the Church From Mr John Beaumont Dear Sir, In his letter (Jan 10) Fr Jacques Emily of the Society of St Pius X quotes Cardinal Lara as saying that "the act of consecrating a bishop without the Pope's permission is not in itself a schismatic act."
The Cardinal did say that, but it does not mean that he believed there was no schism. On the contrary, the Cardinal stated in the same interview (published in La Repubblica for July 10th 1988): "In the case of Lefebvre and the four priests consecrated bishops by him, there are two offences, canonically speaking. that they have committed. The fundamental offence is that of schism: that is, refusing submission to the Roman Pontiff and breaking communion with the Church. This offence they had already previously committed. Only that, now, the second offence, that of consecrating bishops, formalises, in a certain sense, and concretises the first and makes it explicit."
Furthermore, in a letter to me, dated May 26 1993, the Cardinal confirmed that this was what he
had stated on the occasion in question and concluded his letter with these words: "With regard to Econe, Lefebvre and the four priests, they are under two excommunications: one for the offence of schism, the other, reserved to the Apostolic See, for the offence of consecrating a bishop without a pontifical mandate." The full details of the Lara case are dealt with in two articles written by myself and published in an American journal (see Fidelity, March 1994 and November 1996). These have been brought to the attention of the SSPX on a number of occasions, yet still the disinformation continues.
Fr. Emily also refers to canons 1323 and 1324 of the code of Canon Law. These canons do not justify Archbishop Lefebvre. Both are concerned with the ;mphcation of a penalty on an individual. They allow mitigation of that penalty if there was necessity or if the individual in question believed that there was necessity. But, these provisions do not affect the objective status of the act in question, which, as the Pope stated in his apostolic letter, Ecclesia Dei, was a schismatic act. Also, the
SSPX is strangely' silent about canon 333(3), which states that there is no appeal against a judgment or decree of the Holy See.
Fr. Emily claims that the SSPX is indefectibly attached to tradition and the Pope. Well. here are some of the things that the SSPX does: I . It establishes seminaries, churches. chapels. and priories throughout the world, without any reference to the local ordinaries in whose dioceses it carries out these acts. 2. It ordains priests without the dimissorial letters required by canon law. 3. It hears confessions and celebrates marriages without jurisdiction. 4. It carries out confirmations in other bishops' dioceses contrary to the Council of Trent. 5. It purports to accept John Paul II as Pope and yet rejects parts of the 1983 Code of Canon Law promulgated by him in his capacity as supreme legislator. 6. It consecrated four bishops knowing this was against the express will of the Pope and then three years later consecrated a further bishop in a diocese (Campos) where, as the SSPX itself recognised, there was already a valid bishop. Is this really how one should witness to tradition and the Pope?
The argument about the preservation of the Tridentine Mass is a red herring. since no-one claims that this is the reason for the schism. And as to the nature of the Second Vatican Council. it was duly convened and confirmed by the Pope. General Councils are binding on the faithful. The present Pope has said that all councils are "pastoral", because the bishops are pastors of the Church. This one also issued two dogmatic constitutions.
The serious nature of a crisis in the Church is never a reason for leaving her, which breaking communion with the whole Church and the Pope always amounts to. In the difficulties of today true Catholic witness is needed more than ever before. but this can only come in communion with the Church and the successor of St. Peter. What is more. the SSPX has the opportunity to do this. It has only to accept the recent remarkably generous offer by Rome under which it could return to the fold and in this way endeavour to live up to the words of Cardinal Gagnon (written of course before the final break).
Yours faithfully. JOHN BEAUMONT, Low Bentham, North Yorks