‘Cum ex…’ and Ecclesiastical Discipline
© Copyright 2007, revised 2009; T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless noted otherwise.)
As Dr. Disandro noted, those in the N.O. believed “Cum ex Apostolatus Officio” and other documents were disciplinary in nature and as such did not require assent. Now Traditionalists are trying to say the same. They forget that when Angelo Roncalli began his destruction of the Church, a revision of the Code of Canon Law, not realized until Wojtyla’s reign was promised from the time he called the Council. C. Leroux tells us, in her work Son of Perdition, “[Roncalli’]s only preoccupation, apart from the opening of the Council, had been ‘the adaptation of Canon Law to the needs of our times.’ [He] announced (it), right at the beginning…the reform of Canon Law, that ‘iron collar.’ That loose-tongued Cardinal Tardini artlessly admitted, ‘From now on, one can say that the principal goal of the Council will be more particularly ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the renovation of the Code of Canon Law which might be altered, and then the whole gamut of the customs of Catholic life.’…If one does not wish to subject oneself to divine institutions, the simplest answer is to transform the laws….In promising to modify [Canon Law] ‘very shortly,’ he reassured Canon Lawyers who might have raised objections in front of the upheavals which were going to affect not only the interior government of the Church and her doctrines, but Her relations with Her implacable enemies such as the Jews and Freemasons.”
Leroux also reports that in a 1961 communique concerning the coming Council, Cardinal Koenig listed as one of the topics to be addressed: “a reform of Canon Law, of the Index, and of penitential practices.” Roncalli let it be assumed that all these things would be “set right” by the alteration of Canon Law. And this is essentially what Traditionalists have attempted to do on their own authority. But all are laboring under a grave misconception concerning the Church’s true teaching on the subject of discipline. This topic has been shamefully confused even further by a misprint (?) in the 1955 edition of Henry Denzinger’s “The Sources of Catholic Dogma.” In the Introduction to this edition, the thirtieth translator, Roy Deffarari, credits none other than Charles (Karl) Rahner, S.J. as responsible or “the 28th, 29th and 30th editions.” This may well account for any discrepancies in these editions of Denzinger’s work. The problem concerns an omission in DZ 326, a condemnation of various heresies under Pope Nicholas I by the Roman Council in (860 and) 863 A.D. There Denzinger’s printed: “If anyone condemns dogmas, mandates, interdicts, sanctions or decrees, promulgated by the one presiding in the Apostolic See, for the Catholic Faith, for the correction of the faithful, for the emendation of criminals, either by an interdict of threatening or future ills, let him be an anathema.”
Writing in 1875, Henry Cardinal Manning, in his “The Vatican Decrees in Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance” gives this rendition of the council’s condemnation of that same error: “Si quis dogmata,” mandata, interdicta, sanctiones vel decreta, pro Catholica fide, pro ecclesiastica disciplina, pro correctione fidelium, pro emendatione scleratorum, vel interdictione imminentium vel futurorum malorum, a Sedis Apostolica Praeside salubriter promulgata contempserit,: Anathema sit.”
Notice that the words in bold, clearly translated as “for ecclesiastical discipline,” are omitted from Denzinger’s translation. Nor can it be argued that an ecumenical council erred, or such teaching was later amended without denying the infallible teaching of the Church.
We find the following proposition condemned by Pope Pius VI in “Actorum Fidei,” (DZ 1578): “In every article, that which pertains to faith and to the essence of religion must be distinguished from that which is proper to discipline,” the Arsonists maintained.
Pope Pius VI taught: “As if the Church, which is ruled by the Spirit of God, could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty but which is dangerous and harmful,” condemned as at least erroneous, dangerous and injurious to the Church, among other things.
Under Can. 2317, those clerics who teach condemned propositions are “barred from the ministry of preaching the Word of God and of hearing sacramental confessions, and from every other office of teaching, without prejudice to other penalties which the sentence of condemnation of the doctrine may perhaps have decreed.” One of the sources listed by Cardinal Gaspar for this Canon in his Fonts is none other than Pope Paul IV’s “Cum ex Apostolatus Officio.”
Likewise from Pope Gregory XVI in “Mirari Vos”: “It would be beyond any doubt blameworthy and entirely contrary to the respect with which the laws of the Church should be received by a senseless aberration to find fault with the regulation of morals, and the laws of the Church and her ministers; or to speak of this discipline as opposed to certain principles of the natural law, or to present it as defective, imperfect, and subject to civil authority.”
And from the same Pope in “Quo Graviora”: “Are they not trying, moreover, to make of the Church something human; are they not openly diminishing her infallible authority and the divine power which guides her, in holding that her present discipline is subject to decay, to weakness, and to other failures of the same nature, and in imagining that it contains many elements which are not only useless but even prejudicial to the well being of the Catholic religion?”
We also hear the following from Pope Pius IX: “In fact, Venerable Brothers and beloved Sons, it is a question of recognizing the power (of this See), even over your churches, not merely in what pertains to faith, but also in what concerns discipline. He who would deny this is a heretic; he who recognizes this and obstinately refuses to obey is worthy of anathema.” (From the encyclical “Quae in patriarchatu,” September 1, 1876, to the clergy and faithful of the Chaldean Rite.)
And finally we read from the Vatican Council: “The pastors and faithful…are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church…If anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church…let him be anathema,” (DZ 1827, 1831).
Dr. Disandro had a very strong and gallant Catholic sense or intuition. Without producing actual canonical evidence he was able to pinpoint the problem with Traditionalist opposition to the Bull. He repeatedly rebuked the Progressives for denying the validity of “Cum ex…,” a tactic they borrowed from “THE MONTNIAN SYSTEM OF USING THE CANONICAL DISCIPLINE IN ORDER TO TEAR DOWN DOCTRINES AND TRADITION.” And this is exactly what Roncalli and Montini did, without ever producing a reformed Code. What is frightening today is that this system is still very much at work, only not just in the anti-Church. Mainstream Traditionalists tend to be soft on Canon Law because they have convinced themselves that most of it no longer applies. They seem to be totally ignorant of the fact that St. Alphonsus teaches that whenever there is a doubt concerning whether or not a law exists, the existence of the law is to be upheld. Having used epikeia illegally for decades to supersede the Divine law concerning the jurisdiction necessary to sacramental Confession, they have desensitized themselves, effectively, to all laws.
On the other hand there are a small number of those who hold strictly to Canon Law, namely some “home-alone” adherents and certain Conclavists. While strict adherence is not undesirable, it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. One self-appointed “pope” has reinvented the Progressive principle of discipline over doctrine so opposed by Disandro. Such fantasies concerning de facto clericalism, lay administration of the Sacraments and sacramentals and even suggested changes to sacramental rites all must be accepted under obedience to decisions of this man as “pope.” Still another binds and castigates his supporters for questioning his “episcopal consecration” by a lay “cardinal.” This is exactly the unjust and insupportable use of discipline to tear down doctrine and Tradition that Disandro so strongly repudiated. That it has come full circle in the guise of “legitimate” claims to the papacy by Conclavists, however, would probably not surprise Disandro, who did not hesitate to call the Traditionalists of his day, some of whom eventually evolved into the Conclavist sect, as “crassly ignorant.”