Father Stephen Somerville suspended.Toronto -- On July 15, 2004, Fr. Stephen Somerville was suspended from the priesthood by Toronto's Archbishop Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic. It is a sad, but not surprising, occasion for us at Catholic Insight.
Fr. Somerville was associated with Catholic Insight magazine from its start in November/December 1992 until the end of 2001. He was listed as Associate Editor in our first edition of January/February 1993. His special responsibility was to educate our readers about the nature and meaning of the liturgy and forms of worship, and to inform us about the latest developments.
In the spring of 2002, I asked him to withdraw his name from our masthead mast·head
1. Nautical The top of a mast.
2. The listing in a newspaper or periodical of information about its staff, operation, and circulation.
3. . He readily complied and agreed that he could no longer write for us in the same manner as before because his views on the liturgy within the Catholic Church had changed.
Father Somerville's contributions
Recently, Father Somerville (now aged 73) became known across North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. as the chaplain who celebrated Mass for Mel Gibson Noun 1. Mel Gibson - Australian actor (born in the United States in 1956)
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson, Gibson
U.S.A., United States, United States of America, US, USA, America, the States, U.S. and his crew while they were on a film-shoot in Italy in the fall of 2003. He was there for them in December 2002 and January 2003. The Passion of the Christ became the film sensation of 2004 and that fame rubbed off on him. What also filtered through was that Fr. Somerville celebrated the Latin Tridentine version of the Mass. Mel, it was suggested, was at odds with the Church about the current liturgical norms ("Mel Gibson's spiritual advisor," Ottawa Citizen The Ottawa Citizen (established 1845) is an English-language daily newspaper owned by CanWest Global in Ottawa, Canada. According to the Canadian Newspaper Association, the paper has a circulation of 141,540. , Sunday, September 21, 2003).
The Somerville family is well-known in Ontario because the father, Henry Somerville, was the editor of the Canadian Catholic Register weekly newspaper from the mid-thirties to the mid-fifties. Later on, both Stephen and his older brother Peter, now deceased, were associated with the well-known St. Michael's Choir School St. Michael’s Choir School is an all-boys' semi-private school located in downtown Toronto, Canada that embodies a unique learning environment for its students. The school serves as a union between two distinct institutions: the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and the , next to Toronto's St. Michael's Cathedral. It educates boys who are musically gifted in the Church's great heritage of classical church music, hymns, and choral singing. Ordained or·dain
tr.v. or·dained, or·dain·ing, or·dains
a. To invest with ministerial or priestly authority; confer holy orders on.
b. To authorize as a rabbi.
2. in 1956, Stephen was a teacher of Latin and music, while his brother became director of the school. Stephen is also a composer and musician; over 20 of his hymns of arrangements made it into the first national Canadian hymnal, the Book of Worship, together with a number of psalm canticles Canticles, another name for the Song of Solomon. . Several compositions of his are to be found in the four-volume North American North American
named after North America.
North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.
North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus. Liturgy of the Hours
n. pl. bre·vi·ar·ies Ecclesiastical
A book containing the hymns, offices, and prayers for the canonical hours. ." It had been hoped, after the Second Vatican Council Noun 1. Second Vatican Council - the Vatican Council in 1962-1965 that abandoned the universal Latin liturgy and acknowledged ecumenism and made other reforms
Vatican Council - each of two councils of the Roman Catholic Church , that the laity might come to use it as well. In brief, Fr. Somerville's special qualifications as a Catholic priest, pastor, and scholar centred on the liturgy.
ICEL ICEL International Committee on English in the Liturgy
ICEL International Consortium for Experiential Learning
ICEL International Committee for English in the Liturgy
In 1964 Fr. Somerville became the Canadian representative member on the newly constituted ICEL, the International Commission of the English Language English language, member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Spoken by about 470 million people throughout the world, English is the official language of about 45 nations. , set up to translate the Latin Missal missal [Lat.,=of the mass], in the Roman Catholic Church, liturgical book containing all directions and texts necessary for the performance of Mass throughout the year. (the Mass book on the altar) into English. At 33 he was its youngest member but "soon felt perplexity perplexity - The geometric mean of the number of words which may follow any given word for a certain lexicon and grammar. before the bold mistranslations confidently proposed and pressed by the ever-strengthening radical/progressive element in our group. I felt, but could not articulate, the wrongness of so many of our committee's renderings" (Apology, 2003).
One example of a wrong translation he provides is the answer to the priest's saying, "The Lord be with you," which in Latin is "Et cum spiritu tuo" ("and with your spirit"). But ICEL rewrote the answer to say, "and also with you." This, he points out, "besides having an overall trite sound, has added a redundant word (also). Worse, it has suppressed the word 'spirit' which reminds us that we human beings have a spiritual soul. Furthermore, it has stopped the echo of four (inspired) uses of 'with our spirit' in St. Paul's
Changes like the above, he points out, are very important because the Liturgy is our law of praying (lex orandi) which, in turn, forms our law of believing (lex credendi). In 1973, he voluntarily resigned from ICEL when he felt himself becoming more and more critical of the ongoing translations. After that he served seven years in Ottawa as editor of the Living Christ missalettes and then became a parish priest Parish priest may refer to
Liturgical music of the Roman Catholic church consisting of unaccompanied melody sung in unison to Latin words. , and tried to retain a little bit of Latin in his celebrations of the Sunday Mass, after its wholesale abandonment by the Canadian and American bishops.
As the years went by, it became clear that much of what was ordained by the on-the-spot liturgical and architectural "experts," male or female, was neither authorized nor intended by the Vatican Council Vatican Council
Either of two ecumenical councils of the Roman Catholic Church, the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) and the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), convoked by Pius IX and John XXIII, respectively. . Fr. Somerville was keenly aware of that.
He was also aware, however, that help was on the way, not least because he followed its progress in articles for Catholic Insight throughout the nineties. Rome now criticized ICEL translations, as did many people; opposition to local liturgical abuses was growing; the Vatican issued new instructions about the rues for translation (Liturgiam authenticam, May 7, 2001); some translations were disallowed; so-called authoritative, mandatory, architectural instructions were shown to be neither mandatory nor authoritative; a new missal in Latin was produced and set as the model for translations into the vernacular. Fr. Somerville wrote about all this for Catholic Insight. See the annual indexes in the December issues under "Liturgy," especially the years 1996 and following. His last contribution appeared in November 2001, written during the previous summer.
Most recently, in 2003 and 2004, ICEL itself was completely re-organized and given new statutes and new members. The Holy Father re-emphasized the meaning and nature of the Eucharist (2003); the Congregation for Divine Worship provided a specific list of abuses to be corrected (2004); and a new international English International English is the concept of the English language as a global means of communication in numerous dialects, and also the movement towards an international standard for the language. It is also referred to as Global English, World English, Common English, General English. translation much more sensitive to the sacred character of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is in the making for 2005-6. But, alas, it seems to have come too late for Fr. Somerville, as, again alas, it has also for a number of Catholics. They decided to find solace elsewhere.
Today Fr. Somerville says that he would have written these articles in a very different way if he had to do it again. That, no doubt, is so, but we are proud of him that he wrote them when he did; that is, still as a Catholic in full communion Full communion is a term used in Christian ecclesiology to describe relations between two distinct Christian communities or Churches that, while maintaining some separateness of identity, recognise each other as sharing the same communion and the same essential doctrines. with the Church and hopeful that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Church would overcome these irritating, often deeply hurting, abuses. Forty years, surely, is not so long a time for the Church to prepare the necessary change-over in translating all its rituals in a multitude of languages, even though forty years may appear to be a lifetime to any one individual.
Fr. Somerville steps out
As usual, Fr. Somerville attended our editorial board meeting, held in Oakville, in early September 2001. He told us that he had just returned from Texas where he had substituted for five weeks for a Canadian priest, Fr. Louis Campbell, formerly of the Augustinians at Marylake north of Toronto, in order to allow him to go on vacation. He then passed around a couple of books which alarmed us immediately. They were written by sede vacantists, those who believe that the Chair of St. Peter is vacant and is presently occupied by impostors. There were photos of the ears of Pope Paul VI Pope Paul VI (Latin: Paulus PP. VI; Italian: Paolo VI), born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (September 26, 1897 – August 6, 1978), reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 1963 to 1978. , sharply pointed, presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. just like the devil's, and of the present Pope as a young priest in Poland with a child on his shoulder and a young woman at his side, the kind of thing enemies of the Church such as Communists or Freemasons This is a list of notable Freemasons. Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation which exists in a number of forms worldwide. Throughout history some members of the fraternity have made no secret of their involvement, while others have not made their membership public. have often used in the past in attempts to discredit a local bishop or priest, suggesting he has a mistress on the side.
Upon inquiry in what parish he had substituted for five weeks, it turned out that it had lay directors who had themselves purchased a church building and set up their "church" without either knowledge or permission from the local bishop. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , it was a schismatic schis·mat·ic
Of, relating to, or engaging in schism.
One who promotes or engages in schism.
schis·mat congregation not in communion with the Catholic Church (St. Jude's Shrine, Stafford, Texas Stafford is a city in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown Metropolitan Area. Stafford is mostly in Fort Bend County with a small portion in Harris County. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the city population was 15,681. ). Here Fr. Somerville offered up daily Mass, heard confessions, distributed Communion and did all the things a parish priest does. Above all, he told us, he had fallen in love with the Latin liturgy A Latin liturgy is a ceremony or ritual conducted in the Latin language. Generally, the term 'Latin liturgy' is used in conjunction with the Christian religion, and especially in association with a Catholic Mass, which may conducted in Latin or another language. and its 1962 Tridentine Missal all over again.
From then on, it was all downhill. No number of earnest conversations could convince him that, by celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice with a congregation not in union with the Catholic Church, he had placed himself in a sinful situation. The Masses, of course, were valid, but not licit.
Fr. Somerville's ICEL apology
Throughout 2002 and 2003 many of his friends continued to pray and hope that Fr. Somerville would draw back from walking on the edge of a precipice.
But in the fall of 2002 he circulated a three-page document, illustrated with photos, entitled Renouncing My Service on ICEL. It was printed by Angelus Press in Kansas, a press of Catholic "traditionalists" who support the schismatic Society of St. Plus X (SSPX SSPX Society of Saint Pius X (international priestly society)
SSPX Sustained Spheromak Physics Experiment (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) ), followers of Archbishop Lefevbre who refused to accept the Second Vatican Council's Decrees on Liturgy, Ecumenism ecumenism
Movement toward unity or cooperation among the Christian churches. The first major step in the direction of ecumenism was the International Missionary Conference of 1910, a gathering of Protestants. , and Religious Freedom. The Archbishop was excommunicated in 1988 (see Letters to the Editor in this edition).
Around this time Fr. Somerville also resigned his position as Catholic chaplain to Philippino Charismatics of Toronto. The Toronto Chancery, mean while, requested that he halt the circulation of his ICEL apology.
Many people spoke with Fr. Somerville, but without success. He had read, or re-read, all the criticisms made against the 1970 Liturgy by the Lefebvrists, and others such as Michael Davies Michael Davies may refer to:
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Pope Paul's 1970 missal), perhaps all of them, were either sacrilegous, or invalid, of both, because of changes made in the text. "Such a litany of defects," he writes in his ICEL apology, "suggests that many modern Masses are sacrilegous, and some could well be invalid. They certainly are less Catholic, and less apt to sustain Catholic Faith." In recent months traditionalists have circulated this apology in North America and in Europe (The Tablet, July 31, 2004), and it is also available on the SSPX website.
Readers will note that words such as "suggests," "could well be," "less Catholic," and "less apt," indicate a lack of precise theological definition on the part of the author. Either the Mass is valid or it is not; it cannot be both at once.
In the spring of 2004, Fr. Somerville forwarded a copy of a nicely printed book entitled Seventeen priests tell why they celebrate the Latin Mass The term Latin Mass refers to the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Mass celebrated in Latin.
Specifically, the term is frequently used to denote the Tridentine Mass: that is, the Roman-Rite liturgy of the Mass celebrated in accordance with the successive editions of the Roman to every priest in Toronto or perhaps also to priests throughout all of Ontario. The mailing address was that of an SSPX affiliate in Toronto. It was accompanied by a letter penned by Fr. Somerville in which he told the story of his 2001 "conversion" to the old Mass.
The book's title is deceptive because it deals with seventeen priests, including some Canadians, who celebrate Mass in Latin after first breaking their relationship with the Catholic Church. None of them are SSPX members.
The cover-letter proved that Fr. Somerville now rejects much of the Second Vatican Council, because, he says, it began "introducing modernist, liberal concepts into Catholic thought, at variance with traditions we had grown up with prior to 1960.... These ideas had been conveyed in enticing, vague, and ambiguous language, apt for simultaneous or traditional interpretation, so that a good majority of the Council Fathers would vote their approval, but in fact open a door for revolution."
The truth is that most of them were approved by overwhelming majorities, not just by a "good majority," and that while there are some ambiguities, these should not be attributed to plots of conspiracies.
The Church takes action
Fr. Somerville's determination to continue on the path of open defiance of Church authorities becomes even clearer when we consider that by this time he had already received a formal warning from Archbishop Ambrozic. In December 2003, he was sent a letter to cease and desist Cease and desist (also called C & D) is a legal term used primarily in the United States which essentially means "to halt" or "to end" an action ("cease") and to refrain from doing it again in the future ("desist"). from serving "traditionalist" congregations associated with the Society of St. Pius X The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is an international society of Traditionalist Roman Catholic priests. Its official Latin name is Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X, which means "Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X". .
When, six months later, he received the formal note of suspension dated July 15, 2004, after his return from a brief speaking tour in the U.S., he immediately forwarded it to The Remnant in Wyoming for publication with the rest of his correspondence which he had sent earlier. The Remnant is a bi-weekly American national traditionalist newspaper that does not accept the 1970 Missal and Mass of Pope Paul VI. They promptly printed what he had sent and placed everything on their website. The article "Mel Gibson's chaplain suspended" includes the text of the correspondence and the note of suspension which we print below.
The gist of the correspondence below is straightforward: the Archbishop's warning is dated Christmas Eve, 2003. Father Somerville's reply of January 12, 2004, denies that the Society of St. Pius X is schismatic and therefore "no longer in full communion," a term he questions. (N.B.: It is used today to indicate other Christian bodies which have one of more beliefs in common with Catholicism but which are not legally or canonically part of the Catholic Church). Msgr. John Murphy A number of people have been named John Murphy
n. pl. vicars general
1. Roman Catholic Church
a. A priest acting as deputy to a bishop to assist him in the administration of his diocese.
b. The head of a religious order. of the Toronto archdiocese, responded (March 24) by sending Fr. Somerville a letter from the one authority within the Church who should know the status of the Society of St. Pius X: the secretary of the Vatican Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is a commission of the Roman Catholic Church established by Pope John Paul II's motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of 2 July 1988 for the care of those former followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who broke with him as a . (N.B.: this Commission was set up in 1988 when Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian: Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II) born gave permission for the Tridentine Mass "Tridentine Mass" (Latin: Missa Tridentina) is the term generally used to refer to the form of the Roman Rite Mass presented in the official editions of the Roman Missal published between 1570 and 1962. of 1962 again to be celebrated for faithful Catholics, after obtaining permission from the local bishop. He also gave permission to some two dozen or more Lefebvrist priests, who wanted to return to the Church, to form the Fraternity of St. Peter with the purpose of being able to celebrate again the Latin Tridentine Mass in the Catholic Church--as before 1962. This Fraternity has received many vocations since. In 2004, it ordained nine priests in North America alone.)
Fr. Somerville replied again on May 29, 2004. He continues to quibble QUIBBLE. A slight difficulty raised without necessity or propriety; a cavil.
2. No justly eminent member of the bar will resort to a quibble in his argument. , and now says he was acting "out of necessity," under Canon 1382; moreover, the followers of the excommunicated Archbishop Lefebvre are still in communion with the Catholic Church, he argues, just not with "the present Vatican."
I have taken much space to set this matter before you, our readers, in the belief that the details of this sad development are important to understand. Already I have one printed report which attacks Toronto's Cardinal for supposedly harsh and undue treatment. Faithful Catholics should be very clear about the issue: the Cardinal is right, Father Somerville is wrong.
The Pope is the sign of unity in the Church. The 4,400 Catholic bishops around the world in union with him form the hierarchy of the Church. We have to be in union with them. Rejection of the Pope's authority in matters of faith and morals means that one is cut off from the Church. One cannot be in communion with the Catholic Church, yet "just not with the present Vatican."
Today, many people, including Catholics, seem to think that one can change "churches" as one can change parishes of, worse, one's clothes. This is a mistaken and truly disastrous notion. It may apply to other Christian denominations List of Christian denominations (or Denominations self-identified as Christian) ordered by historical and doctrinal relationships. (See also: Christianity; Christian denominations).
Some groups are large (e.g. but not to the Catholic Church. Saint Peter was given the power to bind and loose for all time ("whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19). The Christian faith is a revealed religion. It must stay unified. The Church should not be understood as a body put together as we do with governments or other organizations. Rather, it is uniquely instituted by Christ, our Lord, who guarantees that "the portals of hell will not overcome it" (Matthew 18:18).
Letter to Father Somerville from Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto (December 24, 2003)
Dear Father Somerville,
It is high time that I wrote to you in light of my recently acquired knowledge of your extra-curricular activities. It has come to my attention that you are celebrating Mass for congregations affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X.
As you well know, this group is not in full communion with Rome and any further ministry exercised by you on their behalf would force me, as your Bishop, to take remedial action A remedial action is a change made to a nonconforming product or service to address the deficiency.
Rework and repair are generally the remedial actions taken on products, while services usually require additional services to be performed to ensure satisfaction. .
With this letter be informed that I order you to terminate your association with the Society of St. Pius X, or face the prospect of suspension and/or further canonical action.
If you have any question about this, please contact me at your earliest convenience.
Wishing you a peaceful and blessed Christmas,
In Christ, Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic Archbishop of Toronto
Father Somerville's response to Cardinal Ambrozic (January 12, 2004)
I hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter of Christmas Eve, which expressed displeasure at my having said Masses for Catholics "affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X," and which threatened me with canonical suspension for this.
I am puzzled that such a serious penalty should be invoked for assisting the three hardworking priests of that Society in Toronto, who must serve nine churches in Ontario and New Brunswick New Brunswick, province, Canada
New Brunswick, province (2001 pop. 729,498), 28,345 sq mi (73,433 sq km), including 519 sq mi (1,345 sq km) of water surface, E Canada. , seven of which are in dioceses other than yours. I am also puzzled by your phrase "not in full communion with Rome," to describe the SSPX. Does this mean partial communion? Can there be such a thing? Although there is a divergence in thinking between the Vatican, as presently and confusedly manifested, and the clear position of the SSPX, I consider that the SSPX is simply in communion with Pope John Paul Pope John Paul is the name of two Popes of the Roman Catholic Church:
I know that many persons seem to share the slanderous notion that the SSPX is in schism, but this is clearly contradicted by various authorities. If there is any division, it has been brought about by the Vatican itself in the last four papacies. And if Pius XII Pius XII, 1876–1958, pope (1939–58), an Italian named Eugenio Pacelli, b. Rome; successor of Pius XI. Ordained a priest in 1899, he entered the Vatican's secretariat of state. or the Fathers of Trent were to return, they would recognize the Catholic Church much more clearly in SSPX than in the post-Vatican II Church. Here I refer to doctrine and piety, as well as to liturgical rites.
In the light of the foregoing considerations, I think you should commend me for publicly sustaining the Catholic Faith and Liturgy, and I respectfully request that you drop your threat of suspension. If I have not yet been able to persuade you of the Catholic worth and validity of SSPX, I do earnestly ask you to indicate to me in writing the precise nature of my alleged crime or wrongdoing wrong·do·er
One who does wrong, especially morally or ethically.
wrongdo and where it is spelled out in Canon Law canon law, in the Roman Catholic Church, the body of law based on the legislation of the councils (both ecumenical and local) and the popes, as well as the bishops (for diocesan matters). , and where the penalty of suspension is provided.
Your letter of 24 December 2003 seems clearly to be a consequence of my visit with your Chancellor John Murphy on 28 November 2003, whereat where·at
1. Toward or at which.
2. As a result or consequence of; whereupon. I candidly indicated the places where I was celebrating the traditional Mass. On that occasion, I offered a gift to Msgr. Murphy, Apologia ap·o·lo·gi·a
A formal defense or justification. See Synonyms at apology.
[Latin, apology; see apology. pro Marcel Lefebvre Marcel-François Lefebvre (November 29 1905 – March 25 1991), better known as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was a French Roman Catholic bishop. Following a career as a missionary in Africa with the Holy Ghost Fathers, he took the lead in opposing the changes within the (Vol. I) by Michael Davies, the distinguished and prolific English commentator on the liturgical changes of the last forty years. Mr. Davies perceives better than I can say, and with searching detail, the powerful contribution of the late Archbishop Lefebvre to the survival of Catholic Faith and worship, and some of his canonical sufferings at the hands of high persons in the Vatican. I hope you will find time to read at least some of this work.
Respectfully yours in Jesus and Mary, (Rev) Stephen E Somerville
The Archdiocese responds (March 23, 2004)
Dear Father Somerville,
Thank you for your letter of January 12, 2004, in response to Cardinal Ambrozic's letter of December 24, 2003. Clearly the concerns outlined in Cardinal Ambrozic's letter appear not to be concerns to you. Please read the enclosed letter signed by Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl, Secretary of the Pontifical pon·tif·i·cal
1. Relating to, characteristic of, or suitable for a pope or bishop.
2. Having the dignity, pomp, or authority of a pontiff or bishop.
3. Pompously dogmatic or self-important; pretentious. Commission "Ecclesia Dei Ecclesia Dei is the motu proprio of 2 July 1988 that Pope John Paul II issued in reaction to the consecration, in spite of an express prohibition by the Holy See, of four bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer in Ecône, Switzerland, at the seminary ." You will note that the Society of St. Plus X is deemed by the competent ecclesial Ec`cle´si`al
a. 1. Ecclesiastical. authority as not being in full communion with the Holy See. Therefore you are not within your canonical right to collaborate with the Society of St. Plus X by offering your priestly services.
Please make yourself available to see the Cardinal at your earliest convenience.
With every good wish, I remain Fraternally yours in Our Lord,
Rev. Msgr. John K. Murphy, V.G. Chancellor of Spiritual Affairs
Msgr. Perl's letter (February 6, 2004)
Dear Monsignor Murphy,
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 27 January 2004. First, for your general information, I am including the responses to the most frequently asked questions about the canonical status of the schismatic Society of St. Plus X. Following those, I will make a more specific response regarding the situation which you have presented.
1. The bishops of the Society of St. Plus X are excommunicated according to the prescription of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law which states that "A bishop who consecrates someone a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae Latae sententiae is a Latin term used in the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church meaning literally "given (laid down) sentence".
A latae sententiae penalty follows automatically, by force of the law itself, when the law is contravened. excommunication excommunication, formal expulsion from a religious body, the most grave of all ecclesiastical censures. Where religious and social communities are nearly identical it is attended by social ostracism, as in the case of Baruch Spinoza, excommunicated by the Jews. reserved to the Apostolic See Apostolic See
the see of the pope, at Rome ." Archbishop Lefebvre was duly reminded of this before his conferral of episcopal ordination on 30 June 1988 and the Holy Father confirmed that this penalty had been incurred in his Apostotic Letter Ecclesia Dei, #3 [cf. AAS 80 (1988) 1495-1498; English translation in L'Osservatore Romano L'Osservatore Romano ("The Roman Observer") is the Vatican's newspaper. It covers all the Pope's public activities, publishes editorials by important churchmen, and prints official documents after being released. English edition of 11 July 1998, p. 1].
2. The priests of the Society of St. Plus X are validly ordained, but suspended; that is, prohibited from exercising their priestly functions because they are not properly incardinated in a diocese or religious institute in full communion with the Holy See (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 265) and also because those ordained after the schismatic episcopal ordinations were ordained by an excommunicated bishop. They are also most probably excommunicated since it is quite likely that these priests, after more than fifteen years in a society whose head is now an excommunicated bishop, adhere to adhere to
verb 1. follow, keep, maintain, respect, observe, be true, fulfil, obey, heed, keep to, abide by, be loyal, mind, be constant, be faithful
2. the schismatic act.
3. Concretely this means that the Masses offered by the priests of the Society of St. Plus X are valid, but illicit; i.e., contrary to Canon Law. The Sacraments of Penance and Matrimony MATRIMONY. See Marriage. , however, require that the priest enjoys the faculties of the diocese of has proper delegation. Since that is not the case with these priests, these sacraments are invalid. It remains true, however, that, if the faithful are genuinely ignorant that the priests of the Society of St. Plus X do not have the proper faculty to absolve ab·solve
tr.v. ab·solved, ab·solv·ing, ab·solves
1. To pronounce clear of guilt or blame.
2. To relieve of a requirement or obligation.
a. To grant a remission of sin to. , the Church supplies these faculties so that the sacrament is valid (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 144).
4. While it is true that participation in the Mass at the chapels of the Society of St. Plus X does not of itself constitute "formal adherence to the schism" (cf. Ecclesia Dei 5, c), such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality which separates itself from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church. While we hope and pray for a reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei cannot recommend that members of the faithful frequent their chapels for the reasons which we have outlined above. We deeply regret this situation and pray that a reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X with the Church may come about, but until such time, the explanations which we have given remain in force.
Following upon the above-stated principles, it is clear that the Society of St. Plus X is not in full communion with the Holy See. The priest to whom you refer [Father Stephen Somerville, MJM MJM Multi-Jet Modeling (prototyping manufacturing)
MJM Metropolitan Japanese Ministry
MJM Married Jewish Male ] then is not "within his canonical right" to collaborate with the Society of St. Plus X by offering his priestly services. We would suggest that this information should be communicated directly to the priest. Quite evidently, he has accepted the interpretation given him by the priest members of the society and it will probably require some time and patience to dislodge these ideas. If he is given the required canonical admonitions Canonical admonitions are a preliminary means used by the Roman Catholic Church towards a suspected person, as a preventive of harm or a remedy of evil. History
The 1880 instruction, by direction of Pope Leo XIII, from the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars to the and refuses to abide by To stand to; to adhere; to maintain.
See also: Abide them, it may be necessary to suspend him a divinis according to the provisions of the Code of Canon Law. We sincerely hope that that will not be the case.
With cordial best wishes I remain Sincerely yours Adv. 1. sincerely yours - written formula for ending a letter
sincerely in Christ, Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl Secretary
Father Somerville replies again (May 29, 2004)
Dear Monsignor Murphy,
Belatedly, with regret, I reply to your letter of 23 March 2004 regarding the threat of suspension against me for collaborating with the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). In addition to ongoing business and various travel commitments, I have striven to do considerable further reading on our problem. Thank you for your letter, and special thanks to you and to the Archbishop for having secured the two-page letter (6 Feb 2004) on our topic from Msgr. Camille Perl, Secretary of Ecclesia Dei in the Vatican.
I do have some difficulty with the explanation of Msgr. Perl. In his paragraph 2, he speaks of the Episcopal ordinations of the four SSPX bishops as "schismatic ordinations," and of these as a "schismatic act." But nowhere does he explain or justify this negative view. On the contrary, I have read of several canonical authorities declaring--precisely in our context Cardinal Lara, Neri Capponi, Prof. Geringer, jcd (Munich), Fr. Gerald E. Murray, jcd (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of ), and more) that the ordination of a bishop without papal authorization does not constitute a schismatic act. Indeed, my readings relate that large numbers of bishops in the past have in fact been ordained without clearance by the Pope and received Vatican recognition at a later time. The desire of Archbishop Lefebvre and his community to remain firmly and fervently attached to "traditional Rome" and the Holy See is patent and manifest in his writings and utterances and actions. Courrier de Rome, of September 1988, concluded after a detailed study (Is Tradition Excommunicated? A collection of Independent Studies, chapter 1, p. 36, of pp. 1-39; Angelus Press, Kansas City Kansas City, two adjacent cities of the same name, one (1990 pop. 149,767), seat of Wyandotte co., NE Kansas (inc. 1859), the other (1990 pop. 435,146), Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties, NW Mo. (inc. 1850). , MO 1993) as follows:
"There does not exist a 'schism' of Archbishop Lefebvre; it has been decreed with superficiality, bad faith, and a suspect eagerness." (The whole article and book is well worth reading and a powerful vindication of the SSPX.)
Throughout Msgr. Perl's letter, I count possibly a dozen allusions, almost mechanically made, to the schism and excommunication and non-full comunion of SSPX persons. But these allusions are not substantiated, except for the mention of excommunication in canon 1382 of the 1983 Code. Yet here Msgr. Perl fails to mention what he surely knows, that canon 1324 exempts from all penalties one who breaks a law out of necessity, even if the person disobeying is mistaken. Now it is surely clear in the deplorable state of the Church today that a profound and widespread necessity for holy Catholic sacraments and faithful Catholic teaching is pressing upon us. I hope that the Chancery staff in particular can see this spiritual necessity. If you cannot see it, I do not point an accusing finger, because I myself, priest of 48 years and beneficiary of various serious appointments and studies, could not see this clearly until about three years ago (2001), when I went to serve a traditional, independent Catholic community of about 175 persons in the USA for five weeks (they were my summer holiday) and I read the many stimulating, eye-opening, thorough theological books and articles which my new Catholic friends made available to me. It was no mete nostalgia trip. It was a discovery and summons leading back to the Catholic Church of my youth, of my early priestly years, and of ancient Tradition.
May Jesus lead the bishops and priests of the Toronto Archdiocese to make this rediscovery, as urgently as possible; the salvation of multitudes depends on it. May the thought of an awesome Judgment Day add compelling motivation to this most pressing task. I urge you to follow me and SSPX and all Traditional Catholics in this increasingly joy-filled and reverential rev·er·en·tial
1. Expressing reverence; reverent.
2. Inspiring reverence.
rev and inspiring clarification of Catholic Truth. Will it lead to painful regret over many facts, going back to 1962 Rome and the Second Vatican Council? Will it suggest that Archbishop Lefebvre is the new Saint Athanasius of the Catholic twentieth century, with Modernism as the new and all-deceiving Arian heresy? Will it show that even popes can be deceived and deceiving without formally teaching error ex cathedra? Will it remind us that Jesus flatly predicted that many false Christs and false prophets will arise and deceive many, if possible even the elect (John, 24)? Let us not be afraid of incidental consequences. But let us return ardently and generously to the Faith of our Fathers.
Is the SSPX "not in full communion" with the Holy See? This wording is inappropriate. Rather, the SSPX is not in full agreement with the present Vatican. A highest-level commission of cardinals and theologians must undertake a thorough and public study of these disagreements. They are vital to the Faith and critical for salvation. The Roman Chancery thus likewise has an urgent, disturbing, and inescapable task. May the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto, with his remaining time of service, contribute effectively to the Catholic Counter-Reformation in both justifications.
Have I persuaded you to lay down the unfounded threat of canonical action against me? Shall I still be forced into heresy by so-called obedience, or into so-called schism by fidelity? If I cannot move you to the right, with tears for my own past blindness, will you now shackle shackle
a bar 2.5 ft long with an iron loop at either end, used in restraint of large pigs. A chain is threaded through the loops and around the lower hindlimbs of the pig. When the chain is pulled the pig is stretched and is cast with the limbs held wide apart. me in the wrong for clinging to Catholicism? Would I have to continue liturgical service to believers with presumed and alleged illegitimacy illegitimacy: see bastard.
supposed stigma of illegitimate birth. [Heraldry: Misc.]
servant of Bramble family turns out to be illegitimate son of Mr. Bramble. [Br. Lit. , as Archbishop Lefebvre had to continue his Catholic Seminary at Econe after its so-called suppression by Vatican edict A decree or law of major import promulgated by a king, queen, or other sovereign of a government.
An edict can be distinguished from a public proclamation in that an edict puts a new statute into effect whereas a public proclamation is no more than a declaration of a law ? Will the visible Church authorities begin at long last to assert that the Post Vatican II Fabrication fabrication (fab´rikā´shn),
n the construction or making of a restoration. , the Neo-Church Emperor, has no clothes? Would you allow me to start a fully traditional, constituted Catholic community in Toronto (not in competition with the existing work of SSPX) so that I (and others with me) could make attractively real what I'm writing about?
I apologize for the lengthiness of this appeal. You will perceive, Monsignor, that the "you" is often plural. I hope you perceived that the concerns of the Archbishop (for communion, in the truth) are also mine. Yes, I will seek a meeting with him, and presume to copy this letter to him. Perhaps, you will copy it to Msgr. Perl. For all of us, I beg the Holy Spirit's guiding and illuminating.
Sincerely in Jesus and Mary, Fr. Stephen Somerville
The Cardinal suspends Father Somerville (July 15, 2004)
Dear Father Somerville:
1. For the last several months, I have tried unsuccessfully to reason with you about your grave and persistent disobedience in continuing your association with and in celebrating the Eucharist for adherents to the schismatic Society of St. Pius X. Given your earlier and more recent communications with myself and with Monsignor John Murphy, Chancellor of Spiritual Affairs, it appears all our efforts to deal pastorally with your obstinacy Obstinacy
Obtuseness (See DIMWITTEDNESS.)
Oddness (See ECCENTRICITY.)
Oldness (See AGE, OLD. in this matter have been in vain. In particular, your recent mailing to the priests of the Archdiocese of a form letter (over your signature) and a book entitled, Priest, Where is Thy Mass? Mass, Where is Thy Priest?, can easily be interpreted as an apologia for your position and a further indication of your entrenchment therein. Moreover, such action contravenes both the letter and the spirit of my admonition Any formal verbal statement made during a trial by a judge to advise and caution the jury on their duty as jurors, on the admissibility or nonadmissibility of evidence, or on the purpose for which any evidence admitted may be considered by them. to you dated December 24, 2003.
2. Father Somerville, on the day of your ordination nearly a half century ago, you placed your hands in those of the ordaining Archbishop and promised obedience to him and his successors, as laid down in Canon 127 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law ("All clerics, especially priests, are bound by a special obligation to show reverence and obedience each to his own Ordinary"), and reiterated in Canon 273 of the 1983 Code ("Clerics have a special obligation to show reverence and obedience to the Supreme Pontiff and to their own Ordinary"). It is regrettable that, of late, you apparently have lost your earlier zeal for the virtue just described.
3. It is my understanding that you have not "formally" affiliated yourself with the Society of St. Pius X already mentioned. Such formal affiliation to that Society, whose founder's ipso facto [Latin, By the fact itself; by the mere fact.]
ipso facto (ip-soh-fact-toe) prep. Latin for "by the fact itself." An expression more popular with comedians imitating lawyers than with lawyers themselves. excommunication was declared by the Apostolic See on July 1, 1988, would, as you are probably aware, according to Canon 1364, likewise result in your own immediate de jure [Latin, In law.] Legitimate; lawful, as a Matter of Law. Having complied with all the requirements imposed by law.
De jure is commonly paired with de facto, which means "in fact. excommunication from the Church.
4. On the other hand, your ongoing association with and celebration of the Tridentine Mass for members of the Society of St. Pius X give external recognition to their illegitimate claims and their lack of submission to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to bishops appointed by him, and to the teachings of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Your actions are also a potential source of scandal to clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
5. In light of all the foregoing, with due observance of Canon 1342, 1, and Canons 1717-1720:
* Given your flagrant disregard for my previous warnings to cease and desist from your disobedient behaviour (fc. Canons 1330; 1347.1);
* Given the existence of the condition for grave imputability of your actions (cf. Canon 1321);
* Given the absence of extenuating circumstances Facts surrounding the commission of a crime that work to mitigate or lessen it.
Extenuating circumstances render a crime less evil or reprehensible. They do not lower the degree of an offense, although they might reduce the punishment imposed. (cf. Canons 1322-1324);
* I hereby decree, in your regard, the imposition of the censure of suspension .as laid down in Canon 1333, 1, 1-3. That is, as of this 15th day of July 2004, you no longer enjoy the faculties of the Archdiocese. To wit, you are prohibited all public and private acts of the power of Order and of the power of governance. Namely, you are forbidden to celebrate, either publicly or privately, any of the Sacraments, including the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (this latter, outside the danger of death of a penitent [cf. Canon 1335]). You are likewise forbidden the faculty to preach or to celebrate publicly the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Word. Thus, this censure of suspension is global (cf. Canon 1334, 1).
6. This censure does not prevent you from receiving the sacraments in the churches of the Archdiocese provided you are otherwise well-disposed. It does prevent you from offering the sacraments to members of the faithful of our Archdiocese and elsewhere, even to those legitimately asking, the sole exception being the absolution absolution
In Christianity, a pronouncement of forgiveness of sins made to a person who has repented. This rite is based on the forgiveness that Jesus extended to sinners during his ministry. of a penitent in danger of death (cf. Canons 976 &1335).
7. In keeping with Canon 1355, 1, 1, the remission of this censure is to be in the external forum and is reserved to myself or my delegate. No remission will be possible without a clear indication you have withdrawn from your obstinate ob·sti·nate
1. Stubbornly adhering to an attitude, opinion, or course of action.
2. Difficult to alleviate or cure. disobedience already cited, wish to be fully reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church Roman Catholic Church, Christian church headed by the pope, the bishop of Rome (see papacy and Peter, Saint). Its commonest title in official use is Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. , and return to the path of reverence and full obedience to the Roman Pontiff and your Archbishop Ordinary.
8. This censure of suspension is personal; that is, in keeping with Canon 1351, it binds you not only within the territory of the Archdiocese of Toronto, but everywhere in the world.
9. Notification of this suspension is being sent to the bishops of Ontario and the auxiliary bishops and priests of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
10. In keeping with Canon 1737, 1-2, recourse from this suspension can be taken to the Congregation for Clergy in Rome within a peremptory peremptory adj. absolute, final and not entitled to delay or reconsideration. The term is applied to writs, juror challenges or a date set for hearing.
PEREMPTORY. Absolute; positive. A final determination to act without hope of renewing or altering. time limit of 15 canonical days.
Father Somerville, I regret having had to take the drastic measure of removing your faculties by way of the penalty of suspension. It is the mind of the Church, as it is mine, that the imposition or declaration of penalties is a last resort when neither "by fraternal correction or reproof, nor by any methods of pastoral care, can the scandal be sufficiently repaired, justice restored, and the offender reformed" (Canon 1341).
With the assurance of my prayers, I remain yours in Christ, Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic Archbishop of Toronto
Note from Fr. Somerville to the "Remnant:"
Further to my fax of 15 July 2004, correspondence regarding threat of my suspension. I write to you in haste and urgency since I have just this hour opened the attached letter from my Ordinary, Cardinal Ambrozic. As you will read, he has taken decisive action against me, and if you are planning to publish the prior correspondence, this item also should be made known to the readers, and I am hereby informing you of it immediately, as I had promised to do. The letter invites some response (including a possible canonical "recourse" within 15 days) and/or appropriate meeting of minds, and I have begun work on this. Of this course of action I will also inform you promptly. With thanks for your attention help and patience.
In Jesus and Mary, Father Stephen Somerville
Fr. Somerville responded to the suspension with another letter of the same kind as the previous ones. But, of course, he had already disobeyed the Archbishop's instructions by sending the correspondence to the traditionalist press for publication.
Consequently he received the following letter dated August 18 (again published from the Cardinal by The Remnant).
Dear Father Somerville,
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 12 in which you respond to my letter of suspension of July 15. I notice that, in the meantime Adv. 1. in the meantime - during the intervening time; "meanwhile I will not think about the problem"; "meantime he was attentive to his other interests"; "in the meantime the police were notified"
meantime, meanwhile , the letter of suspension and prior correspondence have been published on www.RemnantNewspaper.com.
The only manner in which you can persuade me to revoke the suspension is by fulfilling the following conditions and this without any kind of qualification:
1. You write all the priests who have been sent your letter endorsing the publication Priest Where is Thy Mass? Mass Where is Thy Priest? And recant your endorsation;
2. You sever all ties with the Society of St. Plus X;
3. You make a declaration of fidelity to Pope John Paul II and your Archbishop;
4. You affirm the authenticity of the teaching of Vatican II;
5. You affirm the validity of the Eucharist celebrated according to all the Canons approved by the Church.
The conditions 2. to 5. are to be fulfilled in writing and sent to my address by August 31. Condition 1. is to be fulfilled in writing to all the addresses by the same date. We wish to see the text of your message before it is sent. I am sorry it has come to this; we have known each other for a long time. But my fidelity to the Catholic truth gives me no choice but to suspend you. To all your pettifogging pet·ti·fog
intr.v. pet·ti·fogged, pet·ti·fog·ging, pet·ti·fogs
To act like a pettifogger. See Synonyms at quibble.
[Back-formation from pettifogger. arguments I answer with St. Augustine's chief reply to the selfrighteously pure Donatist sect, Securus iudicat orbis terrarum.
Wishing you all the best, I remain, Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic Archbishop of Toronto
Featured in the Star
On August 28, The Toronto Star published a "Saturday special" in its front section, featuring Fr. Somerville ("The Passion of the Priest"), while elsewhere in the paper Sheila Dabu used him to do a feature on Mel Gibson and other "traditionalists" in the Church, "That old time religion." The Star's Saturday edition is bought by well over half a million people.
In the first feature, Fr. Somerville repeated his disagreement with the Second Vatican Council, again denied that the SSPX is schismatic, reiterated that his suspension was "unlawful and without foundation," and noted that "both Mel and I have made the fundamental decision to repossess repossess v. to take back property through judicial processes, foreclosure, or self-help upon default in required payments. traditional Catholicism" (when such things as rampant abortion and divorce in the Church were unknown).
Father Alphonse de Valk, c.s.b., is a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil For the Ukrainian Catholic order, see . and editor of this magazine.
george mayol (Member): Fr. stephen Somerville Suspended 7/16/2010 1:18 PM
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
The suspension of Father Stephen Somerville is unmerited, unwanted and unjustifiable. There is abuse of power. My first question is, "Who suspended who?" Modern Rome? Modern Rome is Masonic, Modern Rome is protestant! What about the professors of theology in catholic seminaries teaching heresies and debunking several Catholic doctrines in disguise of ecumenical theology. Heretics are already outside of the Catholic Church and ipso facto are automatically excommunicated. And yet the Holy See is not doing anything about it! There is a diocesan seminary here in Cebu City which is known to be the hotbed of heresies of all heresies and the local ordinary is blind and refused to see and say about it. SSPX is not schismatic. while Arch. Marcel Lefevbre consecrated four bishops in 1988, he did not ask for territorial jurisdiction. Salus animarum suprema lex, which the highest law was invoked by the good Archbishop. If Arch. Marcel Lefevbre will not consecrate bishops, his congregation will die out. Tradition will die out. Because who will ordain his seminariams to become priests? No one. Thanks to Arch. Antonio de Castro Mayer of Campos, Brazil for helping Arch. Lefevbre as co-consecrator. Thanks to to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI for issuing the long overdue motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, and again a million thanks to the Holy Father for lifting the alleged excommunication decree when there is none. Let us pray for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope Benedict XVI and for the success of the Doctrinal Discussions between Rome and SSPX. Kyrie eleison.