21 January 2014

(Crypto)Lefebvrianism (1)

If it is possible to accuse people of  'Cryptolefebvrianism' ... and one does come across such accusations ... then clearly there must be a 'Lefebvrianism' of which the deceitful 'Cryptolefebvrians' are the secret and underhand Fifth Column. I am having some trouble understanding what the 'Lefebvrianism', the existence of which is implied by some rhetoric, actually might be.

H.E. Archbishop Lefebvre would, of course, have rebutted vigorously any suggestion that he was or could be the exponent of any other -ism than Catholicism or Traditionalism. At the Econe episcopal Consecrations, the Consecrator asked the prescribed question "Habetis Mandatum Apostolicum?" Some members of the vast congregation must have been bemused when he received the answer "Habemus". Had Pope John Paul capitulated overnight? "Legatur!". But No ... "We have this mandate from the Roman Church, ever faithful to the holy traditions received from the Apostles. This Holy Tradition is the Deposit of Faith which the Church orders us faithfully to transmit to all men for the salvation of their souls. Since the Second Vatican Council until this day, the authorities of the Roman Church are animated by the spirit of Modernism. ... It is by this mandate of the Holy Roman Church, semper fidelis, then, that we elect to the rank of Bishop in the Holy Roman Church, the priests here present as auxiliaries of the Priestly Society ..."

A critic might observe that the Archbishop appeared to be appealing from the actual and actualised hierarchs in a real city called Rome to a Platonic idea of the Holy Roman Church. But it is more useful to observe what he did not do. Archbishop Lefebvre did not purport to assign jurisdiction, far less sees in partibus, to the new bishops. Nor did he commit the administration of the Society to them; Fr Schmidberger, a presbyter, discharged the role of Superior after the death of the Archbishop. Lefebvre was clearly making the sort of limited provision that sometimes has to be made in episcopally ordered bodies in times of ecclesiastical crisis: provision for the transmission of valid orders to secure valid sacraments. One presumes that this is why he consecrated four; when one died, there would still be the preferred number of three bishops to consecrate a successor. Anglicans may remember the crisis which struck England and Scotland after the Dutch Invasion of 1688; my Traditionalist Anglican readers will probably have a profound veneration for those priests and bishops, learned and saintly, including the great Bishop Ken, who were unwilling to disregard their oaths of allegiance to the Catholic King James II, and who were ejected from their churches and sees. They had no legal means to perpetuate their ministry; so some of them took matters into their own hands and ordained what were sometimes called 'College Bishops', who lacked jurisdiction but could confer and preserve the Sacrament of Order. For the Non-Jurors, this was intended to enable their Church to survive until the restoration of the lawful King ended the crisis. For Lefebvre, his four consecrands would enable 'Operation Survival' to endure until Rome returned to Orthopraxy, when the bishops would place their episcopate in the hands of the Holy Father. The Archbishop was determined not to be a schismatic; and had he purported to assign jurisdiction to the Four, he would have been just another new schismatic setting up his own new 'church'.

Thus the entire logic of Archbishop Lefebvre's dispositions rested and rests upon the premise that the Pope is the Pope and diocesan Bishops are the Bishops, however poorly they may be thought to behave. It is the Roman Pontiff, and the local Ordinary, that SSPX priests name in the Te igitur. If there is such a thing as Lefebvrianism, it cannot rationally be categorised as a call to schism. To the principles that the Pope is the Pope and the Bishop is the Bishop, and that all the de Fide pronouncements of all the Councils and all the Popes are still completely binding, a 'Lefebvrianism' would only add the proposition that in exceptional circumstances exceptional methods might be called for. More on that, DV, tomorrow.

To be continued.


Woody said...

Speaking of restoration of the lawful King, I attended Mass at the Theatinerkirche in Munich, where lie the mortal remains of HRH Crown Prince Field Marshal Rupprecht of Bavaria, who became the Jacobite pretender, but only after the War, I believe. I missed the window of opportunity to pray before his tomb in the crypt, however. Next year, in Munich.

Don Camillo SSC said...

Can one be called a "pretender" if one does not personally lay claim to a position other people may think one is entitled to?

Don Camillo SSC said...

And has their been a legitimate King of England since Harold Godwinson?

Mark said...

DC: If you take that logic, then go back further to Edmund Ironside. Harold Godwinson descended from danish invaders.

Sir Watkin said...

The Saxons are all interlopers anyway.

Free Logres!

Pastor in Monte said...

Thank you, Father, for a post which expresses what I have long thought. In fact, I have wondered whether Abp. Lefebvre deliberately chose men for consecration who were not, shall we say, among the first rank of talent in the Society, to ensure that their role was purely sacramental, and would not exercise jurisdiction; these were men, he may well have felt, who were unlikely to be chosen to lead the Society. Fr Schmidberger is a most talented man and might have made a fine bishop and leader. But he was not chosen, though at the time he was Superior General. I think that at the time Abp. Lefebvre did not reckon with the natural Catholic instinct to be governed by a bishop: hence, since these men do now lead the Society, it is being governed by those who are not necessarily the most talented of the available clergy. One need only consider poor Bishop Williamson, who has been raised to a ministry and prominence he struggles to dignify. To put it mildly.

R. Catesby said...

God bless you for your sober, insightful commentary, especially on the issue of the SSPX.

Alphonsus Jr. said...

Good article. I'd also recommend searching the net for this one:

Gnostic Twaddle, by Christopher Ferrara

John L said...

I have written a couple of things on this topic that might be relevant to your discussion:



On a completely different topic, I found that the local theological library had a copy of Queen Mary's prayer book of 1557. I had a look at it and found it astonishingly complete; it has more or less the same liturgical contents as a 1962 missal would have, in the same form. I have tried to get interest going in publishing a reprint of it - some of the liturgical music of the time could be added as well, it has been collected and printed - but I do not have the contacts to do so. Why not have a look in the Bodleian at the missal and see what you think?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Archbishop Lefebvre did not purport to assign jurisdiction, far less sees in partibus, to the new bishops.

Dear Father. You may not be aware of the following;

Since 1991, from the lifetime of Mgr Lefebvre, the Society of Saint Pius X has arrogated over its members (and potentially over all Catholics) the “power to bind and to unbind”, usurping the exclusive powers of the Holy See. A tribunal which sits in the General House of the Society in Switzerland grants dispensations from marriage impediments (which would render the union invalid), annuls marriages, grants exemptions from religious vows, lifts ecclesiastical censures, including excommunications (...). It does so in a wholly invalid manner, thereby placing men’s souls in an inextricable situation: the vows it unbinds are not unbound, the marriages it annuls are not annulled, and those which are celebrated after its “declaration” of nullity are invalid, as are those that have been celebrated with its non-existent “dispensation”.


Mons lefebvre established a petit ecclesia.

dcs said...

Mons lefebvre established a petit ecclesia.

^Spartacus - all these things have happened since the death of Msgr. Lefebvre. If they are blameworthy then the blame cannot be laid at his feet.

Cordelio said...

Dear Spartacus,

You may not be aware that, when asked to absolve sins reserved to the Holy See, it sends the required notification to Rome and permission has always been granted for the SSPX priest to absolve. There are other instances which belie the quoted reference to some degree.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear DSC. The documentation establishes the fact that Mons Lefebvre established a petit ecclesia while he was still alive.

As to his culpability, who knows?

He seemed to me to be right-round-the-bend and his opinions on the Pope, Council, and Mass were wildly different,often within the same month; that is, he could be both for and against the Pope, Council, and Mass within a very short period of time.

Such an obvious unstable intellect seems to me to render his culpability questionable.

In any event, none of us can judge his soul.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Cordelio. Thanks for the link. I rarely read The Remnant and even rarer are the times I read and believe what Bishop Fellay says.

I know that will come across as excessively harsh but there are more than a few reasons for that response.

I pray for a reconciliation but I know one is not about to happen given Fellay's recent public accusation that Pope Francis is a heretic ;He is a genuine modernist

As an aside, do you know why the proposed resolution twixt The Holy See and The SSPX has never been made public?

I'd like to read what it was the SSPX refused to sign onto.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Devaries influenzaeIt does nobody any good to pretend that the SSPX is a bastion of orthodoxy for it has no canonical status in the Church owing to its doctrinal deficiencies and not its refusal to obey.

It is a fact to be lamented that this schism has come to be considered a positive good for the Church and that idea passed insanity by long long ago.

Saint Augustine taught that there was not ever justification for a schism.


Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects individuals, not institutions. An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope. Consequently the Church must react by employing her most severe punishment – excommunication – with the aim of calling those thus punished to repent and to return to unity. Twenty years after the ordinations, this goal has sadly not yet been attained. The remission of the excommunication has the same aim as that of the punishment: namely, to invite the four Bishops once more to return. This gesture was possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council. Here I return to the distinction between individuals and institutions. The remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

Chris said...

"I am not Spartacus " in his image appears to be a monkey at a desk with keyboard and computer. If one takes his remarks too seriously they are bound to slip on a few banana peels...