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Archbishop Lefebvre - On the New [Conciliar] Code of Canon Law

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  • “And in fact, there is even an additional obstacle, which is the new Code of Canon Law, which has been made in the same spirit I’ve just been speaking to you about, the spirit of the Council, a bad spirit.” (Conference, Long Island, New York, November 5, 1983)
  • Another grave problem now undermining the Church is found in the new Canon Law. The new Canon Law is very serious for it goes much further than the Council itself.” (Conference in Germany, October 29, 1984)
  • A second question is now being put to us: “What do you think of the new Canon Law?

    We are unfortunately obliged to answer that despite certain useful modifications, the spirit which has presided over this general reform is the same as that which inspired the changing of liturgical books, catechisms, and the Bible. The Apostolic Constitution introducing the new Canon Law explicitly says on page xi of the Vatican edition: “The work, namely the Code, is in perfect accord with the nature of the Church, especially as has been proposed by the II Vatican Council. Moreover, this new Code can be conceived as an effort to expose in canonical language this doctrine, i.e., conciliar Ecclesiology. The elements of this Ecclesiology are the following: Church = people of God; hierarchical authority = collegial service; Church = communion; and lastly the Church with Her duty to ecumenism. Each one of these notions is ambiguous and will allow Protestant and Modernist errors to inspire from now on the legislation of the Church. It is the authority of the Pope and of the Bishops which is going to suffer; the distinction between the clergy and the laity will also diminish; the absolute and necessary character of the Catholic will also be extenuated to the profit of heresy and schism; and the fundamental realities of sin and grace will be worn down. These are all dangerous for the doctrine of the Church and the salvation of souls. (Letter to Friends and Benefactors, March 1983)

  • ... when one reads this new code of Canon Law one discovers an entirely new conception of the Church. It is easy to be aware of, since John Paul II himself describes it in the apostolic constitution which introduces the new Code. ". . . It follows that which constitutes the fundamental novelty of Vatican Council II, in full continuity with the legislative tradition of the Church (this is to deceive), especially in that which concerns ecclesiology, constitutes also the novelty of the new Code." Hence the novelty of the conception of the Church according to the Council is equally the novelty of the conception of the new Code of Canon Law. (Archbishop Lefebvre, given at Turin, Italy, March 24, 1984)
  • What is this novelty? It is that there is no longer any difference between the clergy and the laity. There is now just the faithful, nothing else ... (Ibid.)
  • This is exactly the same thing as saying today that Bishops, priests and laymen have all responsibility for the mission of the Church. But who gives the graces to become a Catholic? How does one become faithful? No one knows any more who has the responsibility for what. It is consequently easy to understand that this is the ruin of the priesthood and the laicization of the Church. Everything is oriented towards the laymen, and little by little the sacred ministers disappear. The minor orders and the subdiaconate have already disappeared. Now there are married deacons, and little by little laymen take over the ministry of the priests. This is precisely what Luther and the protestants did, laicizing the priesthood. It is consequently very serious. (Ibid.)
  • It is this same spirit which inspired the changing of the canon Law as that which inspired the changes in the Liturgy: it is the people of God, the assembly, which does everything. The same applies to the priest. He is a simple president who has a ministry, as others have a ministry, in the midst of an assembly. Our orientation towards God has likewise disappeared. This comes from the Protestants who say that Eucharistic devotion (for them there is neither Mass nor sacrifice: this would be blasphemy) is simply a movement of God towards man, but not of man towards God to render Him glory, which is nevertheless the first (latreutic) end of the Liturgy. This new state of liturgical mind comes likewise from Vatican II: everything is for man. The bishops and priest are at the service of man and the assembly. But where is God then? In what is His glory sought? What will we do in heaven? For in heaven "all is for the glory of God," which is exactly what we ought to do here on earth. But all that is done away with, and replaced by man. This is truly the ruin of all Catholic thought. (Ibid.)
  • You know that the new Code of Canon Law permits a priest to give Communion to a Protestant. It is what they call Eucharistic hospitality. These are Protestants who remain Protestant and do not convert. This is directly opposed to the Faith. For the Sacrament of the Eucharist is precisely the sacrament of the unity of the Faith. To give Communion to a Protestant is to rupture the Faith and its unity. (Ibid.)

Quotes by Other Traditional Clergy on the New Code of Canon Law
  • It was, in fact, Pope John Paul II who recognized the centrality of the new theology of the Church in all the changes that have come about in the past 40 years. He states it very explicitly in the Apostolic Constitution that he wrote to introduce the 1983 Code of Canon Law, on January 25, 1983. He there states that: "the new Code can be conceived as a great effort to transfer into canonical language this doctrine itself [i.e., proposed by Vatican II], namely conciliar Ecclesiology." He goes on to state that: "the fundamental reason for the novelty found in the Second Vatican Council, especially with respect to its ecclesiological teachings, is also the reason for the novelty contained in the new Code." It must be remembered that the laws contained in the Code of Canon Law are the practical guide for Catholics in living their Faith, and that any "novelty" contained therein must be of the greatest importance for them. (Fr. Peter Scott, "How Are Catholics to Respond to the Present Crisis in the Church?: April 2003)
  • "... it was the mark of collegiality that eminently distinguished the origin of the new Code, and that this mark is full in agreement with the Magisterium and nature of the Second Vatican Council, bearing its spirit. In order to establish this point the Pope lists the chief novel teachings of Vatican II contained in the Code, namely that "the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation, is shown to be the People of God and its hierarchical constitution to be founded on the College of Bishops together with its head". This is effectively the definition of collegiality. (Ibid.)
  • "...the shameless practice of Ecumenism and sacramental sharing with non-Catholics, [is] permitted in the entirely invalid Canon 844 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law." (Ibid.)