SCHISM (sizz-um)


Schism occurs when baptized people refuse to be subject to the Pope. The

chief historical schism was in the 11th century when the Eastern Orthodox

Church broke from the Roman Catholic Church. According to strict

terminology, ex-communication is the penalty for schism.


It finally happened! After years of jockeying for position, trying to

maintain a rigid Catholicism that was true to historic Romanism but

unpopular with popes he termed "modernistic", Marcel Lefebvre went too far

even for the conservative John Paul II.

Meetings between the two had generated hopes within Lefebvre's Pius X

society that a true reconciliation with the Roman Hierarchy was possible.

Stances by the present pope that indicated his strong conservatism and even

a leaning toward the use of Latin in the liturgy were found to be

meaningless when Lefebvre, contrary to papal commands, consecrated four

bishops at his seminary in Econe, Switzerland.

Why, you might ask, since both Paul VI and John Paul II had come out

against the Pius X society with their insistence on the Latin Mass, is it

such a landmark when bishops are consecrated? Why was Marcel Lefebvre not ex-

communicated when he insisted that the Mass authorized by the pope was not

valid, and ordained priests at his seminary?

The significance is this. Although Lefebvre had ordained almost 250

priests contrary to Vatican direction, these priests could only function

until the end of their lives. Since Lefebvre is 82 years old, his time on

earth is definitely limited. If he died without consecrating bishops, the

movement would have no base upon which to continue. Priests cannot ordain

priests, and it would only be a matter of time before the movement, one of

many spurious movements from Catholic centrality that had occurred over the

centuries, would disappear. Now the bishops can ordain priests, and the

movement can continue longer, until the hoped-for traditional pope takes the

chair of Peter. As Lefebvre stated, "The Lord may soon call me home. I must

not leave you orphaned."

This caused the first schism in the Roman Catholic church since just

after Vatican I in 1870 when some bishops, denying the infallibility of the

pope, split to form the Old Catholic Church (Church of Utrech). The Society

that had been begun by Lefebvre shortly after the Novus Ordum of Paul VI

suggested the use of the vernacular in the Mass, was named after Pius X, the

pope who condemned modernism in a 1907 encyclical. Lefebvre maintains that

the discarding of the Latin is a form of modernism, and his followers have

uttered many strong statements about the post-Vatican II Church. (See THE

GREAT SACRILEGE by Priest Wathen).

Less than two hours after the consecrations, a Vatican statement

condemned them as an act of schism, a formal break with the Holy See. Even

though one is ex-communicated and branded schismatic (a formal term that

implies a state of disobedience to the papal office), ex-communicated people

are still under obligation to attend Mass, even though they are not allowed

to partake of the sacraments.

I received a statement from the Pius X society. The head of the seminary,

Richard Williamson, was one of the men consecrated bishop by Lefebvre. An

Orlando, Florida priest of Our Lady of Fatima Church (not recognized by the

Archdiocese of Miami as a Roman Catholic church) stated, "Nobody can be

pleased with what is going on, but it is a necessary step. We do love the

pope. He is our father and we do love him. But this was needed."

As is to be expected, Catholics who follow official Vatican teaching have

tried to downplay the significance of these events. Rev. Arthur Bendixen,

chancellor of the Archdiocese of Orlando, said, "We feel saddened about

their split from the church. But they are a small group [about 100,000];

certainly not a large section of the church."

Yet the ability of Lefebvre's seminaries to attract young candidates for

the priesthood is in sharp contrast to the authorized Roman Catholic

seminaries, which are empty or sparsely populated. The youthful vigor of

the outlawed group will be missed in Romanism.

Lefebvre's feeling about the Vatican-controlled Romanism is that the

church has been infiltrated by "wolves and thieves" and is being consumed by

the "cancer of liberalism."

Central to the Traditionalist position, championed by Lefebvre, is that

the New Mass, celebrated in USA in English, cannot be the same Mass as was

authorized by the Council of Trent (the Tridentine Mass). Their position is

well taken both from history and semantics. In promulgating this Mass, Pius

V did state that this form of the Mass would be eternal and could not be

changed. The center of the Mass is the mystery of transubstantiation, which

demands a precise formula for its doing what Catholics say it does, i.e.,

transform the wafer into the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus

Christ. The logical argument is that if the formula is said in any living

language it cannot be entirely precise, as living languages change over the

centuries. If there is a perceptible change over 300 years, there will be an

imperceptible change daily, thus destroying the necessary precision.

These documents are free from , providing free webcontent for websites around the world!. copy freely with this link intact.