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Friday, October 16, 2015

The Staggering Implications of Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy Concession to the SSPX

Written by  Father X
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Editor’s Note: Please note that this particular ‘Father X’ has not written for The Remnant before and is not a priest of the SSPX, nor a member of any SSPX-related society or group. MJM

Schism and the Faculty of Hearing Confessions in the CIC (the 1983 Code of Canon Law)

First proposition: A priest who has faculties to hear confession cannot be in schism. My reasoning is this:

1.  To be in schism is to be under latae sententiae excommunication.

2.  A priest under latae sententiae excommunication is forbidden to celebrate the sacraments.

3.  Therefore, a priest allowed by the Church to celebrate any sacrament cannot be in schism.

The relevant provisions of the CIC are as follows.

Schism is defined in canon 751 of the Code defines “schism”:

751 … schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

Canon 1364 provides, inter alia, that: “…a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication …”

Canon 1331 that:

§1. An excommunicated person is forbidden:

1/ to have any ministerial participation in celebrating the sacrifice of the Eucharist or any other ceremonies of worship whatsoever;

2/ to celebrate the sacraments or sacramentals and to receive the sacraments;

3/ to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, or functions whatsoever or to place acts of governance.

Second proposition: The Holy Father must consider the priests of the SSPX to be ministers of the Church who faithfully adhere “to the doctrine of the magisterium”.

The CIC provides that a priest cannot be given the faculty of absolving sins unless he possesses both the power of orders and the faculty of exercising it for the faithful (can. 966 §1). A priest can be given faculties either by operation of the law or according to the norm of can. 969 (can. 966 §1).

Note, too, that can. 970 provides: “The faculty to hear confessions is not to be granted except to presbyters who are found to be suitable through an examination or whose suitability is otherwise evident.” If it is true, as reported, that His Holiness Pope Francis has granted to priests of the SSPX faculties to absolve sins during the Year of Mercy, it must follow that they meet one or both of the tests in canon 970.

Finally, observe that can. 978§2 provides: “In administering the sacrament, the confessor as a minister of the Church is to adhere faithfully to the doctrine of the magisterium and the norms issued by competent authority.”

It must follow that, if the Pope has granted the faculties referred to above, then the Holy Father must consider priests of the SSPX to be capable of operating as “ministers of the Church” and of “adhering faithfully etc”.

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