Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Supplied Jurisdiction

I received an email from a member of the faithful and was asked about the Society of Saint Pius X, and whether it is illicit to attend their chapels for Holy Mass.

I responded that the Vatican itself has said that one may satisfy their Sunday obligation by attending Mass with the Society but I also mentioned that their Confessions and Marriages may be invalid due to the local ordinary denying jurisdiction.

Then I got into what is known as "supplied jurisdiction". Since the Society operates due to a state of necessity in the Church, jurisdiction is supplied by the Church. "Ecclesia supplet", or "the Church supplies" (for the spiritual good of the faithful).
I supplied this article by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais on the subject, and for the education of Catholics who may have the questions, I present the article here.

If anyone attends the local SSPX chapel in Pittston, please email me at therockintraddy@gmail.com

by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais

by Father Peter Scott

State of the question.

Many have asked how traditional priests can continue to administer the Sacraments, and especially hear confessions, when they have had their Sacramental faculties removed by the local ordinary.

The following considerations will help you to understand not only the injustice of this, but also how these priests are clearly entitled to use supplied jurisdiction. It is obvious that the present crisis in the Church is not foreseen in Canon Law.

Consequently we must base our activity on the juridical analogy taken from the general norms of the Codes (Canon 20 in the Old Code and Canon 19 in the New Code), which state that if there is no express law concerning a special situation, the rule must be taken from:

1) laws promulgated for similar circumstances. The similar circumstances are those in which the Church supplies jurisdiction on account of the grave danger to souls. They are the cases of:

  • common error concerning a priest’s jurisdiction: Old Code [i.e., the 1917 Code of Canon Law, forthwith "OC"] Canon 209 (New Code [i.e., the 1983 Code of Canon Law, forthwith "NC"] 144).
  • positive and probable doubt: OC 209 (NC 144). This can be concerning jurisdiction or common error or danger of death.
  • non-cognizance to the fact that jurisdiction has expired: OC 207.
  • danger of death: OC 882 and 2252 (NC 976 and 1357). Those who cannot find a suitable confessor for a long period of time and who are consequently in danger of spiritual death must be assimilated to those in danger of death, according to the principle of Canonical Equity (see below).

2) the general principles of canon law, which inspire the particular laws. The two principal ones are:

  • the salvation of souls is the highest law (NC 1752).
  • the Sacraments are on account of men.

3) recourse equity. This is recourse to the mind of the legislator (when there is nothing explicit in writing), who never wants his legislation to be too onerous (burdensome), but always wants it to be interpreted in a just and favorable manner. That it is indeed the mind of the Church to be generous in the granting of jurisdiction and not overstrict or onerous is also apparent from the following two canons:

  • OC 2261 §2 (NC 1335). The Church suspends its prohibition for an excommunicated or suspended priest celebrating the Sacraments or posing acts requiring jurisdiction, provided it be in favor of the faithful who request it for any reasonable cause at all, and especially if there is no other minister.
  • OC 878 §2 (NC 970). Ordinaries and superiors are not to restrict jurisdiction. If the priest is suitable and the good of the faithful requires his services this jurisdiction cannot be refused to him. Clearly traditional priests should in justice receive personal jurisdiction and that everywhere (NC 967).

It is clear that, given the present circumstances of crisis in the Church and the principles of Canonical Equity, given the general principles of the law, and the Church’s continuous practice of supplying jurisdiction for the good of the faithful whenever it foresees that this lack of jurisdiction would be to their detriment, traditional priests receive supplied jurisdiction from the law. This is with the understanding that personal jurisdiction is unjustly refused to them simply because of their attachment to the Faith and its traditional expression (inseparable from the Faith), and that the faithful cannot be expected to continually search out and judge for themselves which confessors in the Conciliar Church might be acceptable and might give them the spiritual advice they need (given that the vast majority do not).

In conclusion, therefore, it is obvious that, besides the case of common error, besides the case of probable and positive danger of death as interpreted in the broad sense of spiritual death, traditional priests receive a iure (from the law itself) a supplied jurisdiction for all cases in which this jurisdiction is required. This is simply the application of Canon 20, notably of Canonical Equity. There are no solid arguments against this and since there is at least a positive and probable doubt in favor of this argument, and we know that in such a case the Church certainly supplies jurisdiction, then traditional priests can and must act accordingly and the faithful can and should approach them for Confession.

In the case of marriage this conclusion need not be applied. For OC 1098 (NC 1116) describes situations when even a priest without jurisdiction can validly assist at a Catholic marriage, namely when there is a major "inconvenience" for more than one month (as, for example, the New Mass or the liberal pre-Cana classes).

All depends on whether the crisis in the Church is recognized or not. Those who refuse to see it will refuse the recourse to OC Canon 20 (NC 19). Those who understand its gravity will all agree on the force of these canonical arguments for supplied jurisdiction presented by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais in the following pages.

More to come...

1 comment:

Matt said...

Hey RT- I actually don't believe the Supplied jurisdiction theory applies for the sspx in most cases. In China perhaps but I think Pittston is pretty iffy.

But I'm on my iPhone right now so I can't type much more. Perhaps later.