An important note concerning Can. 2200

Aug. 5, 2015

+ St. Dominic +

Dear Readers,

Here we wish to correct an error recently discovered in our works. For some time now we have stated that Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio is the “old law” given as footnote for Canon 2200. This was a misreading that can explained by the way the footnotes are listed in the Latin version of the Code, but still this is not offered as an excuse.

While Can. 2200 is not directly supported in the canonical footnotes by Cum ex…, as previously stated, it is closely related to Canons 2197-2199. It is Can. 2198 to which Cum ex… is the footnote, and while it is necessary to consider it in context with the other canons, it is different in content. Canon 2198 states: “In order for a crime to be called public, it is necessary that the fact be publicly known as a criminal or morally imputable act — in other words, that the act is known as a crime. Thus if a person has been dangerously wounded or killed, it is not enough that the fact is known, but it must also be known the act was a criminal one, [not self defense or an accident]. …The offender must be known to the public to make the act a public crime, (Can. 2197 §4). If the offender does not stand identified before the public as the perpetrator of the criminal act, his offense is occult, called formaliter occult in the Code.” (Canon 2197 §4 says an offense is materialiter occult if the offense itself is not publicly known. Under this canon it is noted that “The Code calls an offense public when knowledge of it has been spread among the people [as few as six in a small community] or when it was committed under circumstances which make it practically impossible to keep the offense secret, (Can 2197 no. 3.”)

“An offense which violates solely the law of the Church, is by its very nature subject to punishment by the ecclesiastical authority only, although this authority may at times ask the assistance of the civil power, when it judges such help necessary or opportune. The civil authority according to its own law punishes an offense which violates solely a law of the civil society, except that, in accordance with Can. 120, clerics are to be tried in ecclesiastical courts only and the Church also is competent to judge it by reason of sin committed. An offense which violates the law of both Church and State may be punished by both,” (end of Can. 2198).

Can. 2197 relates to the material/formal argument today, as can be seen by the wording. This will be examined in a separate article, posted under the Most Recent Articles heading on the Free Content site. What Can. 2198 is concerned with is paragraph seven of Cum ex… stating that if the man deposed by heresy committed publicly, as the canon defines, will not give up his claim to the see, the civil authorities may step in. Heresy is public when: 1) the identity of the perpetrator is known to the public; 2) when the knowledge of the act has spread among a large number of people, or is such that it can’t be concealed and 3) the act itself is known to be a criminal act. Once it is determined that heresy is public, then it can be dealt with in the public forum. Material or occult formal heresy is if its nature non-public, because it does not satisfy the criteria.

Can. 2200 considers only those things in the external forum, committed according to the guidelines set down in Can. 2198. In other words, if we say that some of those who are included under Can. 2200 are material heretics (i. e., guilty of the external act but not necessarily the sin of heresy itself), we are not saying it is not publicly known. We are saying that it is an external act that may not be “morally imputable,” (Can. 2196). Only the Church can determine what is morally imputable or not because this is a matter concerning the internal forum, (confession). The rest of us have to stop at the part about external acts until the Church can decide, and according to Can. 2200 § 2, if the criteria for an external act is met then Canon 2200 presumes imputability when there is an external violation of the law; neither imputability or pertinacity determine the presumption of heresy, only the external act itself, proved contrary to faith or morals. Those who have been warned and do not heed the warning, even if it comes from a well-informed layperson, are pertinacious heretics — very simple, contrary to what Traditionalists would have us believe. For a complete picture of the heresy issue, please read the site articles on the Free Content page.

My apologies to anyone who may be confused by this. However even without Cum ex… as a footnote, Canon 2200 is one of those laws with a presumption on its side. Because Can. 2200 establishes a presumption of law; the burden of proof rests with the accused. As stated in Can. 1827, “He who has a presumption of law in his favor is freed from the burden of proof, which is shifted to his opponent. If the latter cannot prove that the presumption failed in the case, the judge must render sentence in favor of the one on whose side the presumption stands.” And only a lawful superior can make such a determination; how to assess this burden of proof rests with them. St. Alphonsus Liguori teaches concerning the presumption of law: “In doubt, decide for that which has the presumption.” But I suppose St. Alphonsus’ advice is not good enough for Traditional “priests” pretending to teach as theologians.

It really all comes down to the fact that both Nicholas I in DZ 326 and Pope Pius IX in both Quartus Supra and Quae in Patriarchatu; also Etsi Multa, call Catholics who do not accept disciplinary decrees heretics and schismatics. Pope Pius XII also forbids anyone to violate papal law during an interregnum under the penalty of a null and void act. Infallible or not, we must obey Cum ex…or lose our membership in the Church. We are still obliged to obey the canons regardless of the old laws that support them. Can. 2198 is important in its own right, since it basically confirms that it is not the cardinals who are to determine how a usurper pope is to be handled; he is to be turned over to the civil authority since he never held the office in the first place; it is a civil matter having to do with public order. The FACT of the heresy of the usurper must be made known, but his sentence as one who never held the papacy, but remained a mere bishop or priest who has never held office to begin with is rendered by the censure ipso facto. The material-formal crowd could find all their answers in the Code, if they would just look. But they can’t afford to go there.

Once again, my apologies. Don’t forget to look for the new article on the material-formal papacy under Most Recent Articles.


T. Benns

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4 thoughts on “An important note concerning Can. 2200

  1. I don’t believe any of the offenses of the Vatican II/Novus Ordo hierarchy can be presumed to have been material or not publicly known. For one thing, the heresies they embraced had been long since and repeatedly condemned by the true Popes. So in this sense wouldn’t they be publicly known as crimes, even if most people accepted them?

    • Dear Maria,
      Traditionalists want us to believe it is complicated, but yes, it is as simple as you say. Canon 2198 proves this. In order for a person to commit an act publicly that is considered criminal by the Church, that person must be known to members of the community, the act must be attributed to that person and the act must be known by the community to be a criminal act. Prior to their elections as “pope,” both John 23 and Paul 6 sympathized with the Communists and the Freemasons, and this was public knowledge. Then during their imposture as pope, both men committed acts that only confirmed their pre-election heresy — John 23 in promoting his own election, also his 1962 abrogation of the Tridentine Missal and Paul 6, both with his introduction of the new rites and then the new mass. If any doubt remained they removed it by their actions. Since they both were in cahoots one with eh other, the canon laws on accomplices also apply, meaning that basically each was guilty of the other’s crimes.

      Where Traditionalists go wrong is in believing that material heresy means that one remains a member of the Church, something the Church Herself has never taught. Whether you are guilty of the heresy or not, you are no longer a member of the Church. You may be free from sin but still guilty of heresy and outside the Church. There is nothing material about how the hierarchy and Trad priests committed these crimes, mainly communicatio in sacris. Therefore we are certain of these crimes.

      Here is the rub. I think it is safe to say that those who left the NO left because they realized it was wrong and to go was wrong. They believed those agreeing to say that false Mass were not Catholic. So why did they follow Lefebvre and go to priests who at one time had said it, some of them for quite some time, thinking it was okay? Affected ignorance will not save them. They knew that one cannot attend far less celebrate the NO or they never would have left. They therefore strand condemned by their own actions.

  2. I agree with all that you have written.

    Why not simply call them “Roncalli” and “Montini”? Neither deserves the respect of being called “Pope” when, in fact, neither ever was such. Moreover, calling them by their impostured names only adds insult, injury, and confusion to those persons still caught up in the delusion that they were ever “Catholic” in the first place.

    • Dear Gregory,
      I have thought about it, but find that people who are not as familiar with all this as I am or you are get them all confused, especially younger people who seem to be weak on last names!

      Also, I follow the Church’s lead in this since in the Catholic Encyclopedias and official lists even the antipopes are referred to by the names they chose as “pope.” Unless these people new to the game firmly take themselves in hand and impose the intellectual discipline necessary to sort all this out, they are not going to “get” it anyway. If you were studying English and kept confusing nouns and verbs, I daresay that if you wanted to be successful you would have to find a way to overcome that. We are not obligated to learn English in this life, but we ARE obligated to study and learn our faith, and it is a discipline that excels all others in difficulty but also in spiritual rewards. Perhaps a story is in order here.

      I have many people ask me how I could ever have been deceived to the extent that I was with all the study I have done and the books that I have collected. I was in my early 30s when I first really began studying the faith. Back then there were no computers, no Google, no reprinted books online, no email, no Facebook. We went to book sales, libraries and used bookstores, scouring everywhere we could to discover old books; lost treasures that were being discarded or even thrown away. Most of these books were not cheap and many of us had limited funds to spend on books. Whatever we purchased had to be read, marked up and then typed in for reference. Sometimes we didn’t find the good books till long after many of our errors were made; then we had to recant and make amends to those we misinformed. On some topics, such as what to do in a situation like ours where a pope is concerned, little or no information was available. Traditionalists are not much help as most of them could not figure out why we (friends and I) were so anxious to read good Catholic theological works. We were seeking these works out in the first place because we had found that Traditionalists had few answers and were very stingy about sharing information concerning where to find the truth.

      Needless to say this process took up a great deal of time and effort, especially when there were families to care for, jobs to work and children to raise. It literally took decades to sort out the mess Traditionalists had made, then come up with the right solutions for the various problems. Some of the theological concepts took years to understand and clarify, and to appreciate this, one need only look to the current BOD/BOB controversy to appreciate how difficult it can be to sort the flyspeck from the pepper. Multiply this by hundreds of theological truths that had been misrepresented since Vatican 2 and you have some idea of what we went through. Canon Law, in particular, was a hard nut to crack.

      Today one can turn on any computer and do a search to discover the truth. It still will take some hunting and pecking but unlike in our day, not only is the truth OUT there, it is broken down, categorized, critiqued — you name it. People also are able to ask someone at least willing to listen for advice and clarification. Young people today,especially, are conditioned to being soon fed information and not having to do the hard work it takes to understand it for themselves. I spend literally hours every week studying and writing, and I am only a high school graduate. It is as Peter Michaels said in his work, “This Perverse Generation,” (Sheed and Ward, 1949): “If all Catholics have a moral duty to understand their faith at their level of secular education, few of us are going to be saved … Our job is not to superimpose piety on a distorted foundation; our job is to go back to the old foundations and build anew.”

      By no means am I underestimating the difficulty of what young people face today when it comes to understanding what happened to the Church. All I am saying is that if they think that no effort has been made to make it as easy on them as possible, they are wrong. But at some point they have to take up the torch themselves and march forward, because when all of us old fogies are gone, they will be the ones who will be entrusted with transmitting the deposit of faith, whole and entire.

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