German Archbishop Müller: SSPX in “Sacramental Schism” – Kidding, Right?

German Archbishop Müller: SSPX in “Sacramental Schism” – Kidding, Right?


 I received an email a couple of days ago from a long-time reader of Catholic Truth, an Englishman, who has, in the past travelled all the way north of the border to attend one of our conferences.   Imagine my amazement to read his remarks about having a great deal of sympathy for the SSPX but, after all, bottom line, they’re “outside the Church”. I found it incomprehensible that a very intelligent man could still, even at this late stage in the Church crisis, fall for that propaganda.

So, you can imagine my further amazement when a reader tipped me off this evening about the following article, which appeared on the Rorate Caeli blog today.  Read on – and tell us your thoughts. I mean, is any German bishop even remotely in the position of being able to call any other bishop, let alone the wholly orthodox and traditional SSPX bishops, “schismatic” in any way, shape or form?  “Sacramental schism”? What about the German bishops who are flouting Church law to permit Holy Communion to the divorced and “remarried”? Aren’t they in “Sacramental schism”? 

From the interview granted by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Abp. Gerhard Müller, to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, published Sunday 22n December, 2013:

 With the failure of discussions, what is the position of the Lefebvrians?

 “The canonical excommunication due to the illicit [episcopal] ordination was lifted from the bishops, but the sacramental one remains, de facto, for the schism; because they have removed themselves away from communion with the Church. That being said, we do not close the door, ever, and we invite them to reconcile. But they also must change their approach and accept the conditions of the Catholic Church and the Supreme Pontiff as the ultimate criterion of belonging.”

What can you say about the meeting between Francis and [Fr. Gustavo] Gutiérrez on September 11?

“Theological currents go through difficult moments, things are debated and clarified. But Gutiérrez has always been orthodox. We Europeans must get over the notion of being the center, without, on the other hand, underestimating ourselves. To broaden the horizons, to find a balance: I have learned this from him. Opening up to a concrete experience: seeing poverty and also the joy of the people. A Latin American Pope has been a heavenly sign. Gustavo was overwhelmed. I was as well. And also Francis.”  (Italian source  – taken from Rorate Caeli blog)

Comments (41)

  • Leo

    Canon laws derive from two sources. The first is the Divine Law which can never be violated. The second is the law of the Church, established by the hierarchy, which has as its immediate aim the safeguarding of the Divine Law and as its ultimate aim the salvation of souls.

    The canonical rules which regulate the normal exercise of sacerdotal functions are always subject and subordinated to the Divine Law which remains supreme. When the formal observation or the ecclesiastical law impedes or acts against the fulfilment of the divine law, it is the latter which must prevail. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, ‘the power of jurisdiction is not granted a man for his own benefit, but for the good of the people and for the glory or God’ and further, ‘since necessity knows no law, in cases of necessity the ordinance of the Church does not hinder’ (Summa, Suppl. Q. 8, Art. 5 and 6).

    In today’s grave crisis are priests who offer the Mass of All Time and preach the faith as the Church has constantly taught obliged to obey the letter of the law or are they to look to the supreme law of the Church, the salvation of souls? Are they to follow the ecclesiastical laws legitimately established by man, but which under the present diabolical disorientation act to obstruct the intent of the Church and her founder, or are they to follow the supreme law.

    As to faculties and jurisdiction, a crucial principle enshrined in Canon Law is that of Epikeia, or equity. Epikeia is explained by St. Thomas Aquinas as a virtue that guides one in those cases where the law fails because to observe it strictly according to its letter manifestly defeats the ‘spirit’ or very purpose of law to provide for the common good. In such exceptional cases epikeia directs us to disregard the literal sense of the law and be guided rather by the obvious intent of the legislator which is the Church acting in persona Christi (Summa 11-Ila, q. 120, a. 1, and I-IIa, q. 94, a. 6).

    Obviously the invoking of Epikeia is not without danger. It was never meant to allow for any individual to use it to interpret the law for his own convenience. Canon Law was developed and codified to handle all the circumstances that those responsible foresaw. If the present unprecedented circumstances are not such as to legitimately invoke this principle, then it’s very difficult to imagine when it could be applied. The most important function of the Church is, as has been pointed out, the salvation of souls. This is the supreme law. The laws of the Church were created to safeguard just this purpose not to frustrate it.

    December 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm
    • editor


      Yet again, your latest two posts are simply unanswerable. Anyone with a sincere heart, seeking the truth, would see the truth in what you have written so well and so clearly.

      Those who are so quick to invoke Canon Law in the case of the SSPX blithely ignore it in every other area of Church life – notably Canon 915. How many Catholics bleating pathetically about the “disobedience” of the SSPX, quoting Canon Law to suit their agenda, have come on here at the same time to defend the Bishops refusal to apply Canon 915 by refusing Holy Communion to “manifest public sinners” – such as those co-habiting, supporting abortion and same-sex marriage – including, perhaps, members of their own families as well as the usual suspects, the anything-but-Catholic politicians.

      Yes, Canon Law is very flexible in the hands of these “Catholics”. It only applies to the SSPX – nobody else.

      So, thanks again Leo for two terrific, scholarly posts. The likes of John Kearney might stifle his conscience to ignore the truths contained therein, but they help to remind me and my lovely team, about why we persist with this blog.

      God bless you!

      December 30, 2013 at 11:10 am
      • Petrus

        I couldn’t agree more, Editor. Leo’s post on Canon Law was masterly.

        December 30, 2013 at 11:18 am
  • sixupman

    John Kearney is a Fr. Zuhlsdorf clone par excellence – the latter’s battle cry being: “.. SSPX priests don’t have faculties! Well blow me! Methinks these people exhibit an underlying guilt complex. How many of the UK Hierarchy de facto suppress the Old Rite in the face of BXVIs de jure clarification of the standing of the same – most. How many victimise, inter alia by non-preferment, their clergy who exhibit tendencies towards that which is our heritage – most. What of two parish priests in Clifton Diocese who to my personal knowledge, have preached against both JPII & BXVI and The Magisterium – no action.

    The Kearney,s of this world live in cloud cuckoo land, they are little better than trolls.

    December 30, 2013 at 7:51 am
    • editor


      I stumbled across an old blog on Fr Z about the SSPX and it was as you say. Just about every commentator sanctimoniously berating the “disobedience” of the Society, without a glimmer of understanding about the nature of true obedience and the existence of false obedience. The one and only contributor who pointed it out was told he was talking tosh. I could not believe the ignorance, led by their hero Fr Z, of course.

      I just can’t wait to see the faces with egg all over them when the final vindication comes. Imagine the looks of astonishment! Puzzlement! And the struggle to find a hotel in Rome for the canonisation of Archbishop Lefebvre!

      Fr Z is the classic example of someone trying to keep a foot in both camps. Classic.

      December 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

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