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Today we conclude our examination of what is „STATE OF NECESSITY” and how to correctly apply this „law”. A correct understanding and application of this “law” would resolve many issues currently plaguing the Catholic Church. One issues that would be resolved is what constitutes “absolute necessity” as mentioned by Card. Burke with respect to obtaining Sacraments from the priests of the Society of St. Pius X.
In yesterday’s post, we demonstrated that the LAW OF NECESSITY is something that exists in nature. We made the case that unlike the concept of the intangible asset GOOD WILL, which exists in the accounting field, the LAW OF NECESSITY is not a manmade construct since it would exist even if man did not exist. We proved this through our Doritos test which demonstrated that a CREATURE, in this case a wolf, would take advantage of the LAW OF NECESSITY when its paw got caught in a bear trap. The manner in which the wolf applies the LAW OF NECESSITY is by chewing off the trapped paw in order to save its life. Being a CREATURE, i.e. without the ability to understand (reason), it would apply the LAW OF NECESSITY instinctively. Therefore we can infer that this law exists in its own right, outside of the constraints of human understanding and reason, i.e. is a part of the et invisibilium of God’s creation.
We also compared this LAW OF NECESSITY to the law of GRAVITY. We posited that that the LAW OF NECESSITY, just like the law of GRAVITY, exits in and of itself, and therefore everyone (man) and everything (creature) is subject to it, regardless of whether the entity has the power to understand (consciousness) or not. Since this is the case, no human entity, be they a legal entity or an indivudual person has any more power over the LAW OF NECESSITY than they have over the law of GRAVITY. Even the pope.
And finally, we observed that this above explanation of the LAW OF NECESSITY also fits in very well with the legal definition of STATE OF NECESSITY (or NECESSITY), which is defined as: a circumstance precluding the wrongfulness of an otherwise (…) wrongful act.
If the above is in fact the case, the ramifications are as follows:
The LAW OF NECESSITY is a part of natural law that applies to all human entities, whether these be legal constructs or individual persons. Just as a legal entity, i.e. the US government can apply the LAW OF NECESSITY when it feels threatened, an individual person can likewise apply the LAW OF NECESSITY when he feels threatened.
Given that the above is indeed the case, we can then examine how an individual can apply the LAW OF NECESSITY in both the natural world as well as in the supernatural realm. Here are two examples:
In the natural world, the LAW OF NECESSITY can be applied in the case of a home intruder. The property owner can use deadly force when that individual perceives that he and his family are in a state of mortal danger. Incidentally, the rule of thumb is that once the intruder crosses the threshold of the home, that intruder is subject to deadly force.
With respect to the supernatural realm, the parallel example of applying the LAW OF NECESSITY would be applied in the case of a heterodox pastor, whom a parishioner could suspect of “not having knee problems”. (see here) The individual can seek out a Traditional priest (including but not limited to a Society of St. Pius X priest) when that individual perceives that his soul and the souls of his family are in a state of spiritual danger.
Notice the parallel situations:
no intruder, no STATE OF NECESSITY; no heterodox priest, no STATE OF NECESSITY.
Think about this for a moment, dear reader!
From the above two examples, one can see that applying the LAW OF NECESSITY is an individual matter performed on a case by case basis. Furthermore, the LAW OF NECESSITY is not something that arises from a legal mandate given by a competent authority with jurisdiction. It is not comparable to a “state of emergency” for example, that a competent governmental body could declare after a tornado or flood. Or the “spirit of the new springtime of Vatican II” passing through for that matter.
Note bene: I think this is where the confusion between these two cases arises. But I digress…
Going forward, the question then becomes, what would constitute the proper justification for AN INDIVIDUAL to apply the LAW OF NECESSITY in order to avert a spiritual danger that could arise to the souls of him and his family.
The logical place to start is by defining the mission of the Catholic Church. The mission of the Catholic Church is the salvation of souls. The highest law in the Church is ordered toward this mission, i.e. the salvation of souls. In order for the individual Faithful to obtain salvation, that individual needs to obtain the doctrine and the Sacraments necessary for salvation. Therefore, when an individual feels that he and his family are in spiritual danger of not attaining the means (doctrine and Sacraments) for the salvation of their souls, that individual can apply the LAW OF NECESSITY.
Which leads to the next question, and that is where does the pastor of those souls obtain his powers to provide to the Faithful with the Sacraments needed to obtain salvation? The answer is that the source of these powers, is the Catholic Church. This is the “jurisdiction issue”. I will not go into this since the video posted at the top of this post is by far the best explanation of priestly powers and the source from where they are derived that I have come across to date.
Concluding, what is of paramount importance to understand is that the entire Catholic Church is ordered toward the salvation of souls.
However, notice that the “salvation of souls” is in fact a collectively exhaustive set of individual undertakings by the Faithful in order for the salvation of that Faithful individual’s soul. In other words, the “salvation of souls” mission of the Church is in fact the collective endevor of all the Faithful, each one working out his personal salvation. And it is this NEED of these individual Faithful, that require the Sacraments to be administered and to which the mission of the Catholic Church is ordered.
In other words, it is BECAUSE of this NEED for the Sacraments to be administered to these individual Faithful for their salvation and sanctification, THAT the Church provides the jurisdiction to the ordinaries. In other words, the jurisdiction issue is of secondary importance.
Therefore, it is not critical to have ordinaries with ordinary jurisdiction since the ordinary jurisdiction issue is in fact a secondary consideration at best. In case where there is no ordinary, or the ordinaries do not fulfill their duties, the Church must have, and in fact has another way to provide to those Faithful the Sacraments. Therefore, in cases where there is no ordinary, or the ordinaries are impaired, the Church provides “supplied jurisdiction” directly to the priests in order to fulfill its mission.
And here we need to stipulate that this holds for ALL Traditional priests by definition. The reason that ALL Traditional priests are covered is that in cases governed by “supplied jurisdiction”, ALL these priests believe that which the Church has taught always and everywhere, i.e. the definition of a Holy Tradition. And it is this authority under “supplied jurisdiction” that is provided directly from the Catholic Church to the Traditional priests (SSPX included) that is brought about by the individual Faithful approaching a Traditional priest, thereby applying the LAW OF NECESSITY.
In other words, if the LAW OF NECESSITY is not invoked by the Faithful, there is no need for supplied jurisdiction. Hence, the proper understanding of what is STATE OF NECESSITY is of paramount importance.
To illustrate this fact, we return to our Doritos test example from our post State of Necessity and the Doritos Test (see here). If the man who got his hand caught in the bear trap, had no one around him to help him out, he could have applied the LAW OF NECESSITY through which he sawed off his arm in order to save his life. And when he got to the hospital and was treated, no legal authority (in this case: insurance company) would seek to prosecute him on the grounds of self mutilation.
Now, sawing off ones arm in the above situation might not have been the optimal manner in which to proceed, but on the other hand (no pun intended) it got the job done.
And frankly speaking, with respect to the salvation of souls, I don’t think Our Lord cares about how we work out our salvation. What I think He cares about is that we also get the job done!
Another way to put it is that in the salvation game, just like in football, and as Vince Lombardi observed:
Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing!