You are on page 1of 5
 
1
LETTER FROM REV. DR. DENZIL MEULI, S.T.D.,U.J.D., Ph.L., LL.B., Advocate for the Holy RomanRota, Barrister for the High Court of NZ
REGARDING THE LEGAL STATUSOF THE SSPX WITHIN THECATHOLIC CHURCH
JULY 21 2001
 Extracts from lengthy reply to a slanderous e-mail:
... As it happens, John Paul II has said all that needs to be said concerning the same organization. He said it in themost eloquent way possible, by actions, not merely by words. He allowed five thousand members of the Society,shepherded by three of their bishops and some number of their priests to make a pilgrimage to the Pope's ownchurch, the Basilica of St Peter. There these thousands assisted at Mass celebrated by their bishops, who preached,led devotions and all this over a period of three days.They were given a big welcome by the officials of the Basilica including the Cardinal who has charge of thatvenerable church. It seems from all this that there is an attachment in a marked form and degree on the part of JohnPaul II and his staff to the Pius X Society....If all that is good, what is wrong with 'attachments in various forms and degrees to the Society of St Pius Xconcerning which Society Cardinal Ratzinger stated: 'Any problem we have with the SSPX is internal to theChurch.'?If the short and exasperated answer to that is 'They are in schism' or 'They are excommunicated' then I affirm thatthat is no more than an
ipse dixit 
. A rigorous construing of 
 Ecclesia Dei Adflicta
(any imputation of crime or application of penalty is to be treated with rigour according to the
 Regula Juris
: '
Odia restringi, et favores convenit ampliari
) does not lead to the conclusion that they (leaving aside for the moment who
they
may be) are in schism.Further, the term
 schism
is, at large, misunderstood. Schism is the total rejection of the authority of the Pope.Impossible to predicate that of those who dutifully pray for the reigning Pontiff at the appropriate place in the Canonof the Mass. Impossible to predicate that of consecrators who publicly proclaim the conferral of jurisdiction to be tothem
ultra vires
, beyond their powers and not to be within their intention.Concerning that, in the matter of the consecration of a bishop, account is to be had of a major distinction, viz. that between the power of order and the power of jurisdiction. These powers have different causes. The power of order,namely, the power to confirm and ordain, comes from the sacrament of holy order while the power of jurisdiction,according to the teaching of Pius XII in
Mystici Corporis
, comes from the Pope. It is, in his words: 'received fromthe Sovereign Pontiff himself.'For a bishop to confer the power of order without a papal mandate is not a schismatic act. The Code makes thatlimpidly clear. According to circumstances it may or may not be disobedience. If it turns out to be disobedience,according to further circumstances, it may or may not turn out to be punishable.It is a totally different issue for a bishop to attempt to confer the power of jurisdiction, as distinct from the power of order. An attempt to confer the power of jursidiction would be to arrogate to oneself a power belonging to the Popealone and hence would be a rejection of Papal authority. That is patently a schismatic act. That did not take place.As was affirmed in the public declarations of the ordaining Prelates, any intention to attempt to confer jurisdictionwas expressly excluded.
 
2Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his co-consecrator Bishop Castro de Mayer were at pains to make known that theywere about to confer orders, not jurisdiction. They acknowledged that to confer jurisdiction was beyond their  power, and outside their intention even if it were within their power.The relevant canon is 751. The defining word in that canon is
detrectatio
, by which is meant a refusal of allsubmission. It is precisely this all-encompassing rejection which differentiates
 schism
from disobedience.An example will aid comprehension. One can disobey one's parents, even in serious matters, and not reject their authority. That is, one can disobey but still recognize that they are one's parents with legitimate authority over oneeven while disobeying them. That is no more than disobedience. Schism would be to reject the totality of their  parental authority.Cardinal Rosalio Lara, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of Canon Law, pointsout that the Code of Canon Law makes this same distinction. In commenting on the consecrations by Msgr Lefebvre in the 10 July 1988 issue of 
 La Repubblica
, he states:'The act of consecrating a bishop (without a papal mandate) is not in itself a schismatic act. In fact, theCode that deals with offences is divided into two sections. One deals with offenses against religion and theunity of the Church, and these are apostasy, schism and heresy. Consecrating a bishop without a pontificalmandate is, on the contrary, an offense against the exercise of a specific ministry.'In case that is not clear, Cardinal Lara is stating that schism is one thing, and dealt with in its part of the Code, viz.'Offences against Religion and the Unity of the Church,' whereas consecration without papal mandate is another thing, and dealt with in its own part of the Code, viz. 'Usurpation of Ecclesiastical Functions'.The 'Usurpation of Ecclesiastical Functions' is not a rejection of Papal Authority, hence the characterization of anysuch usurpation as 'schism' is mistaken. It is a fiction, not supported by the law.In his Apostolic Letter 
 Ecclesia Dei Adflicta
the Holy Father writes of the subject act of disobedience in thefollowing terms:
'In itself this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supremeimportance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated.' 
But then, remarkably, the Holy Father draws a conclusion not found in the premises. He writes:'
Hence
(my emphasis) such disobedience - which implies in practice a true repudiation of the Roman primacy - constitutes a schismatic act.'That utterance is supported neither by the premises nor by the law. What may be the explanation of this anomaly?Either the Holy Father is using the term
 schism
loosely, that is to say, equivocally, or he is simply mistaken. It doesnot appear that he is using the term equivocally. Were he using it equivocally it would be inapproprate to cite, as he(or perhaps the editors of the AAS) does, those canons of the Code of Canon Law, which refer to
 schism
as it isunderstood by the Code.But then, how can he be mistaken? That is easily explained. The Holy Father is a professional philosopher (hetaught philosphy for decades), he is a theologian, he is an acclaimed litterateur.He is no jurist.For the accurate presentation of the law in any writing of his he relies on his advisers. They have served him badly.The mistake they made is so clamorously obvious the suspicion arises that they had an
agendum
of their own....
 A propos,
Cardinal Oddi, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, when asked if assisting at Mass
 
3in a SSPX Chapel satisfied the obligation for Sunday Mass wrote, with nary a word about 'disunity', tragic or otherwise:
 Dear Mrs Keenan, I have your letter of January 11th and thank you for it. According to the new Code of Canon Law, 'The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a Catholic riteeither on the day of obligation itself or in the evening of the previous day.' (Canon 1248.1) I hope that  settles your doubts. In the meantime, I send you and your loved ones my blessing ....etc. (signed: Cardinal Oddi)
...But what about that excommunication? This about that excommunication. It is no less a fiction than the charge of schism. To begin with there has never been a condemnatory sentence imposed on the presumed
excommunicati.
Sofar only a declaratory statement has been issued stating that the men were excommunicated
latae sententiae
 byreason of the violation of penal law forbidding the consecration of bishops without papal mandate.A declaratory statement is no more than that, viz. a statement making an assertion. It doesn't make that which isasserted true. If that which is asserted is true it is true not from the assertion but from some other source of legalconsequences. In itself it has no more juridical weight than a similar statement made by the corner grocer. It is its provenance that determines its clout. If it comes from a court in session, lawfully seized of the subject matter and iscondemnatory then it is a judicial sentence with consequences, one of which is the right of contestation, that is, theright of appeal.The subject declaratory statement was made by Cardinal Gantin, prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops and isrevealed in the text to be no more than an advertisement of the material elements of the matter. It is described as adecree but is devoid of the notes characteristic of a legally binding decree, for example, a clear identification of thecourt in session whence it emerges. It was issued 1st July 1988.Despite that deficiency it could be argued by someone determined to pursue the matter that it is, nevertheless, valid, but the exercise would be in vain since the decree repeats the self-same error to be found in the Apostolic Letter 
 Ecclesia Dei Adflicta
, viz. it confounds two distinct institutions in law. It confuses Title I with Title III of Part II of Book VI of the Code.Title I concerns itself with 'Offences Against Religion and the Unity of the Church' (Canons 1364 to 1369). Title IIIconcerns itself with 'Usurpation of Ecclesiastical Offices' (Canons 1378 to 1389). What the minions of the law haveequivalently done is, as it were, to uplift Canon 1382 (which deals with consecration without papal mandate) fromTitle III and to insert it in Title I (which deals, amongst other offences, with schism).After this bit of foolishness they then stated that the accused was guilty of schism, thereby misnaming the offenceand proceeded to predicate the penalty for schism of a man who was guilty, if he was guilty, of something altogether different, namely, usurpation.The incompetence thereby demonstrated is a bit difficult to credit. There is no dearth of Canon lawyers in thesecongregations. Had the minions done it correctly they could still have got a putative excommunication out of theexercise, since excommunication is also the penalty, as from 1951 by Decree of the Holy Office to cover the rise of the Nationalist Church in the People's Republic of China, for a consecration without papal mandate. Whatever thereason they simply did not do it correctly.It is not germane to this present argumentation but it is instructive to note that in the same above mentioned decreeof Cardinal Gantin the same mess was made of the excommunication of the Co-consecrator Bishop Castro deMayer. The few lines given over to him state simply that he had incurred the penalty envisaged by Canon 1364:1,i.e., the penalty for schism, whereas, similar to the situation of Archbishop Lefebvre, the supposed offence was notschism but usurpation.Penal law is, as is only fitting, very exacting. Unless you get it right, first time, you are out of court.
Odia restringi,et favores convenit ampliari
.To complete the picture, let us suppose that consecration without a papal mandate is in very fact a schismatical act

Reward Your Curiosity

Everything you want to read.
Anytime. Anywhere. Any device.
Cancel Anytime
576648e32a3d8b82ca71961b7a986505