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Archbishop Lefebvre
on the New Code of Canon Law

Conference given in Turin, Italy on March 24, 1984
Translated from the French District's bulletin published on February 5, 1992

I want to speak to you of a very serious novelty: the New Code of Canon Law. I had not seen any necessity for a change. But if the law changes, the law changes, and we must make use of it, for the Church can ask nothing evil from her faithful.

However, 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.

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, on account of the

doctrine according to which all the members of the people of God, according to the mode which is proper to each, partake in the triple priestly, prophetic and royal function of Jesus Christ. To this doctrine is likewise attached that which concerns the duties and rights of the faithful and particularly the laity, and finally the Church's involvement in ecumenism!

This is the definition of the Church (Canon 204):

The faithful are those who, inasmuch as they are incorporated in Christ by baptism are constituted as the people of God, and who for this reason, having been made partakers in their manner in the priestly, prophetic and royal functions of Christ, are called to exercise the mission that God entrusted to the Church to accomplish in the world.

We are all faithful, members of the people of God, and we all therefore have ministries! It is clearly said in the Code: all the faithful have ministries. They therefore all have the responsibility to teach, to sanctify and even to direct.

Let us continue our commentary on this Canon 204:

…having been made partakers in their manner in the priestly, prophetic and royal function of Christ, they are called to exercise the mission which God entrusted to the Church to accomplish in the world, according to the juridical condition proper to each one.

Hence everyone without exception, without distinction between clergy and laity, inasmuch as they are the people of God, has the responsibility of this mission entrusted by Jesus Christ properly to the Church. There is no longer any clergy. What, then, happens to the clergy?

It is as if they said that it is no longer parents who have the responsibility to give life to children but the family, or rather all the members of the family: parents and children. 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.

This is quite openly explained in an article in L’Osservatore Romano of March 17, 1984:

The role of the laity in the new Code. The active function that the laity has been called on to exercise since Vatican II by participating in the condition and mission of the entire Church according to their particular vocation is a doctrine which, in the context of the appearance of the concept of the people of God has brought about a reevaluation of the laity, as much in the foundation of the Church as for the active role they are called on to develop in the building up of the Church.

Such is the inspiration of the whole new Code of Canon Law. It is this definition of the Church which is the poison which infects the new laws.

The same can be said for the Liturgy. There is a relationship between this new Code of Canon Law and the entire liturgical reform, as Bugnini said in his book The Fundamental Principles of the Changing of the Liturgy:

The path opened by the Council is destined to change radically the traditional liturgical assembly in which, according to a custom dating back many centuries, the liturgical service is almost exclusively accomplished by the clergy. The people assist, but too much as a stranger and a dumb spectator.

What? How can one dare say that the faithful are present at the sacrifice of the Mass as simply dumb spectators so as to change the Liturgy? How must the faithful be active in the sacrifice of the Mass? By the body or spiritually? Obviously spiritually. One can draw a great spiritual profit from assisting at Mass in silence. It is, in effect, a mystery of our Faith. How many have become saints in this silence of the true Mass!

"A long education will be necessary for the Liturgy to become an action of all the people of God." Without a doubt. Then he adds that he is speaking of "a substantial unity but not a uniformity. You must realize that this is a true break with the past." This past is the twenty centuries of prayer of the Church.

Bugnini was the key man in the liturgical reform. I went to see Cardinal Cicognani when this reform was published and I said to him: "Your Eminence, I am not in agreement with this change. The Mass no longer has its mystical and divine character." He replied: "Excellency, it is like that. Bugnini can enter as he likes into the Ppope's office to make him sign what he wants." This is what happened to the Secretariat of State. This is how all these changes happened. They agreed on it beforehand, and then obtained signatures for some changes, and then others, and then others.

I said to Cardinal Gut:

Your Eminence, you are responsible for Divine Worship, and you accord permission for the Blessed Sacrament to be received in the hand! They will know that this was published with the agreement of the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship!

He replied:

Excellency, I do not even know if I will be asked for it to be done. You know, it is not I who command. The boss is Bugnini. If the pope asks me what I think of Communion in the hand, I will cast myself on my knees before him to ask him not to do it.

You see, then, how things happened at Rome: a simple signature on the bottom of a decree and the Church is ruined by numerous sacrileges... The real presence of Our Lord is ruined, for it is no longer respected. Then, nothing sacred remains, as was seen at the large reunion at which the Pope was present, where the Blessed Sacrament was passed around from hand to hand between thousands of persons. Nobody genuflects anymore before the Blessed Sacrament. How can they still believe that God is present there?

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.

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.

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