27 November 2022

Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre - Vol. III - 1979 - A Year of Hope

Laicization, Celibacy, Invalid Masses, Individual Confession

The Pope Condemns French Theological Work

The Remnant -30 Apri1 1979

POPE JOHN PAUL II, in his first such act as Pontiff, has approved a Vatican declaration stating that a book by a French Catholic theologian presents views which conflict with Catholic dogmas.

The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a carefully worded statement (3 April) which declares that Father Jacques Pohier's book Quand je dis Dieu (When I Say God), contains "affirmations which manifestly fail to conform to Revelation and the teaching of the Church."

The statement was signed by Cardinal Franjo Seper, Prefect of the Congregation and Archbishop Jérôme Hâmer, O.P., its secretary. Among its criticisms of the book, the Vatican agency said that it denies such tenets of the Faith as: "the Christian idea of a transcendent God; the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which was taught by the Council of Trent and, recently, by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei; the specific role of the priest in the actualization of the Real Presence; and the exercise of infallibility in the Church." The declaration added further that ''as far as regards the divinity of Christ, Father Pohier expresses himself in so singular a manner that it is not possible to determine if he still possesses such truth in the traditionally Catholic sense."


Pope Rejects Laicization Trend: Strongly Reaffirms Priestly Celibacy
The Remnant - 30 April 1979

Pope John Paul II has strongly reconfirmed celibacy for Latin Rite priests and, in a major document, has indicated that he will not easily grant laicizations or special dispensations from priestly life from now on.

The document is a papal letter addressed "to all the priests of the Church on the occasion of Holy Thursday, 1979." In it the Pope said objections raised against priestly celibacy are based on arguments "whose anthropological correctness and basis in fact are seen to be very dubious and of relative value." The Church therefore urges "that all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders should embrace this renunciation (of marriage) for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven," the letter said.

In a shorter companion letter addressed to the world's bishops, the Pope asked them to, intensify " every possible effort" to encourage new vocations to the priesthood.

Both letters were linked in their titles to Holy Thursday, the day on which priests renew their promises to their bishops. In the 35-page letter to priests, the Pope placed strong emphasis on lifelong fidelity to the vows of their ordination, comparing their commitment at the time of ordination to the lifelong commitment made by married couples. "It is a matter of keeping one's word to Christ and the Church," he said. He rejected laicization as an easy answer to a crisis in one's vocation, although the words of the text do not rule out all possibilities of granting laicization in certain cases. The Pope did not say what he will do with laicization requests from now on, but his words indicated a "tough line" will be taken, according to the NC dispatch from Rome. He asked priests to re-read sections of Vatican II documents that highlight the "common priesthood" of the faithful and urged them to note the essential difference between this priesthood and the ordained priesthood under Holy Orders. "You priests," he noted, "are expected to have a care and commitment which are far greater and different from those of any lay person." He urged priests not to succumb to calls to be like other people, when in fact they are" always and everywhere the bearers of a particular vocation." " And this," he continues, "you can never forget; this you can never renounce; this you must put into practice at every moment, in every place and in every way." "Those who call for the secularization of priestly life and applaud its various manifestations will undoubtedly abandon us when we succumb to temptation. We shall then cease to be necessary and popular," he wrote. He conceded that although priests must be "close to the people and all their problems," their work must be done "in a priestly way" and they must be in first place men of prayer and must be especially devoted to the Mother of Christ, "who in a special way is the Mother of priests."

Besides rejecting the idea of the laicization process as simply an "administrative intervention," the Pope took pains to emphasize that priesthood and celibacy presume freely chosen, mature commitments for life, similar to the kind of permanent commitment given by a married couple.

During the fifteen years of Pope Paul VI's pontificate, an estimated 2,000 laicizations were granted per year, according to the NC dispatch. Then, after Pope John Paul II’s election last October, the processing of such cases came to an abrupt halt, the explanation being that the Pope wanted "to reconsider the question in its entirety." Several years ago, before Pope Paul VI sped up the laicization process and began granting requests more readily, the requests usually involved complex factors, such as serious psychological problems. More recently, however, the requests for laicization became a more or less routine matter, with not a few priests virtually demanding dispensations as a matter of "right."

The NC noted that Vatican sources hold that the Pope can stop laicizations of priests without any change in Church law. The reason is that, under the law, dispensation from priestly duties or from the promise of celibacy is considered a "gift" or a "grace" from the Pope, not something to which a priest has a "right" under any and all circumstances. In other words, unless there is serious reason to doubt the validity of the ordination itself, normally there is no juridical process involved.

Pope John Paul II's newly evinced stance on the laicization and celibacy question was immediately criticized in certain quarters. Frank Bonnike, for instance, a facilitator for CORPUS, a U. S. organization for resigned priests, faulted the Pope. "It [the Pope's letter] may meet the needs in Poland," he said, "but not serve the Church elsewhere." Bonnike, himself a former priest of the Roc-ford, Ill. diocese, criticized the Pope for what he called his "hard-line" policy and said that the reaffirmation of priestly celibacy is "once again a put-down for women."

To take a "tough line" on granting laicizations "is like putting a pregnant woman on hold," Bonnike said. "If a person reaches that point in their life when they're recognizing their need to continue their work with a soul mate, I don't see how taking a tough line is going to stop that" (Catholic Bulletin, April 20, 1979).


Rome Acts Against Invalid Masses in the U.S.A.
9 May 1979

There is not the least doubt as to what constitutes valid matter for the Holy Eucharist. Where the bread is concerned, it must be pure wheaten flour kneaded with natural water. The bread must be unleavened in the Latin Church and leavened in the Eastern rites. If a Latin priest used leavened bread or an Eastern rites priest used unleavened bread the Sacrifice would be valid but illicit, unless it was a case of an emergency.1

The imposition of the New Mass in the United States was followed by widespread stress on the Mass as a meal. Less and less was heard of its sacrificial nature. In order to accentuate their belief that the "Sunday liturgy" is essentially a community meal, Liberal clerics began to encourage the preparation of altar breads by their parishioners. The very fact that the altar breads had been prepared by the local community was, in itself, supposed to make the celebration more "meaningful."

Many of the faithful began to wonder whether the altar breads used in their parishes constituted licit matter; and, in some cases, whether the validity of the sacrifice itself was endangered. Their fears proved to be only too well founded. An examination of some of the recipes used made it clear that they constituted cake rather than bread, 2and that those celebrations of Mass in which they were utilized were invalid. Worse still, when the indignant faithful complained to such prelates as Archbishop Bemardin of Cincinnati or Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle, their protests were received with reactions ranging from indifference to hostility. Not surprisingly, they complained to Rome. Many letters were received from American Catholics making the very modest request that they should be able to fulfill their Sunday obligation in their own parish, something which was not possible if their parish priest was celebrating invalid Masses. They were equally reasonable in suggesting that when they offered stipends for the celebration of Masses, then these Masses should indeed be celebrated for their intentions.

The Vatican eventually acted through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. On 11 May 1979 Pope John Paul II approved the text of a letter to be sent to the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops requiring that the law of the Church be observed in the preparation of Eucharistic bread. Cardinal Seper concluded his letter as follows:

As Your Excellency is aware, it is particularly important to ensure careful observance of the traditional theological interpretation about the making of Eucharistic bread, so that the faithful can be assured that every Eucharist is celebrated with matter that is both valid and licit.

Cardinal Seper also stressed in his letter that: "There is an obligation in strict justice regarding the application of Masses for intentions promised by the stipend."

Since 1969, the American bishops have never shown a moment's hesitation in disciplining or even persecuting any priest who dared to say the Tridentine Mass, but in some cases they appeared totally indifferent to the fact that many of their priests were taking stipends for celebrating invalid Masses which involved material idolatry on the part of the congregation (as they were worshipping a piece of cake). The Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy referred the matter back to the Holy See and advised that "the present practice of many parishes not be disturbed until there are other directives from the Holy See."

Nine months after the letter from Cardinal Seper, Archbishop Bernardin conceded reluctantly that, where the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was concerned, "many - perhaps most - of the recipes in use will have to be rejected." He also expressed considerable concern, but not for those who had provided stipends for invalid Masses, nor for the faithful who had not, in some cases, assisted at Mass for several years as the celebrations at which they had been present were invalid. Archbishop Bernardin's concern was expressed as follows: "I realize, of course, that those people who have become accustomed to the newer breads will be disappointed. I ask you, therefore, to do all you can to help them accept this decision." In view of the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre had been suspended a divinis for a disciplinary matter, it seems legitimate to wonder what adequate penalty might have been devised for Archbishop Bernardin. The answer is that he was eventually elevated to the rank of cardinal. One shudders to think that men such as this, who have clearly lost all sense of what being a Catholic means, will play a part in the election of the next pope!

Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle carried his defiance of the Holy See to extraordinary lengths, and even claimed that the faithful owed their allegiance primarily to him rather than Rome. He could be induced to make at least a token gesture of compliance only after public protests and paid advertisements in newspapers protesting about his refusal to insist that valid Masses were celebrated in his archdiocese. The extent to which Archbishop Hunthausen was leading his flock out of the Church became so manifest and so notorious that in 1986 an auxiliary bishop was appointed for the Archdiocese of Seattle and given responsibility for certain aspects of its government. But in 1987 the Vatican surrendered to pressure from the Liberal hierarchy of the United States, removed the auxiliary bishop, and restored full authority to Archbishop Hunthausen. The case of Archbishop Hunthausen will be documented in due chronological order, and compared with that of Archbishop Lefebvre. It will be apparent that the difference in their treatment by the Vatican, and the sanctions imposed upon them, constitute a scandal of the first magnitude.


Pope Insists on Individual Confession
The Remnant - 16 May 1979

Pope John Paul II has again stressed the importance of individual or private confession and has again called for diligent observance of the strict Vatican norms governing general absolution in special circumstances.

In an address April 26 to various bishops who were making their official (ad limina) visits to Rome, the Pope recalled his first encyclical letter in which he had noted the "need to guard the Sacrament of Penance" and "stressed that the faithful observance of the centuries - old practice of individual confession with a personal act of sorrow and the intention to amend and make satisfaction (for sin) is an expression of the Church's defense of man's right to a more personal encounter with the crucified forgiving Christ." He pointed out that the documents cited in that encyclical "make reference to a point of capital importance: the solemn teaching of the Council of Trent concerning the divine precept of individual confession."

"Seen in this perspective," Pope John Paul continued, "the diligent observance by all the priests of the Church of the pastoral norms of Sacramentum Pænitentiæ  (rules on Penance published by the Vatican's Doctrinal congregation in 1972) in regard to general absolution is both a question of loving fidelity to Jesus Christ and to His redemptive plan, and the expression of ecclesial communion in what Paul VI called' a matter of special concern to the Universal Church and of the regulation of her supreme authority' ." Pope John Paul also quoted Pope Paul's words last year to a group of U.S. bishops concerning priestly ministry: "Other works, for lack of time, may have to be abandoned, but not the confessional."

1. Valid: i.e., transubstantiation would take place and the bread would become the Body of Christ, Illicit: contrary to the law of the Church

2. Documentation concerning these recipes and all the points which follow concerning invalid eucharistic matter in the U.S.A. is provided in Appendix VI to Pope Paul’s New Mass

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