+ St. Agatho, Bd. Gregory X, Popes, Jan. 10 +

Dear Readers,

Reminder: On the feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Rome January 18, catacomb Catholics are asked to join in a week of prayer for the conversion of non-Catholics to the Faith, ending on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul January 25.

The prayers for the Unity Octave can be found at the end of this post.

But here we continue our comments on the most recent breach among stay-at-home Catholics and the cause of that breach. It actually relates to a subject much misunderstood and misrepresented among Traditionalists and Novus Ordo writers alike. The history of this subject carries us back to the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X and his condemnation of the Modernists. At that time a society was set up under which Modernists would be actively pursued and called out, in order to purge the Church of this heresy. It was called the Sodalitum Pianum, and its operations were highly controversial. In his The Life of Pope Benedict XV, Walter H. Peters explains how the activities of the Sodalitum became a matter of concern and why.

Peters alleges that the Sodalitum operated under code names and often in secrecy, (this charge was never proven, as he later notes). Its manner of gathering evidence was not always fair to the accused, being taken out of context or not taken from a truly representative sample of writings. Peters cites claims made at the time that some of these writings were even falsified or invented in an unholy zeal to hunt these Modernists down. They were unfairly circulated then without qualification and the authors whose works were condemned were thus falsely maligned. At the same time, other ecclesiastics and theologians were defending Pope St. Pius X’s teachings in Lamentabili and Pascendi, “an exposition of Catholic truth [expressed] in the framework of a very conservative orthodoxy. In itself this was most laudable. They called themselves ‘integral Catholics’ or ‘Catholic integralists.” However their political views, Peters says quoting Msgr. J. C. Fenton, “’were unfortunate [and] the men who supported them brought a certain amount of discredit upon their doctrinal attitudes. [This caused] the name of integralism to be stretched to cover fields quite distinct from that it originally served to designate’” (pg. 48). In France false integralism became Action Francaise, later condemned by Pope Pius XI. Pope Pius XII, however, lifted the condemnation in 1939 after the group reorganized.

The problem with the false integralism practiced by these men was that a) routine practices were passed off as tradition, b) Catholic thought was impeded and legitimate opinions impugned and c) those promoting this false integralism refused to separate pure doctrine from those commentaries written in bygone ages, commentaries which imposed upon this doctrine conformity with the thought of a past epoch. Regarding (a), custom and tradition are not to be confused: a practice can become routine for a time only to be later reformed and prohibited by a future Roman Pontiff. (This was the misapprehension entertained by the Gallicanists.) Such was the case regarding laypersons carrying communion to the sick in the early ages and nominating candidates for bishop, to mention only a few. Concerning (b), those engaging in theological discussions about matters not yet defined by the Roman Pontiff were characterized as disobedient or even lacking in faith. And in (c), the doctrines were not rightly separated from their past applications to be applied to new situations. This is reminiscent of those who insist, for example, that all must follow the laws of the Church and not teach because only the hierarchy may do so. True; when legitimate authority exists to rule the Church, Catholics must obey their bishops and the Roman Pontiff. But as we know from the last blog post, Pope Pius XII has empowered Catholics to teach and preach in the absence of the hierarchy, because, as scholasticism teaches, an ecclesiastical law that is impossible of observance, whose purpose no longer can be fulfilled, ceases to exist.

Enter onto the scene Pope Benedict XV, who surveyed the matter and decided that measures must be taken to rein in the Sodalitum and prevent those who might be mistaken but were otherwise loyal Catholics from being treated unfairly. His encyclical Ad Beatissimi (Nov. 1, 1914) could be addressed to Traditionalists of all varieties — including certain “stay-at-home Catholics” — for it condemns many “false integralists” still at work today. Pertinent extracts from this encyclical are found below.

“22. The enemies of God and of the Church are perfectly well aware that any internal quarrel amongst Catholics is a real victory for them. Hence it is their usual practice when they see Catholics strongly united, to endeavor by cleverly sowing the seeds of discord, to break up that union. And would that the result had not frequently justified their hopes, to the great detriment of the interests of religion! Hence, therefore, whenever legitimate authority has once given a clear command, let no one transgress that command, because it does not happen to commend itself to him…Again, let no private individual, whether in books or in the press, or in public speeches, take upon himself the position of an authoritative teacher in the Church. All know to whom the teaching authority of the Church has been given by God: he, then, possesses a perfect right to speak as he wishes and when he thinks it opportune. The duty of others is to hearken to him reverently when he speaks and to carry out what he says.

“23. As regards matters in which without harm to faith or discipline — in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See — there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of everyone to express and defend his own opinion. But in such discussions no expressions should be used which might constitute serious breaches of charity; let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.

“24. It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as “profane novelties of words,” out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: ‘This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved’ (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim ‘Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,’ only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.

“25. Besides, the Church demands from those who have devoted themselves to furthering her interests, something very different from the dwelling upon profitless questions; she demands that they should devote the whole of their energy to preserve the faith intact and unsullied by any breath of error, and follow most closely him whom Christ has appointed to be the guardian and interpreter of the truth.

Affirming what Pope Benedict XV says above, Pope Pius XII wrote in “The Apostolate of the Catholic Press,” May 17, 1957 (The Pope Speaks, Summer 1957): “But in regard to questions in which the divinely appointed teachers have not pronounced judgment — and the field is vast and varied, saving that of faith and morals — free discussion will be altogether legitimate and each one may hold and defend his own opinion. But let such an opinion be presented with due restraint; and no one will condemn another simply because he does not agree with his opinion, much less challenge his loyalty.”

It also should be noted here that regarding the ability of a (validly and licitly ordained) deacon to preach, unless he should do so strictly as a layperson in these times per Pope Pius XII’s teaching on what to do in the absence of the hierarchy, the Council of Constance (1415) condemns the following error of John Wycliffe: “It is permissible for any deacon or priest to preach the word of God without the authority of the Apostolic See or a Catholic bishop” (DZ 594). This is only the logical consequence of the chain of command to be observed as issuing from the pope to the hierarchy.

Those who most recently have sown division among us took the bait from the age-old enemies of the Church. Rather than listen to the teachings of the popes who we are bound to obey, those instigating the breach advocate their relatives and friends as “authorities” and totally dismiss papal teaching. This is not unlike the situation which existed regarding a certain “lay pope” and his “electors,” who are roundly condemned by those now championing their own right to dictate the terms of Catholic belief to others. These so-called “Catacomb Catholics” violate the rights of those who have done neither them nor the Church any harm and paint them as disloyal to their “authority” and to Catholic teaching, violating the laws of Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XII. For as has clearly been pointed out in this incident, the belief by some in Mary as co-redeemer can rightly be taught until a future pope decides otherwise; it is a matter not yet decided upon by the Church and is even endorsed by Her popes! Yet, cold and censorious, these accusers condemn their brethren as transgressing against faith, thereby seriously offending charity, when they are the ones in error.

Pope Benedict XV condemns those who call themselves by any qualifying term other than Catholic; Traditionalists is a good example. Any terms used after this were merely resorted to in order to distinguish others not from the Catholic faith as in some subset, but from the many Traditionalist offshoots. Those Catholics who clearly wish to advance the faith and devote their energy to these efforts should not dwell on useless questions but should closely follow the pope. And in his absence, what else can one do but faithfully follow all they have written?! Just because we have no pope does not mean we are not allowed to hold those opinions still undecided prior to Pope Pius XII’s death. Nor do any private individuals have the right to lord it over others simply because they were fortunate enough to have been teenagers and young adults under Pope Pius XII, to have received the “grace” to function as true Catholics. This is the very heresy taught by the Feeneyites and borrowed from the Jansenists, the idea of the “petit eglise.” Grace is received through the Sacraments, yes, but also through good works (DZ 803, 824, 842, 1044) and the DESIRE of the sacraments, in their absence (DZ 807, 895).

True integralism is the firm and irrevocable assent granted to each and every papal teaching we are required to believe. The Catholic faith must be held as a whole; Pope Benedict XV has said it. And only Christ’s Vicar is the appointed guardian and interpreter of the truth. False integralism is really a disguised rigorism, a phenomenon that often results when laxity has allowed excesses that violate faith and/or morals, and disciplinary laws are too stringently applied to correct these violations. But it is a phenomenon that has been condemned by the Roman Pontiff, and therefore it cannot be tolerated. True integralism carefully assesses the entire scope of any given pontifical teaching, diligently seeking the mind of the lawgiver in a particular matter. It does not neglect the nuances and distinctions in other papal documents or past magisterial decisions and decrees, which help establish a genuine consensus of papal teaching. False integrals limits itself to taking material out of context, using false analogies to demonstrate facts in the case and assuming that circumstances do not alter individual cases. These are all violations of scholastic demonstration, leading to the presentation of false arguments.

Certain reports, however, indicate those recently leaving the stay-at-home position for “greener” pastures are heading in the direction of the Siri idiocy. They are tired of being home “alone,” and being deprived of all the Traditional spiritual goodies others enjoy. They want things back to normal, forgetting that as Christ was arrested, tried, scourged, crucified and expired, no one wanted things normal again more than His Blessed Mother and the apostles. But scriptural prophecy needed to be fulfilled and the faithful needed to do their part in filling up what was wanting to Christ’s Passion. However many of those calling themselves Catholic today do not feel they should be required to suffer the absence of what they once knew as the Church, despite the fact their brethren in Communist countries had to undergo the same and far worse sufferings for the faith. Today we have our own “’Catholic’ snowflakes,” or touch-me-nots, who believe they are entitled to better treatment. But like it or not, no one can accept Siri as pope until the Church Herself reviews the case, and there is no doubt that once this occurs, the Siri fantasy will be laid to rest, (see Why Guiseppe Siri Was Never Pope and Siri Engages in Communicatio in Sacris) . This leads us to consider what St. Robert Bellarmine writes regarding an imperfect council.

“[If the pope is a heretic or schismatic, or is dead] in no case is a perfect and true council able to be convoked without the authority of the pope…Nevertheless, in these two cases an imperfect council will be able to be gathered [a council] which would be sufficient for providing for the head of the Church…although it is not able without the head to decide about many things…, as Cajetan rightly teaches…and much earlier the Roman Presbyters taught…But that imperfect council will be able to happen if either it is called by the college of cardinals or bishops come together of their own accord” (de Concilio, “Ch. 4: Certain Doubts are Explained”). In addition, St. Bellarmine also writes:   

       “A doubtful pope is no pope…Therefore, if a papal election is really doubtful for any reason, the one elected should resign, so that a new election may be held. But if he refuses to resign, it becomes the duty of the bishops to adjust the matter, for although the bishops without the pope cannot define dogmas nor make laws for the universal Church, they can and ought to decide, when occasion demands, who is the legitimate pope; and if the matter be doubtful, they should provide for the Church by having a legitimate and undoubted pastor elected. That is what the Council of Constance rightly did,” (Bellarmine’s De concilio, ii, 19; quoted from Rev. E. S. Berry’s The Church of Christ). 

While such a council could not define matters of faith, it could declare the various papal usurpers since the death of Pope Pius XII, including Siri, as doubtful popes, hence no popes. This would leave the final decision to the future Roman Pontiff, as Pope Pius XII’s infallible constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis commands.

Examine the reasoning and documentation offered by those who have declared themselves our opponents. Is it in accord with the authoritative teachings of the magisterium and the ecumenical councils? Does it follow the method of scholasticism mandated by that same magisterium? Does it proceed according to the rules of Canon Law? Your salvation, my salvation hinges on being subject to the Roman Pontiffs in all things; it does NOT hinge on the opinion of any other human being, no matter how knowledgeable, humble or seemingly holy they may be. The acid test of all Catholic teaching and belief is the papacy and the Divine truths it confirms; it always has been and always will be. Join us then in praying next week for our separated brethren — Traditionalists especially and those most recently separated — but all who have lost their way in this spiritual wasteland.
Blessings,

T. Benns

Unity Octave Prayers

Pope Leo XIII first suggested the following prayers in 1897 when he asked Catholics to pray for Christian unity by reciting a novena. Later, the actual Church Unity Octave was established and blessed by Pope St. Pius X in 1909, who set the dates for the Octave. Prayers begin with the date of the Chair of St. Peter  (Jan. 18) and end with the Conversion of St. Paul, (Jan. 26). Pope Benedict XV extended its observance to the Universal Church on Feb. 25, 1916. All today should join in these prayers.
Priest: How the Sacred Heart must grieve to behold so many divisions among Christian Churches separated from the one true Church He founded.  Pray that Christ’s plea may be realized:
ANTIPHON:  (Cantor) Ut omnes unum sint, sicut tu Pater in me* et ego in te; ut et ipsi in nobis unum sint, ut mundus credat* quia tu me misisti. (John 17: 21)
(Translation: That they may all be One, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou has sent me.)
V. (Priest) “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter;”
R. (All) “And upon this Rock I will build My Church.”
Priest:  LET US PRAY. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thine Apostles: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you,” regard not our sins but the Faith of Thy Church, and grant unto her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy Will.  Who livest and reignest, God forever and ever.  All: Amen.

Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians, to Protect the Church

All: Mary, Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother, thou seest how the Catholic Faith is assailed by the devil and the world – that Faith in which we purpose, by the help of God, to live and die – Do thou, O Help of Christians, renew thy victories as of old, for the salvation of thy children.
To thee we entrust our firm purpose of never joining assemblies of heretics.  Do thou, all holy, offer to thy Divine Son our resolutions and obtain from Him the graces necessary for us to keep them unto the end.  Bring consolation to the visible head of the Church – support the Catholic Episcopate; protect the clergy and the people who proclaim thee Queen.  Hasten, by the power of thy prayers, the day when all nations shall be gathered around the Supreme Pastor.  Amen.
Priest:  Mary, Help of Christians,
ALL:  Pray for us.
(Those praying the Octave are asked to direct each day to the following intentions):
Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 18: The return of all the “other sheep” to the one fold of St. Peter, the One Shepherd.
Jan. 19: The return of all Oriental Separatists to Communion with the Apostolic See.
Jan 20: The submission of Anglicans to the Authority of the Vicar of Christ.
Jan 21: That the Lutherans and all other Protestants of continental Europe may find their way back to the Holy Church.
Jan 22: That Christians in America may become one in communion with the Chair of St. Peter.
Jan. 23: The return to the Sacraments of lapsed Catholics.
Jan. 24: The conversion of the Jews.
Jan. 25: The Missionary conquest of the world for Christ.

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