By Stephen Ho

(Stephen Ho's email address is )

Stephen Ho of Singapore used to be with the SSPX (Asian District) for many years. He left it in 1999, after he realised its many errors and deceptions.


I have read a number of articles against the International Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Although they essentially say that the SSPX presents the false perspective concerning the issues of the consecration of bishops, schism, and excommunication, they either seem rather scattered and lack clear cohesion, or do not seem to place enough emphasis on the significance of the sacramental perpetuation of the apostolic succession. It is my intention in this short study to make up for what is lacking. I will leave all quotations to a section after this short study, so as not to encumber the text.

Let us first determine the correct perspective. In 1988, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a member of the Episcopal Office, created four new members to the Episcopal Office. The Episcopal Office of the Roman Catholic Church succeeded the Apostles, and consists of all the Bishops in union with the Pope. It is also known as the College of Bishops. The consecrations can also be defined as the sacramental perpetuation of the apostolic succession [1]. All Bishops possess the fullness of Holy Orders (or the fullness of the priesthood), and they usually possess the power of jurisdiction. The Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, is the Head and the Principle of Unity of the Episcopal Office. He is, consequently, the Principle of Unity in the Roman Catholic Church. This was instituted by Christ Himself [2]. In a little known letter dated 9 June 1988 from the Pope to Archbishop Lefebvre, the Pope made it clear that he was against the proposed episcopal consecrations [3]. Hence, to act against the will of the Pope by consecrating the four priests as bishops was to attack the Principle of Unity within the Episcopal Office. This, in turn, attacked the Pope as the Principle of Unity within the Roman Catholic Church, since the Episcopal Office unites the Roman Catholic Church.

In an article One Schism Can Hide Another, by Father Patrick de La Rocque of the SSPX (The Angelus, October 1998 issue), it is claimed that the Pope had said that there had been schism only because he (Pope John Paul II ) had adhered to the theory that jurisdiction is granted automatically each time a bishop is consecrated, without the need for papal mandate (the Episcopal Theory). This contradicts the theory that jurisdiction is granted only by the Pope (the Papal Theory). To Fr de la Rocque, the Papal Theory is the correct theory. This, in turn, justifies the 1988 episcopal consecrations, since Pope John Paul II had acted on the wrong theory. By acting on the wrong theory, Pope John Paul II thought that his primacy in matters of jurisdiction had been attacked. What Father de la Rocque and others like him have failed to realise is that what is common to both theories is that the episcopal consecrations perpetuate sacramentally the apostolic succession. Hence, with what I have said in the preceding paragraph of this short study, Fr de la Rocque’s claims are false.

We can see clearly that it is false for the SSPX to claim that the case of the 1988 episcopal consecrations performed by Archbishop Lefebvre was merely a matter of disobedience, and not a denial of Papal authority. He had acted against the will of the Pope. Further , schism and heresy can be treated separately, as one can see in the history of the Church. Hence, it is also false for the SSPX to claim that the need to protect the Faith justified the 1988 episcopal consecrations. Another SSPX argument, that Divine Law should take precedence over man - made Church Laws [4], is false, as the 1988 consecrations attacked what Christ had instituted, as I showed in the second paragraph.

As for the comparison of the disobedient child that the SSPX uses, it fails to take into consideration the fact that the parent had disowned the child, in addition to the fact that the child was disobedient. Also, disobedience to a parent by a child is never the same as schism and excommunication in the Church. Finally, the sacramental perpetuation of the apostolic succession is involved in the 1988 episcopal conscrations, which is not the case in a parent-child conflict. The comparison is faulty.

It is true that by performing episcopal consecrations without Papal mandate, there is the penalty of a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See. It is also true that this penalty is not applicable under certain circumstances [4]. Let us consider a hypothetical situation of the Church being persecuted in a certain country. The life of the Archbishop of that country is threatened, and decides to consecrate a Bishop, so that the faithful under his care will not be deprived the benefits of the episcopacy, especially the administration of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders. However, he cannot obtain Papal mandate, since all forms of communication between him and the Pope have been blocked. In such a situation, he can be justified for performing an episcopal consecration without Papal mandate in the light of Canon Law.

Is this true in the case of Archbishop Lefebvre et al ? After all that I have considered so far, I cannot think that it would be the same in his case. In his case, there was not simply episcopal consecrations without Papal mandate, but episcopal consecrations against the will of the Pope in which Papal mandate would logically be absent. Also, Archbishop Lefebvre was offered a solution to the dilemma he was in with the Protocol of Agreement , which he and Cardinal Ratzinger signed on 5 May 1988. Archbishop Lefebvre later backed away from this Protocol of Agreement because of the suspicions he had about the motives behind the Protocol of Agreement. Although the Pope agreed to choose a candidate from the SSPX to be consecrated on 15 August 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre decided that this meant that he (Archbishop Lefebvre) could choose and consecrate four bishops on another date, that is, 30 June 1988 [5]. Apart from warnings from the Pope (in his letter dated June 9, 1988) and Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal Gantin issued a monitum on behalf of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June 1988. Hence, Archbishop Lefebvre could not claim ignorance [6].

Further, one must consider the fact that the Pope is the Supreme Judge in the Roman Catholic Church. Hence, the judgements he passes are supreme, and cannot be changed by anyone , since he does not have a superior and an equal on earth [7]. It might be argued that, in the case of the 1988 episcopal consecrations, the Pope did not pass judgement, but had merely made observation of the fact that a certain crime, certain canons, and a penalty had been involved. The motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta of 2 July 1988 as a whole is witness to the fact that the Pope was not ignorant of what had been happening and had acted as the Supreme Judge in the matter. Also, it is a fact that he had approved and promulgated the Code of Canon Law as the Supreme Legislator of the Roman Catholic Church, which means that the penalty of latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See was imposed by him in advance.

This short study has briefly considered the false perspective employed by the SSPX to justify the 1988 episcopal consecrations. If what I have said is true, how can one in good conscience either support the SSPX in any way or merely attend its Masses? To be a Roman Catholic, one cannot simply say that the SSPX is justified, since it upholds traditional Catholic moral values, traditional Catholic doctrines, and the Tridentine Mass, and claims adherence to the Pope. We must avoid all forms of deception and submit to the Pope, as the following solemnly defined dogma is clear:

We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

(The Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302, by Pope Boniface VIII )

[1] From the Apostolic Letter, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, July 2, 1988 , by Pope John Paul II :

3. In itself this act was one of disobedience to the Roman pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the Church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience--which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy--constitutes a schismatic act. [Code of Canon Law, 751.] In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops last June 17, Archbishop Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law. [Cf. Code of Canon Law, 1382.]

[2] From the preamble of SESSION 4 : 18 July 1870, First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, The First Vatican Council :

Pius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record.

The eternal shepherd and guardian of our souls, in order to render permanent the saving work of redemption, determined to build a church in which, as in the house of the living God, all the faithful should be linked by the bond of one faith and charity. Therefore, before he was glorified, he besought his Father, not for the apostles only, but also for those who were to believe in him through their word, that they all might be one as the Son himself and the Father are one. So then, just as he sent apostles, whom he chose out of the world, even as he had been sent by the Father, in like manner it was his will that in his church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time. In order, then, that the episcopal office should be one and undivided and that, by the union of the clergy, the whole multitude of believers should be held together in the unity of faith and communion, he set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and their visible foundation.

Upon the strength of this foundation was to be built the eternal temple, and the church whose topmost part reaches heaven was to rise upon the firmness of this foundation . And since the gates of hell trying, if they can, to overthrow the church, make their assault with a hatred that increases day by day against its divinely laid foundation, we judge it necessary, with the approbation of the sacred council, and for the protection, defence and growth of the catholic flock, to propound the doctrine concerning the institution, permanence and nature of the sacred and apostolic primacy, upon which the strength and coherence of the whole church depends.

This doctrine is to be believed and held by all the faithful in accordance with the ancient and unchanging faith of the whole church. Furthermore, we shall proscribe and condemn the contrary errors which are so harmful to the Lord's flock.

[3] The letter from the Pope to Archbishop Lefebvre, dated 9 June 1988:

To His Excellency
Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre

Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Tulle

It is with intense and profound affliction that I have read your letter dated 2 June.

Guided solely by concern for the unity of the Church in fidelity to revealed Truth – an imperative duty imposed on the successor of the Apostle Peter – I had arranged last year an Apostolic Visitation of the St. Pius X Fraternity and its work, which was carried out by Cardinal Edouard Gagnon. Conversations followed, first with experts of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then between yourself and Cardinal Ratzinger. In the course of these meetings, solutions had been drawn up , accepted and signed by you on 5 May 1988. They permitted the St Pius X Fraternity to exist and work in the Church in full communion with the Sovereign Pontiff, the Guardian of unity in the Truth. For its part, the Apostolic See pursued only one end in these conversations with you : to promote and safeguard this unity in obedience to divine Revelation, translated and interpreted by the Church’s Magisterium, notably in the twenty-one Ecumenical Councils from Nicaea to Vatican II.

In the letter you sent me, you appear to reject all that was agreed on in the previous conversations, since you clearly manifest your intention to “provide the means to continue your Work”, particularly by proceeding shortly and without apostolic mandate to one or several episcopal ordinations, and this in flagrant contradiction not only with the norms of Canon Law, but also with the Protocol signed on 5 May and the directions relevant to this problem contained in the letter which Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to you on my instructions on 30 May.

With a paternal heart, but with all the gravity required by the present circumstances, I exhort you, Revered Brother, not to embark upon a course which, if persisted in, cannot but appear a a schismatical act whose inevitable theological and canonical consequences are known to you. I earnestly invite you to return, in humility, to full obedience to Christ’s Vicar.

Not only do I invite you to do so, but I also ask it of you through the wounds of Christ our Redeemer, in the name of Christ who, on the eve of His Passion, prayed for His disciples “that they all may be one” (Jn 17 : 20).

To this request and to this invitation, I unite my daily prayer to Mary, Mother of Christ.

Dear Brother, do not permit that the Year dedicated in a very special way to the Mother of God should bring another wound to her Mother’s Heart!

From the Vatican, 9 June 1988.

[4] From the book Most Asked Questions about the Society of St Pius X by the Fathers of Holy Cross Seminary (Angelus Press, 1997) :

pages 49 and 50:

Now, the excommunication warned of on June 17, for abuse of episcopal powers (canon 1382), was not incurred because:

1) A person who violates a law out of necessity is not subject to a penalty (1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 1323, §4), even if there is no state of necessity :

if one inculpably thought there was, he would not incur the penalty (canon 1323, 7°), and if one culpably thought there was, he would still incur no automatic penalties (canon 1324, §3; §1, 8°).

2) No penalty is ever incurred without committing a subjective mortal sin (canons 1321 §1, 1323 7°). Now, Archbishop Lefebvre made it amply clear that he was bound in conscience to do what he could do to continue the Catholic priesthood and that he was obeying God in going ahead with the consecrations. Hence, even if he had been wrong, there would be no subjective sin.

3)Most importantly, positive law is at the service of the natural and eternal law and ecclesiastical law is at that of the divine law (PRINCIPLE 8). No “authority,” can force a bishop to compromise in his teaching of Catholic faith or administering of Catholic sacraments. No “law,” can force him to cooperate in the destruction of the Church. With Rome giving no guarantee of preserving Catholic Tradition, Archbishop Lefebvre had to do what he could with his God-given episcopal powers to guarantee its preservation. It was his duty as a bishop.

Page 6 :


Likewise the liberty of those who are in authority does not consist in the power to lay unreasonable and capricious commands upon their subjects...but the binding force of human laws is in this, that they are to be regarded as applications of the eternal law, and incapable of sanctioning anything which is not contained in the eternal law, as in the principle of all law (Leo XIII, Libertas §10).

[5] From A CANONICAL HISTORY OF THE LEFEBVRITE SCHISM by Peter J. Vere (Master's Seminar - DCA 6395, Prof. William Woestman, O.M.I., Faculty of Canon Law, Saint Paul University, Ontario, Canada, 1999) :


After intense negotiation, on May 5, 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre and Cardinal Ratzinger were able to sign a protocol agreement between the Holy See and the SSPX.(72) The protocol's main purpose was to regularize the SSPX as a clerical society of apostolic life of pontifical right, remove all censures against the clergy and laity within the Lefebvrite movement, and provide for their future pastoral care. Within the broad scope of the protocol, Lefebvre agreed to recognize the authenticity of the Second Vatican Council and the reformed Roman liturgy of Paul VI, while the groundwork was laid for the future of the tridentinist movement.

Besides the regularization of chapels affiliated with the SSPX and permission to continue using the liturgical missal of 1962, the Holy See agreed to name a candidate from among the ranks of the SSPX presbyters whom Archbishop Lefebvre would be permitted to consecrate to the episcopacy. The particular text within the protocol agreement translates as follows:

5.2 But, for practical and psychological reasons, the consecration of a member of the [SSPX] as a bishop seems useful. This is why, in the context of the doctrinal and canonical solution of reconciliation, we suggest to the Holy Father that he name a bishop chosen from among the members of the [SSPX], presented by Archbishop Lefebvre. In consequence of the principle indicated above (5.1), this bishop as a rule is not the Superior General of the Society.(73) But it seems opportune that he be a member of the Roman commission.(74)

In short, the new bishop would provide for the ordination of SSPX clergy and the confirmation of tridentinist laity according to the 1962 liturgical usage. Additionally, the Holy See agreed to establish a Roman commission composed of members named from both the Holy See and the SSPX, of which the SSPX bishop would be a member ex officio. The main purpose of the Roman Commission would be to resolve future questions arising between the Holy See and the SSPX.

Yet if the Holy See thought that most problems between the Church and the SSPX had been resolved, new problems began to surface almost immediately over the consecration of bishops. The Holy See had agreed to consecrate a bishop for the SSPX, fixing the date for August 15, 1988.(75) In a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger dated May 24, 1988, Lefebvre began to waiver from the protocol agreement, stating:

Upon reflection, it appears clear that the goal of these dialogues is to reabsorb us within the Conciliar Church, the only Church to which you make allusion during these meetings... Therefore, with much regret we feel obliged to ask that, before the date of June 1st, you indicated clearly to us what the intentions of the Holy See are on these two points: consecration of three bishops asked for June 30th, and a majority of members from Tradition in the Roman Commission... Without an answer to this request, I shall proceed with the publication of the names of the candidates to the episcopacy whom I will consecrate on June 30th with the collaboration of His Excellency Bishop de Castro Mayer.(76)

In effect, three main problems arise out of Lefebvre's letter. First, it would appear that Lefebvre and the SSPX had adopted an attitude of schism, in not wishing to be part of the "[Post-] Conciliar Church." In light of his suspicion, Lefebvre now requested that a majority of the members on the Roman Commission be named from his movement, rather than two of the five as outlined in the protocol agreement.(77) Perhaps some arrangement would have been possible with regards to the Roman Commission, however, it was Lefebvre's second demand which proved more problematical for the Holy See. No longer satisfied with a single bishop to be consecrated on August 15th of the same year, Lefebvre now threatened to proceed illicitly if Rome would not meet his demand of more bishops at a sooner date.

In response to Lefebvre's new demands, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote Lefebvre on May 30, 1988, clearly stating the Holy See's position as follows:

Concerning the first point, the Holy Father deems it proper to adhere to the principles fixed in point II/2 of the Protocol which you accepted. This Commission is an organism of the Holy See in the service of the [SSPX] and the diverse instances which will have to be handled to establish and consolidate the work of reconciliation. Moreover, it is not the Commission, but the Holy Father who in the final analysis will make the decisions; thus the question of a majority does not arise; the interests of the Society are guaranteed by its representation within the Commission, and the fears which you have expressed are groundless, since the choice of members will be done by the Holy Father himself... Regarding the second point, the Holy Father confirms what I had already indicated to you on his behalf, namely that he is disposed to appoint a member of the [SSPX] as a bishop (in the sense of point II/5.2 of the Protocol), and to accelerate the usual process of nomination, so that the consecration could take place on the closing of the Marian Year, this coming August 15.(78)

Essentially, Cardinal Ratzinger was outlining the position of the Holy See as to what was agreed upon with regards to the Roman Commission and the consecration of bishops. On the topic of the Roman Commission, Lefebvre was being called to honor his signature, firmly reminded that his rights would be safeguarded by the representation of the SSPX on this commission, however, the final authority must lay with the Roman Pontiff. With regards to the consecration of bishops, both the Holy See and the SSPX agreed within the protocol agreement to the consecration of a single bishop, for which the Holy See had set a specific date. Hence, the position of the Holy See with regards to these issues was clearly articulated by Cardinal Ratzinger both in the protocol agreement and in his subsequent correspondence with Lefebvre.

Nevertheless, rather than bring Lefebvre into obedience and thus reconcile the SSPX with the Holy See, the negative response to Lefebvre's requests would serve as the basis for his first canonical argument in support of his illicit consecration of bishops. In a letter to the Holy Father dated June 2, 1988, Lefebvre writes:

That is why we are asking for several bishops chosen from within the Catholic Tradition, and for a majority of the members on the projected Roman Commission for Tradition, in order to protect ourselves against all compromise... Given the refusal to consider our requests, and it being evident that the purpose of this reconciliation is not at all the same in the eyes of the Holy See as it is in our eyes, we believe it preferable to wait for times more propitious for the return of Rome to Tradition... we shall give ourselves the means to carry on the work which Providence has entrusted to us, being assured by His Eminence Cardinal Ratzinger's letter of May 30th, that the episcopal consecration is not contrary to the will of the Holy See, since it was granted for August 15th.(79)

While the above quotation from Lefebvre reveals the spirit of schism which had begun to overtake the SSPX, a more immediate canonical issue arises, namely whether or not Lefebvre truly had the mandate from the Holy See to proceed with the episcopal consecrations of four bishops on June 30, 1988. For as canon 1013 clearly states, "no bishop is permitted to consecrate anyone as Bishop, unless it is first established that a pontifical mandate has been issued."(80) With Cardinal Ratzinger's letter of May 30, Lefebvre would maintain that he had the necessary pontifical mandate to proceed with the episcopal consecrations of June 30, 1988.

In light of the present canonical jurisprudence of the Catholic Church, Lefebvre's assertion of a mandate is at best tenuous. While "Archbishop Lefebvre does not say here that the Holy See agrees with all the particular circumstances of the consecrations, merely to its principle,"(81) the particulars vis-à-vis the episcopal consecrations disputed by Lefebvre are serious enough that they cannot be divorced from the agreement in principle with the Holy See. For as c. 17 dictates as follows:

Ecclesiastical laws are to be understood according to the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful or obscure, there must be recourse to parallel places, if there be any, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator.

One cannot dispute that the Holy See had accepted Cardinal Ratzinger's recommendation permitting Lefebvre be permitted to consecrate a single bishop from among the SSPX. However, the Holy See clearly intended to permit the provision of a bishop within the context of a protocol agreement which would reconcile the SSPX to the Holy See. Whereas the context within which Lefebvre now claimed the mandate to proceed with the consecration of multiple bishops is one of prolonged irregularity. Thus both the meaning and the context of the mandate to consecrate a bishop is abundantly clear within the protocol agreement, and neither accords with Lefebvre's interpretation.

Nevertheless, this raises a second problem with regards to Lefebvre's claim of a papal mandate for his episcopal consecrations, that of the mind of the Roman Pontiff with regards to the particulars in mandating for the provision of an SSPX bishop. The mind of the Holy Father, as clearly indicated within the protocol agreement, and subsequently confirmed by Cardinal Ratzinger in his letter to Lefebvre, was that Lefebvre be permitted to consecrate a single bishop to be named by the Holy See from among the members of the SSPX. The Holy See later provided a specific date for the episcopal consecration, that of August 15, 1988. Yet from this permission, Lefebvre now claimed a mandate in principle to consecrate at an earlier date multiple bishops of his choosing -- which is clearly contrary to the mind of the Holy See in allowing for the provision of a single SSPX bishop. Hence, Lefebvre cannot claim adherence to the mandate of the Holy Father in proceeding with multiple episcopal consecrations at a date of his own choosing.

However, even if the SSPX were to argue neither the context nor the mind of the Holy Father was clear within the protocol agreement, and thus c. 17 is inapplicable to the situation -- an argument which would seem hypothetical at best given the fact that in his letters to Cardinal Ratzinger and the Holy Father, Lefebvre admits both the mind and context of the Holy See in mandating for the provision of an SSPX bishop within the protocol agreement -- the obligation still exists on the part of Lefebvre not to simply interpret a broad mandate in principle from the Holy See. Rather, having sought recourse to the Holy See as to the interpretation of the clause which provides for the consecration of a bishop, Lefebvre was obliged to abide by the response given to him by Cardinal Ratzinger. For in accordance with c. 16 §1, "Laws are authentically interpreted by the legislator and by that person to whom the legislator entrusts the power of authentic interpretation."

In effect, whatever ambiguity remain after the signing of the protocol agreement as to the interpretation of the provision for the consecration of a bishop, was to be lawfully interpreted by the Holy See. Having been entrusted by Pope John Paul II with the authentic interpretation of the protocol agreement, once Cardinal Ratzinger reiterated the Holy See's position with regards to the consecration of a bishop, Lefebvre was obliged under c. 16 "1 to adhere to this interpretation. Therefore, Lefebvre's assumption of an agreement in principle for the episcopal consecrations of his own choosing is contrary to the canonical legislation in force at the time of the protocol agreement.

In light of the above application of general norms, Lefebvre's followers cannot sustain their argument in favor of validly possessing a mandate in principle from the Holy See to proceed with the consecration of bishops; for in ignoring the context and intention of the legislator with which the mandate was granted, as well as in unilaterally changing the particulars of the initial mandate against the express will of the legislator, Lefebvre acted against the express mandate of the Holy See in consecrating multiple bishops.

[6] From: "A Canonical History Of The Lefebvrite Schism", by Peter J. Vere (Master's Seminar - DCA 6395, Prof. William Woestman, O.M.I., Faculty of Canon Law, Saint Paul University, Ontario, Canada, 1999):


On June 9, 1988, Pope John Paul II replied to Lefebvre's letter of June 2, exhorting him not to proceed with the illicit consecration of bishops, and reiterating the position of the Holy See as follows:

In the letter you sent me you appear to reject all that was agreed on in the previous conversations, since you clearly manifest your intention to "provide the means yourself to continue your work," particularly by proceeding shortly and without apostolic mandate to one or several episcopal ordinations, and this in flagrant contradiction not only with the norms of Canon Law, but also with the Protocol signed on May 5th and the directions relevant to this problem contained in the letter which Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to you on my instructions on May 30th.(82)

From the above letter Archbishop Lefebvre was clearly forewarned by the Holy Father that he lacked the necessary pontifical mandate to proceed with his episcopal consecrations, and in so doing he would violate both the norms of canon law as well as the Protocol agreement. Furthermore, the Holy Father confirmed that his mind in this matter had been clearly stated by Cardinal Ratzinger in his letter of May 30th.

This would not deter Lefebvre from proceeding with his press conference on June 15, 1988, in order to publicly announce the names of the four candidates he intended to consecrate to episcopacy on June 30, 1988. Having been forewarned by both Cardinal Ratzinger and the Holy Father that the mandate necessary to proceed with the episcopal consecrations was lacking, and in light of this press conference announcing the four candidates, on behalf of the Congregation for Bishops Cardinal Gantin issued the following monition on June 17, 1988:

Since on June 15th, 1988 you stated that you intended to ordain four priests to the episcopate without having obtained the mandate of the Supreme Pontiff as required by canon 1013 of the Code of Canon Law, I myself convey to you this public canonical warning, confirming that if you should carry out your intention as stated above, you yourself and also the bishops ordained by you shall incur ipso facto excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See in accordance with canon 1382.(83)

[7] From SESSION 4 : 18 July 1870, First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, we read:

From Chapter 3:

And so, supported by the clear witness of holy scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the Roman pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical council of Florence , which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the apostolic see and the Roman pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole church and father and teacher of all christian people. To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal church. All this is to be found in the acts of the ecumenical councils and the sacred canons.

Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world. In this way, by unity with the Roman pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith , the church of Christ becomes one flock under one supreme shepherd. This is the teaching of the catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.

Since the Roman pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful , and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment . The sentence of the apostolic see (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman pontiff. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful : let him be anathema.


Return to Ultra-Traditionalist Page-Section on the SSPX


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

Page created by : Matt1618..Send email in reference to this article to:Stephen

© 2000 In the light of the First Vatican Council:Pius XII, John Paul II and Archbishop Lefebvre... by Stephen Ho. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Changes last made, Monday, November 27, 2000