Statement from Cardinal Ricard of France about the lifting of the SSPX excommunications

While all sorts of silliness are being spread by the ignorant media to the ignorant masses, with the sole aim of creating more division and controversy among the peoples of the world rather than less, French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard has issued a statement which corroborates the points which that Andrew Rabel and I have been trying to make. His Eminence also demonstrates that the lifting of the excommunications was an act of charity on the part of Pope Benedict, not an act of ignorance or disdain for the Jewish people. (Some people must think the Pope is an idiot…)

Here is the Google translation of Cardinal Ricard’s statement:

Declaration Card. Ricard about the lifting of the excommunication

On 24 January, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux and a member of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” made a statement regarding the lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.

The decree, signed on 21 January 2009 by Cardinal Re, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, at the request of Pope Benedict XVI raises incurred excommunication latae sententiae by bishops ordained June 30 by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 and formally declared by order of Cardinal Gantin, on 1 July 1988.

This waiver was requested more than once by Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, especially in a letter to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, 15 December, on behalf of 4 bishops concerned. It was even, with the possibility for any priest to celebrate Mass with the Missal of St. Pius V, one of two prerequisites [set by Bishop Fellay] for opening a dialogue with Rome. He had his followers to pray for this purpose.

Pope Benedict XVI wanted to finish what he could do as a helping hand, as an invitation to reconciliation. The Pope, a theologian and historian of theology, knows the tragedy that is a schism in the church. He hears the question that is often raised in this history of schisms: Have all steps to avoid this schism really been taken? He himself felt invested with the mission to make every effort to reweave the torn son of church unity [I’m not sure of the right translation of that – DS]. Let us not forget that the pope is familiar with the case because he had been charged by Pope John Paul II to contact Archbishop Lefebvre and try to prevent him from committing the irremediable act of consecrating bishops. Anyone who was then Cardinal Ratzinger had been marked by the failure of his mission [again, you get the gist, even if the translation is rough – DS].

The lifting of the excommunication was not an end but the beginning of a process of dialogue. It does not have [deal with?] two issues: the legal structure of the Society of Saint Pius X in the Church and an agreement on the dogmatic and ecclesiological. But it opens a path to go [forward] together. This path will probably be long. It will require better understanding and mutual esteem. At one point, the question from the text of Vatican II as a magisterial document of major importance should be raised. It is fundamental. But all the difficulties are not necessarily of the doctrinal type. Others, such as cultural and political, may also emerge. The last thing unacceptable, Bishop Williamson, denying the tragedy of the extermination of Jews, is one example.

Yet one can think that the momentum created by the lifting of excommunications should assist in the launching of the dialogue called for by the pope.

At the end of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let us not forget that the surest path to walk to the unity of all Christ’s disciples prayer.

In Bordeaux, on 24 January 2009

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Cardinal Ricard
Archbishop of Bordeaux
Pontifical “Ecclesia Dei”
Bishop placed at the head of an ecclesiastical province.



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15 responses to “Statement from Cardinal Ricard of France about the lifting of the SSPX excommunications

  1. Vicci

    I don’t know Latin.
    So allow me to post ‘Politics makes strange bedfellows’ en clair
    As Menzies ‘joined’ with the Communists to sneak an election, so
    the Vatican looks to keep The Far Right in the fold.


    The only ‘silliness’ is the Blogmeister
    using a Cardinal’s statement for his ‘proof-text’.
    Hardly independent comment, nicht var?

  2. Schütz

    What ho, Vicci!

    Thanks for visiting the blog. I always am especially grateful when someone leaves a comment that demonstrates exactly the point I have been trying to make. There is a lot of confusion about what the act of lifting the excommunication means, and it is being driven and fueled by pure ignorance.

    Let me spell this out:

    1) the Society is in schism from the Catholic Church. For Christians, schism is a big deal, believe it or not, almost as big a deal as heresy. As heresy is a sin against truth, schism is a sin against love.

    2) While the world finds it easier to condemn and execute the sinner, the Church reaches out in love to correct and embrace the sinner. (We’re weird like that).

    3) This is therefore NOT about “keeping the far right in the fold” but keeping the baptised sons and daughters of God – and our brothers and sisters in Christ – “in the fold”. You see them as political right-wingers, we see them as brothers and sisters – erring, yes, but still our brothers and sisters (you can choose your friends, you can’t choose your family).

    4) The act of removing the excommunications was a neccessary first step in seeking reconciliation with the Society and healing the rift in the family.

    5) It would have been an act of injustice to have allowed the excommunications to continue after the bishops had repented of the sin for which the excommunications were originally laid.

    6) Since the excommunications were not originally laid for loopy ideas regarding the Jews, but for disobedience to the Church, the question of the removal of the excommunications is completely irrelevant to the anti-semitism of any of the bishops.

    7) The removal of the excommunications does not (and this is the important point) DOES NOT reestablish these four men as bishops in good standing with the Church.

    8) There is a great deal of dialogue to go yet – INCLUDING (and this is another important bit) their loopy ideas about the Jews (and ecumenism and religious freedom and the liturgy etc. etc. and pretty much all of Vatican II).

    The reason why I cited the statement by the French Cardinal is that he has been a part of these discussions and therefore can tell us exactly what the act of removing the excommunications means. I cite him precisely because he is NOT an “independent” commentator, but rather SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT!!!!

    Of course, citing the Cardinal will not “prove” anything to someone who not only does not have the faintest idea what this is all about but who doesn’t bother to take the time to find out.

    And if you find all this too “silly” for you, well, you are quite welcome to go back to reading stuff that gives you a version of reality with which you are more comfortable.

  3. Louise

    I think Pole pointed out that speaking of “left” and “right” isn’t really the thing within the Church. I mean, how many orthodox Catholics would you describe as being either left or right wing. I agree with both, either and neither depending on the topic.

    Also, did you answer my question in another combox – I thought the SSPX were not excommunicated as a body, but only some of their bishops. But I readily concede to being terribly ignorant of the matter.

    Poor Kathy Shaidle is devasatated that an anti-semite has had the ecommunication lifted. Silly sausage! No-one is excommunicated for being a dingbat!

  4. Schütz

    You are right. The excommunication related only to the Bishops. However all the priests are technically “suspended a divinis“. The Society as a whole was (I think the technical word is) “suppressed”. Still is. Although their supporters would say that the technical word should be “oppressed”! 🙂

  5. Schütz

    No-one is excommunicated for being a dingbat!

    My point exactly. If they were, there would be precious few of us left in the Church! Perhaps only me and thee, Louise. Although even thou art a little dingbattish at times…


  6. Past Elder

    Yeah, who do those Russians think they are, selecting and installing a bishop without the OK from Rome.

    You don’t do that in “the church”! You WILL obey, Simon/Peter sez. Excommunicate ’em, those sinners against love!

    Ad multos annos Kirill! Rock on!!

  7. matthias

    The Chief Rabbinate of israel representing both Sephardic and Ashkenazi jews has just apparently broken off all contact with the Vatican.
    I would say that mischiefious news reporting and some artful editing has had been a big contributor to this.

  8. Schütz

    PE, independant patriarchal Churches do not need to seek the permission of patriarchs of other Churches – even the Patriarch of Rome – for what ordaining bishops or electing patriarchs.

    For eg., the Syrian Catholic Church – in full communion with the Patriarchate of Rome – just elected a new patriarch “without the OK from Rome”. Rome has no input whatsoever into these internal affairs.

    But Lefebvre was a bishop of the Catholic Church who owed allegiance to the Patriarch of Rome. He acted without the authority of his patriarch when he ordained priests (earning a suspension a divinis) and when consecrating the bishops (earning a latae sententiae excommunication).

  9. Past Elder

    For Christ’s sake, you think I don’t know that. I know exactly why Lefebvre was excommunicated. I was there.

    The joke was on the whole Roman crap of “apostolic succession” particularly in re the “bishop of Rome”, as distinct from the Pauline Epistles or, say, Didache 15;1.

  10. Louise

    If they were, there would be precious few of us left in the Church!

    Indeed, David. About 0 by my reckoning. And no-one would be able to join, either.

    Although even thou art a little dingbattish at times…

    That may be the nicest thing anyone has said to me this year!

  11. Anonymous

    If we can expect Catholics to apologize for real or apparent wrongs of other Catholics in the past, then certainly we can call on the Jews to apologize for the murder of Jesus by their predecessors. Also, what is the greater wrong, questioning some details of history or the assertion (by current Judaism) that Jesus was not the Son of God and that he was a fraud? Shouldn’t all Catholics call on the followers of Judaism to retract these false and offensive statements and beliefs? Didn’t the first martyr, Stephen, do just that. Seems to me that those that claim the name of Christ should be more loyal to him than to those who deny him.

  12. Schütz

    Dear Anon,

    Your comments skate very close to the mark at which I would usually press the delete button.

    The Church does not accuse the Jewish people of the present of being guilty of the death of Jesus. As the Council of Trent already beautifully pointed out, we all share the guilt the death of Christ by reason of our sin.

    In addition to which, as you should know, you and I are as likely to be descendants of those who “murdered” Jesus as any Jew living today. Just as we are probably in some way related to Shakespeare. It’s just the mathematics of population.

    That Jesus is the Son of God is a confession of faith reached through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not a “fact of history”.

  13. Past Elder

    Absolutely. That “the Jews”, of Jesus’ age, our age, any age, or all ages are responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion is an idea Trent specifically repudiated, not to mention the Gospel repudiates.

    What is more, even our sins for which he died did not “murder” Jesus. They killed us. He freely chose in love to pay the penalty, death, for us. That’s why they call it Redemption. And why they call it Good News.

  14. Anonymous

    The responses to my post about the Jews apologizing for their predecessors show a misunderstanding. Note that I asked that the Jews apologize for the sins of their predecessors. Jesus himself said that “they that handed me over to you [Pilat] are guilty of a greater sin.” My point is that it would be logically consistent for the Jews to apologize for the sins of those that participated in the sin Jesus talked about if they are going to keep demanding apologies from Catholics for real or perceived wrongs from past Catholics. And, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to forbid them to publish their position that Jesus was a fraud. Who are we defending here? I do believe that the Jews will apologize at the time of their conversion foretold by the scriptures.

  15. Past Elder

    He said no such thing. He said “he”, not “they”, and the reference is to Caiaphas who handed Jesus over to Pilate, and the context was, Pilate trying to get Jesus to say something because Pilate has authority, and Jesus saying Pilate’s authority comes from the Father, which even moreso applies to a man in an office established by God, High Priest, than to a secular ruler. “The Jews” have nothing to do with it in the exchange.