A Chronology Of the SSPX's Foundation: "ad experimentum"

Part II

1.2  THE CANONICAL SUPPRESSION OF THE SSPX

Like the years immediately following any Ecumenical Council in the history of the Church, the period after the Second Vatican Council would prove tumultuous within the Church. Nevertheless, the SSPX and their seminary began to draw both vocations and international attention.  Unfortunately, this attention would lead to both its suppression and the suspension a divinis of Archbishop Lefebvre.

In the following passage, Archbishop Lefebvre documents the growth of the SSPX during the years immediately following its erection, as well as his interpretation regarding the subsequent problems that arose between the Vatican and the SSPX:
From year to year the number of seminarians increased; in 1970 there were eleven entrants and in 1974, forty.  The innovators became increasingly worried.  It was obvious that if we were training seminarians it was to ordain them, and that the future priests would be faithful to the Mass of the Church, the Mass of Tradition, the Mass of all time.(27)
Part of the above sentiment expressed by Archbishop Lefebvre is also shared by many of his former followers who reconciled with the Church during the aftermath of the illicit episcopal consecrations of 1988.  As Fr. Daniel Oppenheimer, one such former SSPX priest, notes his licentiate thesis:
By 1976, [Lefebvre's] society had come under open attack, particularly by certain members of the French episcopacy.  Central to the complaint was the continued use of the old Roman liturgy in his canonically approved seminary now located at Ecône, Switzerland.  That this same seminary was bulging at the seams with clean-cut young Frenchmen wearing cassocks, when the seminaries in France were depleted of all but a few seminarians now sporting blue-jeans and long hair in the anti-clerical mode of the day, did not help the widening gulf between the two sides.(28)
That an acrimonious situation between the SSPX and the rest of the Church had arisen during this time is a fact substantiated by subsequent events.   That this situation was partially attributable to a great turmoil disrupting more established seminaries at the time is noted by Cardinal Ratzinger in his following reflection upon what lead many priests and seminarians to follow Archbishop Lefebvre: "Others still would like to collaborate fully in the normal pastoral activity of the Church.  Nevertheless, they have let themselves be driven to their choice by the unsatisfactory situation that has arisen in the seminaries in many countries."(29)

In response to the growing tension between Archbishop Lefebvre and various European bishops, a Commission of Cardinals was convoked by Pope Paul VI to examine the Lefebvre situation.  This Commission arranged an apostolic visitation to the SSPX seminary for November of 1974.(30)  Archbishop Lefebvre would question the orthodoxy of some of the comments expressed by the apostolic visitors, comments which would act as the catalyst for a public declaration that has since become famous within tridentinist circles.(31)  This statement would prove problematical to the Holy See, particularly the second and third paragraphs in which Archbishop Lefebvre challenges the authenticity of both the current papacy and the Second Vatican Council:
Because of this adherence [to Eternal Rome] we refuse and have always refused to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies such as were clearly manifested during the Second Vatican Council, and after the Council in all the resulting reforms.

All these reforms have indeed contributed and still contribute to the demolition of the Church, to the ruin of the priesthood, to the destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, to the disappearance of the religious life, and to naturalistic and Teilhardian teaching in universities, seminaries and catechetics, a teaching born of Liberalism and Protestantism many times condemned by the solemn Magisterium of the Church.  No authority, even the very highest in the hierarchy, can constrain us to abandon or diminish our Catholic Faith such as it has been clearly expressed and professed by the Church's Magisterium for nineteen centuries.(32)
To preserve the liturgy and discipline of the pre-conciliar era was one matter, however, to impugn in the name of the pre-conciliar Magisterium the validity of the post-conciliar reforms, while questioning the authority of the post-conciliar Church hierarchy was quite another issue entirely -- one which could not but bring negative canonical repercussions upon both Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX.  In light of Archbishop Lefebvre's public declaration and the growing threat it posed to the good order of the local Church, Bishop Mamie, having succeeded Bishop Charrière as Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Friboug, was forced to take disciplinary action against Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX.(33)

On January 24th, 1975, Bishop Mamie wrote to the Sacred Congregation for Religious insisting that "having made a careful study of Mgr. Lefebvre's declaration, he considered it a sad but urgent necessity to withdraw the approval given by his predecessor to the Society of St. Pius X."(34)  Bishop Mamie received a reply dated the following April 25th, in which Cardinal Tabera, acting as Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for Religious, urged Bishop Mamie to withdraw his canonical approval from the SSPX immediately.(35)  In a letter addressed to Archbishop Lefebvre on May 6th, 1975, Bishop Mamie would inform him "that after long months of prayer and reflection he had reached the sad but necessary decision that he must withdraw all the acts and concessions granted by his predecessor to the Society of St. Pius X."(36)

Here is where the previous ambiguity over the SSPX's canonical status once again becomes an issue.  With regards to the canonical suppression of a pious union or association of the faithful, for a serious reason c*. 699 permits the local Ordinary to "suppress not only those associations which were erected by himself or his predecessors, but also associations erected with the consent of the local Ordinary by religious in virtue of an Apostolic indult."(37)  Therefore, even without consulting and obtaining approval from the Sacred Congregation for Religious, as the local Ordinary of the diocese in which the SSPX was erected, and given Lefebvre's public declaration calling into question the catholicity of the Second Vatican Council, Bishop Mamie was acting well within his canonical capacity in suppressing the SSPX.

Yet in maintaining that the SSPX was canonically erected as a society of clerics without public vows, Archbishop Lefebvre would call into question the validity of Bishop Mamie's canonical suppression of the SSPX, arguing that "if a succeeding bishop wishes to suppress an association or fraternity, he cannot do so without recourse to Rome."(38)  Lefebvre's argument would be in accord with c*. 493, which as Fr. Woywod clearly explains as follows in his commentary on the Pio-Benedictine Code: "Any religious organization, even a diocesan congregation, which has been legally established, cannot be dissolved, though it should consist of but one house, except by the Holy See..."(39)  Therefore, Lefebvre would always argue that the canonical suppression was invalid as having come from the local Ordinary and not the Holy See, and hence the SSPX "is consequently recognized by Rome in a perfectly legal manner."(40) Yet regardless of whether the SSPX was canonically erected as a pious association of the faithful in accordance with c*. 708, or whether it was erected as a society of common life without vows in accordance with c* 673, would prove moot to all but Lefebvre's followers.  For on the same day that Bishop Mamie suppressed the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre received a decision from the Commission of Cardinals which had been convoked by Pope Paul VI to investigate both Lefebvre and the SSPX.  Composed of Cardinal Garrone, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, as well as the aforementioned Cardinals Wright and Tabera acting on behalf of their respective congregations, the Commission was troubled by Lefebvre's controversial November declaration, and had personally met with Lefebvre the previous February 13th in an unsuccessful attempt to have Lefebvre retract his declaration.(41)

Within the text of their decision, the following conclusions were drawn and the subsequent course of action taken:
Now such a Declaration appears unacceptable to us on all points.  It is impossible to reconcile most of the affirmations contained in the document with authentic fidelity to the Church, to the one who is responsible for Her, and to the Council in which the mind and will of the Church were expressed.  It is inadmissible that every individual should be invited to submit papal directives to his own private judgment and decide for himself whether to accept or reject them...

It is with the entire approval of His Holiness [Paul VI] that we communicate the following decisions to you:
  1. "A letter will be dispatched to Mgr. Mamie according him the right to withdraw the approval which his predecessor gave to the Fraternity and to its statutes."  This has been done in a letter from His Excellency Cardinal Tabera, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious.

  2. Once it is suppressed, the Society "no longer having a juridical basis, its foundations, and notably the Seminary at Ecône, lose by the same act the right to existence."

  3. It is obvious -- we are invited to notify it clearly -- "that no support whatsoever can be given to Mgr. Lefebvre as long as the ideas contained in the Manifesto of 21 November continue to be the basis for his work."(42)
From the above decision of the Commission of Cardinals, it is clear that the Holy See was concerned with Archbishop Lefebvre's public declaration stating his refusal to submit to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the various disciplinary reforms brought about by Pope Paul VI, and thus certain disciplinary measures were necessary in order to correct the situation.  Regardless of whether the SSPX had been erected as a pious union of the faithful or as a society of common life without public vows, the Commission of Cardinals had delegated Bishop Mamie the right to withdraw canonical approval from the SSPX and its statutes -- a canonical right which Bishop Mamie would nevertheless possess by virtue of the law itself if, as the decree of canonical erection states, the SSPX had merely been established as a pious union of the faithful. However, in light of Archbishop Lefebvre's argument that the SSPX was canonically erected as a society of common life without vows, and thus could only be suppressed by the Holy See, the Holy See clearly delegated this canonical right to Bishop Mamie.  Moreover, as the SSPX was only erected ad experimentum for a period of six years, the SSPX's canonical erection was in no way perpetual, and therefore even if the delegation of the right of suppression to Bishop Mamie had been invalid, Archbishop Lefebvre still could not reasonably presume either the Holy See's or the local Ordinary's tacit approval at the completion of the six-year period.  Therefore, one cannot but conclude that the SSPX, regardless of their initial juridical status, were validly suppressed in accordance with canon law.

Similarly, the Commission also suppressed the seminary of the SSPX.   This is an interesting fact in itself, because while the initial decree of erection approved a "seat of the Society"(43) at a fixed address, it has never been clear from any of the documents presented by the SSPX that their seminary had been canonically erected.  However, given the apostolic visitation to the seminary which preceded Archbishop Lefebvre's Declaration, and given the Commission's decision explicitly stating that the seminary is to be suppressed, the present author will concede the possibility that the SSPX seminary had been erected in accordance with canon law.   Nevertheless, upon suppression of the SSPX, the Commission decreed that the SSPX were no longer with any juridical basis, and hence their foundation and seminary were also extinguished.  Therefore, Bishop Mamie was delegated the authority to suppress not only the SSPX, but their various foundations as well, including their seminary.

Nevertheless, Archbishop Lefebvre might question whether the decision was an act of the Commission, or whether "the entire approval of His Holiness" noted in the decision meant that it had been rendered in forma specifica.  And thus, in a letter to Cardinal Staffa and the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Archbishop Lefebvre attempted recourse against the decision of the Commission of Cardinals, stating the following grounds:
Against the form in which the decisions were taken expressed in the letter of the 6 May 1975 as well by His Excellency Monseigneur Mamie, Bishop of Fribourg, as by the three Cardinals who signed the letter addressed to me from Rome...  This form of procedure is contrary to Canon 493 of the Codex Juris Canonici.

Against the competence of the Commission of Cardinals which condemns me on a matter of faith, because of my Declaration which appeared in the review Itinéraires and which I wrote on 21 November 1974. I demand to be judged by the only Tribunal competent in these matters, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Against the sentence pronounced by Monseigneur Mamie and approved by the Cardinals of the Commission: in fact, my Declaration, if it deserves condemnation, should condemn me personally and not destroy my Fraternity, nor the Seminary, nor the houses that have been erected...(44)
As is clearly visible from the content of Archbishop Lefebvre's appeal, he neither accepted the decision of the Commission of Cardinals, nor the actions of Bishop Mamie in suppressing the SSPX.  Archbishop Lefebvre presented his arguments to the Apostolic Signatura based upon three grounds. Whether or not the normal canonical procedure had been meticulously followed would soon become irrelevant, for on June 10, 1975 the Apostolic Signatura rejected Archbishop Lefebvre's appeal on the grounds that the Holy Father had approved the decision of the Commission of Cardinals in forma specifica.(45)   This would be confirmed by Pope Paul VI personally in a letter to Archbishop Lefebvre in which the Holy Father stated: "Finally, the conclusions which [the Commission of Cardinals] proposed to Us, We made all and each of them Ours, and We personally ordered that they be immediately put into force."(46)   Hence, no further recourse was possible for Archbishop Lefebvre, for under c*. 1880, "there is no appeal: (1) from the sentence of the Supreme Pontiff himself or from the Signatura Apostolica..."(47)  Consequently, the SSPX and their seminary were unquestionably suppressed as a juridical person within the Church.

1.3  THE SUSPENSION AB ORDINUM COLLATIONE OF ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE

During the following year, Archbishop Lefebvre would simply ignore the canonical suppression of both the SSPX and their seminary, choosing to believe that Pope Paul VI was being mismanaged by his Curia, and thus was not really aware of what was taking place in the broader context of the Church.(48)  Such a mindset could only foreshadow future controversy between Archbishop and the Vatican; for as Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar notes in his modern apology of the Petrine office, "in most instances, complaints do not begin with charges against the pope's person but against his retinue: it is the cardinals, the curia who are all at fault.  Ever since the curia was established, complaints have not ceased."(49)  And with such a mindset becoming apparent in Archbishop Lefebvre, he would proceed with a course of action which would lead to his suspension ab ordium collatione, and subsequently his suspension a divinis.

As the summer of 1976 approached, Archbishop Lefebvre's initial class of SSPX seminarians were preparing to graduate, and thus their ordination would become an issue given the SSPX's canonical suppression nearly a year previous.  With little hesitation regarding the fact that the SSPX no longer existed canonically within the Church as a juridical person, Archbishop Lefebvre simply announced his intention to ordain his seminarians and incardinate them into the SSPX.  Lefebvre and his followers argued that "despite the letter from Pope Paul dated 29 June 1975, the entire legal process taken against the [SSPX] had been so irregular that it could not be considered as having been legally suppressed."(50)

Against Lefebvre's intention, substituting on behalf of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Mgr. Benelli sent Mgr. Amborio Marchioni, the Papal Nuncio at Berne, the following instruction:
You should, at the same time, inform Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre that, de mandato speciali Summa Pontificis, in the present circumstances and according to the presciptions of [c*.] 2373, 1º, of the Code of Canon Law, he must strictly abstain from conferring orders from the moment he receives the present injunction.(51)
Under the Pio-Benedictine Code, c*. 955 requires that every candidate to sacred orders be ordained "by his own proper bishop or with legitimate dimissorial letters received from him."(52)  C*. 2373, 1º legislates that those who ordain the subject of another Ordinary in violation of the precept of c*. 955, are automatically suspended ab ordinum collatione, or "from the conferring of orders for one year reserved to the Apostolic See."(53)  Because the suspension is reserved to the Apostolic See, if a bishop is judged to have violated the precept of c*. 955 because of a just cause or through a legitimate misunderstanding, the Holy See can lift the suspension against him.  Part of the intention here is to allow both a bishop and the Holy See canonical equity in certain exceptional situations that are unforeseen by the legislator.

However, Archbishop Lefebvre received his warning de mandato speciali Summa Pontificis, or from the special mandate of the Supreme Pontiff. Hence, Lefebvre could reasonably presume that the Apostolic See had foreseen his situation, and did not approve of the circumstances in which he found himself as sufficient cause to violate c*. 955.  Therefore, should Archbishop Lefebvre personally proceed with the ordination of his seminarians, in accordance with c*. 2373, 1o he would automatically be suspended from conferring orders for a period of one year.  Whether or not Lefebvre subjectively believed the pope had suppressed his society was now irrelevant in light of the objective juridical facts.  Archbishop Lefebvre knew that the will of the Roman Pontiff forbade him from proceeding with the ordinations, and thus he knew how the highest authority in the Church would interpret the law as it applied to his situation.

Yet in response to the canonical warning he had received, Archbishop Lefebvre wrote the following in a public letter addressed to the Holy Father:
Will Your Holiness please fully understand the sorrow which grips me, and my stupefaction, on the one side at hearing the paternal appeals Your Holiness addresses to me, and on the other the cruelty of the blows which do not cease striking us, the latest of them striking worst of all my dear Seminarians and their families on the eve of their priesthood for which they have been preparing for five or six years.(54)
While Archbishop Lefebvre might have found such a prohibition harsh given the proximity of the date scheduled for the ordination of his seminarians, his apologists must take into account the fact that the SSPX and their seminary had been canonically suppressed for approximately a year at the time.  Although Lefebvre appears to put forward the argument he has an obligation in justice to ordain his seminarians to the priesthood, c*. 970 permits the proper bishop or the competent major religious superior to deny his clerics ordination to major orders for any canonical reason, even an occult one, even without canonical procedure.(55)  Whereas the SSPX would claim that in accordance with his right as the competent major religious superior, Archbishop Lefebvre had determined to proceed with the ordination of SSPX seminarians, this argument is subject to several canonical weaknesses.

First of all, the above argument put forward by the SSPX ignores the fact the SSPX had not been founded as a religious order, but a pious association of the faithful -- the latter of which enjoys no juridical personality.  Secondly, the SSPX argument also ignores the fact that even supposing the SSPX had at one time enjoyed juridical personality according to their statues, as an ad experimentum society without common vows of diocesan right, upon receiving major orders its clerics would be incardinated into a diocese rather than into the SSPX, and thus the competent authority with regards to ordination and incardination remained the diocesan bishop.  As was clearly pointed out to Archbishop Lefebvre by the Vatican Secretariat of State, the seminarians were not Lefebvre's subjects in this matter, but those of another Ordinary.

Thirdly, as previously mentioned, having been canonically suppressed as a juridical person the SSPX and their seminary could no longer claim to have any juridical status.  This canonical suppression had taken place, in forma specifica, approximately a year before the scheduled ordinations which led to Archbishop Lefebvre's suspension ab ordinum collatione.  That Lefebvre and his seminarians chose to ignore the fact the SSPX and its seminary had been suppressed is their prerogative, however, in so doing they forfeited any canonical right to expect ordination from the Church, for the Church can no longer assume that the seminarians met the canonical qualifications necessary for the licit reception of major orders.

Finally, even if the aforementioned arguments were moot, and Archbishop Lefebvre was the major superior of a legitimate religious order with juridical personality, in accordance with c*. 218, by divine positive law the Roman Pontiff retains ordinary supreme power and universal jurisdiction over the discipline and government of the Church.  As Woywod explains in his commentary on this canon, "This power is episcopal, ordinary and immediate, and extends over each and every church, and over each and every pastor as well as over the faithful, and is independent of all human authority."(56)  Therefore, Archbishop Lefebvre's authority as major superior of the SSPX would have been superseded by the authority of the Roman Pontiff in light of the latter's supreme and universal jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, as Woywod explains in his commentary on c*. 970, a cleric who has been prohibited by his ordinary from receiving major orders would normally have the right of recourse to the Holy See.(57)  However, recourse would be improbable in the case of the SSPX as the instruction prohibiting Lefebvre from ordaining his seminarians had initially come from the Holy See, de mandato speciali Summi Pontificis.  The mind of the Supreme Pontiff in this regard was confirmed in a second letter from the Secretariat of State, in which Mgr. Benelli directly responds to Archbishop Lefebvre's aforementioned letter to Pope Paul VI.  In his response on behalf of Holy Father, Mgr. Benelli states:
The Holy Father has received your letter of 22 June.   He desires me to inform you of his mind on this subject...  The Holy Father charges me this very day to confirm the measure of which you have been informed in his name, de mandato speciali: you are to abstain, now, from conferring any order.   Do not use as a pretext the confused state of the seminarians who were to be ordained: this is just the opportunity to explain to them and to their families that you cannot ordain them to the service of the Church against the will of the supreme Pastor of the Church.  There is nothing desperate in their case: if they have good will and are seriously prepared for a presbyteral ministry in genuine fidelity to the Conciliar Church...  Those responsible will find the best solution for them, but they must begin with an act of obedience to the Church.(58)
Mgr. Benelli would conclude his letter in repeating the canonical penalties both Archbishop Lefebvre and his candidates to holy orders would incur if Lefebvre proceeded with his intended ordinations.  Nevertheless, what is extremely clear is that the mind of the supreme legislator had been clearly stated to Lefebvre and his seminarians.  In light of c*. 17 which states that laws are authoritatively interpreted by the legislator and his successors, it is important to keep in mind that while Lefebvre's interpretation of the canons differed from that of the Holy Father, as universal legislator the Roman Pontiff's interpretation not only prevails, but it has the same force as the law itself.(59)  And in the case of the second warning to Lefebvre, like the first one, Mgr. Benelli issued it not upon his personal authority as substitute of the Secretary of State, but de mandato speciali Pope Paul VI.   Hence, Archbishop Lefebvre's warning had come from the special mandate of the Roman Pontiff himself.  In short, Lefebvre's canonical obligation at this point in time was not to interpret canon law to his own end, but to submit in obedience to the will of the Roman Pontiff.

Yet despite his canonical obligation, on June 29th, 1976, Archbishop Lefebvre chose to proceed with the ordination of his seminarians to the priesthood, attempting to justify his act of disobedience during the following homily:
I myself shall probably be struck by suspension.   These young priests will be struck an irregularity which in theory should prevent them from saying Holy Mass.  It is possible.  Well, I appeal to Saint Pius V -- Saint Pius V, who in his Bull(60) said that, in perpetuity, no priest could incur a censure, whatever it might be, in perpetuity, for saying this [Tridentine] Mass.  And consequently, this censure, this excommunication, if there was one, these censures, are absolutely invalid, contrary to that which Saint Pius V established in perpetuity in his Bull: that never in any age could one inflict a censure on a priest who says this Mass.(61)
Without straying into the liturgical debate between Archbishop Lefebvre and Pope Paul VI, which is beyond the intended scope of the present paper, the following two fallacies immediately become apparent in Lefebvre's justification of his act of disobedience.  First, in appealing to the papal authority of St. Pius V and Quo Primum Tempore, Lefebvre again neglects c*. 17.  For although Pius V promulgated Quo Primum Tempore as supreme legislator, the authority to interpret the legislative and disciplinary elements of this Papal Bull rested with Pope Paul VI who is Pius V's lawful successor as universal legislator, and not Archbishop Lefebvre.  Therefore, Lefebvre's appeal to the legislative authority of Pius V to justify his act of disobedience to Paul VI cannot be canonically sustained in light of c*. 17.

Next, regardless of whether Quo Primum Tempore was perpetual or whether it had been abrogated was secondary at the moment.  For Archbishop Lefebvre was not directly threatened with suspension ab ordinum collatione for celebrating Mass according to the Tridentine missal, but for ordaining seminarians to major orders without dimissorial letters from their proper Ordinary.  Furthermore, Lefebvre was doing so against the express will of Roman Pontiff, who in light of c*. 218 retains universal ordinary power.  Therefore, even supposing Quo Primum Tempore gave Lefebvre canonical permission to continue celebrating Mass according the Tridentine liturgical usage, Quo Primum Tempore does not authorize a bishop to illicitly ordain seminarians to major orders against the express will of the Roman Pontiff, not even if one's intention in so doing is to provide for the celebration of the Tridentine liturgical usage.  Thus the arguments put forward by Lefebvre based upon Quo Primum Tempore are not canonically applicable to the situation in which Lefebvre found himself.

In light of Lefebvre's act of disobedience in proceeding with the illicit ordination of his seminarians to major orders, Fr. Romeo Panciroli, acting as spokesman for the Press Bureau of the Holy See, declared the following day that: "Mgr. Lefebvre has automatically incurred suspension for a year from the conferring of orders, a suspension reserved to the Apostolic See."(62)  In addition, the Holy See announced that censures would be imposed upon those who had illicitly received ordination from Lefebvre, stating that "those who have been ordained are ipso facto suspended from the order received, and, if they were exercise it, they would be in an irregular and criminal situation."(63)   Thus Lefebvre had incurred suspension ab ordinum collatione for his role in ordaining seminarians to major orders, having been forbidden from doing so de mandato speciali Summi Pontificis.  These censures would soon be confirmed by Cardinal Baggio, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops.(64)

1.4 THE SUSPENSION A DIVINIS OF ARCHBISHOP LEFEBVRE

After the illicit ordination of seminarians to major orders, the censures imposed upon Archbishop Lefebvre would not end with suspension ab ordinum collatione.  For at the same press conference confirming Lefebvre's suspension ab ordinum collatione, Fr. Panciroli also announced the following:
The Holy See is examining the special case of formal disobedience of Mgr. Lefebvre to the instructions of the Holy Father who, by the documents of 12 and 25 June 1976, expressly forbade him to proceed with the ordinations.(65)
In announcing the examination of a case of formal disobedience against Archbishop Lefebvre, it becomes obvious that the Holy See was concerned about the direction Lefebvre was leading the SSPX.  In less than a week after being suspended ab ordinum collatione, Lefebvre received a formal canonical warning from Cardinal Baggio, the Prefect of Sacred Congregation of Bishops.  After restating the actions which led to Lefebvre's suspension ab ordinum collatione, Cardinal Baggio warns as follows within the monition:
If, however, the invitation [to repair the scandal caused by the illicit ordinations] were to prove vain, and if a proof of recognition of error did not arrive at this Congregation within ten days of your receipt of my letter, you must know that, basing itself on a special mandate of the Sovereign Pontiff, it will be the duty of this Congregation to proceed against you by inflicting the necessary penalties, in conformity with [c*.] 2331, para. 1.(66)
On July 11, 1976, Archbishop Lefebvre received the monition, signing "a certificate of reception as evidence of this fact."(67)  In accordance with c*. 2331 §1, because of his act of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff, Archbishop Lefebvre was now receiving a formal canonical warning that he would have further censures imposed upon him unless he took immediate steps to repair the scandal he had caused.  As Woywod explains in his commentary on c*. 2331 §1, "Persons who stubbornly refuse to obey the legitimate precepts or prohibitions of the Roman Pontiff or their proper Ordinary shall be punished with appropriate penalties, not excluding censures, in proportion to the gravity of their guilt."(68)

While Lefebvre and his followers would apply many of their previous canonical arguments in questioning the validity of the monition as well as the ensuing suspension a divinis, having previously refuted these same arguments, the present author will not repeat his rebuttals a second time.  It is sufficient to mention that Lefebvre was not deterred from his course of disobedience by the threat of further censures; he had begun to solidify in his rejection of the Second Vatican Council which he believed to be destroying the Church, as noted in his following response to Paul VI regarding the monition:
Let Your Holiness abandon that ill-omened undertaking of compromise with the ideas of modern man, an undertaking which originates in a secret understanding between high dignitaries in the Church and those of Masonic lodges, since before the Council... To persevere in that direction is to pursue the destruction of the Church. Your Holiness will easily understand that we cannot collaborate in so calamitous a purpose, which we should do were we to close our seminaries.(69)
Needless to say, this was neither the retraction nor the act of obedience from Lefebvre that the Holy See had hoped for as a result of the monition.   At best, Archbishop Lefebvre now accused Pope Paul VI of unintentionally collaborating with Freemasonry in order to destroy the Church.  It was also evident that Lefebvre would not submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff.  In light of Lefebvre's obstinacy, the Sacred Congregation for Bishops further imposed the sanction of suspension a divinis upon Lefebvre on July 22, 1976, within the following notification:
The Holy Father has informed me that he has received from you a letter dated 17 July.  In his eyes, it could not unhappily be considered satisfactory -- on the contrary.  I may even tell you that he is very distressed by the attitude to him shown in that document...  In consequence the Sovereign Pontiff Paul VI, on 22 July 1976, in conformity with [c*.] 2227, in virtue of which the penalties that can be applied to a bishop are expressly reserved to him, has inflicted on you suspension a divinis provided for in [c*.] 2279, §2, 2º, and has ordered that it take immediate effect.(70)
Having found both Lefebvre's behavior and his refusal to repair the scandal he had caused unacceptable, the Holy Father suspended Lefebvre a divinis according to the norms of cc*. 2227 and 2279 §2, 2º.  As Woywod explains, "Suspension a divinis forbids the exercise of every act of the power of orders which one obtained either by sacred orders or by privilege."(71)   Thus Lefebvre was now forbidden by the Holy See from the exercise of holy orders, a prohibition reserved to the Holy Father personally.  In other words, his suspension was now perpetual until its absolution, and applicable to more than simply the ordination of seminarians to major orders.

Therefore, one must conclude that the main SSPX arguments against both the validity and liceity of their canonical suppression, as well as the arguments they propose against the validity and liceity of the censures incurred by Archbishop Lefebvre, cannot be sustained in light of the canonical jurisprudence in force during the period of time in which these actions occurred.

End Quote from:
A Canonical History of the Lefebvrite Schism
Master's Seminar - DCA 6395
Prof. William Woestman, O.M.I.
Faculty of Canon Law
Saint Paul University, Ontario, Canada
1999
Copyright by Pete Vere, September, 1999
http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=1392#CANONICAL ESTABLISHMENT






Quote:

So was formed the Society of St. Pius X. In 1970, Bishop François Charrière of the Diocese of Fribourg in Switzerland agreed to allow the Society of St. Pius X to come into his diocese and set up their seminary at Ecône. He did so on an ad experimentum basis of six years. In other words, they were on probation.

The Gauntlet Is Thrown Down

Things went well for the group. When Archbishop Lefebvre opened the doors to his seminary in 1970, he had 11 seminarians. Four years later, he had 40. Partly out of jealousy, partly out of genuine concern over the impertinent things Lefebvre taught his charges about Vatican II and the post-conciliar Church, the French bishops complained to Rome. Pope Paul VI sent an investigative committee of cardinals to Ecône in late 1974. Members of this committee were reputed to have made remarks to the seminarians and professors such as "Truth changes with time" and "The traditional conception of our Lord's Resurrection is open to discussion" ("A Short History of the SSPX to 1996," reprint from Angelus Press, January 1996, a conference given by Rev. Fr. Ramon Angles).

Whether these curial cardinals actually made such un-Catholic comments is open to debate, but one thing is certain: Lefebvre reacted with a vengeance. On November 21, 1974, he wrote a declaration that challenged the authenticity of both the Pope and Vatican II:
"Because of this adherence [to Eternal Rome] we refuse and have always refused to follow the Rome of the neo-Modernists and neo-Protestant tendencies such as were clearly manifested during the Second Vatican Council and after the Council in all the resulting reforms.

"All these reforms have indeed contributed and still contribute to the demolition of the Church, to the ruin of the priesthood, to the destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments, to the disappearance of the religious life, and to naturalistic and Teilhardian teaching in universities, seminaries, and catechetics, a teaching born of liberalism and Protestantism many times condemned by the solemn magisterium of the Church. No authority, even the very highest in the hierarchy, can constrain us to abandon or diminish our Catholic faith such as it has been clearly expressed and professed by the Church's magisterium for 19 centuries.

"To insure our salvation, the only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine is a categorical refusal to accept the Reformation. We will pursue our work of the formation of priests under the star of the age-old magisterium in the conviction that we can do no greater service to the Church, the Pope, and to future generations" ("La Declaration du 21 Novembre 1974," Ittinéraires., n. 195, trans. in The Collected Works of His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, vol. 1 [The Angelus Press], p. 34).
As canon lawyer Peter J. Vere notes, "To preserve the liturgy and discipline of the pre-conciliar era was one matter; to impugn in the name of the pre-conciliar magisterium the validity of the post-conciliar reforms, while questioning the authority of the post-conciliar Church hierarchy, was quite another issue entirely — one which could not but bring negative canonical repercussions upon both Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX" (Vere and William Woestman, O.M.I., "Is the Society of St. Pius X in Schism? A Canonical History of the Lefebvrite Schism").

After the New Year, the new ordinary of the Diocese of Fribourg, Bishop Pierre Mamie, withdrew the recognition of the SSPX given by his predecessor. This was confirmed three months later by Arturo Cardinal Tabera Araoz, prefect of the Congregation for Religious.

The Society claims it was never validly suppressed, since it does not admit Bishop Mamie's right to suspend it. Yet at the same time Bishop Mamie issued his decree of suspension, the commission of cardinals formed by Paul VI to investigate Lefebvre's company issued the following:
"It is with the entire approval of His Holiness [i.e., Paul VI] that we communicate the following decisions to you:
"A letter will be dispatched by Msgr. Mamie according him the right to withdraw the approval which his predecessor gave to the Fraternity and to its statutes. This has been done in a letter from His Excellency Cardinal Tabera, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious.

"Once it is suppressed, the Society 'no longer having a juridical basis, its foundations, and notably the Seminary at Ecône, lose by the same act the right to existence'" (Sacra Congregazione per L'Educazione Cattolica, Prot. N. 70/72, 6 May 1975, Itinéraires, n. 195, trans. in M. Davies, Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, pp. 57—59, emphasis added).
Lefebvre wrote the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura stating that he did not recognize the commission's right to pass such a judgment and that only the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could competently make such a decision. On June 10, 1975, the Apostolic Signatura rejected his appeal, noting Pope Paul VI had approved the Commission's decision in forma specifica just in case Lefebvre had any suspicion that the pontiff had not acted in this way, he got a letter from Pope Paul VI saying, "Finally, the conclusions which [the Commission of Cardinals] proposed to us, we made all and each of them ours, and we personally ordered that they be immediately put into force" (Paul VI, tre de SS Le Pape Paul VI à Mgr. Lefebvre, 29 June 1975, La Documentation Catholique, n. 1689, trans. in M. Davies, p. 113).

The Next Step to Schism

The SSPX continued as if the Pope had never said a thing. In a way, to the members' minds, he hadn't. Lefebvre was convinced the Roman Curia was misleading Paul VI. If His Holiness only knew the real story and understood what was going on in the Church outside the papal apartments — well, Lefebvre would be celebrated, not suspended. So life at Ecône continued as usual.

This, of course, meant preparing seminarians to receive the sacrament of holy orders, with the first class set for ordination during the summer of 1976. The basis Lefebvre & Co. took for their position was "despite the letter from Pope Paul dated 29 June 1975, the entire legal process taken against [the SSPX] had been so irregular that it could not be considered as having been legally suppressed" (Davies, p. 202).

The Vatican disagreed. "You should, at the same time, inform Msgr. Marcel Archbishop Lefebvre that, de mandato special Summa Pontificis, in the present circumstances — and according to the prescriptions of Canon 2373, 1°, of the [Pio-Benedictine] Code of Canon Law, he must strictly abstain from conferring orders from the moment he receives the present injunction" (Secretariat of State, Prot. N. 307, 554, 12 June 1976, trans. in M. Davies, p. 194).

Lefebvre wrote a public letter beseeching the Pope to have a change of heart. The Pope directed that the archbishop be informed his mind had not changed and reminded Lefebvre that he could not ordain his seminarians.

Lefebvre refused submission to the Pope's order: He ordained the seminarians to the priesthood. The Vatican suspended him. The Holy See also declared that "those who have been ordained are ipso facto suspended from the order received, and, if they were to exercise it, they would be in an irregular and criminal situation" (R. Panciroli, press conference, July 1, 1976, trans. in M. Davies, p. 216).

On July 29, 1976, the Pope suspended Lefebvre a divinis. According to canonist Peter Vere, this meant Lefebvre was "now forbidden by the Holy See from the exercise of holy orders, a prohibition reserved to the Holy Father personally. In other words, his suspension was now perpetual until its absolution, and applicable to more than simply the ordination of seminarians to major orders" (Vere and William Woestman, O.M.I., "A Canonical History of the Lefebvrite Schism"). Lefebvre said, "This conciliar church is schismatic because it has taken as the basis for its updating principles opposed to those of the Catholic Church - The church that affirms errors like these is both schismatic and heretical. This conciliar church is just not Catholic."

Things were relatively quiet after this, if you can call "quiet" the intemperate things the archbishop was saying about the Pope and the Church. On August 4, 1976, for instance, Lefebvre said, "All those who cooperate in the application of this upheaval, accept and adhere to this new conciliar church - enter into schism" (Fr. Noél Barbara, Ecône Full Stop, Fortes in Fides). This is the height of irony when one considers the definition of schism: The refusal of submission to the Roman pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2089, cf. CIC, can. 751).

End Quote from:
Holier Than Thou - How Rejection of Vatican II Led Lefebvre into Schism By Brian O'Neel
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0304fea2.asp






Quote:

The consecration of a bishop for the diocese of Campos, Brazil, after de Castro Mayer died was clearly a schismatic action; the Society denies it - naturally. But, once again this brings up the question as to the SSPX's legal standing with Rome. If you have a copy of Michael Davies' book, Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, published by the Angelus Press, the Society's in-house publishing arm, turn to page 444 of volume one (there are 3). Davies explains that in the decree by Francois Charriere, Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, Switzerland, the Society was established for a six year period, ad experimentum, which could be renewed with tacit (not spoken; implied or inferred) approval for another six years. After that time the Society, according to the decree, could be "erected definitely in our diocese by the competent Roman Congregation." Ad Experimentum means, essentially, "we'll give it a try and see how it goes." Any extension of the Society's existence, therefore, would depend on the result of the experiences gained during these two six year periods.

While the Society was canonically established, a "competent Roman Congregation" never established the Society as per the decree of Bishop Charriere.  The tacit approval of Rome was withdrawn during the first six years and the Society, it should be noted, had no authority to operate outside of Bishop Charriere's diocese.  It had, therefore, no authority to established itself in other countries wherever it pleased.

So while the Society was canonically established, it quickly departed from Bishop Charriere's decree.  Lefebvre was suspended a divinis in the mid-70s and he was told to close up shop.  Relations with Rome became strained to the breaking point which was reached with the episcopal consecrations in 1988.  All rhetoric aside, the Society has not had any legitimate standing in the Church since the 1970s and certainly never had any authority to operate outside of Bishop Charriere's diocese in Switzerland.   The SSPX is, and has been, in a state of schism.



End Quote.
From: William Grossklas' AGENDA website.

http://home.earthlink.net/~grossklas/section5.htm


Part 1 of "A Chronology Of the SSPX's Foundation: "ad experimentum"





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