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)

  • crouchback

    Yes …..the door remains open for the SSPX… long as Bishop Fellay agrees to keep his fingers nailed to the door post and every passing nut case gets to slam the door on his digits for the “crime” of remaining a catholic…..

    How many seminaries have the liberation theologians managed to support……

    How successful have the “option for the poor” ninnies been at eradicating poverty from the face of the earth……

    Fifty years since Vatican II and all poverty has been wiped out…..from….Shettleston….if not what is Bishop Phil going to do about it……

    Go on Phil……send in crack eucharistic ministers…..the Cottage Bar deserves ’em.

    December 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    Well, I won’t take any advice on schism from the likes of Archbishop Muller who supports liberation theology, and allowed one of it’s key exponents, Fr. Gutierrez to visit and celebrate Mass with the Pope. I would have thought the Pope Benedict XVI had more oil in his can than to have appointed Muller in the first place.

    However, I fail to see how the SSPX is in schism. It has never stopped recognising the Pope and the Church hierarchy and also the Vatican has said that the faithful can fulfil their obligation at the SSPX’s Masses. That tells me one thing. I’m repeatedly told the SSPX ordinations are valid but illicit, the same as the Orthodox Church, but can we fulfil our Sunday obligations at an Orthodox Church. Nope. Can we fulfil our obligations as the SSPX. Yes. Therefore, logically speaking, it tells me that the SSPX Priests are also licit, the Holy See just daren’t admit it.

    December 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm
    • Josephine

      I think it’s the German bishops who are in “sacramental schism” as they are allowing the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion, even though they’ve been told not to do so by none other than Archbishop Muller!

      December 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm
      • Lily

        I agree that it’s the German bishops who are in “sacramental schism” so it is very ironic that ++ Muller is calling the SSPX that. It makes me think it’s a diversion to take attention away from the real schism which is already well advanced in Austria and Germany.

        December 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      Catholic Convert,

      “However, I fail to see how the SSPX is in schism”

      I agree. I cannot see it either. I’ve been reading round the blog for a bit tonight and especially this thread and the one about Fr Timothy Radcliffe made me think of Bishop Fellay’s humility on the different videos of him speaking that I’ve watched on this blog. I think the extract to follow is a good example of it. I noted the bit about “doors closing” and thought of how the doors are always open for the dissenters. It is a time of great testing we’re living through. What follows is from Bp Fellay:

      Facing the Crisis
      I think we must continue. We have a policy that we already know. This policy is simply to be witnesses first and foremost. That is, to maintain and keep the treasures of the Church, and then to make them seen. We cannot do much more because of this very situation, because we are considered black sheep; even the simple fact of mentioning the name of the Society of St. Pius X closes many doors. So what! God will open them when He so desires. We must be the Christians of this century. Therefore, the bearers of Christ. That is all!

      It’s a scandal that the SSPX are treated like schismatics while the real schismatics are treated like heroes. It’s really unbelievable.

      December 24, 2013 at 12:33 am
  • Crouchback

    Comment removed

    December 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm
    • Lily


      I looked at that link and it’s a disgrace. Full of “allegedly” so I am amazed that you would post that on a Catholic blog like this one. Wikipedia is not exactly the most reliable source is it.

      December 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm
      • Josephine


        I agree about that link – it’s dreadful and Wikipedia is not reliable. Anybody can go in and put information. It’s very difficult to follow up the sources. I would discount everything on that page, frankly.

        December 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm
  • editor

    Lily & Josephine,

    I’ve now removed the post to which you refer – have now checked out that link and I agree with you.


    Things are bad enough in the Church right now – there’s really nothing helpful about posting dodgy “alleged” scandals. Please stick to the topic.

    December 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm
  • Crouchback

    Fr Ronald Arbuthnot Knox once said that hearing the confessions of nuns was like getting….

    “Pecked to death by ducks”….

    We have a goose for Christmas diner…..somebody killed this goose, tore off all it’s feathers, ripped its giblets out and placed the lot in a plastic bag…..we will do the noble goose a great service by enjoying tearing it apart with our teeth……and gobbling down the lot…..

    I wish I could say the same for the carrot crunchers …..

    Enjoy your Christmas carrot…..and remember……nothing more “offensive”….than a little light pecking….


    December 24, 2013 at 1:51 am
  • catholicconvert1


    Re the Christmas Goose- I do believe that you are better at clucking than you are at plucking. Tearing off feathers indeed.

    December 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm
  • sixupman

    Reading ++Mueller another way: the SSPX position, referred to, is not ‘de jure’ schismatic? It may be got his terms mixed-up.

    December 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm
  • gabriel syme

    It is a shame that when Curial officials or other prelates rush to put their own personal spin on the SSPX situation, they seem to overlook the great loss in credibility which so many mixed, incoherent messages cause.

    Indeed the many, starkly varying episcopal statements on the SSPX – some of which are even quietly retracted later – does not suggest a great harmony or understanding among the Bishops on this topic, nor any great collective competence in governing the Church.

    In the 2000s, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos stated quite clearly that the SSPX were not schismatic, nor had ever undergone any formal separation from the Catholic Church – even despite the well known difficulties between the Vatican and the society.

    Yet nearly ten years later, now the prefect of the CDF appears to place a new problem on the table. His intervention would seem to indicate that he feels the analysis of Castrillon Hoyos was somehow lacking.

    The worst thing is, that people get away with commenting on the SSPX, without being asked to explain how their statement coherently follows on from previous Church statements, and how it stands up in comparison to them.

    The approach of giving an incoherent jumble of contradictory or even downright false statements reminds me of the phrase “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, blind them with BS*”.

    (*BS referring to crude slang for male bovine excrement).

    December 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm
    • Michaela

      Gabriel Syme,

      “The worst thing is, that people get away with commenting on the SSPX, without being asked to explain how their statement coherently follows on from previous Church statements, and how it stands up in comparison to them.”

      Correct. I have often thought that, and it is completely unacceptable that they get away with their lies but all the signs are that it won’t be for much longer. I hear a lot of my friends saying that they think the chastisement (Fatima) is not far off. I fear they may be right. .

      December 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm
  • crouchback

    There is an excellent DVD documentary on the life of Archbishop Lefebvre avaiable from Angelus Press . ….and other places. ..possibly. …I defy anyone to watch this documentary and then say that the Archbishop was wrong.

    The seminary at Eccone was opened in 1970, in 1972 the French Bishops were calling it a…”wildcat seminary”… 1974 the Archbishop was told to close his seminary……in 1976 he was suspended A Divinis, for the “crime” of ordaining priests….he had been ordaining priests for decades with no trouble at all…..but in only 6 years he gets all these charges against bim.

    Contrast that to all the Cardinals, Bishops and priests who have bankrupted whole diocese….wrecked whole countries for the Ireland……by sexual abuse and cover ups ……

    does any one remember a single one getting suspended and then excommunicated in with such rapidity as the dealt with the greatest Saint of the 20th century….

    No….???…..neither can I……

    December 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm
  • John Shacklefree

    Michaela. “I hear a lot of my friends saying that they think the chastisement (Fatima) is not far off. I fear they may be right.”

    I think the Fatima chastisement is the same one Our Lord spoke about when he mentioned the great tribulation. He also connected it to the prophecy of Daniel Chapter 9. The angel who gave the prophecy to Daniel said that the words were not for his time but for the Time of the End and that it would occur around the time when the Jews return to Jerusalem in a time of trouble. The Jews certainly have their troubles now. The prophecy of Daniel also mentions that the perpetual sacrifice (i.e. the Catholic Mass) will be abolished and we seem to be getting pretty close to that. However, the Time of Great Tribulation will be short after which we can expect the one true faith to rise victorious. As Isaiah Chapter 2 says:
    2 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: 2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

    December 27, 2013 at 11:34 am
    • Nicky

      John Shacklefree,

      I always think of the chastisement as being what is described in the Third Secret, the part that has been revealed. Some kind of physical battle, like a war.

      I also think that the erratic weather we’re getting all over the world is a sort of prelude to the worst part of the chastisement.

      December 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm
      • John Shacklefree

        Nicky, The chastisement could take a number of forms e.g. financial meltdown (see chapter 18 of Revelation). If research on human/animal hybrids continues, this could result in humans becoming vulnerable to diseases which currently affect only animals and world-wide pandemics may result, Genetic modification of crops has already caused major agricultural problems when the genetic modification transfers to the weeds making them more resistant to herbicides. There is some reason to suspect that the Aids virus was created in a laboratory back in the 1970s when the World Health Organization asked scientists to find ways of suppressing the body’s immune system so that transplant technology could be successful. If true then millions have been killed by Aids as the price of saving a few by transplant technology. This is all in addition to climactic changes.

        December 28, 2013 at 1:18 am
  • Leo

    In relation to the Corriere della Sera article at the top of this thread, when I see either the word “Lefebvrians” or the charge of “schism” used in discussions about the Society, I have to say the red buzzer goes off in my mind. I’m inclined to stop reading.

    The interviewer’s use of the former term suggests that either he has a lot of research to catch up on, or the restraints of impartiality have been abandoned. As for Archbishop Mueller, I find it hard to take these words of his about “schism” seriously following his recently reported comments that, get this,

    “It is precisely because the liturgy was renewed in spirit and rite that it has proved an effective remedy against a godless culture.”

    The renewed liturgy was “a good means of evangelizing”, he said. “All Catholics who think and feel with the Church realize that the reform was a success.”

    With all due respect to the Archbishop and his office, those words have to go down as amongst the most bizarre and unbelievable in a long, long time. Bizarre with bells on.

    Surely those who are guided by the following words are “Catholics who think and feel with the Church”:

    “It is absurd and a detestable shame, that we should suffer those traditions to be changed which we have received from the fathers of old.” The Decretals (Dist. Xii, 5) Cited by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, II,I, Q. 97, art. 2

    “And if some new contagion should seek to poison, not only a little part of the Church, but the whole Church at once then his (the Catholic’s) greatest care should once again be to adhere to antiquity, which obviously cannot be seduced by any deceitful novelty. “ Saint Vincent Lerins, Commonitorium, Chapter 3, section 7.

    December 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm
    • editor


      If I had five minutes alone with Archbishop Muller (well, a gal can dream, surely?) I’d opine, loudly and clearly, that if he thinks “the reform was a success” then he clearly shares the objectives of the inventors of the new Mass, which was to Protestantise the Mass, and – therefore – the Church.

      Your concluding quotes sum up, brilliantly, what has to be the position of anyone claiming to be a Catholic. In short – shun the “reform” and adhere to the traditional Catholic Faith and Mass. End of. (I forget which Pope said that, but you can Google!)

      December 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm
  • Leo

    We’ve been over the subject of “schism” on this blog, time and time again so please excuse me if I repeat some comments that I have posted previously.

    The accusation that the Society has been schismatic since 30 June 1988 appears very difficult to dispel, no matter how much evidence is produced. As far as I know, it has yet to be explained how Bishops and priests who are not excommunicated, are outside the Church. An article by Christopher Ferrara, published in the Remnant Newspaper, and which has been posted on the blog several times is worth reading:

    Saint Augustine stated that against facts there is no argument. Well, those Catholic prelates, priests or laity who take it upon themselves to declare that the Society is schismatic have some rather awkward facts to deal with.

    The Code of Canon Law nowhere says that illicit consecration of bishops is a schismatic offense. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, episcopal consecration without papal mandate is not found under the section of “Offences against Religions and the unity of the Church.”

    Since schism is defined by the same Code as “the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (Canon 751), Archbishop Lefebvre could only be accused of schism if he had by the consecrations sought to start his own church or attempted to give jurisdiction to the bishops he consecrated. That was manifestly not the case. Facing the end of his life, and after strenuous and long lasting efforts in the struggle for Tradition, the Archbishop wanted to provide the means to ensure that the Mass, the orthodox priesthood and the means of preserving and protecting Tradition would be passed on. His concern was for the salvation of souls.

    During his sermon at the episcopal consecrations, Archbishop Lefebvre made it very clear that there was no intention or spirit of schism involved:

    “We are not schismatics! . . .There is no question of us separating ourselves from Rome, nor of putting ourselves under a foreign government, nor of establishing a sort of parallel church as the Bishops of Palmar de Troya have done in Spain. . . . It is out of the question for us to do such things. Far from us be this miserable thought to separate ourselves from Rome!”

    It’s worth reading the magnificent sermon in full.


    If the Archbishop was schismatic and rejected the Pope’s authority to command or the primacy of the See of Rome, then why on earth would he have spent years in contact with Rome, and travelling there whenever requested? If he was schismatic and desirous to set up his own “church” the Archbishop wouldn’t have been one bit concerned with Rome and would no doubt have consecrated plenty of Bishops long before ill health and impending death closed in on him.

    It’s a statement of fact that the episcopal consecrations were against the will of the Pope. That in itself does not constitute schism. A lot more is required.

    “Schismatics properly so called are those who willfully and intentionally separate themselves from the unity of the Church.” – St Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 39, a.1

    Other Dominican theologians such as Pruemmer and Merkelbech further confirm that mere disobedience does not constitute schism.

    “Mere contempt of a precept or law of the Pope, no matter how grave or obstinate, is mere disobedience of a precept, and therefore not schismatic in its essence, and hence, does not separate one from the Church.” – Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q.12, a. 1 ad 3

    That the consecration of bishops cannot be an intrinsically schismatic act is evident under canon law. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the punishment for illicitly consecrating bishops was not excommunication but mere suspension (this was changed to excommunication in 1951). However, if consecrating bishops without papal mandate were an inherently schismatic offense, then the 1917 Code would have had to require excommunication for this offense, because the very same Code teaches, as the 1983 Code does, that schismatics incur latae sententiae excommunication (Canon 2314 in the 1917 Code; Canon 1382 in the 1983 Code). Therefore, consecrating bishops without papal mandate is not an inherently schismatic offense. To state otherwise lacks foundation.

    There is a very significant point that needs to be made in relation to the episcopal conscecrations on 30 Jun3 1988. When Archbishop Lefebvre was sent the canonical warning by Cardinal Gantin on June 17, 1988, the warning did not include mention of schism anywhere. Don’t anyone tell me that that was some accidental oversight and omission.

    The Pope, as supreme legislator, can add new canons to the Code. But he cannot make something schismatic that is not inherently so. Archbishop Lefebvre knew that when he acted, as a true Catholic Bishop, out of grave concern for the salvation of souls, and “handed on what I have received”.

    Canon 751 of the 1983 Code, as stated previously, defines schism as “the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him”. The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches this manifestly: “Not every disobedience is a schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their Divine right to command” Neither Archbishop Lefebvre nor the Society has ever denied the Pope’s authority to command. I think the Archbishop’s attitude has been spelt out. If anyone thinks the Society’s position has changed one iota, they ought to read the Declaration of the Society’s General Chapter last year. It includes the following:

    “We reaffirm our faith in the Roman Catholic Church, the unique Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find the means leading to salvation; our faith in its monarchical constitution, desired by Our Lord Himself, by which the supreme power of government over the universal Church belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth…”

    How many of those who declare the Society “schismatic” would put their names to that Declaration?

    December 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm
  • bededog

    Thank you very much for posting this very useful information.

    December 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm
  • John Kearney

    We may not like it but the bitter and hard truth is that the SSPX priests are not in communion with their local bishop. They do not administer the sacrmanets with his sanction, therefore, Catholics may not attend an SSPX Mass on a Sunday unless there is no Mass available in the mainstream Church. It is the local bishop who assents that any ordained priest has the faculties to say Mass in his Diocese. Since the SSPX are outside the mainstream Church the faculties of their priests are not recognised therefore Catholics only in necessity can go to them for the Sacrfaments. I am merely stating the facts as they are and the justice of them I leave to you.

    December 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm
    • editor

      John Kearney,

      Since you are “only stating the facts as they are” would you post a link to any Vatican statement of those facts.

      Thank you.

      December 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm
    • catholicconvert1


      Please could you explain ‘supplied jurisdiction’? Is it not similar to the provision in Canon Law, where a Bishop (such as +Lefebvre) can consecrate Bishops without the Holy See’s approval if the senior Bishop views it as necessary?

      December 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm
    • editor

      Well said, Petrus. “Consistency” is not one of the virtues of the modern(ist) Catholic, methinks.

      I’m still waiting for the link to the Vatican statement of prohibition on the faithful attending SSPX Masses on Sundays and holydays. One suspects that one will have a very long wait 🙂

      December 28, 2013 at 8:53 pm
    • Petrus

      Your argument is wanting, John Kearney. You miss out one key fact and fine well you know it. The local bishops are NOT in Communion with Tradition. In fact, many of them are heretics.

      Can we conclude, therefore, that Christ has abandoned His Church? Of course not! That is why the Church has always allowed for supplied jurisdiction. When the bishops betray the Faith, the faithful can and MUST do whatever is necessary to KEEP the Faith.

      The argument that the faithful may not attend a SSPX Mass if there is another Mass available is a nonsense. Does that mean that if the only choice someone had was a SSPX Mass or a Soho “Gay” Mass, you would recommend attending the “Gay” Mass? What about a Black Mass? These are extreme examples, but what about the Christmas Mass in Dublin with “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”? What about the Clown Masses? Should the faithful really attend these Masses? After all, John , they are approved by the local bishops! One must be consistent!

      December 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm
  • Leo

    The Society is denied a canonically regular status. That is a fact, the reasons for which have been spelt out in detail for almost four decades. The price for “regularization” is also very obvious: don’t criticise the novelties and errors, don’t step off the reservation. With that in mind, the issue of true obedience as against servility has been discussed here numerous times.

    “We must realize, however, that if there was question of a danger for the faith, the superiors would have to be rebuked by their inferiors, even in public.” Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, IIa, IIae, q.33, art. 4, ad 2)

    A common canonical adage is that “against necessity, there is no law,” or “necessity knows no law.” In his constitution “Exiit qui seminat” of August 14, 1279, Pope Nicholas III confirmed this principle: “one is to be excused from every [positive] law on account of extreme necessity”. Many neo Catholics, not only in effect deny this principle, but actually pontificate that the opposite holds: “against law there is no necessity”. And, irony of ironies, some accuse “trads” of being “legalist” and “Pharisees”.

    The questions of true and false obedience, the fact that in canon law, the supreme law is the salvations of souls, and the fact that Catholics are under no obligation whatsoever to obey unjust commands, no matter who from, has been dealt with on other threads. Catholics theologians of the standing of Aquinas, Bellarmine, Suarez, and Vitoria have explained this very clearly and have been quoted on this blog.

    On matters of doctrine, Saint Paul, could not have been clearer.

    “But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:8).

    Neither the Pope or anyone else in the Church has the power to simply make someone an excommunicate, a non-Catholic, without just cause. If that’s the case, we are into the territory of Pope as capricious tyrant. Whether someone is excommunicated latae sententiae depends on whether they have committed an offense that incurs such an excommunication. How can it be reasonably doubted that canon law was and is very much in Archbishop Lefebvre’s and the Society’s favour, to say the least?

    “It is necessary to obey a Pope in all things as long as he does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, he need not be followed.”
    – Pope Innocent III, De Consuetudine

    The Society, unlike many episcopal enemies of Tradition, accepts fully and unhesitatingly all teaching which has been taught by the Church consistently, continuously and unwaveringly. That’s the universal bit in the “ordinary and universal magisterium”. Here’s an idea: why doesn’t the Pope nominate a day for all Catholics to profess the Athanasian Creed or the Profession of the Catholic Faith, of the Council of Trent. I’m sure the Society would be glad to help supply copies.

    I do not expect that anyone will take issue with the principle that obedience comes from duties and the existence of authority, and that all authority comes from God. The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. No human authority in the Church, including Popes and bishops, has a right to use its power or command obedience in contravention of the divine law on which that authority is based.The hierarchical authority of the Church cannot but be ordered towards the purpose of the glorification of God and the salvation of souls, and any exercise of papal authority in opposition to that purpose cannot command obedience.

    “If [the Pope] gives an order contrary to good customs, he should not be obeyed; if he attempts to do something openly opposed to justice and the common good, it will be licit to resist him; if he attacks by force, by force he can be repelled, with a moderation appropriate to a just defence” (Fr. Francisco Suarez SJ, one of the foremost theologians and Scholastic philosophers of the 16th-17th centuries).

    “Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God, therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.” – St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theoligica II-II, q. 104, art. 5, ad. 3

    In other words, no authority in the Church can demand obedience to commands contrary to the divine law and the good of souls. Saint Thomas Aquinas addressed the issue of the obedience in Summa Theologica, II, II, Q. 104, Art. 5 (just quoted from). Here the Angelic Doctor states that outside of those things which relate to his mode of religious life, a professed religious, with the highest duty of obedience in the Church, is only bound by obedience if “such things be not contrary to God or to the rule they profess, for obedience in this case would be unlawful.” Any command contrary to divine law removes a duty of obedience. In other words, the principle according to which one must “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) applies to religious superiors, just as to any other authority on earth.

    The Pope has not been invested with supreme authority in order to destroy the Church but in order to build her up; not to prevent souls from being saved but to enable them to be saved, to be protected from error, and to be fed true doctrine.

    In short, the Angelic Doctor insists that laws that are unjust or require a man to do evil are not binding on the conscience of the faithful, because they are not from God and carry no weight. A man must never obey an order that entails committing sin; and he need not obey a law that causes him unjust harm, unless disobeying would give scandal or would cause a more serious problem.

    Rather than joining in destroying the Church and trying to build some tower of Babel like Church of Man, the Society carry out their mission for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, many of which would otherwise have fallen into the hands of the modernists, modernists in mitres. In his 1923 encyclical Studiorum Ducem, Pope Pius XI stated that the salvation of souls is the “chief task and peculiar mission of the Church” (paragraph 1). If the Church were ever to fail in this, she would have failed in her primary reason for being.

    One day justice will be done and the insults and calumny will end. In the meantime the Society will continue in its work of defending the Faith, forming good and holy priests, and playing its part in the restoration of the Social Kingship of Christ. One day, the Successor of Peter will unequivocally make known to all, the Church’s debt of gratitude to the Priestly Society founded by Archbishop Lefebvre.

    On that day, Catholics will ask themselves how priests who held to the Mass of All Time and the true Faith were ever denied canonical regularity.

    December 28, 2013 at 10:01 pm
  • John Kearney

    I am sorry if I upset anyone but this is Canon Law. The faculties of a priest must be approved by the Bishop of the Diocese, if they are not the priest cannot say Mass in a Catholic Church. This is not sayhing any Mass they say is not valid, neverthess without a bishops approval the faithful may not attend them. This by the way is the Sacramental Schism that Cardinal Muller was mentioning. If there is a good traditional bishop in a diocese any local SSPX communities can speak to that bishop and on reaching agreement have the facutlties of their priests accepted.and join many of us in the mainstream Church who do not accept the heresies within. As I say I am merley stating the facts and if you do not believe me take it up with the local bishop.

    December 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm
    • Petrus


      This is all very well and good. However, again you fail to acknowledge supplied jurisdiction. Selective quoting of Canon Law is never useful or helpful.

      I must say, anyone who is aware of the heresies of the “mainstream” Church and still chooses to stay is a big part of the problem!

      December 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm
    • editor

      I quote an elderly (70 something) man chatting after Mass this morning, not about you, but about people in the elderly age group in general, who still, despite all that is going on, despite the antics of an outright Modernist pontiff, for example, still insist that the SSPX is in schism – with a shrug of the shoulders he opined that such people are simply not Catholics. End of.

      Know what, John Kearney? I’m inclined to agree with him. After all the explanations given to you on this blog, over a long time including the most recent jewels from Leo and Petrus, and despite the election of the Modernist ++ Pope Francis who outstrips Pope John Paul II by thousands of miles as the worst pope ever in history to date, you still insist that the only priests in the entire Church that are known for their fidelity to Tradition are the ones in schism. There’s no excuse for you, John. None. If the SSPX is in schism, then Peter Tatchell should be canonised.

      December 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm
  • John Kearney

    With regards to the SSPX, this prohibition has been confirmed first by the Pontifical Commission ECCLESIA DEI in protocol N. 117/95 as follows:

    2. The Masses [the SSPX] celebrate are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844.2). The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called “Tridentine” Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such Masses.

    December 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm
  • John Kearney

    I have found this With regards to the SSPX, this prohibition has been confirmed first by the Pontifical Commission ECCLESIA DEI in protocol N. 117/95 as follows:

    2. The Masses [the SSPX] celebrate are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844.2). The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called “Tridentine” Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such Masses.

    December 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm
  • John Kearney

    With regards to the SSPX, this prohibition has been confirmed first by the Pontifical Commission ECCLESIA DEI in protocol N. 117/95 as follows:

    2. The Masses [the SSPX] celebrate are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded fro participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844.2). The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called “Tridentine” Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such Masses.
    I believe that the SSPX will eventually be declared as a community in Schism.

    December 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm
  • Leo

    John Kearney

    I was hoping my previous post might have helped answer the question of faculties by addressing the issues of obedience, necessity and the salvation of souls.

    At the risk of going round in circles, it is essential to make the point that the supreme law of the Church is salvation of souls. Failure to recognise that fact makes constant talk about “faculties” into nothing so much as a rather distorted or one sided form of legalism. And no, I’m not suggesting that the unprecedented crisis facing the Church justifies a free for all.

    “Whataboutery” isn’t always a satisfactory tool of debate. Nevertheless, arguments directed at the Society on the matter of faculties ring rather hollow in light of the fact that Hans Kung claims to have faculties, as a priest in good standing, and his former bishop in Switzerland now holds a very senior post in the Curia.

    Mention of faculties and schismatics brings to mind the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) which is a human institution founded by the Chinese communist government and which does not recognise the Pope as its head: in other words genuine, thoroughgoing schismatics, by any standard. And yet in the past CPA priests were granted faculties in the diocese of San Francisco. In an Open Letter to the Vatican, Joseph Kung from the Cardinal (not Hans!) Kung Foundation complained that the CPA priests “were allowed to offer Holy Mass publicly in Roman Catholic Churches and to administer other sacraments openly in parishes. No specific mention was made in parish bulletins that the priest in question belong to the CPA and no explanation was made about the schismatic nature of the CPA.”

    And who was the bishop of San Francisco at the time? None other than Archbishop (as he was then) William Levada, Archbishop Mueller’s predecessor as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. I’m not subjectively judging anyone’s intentions here, but the objective reality leads to a rather obvious and safe conclusion about double standards.

    As for the necessity, I think the following is a fair illustration, without, I hope, boring readers. A few months ago, I was required one Sunday morning to drive coast to coast across Ireland to attend a family funeral, a journey of about 170-180 miles. I don’t know how many dioceses and parishes lay along that route, but there is, to the best of my knowledge, one, and only one Tridentine Mass available for anyone making that journey out of Dublin on a Sunday morning: the 10.00 Mass at the Society’s chapel in Athlone, in the centre of Ireland. I’m sure others can come up with their own similar examples, but such is the devastation wrought by novus ordoism in once Catholic Ireland. If that does not illustrate a “state of emergency” and “grave necessity” I don’t know what does. If anybody wants to try and make a case that the Society is acting against the will of God, let’s hear it.

    As for “Sacramental Schism”, are there now to be different types of schism, as there appears to be different types of communion? I have no authority to judge and rule, of course, but I wonder exactly what sort of “communion” a diocesan bishop who obstructs or prevents the offering of the Mass of the Martyrs or a bishop who does not hold the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith actually holds with the Church. Just asking.

    I think it is a fair bet that if Rome could have justified a charge of schism against the Society, we would have had a declaration long ago.

    Finally, John, “if there is a good traditional bishop in a diocese”, I’m sure this blog would be very happy to know about them and support them. Answers on a post card, please, anyone.

    December 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm
  • 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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