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When Abp. Marcel Lefebvre consecrated four bishops for the Society of St. Pius X without pontifical mandate on 30 June 1988, he was accused not only of disobeying canon law, but also of performing a schismatic act. On 1 July, Bernardin Cdl. Gantin declared that Abp. Lefebvre, along with the four new bishops, had incurred a latae sententiae excommunication under canons 1382 and 1364 §1 , and that the co-consecrator Bp. Antonio de Castro Mayer had incurred the same penalty under the latter canon for “cooperating with a schismatical act” . The charge of schism came by surprise, having not been mentioned in the canonical warning issued on 17 June , two days after Abp. Lefebvre had announced his intention to consecrate at a press conference in Écône, Switzerland. Nevertheless, Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei reiterated this condemnation, writing that “such disobedience—which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy—constitutes a schismatic act” .
St. Thomas Aquinas’ unfavorable statements on the female sex have long been used by anti-Catholic scholars to discredit the Church’s teachings on the proper roles of men and women. In response, those who wish to defend the Church’s teachings often point out that Aquinas’ statements largely relied on incorrect and now-disproven Aristotelian assumptions about reproductive biology, but a further discussion on how those assumptions affected Aquinas’ thinking needs to be undertaken. To what extent did scientific errors lead to erroneous philosophical conclusions, and are there other flaws in his reasoning unrelated to biology? How do mistaken philosophical ideas go on to affect his theological teachings on the roles of men and women in the domestic, civil, and ecclesiastical societies, if at all?
The Church’s traditional discipline regarding the denial of ecclesiastical funerals to those who have committed suicide is unequivocally clear: regardless of subjective culpability, of which God alone is the judge, the general norm is to deny such exequies to those who have deliberately killed themselves (1917 CIC, c. 1240 §1, 3º). However, if insanity can be proven by the verdict of a competent physician, an ecclesiastical funeral with all of its usual ceremonies may be given. If insanity is suspected but there is still doubt, a funeral may be granted and a private Mass said, but all pomp and solemn exequies should be omitted . In either case, the relevant information must be divulged to the public in order to avoid scandal.
As the undermining of the Catholic faith from within continues during this current crisis, it is no surprise that canon law is also being undermined in a similar way. After all, canon law must follow theology, so naturally, poor theology will lead to a poor implementation and application of canon law. The modern emphasis on a false sense of mercy, which is in fact downright cruelty as it is opposed to justice, is leading to an unfortunate trend: many today are willing to place subjective considerations over objective ones, considering the role of conscience before the moral law itself. This has led to countless compromises in current canonical praxis, where the principle Ecclesia de occultis non iudicat has been ignored in certain cases, leading to scandal and doctrinal confusion among the faithful.
Q. All bishops have the ability to administer confirmation validly, but a priest can only do so if he is granted the necessary authorization. Orthodox bishops are not in communion with the Catholic Church, and so they cannot delegate the power to confirm to Orthodox priests, but the Church has always recognized the confirmations performed by the latter as valid. How is this possible? Does it imply that the Orthodox are in some kind of “partial communion” with the Church by having validly ordained clergy?
Prior to 1970, no female saint had ever been declared a Doctor of the Church, but today, there are four: St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Hildegard of Bingen. While there is no doubt that their writings are exceptional and ought to be honored as treasures of the Church, there are questions regarding the liturgical propriety of conferring the title of Doctor upon them. According to the traditional calendar, these four saints are Virgins, while the Mass and Office for the feast day of a Doctor are those for Confessors, so it is already impossible to incorporate these new titles into the traditional liturgy. While these four women fulfill the requirements for being Doctors, which include sanctity, orthodoxy of faith, eminent learning, and the declaration of the Church, the way in which the post-conciliar hierarchy went about conferring this title upon them appears to run afoul of the principle lex orandi, lex credendi by implicitly undermining the Church’s teachings on male and female vocations.
The vast majority of stigmatics throughout Church history have been women. This particular phenomenon has appeared in women in different states of life, but most cases have been found in those who received the calling to become a bride of Christ either as a religious or in the world. Notably, the appearance of stigmata often occurs during times of crisis in the Church, with one of the most famous cases being that of St. Catherine of Siena during the Western Schism. While God is free to confer extraordinary graces upon anyone He chooses, the connection between the stigmata and the vocation of virginity in women serves to emphasize certain supernatural realities.
One need not recognize the current crisis in the Church or agree with the Society’s theological views in order to acknowledge, on a purely juridical level, the application of the principle of epikeia throughout the Society’s history. Simply put, the “state of necessity” need not be applied to the general liturgical and doctrinal situation in the Church in order to apply to the SSPX itself. If an institute is unjustly prevented from carrying out its authorized mission, and its activities are erroneously deemed illegitimate by the ecclesiastical authorities, then it is perfectly logical to conclude that there is a state of necessity brought about by these obstacles, rendering it licit to set aside lower laws in favor of a higher obligation.