Principles - Catholic and Otherwise
Everyone follows some collection of core principles. They are the guides we rely upon in making our various decisions the lead us into various directions.
Good principles lead to good directions. Bad principles have the opposite effect.
30 Years ago, Archbishop Lefebvre made a decision, guided by his principles, to consecrate 4 priests as bishops. Auxiliary Bishops with no jurisdiction ordained simply to provide priests for the life of the SSPX and sacraments for the faithful who seek out the SSPX as a place of refuge in this crisis.
I think that I have happened upon two of the Archbishop's core principles.
- The Salvation of Souls is the supreme law of the Church (canon 1752).
- The ends do not justify the means.
The Archbishop learned of the crisis in the seminaries as neo-modernism exploded from the shadows. It took some convincing by seminarians, but he eventually determined that it was the right decision to act to help these seminarians become good priests. Yet, he proceeded within the law of the Church taking the means available to do so.
Following these principles can be hard because, as those of us with experience know, these principles didn't just belong to the Archbishop.
They are Catholic principles.
When you follow Catholic Principles the World, Flesh and Devil will confront you. That is what happened once they authorities within (and without) the Catholic Church realised the direction in which the Archbishop was heading. The Archbishop was not heading in the liberal direction set out in ambiguous terms by the Second Vatican Council. He simply continued to follow the direction of the Church.
This led to a significant amount of conflict as these principles will lead to conflict with whomever is not abiding by them.
There is no other way.
The simple act of the seminarians asking the Archbishop for help to be real Catholic priests set off a chain of events that (to name a few) led to the:
- Formation of the SSPX
- Conflict with the authorities of the Catholic Church (Popes et al)
- Indult of 1982
- Consecrations of 1988
- Formation of FSSP et al
- Summorum Pontificum
- Universae Ecclesiae
- Lifting of the 'excommunications'
- Granting the SSPX of universal jurisdiction to hear confessions
- Constrained jursidiction for receiving the vows of married couples
I know that this is hard for a number of faither ntCatholics to grasp, but punishing the good and rewarding the wicked is not the way to save souls. That was exactly what has been happening in the intervening decades even by the Popes. Pope Francis just does it more openly - the latest is enabling the sacrilege of giving the Blessed Sacrament to protestants.
So back to the second principle and thinking about item 4 on the above abbreviated timeline.
Did the Archbishop employ bad means to work for the salvation of souls?
Was he disobedient from St. Thomas' perspective? I think not. If an authority commands something that is sinful - and there is a sin of omission of a good that one ought to do, then there is an obligation to obey a higher law - the Salvation of Souls.
What about the consecration without Papal authorization?
Well we know that it isn't intrinsically evil because up to Pius XII making it a law there was no law and under Pius XII it was only a suspension. The punishment of excommunication was added later.
So it comes down to the law, whether or not it was bad means.
Was there really a state of necessity in 1988? Yes.
Is there really a state of necessity in 2018? YES
That leads us back to canon 1752 and the fact that at least someone was had the intestinal fortitude to follow Catholic Principles.
... and that really is the rest of the story.