However, this formal difference is somewhat less pronounced than it used to be, ever since Pope Urban VII reserved both Beatification and Canonization exclusively to the Holy See in the 17th century. The real difference between the two is that a Beatification merely permits the formal invocation of the Beatified as intercessor in formal acts of prayer and divine worship. Permissive affirmation means that the faithful are not bound to accept the invocation as necessarily correct. However, permission itself necessarily implies that such invocation may not be lawfully criticized. Those who make invocation under permission are not doing wrong. Attempts to criticize this as wrongdoing are necessarily incorrect and improper. Canonization goes to the level of precept in that all the faithful are bound to accept public invocation of the canonized intercessor, or else find themselves on the wrong side of the moral right expressed by the Church. Note that the difference is, in fact, subtle. Permission does not require the dissenter from Beatification to accept that the intercessory requests are validly made. But it does require that the dissenter keep his dissent to himself because those who request intercession by means of permission do no wrong. In contrast, those who criticize such permitted (as opposed to perceptive) intercessory requests likewise do no wrong so long as they keep their criticisms to themselves. When precept applies – as is the case of a canonized saint – even private dissent is sinful. But in either case – if one actually adheres to the rules of logic – public dissent is always wrong. There cannot be permission if one undergoes public attack. The attack itself countermands the permission.

    So we have EditorCT violating this logical notion by bringing his private dissent to John Paul’s Beatification into the public sphere. This creates a scandal, because if EditorCT were in fact concerned with the good of the Church and if he did in fact bind himself by the formal rules of logic in making his arguments, he would apply the limits of dissent allowed. And he would refrain from making unlawfully public his lawful private dissent.

    But EditorCT choose very explicitly not to keep his dissent private. In this, he crosses the same line that is crossed by every Catholic who formally opposes the goodness of veneration of the Virgin Mary under the name of, say, “Virgin of Fatima.” This is because all private revelation – including that of Fatima – is made under the rubric of permission rather than that of precept. No one is obligated to accept the apparitions of Fatima or Tepeyac or anywhere else where the Church has approved a private revelation. But no one is allowed to publically criticize those who follow such private revelation, either. Criticisms, if any, must be kept private, lest the faith of the weakest members of the Church be undermined. So also with a Beatification when Canonization has not (yet) happened. No one is required to accept the unity of the Beatified with God. But no one is allowed to make their private disputations public, either.

    By making his private disputation public, EditorCT reveals himself – and only himself – as a dissenter from the discipline of the Church. In this, he does not implicate the SSPX or any of its supporters (as commentator Tiny so eloquently demonstrates). He reveals himself and no others as a dissenter from Church discipline. His own words accuse him: his dissent marks him as a liberal.

    Normally, I’m not so strident, but EditorCT’s illogic and poor understanding of Catechism, history, and canon law forces my hand. I can only reiterate my previous comment: I shall pray for the complete regularization of the SSPX’s position in the Church and for the conversion of those who wrongfully prey upon the faith of the Church’s weakest members.

    • florin

      Just a note – I have found EditorCT on other Catholic websites putting forth his agenda, particularly against Pope John Paul II so i am very grateful to you HomeSchool Dad for your intelligent reply…I became weary and decided not to respond, especially when I found EditorCT saying the same things on other Catholic websites…

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    For details on the difference between precept and permission, please see

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    I will retract one statement. EditorCT does not appear to be a liberal. But comments about the “protestantised and ignorant laity” are made not to seek an improvement of the current deplorable state of Catholic catechesis but as justification for a particular position. This makes no sense. Poorly catechized Catholics are largely to be pitied and to be instructed. Publicly criticizing their ignorance is typically not a very effective way of correcting the ignorance. Correcting that ignorance ought to begin with what they need first — perhaps an understanding of obedience to the Church and obligation to learn more about the Faith as understood in the First Commandment. It does not typically mean it’s a good idea to focus only on the ignorance that seems to undermine one’s own personal preferences.

    The Church is hurting today — badly. Lots of harsh public criticism is not usually an effective way of helping the Church to improve.