I'm just going to be a gadfly here ... I attend an SSPX chapel by default at the moment, if that counts for anything, but frankly I don't find any of these arguments convincing.
So pardon me for providing the irritant.
Indeed, as posted elsewhere, the CPA was the target of Pius XII's modification of the 1917 code. He did this in, as I recall, 1954 and his aim was indeed the threat of schism from Chinese Catholics...not Arb. LeFebvre.
That's quite irrelevant. The law is the law. It was created to punish an organization for consecrating bishops without papal mandate; it was later used to punish an organization for consecrating bishops without papal mandate. The continuity is clear. It doesn't matter that the law was originally created because of a situation the CPA created; are we arguing that this law can now, because of its origin, only ever be applied to the CPA?
The LeFebvre incident was not even conceived or thought of.
Actually, it was, in its essentials; the incident of an organization deciding to consecrate bishops without papal approval was the target. I would agree in this sense: Pius XII would probably have never imagined that a faithful Catholic archbishop, indeed, one of his own Papal Delegates, would ever disobey a papal command.
We, however, have the new code of canon law and LeFevre is, by that very same law, held not guilty.
That's only true if you want to claim that the Pope is not the final interpreter of Canon Law. I don't think you wish to claim this. According to the Pope's interpretation of the Law and his final ruling, Lefebvre is guilty.
Even under the 1917 code LeFebvre is innocent of any charges that could be leveled against him, because there was a grave danger and this was so stated by Paul VI and JP2.
Apparently not, or JP2 wouldn't have forbid Lefebvre from doing the consecrations. Again, according to the Pope's ruling, there was not sufficient reason for Lefebvre to do the consecrations.
Numerous papers were written about this and...LeFebvre was found innocent. The reason we do not have a public, Roman statement on this fact is because it would place shame on the modernists in Rome today.
Unfortunately, none of those "numerous papers" have any binding canonical authority. The only canonical ruling that counts is the one finally made by the Supreme Legislator, the Pope, and he found Lefebvre guilty. The reason we do not have a public statement of this "fact" (of Lefebvre's innocence) is because it is not a fact; the fact is that the Pope judged him to be guilty.
The consecrations are valid and Rome recognizes them as such.
That is completely and totally irrelevant. Eastern Orthodox consecrations are also valid, and Rome recognizes them as such. At best, you've just proved that the SSPX is in the same situation as the Eastern Orthodox - in schism.
At this time we see the radical left and the radical right splitting further from the core of our faith...held constant by the SSPX.
That's a very, very weak argument. Know why? Because you can always find someone just a bit to the right, and a bit to the left.
On the contrary, the neo-Catholic position is the right one, because the extreme liberals are to the left, and the SSPX is to the right.
No, wait, the Sedevacantist position is the right one, because we can see the SSPX to the liberal left of this, and the Old Catholics to the extreme right.
On second thought, maybe the Protestants are right, because we have the Catholics to the right, and the Unitarians to the left.
Sorry, it's a bad argument.
1. Canon Law says that if the Prelate THINKS there is a state of emergency, there is no automatic excommunication for consecrating bishops. Note the wording in "Ecclesia Dei" -- the Pope basically says they incurred the automatic excommunication -- he never excommunicated them personally.
That whole bit about the Prelate thinking there is a state of emergency is pulled out from under his feet once the Supreme Legislator rules to the contrary; there can be no confusion of judgment on the Prelate's part after that point - his superior has spoken. He cannot claim to have been unaware of his superior's desires, intentions, or authentic interpretation of the Law.
If the Law were interpreted the way you're interpreting it, no one could ever be excommunicated again; what prevents this Canon from turning into a relativistic free-for-all is that the Pope is proclaimed to be the Supreme Legislator, and his interpretation of the Law is normative.
It would be one thing if Lefebvre just woke up one day and said "Eureka! I have to do episcopal consecrations now," and then went ahead and did it, with Rome finding out after the fact. But he knew what he was doing, so did Rome, the Pope gave him fair warning, and Lefebvre went ahead anyway - there was absolutely no confusion on his part that he was disobeying an order.
As for the argument that "the Pope basically says they incurred the automatic excommunication -- he never excommunicated them personally," this holds no weight whatsoever, because the exact same kind of excommunication was pronounced in the case of CPA bishops a few months ago, as well as in the case of those crazy women who were so-called "ordained" as "priests." If such an excommunication is of no worth in Lefebvre's case, then it also must be of no worth in the CPA's case, or the "women priests" case.
Anyone who believes the excommunications are true and binding has not thought about this: WHY wasn't Abp. Lefebvre ever given a trial? Luther was condemned for his doctrine, and excommunicated. The Diet of Worms gave him his shot at opposing the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Lefebvre would have used such an occasion to demonstrate how modernism and the current trends in the Church go against everything the Church has taught so far (pre-1970). But he was not given that chance, for obvious reasons.
The reason no one has "thought about this" is because it's irrelevant; Lefebvre wasn't excommunicated for teaching heresy, which would naturally require some kind of trial. He was excommunicated for violating Canon Law; there was no need for a trial because there was no question in the matter. The Pope said "don't do it," and Lefebvre did it; there are no more facts to consider in the case.
To quote from Pius XII on the subject:
... it has been clearly and expressly laid down in the canons that it pertains to the one Apostolic See to judge whether a person is fit for the dignity and burden of the episcopacy
, and that complete freedom in the nomination of bishops is the right of the Roman Pontiff
... it follows that bishops who have been neither named nor confirmed by the Apostolic See, but who, on the contrary, have been elected and consecrated in defiance of its express orders, enjoy no powers of teaching or of jurisdiction since jurisdiction passes to bishops only through the Roman Pontiff as We admonished in the Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis ...
Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid as long as the consecration conferred on them was valid, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious. (Ad Apostolorum Principis, 38-41)
Lefebvre named his own bishops and personally determined them to be fit for the episcopacy, when - as Pius XII taught - that is a right which belongs to the Holy See; in other words, Lefebvre violated the freedom and rights of the Pope. As such, he committed a sacrilege and a "criminal" act. The bishops he consecrated, according to Pius XII, not only have no jurisdiction, but have no teaching powers either.
Theoretically, Lefebvre knew this, and only consecrated them to be dispensers of the sacraments of Holy Orders and Confirmation; but we all know the Society bishops do, in fact, take it upon themselves to teach - and they often teach the faithful, who greatly revere them and listen to them carefully, not to listen to the Holy See (for example, on the question of the New Mass, the Indult Mass, the Second Vatican Council, etc.).
I leave open the question of whether Lefebvre did what he absolutely had to do, or whether there was another way; I also leave open the question of whether his excommunication will one day be declared unjust, and subsequently lifted. But at the moment, these are speculations, and not fact; the facts are that he disobeyed a Pope, arrogated to himself a right and a liberty that Pius XII said belongs to the Holy See, and committed a sacrilegious act, for which he was excommunicated.
All subsequent defenses of Lefebvre have, unfortunately, nothing more than a Monday-morning Quarterback character about them. We can argue all we want, in hindsight, about his motives, whether the ruling was fair, etc., but in the end these defenses have the most unfortunate handicap of being contrary to the only Canonical opinion that matters: the Pope's.
May the Archbishop rest in peace.