J.M.J. July 23, 2008
Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,
Recent circumstances oblige me to clarify the confusion that surrounds our friends, the transalpine non-Redemptorists, from Papa Stronsay. On June 18 Father Michael Mary Sim formally requested the lifting of the so-called suspensions incurred by the reception of orders from a bishop who is not in regular canonical standing, as he himself stated on July 1: “I humbly petitioned the Holy See on my own behalf and on behalf of the monastery council for our priestly suspensions to be lifted.“
A suspension is a canonical punishment, imposed by the Church, to bring about the amendment of the culpable priest. It can only be incurred when there is a mortal sin of disobedience or disrespect for the Church’s law. It is absolved when the cleric concerned proves that he is no longer contumacious, namely that he truly regrets having broken the law of the Church, that he purposes to make reparation and that he will not break it again in the future. This request for the lifting of suspensions necessarily included all the above; namely regret for receiving orders from the bishops of the Society, the firm purpose of separating from Tradition and being united to the post-conciliar church, and the promise of no longer breaking technical canonical requirements by receiving orders from traditional bishops. In agreeing to all the above, the priests and brothers from Papa Stronsay have not only betrayed Archbishop Lefebvre’s Operation Survival. Whether they like it or not, they have in addition made a public statement to the effect that no such extraordinary action was or is necessary, and consequently that it is grievously wrong.
If the Society of Saint Pius X had agreed to “humbly”, that is with an acknowledgment of grievous fault, request the lifting of the so-called excommunications of the bishops, it would have done the same thing. Understanding what a canonical censure really is, you can understand why it is that this cannot at all be an option. This is not a question of humility, but rather a question of truthfulness and of the Faith. In any case, a censure being a medicinal punishment, having as its goal to bring about the conversion of a culpable priest, there is nothing to stop Rome from unilaterally lifting such a censure, should it accept that traditional priests are not at fault for being traditional, and that Tradition does have rights. Alas, this has yet to happen.
Father Sim goes on to explain: “On June 26 I received word that the Holy See had granted our petition. All canonical censures have been lifted. Our community now truly rejoices in the undisputed and peaceful possession of Communion with the Holy See because our priests are in good canonical standing.” This is a very strange statement, for the censure that was lifted was not one of excommunication, but one of suspension. Suspension in no way separates from the Communion of the Catholic Church (as excommunication does), nor does it even prevent the suspended priest from receiving the sacraments, but only from administering them. Not even Rome required the absolution from an excommunication, and consequently did not claim that there was separation from Communion. This is not disputed.
The only explanation for this statement is that Father Sim has accepted the modernist principle of varying degrees of Communion adopted by the Vatican II document on Ecumenism, §3. It is in virtue of this theory that Catholics who do not agree with Collegiality, that is democracy in the Church, are accused of having a schismatic mentality and a lesser degree of communion, simply because they refuse to accept the majority opinion and because they cause division by manifesting their “disunity” of opinion. This “collegiate unity” is entirely different from the traditional concept of Communion, which is the Church’s sharing of the same Faith, sacraments, Mass and submission to rightful authority. In fact, Collegiate unity (often called Communion) is defined in the Vatican II document on the Church as having to do with the personal relationship of concord with the bishops and the Pope: “Collegiate unity is also apparent in the mutual relations of each bishop to individual dioceses and with the universal Church….The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular churches….in a bond of peace, love and unity” (L.G. §23) If traditional Catholics are accused of failing to have “undisputed and peaceful possession”, it is this “collegiate unity” that they refuse to possess, and not at all Communion in the traditional sense.
However, Father Sim’s community will no longer be able to “offend” in this regard, for they have lost all leverage! The local Ordinary, under whose authority alone they can receive canonical approval, will insist on this. It is of course not at all true that they are already in good canonical standing. As Father himself has admitted, the lifting of the “censures” is just the first step in the process of canonical regularization. The next steps depend on Bishop Peter Moran, Bishop of Aberdeen, with whom he will have to negotiate with “collegiate unity.” As the Vicar General of the diocese stated on July 21: “Further negotiation has to take place before they are permitted to operate licitly as a unit within the Catholic Church. The objections that the community have to the Catholic Church run much deeper than simply the form of celebrating Mass. They have to do with the attitude of the Transalpine Redemptorists to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and to resolve these problems may be quite difficult.” Canonical standing will consequently depend upon the good will of a modernist bishop with whom they must be in agreement on Vatican II! No compromise, huh!
The first of the obligations to be imposed upon the Papa Stronsay community was that they would be non-Redemptorists. They have been forbidden to use the name Redemptorist, and consequently of the Redemptorist habit and rule. One would have thought this to have been unacceptable, since the entire purpose of their foundation and religious life was to be faithful to St. Alphonsus as true Redemptorists, unlike the modernist Redemptorists, who have abandoned the rule and the spirit. Moreover, the declaration that they are not now Redemptorists, effectively admits that they have never been, and nullifies the public vows of the past 20 years. Yet Father Sim declares concerning the new name, “The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer“: “We thank God for our new name which we receive as coming to us directly from Him through a holy priest from outside our community. We profoundly thank our spiritual benefactors who prayed for us, and the abovementioned Father who was inspired to give it to us.“
Supplied Jurisdiction & Religious Life
One of the most troubling aspects of this whole negotiation is the false reason that Father Sim gives, after the fact, for his decision to approach the Novus Ordo establishment. He claims that the Society of Saint Pius X, which has supplied jurisdiction for the administration of sacraments such as Matrimony and Penance, does not consider that it has supplied jurisdiction with respect to the Religious Life (Website, July 18). He then uses this as a justification for seeking jurisdiction from the post-conciliar church.
His claim is clearly and manifestly false, as anybody familiar with the workings of the Society of Saint Pius X since 1991 can verify. In normal times, it is the responsibility of the diocesan bishop to grant the initial approval to religious communities in his diocese, waiting for them to extend to several dioceses and be approved by Rome. While he was alive, Archbishop Lefebvre performed this function for the traditional religious communities, approving their statutes, correcting any abuses, acting as a point of reference for any disputes. This he did in virtue of supplied jurisdiction. On January 15, 1991, just two months before going to his eternal reward, he asked the Society’s bishops to keep up the same work of responsibility for the religious communities of Tradition, along with the other functions of supplied jurisdiction.
As long as the present Roman authorities are steeped in Ecumenism and Modernism and seeing that all their decisions and the 1983 Code of Canon Law are influenced by these false principles, it will be necessary to form authorities of Supplied Jurisdiction, that will faithfully preserve the Catholic principles of Catholic Tradition and the Catholic Canon Law. It is the only way of remaining faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Apostles, to the deposit of Faith that was handed down to their legitimate successorswhco remained faithful until Vatican II. As regards the problem of Commissions, supplying in a certain measure for the failure on the part of Roman Congregations headed by prelates imbued with the revolutionary principles of the Council, it seems to me that they ought to have modest beginnings, in accordance with arising necessities, so that this institution can be of a help to priests in their ministry or to religious in cases that they have difficulty in resolving or in cases where Episcopal authorizations are required.
There was no doubt in the mind of the Society of Saint Pius X as to the meaning of the Archbishop’s words, and so that very year were created the Canonical Commission and the Bishop responsible for Religious, as the official Regulations of the Society of Saint Pius X published in 1997 state: “These two functions were created in 1991 in order to be able to continue after the death of Archbishop Lefebvre that which he had accomplished in a suppletory manner from 1970 to 1991.“
In fact, the Society has never had a narrow view of supplied jurisdiction. It has always applied the Canon Law principles of the analogy of law (= using accepted principles of law in similar situations) and canonical equity (= what is rightly required for the salvation of souls, the highest law) to prove the existence of supplied jurisdiction in situations not specifically mentioned in the Code. For all that it has to to is to establish a positive and probable doubt in such situations, in which case the Church certainly does supply jurisdiction (Ib.) Thus the above mentioned document states: “The bishops of the Society, devoid of all territorial jurisdiction, have, nevertheless, the necessary supplied jurisdiction to exercise the powers that are attached to the Episcopal office…” (Ib.)
Furthermore, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais clearly explained these principles in a lengthy conference given to traditional Catholic study groups in Paris on March 10, 1991, whilst the Archbishop was still alive:
Normally jurisdiction is necessary for licitness, that is to say, in order that the act of the priest be licit or permissible. For example, to preach a priest must normally have a mandate, or, for a bishop to confirm in another diocese than his own, he must have a mandate from the diocesan bishop. In order to ordain priests a bishop must have a mandate from the diocesan bishop. In order to ordain priests a bishop must normally have jurisdiction and this is, of course, all the more so for the consecration of bishops…In an exceptional situation the Church supplies for this absence of jurisdiction on the part of the priest or even the bishop. And the more serious the crisis is, the more necessary it will be to fall back on this supplying of the Church on a higher level. This is what happened on June 30, 1988… You can easily see, my dear friends, that it is the case of necessity amonst the faithful which is responsible for the fact that traditional priests and bishops have a supplied jurisdiction with respect to your needs. This is not only so that they may validly hear confessions and validly assist at marriages, but also for all the acts of their priestly or Episcopal ministry.
This is a clear statement that supplied jurisdiction extends as far as the needs of the faithful. For priests and religious this need includes traditional bishops, who alone can approve statutes and foundations of religious communities and correct abuses. Like all traditional Catholics, the former Redemptorists have very frequently taken advantage of supplied jurisdiction for their own benefit, such as for Confirmations and the various Ordinations, as well as using it themselves in their pastoral work and missions. Their needs, like those of any religious community, include having a bishop responsible for religious, as the diocesan bishop normally is in his diocese. The Society has always provided for this need, through Archbishop Lefebvre until 1991, then Bishop Fellay until he was elected Superior General, and since 1994 through Bishop DeGalarreta, who is the bishop responsible for the religious communities of Tradition. In the light of such clear teaching, it is hardly credible to hear Father Sim now claim that the Society “agreed that there was no supplied jurisdiction for religious superiors”, a claim, moreover, that Bishop Fellay explicitly and immediately denied.
This contention does, however, illustrate a very important point. If there were no extension of supplied jurisdiction to every aspect of the Church’s disciplinary and sacramental life, if the crisis in the Church did not impose upon Tradition the responsibility of organizing itself, and of providing for all the needs of the faithful, then we would all be forced to place ourselves under the modernists, just as the non-Redemptorists are now doing. It would be complete and utter capitulation. It would be the end of the traditional resistance, and ultimately of traditional doctrine, spirituality, and of the Mass that only the Society’s firm position can guarantee. How we must thank God for Archbishop Lefebvre’s clarity of foresight, and breadth of understanding of the supernatural mystery of the Church, and of supplied jurisdiction, which has protected us from the paralysis of formalism and legalism into which the modernists are constantly striving to trap us.
An Ecumenical Pope
Benedict XVI’s recent performance does not, alas, allow for any real expectation of a change in this crisis. It was indeed with an ecumenical ceremony that he opened the Paulinian year, on June 28, together with the schismatic patriarch of Constantinople and a representant of the heretical Anglican primate, stating: “It is for me a motive of great joy that the opening of the Paulinian Year takes on a special ecumenical character, by the presence of numerous delegates and representatives of other churches and ecclesial communities, whom I welcome with an open heart.” It is consequently hardly surprising that he has been reported as supporting Dr. Rowan Williams in his efforts to preserve some kind of Anglican Communion at the present Lambeth conference, discouraging the separation of conservatives over the issues of women bishops and homosexual bishops. He is in fact quoted as having stated in an interview on the airplane to Australia on July 13 that he was praying that the Anglican community could find a way to “avoid schisms and splits” by means of solutions “that also are faithful to the gospel”. (Independent.co.uk & AP) What a missed opportunity of encouraging “bishops” to split from their heretical, false communion, that has no holy orders and tolerates perversion in its ministers! Instead, he will be sending three Cardinals to assist at the meeting.
Last week’s World Youth Day in Sydney was another missed opportunity. Obsessed with the preoccupation of Ecumenism, the Pope did not promote any specifically Catholic initiative, such as devotion to Christ the King, consecration to the Sacred Heart, or to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the recitation of the Rosary. Instead, he spoke in very general terms, equally acceptable to non-catholic religious people, of the “spiritual desert” of “materialism” and called for “a new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deadens our souls and poisons our relationships” (Jan. 20). Although such remarks about the state of the modern world are perfectly true, such a “new age” is neither a specifically Catholic response, nor a return to Tradition, nor any answer to the crisis in the Church It is no real response that would reduce the need for supplied jurisdiction. It is hardly surprising that Reuters described this world youth day thus: “It has been called the Church’s version of Woodstock; five days and nights of peace, love, and Christianity. More than 165 concerts have been staged, from religious music to heavy metal, acid jazz, and rap, along with mass confessionals and prayer meetings”.
Can there be any answer but prayer? Let us not cease to offer our Masses and Communions for Holy Mother Church, in reparation for the excesses, abuses, and betrayals perpetuated in her name. Let us offer our Rosaries as the penance requested by Our Lady of Lourdes, that the Immaculate Heart of Mary might triumph over souls, and especially in the Church’s hierarchy.
Yours faithfully in the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts,
Father Peter R. Scott