Response to a Complaint received March 21, 2006
From a Tennessee "father of eight traditionalists" - who I will call "Just Curious" (hereafter as "J.C.") His initial e-mail and subsequent quotes therefrom will be in Blue-Green font. The e-mail post was marked "confidential and not for publication or distribution"
I AM able to present a VERY good defense - but, as I do not wish to 're-invent the wheel' for every person who wites to me, I do not
normally respond to 'confidential and not for publication or distribution' posts!
I am, however, prepared to provide anonymity re name and e-mail address, etc."
To which J.C. replied:
"I would be interested in hearing your response. If you want to keep my observations for your use anonymously, I'm okay with that."
My response is in Black font.
"J.C's" "Reply #1" to me of April 2 is in RED font
My second and final reply will be HERE
I read with interest some of your dialogue on the internet with Catholic traditionalists. I'm not writing to get into polemics. I'm a student of Canon Law and hope to go to Rome next year to work towards my Doctorate at Santa Croce. There were some points made about the canonical standing of several individuals, and I think the conclusions may have been in error. I recognize you may be in possession of some facts which I am not, and therefore I wanted to write you.
On this page http://www.unitypublishing.com/NewReligiousMovements/KnightsWeb.html I found:"It should be known that Fr. Wathen, though once a Roman Catholic priest, is no longer. The Order he claims to belong to was supressed nearly 200 years ago, and the branch to which Fr. Wathen belongs was sustained by laymen belonging to Protestant organizations and Russian Orthodox laymen. It is entirely bogus and fraudulent. Fr. Wathen therefore has no faculties to hear confession or confect any sacrament. Any confession he hears is therefore invalid, as are his marriages. All the masses he says are sacrileges, offered as they are without episcopal mandate. Likewise are all the sacraments he confesses. "The Great Sacrilege" is therefore not the Novus Ordo Mass--though it does have its problems--but rather the author of the book by that title.""
Upon a quick review of the link provided in the footnotes, I can't easily find the evidence to support this claim. My concern is with several assertions made by the author. I recognize you may not have been the author but since the page appears to be primarily authored by you and proclaiming your personal conclusions, you do bear some responsibility for the contents. Anyway, here are my concerns:
A true Roman Catholic Priest can never cease being a Priest. He may lose his clerical status, but he is always a Priest. Even if he were to become an apostate, he still bears the special character he received at his ordination, and in fact, retains the authority to offer those sacraments to which he was ordained and the Priest is the ordinary minister, although the circumstances may cause him to do so illicitly. This is a very important point of Catholic dogma. You can no more undo ordination than you can undo your baptism.
Whether a Priest has faculties does not affect the validity of the sacraments. The sacraments are valid by virtue of true apostolic succession and valid ordination. Even a Priest who has been excommunicated retains this power, although he may or may not be able to use it licitly. A good example of this principle is explained in great detail by the SSPX regarding 'state of necessity', 'subjective state of necessity', 'emergency' and 'common error'. Even a marriage would be valid since the proper matter of the sacrament is the two Catholics being married.The Priest is merely a witness to the sacrament on behalf of the Church.
A Mass offered without episcopal approval is not necessarily sacrilegious. The author, while passionate, is simply ignorant of the law. A Mass offered without episcopal approval MAY be illicit. In this case the author is talking about the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem. I don't have any verifiable information by which to comment on their status, but even assuming they are a contemporary creation, a Priest offering sacraments to such people cannot be presumed to be either invalid or sacrilegious. In fact, presuming anything negative as it regards sacraments in Canon Law is very problematic. For example, a local diocesan Priest may go on a pilgrimage to Italy. While he is there, he offers daily Mass for his traveling companions and hears confessions. Objectively, he has done so without the permission of the local ordinary. He is outside the diocese in which he is incardinated and therefore, lacks faculties. However, this Mass is not sacrilegious, and the confessions are not invalid. The Priest is both assuming that the Bishop would grant faculties, as the always do in such circumstances, and the Priest is offering sacraments which he is the 'ordinary minister' of. Priests exist to serve divine law, and ecclesial law must always be subordinate to divine law. In other words, issues with jurisdiction and faculties must be subordinated to the will of God that the sacraments are widely available, and the Canon supports this view.
You may have observed that when Priests of the SSPX petition a diocesan ordinary for incardination, they are not required to be re-ordained, and no proclamation is made requiring all of his former penitents and married couples to seek new sacraments. This is because the Vatican understands the canonical principles of their own law (naturally).
Finally, I did some research and am not aware of a declaration of excommunication against Fr. Wathen. There are several ways that a person can incur automatic excommunication, but I see no evidence of that, at least none that has been presented in the material on your web page. This is a rather serious issue, which makes the accusation serious, and therefore prudence might require tempering such things.
Anyway, you may not even be the proper person to whom this should be addressed. If so, I would appreciate it if you could help me find the true author.
God Bless you,
J... C......End quote
- That particular file is now several years old, was initially posted to a TRIPOD, U.K. provider, and copied by Rick Salbato of Unity Publishing, who re-HTMLed the file but provided a link to the TRIPOD site. Inspection of the main page at http://members.tripod.co.uk/jloughnan/ (which account has now been cancelled!) shows that I abandoned that site in September 2003 due to it being subject to some inappropriate advertising.
- In the interim, the file at my TRIPOD, U.S.A. site ( http://jloughnan.tripod.com ) has been modified quite a number of times as relevant information has become available. The particular site (amended as at March 22, 2006) is viewable at http://jloughnan.tripod.com/weave.htm , showing the appropriate correction to the link to the quotation under discussion. It should be noted that the footnote to the quotation is now #21.
- I should point out that the quotation stems from the critique by Bro. Alexis Bugnolo of Fr. James Wathen's "The Great Sacrilege" - originally at http://home.ici.net/~panther/francis/ (now a dead link) and following the closing of that website, was moved to http://www.franciscan-archive.org/index2.html - accessed through the "Articles" page.
Bro. Bugnolo's critique commenced:
It is not now accessible through the "Articles" section - but is directly viewable at: http://www.franciscan-archive.org/apologetica/wathen.html ."A Theological Critique OF
"Rev. James F. Wathen, O.S.J's THE GREAT SACRILEGE
"BASED ON THE TEACHINGS OF THE SACRED MAGISTERIUM
"THE DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH
"THE CANONIZED SAINTS
"AND OTHER APPROVED PRE-VATICAN II THEOLOGIANS
"by Bro. Alexis Bugnolo"
- Fr. Wathen responded to Brother Bugnolo with his "In Answer to Brother Bugnolo" - now still viewable at John Brindle's "Ecclesia Militantis" web-site http://www.geocities.com/militantis/answerbro.html
It is interesting to note that the last "update" to John Brindle's web-site was March 1999, that is, following the production of my file "Oh What A Web They Weave..." Coincidental, perhaps - though I hope that it WAS as a result of my efforts! Certainly, Charles "The Hammer" Goldstein, now at Traditional Catholic Apologetics.net has stripped HIS website of offending materials, and has concentrated on solid apologetics. Perhaps, John was called up on military service - in which event, I hope that he is safe and well in all respects.
This "Answer" (with the Bro. Bugnolo's quote) was also previously posted to www.catholictradition.org/wathen1.htm.2 with the penultimate paragraph. I think that the webmaster, Paulie Fongemie (mother of FSSP priest, Fr. Fongemie, had a heart change on the matter - for the file is no longer on site:It should be known that Fr. Wathen, though once a Roman Catholic priest, is no longer. The Order he claims to belong to was supressed nearly 200 years ago, and the branch to which Fr. Wathen belongs was sustained by laymen belonging to Protestant organizations and Russian Orthodox laymen. It is entirely bogus and fraudulent. Fr. Wathen therefore has no faculties to hear confession or confect any sacrament. Any confession he hears is therefore invalid, as are his marriages. All the masses he says are sacrileges, offered as they are without episcopal mandate. Likewise are all the sacraments he confesses. "The Great Sacrilege" is therefore not the Novus Ordo Mass--though it does have its problems--but rather the author of the book by that title."The file "In Answer to Brother Bugnolo" with Bro Bugnolo's disputed comment may be viewed - courtesy of web.archive.com - HERE
- Next, one can also see the reference in one of the reviews of Fr. Wathen's "The Great Sacrilege" at Amazon Books
- Please accept my congratulations on your proposed studies at Rome. I have been a very close friend and confidant of Pete Vere who IS a Canon Lawyer and - like me - is a former SSPXer who believes that SSPX marriages and confessions, per se, are invalid.
On the other hand, My friend - Convert, Catholic Apologist and Attorney - Steve Haws, has this to say about debating:
"My experience as an attorney has taught me that no matter how brilliant and correct your legal brief,
you can be sure that your opponent will ALWAYS file an opposing brief (no matter how frivolous or incorrect.)."
Let us look at your point #1:
- "A true Roman catholic Priest can never cease being a Priest."
- A priest is a priest - if validly ordained. Period! Nevertheless I ask: Why the problem? Did I (or more precisely, did Bro. Bugnolo ever declare that Fr. Wathen was no longer a priest? The answer, of course, is "NO! he did not!" He did, however, opine that he was (re-phrased) "no longer ... a Roman Catholic priest" - a very great difference, do you not agree? There are a couple of hundred ecclesial groups in the USA ( examples ) which include in their official names the word/s "Catholic" and/or "Roman Catholic" in them - but, which are NOT in communion with the Roman Catholic Church - that is, the Church headed by the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.
Reply 1: Michael [sic.!!!]
As you correctly quoted, I said in my assertion, "A true Roman Catholic Priest can never cease being a Priest." You've said a lot about other things, but I think you've agreed with this statement.
- Even though priests who are attached to those groups may have obtained valid Orders from valid Bishops who are not in communion with Rome - they, too, would be "true" priests! So also excommunicants and former Catholic priests who are vagrants, suspended a divinis or some "Independents".
Reply 1: Men who have obtained valid orders are indeed Priests. If they are not Roman Catholic, then of course, they are not Roman Catholic Priests; they may be Alexandrian Catholic, Antiochene Catholic, Byzantine Catholic, Chaldean Catholic, Armenian Catholic, or maybe they are not Catholic at all, such as Orthodox, or maybe a Lutheran or Anglican Priest, . The efficacy of the sacrament of Holy Orders is not dependent upon the licity of the Sacrament, but rather the proper form and matter, which in this case is the use of the proper Rite by a man consecrated as Bishop and a baptized male.
I'm in no position to speculate about the endless possibilities of this person or that; my point was merely to establish the basic canonical and theological principles behind the sacrament, and secondly, the Church has a method for dealing with excommunication and declaration of schism and that's not a responsibility she has given to me, or, I would venture to say, to you.
- Of those "true priests", those who possess a jurisdiction and faculties from one with Apostolic Succession apart from Rome - those priests WOULD be able to validly and licitly perform the Sacraments. The excommunicants, vagrants, suspended and independents, however, possess no jurisdiction or faculties to perform marriages or hear confessions or perform the sacraments except in the "danger of death" scenario. Furthermore, there is a distinction between being "able" to e.g., say a valid Mass, and doing so in communion with the Catholic Church.
Reply 1: I think we've agreed that true priests can always validly offer the sacraments, assuming the proper form and matter. The issue then is licity. Those Priests who may be excommunicated may not offer the sacraments licitly, but by virtue of their ordination may continue to do so validly. I think you'll agree this is a settled point of canon law and theology. As you imply in a later paragraph, Canon 1335 provides jurisdiction even to an apostate Priest under certain circumstances. This recognizes the validity of his sacraments and even extends jurisdiction.
- The claim supposes the notion that there are "untrue Roman catholic Priests" who can "cease being a Priest". If they are not "true" priests - they can never loose that which they never possessed, can they?
Reply 1: The claim does not presuppose there are 'untrue Priests', rather, the claim supposes that the status of the subject is not in question, viz., he is a true Priest rather than one whom you might allege is not a true Priest. That is to say, if we accept the Catholic doctrine on Holy Orders, then the question cannot be validity but rather licity. Where there is no Priest there is no validity or licety.
- "He may lose his clerical status, but he is always a Priest. Even if he were to become an apostate, he still bears the special character he received at his ordination,"
Agreed - with reservations.Reply 1: I think we're getting to the point here. There are no reservations if we accept the Catholic doctrine. Either a man is a Priest or he is not; either we accept the doctrine behind the Church's teaching on the Sacrament of Holy Orders or we do not.
We do not claim that a heretical Priest of the modernist variety (as are common in many diocese of the U.S.) cannot confect the sacrament of the Eucharist or cannot confer Baptism or cannot give absolution, but some seem to believe that a schismatic or heretical Priest of the traditional variety (or even an allegedly heretical or schismatic Priest) can somehow lose this power he received at his ordination. This, in fact, is heresy.
- "... and in fact, retains his authority to offer those sacraments to which he was ordained ..."
I deny - except for the "in danger of death." And "just reason" exceptions . See Canons 1332. §1 and 1335Reply 1: Unfortunately I was vague or even incorrect in my use of words. I should have said 'power' rather than 'authority' to offer the sacraments. Authority in this case may imply juridical power, e.g., faculties granted by the ordinary, usually a Bishop. I was thinking of authority in a more broad apostolic sense, but as that could be confused with Episcopal authority, to which modern ecclesiastical law has given jurisdiction, let's strike authority and use power-which refers to potency rather than legal authority-instead.
However, you've touched on another frequently misused Canon. Let's look at the whole citation:
"If a censure prohibits the celebration of sacraments or sacramentals or the placing of an act of governance, the prohibition is suspended whenever it is necessary to care for the faithful in danger of death. If a latae sententiae censure has not been declared, the prohibition is also suspended whenever a member of the faithful requests a sacrament or sacramental or an act of governance; a person is permitted to request this for any just cause" Canon 1335
The law, therefore, does not restrict the Priest's authority (we'll use that word because that's the assumption upon which you based your reply) merely to danger of death, but in the case of a latae sententiae censure, for 'any just cause'.
The Canon envisions situations where a Priest has not been formally censured or excommunicated, and is approached for the Sacraments. As you know, this is a defense the SSPX has offered. My concern is not with their defense in particular, but rather the faithful application of the law.
The Priests of the SSPX have not been declared excommunicated; Ecclesia Dei references the latae sententiae of Lefebvre and the men he ordained. To my knowledge the man who was the subject of the original theological question we originally corresponded about (Father James Wathen), has not been declared excommunicated either. (Please correct me if I am operating on inaccurate information).
I have found it a common error of the opponents of the SSPX or other traditional groups to jump to the conclusion that any Priest of the SSPX (or for our purposes, any other Priest in an irregular canonical situation) is excommunicated. This is not true, and of course, as with all canonical allegations the burden of proof is on the accuser, which must be the Church, rather than an activist lay person.
- "...and the priest is the ordinary minister, although the circumstances may cause him to do so illicitly. This is a very important point of catholic dogma. You no more undo ordination than you can undo your baptism."
"...and the priest is the ordinary minister" of what? You place no limits. He is certainly NOT the ordinary minister of Confirmation; and he requires jurisdiction and faculties from his local Ordinary to perform marriages and hear confessions. If the Ordinary takes these faculties away - he does NOT possess any authority in respect of them.
Reply 1: I suspect you unintentionally lifted this sentence out of context. The full quote is, "Even if he were to become an apostate, he still bears the special character he received at his ordination, and in fact, retains the authority to offer those sacraments to which he was ordained and the Priest is the ordinary minister, although the circumstances may cause him to do so illicitly."Is "illicitly" a minor defect, as you appear to suggest? What, precisely, do you suggest is "a very important point of catholic dogma"? Please quote which dogma you are alluding to.
We see therefore that my statement was not vague as to which sacraments were being referenced, viz., "those sacraments to which he was ordained and [to which] the Priest is the ordinary minister'. This would include: Baptism, Penance, Eucharist, Marriage, Extreme Unction, since we both (presumably) know and embrace the Church's teaching that a Bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation and Holy Orders. [Please note: "J.C." repeats this claim a second time in a later post. I contend that this claim is false and contrary to the Senta. certa. defined Dogma that "The Contracting Parties in Matrimony minister the Sacrament each to the other." Cf. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott, Tan Books and Publishers, 1974, p. 468. That is, a priest is NOT normally the Ordinary Minister in the case of Matrimony - and THAT is why I put the above question and comment!]
Beyond that, we're back to the power of his ordination. I think we've deal amply with that and the Canon provides-even in the case of an apostate Priest-the formal, juridical authority to offer the sacraments 'for any just cause'. As you have probably seen referenced in other similar dialogues, the canonical situation here is referenced, 'ecclesia supplet', or 'the church supplies', referencing the power Christ gave to the Church to dispense the Sacraments.
Reply 1: I didn't suggest that the illicit offering of the sacraments was a minor defect. I simply distinguish between licity and validity. To distinguish between the two legal situations cannot be said to raise one above the other in terms of seriousness."You no more undo ordination than you can undo your baptism." I am "undoing" nothing! On the other hand, lawful authority CAN and DOES exercise penalties for breaches by pertinacious clerics within its sphere of authority.
As far as the dogma in question, it was defined by Trent in Session 23, canon 2, defining the indelible character I've referenced before, "which can neither be effaced nor taken away; the holy synod with reason condemns the opinion of those who assert that priests of the New Testament have only a temporary power".Reply 1: I have not suggested that lawful authorities lack the power to establish penalties; I did not even suggest those penalties may or may not be lawful themselves. I simply restated the Church's teaching as it regards the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Let us look at your point #2:
- "Whether a Priest has faculties does not affect the validity of the sacraments."
And your source for this is...?
Validity IS validity! So, while the SSPX priests ARE validly (but illicitly) ordained then the Mass and Eucharist, ARE valid (and illicit), and are validly received by those who present themselves - whether they be SSPX adherents OR innocent passers-by. On the other hand, they are illicitly received by "adherents to the SSPX schism"! By the same token, this would also apply to adherents and non-adherents to a Mass/Eucharist performed by a validly ordained Satanist! Both would be "valid" - but, equally, both are illicit! Neither are intrinsically "good". But the matter of "confessions" and "marriages" are a different "kettle-of-fish." The SSPX priests have NO JURISDICTION - no FACULTIES from the Church to hear confessions or to witness "for the Church" in marriages.
- ...A good example of this principle is explained in great detail by the SSPX regarding 'state of necessity', 'subjective state of necessity', 'emergency' and 'common error'. Even a marriage would be valid since the proper matter of the sacrament is the two Catholics being married. The Priest is merely a witness to the sacrament on behalf of the Church.
Ah! The SSPX has "positions" as to why, in their opinion, they are NOT in schism, and that the sacraments and sacramentals (apart from The Eucharist) are valid. All heretics and schismatics throughout the history of the Church have held "positions" contrary to the legitimate authority of the Church! But, neither they OR the SSPX or any other dissidents have any authority to judge on these matters. Personally, I prefer to rely on the judgements of the Supreme Law Maker and Interpreter, and of those to whom he has delegated this authority!
Reply 1: It appears you are alleging that the Priestly members of the SSPX are heretics and schismatics. In the event I have accurately perceived your allegation, I would need to see the Papal declaration of that fact so that I can better understand the situation. As has been said by many canon lawyers, "Schism is not a contagious disease; it is a canonical determination." Lay men and even Priests do not have the authority to declare schism, or even excommunication. Bishops may declare it to be so, but they are not infallible either. It is amusing to me how many people see themselves as having the power to declare others to be excommunicates or schismatics! Pride is apparently not reserved for ultra-traditionalists.
If instead you meant only to undermine the credibility of the claims made by that organization by comparing them to the claims made by heretics and schismatics, then we're operating on the same information, merely employing different tactics.
Since you have not offered any evidence of heresy, and since we have already seen that it was Lefebvre and the men he consecrated who were declared to have incurred excommunication, I'm not sure what the objective of this reply is, so we'll move to the next one.
The fact was and is that there was no "necessity" for the Lefebvre to tell the pope to (effectively) "get stuffed" from as early as his suspension a divinis in 1976 - the path on which he trod to his excommunication in 1988!Let us take a look at some of those authorities:The following excerpt is from an authority which is derived directly from the Supreme Pontiff and which carries his authority. Supporting documentation follows - the original documents in full may be viewed at http://jloughnan.tripod.com/schmex2.htm :Furthermore, a marriage would be null if the priest witness was intoxicated - irrespective of the Proper matter of the sacrament"! (Cf. re: Canon 1095. "Marriage Contracted Before Priest Completely Intoxicated Is Invalid Because of Defect of Form (Rota, 31 Jan. 1929) R.D. 21-75." "The Canon Law Digest", Vol. IV, T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J., LL.B., S.T.D. & James I. O'Connor, S.J., A.M., S.T.L., J.C.D., 1958.
6. 1996, Aug. 24 - THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF LEGISLATIVE TEXTS On The Excommunication of Followers of Archbishop Lefebvre7. 1996, Oct. 31 - Responses from THE PONTIFICAL CONGREGATION OF BISHOPS, and THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF LEGISLATIVE TEXTS
- .[...] it also appears clear ... that such a most grave act of disobedience formed the consummation of a progressive global situation of a schismatic character.
- . [...] the Motu Proprio ... warns that a "formal adherence to the schism" ... would bring with it the excommunication established by the universal law of the Church ... explicit reference to the "schismatic nature" of the aforesaid episcopal ordinations and mentions the most grave penalty of excommunication which adherence "to the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre" would bring with it.
- 3. [...] the schismatic act ... did no more than draw to a conclusion, ... a process of distancing from hierarchical communion. ... the whole Lefebvrian movement is to be held schismatic, in view of the existence of a formal declaration by the Supreme Authority on this matter.
- 4. [...] doubt cannot reasonably be cast upon the validity of the excommunication of the Bishops declared in the Motu Proprio and the Decree. [...] it does not seem ... any exempting or lessening circumstances ... necessity ... must be verified objectively, and there is never a necessity to ordain Bishops contrary to the will of the Roman Pontiff, Head of the College of Bishops...
- 5. [...] the Motu Proprio declares ...excommunication latae sententiae for schism regards those who "adhere formally" ... the exact import of the notion of "formal adherence to the schism" would be a matter for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it seems ... such formal adherence would have to imply two complementary elements:
- one of internal nature, ... puts such an option above obedience to the Pope (at the root of this attitude there will usually be positi1ons contrary to the magisterium of the Church),
- [...] an external character, ...externalising ... the most manifest sign ... the exclusive participation in Lefebvrian "ecclesial" acts... possibility that a member of the faithful may take part in the liturgical functions ... without going along with their schismatic spirit).
- In the case of the Lefebvrian deacons and priests there seems no doubt ... that there is a formal adherence.
- [...] the rest of the faithful ... an occasional participation ... done without making one's own the attitude of doctrinal and disciplinary disunion ... does not suffice for one to be able to speak of formal adherence ... it is more difficult to judge their situation... intentions, and the putting into practice of this internal disposition...
- . [...]
(Excerpts from responses to a letter from the Very Reverend Norbert Brunner, Bishop of Sion, Switzerland, to the Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, requesting clarifications regarding status of the followers of Monsignor Lefebvre. The responses are dated October 31, 1996.)Response of the Pontifical Congregation of Bishops:Response of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts
...The bishops ...are validly consecrated, but punished with the penalty of excommunication
...as to the priests. ordained [pre 1988] ... did not incur excommunication, but are ...classed as acephalous priests ... and forbidden any "munus vel aliud sacrum ministerium" ...
...Baptism, the Eucharist and the anointing of the sick ... are valid, although illicit.
...Participation in their services is objectively illicit ...
...Assistance of the Faithful is not permitted, save in cases of real necessity.
...Those who participate occasionally and without the intention to adhere formally ... do not incur the penalty of excommunication....The schismatic act ... achieved nothing other than bringing to term, ... an ongoing separation ... the whole Lefebrist movement must be considered as schismatic, in view of the formal declaration of the supreme authority.8. 1998, Oct. 27 - "ECCLESIA DEI" Pontifical Commission's Msgr Camille Perl
...[...] such adherence must imply two complementary elements: a) ...the first is by nature internal, ... b)...the second is external: ...
Reply to F. John Loughnan
...your document...has been transmitted to this Pontifical Commission...
...we thank God that you have been able to be sufficiently objective...to leave it [the SSPX] and return to full communion with the Church...
...we are that very Pontifical Commission referred to in Father Jean Violette's letter ... as made up of "liberals, modernists who have infiltrated the positions of authority in the Church and who are using their authority to do away with Tradition..." We trust that you will now understand that this is not a fair description of us or of our often difficult and delicate work.
We will now attempt to address ourselves to your questions...
- The Pope is the supreme legislator in the Church...he declared that Mons. Lefebvre and the [SSPX bishops] have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged...
Those mentioned above who are still living and have not asked pardon... are still under the censure of excommunication.
- ...the [SSPX] priests...are validly ordained, they are also suspended a divinis... In the strict sense there are no "lay members" of the Society of St. Pius X...
...participation in the [SSPX] Mass...does not of itself constitute "formal adherence to the schism", such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality...[such as] the SSPX defends the traditional catechisms and therefore the Old Mass, and so attacks the Novus Ordo, the Second Vatican Council and the New Catechism, all of which more or less undermine our unchangeable Catholic faith.
...because of this schismatic mentality that this Pontifical Commission has consistently discouraged the faithful from attending [SSPX] Masses...
- ...the Church has not officially declared what constitutes "formal adherence to the schism"... but the Code of Canon Law defines schism... The above citation together with the other documentation which you have included in your dossier and your own exchange of correspondence with Father Violette clearly indicate the extent to which many in authority in the Society of St. Pius X corroborate that definition.
- ...the documentation which you have submitted witnesses to a consistent condemnation of the new Mass, the Pope and anyone who disagrees with the authorities of the Society in the smallest degree. Such behaviour is not consistent with the practice of the Catholic faith.
- We reiterate..."The Pope is the supreme legislator in the Church." Communion with him is a fundamental, non-negotiable hallmark[b/ of Catholicism [b]which is not determined by those who set themselves up to judge him, but by the Pope himself ...
When Campos returned to full communion with the Catholic Church, their marriages were sanated. This is a canonical term to say that they have now been made valid. Sanation is a long standing tradition to deal with mass returns to communion with the Church. I, believe, however, that with the sacrament of confession they must make one more confession to "seal the deal". Priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but they are suspended from exercising their priestly functions. To the extent that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, they are also excommunicated.
Reply 1: I wasn't aware that the Vatican required sanation for the marriages performed by the Campos Priests. Could you provide me the source of that please? I would expect it would be a declaration of the Pontiff or the Congregation for Liturgy or Clergy.
- Priests' power to forgive sins is not inherent in their ordination but is granted as faculties from their ordinary. This also technically applies only to the jurisdiction of that bishop, so if a priest were visiting a different diocese he would have to request faculties from the local ordinary in order to absolve sins in that territory.
Of course - but the SSPX do NOT possess the faculties at all! And the same applies to saying Mass in a Church or Chapel under the jurisdiction of the local Ordinary.
Reply 1: However, since we have already addressed the Canon (1335) for Priests who have not been formally declared as excommunicated, this is a moot point. Further, this deals with licity rather than validity, which was the issue at hand.
- The controversy surrounding the SSPX and other groups with "less than normal" relations with Rome is that, as SSPX priests serve excommunicated bishops and thus operate outside the authority structure of the Catholic Church, they have not received faculties from a bishop with the authority to grant them.
And, THEREFORE, their confessions and marriages are invalid, per se. Of course there are other considerations, such as the Church supplies, and sanation - but, the base fact remains.
Fr. Joe Horn, O.Praem., writes of an excommunicant:"You are not allowed to receive Holy Communion sacramentally." "How do I officially 'leave' the catholic Church?" - Page 2.The Vatican has pronounced the SSPX to be in schism. Why can't you agree with this pronouncement?Reply 1: There's one big problem here: that's not a quote from me, so we'll set that aside altogether.
You have not demonstrated from Canon Law, the Catechism, or from any competent authority that the confessions and the marriages of the SSPX are invalid. Of course, this was not the point of my email to you. Neither have you shown that the Church holds the Priests of that organization to be in schism, or to have incurred excommunication. In fact all of the evidence would seem to contradict your claims. This would include the notorious Hawaii excommunications which were overturned, the many letters from Ecclesia Dei to SSPX attendees, the testimony of Cardinal Lara, recent comments by Cardinal Hoyos, the denial by the SSPX of schism (an important condition which Title One of the Canon would require), and the report statements of the Pontiff himself about the state of necessity in Germany and France.
Your situation is similar to that of a citizen standing on the side of the road, screaming that a certain vehicle is exceeding the speed limit, while the officer of the law sits in his patrol car, presumably aware of the law and with the means to sanction the object of your assertions.
However, I'd like to point out that this is well beyond the scope of my email to you. If you don't mind, I'd like to try to keep our discussion to the issue of Holy Orders and the nature and special character of an ordained man.
Let us look at your point #3:
In fact, presuming anything negative as it regards sacraments in Canon Law is very problematic. For example, a local diocesan Priest may go on a pilgrimage to Italy. While he is there, he offers daily Mass for his traveling companions and hears confessions. Objectively, he has done so without the permission of the local ordinary. He is outside the diocese in which he is incardinated and therefore, lacks faculties. However, this Mass is not sacrilegious, and the confessions are not invalid. The Priest is both assuming that the Bishop would grant faculties, as the always do in such circumstances, and the Priest is offering sacraments which he is the 'ordinary minister' of. Priests exist to serve divine law, and ecclesial law must always be subordinate to divine law. In other words, issues with jurisdiction and faculties must be subordinated to the will of God that the sacraments are widely available, and the Canon supports this view.
- A Mass offered without episcopal approval is not necessarily sacrilegious. The author, while passionate, is simply ignorant of the law.
Is he now? This makes me speculate as to whether or not YOU have actually read Fr. Wathen's "The Great Sacrilege"? and, the critiques thereof? and the critiques of the self-styled Chivalric Order of which Fr. Wathen was Chaplain? Bro. Bugnolo's stated thrust is - not from the Law - but from Theology; and DOGMA!
Reply 1: I never claimed to have read Fr. Wathen's book. Neither do I see how it is relevant. In my initial email I told you that as a student of Canon Law, I had some interest in some of the claims that were put forth on your site. I established my concern and asked for your reply. I don't have much interest at this point (because of my many more pressing academic obligations), to entertain the speculation about Father Wathen's book. In fact, if his book is heretical, I'm sure you will forward to all interested parties his censure by the Vatican.It appears to me that Fr. Wathen appears to effectively or implicitly deny and/or minimize some of the following Dogmas of the Catholic faith:The Pope possesses full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, not merely in matters of faith and morals, but also in Church discipline and in the government of the Church. (De fide.)The following from "The Dogmatic Canons and Decrees of the Council Of Trent", Chapter VIII, "On the Sacrifice of the Mass", Canon I,:
The Church is indefectible, that is, she remains and will remain the Institution of Salvation, founded by Christ, until the end of the world. (Sent. certa.)
The Holy Mass is a true and proper Sacrifice. (De fide.)
The Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, but also a sacrifice of expiation and impetration. (De fide.)"Canon I. If anyone saith that in the Mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God...let him be anathema.Fr Wathen persists in denying that the normative Mass of the Roman Rite (which is sometimes pejoratively described as a "NO mass" is "a true AND proper" sacrifice. "The  Code of Canon Law", Canon 897 declares:"The most venerable sacrament is the blessed Eucharist, in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered and received, and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the Sacrifice of the cross is forever perpetuated, is the summit and the source of all worship and Christian life. ..."The Code of Canon Law is talking here about the so-called "NO mass" which Fr. Wathen disparages as NOT being a "proper" sacrifice!
It is a de fide Dogma of the Catholic Church that The Mass is a true and proper sacrifice. I think that Fr. Wathen would also do well to heed the words of Bishop Rifan, as recorded on the http://www.uvoc.org/#concelebration web-site. N.B. This is now a dead link, but thanks to the magic of "Internet Archive WAYBACK MACHINE" it may be viewed at http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.uvoc.org . In the group under 2005 click on "Feb 10, 2005" and scroll down to the resultant article:Some persons have questioned the occasional participation of Dom Fernando and some of his priests in Masses celebrated in the Rite of Paul VI.
Dom Fernando is a Catholic bishop, member of the Catholic episcopate, in communion with the Holy Father the Pope. Thus, like every Catholic bishop, even those of a different rite, he must demonstrate this full communion practically.
No one can be Catholic while remaining in an attitude of refusal of communion with the Pope and with the Catholic episcopate. In fact, the Church defines as schismatic those who refuse to submit to the Roman Pontiff or to remain in communion with the other members of the Church who are his subjects (canon 751).
Now, to refuse continually and explicitly to participate in every and any Mass in the rite celebrated by the Pope and by all the bishops of the Church while judging this rite, in itself, incompatible with the Faith, or sinful, represents a formal refusal of communion with the Pope and with the Catholic episcopate.
The objective fact cannot be denied that the rite of Paul VI is the official rite of the Latin Church, celebrated by the Pope and by all the Catholic episcopate.
If we consider the New Mass in itself, in theory or in practice, as invalid or heretical, sacrilegious, heterodox, sinful, illegitimate or not Catholic, we would have to hold the theological conclusions of this position and apply them to the Pope and the entire episcopate residing in the world - that is, the whole teaching Church: that the Church has officially promulgated, maintained for decades, and offers every day to God an illegitimate and sinful worship - a proposition condemned by the Magisterium - and that, therefore, the gates of hell have prevailed against her, which would be a heresy. Or else we would be adopting the sectarian principle that we alone are the Church, and outside of us there is no salvation, which would be another heresy. These positions cannot be accepted by a Catholic, either in theory or in practice.
Our participation, therefore, is based on doctrinal principles. And it does not mean that we do not have reservations about the new rite, as we have already respectfully brought to the attention of the Holy See. Neither does our participation signify approval of everything that may happen. To be united to the hierarchy of the Church and in perfect communion with her does not mean approval of many errors that grow in the bosom of the Holy Church, provoked by her human part. And, of course, we lament profoundly with the Holy Father that the Liturgical Reform has given room for "ambiguities, liberties, creativities, adaptations, reductions and instrumentalizations" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 10.52.61) and also has given "origin to many abuses and led in a certain way to the disappearance of the respect due to the sacred" (Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, Offerten Situng - Röemisches, nov.dez. 1993, p. 35). Above all, we reject every profanation of the Liturgy, for example the Masses in which the "Liturgy degenerates into a 'show,' where one is tempted to make religion interesting with the help of silly changes in fashion...with momentary successes for the group of liturgical fabricators", as Cardinal Ratzinger criticized (Introduction to the book La Reforme Liturgique by Mgr. Klaus Gamber. p. 6).
For all these reasons, we preserve the venerable rite of St. Pius V, but "cum Petro et sub Petro", in full communion.
- A Mass offered without episcopal approval MAY be illicit. In this case the author is talking about the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem. I don't have any verifiable information by which to comment on their status, but even assuming they are a contemporary creation, a Priest offering sacraments to such people cannot be presumed to be either invalid or sacrilegious.
Could you please provide evidence for the other side of the coin that such a Mass "offered without episcopal (or a Superior's) approval IS llicit"? And you COULD obtain the "verifiable information" by contacting the Ordinary for the Archdiocese of Louisianna, KY. as to the status of Fr. Wathen. You may also obtain the information by viewing Lists of Priests in "good standing" with their respective Ordinaries.
Reply 1: The proof of invalidity of a sacrament rests on the accuser. The Church never allows us to presume invalidity.Furthermore, while Bro. Bugnolo (in the questioned quote) affirms that "All the masses he says are sacrileges" - he does not claim that they are "invalid"! Sacrilege includes "the abuse of sacraments."
As for Father Wathen, you seem to be very preoccupied with him. He must be quite a man to have stirred up so much. Maybe one day I shall have the opportunity of meeting him.
The O.S.J underwent a schism a couple of years ago, and Fr. Wathen is no longer the Chaplain. Andy McDonald wrote to me on Feb. 24, 2004 advising that"As to the OSJ, I was in contact with the Grady some time ago and he said that Fr. Wathen was expelled, though I have seen no practical application of that. I am from Evansville, IN. (though I live in Front Royal, VA now) where his chapel is. To the best of my knowledge he still operates out of that Priory. Here is the web-page associated with that chapel: http://www.members.evansville.net/nonedare . It appears that he has cancer and is undergoing some serious treatment in Texas at the present time. He is in need of our prayers to be sure.According to Lucio (formerly Prakash) Mascarenhas - an "Orthopapist":
"Bishop Xxxxxxxx 1has made some indications that he is trying to move the OSJ more in Rome's direction. It remains to be seen how or if this will pan out. He has an interesting history. He was at one point affiliated with the Institute of Christ the King (my personal favorite order). So anyway, thanks for the information.""The Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, whatever can be said about its legitimacy, is an orthodox and traditional Roman Catholic organization. Fr. James Wathen was expelled from the Order for reasons of intrigue and seeking power. After this recent problem, the Order is modestly and gradually rebuilding itself." See this entry under Item #15 on Xxxxxxxx, Xxxxxxx 1 at Deleted in accordance with Footnote 1"Bishop" Xxxxxxxx, 1 O.S.J. - is a Thucite "Bishop". I put the word in quotes because of the (at least) two declarations from the Holy See on the matter of Thuc consecrations. See the Pat Buckley file.
Anglican "Fr. Monty" has his biography at Deleted in accordance with Footnote 1 This also is now a dead link, but, again - with the help of "Internet Archive WAYBACK MACHINE" we can retrieve it at Deleted in accordance with Footnote 1 Scroll down to "Xxxxxxxxx's Xxxxxxx 1 by Father Monty" and click on the picture. Hmmmm! It appears that, having been "dubbed into the O.S.J. Order by the Grand master in June 2002", Bishop Xxxxxxxx 1 decided to stay in France.
What priests "should do" and "actually do" may very well be two different things and which may involve major or minor disobedience. But this is a VERY long way from pertinacious disobedience to lawful authority on major matters. That the SSPX "acknowledge of filial devotion to the Pope" is an urban myth! They "say" that but then tell the Pope to "get stuffed" in no uncertain terms - baying all the time that the normative Mass of the Roman Rite is "intrinsically evil." Do you comprehend what "intrinsically evil" means? It means that the Church HAS defected from the Faith! Fr. Wathen's O.S.J. not only claimed that the "Novus Ordo" was a "sacrilege - but that to attend it would be a mortal sin - a claim made also by SSPX Rector, Fr. James Peek! SSPX Bishop Williamson had told cardinal Hoyos in 2000:"We belong to two different religions." (Quoted at http://traditionaljoe.blogspot.com/ )and Archbishop Lefebvre is quoted in the same article:"Conciliar Rome is no longer Catholic Rome."Likewise, Fr. James Wathen, "Who Shall Ascend?", p. 414:"... it is in the same spirit that we assert the major thesis of this third part, namely, the Conciliar Church is not the Catholic Church, though it is within it, like a fifth column. Hence, no one who maintains membership within it can be saved."As to "not being in formal schism'! ARE the SSPX, any theologian or yourself more authorative than the Pope and of those authorized by him? Sure enough sounds like it! Reliance on SSPX opinions is madness!
Fr.Robert J. Levis from EWTN answered a question on Sinful priests Question from Lisa on 06-24-2002:"Now, if a sinful priest loses his faith and doesn't do what the Church intends, then nothing happens, no grace is given. He puts up an obstacle. This of course is extremely rare."Reply 1: As my original email had to do with the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the defense of Trent's dogmatic defense of the indelible character of the Priesthood, I don't want to continue to deal with tangential subjects like the SSPX. You haven't shown that all of the Priests of the SSPX are in schism or that they've been excommunicated. There is a lot of lay hyperbole on both sides. When the Pontiff makes an announcement shortly as to the SSPX, I'll be listening. The rest is just conjecture.
QuotesPope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, "Cantate Domino," 1441, ex cathedra:
"The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives."
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, "Cantate Domino," 1441:
"Therefore the Holy Roman Church condemns, reproves, anathematizes and declares to be outside the Body of Christ, which is the Church, whoever holds opposing or contrary views."
Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council, Session 11, Dec. 19, 1516:
"For, regulars and seculars, prelates and subjects, exempt and non-exempt, belong to the one universal Church, outside of which no one at all is saved, and they all have one Lord and one faith."
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9), June 29, 1896:
"The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium."
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9):
"No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic."
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 10), June 29, 1896:
"For this reason, as the unity of the faith is of necessity required for the unity of the Church, inasmuch as it is the body of the faithful, so also for this same unity, inasmuch as the Church is a divinely constituted society, unity of government, which effects and involves unity of communion, is necessary jure divino (by divine law)."
Canon 1325.2, 1917 Code of Canon Law (similar in 1983 CCI):
"One who after baptism... rejects the authority of the Supreme Pontiff or refuses communion with the members of the Church who are subject to him, he is a schismatic."
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 23), June 29, 1943:
"For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy."
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 22):
"As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore if a man refuse to hear the Church let him be considered – so the Lord commands – as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit."
ConclusionThe enquirer's argument is with Bro. Bugnolo's phraseology: "Fr. Wathen, though once a Roman Catholic priest, is no longer. "
But, is the complaint reasonable? Personally, I dislike the historically pejorative "Roman" qualification! Technically, the only Roman Catholic priests are those attached to the City of Rome. English Protestants attached the term "Roman" in order to bolster their "branch Churches" theory. In this case, Bro. Bugnolo is wrong - for Fr. Wathen never was a Roman Catholic priest. A Catholic priest he was from the time of his ordination under a particular local Ordinary, and he would have remained so during his period of "good standing" with his Ordinary. As I understand it, is is NOT in good-standing with a legitimate Catholic bishop who is in communion with Rome, and my preferred manner of describing this state is to describe it as "not being in full communion with the Holy See."
Reply 1: However, you are wrong. A Roman Catholic Priest is any Catholic Priest ordained to the Roman Rite. A Priest need not be incardinated in the Diocese of Rome in order to be Roman; he would be Roman by virtue of the Sacraments he received and the Rite of his ordination. Likewise, a Maronite Catholic Priest is a Catholic Priest ordained to the Maronite Rite, and so on for the dozen or so other Rites within the Church.Bro. Bugnolo made no claim that Fr. Wathen was not a priest, or that he was reduced to the lay state, or that he was an apostate.
I know very little of this Father Wathen with whom you are so concerned. IF, as you say, he was ordained by a Roman Catholic ordinary, he will remain a Roman Catholic Priest for the entirety of his life on earth, even until the time of the final judgment, whether he be in Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. As Catholics we must take the sacrament seriously and defend them, even when doing so may bring us to a conclusion about the particular application of our law that may be offensive to our temporal preferences, as would appear to be the case here with your distaste for Father Wathen and the OSJ.
But remember what Bishop Rifan said:If we consider the New Mass in itself, in theory or in practice, as invalid or heretical, sacrilegious, heterodox, sinful, illegitimate or not Catholic, we would have to hold the theological conclusions of this position and apply them to the Pope and the entire episcopate residing in the world - that is, the whole teaching Church: that the Church has officially promulgated, maintained for decades, and offers every day to God an illegitimate and sinful worship - a proposition condemned by the Magisterium - and that, therefore, the gates of hell have prevailed against her, which would be a heresy. Or else we would be adopting the sectarian principle that we alone are the Church, and outside of us there is no salvation, which would be another heresy. These positions cannot be accepted by a Catholic, either in theory or in practice.Canon 1369 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law provides:"A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church."Furthermore, Canon 1373 provides:"A person who publicly incites his or her subjects to hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry, or who provokes the subjects to disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just penalties."Many of the priests in the ecclesial groups at Fr. Tony Begonja's site would claim to be "Catholic priests." - but, while they might readily acknowledge that there is a pope in Rome, they would state clearly that they are not in union with Rome. Fr. Wathen, on the other hand, acknowledges that there is a pope in Rome, but he refuses communion with his local Ordinary, and with Rome, and with those who are in communion with Rome. Classic schism, I suggest!
All things being equal, I do not believe that Bro. Bugnolo was excessive in his statements - see HERE for past-tense references to priests - they are as the world sees things: but the "former" priest DOES still possess the priestly character. I am perfectly prepared to re-assess my opinions upon production of evidence that Fr. Wathen is, indeed, a priest in good-standing with a Catholic Bishop who is in communion with the Catholic Church, and that his expressed opinions are not antagonistic to the Catholic Church and Her Magisterium, Sacraments and Faith.
Of necessity, this reply has had to be prepared in the "quick and nasty" not particularly orderly fashion - for which I apologise. I hope that it is of some help.
- This footnote has been added on July 1, 2006 further to an e-mail request from the person concerned who advises, inter alia:"I have renounced all exercise of the episcopate ... It has been a big embarassment in my life ... I disassociated myself from Dr Grady's 'Order of St. John' and the various other small organisations claiming to represent the Roman Catholic tradition. I was never prepared for what I found in these various traditionalist organisations ... I would be grateful if you would remove any reference to my person from your website. I ask you without any aggression, simply so that I may be left in peace. If the Church to which I belong one day unites with Rome, this will be the answer to our prayers, and I will follow my Archbishop."
Further reading and References:
- Comment on the Book "Is the Order of St John Masonic"
- Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem
(Se;f-styled under John Grady MD Grand Master)
- "The self-styled Orders of Saint John" (Part III)
- The Papal Orders - ORDERS AWARDED BY THE HOLY SEE OR FOUNDED BY PAPAL BULL
- Light on the OSJ, by Rev. Anthony Cekada
- Refutation by I. Shawn McElhinney of "Papal Infallibility" by Father James F. Wathen, O.S.J., Taken from his book "The Great Sacrilege"
- The first serious error of the 'Tridentiners' to be dealt with, which directly pertains to Catholic Faith, states that "the new Mass does not involve infallibility". Fr. James Wathen OSJ wrote this in his book The Great Sacrilege (TAN books, Rockford, Illinois, USA), dealing with it in a completely erroneous manner.
- "The Great Sacrilege", by Fr. James F. Wathen on-line at "Daily Catholic"
- Brickbats From An "Order of St. John" (OSJ) Director Note: This link contains even more linked information.
The OSJ and Associates - A Time-frame of Events
"Cheat Sheet on The SOCIETY OF ST PIUS X (SSPX)
See "Annals Australasia's Un-official Home Page
What's New? at Sean Ó Lachtnáin's Home Page
Sean Ó Lachtnáin's Home Page