1. Archbishop Lefebvre held that there are two complete churches, that is complete formal and material bodies, the Conciliar Church and the Catholic Church, of which each Conciliar pope was simultaneously head
2. Archbishop Lefebvre held that the magisterium
had to be "sifted" in order to identify the orthodox elements.
3. A Church consists of a material element which is the "institution, or moral person, something like a corporation," and "a formal element, which is the complex of dogmas, moral teachings, rites, disciplines, and worship which constitute the very essence of a religion."
4. There is no "Conciliar Church" because the Modernists never founded a religious institution distinct from the Catholic Church.
5. The Modernist hierarchy has never been legally cut off from the Catholic Church.
Each of these propositions is false.
1. The Archbishop did not decide to which Church each and every apparent Modernist belonged. What he consistently did, over his entire career, was to state a general principle and judge in accordance with it in some
, and finally, many or most, cases. What was that principle? The formal element of the Conciliar Church: "All these who cooperate for the application of this radical change
, who accept and adhere to this new conciliar Church, as it was designated by Mgr. Benelli in the letter he addressed in the name of the Holy Father, enter into the schism." And, "The Church that affirms such errors is at once schismatic and heretical. This Conciliar Church is, therefore, not Catholic. To whatever extent
Pope, Bishops, priests, or faithful adhere to this new Church, they separate themselves from the Catholic Church...."
So the Archbishop did not say that Paul VI, for example, was head of the Conciliar Church. He said, perfectly cogently, that whoever adhered formally to this new Church had left the Catholic Church (by schism). In relation to Paul VI, he withheld judgement, and left the question open. (It is true, as Bishop Sanborn says, that Bishop Williamson has said that the Conciliar popes are heads simultaneously of two Churches, but this is Bishop Williamson's own, untenable, theory.)
My article, Archbishop Lefebvre and the Conciliar Church
analyses this question. It is noteworthy that Bishop Sanborn agrees with Fr. Simoulin of the SSPX, quoted in the article, in denying that the Conciliar Church is a real entity. http://strobertbellarmine.net/Archbisho ... Church.pdf
2. The Archbishop did not say that the new magisterium
had to be "sifted" - rather, he asserted that the new magisterium
did not teach authoritatively and therefore did not bind. For example:
Why do you attach more importance to Pope St. Pius V than to Pope Paul VI? After all, both are equally pope. Do you not accept the doctrine of papal infallibility? Do you feel that this doctrine applies more to one than the other?
I feel on the one hand that Pope St. Pius V wanted to engage his infallibility because he used all the terms that all the popes traditionally and generally used when they want[ed] to manifest their infallibility. On the other hand, Pope Paul VI said, himself, that he didn't want to use his infallibility.
When did he indicate that?
He indicated this by not pronouncing his infallibility on any matter of faith as other popes have done throughout history. None of the decrees of Vatican II were issued with the weight of infallibility. Further, he has never engaged his infallibility on the subject of the Mass. He has never employed terms that have been employed by Pope St. Pius V when he [Paul VI] decided to allow this new Mass to be foisted on the faithful. I cannot compare the two acts of promulgation because they are completely different."
From the "Suppressed Interview with Archbishop Lefebvre" viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1363
Note the reticence to accuse Paul VI of direct positive responsibility for the imposition of the New Mass – “he [Paul VI] decided to allow this new Mass to be foisted on the faithful
3. The use of the formal/material distinction, by analogy, in relation to a moral person or society, is obviously to a significant extent up to the free choice of each individual. In this case Bishop Sanborn chooses to denote the material element as something which he himself struggles to define - the "institution or moral person
, something like a corporation." What that means is really anybody's guess. My guess is that Bishop Sanborn means a legal fiction, indicated by the choice of term, "moral person." However against this interpretation is the use of the terms "institution" and "corporation" both of which can only refer to complete
entities consisting of both material and
In describing the Church theologians refer to the material element as the faithful (in its broad sense to include the clergy) and the formal element is the faith and all of the things that Bishop Sanborn also includes - rites, disciplines, and worship. So, given this simple and straightforward framework, the Conciliar Church is the real society consisting of those who have left the Church by formally and publicly adhering to the New Religion, which consists of the New Mass and all of the anti-Catholic reforms which accompany it. I believe this to be the thought of the Archbishop also.
"It thus appears impossible to approach the basic problem, the agreement of the Conciliar Church, as H. E. Mgr. Benelli himself calls it in his last letter, and the Catholic Church.
"Let there be no mistake. It is not a question of a difference between Mgr. Lefebvre and Pope Paul VI. It is a question of the radical incompatibility between the Catholic Church and the Conciliar Church, the Mass of Paul VI being the symbol and the program of the Conciliar Church
Such a definition does not require that every member of the Conciliar Church be identified; it is a definition in terms of principles, and with the recognition that some men at least have left the Church. It is perfectly reasonable to hold this view and at the same time withhold judgement about whether Paul VI, for example, formally adhered to the Catholic Church or indeed had disappeared into the Conciliar Church. In the Archbishop’s view, what mattered was to be clear that one had no right, oneself, to adopt the new religion and leave the Church by cooperating with the schism and losing one’s faith.
4. Archbishop Lefebvre held that there was an entity he called the Conciliar Church, complete with both material and formal elements. Bishop Sanborn argues that this is a mistake. He does so because of the proposition he presents which I have designated as number 5.
5. This proposition is the fundamental notion underlying the Guerardianism of Bishop Sanborn: “The Modernist hierarchy has never been legally cut off from the Catholic Church.” This assertion is in the face of the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors, as summarised and presented by St. Robert Bellarmine. It is also in the face of Cum ex apostolatus
of Pope Paul IV, and the Code of Canon Law in Canon 188 (which, I remind the reader, is in the section of the Code dealing with offices, not in the penal section of the Code), and it is also in the face of Canon 2197 which defines the degrees of “publicity” of crimes, and gives as separate categories notoriety of law
and notoriety of fact
. The Code recognises that facts may be legally established without any intervention by any authority in the Church, and may be in such cases of the highest, best established, degree of publicity, notorious
. Bishop Sanborn alludes to this by commenting, “the Modernist hierarchy has never broken from the Catholic Church. Nor
has there ever been any declaratory sentence by a Catholic authority severing them from the Catholic Church.” In these two sentences Bishop Sanborn recognises that it is, in theory, possible to leave the Church without a declaration, but he does not expand on how the first possibility may in fact be verified. I imagine that he has in mind a man who leaves the Church by inscribing his name in the membership list of the Dutch Reform Church of New York and then advertising the fact on three successive Saturdays in the New York Times, but who knows? The Fathers and Doctors, the Popes, and the Code, have made it utterly clear that, in the words of St. Robert, “…the Holy Fathers teach unanimously not only that heretics are outside of the Church, but also that they are by the very fact
deprived of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity.” Nor is this a delayed reaction to open heresy – it is immediate. “St. Thomas also teaches (S. Theol., II-II, q. 39, a. 3) that schismatics immediately
lose all jurisdiction, and that anything they try to do on the basis of any jurisdiction will be null.”
One final quote from Archbishop Lefebvre, Interview with Don McLean
, Editor of Catholic, January 1986. “The great majority of the bishops in France are apostate, and have abandoned the Catholic Faith to become Modernist. Their new catechism is evident proof of this.”
This presentation is aimed primarily at exposing the falsity of the analysis of Archbishop Lefebvre's position by Bishop Sanborn. I have taken occasion to refute, in brief terms, Bishop Sanborn's own key ideas, but this is in no way essential to the primary point - the true nature of Archbishop Lefebvre's own position - which stands or falls on its own merits. The thing to keep fiercely in view at all times is that when a sedevacantist or Guerardian writer lazily accuses the Archbishop of maintaining that the Conciliar popes were simultaneously heads of both the Conciliar Church and the Catholic Church, all that follows is likely to be equally untrue. The mystery which the current state of the Church presents to all thinking Catholics is deep and abiding, and there will inevitably be a variety of differing judgements made, but before criticising any of them we simply have to render the fundamental justice of understanding