Rosary Crusade

“Francisco José Fernández de la Cigoña, author of the most widely read Spanish Catholic blog “La Cigüeña de la Torre” claims that on the desk of the Pope there is a decree revoking the excommunications of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, based on lacking/reduced culpability pursuant to can. 1323, para. 4 and 7, and can. 1324, para 1, 3 and 8 of the Code of Canon Law. The only thing that would be necessary according to Mr Fernández de la Cigoña would be a humble petition by the bishops concerned alleging that they in good faith presumed a state of necessity, an argument which the Society of St. Pius X has advanced for a long time.”

SSPX has relaunched the Million Rosaries Crusade for the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops. The link contains an excerpt from Bishop Fellay in regards to the excommunications and Rosary Crusade.

While not an “SSPXer”, I thought this would be of interest to those who frequent this forum. Hopefully this will pave the way towards a regularization of the status between SSPX and the Church.

thank you for posting this, franklin.

For the lifting of the excommunications of the Bishops of the Society, and for the integration of the Society into the life of the Church we humbly petition God and His Holiness.

Thy Will be done, O Lord.




Prayer is always good and I also hope the SSPX is “regularized.” But, it seems unlikely that the excommunication could be lifted for those reasons. Anyway, it’s an interesting story.


Why do you say that?

Can. 1323 The following are not subject to a penalty when they have violated a law or precept:

4/ a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;

7/ a person who without negligence thought that one of the circumstances mentioned in nn. 4 or 5 was present.

Can. 1324 §1. The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed:

8/ by a person who thought in culpable error that one of the circumstances mentioned in can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5 was present;

§3. In the circumstances mentioned in §1, the accused is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty.

There seems to be valid reasons (supported by canon law) to lift the excommunications, as Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX felt that they acted in a state of emergency.

Well, it seems to me that those who were excommunicated had no excuse. That’s why John Paul II actually proceeded with the excommunication at the time. There were legitimate ways for the SSPX to proceed so that it would be stable and in communion–this was laid out in the “Protocol” agreed upon between Arch. Lefebvre and Card. Ratzinger. However, Lefebvre chose the way of schism. Here’s the protocol, if you want to read it.

Here’s some commentary by a respected canon lawyer.

It seems more likely that the excommunication would be lifted if the bishops of the SSPX admitted fault and repented instead of having the pope say, in effect “Nevermind that excommunication. That was my, and Pope John Paul II’s, mistake. It just took us 20 years to see the error of our ways.”


Pope John Paul II never directly excommunicated them. Latae sententiae is automaticexcommunication. Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX acted in what they believed was a state of necessity . Canon law in those circumstances says that the penalties are to be reduced and automatic penalties don’t apply. Thus, it seems reasonable for the excommunication to be lifted on those grounds.

As this was an automatic excommunication, and not a direct excommunication from Pope John Paul II there isn’t an admitting of error, rather there more an acknowledgment that they acted in a perceived state of necessity. And Archbishop Lefebvre didn’t choose “the way of schism.” The SSPX is not in schism with Rome, and Rome doesn’t think that the SSPX is in schism with them.


I didnt say that the SSPX was schismatic. Just that Arch. Lefebvre and the four other bishops committed a schismatic act and were declared to be in schism. Canonically speaking, the SSPX was supressed. So, it certainly cant be in schism.

As far as the automatic excommunications, yes. They were *latae *sententiae. Nevertheless, the Holy See *declared *that the excommunications were incurred. Thus, the Holy See looked at the situation and took into account the canons you mentioned and then said Yes, these people are excommunicated. The Pope is the one who authentically interprets Canon Law, not the SSPX bishops. So, they might have believed there was necessity. But, the Pope said No, there wasnt.`

Anyway, here is another article which might be helpful. Its not all on this topic. But, you can skip down to the part onnecessity` and that will be more in line with our discussion.

Here`s an even longer article about the whole history of the SSPX.


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