Where Is Your Imprimatur?
© Copyright 2009, T. Stanfill Benns (None of what appears below — in whole or in part — may be used without the express and written permission of the author.)
One of the questions most commonly asked is posed in the title above. Since the contention of the articles featured on this site is that currently there are no valid and licit bishops available to grant an imprimatur, it is our belief that at present it is impossible to obtain one. And yet the obligation to defend the faith does not, for that reason, cease to exist. If we have the necessary tools to defend it, and the ability to defend it; unless we are prevented by persecution or some other violent assault, and especially if we have full liberty of speech and access to the means to defend it, we would be sorry Catholics indeed if we failed to defend our Faith and thereby became guilty owing to silence. Silence gives consent to the evil done. Unless we wish to be suspect of heresy, we must do it if we are able. Below please find the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, a great Saint and Canon Law on the obligation of defending the Faith.
Pope Pius IX: “And so, fulfilling the obligation of Our supreme pastoral office, by the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, We beseech all the faithful of Christ, but especially those who have charge of, or who perform the duty of teaching, and in fact by the authority of Our same God and Savior, We command that they bring their zeal and labor to arrest and banish these errors from Holy Church, to extend the light of a most pure faith,” (DZ 1819, Vatican Council; emph. mine).
Pope Leo XIII: “We declare it to be very profitable and consistent with the requirements of the time, that each one, according to the measure of his capacity and intelligence should make a deep study of Christian doctrine and imbue his mind with as perfect a knowledge as may be of those matters that are interwoven with religion and lie within the range of reason…The suppliant and humble entreaty of the Apostles ought constantly be addressed to God: ‘Increase our faith.’
“When necessity compels, not only those who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but as St. Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.’ Torecoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God…” (“Sapientiae Christianae”).
Pope Pius XII: “The initiative of the lay apostolate is perfectly justified even without a prior explicit ‘mission’ from the hierarchy…Personal initiative plays a great part in protecting the faith and Catholic life, especially in countries where contacts with the hierarchy are difficult or practically impossible. In such circumstances, the Christians upon whom this task falls must, with God’s grace, assume all their responsibilities… Even so, nothing can be undertaken against the explicit or implicit will of the Church, or contrary in any way to the rules of faith or morals, or ecclesiastical discipline,” (“The Mission of Catholic Women,” Sept. 29, 1957, The Pope Speaks, Vol. IV).
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, to Geoffrey of Loroux, a celebrated scholar: “It is…a glorious thing to be in a position to render service to God, but it is also a most dangerous thing to possess that power and not to use it. Now you certainly have all the qualifications necessary in a champion of the Church; you have favor with God and men, you have the necessary knowledge, you have the spirit of liberty, you have the ‘living and efficacious word,’ (Heb. 4:12). Consequently, being a ‘friend of the bridegroom’ (John 3:29), you are bound to do all you can for His Bride in this Her hour of need. Necessity is the only true test of friendship. What? Can you have the conscience to repose at ease, whilst your mother, the Church is being violently assaulted? There is a time for repose; heretofore the occupations that belong to holy leisure could be lawfully and freely indulged in, But now, ‘it is the time for doing, O Lord, because they have dissipated Thy law.’ (Psalms 118: 126)…Why do you remain so inactive? How long will you slumber in false security…? …You must devote yourself to the active defense of peace and to the humiliating and confounding of its foes…Do not begrudge the sacrifice of your leisure, which shall be compensated with no small addition to your glory…” (Ailbe J. Luddy, O. Cistercian, “Life and Teaching of St. Bernard,” 1950. It should be noted here that the man to whom this is addressed was, at the time of receiving St. Bernard’s letter, in danger of following the antipope Anacletus II.)
Can. 1325: “Any baptized person who, while retaining the name of Christian, obstinately denies or doubts any of the truths proposed for belief by the divine and Catholic faith is a heretic…The faithful are bound to profess their faith publicly whenever silence, subterfuge or their manner of acting would otherwise entail an implicit denial of their faith, a contempt of religion, an insult to God, or scandal to their neighbor…”
Can. 1935: “Any of the faithful may at all times denounce the offense of another for the purpose of demanding satisfaction…or out of zeal for justice to repair some scandal or evil. Even an obligation to denounce an offender exists whenever one is obliged to do so either by law or by special legitimate precept, or by the natural law in view of the danger to faith or religion, or other imminent public evil.”
Goffine’s Ecclesiastical Year, commentary on the eighth beatitude, “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven,” we read: “Those suffer persecution for justice sake who by their words, writings, or by their life defend the truth, the faith, and Christian virtues; who cling firmly to God, and permit nothing to turn them from the duties of the Christian profession, from the practice of their holyreligion, but on its account suffer hatred, contempt, disgrace, injury and injustice from the world. If they endure all this with patience and perseverance, even, like the saints, with joy, then they will become like saints and like them receive the heavenly crown. If we wish to be crowned with them, we must suffer with them: ‘And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution,’ (1 Tim. 3:12). ”