The canon lawyer and Latinist at Vatican Radio has commented on the potential lifting of the excommunication of the four Lefebvre bishops.
He had a message about the impending withdrawal of the excommunication of the four Lefebvre bishops
"Happy and grateful, " said the German-Dutch canon lawyer the Right Revd Gero P. Weishaupt on the 22nd January in a broadcast.
Fr Weishaupt is the diocesan judge in the ecclesiastical court of the Dutch Diocese of Roermond, Latinist at Radio Vatican, lecturer in ecclesiastical law as well as a defender of the marriage bond and Canonical Vicar of the Diocese of 's-Hertogenbosch.
He raises the question as to whether a Excommunicatio latae sententiae – the legal consequence of the offense of the Episcopal ordinations – from the point of view Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre episcopal ordinations in “grave necessity”- ever took place.
For if such an excommunication was not achieved, then the Excommunicatio declarata subsequently declared by Pope John Paul II was invalid:
"For where there is nothing, you cannot even in retrospect find something" - so Fr Weishaupt.
A Excommunicatio declarata is when an automatic excommunication is again declared by the ecclesiastical authorities whereby stronger legal consequences result in the external legal forum.
As it is now being said that the Pope wants to repeal the excommunication, "then the excommunication actually occurred and had been later legally established as a fact" - explains Fr Weishaupt further.
He noted however, mitigations are provided in the Canon 1324, Section 1. The fifth mitigation mentions an offender, "one who was compelled by grave fear, even if only relative, or by reason of necessity or grave inconvenience, if the act is intrinsically evil or tends to be harmful to souls."
It is all about the offence committed in an emergency situation, also if this can be seen subjectively as such:
The canon lawyer then refers to the wording in the third paragraph of the same Canon 1324: "Under the circumstances explained in Para 1, the offender shall not incur punishment due to the act" - and concludes: "This means that when an emergency occurs no excommunication is admitted."
If this was the case, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the other bishops never incurred excommunication.
His conclusion: "I'm eager to see how Rome will argue this in Canon Law. In any event, we are heading towards hopeful times in the Church. "