In his scathing assessment of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, Cardinal Raymond Burke used an unusual term that has a rather specific meaning with respect to the application of canon law. No, not “schism,” but contumacy.
… the requirement for having an excommunication lifted is that a person has withdrawn from his contumacy and now desires to be fully reconciled with the Church, but in fact that hasn’t happened [in the case of the SSPX], and so that’s another bit of an anomalous situation.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Contumacy, or contempt of court, is an obstinate disobedience of the lawful orders of a court. Simple disobedience does not constitute contumacy. Such crime springs only from unequivocal and stubborn resistance to the reiterated or peremptory orders of a legitimate court, and implies contempt or denial of its authority … True contumacy takes place when it is certain that the citation was served, and the defendant without just cause fails to obey the terms of such citation … The plaintiff incurs the guilt of contumacy by failure to appear before the court at the specified time.
With this in mind, let’s see if we can determine why Cardinal Burke, a canon lawyer who knows very well the meaning of “contumacy,” would level such a charge against the SSPX.
First of all, we can dispatch with the notion that the Society is somehow guilty of a “failure to appear.”
The SSPX, at least insofar as I am aware, was never served with, and subsequently ignored, a formal citation to appear before an ecclesial judge or tribunal.
The closest we have in this regard is the Holy See’s invitation for the SSPX to engage in “doctrinal discussions” (2009-2011); an invitation that was accepted.
What remains for our consideration, therefore, is a charge of “unequivocal and stubborn resistance” to some sort of “order” that came from a legitimate ecclesial authority; one that if obeyed would lead to the Society being (to quote Cardinal Burke) “fully reconciled with the Church.”
So, to exactly what order does Cardinal Burke refer?
This brings us back to the aforementioned “doctrinal discussions” and the “order” (if you will) that emerged therefrom.
In a sermon that was delivered at the seminary in Econe on November 1, 2012, Bishop Bernard Fellay revealed that he had received a letter from Pope Benedict XVI dated June 30th of the same year wherein the Holy Father outlined three requirements for the Society’s canonical recognition; two of which, according to Bishop Fellay, were:
– “It is necessary for us [SSPX] to accept the fact that the Council is an integral part of Tradition, of Apostolic Tradition.”
– “It is necessary [for the SSPX] to accept the validity and the liceity of the new Mass.”
Bishop Fellay’s response was firm and clear:
To say that the Council is traditional! Whereas everything tells us the contrary! Fifty years of Church history say the contrary! To say that the new Mass is good! Here too one only has to open one’s eyes to see the disaster … It is necessary to stop saying: the Church can do nothing bad, therefore the new Mass is good. It is necessary to stop saying: the Church cannot err, and therefore there is no error in the Council.
To most regular readers of this space, Bishop Fellay’s response was absolutely appropriate given that the “order” is entirely unjust, and what’s more, it is tantamount to a demand to abandon Christ and His Church.
In the eyes of Raymond Cardinal Burke, however, it amounts to unequivocal and stubborn resistance to the orders of a legitimate authority – thus, the charges of schism and contumacy, and, therefore, a supposed need to be fully reconciled with the Church.
Notice, my friends, that Cardinal Burke’s denouncement of the Society of St. Pius X is based upon their unwillingness to embrace as good the very dangers about which Our Lady came to forewarn us at Fatima:
A bad council and a bad Mass.
This is the same Cardinal Burke that certain unreliable “experts” have been hailing as a friend of Fatima; some even going so far as to claim that he should be credited with providing the total vindication of Fr. Nicholas Gruner.
Don’t be fooled.
Any person or organization that claims to be devoted to making “the entire message of Fatima understood,” and yet fails to firmly denounce (and even applauds!) influential prelates who insist upon acceptance of the Second Vatican Council, the New Evangelization, and the new Mass as if they are compatible with Our Lady’s words, simply cannot be trusted.
Stick a fork in him. Cdl Burkes Done!
Where is ‘contumacy’ ?
In 76 when +Lefebvre was suspended he appealed, as was his right, to the Pope. The pope, or more correctly, his Secretary of State, ignored this legal appeal. In so doing, he was ignoring what the Church legally obliged him to do… isn’t that contumacy?
Having said that, +Burke does get one thing… There can be no compromise between the Church and those in error. The error has to be removed (repented from) before the 2 entities can be joined. This is simply the practical application of the Thomistic principle of non- contradiction.. That is why the SSPX used to maintain that no agreement was possible until Rome abandoned the errors of V2. The fact that the SSPX has now abandoned that position shows that, at least in this respect, Cardinal Burke is more Thomistic than they have become.
Of course the SSPX is NOT in schism. However, Cardinal Burke is correct, albeit from a canon lawyer’s point of view- the SSPX is in an irregular canonical situation, but not schism. The real sticking points under the calm waves is Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass. There is no way to reconcile (in my opinion) the post Vatican II church and the Novus Ordo with every single Council up to 1962. None. Modernism has infested the Latin rite all the way up to Bergoglio. Cardinal Burke is no different. He, too, is infected with this heresy and all the fallout over the past fifty years. If the good cardinal could admit that Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass is a break from everything taught by the Magisterium and past popes, he would have to admit that he and about ninety-five percent of his Latin rite brother bishops actually caused this situation. Until our hierarchy in the West admit this, the situation with the SSPX will continue.
Yet Mr. Matt of The Remnant instructs us to focus on “the big picture.”
Cardinal Burke & the SSPX: The Big Picture
What’s going on at The Remnant? Why are they sliding into the swamp of CatholiCuckery? Battle fatigue? A lust for mainstream respectability? These are definitely traits of CatholiCuckservatism.
I was surprised and disappointed at Michael Matt’s simplistic reaction to Cardinal Burke and his judgement of the SSPX especially his statement that a bad N.O. “mass” is better than a TLM celebrated by an SSPX priest. Doesn’t Matt realize how revealing this is regarding the loyalty of Cardinal Burke for the pseudo-church of Vatican 2? The only good I can see coming from this is that Bishop Fellay will finally wake up and publicly admit that any enticement coming from Modernist Rome is a trap and not to be trusted. For the sake of his priests, Bishop Fellay must condemn this statement in the strongest words possible. If he doesn’t, the SSPX is doomed for lack of real leadership. I think Michael Matt is missing The Big Picture and giving Cardinal Burke a pass—-Big Time!
How hard it must be to make a profit running a traditional Catholic newspaper today! I wonder if The Remnant is watering down because they’re in financial distress and thus seek to broaden their base. Michael has a large family to support. Could it be the same with The Fatima Center and other outfits going the way of CatholiCuckservatism? Traditional Catholic donors are becoming scarcer and scarcer these days.
It’s really very sad. I’ve never understood the appeal of Cdl. Burke for “tradition-minded” Catholics. He commits the Novus Ordo service, supports the Judas Council Revolution (under an absurd “hermeneutic of continuity”), and speaks in the feathery tones of a sodomite. I don’t get it.
It seems to me that Cardinal Burke is not as good a Canon Lawyer as he likes to think he is. His comments re ‘contumacy’ were completely inappropriate in any event. I was not aware that Archbishop Lefebvre appealed to Rome against his unjust excommunicaton and, in any event, there is no Penalty of Excommunication under Canon Law for consecrating a Bishop without the prior approval of the Pope if a Grave State of Necessity exists.
Has Cardinal Burke ever considered that as the Francis Papacy rolls on that one fine day, he too, will be accused of “unequivocal and stubborn resistance to the orders of a legitimate authority” for not going along with the Amoris Adulterii and the coming of the female deacons, and the silent consecration ecumenical masses?
if Cardinal Burke still operates an air conditioner, I dare say he is already offering “unequivocal and stubborn resistance to the orders of a legitimate authority” when he harms Mother Earth.
Thank you Louie – for this blog, the comments usually cause much food for thought!
You said something this time however, that I did not understand. Could you clarify?
“the very dangers about which Our Lady came to forewarn us at Fatima:
A bad council and a bad Mass.”
Can you explain, I seem to have missed something – have you, or someone you know, read the 3rd Secret?
With respect to the Remnant, Michael Matt’s position is one of pragmatism.
Matt is not excusing Cardinal Burke.
He is however, willing to prop up Burke when he does say or do something right.
It is more a situation of frustrating hopelessness. Matt has a point. There is no one else higher up, save God, that we can publicly turn to to call out Francis.
I see the Remnant and Matt as willing to cooperate with Burke to a necessary degree that they feel won’t compromise all they’ve stood for.
Likewise, President Trump ain’t all that, but like it or not, he’s likewise all America’s got to work with.
That said, it is still right that Louie and others call out Burke’s errors. And likewise even Louie still hopes Burke will commit to the Fraternal Correction.
That point is certainly understandable, but you should know that the reasoning to support that position is the same logic that politicians employ when entering into compromises wherein they often abandon what they had always claimed were their core values. They believe to the very depths of their soul, that unless they bend on certain principles, nothing will be accomplished.
Indeed, Modernism embraces that same line of thinking as well, as their argument Modernists advance is also one of pragmatism. They reason that if the Church expects to be relevant in the “modern world”, she must make some changes to be accepted by society. To do otherwise she will find herself without followers.
It. Is admittedly difficult to hold onto the true teachings of the Catholic Church when the world, including the pope and most of the bishops and priests are moving in the opposite direction. But then again, no one ever said it would be easy.
So many Trads> Starry eyed over this fraud! If this doesn’t make them see that this Emperor is as naked as Francis, I don’t know.
What am I missing here?
1. The position of the SSPX has always been that the Novus Ordo is both licit and valid (when the correct matter, form, and intent are present);
2. Archbishop Lefebvre signed all the documents from Vatican II but regarded it (as its Pontifical heads did) as a mere pastoral council. Yet a mere pastoral council can be a part of the ecclesiastical Tradition of the Church, even if its only a zit on a bump. My understanding of Archbishop Lefebvre’s position was that the documents require dogmatic testing in order to be validated, condemned, or annulled.
What is missing is a consistent unambigious position from the SSPX. What Abp Lefebrve said one year, he back tracked the next.
Exactly. Such “pragmatism” is, in reality, a steady incremental slide into hell.
“I see the Remnant and Matt as willing to cooperate with Burke to a necessary degree that they feel won’t compromise all they’ve stood for.”
Well said, Johno. That is exactly how modernists create more modernists. It all starts with a pragmatic pinch of incense with the plea to “be reasonable.” By accepting the modernist claim to the Catholic label, trads give away the store without even a fight.
That’s what happens when you get bucked off the Phantom Horse, Hermeneutic.
I don’t even think St. Thomas Aquinas himself would be able to figure out what’s going on during this unprecedented time in Church history.
I’ve got no Respect for the Remnant. They’ve been hypocritical beyond belief. M. Matt with his virtue signaling exhorting Catholics at every opportunity to unite and work together, bla, bla, bla…while he (or whoever does the censoring at the Remnant website) routinely deletes comments and bans anyone with even the slightest sedevacantist sympathies. They allow all the comments attacking sedevacantists but when someone replies defending the mere possibility of the sedevacantist position being true – by quoting Catholic doctrine, Canon law, Papal bulls, etc – their comments get banned every single time.
I wouldn’t mind, it’s their website, and their policies… but to then see Matt pretending to be an advocate of unity and working together is utterly sickening.
But as far as I recall the SSPX (and Abp. Lefebvre) didn’t claim the New “Mass” was licit… after all, they have always told people not to go to a New Mass, even if there was no Traditional Mass available.
It’s a shame. Michael Matt seems more and more desperate to find peace peace where there is no peace. He’s sounding more and more like the very CatholiCucks (NeoCaths) he castigates.