The 1988 Schism Consecrations and Accusations


In the second interview, from the “theology” section, published on the April 27, 2022 page of the “” site, Fr. de Blignières indicates what, according to him, is “the criterion for evaluating the consecrations of 1988”. The priests and the faithful who did not want to follow Archbishop Lefebvre would not have acted by virtue of an erroneous conception of obedience, nor in a purely tactical way or with a view to obtaining some advantage.

What would have been and would be in question, “is a fundamental judgment on hierarchical communion as an essential element of the faith and of the structure of the Catholic Church”. Indeed, episcopal consecration performed against the will of the pope would be “an intrinsically evil act because it undermines an element of the Catholic faith”.

This element is that, in order to be not only validly but legitimately consecrated, a bishop must receive episcopal consecration “within the framework of the hierarchical communion among all Catholic bishops”, whose guarantor is the bishop of Rome, successor of Peter. Thus, episcopal consecration, received without the pontifical institution, constitutes “a very serious attack on the very unity of the Church”.

2. Ven. de Blignières refers here to the Encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis of Pius XII as well as number 4 of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei afflicted. However, neither of these two quoted texts is relevant to evaluate the consecrations of June 30, 1988.

3. The text that would put us on the right track is the one that Fr. de Blignières does not quote: it is number 3 of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei afflicta. Contrary to what the founder of the Society of Saint-Vincent Ferrier asserts, in an overly simplistic leap, the consecration of a bishop accomplished without a papal mandate and committed against the explicit will of the Sovereign Pontiff, does not in itself constitute “an act schismatic in nature.

On the contrary, the Moto proprio of John Paul II begins by saying that a consecration of this kind “is in itself a disobedience against the Roman Pontiff” [1]. Now, disobedience is something quite different from schism. [2] This is why consecrating a bishop without a pontifical mandate and making a schism are two fundamentally different acts.

The first can be the occasion of the second, but not necessarily. To make a schism is in fact to refuse on principle the supreme authority of the Pope, and this takes place in the person who claims to give a power that only the Pope (and not a simple bishop) can give, that is to say the power to govern in the Church.

To consecrate a bishop without a pontifical mandate is to disobey the Pope by communicating a power that any bishop can give, the power to sanctify in the Church, but only with the agreement of the Pope.

4. Indeed, a bishop is a bishop because he receives and holds two different powers: the power to ordain or the power to sanctify by validly performing the sacraments; and the power of jurisdiction or the power to govern by making laws.

The bishop receives the power to sanctify by his consecration and he receives the power to govern by the canonical mission, by which the Sovereign Pontiff communicates to him this power to govern. [3].

The ordination of bishops is not, as such, sacramentally or ritually speaking, the act by which the power to govern is communicated. This power is communicated to the exact extent that the consecrated bishop receives from the Pope, the Sovereign Pontiff, that is to say in addition to his consecration, which only confers on him the power to sanctify, the canonical mission.

Ordinarily and most of the time, the consecrated bishop receives both powers, the power of order and the power of jurisdiction. But it can also happen that a bishop is consecrated without receiving the power to govern. Such are the titular bishops [4] or ad honores consecration.

And in fact, it is clear that there also exist outside the Church (for example among the schismatics) validly consecrated bishops, who consequently do have the power of orders, received by consecration, but who do not have not received from the Pope the power to govern, since the sect to which they belong does not recognize the authority of the Pope, willed by Christ for His Church [5].

These bishops are not only disobedient, they are moreover schismatic insofar as the bishop who consecrates them arrogates the authority of the Pope to give them a power to govern that only the Pope can give.

This is the case of the schismatic bishops consecrated in the Patriotic Church of the Communist State of China, mentioned in the encyclical of Pius XII Ad Apostolorum Principis June 29, 1958 [6]:

“Bishops who have not been appointed or confirmed by the Apostolic See, but who, on the contrary, have been elected and consecrated in defiance of its express orders, enjoy no power of teaching or jurisdiction since the jurisdiction passes to the bishops only by the Roman road. Pontiff.”

“The acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though valid so long as the consecration conferred on them was valid, are nevertheless gravely illicit, that is to say criminal. and sacrileges. »

5. Now, it is clear – for he said so explicitly in his homily of June 30, 1988 – that Archbishop Lefebvre had no intention of giving the power to govern to the bishops consecrated by him, by arrogating to himself the the very authority of the Pope, which would have been a schism.

“We are not schismatics! he said. “If an excommunication was pronounced against the bishops of China, who separated from Rome and placed themselves under the Chinese government, it is easy to understand why Pope Pius XII excommunicated them. There is no question for us of separating from Rome, nor of putting ourselves under a foreign government, nor of establishing a kind of parallel church as the bishops of Palmar de Troya did in Spain. They even elected a pope, formed a college of cardinals.

“It is out of the question for us to do such things. Far be it from us this miserable thought of separating ourselves from Rome! In the intention of Archbishop Lefebvre, the consecrations he accomplished at Ecône, even without a papal mandate, gave neither more nor less than a power of order and in no way a power of jurisdiction. Therefore, they cannot represent an act of a schismatic nature and constitute, at most, disobedience.

6. However, an act constitutes disobedience if and only if it opposes the legitimate order desired by the superior. There would therefore be no disobedience for two reasons.

Either because the one who commands is not the superior and, as in this case, those who consecrate bishops without papal mandate justify themselves by saying that John Paul II was not pope, which is the thesis of sedevacantism.

Either because the one who commands, although being superior, does not express a legitimate command, due to the very fact that this human command is opposed to the command of God, which is superior to him [7].

However, as we have shown in the previous article here, the order by which John Paul II told Archbishop Lefebvre not to carry out the planned episcopal consecrations is contrary to the will of God which is to ensure the survival of Tradition in the Church, thanks to the priesthood, survival seriously compromised by the false idea of ​​Tradition, “contradictory and incomplete”, imposed and propagated by the Roman authorities, including John Paul II himself.

The consecrations of June 30, 1988 therefore constitute neither a schismatic act nor even an act of disobedience.

7. It was “Operation Survival” for Tradition, as Archbishop Lefebvre explained very well: “Today, this day, is ‘Operation Survival’. If I had made this agreement with Rome, by continuing the agreements we had signed and putting them into practice, I would have carried out the “suicide operation”.

“There is no choice. You have to live! This is why today, by consecrating these bishops, I am convinced that I will continue to keep Tradition alive, that is to say the Church Catholic.

8. Ven. de Blignières therefore commits a double error here. No, it is not true that a consecration against the will of the pope is inherently wrong because it undermines an element of the Catholic faith, it all depends on the will, legitimate or not, of the pope. No, it is also not true that “the consecrations of 1988 constituted a very serious attack on the very unity of the Church”.

To be continued.

Prof. Jean-Michel Gleize.

[1] In semetipso talis actus flit inoboedientia adversus Romanum Pontificem.

[2] Cajetan, Commentary on the Summa Theologica, 2a2ae, question 39, article 1, no. VII; see the April 2018 issue of the Courrier de Rome.

[3] This is the teaching of Saint Thomas in the Summa Theologica, 2a2ae, question 39, article 3, corpus. This is also the teaching of authors such as: Louis Billot, “De episcopatu, thesis 32, §1” in De sacramentis, t. 2, p. 315; and Charles Journet, The Church of the Incarnate Word, volume 1: “The apostolic hierarchy”, Desclée de Brouwer, 1955, p. 34-35 and 637-640. During the Second Vatican Council, the member fathers of the Coetus recalled this doctrine, to denounce the errors present in the outline of the future constitution on the Church. See in Acta synodalia concilii Vaticani secundi, vol II, pars I, the written observations of Dom Jean Prou ​​(pp. 557-559) at the end of the 2nd session of the Council (1963) and vol. III, pars I, those of Cardinal Browne (pp. 629-630) and those of Bishop Carli (pp. 660-661) on the diagram De Ecclesia, at the end of the 3rd session of the Council (summer 1964).

[4] They were formerly called bishops in partibus infidelium, a designation abrogated by a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda of February 27, 1882. mainly by infidels or schismatics. Cf. F. Claeys-Bouuaert, “Les évêques” in the Dictionnaire de droit canonique by Raoul Naz, t. V, col 574.

[5] Louis Billot, “De episcopatu, thesis 32, § 1” in De sacramentis, t. 2, p. 317.

[6] ASA, vol. L, p. 601 and sq. The French translation can be found in the Pontifical Documents of His Holiness Pius XII, Editions Saint-Augustin, Saint Maurice (Switzerland), vol. of the year 1958, p. 327-338.

[7] Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 2a2ae, question 104, article 5.


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