Fr. Franz X. Wernz, S.J. (1842-1914) and Fr. Peter Vidal, S.J. (1867-1938)

The Sense and the Scope of Schism

from the Ius Canonicum (Volume 7, 1937)

Exclusive English Translation

398. The sense and the scope of schism. The requirement for determining at law the delict of pure schism is: I. that someone withdraw from the sphere of authority [obedientia] of the Roman Pontiff and separate himself from the ecclesiastical communion of the other faithful, either directly or expressly or indirectly or with implicit or tacit consent [factis concludentibus], even if he may not attach himself to a separated schismatic sect; — II. that the withdrawal be connected with pertinacity or rebellion; — III. that the withdrawal be done with respect to those things on which the unity of the Church is founded; — IV. notwithstanding formal disobedience and denial of being subordinate, that the schismatic acknowledge that the aforementioned Roman Pontiff is the true pastor of the universal Church and that obedience must be offered to him in accordance with the teaching of the faith: but if he says [the Pope] is not [the true pastor of the universal Church], heresy will be added as an ingredient to schism.

Wherefore the delict of schism, in the strict sense, is not committed by him who withdraws from his own bishop and from the communion of the faithful of his own diocese, but [by him who] refuses to be under the Roman Pontiff and to be in communion with the rest of the faithful of the universal Church. Nor is someone determined to be a schismatic by means of a simple transgression of pontifical law; otherwise, all violators of universal ecclesiastical laws would also prove to be schismatics — something that is plainly absurd. Finally, those cannot be regarded as schismatics who refuse to obey a Roman Pontiff because they are suspicious of his person or because of unfavorable reports [rumores] spread abroad that [he] was doubtfully elected, as happened after the election of Urban VI, or [those who] may resist him as a civil ruler and not as shepherd of the Church.

Footnotes have been omitted.

Source: Ius Canonicum, vol. VII, by Francis Xavier Wernz, S.J., and Peter Vidal, S.J. (Rome: Gregorian University, 1937), p. 439. Imprimatur 1937. Translation into English by Novus Ordo Watch.

Note: An electronic copy of the original Latin work is accessible through the Internet Archive here.

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