© Copyright 2015, 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 indicated otherwise.)
Recently some have inquired about a supposed “loophole” in Church Law and teaching that allows bishops to consecrate other bishops and ordain priests in “emergency situations” with no need for permission from a canonically elected Roman Pontiff. As explained on this site many times, the Roman Pontiffs themselves have forbidden such exercise of episcopal jurisdiction independent of the Holy See.
The website we were asked to view that puts forth several grievous errors in this regard makes these outlandish statements without providing any proof whatsoever for their reliability and verification. Many Traditionalists, however, support this same teaching without referring to it under this title, including those involved with CMRI, MHFM (Dimond brothers), “independent” operators and others. They attempt to appeal to sacramental theology, trusting that those who read their writings will be unable to puzzle out their disingenuous representations of the truths of faith or properly reconcile what they teach with dogmatic theology and Canon Law. In the article below, five different statements made on this Traditional website and also in other articles will be examined and disproven as totally contradictory to Catholic teaching.
- Myth: Ex opere operato cancels out illicit orders
This unfounded claim holds that Catholic dogma teaches the Sacraments are administered ex opere operato, (grace issuing from the Sacrament itself), because such authority issues from our Lord Jesus Christ directly, not from any man. This statement is true in itself, but is falsely applied by Traditionalist authors. First, the recipient of the Sacrament must be considered. What the Council of Trent teaches is that given the right disposition of the recipient, grace is conveyed directly by Christ from his Sacraments through the minister who acts only as a conduit, (presupposing a validly ordained or consecrated minister). “If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law…do not confer grace itself on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto…let him be anathema,” (DZ 849). Rev. Joseph Pohle defines this obstacle, in his works on the Sacraments (edited by Arthur Pruess), as “proper disposition and the removal of obstacles, i.e., due preparations on the part of the recipient…On this point the teaching of [Trent] applies full force. It is as necessary to prepare for the worthy reception of the Sacrament as it is to prepare for justification,” (Sacraments an I, pgs. 136-37). And in Pohle’s work, “Grace Actual and Habitual,” he notes, “The dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church on justification is formally defined by the Tridentine Council… ‘Faith,’ it says ‘is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and the root of all justification.’” Faith alone, without the reception of the Sacraments or at least the desire for them, does not justify man, (DZ 847; also 849).
The Protestants teach, Pohle says, “that the Church requires neither faith nor a good impulse of the heart for their [the Sacaments’] worthy reception, even in the case of lay adults,” (Sacraments I, pg. 136). Pohle also reminds readers, “It is not the private opinions of theologians but the official decisions of the Church by which we must be guided,” (The Sacraments, Vol. IV). Traditionalists believe they have faith, but do they? Doesn’t faith require us to obey the Roman Pontiffs and the teachings of the ecumenical councils, in all things regarding faith and morals on which the Church has pronounced, in order to be saved? Are Traditionalists doing this? Because it appears that if they were indeed following the teachings of the popes faithfully, they would know that the Church must be one body under one head on earth, and that without the pope, the juridical Church cannot even exist. The mark of apostolicity includes in its scope the head bishop of Rome (the Pope), and one broken link in the chain is enough to make it appear that this continuous succession has been interrupted, at least temporarily. Laws were specifically laid down concerning how the Church was to function during an interregnum, both in Pope St. Pius X’s Vacante Sede Apostolica and later Pope Pius XII’s Vacante Apostolica Sedis. Both Popes teach that even the cardinals, the highest functionaries in the Church, are forbidden to exempt themselves from any of the laws regarding the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, since all these acts in this regard are rendered null and void by these election laws.
As mentioned in the blog post previewing this article, (7-5-2015), these teachings by the popes on interregnums are nothing new. Professor and historian Walter Ullmann, in his “The Origins of the Great Schism,” relates what later became law under these two future popes. Speaking of the 14th century lay canonists Baldus de Ubaldis and Joannes de Lignano, Ullmann, calls Ubaldis one of the two “greatest jurists” of his time. Lignano he styles as enjoying respect and “authority in ecclesiastical circles…His reputation was great…Both jurists deal at length with the authority of the cardinals over the pope and both reach the conclusion that cardinals have no jurisdictional powers over the pope; they cannot be accusers, witnesses, and judges [all] in one…all disputes concerning intentions, motives and will must be decided by a judge, but who should be the judge in this case? Certainly nobody else but a general council… [which could only be] lawfully summoned by…Urban VI,” (or any currently reigning pope. Canons 222 and 229 forbid the calling or the conducting of an ecumenical council during an interregnum, meaning that even the entire body of bishops have no power to change Church law or teaching, either). “Baldus refers to a commentary of Clem. I.iii.2, which passage expressly lays down that during a vacancy the Sacred College cannot exercise papal jurisdiction nor can the cardinals change the constitution of the Church,” and here Ullmann notes this is found in Pope Pius X’s Vacante Sedis Apostolica, (reiterated by Pius XII in his 1945 constitution that abrogate Pope St. Pius X’s law). Baldus further taught that the cardinals also can clear the pope elected of all irregularities “except one, and that is persistent heresy.”
So Catholics first must have faith, and accept all papal teaching binding on them for belief to be saved. They must certainly be members of the Church in order to participate in the Sacraments and receive the graces therefrom. Many Traditionalists at one time attended the Novus Ordo. Others attended SSPX or belonged to other sects which recognize the antipopes following Pope Pius XII as validly elected, but flawed. These individuals can be classified as schismatics. And all Traditionalists, whether they believe the last six men ruling from Rome are antipopes or not, are members of sects operating without jurisdiction and unlawfully outside the laws of the Church. Those claiming emergency apostolic mandate do so from the standpoint of validity of orders and the other sacraments only, but this is not in accord with the Church’s teaching on jurisdiction. A simple look at the article on apostolicity and apostolic succession from the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia will prove that orders is not enough, even in an “emergency”; true successors of the apostles must also possess jurisdiction or they are not legitimate (lawful) pastors. This lawfulness is not just administrative, as Traditionalists have insisted all these years, but Dogmatic, as proven below.
- Myth: Lawful refers to administrative matters, not validity
The key to the “illicit but valid” argument is found in DZ 967, from the Council of Trent: “If anyone says that … those who have neither been rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical authority, but come from a different source, are the lawful ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments, let him be anathema.” (Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 967, 424). Any anathema is an infallible teaching of an ecumenical council, approved by the then-reigning pope. Notice that the one anathematized incurs it for saying that priests and bishops need not be both rightly ordained/consecrated AND sent; also for holding that despite lacking right ordination and/or “sending” (jurisdiction), they may preach and administer the Sacraments. If we go to the “placing of an obstacle” teaching in Trent’s earlier session on the Sacraments, (DZ 847 and 849, explained above), and understand it as proper preparation for the reception of such Sacraments, how can we ever be certain that such men as came from illicit Traditional seminaries, taught by men who, for the most part, were never trained in a real seminary themselves, were ever “rightly ordained”? We believe the above Tridentine definition ON FAITH; it is an infallible teaching. We do not believe those who teach that the Divine requirement for such lawfulness is only “an administrative matter”; that is heresy.
Faith must precede the reception of the Sacraments, except in infant Baptism. Traditionalists who have accepted those ordained by heretics and schismatics lacking jurisdiction, who are not lawful pastors because they receive no office or the jurisdiction necessary to function in one, are accepting them as lawful and denying a truth of faith, (see /articles/a-catholics-course-of-study/traditionalist-heresies-and-errors/refuting-the-dimonds-2009-no-jurisdiction-position-tapes/cekadas-false-justification-for-acting-without-papal-mandate/ for an explanation of how bestowal of an office is necessary to assume the episcopacy, per the rite of consecration itself). Those who have participated in the NO or Traditionalist services, then, become heretics and also incur infamy of law for committing communicatio in sacris (Canons 2314, 1258). This is true even of those who are in good faith and commit only material heresy, (although there seems to be some question of whether all material heretics are considered legally infamous). Legitimate pastors are obligated to administer sacraments only to those faithful who legitimately request them, (Can. 467). The laity has the right to receive the Sacraments from legitimate pastors but only “according to the rules of ecclesiastical discipline,” (Can. 682). “It is forbidden to administer the Sacraments to heretics or schismatics, even though they err in good faith, unless they have first renounced their errors and been reconciled with the Church,” (Can. 731). So how can those receiving Traditional “sacraments” receive grace from them if they are forbidden to receive them? What use are they if they are valid but fruitless?
- Myth: “Bishops” so–called need no permission from anyone to ordain
Revs. Woywod-Smith, in their “A Practical Commentary on Canon Law,” (Can. 804) note: “The Council of Chalcedon (451) ruled that no strange cleric or lector should be permitted to minister outside his own town without letters of recommendation from his own bishop. Pope Innocent III issued the same prohibition, but said that the priest who did not have his letters of recommendation might be admitted to say Mass if he desired to do so out of devotion: he might not, however, say Mass before the people, but privately. The Council of Trent again made the rule absolute—as the Council of Chalcedon had it—that no priest should be permitted to celebrate Mass and administer the Sacraments without letters of recommendation from his own bishop.”
The following papal decrees are proof that bishops who are not in receipt of the papal mandate upon consecration and resort to schismatics for ordination are not considered true bishops and may not exercise their orders, on pain of nullity.
Pope Pius VI, Charitas:
- “We therefore severely forbid the said Expilly and the other wickedly elected and illicitly consecrated men, under this punishment of suspension, to assume episcopal jurisdiction or any other authority for the guidance of souls since they have never received it. They must not grant dimissorial letters for ordinations. Nor must they appoint, depute, or confirm pastors, vicars, missionaries, helpers, functionaries, ministers, or others, whatever their title, for the care of souls and the administration of the Sacraments UNDER ANY PRETEXT OF NECESSITY WHATSOEVER. Nor may they otherwise act, decree, or decide, whether separately or united as a council, on matters which relate to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. For We declare and proclaim publicly that all their dimissorial letters and deputations or confirmations, past and future, as well as all their rash proceedings and their consequences, are utterly void and without force.
- “We also command and prohibit under the same punishment of suspension both the men consecrated and their consecrators from illicitly conferring the sacrament of confirmation or of orders, or exercising in any way the episcopal office from which they have been suspended. Consequently anyone ordained by them should realize that he is suspended and will be guilty of irregularity if he exercises the orders he has received.”
Pope Pius IX, 1873 Encyclical Etsi Multa:
Addressing the illegitimate “election” as bishop of a “certain notorious apostate” priest by schismatics, Pope Pius IX wrote:
“24. But these men having progressed more boldly in the ways of wickedness and destruction, as happens to heretical sects from God’s just judgment, have wished to create a hierarchy also for themselves…They have chosen and set up a pseudo-bishop, a certain notorious apostate from the Catholic faith, Joseph Humbert Reinkens. So that nothing be lacking in their impudence, for his consecration they have had refuge to those very Jansenists of Utrecht, whom they themselves, before they separated from the Church, considered as heretics and schismatics, as do all other Catholics. However, this Joseph Humbert dares to say that he is a bishop, and, what passes belief, he is recognized and named in an explicit decree by the most serene Emperor of Germany and is proposed to all his subjects as a lawful bishop. But as even the rudiments of Catholic faith declare, no one can be considered a bishop who is not linked in communion of faith and love with Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ…
Therefore following the custom and example of Our Predecessors and of holy legislation, by the power granted to Us from heaven, We declare the election of the said Joseph Humbert Reinkens, performed against the sanctions of the holy canons to be illicit, null, and void. We furthermore declare his consecration sacrilegious. Therefore, by the authority of Almighty God, We excommunicate and hold as anathema Joseph Humbert himself and all those who attempted to choose him, and who aided in his sacrilegious consecration. We additionally excommunicate whoever has adhered to them and belonging to their party has furnished help, favor, aid, or consent. We declare, proclaim, and command that they are separated from the communion of the Church. They are to be considered among those with whom all faithful Christians are forbidden by the Apostle to associate and have social exchange to such an extent that, as he plainly states, they may not even be greeted,” (Etsi Multa, On The Church In Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, Nov. 21, 1873 — all emph. mine; https://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p9etsimu.htm). Reinkens publicly denounced the definition of infallibility then attempted election as an Old Catholic “bishop.” If Pope Pius IX considered him a “notorious apostate,” isn’t it likely he would consider Traditionalist “bishops” the same?
Attention is to be paid especially to the following: But as even the rudiments of Catholic faith declare, no one can be considered a bishop who is not linked in communion of faith and love with Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ…Therefore following the custom and example of Our Predecessors and of holy legislation, by the power granted to Us from heaven, We declare the election of the said Joseph Humbert Reinkens, performed against the sanctions of the holy canons to be illicit, null, and void. We furthermore declare his consecration sacrilegious.
Why are words in the last two sentences from Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multa bolded (by this author) and placed in caps? Because it very well proves the point that while Reinkins was validly consecrated, his ELECTION (or in other cases it could be illegal appointment, acceptance or intrusion into office) is nullified, not his ORDERS. He is not, and cannot hold the office of bishop, because he is not in union with the pope and was elected and placed in office by heretics and/or schismatics. (The Utrecht Jansenists were considered valid for a time, although this validity later was questioned by some theologians in the 20th century.) Even though validly consecrated, Reinkins is not considered a bishop because he never received the office and accompanying jurisdiction from Rome. The Holy See never approved his consecration and so he remained an apostate Old Catholic priest. Canon Law dictates: “An ecclesiastical office is not validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons,” (Can. 147). In the case of a bishop, the one conferring the office is the pope; the sacred canons require a papal mandate, (Can. 953). It is from this canon and Pope Pius IX’s constitution above that the faithful can conclude that without a true pope there can be no valid appointment to office. And only a bishop validly occupying an office can grant dimissorial letters for ordination. Both orders AND jurisdiction must exist in men validly ordained and consecrated in order for there to be the continuation of true apostolic succession. For only a true successor of the Apostles can validly and licitly administer the Sacraments.
The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches: “Apostolicity of mission consists in the power of holy orders and the power of jurisdiction derived by legitimate transmission from the Apostles. It is apostolicity of mission which is recognized as a note of the Church.” Here again, we are dealing with legitimacy only, not validity. Traditionalists are trying to pretend that you can have the carriage without the horse and still travel down the road; or operate the car without having the keys. You can make a cake, but it is inedible without an oven to bake it. For “How can they go, unless they be sent?” We would do well to remember that in Mystici Corporis, Pope Pius XII defined that: “Each [bishop], as a true Shepherd, feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of Christ. Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.” And more clearly to the Chinese, in Ad Sinarum Gentem: “But the power of jurisdiction, which is conferred upon the Supreme Pontiff directly by divine right, flows to the Bishops by the same right, but only through the Successor of St. Peter, to whom not only the simple faithful, but even all the Bishops must be constantly subject, and to whom they must be bound by obedience and with the bond of unity.”
- Myth: Those consecrating without papal mandate are not excommunicated
Contrary to what the emergency mandate bunch claims, Pope Pius XII further solidified Church teaching on this topic by declaring those who dare violate Can. 147 excommunicated specialissimi modo, (in a special manner; absolution from the censure able to be removed only by the pope). In pronouncing this excommunication on behalf of the pope, the Sacred Congregation quotes DZ 967, to the effect that if anyone, including those who “assume office on their own authority, are all to be regarded not as ministers of Christ, but as thieves and robbers who have entered not by the door.” Traditionalists say they do not claim to occupy any offices, but this will not save them. For the actual anathema states only that these men “come from a different source;” as Trent explains, “by their own temerity [they] take these offices upon themselves.” In other words, they do not have to say, “I serve as a pastor of the diocese of Milwaukee, St. Agnes parish; or I am the bishop of Wichita, Kansas. They can simply present as “missionary” priests, but even then they must prove they possess jurisdiction, (Can. 200) and were “rightly ordained” (or consecrated). Given the Council of Trent, Charitas and Etsi Multa, how could any rational Catholic believe such nonsense and at the same time still unequivocally accept these infallible decisions of the Roman Pontiffs?
This excommunication is found mentioned in Revs. Woywod-Smith’s commentary under Canon 2394. In the Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, we find the following comment: “Excommunication as vitandus is inflicted for accepting office from lay authority,” (pg. 71). As seen above, this is exactly the penalty prescribed by Pope Pius IX in Etsi Multa. Are all laity following or aiding Traditionalists priests and bishops with donations and other assistance considered vitandus? Because they have been the victims of fraud, disinformation and in certain cases fear, they are no doubt laboring under censure but most likely not as vitandus. Those who presume to present and act as clerics, however, are certainly candidates for this title. Canon 2218 excuses (especially lay) offenders in certain cases where the person has tried to repent and repair the damage or was caught in circumstances beyond his/her control and understanding. This may well be true given what we have experienced today.
- Myth: Orders received by Traditional bishops and priests are valid
All of the above is based on the premise that we can operate without a pope just as we did when we had one. But this is not the case. If Pope Pius VI and Pope Pius IX as well as other popes handed down such stiff penalties for those administering and receiving Sacraments illicitly when the Roman Pontiff was there to condemn the perpetrators and warn the faithful, how many more precautions need to be taken in these times when there is no one to appeal to, no one to warn or protect the faithful, no one to supervise the bishops and priests, no one to enforce discipline, etc. Bishops were never free to operate independently as Traditionalists pretend. They were monitored by the Sacred Congregations in Rome, namely the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith (in charge of seminaries and societies responsible for training missionaries, and all matters concerning them collectively or individually involving faith, the liturgy and other matters, Can. 252); the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, (overseeing government, discipline, temporal administration and studies, Can. 256) and the Consistorial Congregation (Can. 248), with the pope as prefect, that proposes bishops, administrators, Apostolic co-adjutors and auxiliary bishops; gives orders for the canonical investigations or process concerning the men who are to be promoted to the aforesaid positions, carefully examines the acts of the process and conducts the examinations of these men in regard to their knowledge. This congregation sees to the oversight of dioceses, assuring that Ordinaries fulfill their duties and orders Apostolic visitations, (when the bishops report on their diocese to the Holy Father).
Are people today really gullible enough to believe that without this oversight and careful precautions taken to assure the good conduct of bishops there are not rampant abuses and pervading corruption? The canons and rules set up by these congregations concerning the investigation of priestly candidates alone, to ensure their fitness for ordination, is staggering. The studies they are required to make in the seminary would make the preparation required for neurosurgeons and nuclear scientists pale in comparison. The shabby “education” they receive in “Traditional seminaries” is certainly not sufficient to assure that they possess the disposition or preparation necessary to fit them for the Sacrament of Orders. So much for ex opere operato! For without this intensive preparation there are grave doubts they ever receive the Sacrament validly. During an interregnum, when the Church is at its most vulnerable point as proven countless times in history, then must the precautions in place become all the more stringent. And this is precisely what we find in the papal election constitution laid down by Popes St. Pius X and Pius XII.
Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolica Sedis:
- “During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, regarding those things that pertained to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff while he lived, the Sacred College of Cardinals shall have absolutely no power or jurisdiction of rendering neither a favor nor justice or of carrying out a favor or justice rendered by the deceased Pontiff; rather, let the College be obliged to reserve all these things to the future Pontiff.Therefore, We declare invalid and void any power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff in his lifetime, which the assembly of Cardinals might decide to exercise (while the Church is without a Pope), except to the extent to which it be expressly permitted in this Our Constitution…
- The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws or any part of them. This prohibition is especially applicable in the case of Pontifical Constitutions issued to regulate the business of the election of the Roman Pontiff.In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, by Our Supreme Authority, to be null and void.”
For relying on the ministrations of schismatic bishops such as Lefebvre and Thuc, members of the Novus Ordo church, for consecration and ordination; for consecrating bishops without a papal mandate and priests without dimissorial letters contrary to papal law; for priests falsely claiming supplied jurisdiction under Can. 2261§2 when such jurisdiction can be supplied only by the pope; for presuming to function despite incurring excommunication as a vitandus, when no pope exists to lift it; for presuming to function while under a vindicative penalty for infamy of law, when only a pope can dispense from it — all these acts are included either in the usurpation of papal prerogatives in paragraph one above or the correction of or dispensation from papal laws in paragraph three. If even the cardinals could not undertake such things, — when they are only bishops and priests granted an additional title — then the bishops as a body could not hope to accomplish this either. That would be the work of an ecumenical council and only the [pope can convene such a council. Even if acts of usurping papal jurisdiction or tampering with papal laws are attempted, such acts are null and void, per infallible decree. No bishops can be created during an interregnum; no dimissorial letters can be granted, so no priests can be ordained, and no jurisdiction or extraordinary powers can be supplied or extended. This is true because the Church exists in a state of suspended animation only and cannot function without her head, except to provide a new pope.
- St. Thomas Aquinas writes: “In order that the Church exist, there must be one person at the head of the whole Christian people,” (Summa Contra Gentilis, Vol. IV, 76).
- The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches: “It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that this visible head is necessary to establish and preserve unity in the Church,” and this from Christ’s guarantees to St. Peter found in Holy Scripture, (Revs. McHugh and Callan edition, p. 104.). So if unity is lacking, the four marks cannot all exist.
- Revs. Devivier and Sasia, whose work was personally endorsed by Pope St. Pius X, wrote: “As it is to the character of the foundation that a building owes its solidarity, the close union of its parts, and even its very existence, it is likewise from the authority of Peter that the Church derives Her unity, her stability, AND EVEN HER EXISTENCE HERSELF. THE CHURCH, THEREFORE, CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT PETER,” (Christian Apologetics, Vol. II).
- Pope Pius IX teaches this fact from his own mouth: “May God give you the grace necessary to defend the rights of the Sovereign Pontiff and the Holy See; for without the Pope there is no Church, and there is no Catholic Society without the Holy See,” (Allocution to religious superiors, June 24, 1872). Who rose to defend the Holy See and the rights of the Church in 1958? NO ONE! The shepherd was struck and the flock dispersed. We are left to follow the advice, again of Pope Pius IX, if we wish to preserve our faith until God sees fit to restore his Church:
“We think it is Our duty to repeat this public declaration now and to request you to preserve the unity of faith among your faithful by every possible means…You should remind them to beware of these treacherous enemies of the flock of Christ and their poisoned foods. They should TOTALLY SHUN their religious celebrations, their buildings, and their chairs of pestilence, which they have with impunity established to transmit the sacred teachings. THEY SHOULD SHUN THEIR WRITINGS AND ALL CONTACT WITH THEM. THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE DEALINGS OR MEETINGS WITH USURPING PRIESTS AND APOSTATES FROM THE FAITH WHO DARE TO EXERCISE THE DUTIES OF AN ECCLESIASTICAL MINISTER WITHOUT POSSESSING A LEGITIMATE MISSION OR ANY JURISDICTION. THEY SHOULD AVOID THEM AS STRANGERS AND THIEVES WHO COME ONLY TO STEAL, SLAY AND DESTROY…For the Church’s children should consider the proper action to preserve the most precious treasure of FAITH…without which it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God, as well as action calculated to achieve the goal of faith, that is the salvation of their souls, by FOLLOWING THE STRAIGHT ROAD OF JUSTICE,” (Pope Pius IX, Encyclical, Graves Ac Diuturnae, March 23, 1875, no. 4; see http://www.apostlesoftheendtimes.com/#!unauthorized-shepherds/c1lle for additional papal quotes and information).
© Copyright 2015, 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 indicated otherwise.)
In an article written not long ago about what should really prevent true Catholics from seeking out Traditionalist “clergy,” it was pointed out that while for decades the fact that these clerics lacked jurisdiction had been the presumed and contended reason, this was not actually the case. The fact has become clear in the past several years that these clerics first must prove they are actually validly ordained and consecrated, when this is something they cannot prove. And any doubt concerning validity OR liciety automatically rules them out as anyone a true and faithful Catholic could approach for Mass and Sacraments. The answer to the puzzle was discovered in recently published encyclicals from Pope Pius IX on the Old Catholics. In these encyclicals, also in Pope Pius VI’s Charitas and in Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolica Sedis (VAS), it is clear that anyone made a bishop by a schismatic or heretic acting without permission from the Holy See (especially during an interregnum) is considered to have never received the episcopacy. Some will say, ‘But what about Thuc and Lefebvre?’
By adhering to a schismatic sect (Can. 2314 no. 3) and violating Pope Pius XII’s infallible papal election constitution VAS, governing interregnums, they lost their jurisdiction, became infamous, were forbidden to perform any ecclesiastical functions and the functions they attempted to perform were null and void. Canon 2294 §1 reads: “A person who has incurred infamy of law is not only irregular, as declared by Can. 984, n. 5, but in addition he is incapacitated…and must be restrained from the exercise of sacred functions.” In their canon law commentary, Revs. Woywod-Smith comment under the heading of “Of Common Vindicative Penalties,” (Can. 2294 §1 and §2): “The person who incurred infamy of law cannot validly obtain ecclesiastical benefices, pensions, offices and dignities, nor can he validly exercise his rights connected with the same, nor perform a valid, legal ecclesiastical act.” Commenting on Can. 2396, these same authors write concerning infamy of law: “The exercise of acquired rights may be rendered invalid…by incurring a disqualification, but the right itself is not taken away unless the law or sentence explicitly states the additional penalty of deprivation of office.” In this case the law does, for those who incur the penalties of Can. 2314 n. 1-3 also automatically incur those of Can. 188 n. 4.
Those attending Traditional or Uniate/Eastern rite services today need to consider the following: the entire state of affairs in the Church since the death of Pope Pius XII has left many in doubt about numerous Church laws and teachings. Without a true pope there is no possible way to determine the answers to many things; we remain in doubt, although generally we can arrive at the certitude sufficient to reason out our faith and function in our daily lives. So what is the rule about doubt taught in moral theology? One cannot act when in a state of doubt until the doubt is resolved. The notion that one may ignore such doubts before proceeding to act was condemned by Pope Innocent XI as heretical, (DZ 1231). While certitude can be arrived at in some cases, this is not true concerning the Sacraments. Theologians unanimously teach concerning doubt in regards to the Sacraments that no one can receive or administer the Sacraments if there is serious reason to doubt the validity of the one administering them, or the worthiness of the one receiving them. All approved moral theologians teach this in accordance with the condemnation of Molinos’ errors by Innocent XI as heretical, (DZ 1151). And as we will see, Catholics practiced observing the binding nature of such doubts long before the Church fell into the disarray we behold today. (“In the seminary, we were taught, ‘Where there is doubt; Get Out!,’” one former seminarian who attended in the late 1950s, early 1960s relates. “There was no question about it.”)
Traditionalists will claim that they fit none of the criteria for heretics or schismatics which apply to these groups, and yet Pope Pius VI and Pope Pius IX clearly condemned those who dared to consecrate bishops without papal permission and subsequently ordain priests. Over 200 years ago in Charitas. Pius VI wrote: “For the right of ordaining bishops belongs only to the Apostolic See, as the Council of Trent declares; it cannot be assumed by any bishop or metropolitan without obliging Us to declare schismatic both those who ordain and those who are ordained, thus invalidating their future actions.” Lefebvre in 1988 (four consecrations performed with Castro de Mayer) and Thuc in 1976 (in Palmar; consecration of Clemente Dominguez Gomez and friends), automatically lost the ability to perform valid future acts the FIRST time they attempted to ordain a bishop, (although their individual ipso facto excommunications for signing heretical Vatican 2 documents made it impossible for them to perform valid acts long before this, (see Can. 2314 no. 3, 1917 Code of Canon Law).
Canons 80 and 83 teach that no one but the Roman Pontiff can dispense from the general laws of the Church unless such power has been conceded to them explicitly and it implies that even then the pope must be able to be reached eventually in order to resolve the matter. And Pope Pius XII forever enshrined the teachings of Trent and Pope Pius VI in his infallible papal election constitution Vacantis Apostolica Sedis, by invalidating any usurpation of papal privileges whatsoever during an interregnum. This would apply not only to bishops wrongly presuming the power to consecrate bishops outside the law, but also priests falsely (for other reasons) claiming that jurisdiction is supplied to them for their acts. For as has been repeated here many times, when Can. 209 states that the Church supplies such jurisdiction, the pope is understood as the Church. Are the faithful of the Latin Rite who attend Uniate services, thus changing rites, guilty also of presuming papal dispensation? They are, according to Can. 98 §3: “Nobody is allowed without permission of the Apostolic See to go over to another Rite…” So has Francis permitted Traditionalists who are now Uniates to change rites?
Even aside from the above, there are serious and well-founded doubts about the validity of Lefebvre’s own ordination and consecration, despite the diatribes of the St. Pius X and St. Pius V Societies against Hugo Maria Kellner and any who dare raise this issue. So no certitude can be obtained in these matters, when this is necessary to receive the Sacraments. In the case of Lefebvre as well as Thuc, we also must call into question their intentions, (whether they intended to create men as priests for the true Catholic Church or the Novus Ordo). In the case of Thuc we must also question his sanity (given the men he ordained and consecrated), owing to old age and severe diabetes. Both Lefebvre and Thuc celebrated the Novus Ordo and signed Vatican 2 documents. Lefebvre never pretended to hold the V2 popes as antipopes, and there are many who claim he was sent in by the Novus Ordo to accomplish an end-run by gathering dissenters at the time and leading them back in to the Novus Ordo through the back door. After all, this is exactly what has happened recently with the larger portion of the St. Pius X Society’s members, (SSPX).
Both these men claimed to be true bishops, ever so solicitous for tradition. Therefore it must be asked why, after both had ceased and desisted (or so they claimed) from participating in Novus Ordo services, they never acknowledged their ipso facto excommunication and infamy of law for communicatio in sacris, or the need to be dispensed by a canonically elected pope before continuing to function. That they did not do so demonstrates their ignorance of the faith, their disdain for Canon Law and their contempt of the papacy. As bishops, were they exempted from these censures by Canon Law, as some have maintained? No, because ALL are subject to the Code without exception. Today there is a doubt about whether the law applies to them during an extended interregnum and in doubt we return to the old law (Can. 6 no. 4), which is Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, the source of nearly all the canons regarding heresy. Clearly this law not only holds them as no longer members of the Catholic Church, but moreover states they cannot be returned to their former positions as bishops.
But there is a clever get-around being run on Cum ex…, one that might make some sense if it could be held that the Mystical Body is not one and undivided, or that somehow not ALL Catholics are bound by (Canon Law and) infallible teaching. Some errant Traditionalists, among them former stay-at-home Catholics, believe that the 1917 Code for Latin Rite Catholics cannot declare excommunications for those of the Eastern rites, for they are governed by their own code. They use this to justify their attendance at Eastern rite churches in communion with Bergoglio, who they say is not accepted by most Eastern rite “Catholics” as a true pope. Or at any rate one is not required to obey him, which is exactly the position held by the SSPX. These desperate people really think the Uniates are under the governance of their (underground, some say) bishops and only “go along” with Rome to keep their churches. Governed by the Latin Rite code themselves, these straying Catholics cannot escape its judgments or pretend that the Oriental Church can operate outside the confines of faith and morals. The Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda decided in 1907 that the Orientals, while not bound by Canon Law per se, are bound by ”laws emanating from the Holy See if: a) they concern matters of faith or morals; b) If they contain matters connected with the divine or natural law…; c) if the laws themselves expressly state that they are meant to bind the Oriental Church,” Rev. Charles Augustine, “A Commentary on Canon Law,” 1931).
Under Can. 1 in the 1917 Code we read that the Code’s laws: “are obligatory for the Church of the Latin Rite exclusively, except in matters which, of their very nature, affect also the Oriental Church.” Revs. Woywod-Smith comment: “It is evident that in matters of faith and morals, all Catholics, without distinction of race, nationality or rite, are bound by the authoritative pronouncements of the Holy See. There can be but one rule in these matters for all who belong to the Catholic Church.” Cicognani says the same, adding the following: “All Catholics are subject to the dogmatic canons of Ecumenical Councils and pronouncements of the Holy See. The decrees of the Roman Pontiffs condemning propositions contra fidem et mores, the various instructions of the Holy Office, the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda, the Congregation for the Oriental Church, and of the Sacred Penitentiary, the prohibition of books and theories…The Congregation for the Oriental Church declared that the decrees mentioned above affect the faithful of every rite, and all are bound in the same way, since these decrees are more than disciplinary in character and refer directly to matters of doctrine. The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office,” (1885), when asked about the Constitution Apostolica Sedis of Pope Pius IX replied), “They are subject to censures inflicted by the Apostolic See in matters of dogma …”
Cicognani continues: “The Code binds the Oriental Church in the following cases: (a) if there be a question of the divine law, natural or positive; (b) If there be question of faith and Catholic doctrine, for there is no exception of place or persons in matters of dogma and doctrine. Consequently all Catholics are subject to the dogmatic canons of Ecumenical Councils and pronouncements of the Holy See. The decisions of the Roman Pontiff condemning propositions contra fidem et mores, the various instructions of the Holy Office, the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda, the Congregation for the Oriental Church and the Sacred Penitentiary, the prohibition of books and theories opposed to Catholic faith and morals, all pertain to Catholic doctrine.
“All the above pronouncements, although they do not strictly pertain to the divine law, follow, however, as deductions or declarations therefrom, and they concern the doctrine of the Church, and not its discipline properly so-called…So, too, with respect to communicatio in sacris, Can. 731 §2 declares that it is forbidden to administer the Sacraments of the Church to heretics or schismatics, unless they have first renounced their errors and reconciled themselves to the Church…The Orientals [also] are subject to Can. 2335,” (regarding enrollment in the Masonic sect); “…Can. 2314 against apostates, Can. 2317 against persons who obstinately teach, etc. …When the discipline of the Oriental Church was lacking in some particular point, [Canon Law] was practically regarded by the Orientals as their supplementary source of law; and particularly after the Council of Trent they adopted many of its enactments. There is no reason today why they should not consider the Code as an auxiliary font to supply for any deficiencies in their own legislation,” (Canon Law,” 1935).
It also should be noted that the Pope is the Prefect for the Congregation for the Oriental Church under Can. 257. “To this congregation are reserved all affairs of every kind relating to persons, discipline and Rites of the Oriental Churches…This Congregation has all the powers of the other Congregations combined in its jurisdiction over the Oriental Rites, subject however to the jurisdiction of the Holy Office, as stated in Can. 247.” Canon 247 states that the Pope is also the Prefect of the Congregation of the Holy Office, “which guards the doctrine of faith and morals” and judges crimes and criminal cases. So there is no basis whatsoever, given this fact and the above explanations, for believing that either the law itself or Church teaching in any way exempts Orientals from incurring excommunication for crimes against the faith. Not only does the pope oversee the faith and morals for the Orientals then, but as Prefect of The Congregation for the Oriental Church, he also is in charge of discipline.
Canon 1325, which binds these Latin Rite Catholics who have committed communicatio in sacris to join the Uniates, tells them that whenever silence, subterfuge or manner of acting suggests heresy they are to profess their faith. It appears that a certain degree of subterfuge must be involved here or we would see Uniate priests and bishops professing THEIR faith and renouncing their errors. That the orthodoxy of all or nearly all these underground bishops was most likely compromised somewhere along the line is discussed below. And while jurisdiction may indeed be the issue in their case, there is and has always been much more at work here than meets the eye. It has to do with the many machinations of the enemy to reach their goal of the Church’s utter destruction, and to ensnare as many souls as possible in this diabolical process.
Reasons for examining the Uniate situation
Since the Traditionalists first came on the scene, there were those who preferred attending schismatic Uniate or Orthodox services instead, even though they were Latin Rite and Canon Law forbids them to switch rites. Some Traditionalists relied on the Uniate and Orthodox bishops and priests to confirm their children and ordain their priests. One such Uniate bishop who reportedly provided faculties for Traditionalists was Toronto Bishop Isidore Borecky, now deceased, who was a co-consecrator for Exarch Slypyj when he ordained three bishops in Rome without papal mandate in 1977. There is another (archbishop) who also claims descent from Slypyj’s lineage and association with Borecky and the Traditionalists he serviced, but who does not appear on any of the lineage lists for either Slypyj or the priests and bishops he ordained and consecrated. This (archbishop), now seeking supporters, was supposedly a “secret ordination/consecration” that cannot be confirmed and is only one of many such consecrations.
This is precisely the problem with accepting such irregular ordinations and consecrations as valid without bothering to discover whether the Church Herself considers them valid. If one is admitted, it opens the floodgate for all the others and then no one can gainsay any of them. That is why Pope Pius XII taught in Vacantis Apostolica Sedis that during an interregnum, nothing can be done that violates the laws of the Church; all must be left to the future pontiff. It is true that bishops retain their jurisdiction during an interregnum; no one is questioning that once given it exists. But while it may exist, its USE may be temporarily suspended by the one who granted it in the first place, and this is exactly what Pope Pius XII did. When he issued his constitution, it is assumed that he had no reason to believe the interregnum following his death would last any longer than a few weeks, or as long as it would take to elect the next pope. In fact it should have been a very healthy incentive to proceed without delay to accomplish a canonical papal election, but we all know this sadly was not the case.
Perhaps Pius XII had an inkling there could be trouble ahead and this is why he suspended everything until a new election; we will never know, although other things he said and did seem to indicate this. Given what Pope Pius XII taught and the lack of any way to verify these clandestine orders, they fall into the category not necessarily of doubtful validity of orders, but of highly doubtful effect (necessary jurisdiction) when such orders are exercised during an interregnum. Yet as what is presented below demonstrates, there are many other reasons why the extraordinary faculties claimed for these men may no longer be valid. And any doubt whatsoever of the validity of these faculties or the jurisdiction necessary to exercise them would mean the faithful could not seek ministrations from such individuals as priests and bishops.
Origin of the Uniate bishops’ faculties
It is important to first understand what claims, exactly, the Uniate church is making concerning jurisdiction and validity and how those claiming connection to the Uniates are actually related — or not. Among the various articles on the Internet concerning this subject, the most comprehensive article can be found at the following bloodspot: http://annalesecclesiaeucrainae.blogspot.com/2008/04/greek-catholic-bishop-returns-to-lutsk.html If in previous articles on this site it has appeared that this author favors the idea that some of these Eastern bishops could possess these extraordinary faculties, it should also be noted that this was written before what follows here from this article was found and Pope Benedict XV’s reaction to use of these powers was known. It also should be noted that I have said repeatedly, for decades, that if any valid bishops remained following the usurpation of the Holy See, their first obligation would have always been to elect a true pope, not to operate independently without one.
The pertinent part of this article on the Uniates and their faculties begins as follows (all emph. my own): “After the Russian Revolution of 1905, Tsar Nicholas II issued an edict, which temporarily permitted a degree of religious freedom within his domains… Following upon the opportunity presented by the Tsar’s Edict of Religious Tolerance, in 1907, Pope Pius X granted Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky secret powers over the entire Eastern-Catholic mission in Russia. These powers included the right to ordain and install bishops, in special circumstances.” According to another blog, Sheptytsky was friends with Pope St. Pius X prior to his election as pope, and the privilege granted to him was given secretly and personally, (http://lookingeast.stblogs.com/files/2012/03/Bp-M-Hrynshyshyn-to-gpl-5-6-2004.jpg). In 1914, prior to his arrest and deportation to Siberia, Sheptytsky invoked his privilege from Pope St. Pius X, naming his collaborator Josyf Botsian as successor to his see and also consecrating Dmytro Yaremko, who only a year later gave his life as a martyr. On his release in 1917, Sheptytsky “immediately” petitioned Pope Benedict XV to confirm Botsian’s nomination, (recognizing this was necessary for jurisdiction), according to the first mentioned blog.
Polish politicians objected to Botisan’s nomination and requested clarification from the Holy See. Papal Secretary of State Cardinal Gasparri investigated the matter and determined that while Botsian’s consecration was valid, he could not exercise any jurisdiction; this on the order of Pope Benedict XV. In the continued discussion of the matter by Church officials, it was acknowledged that in signing the Union of Brest in 1596, the Holy See had already recognized the Ukrainian primate’s right to directly nominate and consecrate his suffragen bishops. Following his release from prison in 1917, Metropolitan Sheptytsky convoked a Synod in Petrograd, created the exarchate for Greek Catholics in Russia, and appointed Leonid Fyodorov first Exarch. Fyodorov was later martyred. These activities were apparently recognized as valid by Pope Pius XII, if not recognized as such before by Popes Benedict XV or Pope Pius XI. But of course by then World War II had begun, and the situation in Russia had deteriorated considerably.
In 1939, Metropolitan Sheptytsky established four Exarchates: Greater Ukraine, Abp. Josyf Slypyj; Bielorusse, Rev. Anton Niemancevych; Volyn and Podlasia, Bp. Nicholas Charnetsky and Russia and Siberia, Rev. Clement Sheptytsky. Pope Pius XII approved all of these appointments, according to a letter written by Exarch Michael Hynschyshyn, a Novus Ordo official, at the request of a Mr. Gregory Lloyd in Pennsylvania in May 2004, (http://lookingeast.stblogs.com/files/2012/03/Bp-M-Hrynshyshyn-to-gpl-5-6-2004.jpg) Charnetsky was never able to exercise his mission because soon after his appointment he was arrested and imprisoned by the Soviets. He was later released and died in 1959. Also in 1959, a man ordained by Bp. Botsian, (it is not clear whether this ordination happened before or after Botsian’s case was partially resolved by the Holy See and he was named an auxiliary bishop), Redemptorist Vasyl Velychkovsky, was secretly named exarch of Lutsk by Exarch Josef Slypyj. In 1963, shortly before Slypyj was exiled from the Soviet Union and welcomed in Rome, he was able to consecrate Velychkovsky. In 1972, Velychkovsky joined him in exile in Rome. Please visit the blogs linked above for the entire story.
Yet another letter found at http://lookingeast.stblogs.com/files/2012/04/Bp-M-Hrynshyshyn-to-gpl-5-31-04.jpg by the same Novus Ordo official explains that Metropolitan Sheptytsky’s faculties were given to him personally and did not extend to his successors. Typically such privileges expire with the death of the privilege holder, (Can. 74). Here Canons 77 and 78 also must be considered, for these privileges were undoubtedly abused later by some claiming to hold them, (Can. 78). And Pope Pius XII, the superior in this case, indicates in VAS that only a future pope can renew or clarify these privileges. What is not known for certain is the extent of the privileges ceded by Pope Pius XII to those behind the Iron Curtain, and whether they still pertained in all their particulars following the end of World War II. What is known about these privileges will be considered next.
Eastern rite faculties under Pope Pius XII
What was Vatican policy during the reign of Pope Pius XII? Accounts from bishops and priests living in the underground in the 1940s seem to indicate that Pope Pius XII granted habitual faculties to bishops in Eastern Europe. An account of one consecration printed in the magazine Greek Catholic Tradition (February, 2008) explains the ordination, consecration circumstances during the years of persecution. “In those times it was established as follows: after being ordained the priest swore on the Bible not to tell anyone who ordained him, when and where. (Note: Ordination or consecration was secret and there were no documents issued for reasons of safety.) “Special faculties had been given to Czech bishop Stepan Trochta of Litomerice by the Vatican in 1949 to allow the creation of one secret episcopal successor for each diocese in case of the arrest of the bishops. According to the most probable version of events, before his expulsion from Czechoslovakia in 1949 the Vatican’s charge’ d’affaires in Prague, Msgr. Gennaro Verolino, was actively engaged in passing on these faculties. ‘Naturally it did not escape the secret police’s attention’, Stehle reports, ‘that Monsignor Verolino, a peripatetic Neapolitan, was traveling around the country visiting the bishops and vesting them with those powers to establish a substitute and underground hierarchy,’” (this was relayed to the magazine article’s author by an underground bishop).
“It seems that with their consecration the new secret bishops received personal episcopal status, which would become effective for diocesan functions only on the arrest of the incumbent bishop. Although solid documentation on this permission is not available, it seems that each bishop could consecrate one secret bishop, and these bishops in turn could ordain priests without notifying the state or the Vatican, although this second generation of bishops was not empowered to consecrate further bishops. Church spokesmen claim that these special faculties, given by Pope Pius XII, expired in the mid-1950s, and definitely by the time of Pius XII’s death in October 1958. Supporters of the later secret consecrations claim that these faculties were never revoked.” Indications that this jurisdiction was not assumed to have ceased later, once bishops emerged from the underground is reflected in a comment made by Felix Corley: “In addition, parallel consecrations [by both underground bishops and the NO] at a time when the church was able to exist legally, albeit under strict state control, caused confusion and doubt among believers. In the case of completely illegal churches, such as the Eastern Rite Church in Ukraine and Romania, for example, or the Vatican-loyal church in China, secret ordinations and consecrations were a necessity and continued much later, although — from the1970s at least — with closer control from the Vatican.”)
“As a result of these faculties, two bishops were consecrated in Slovakia in 1951, Pavol Hnilica SJ and Jan Korec SJY. ‘In Bratislava on 24 August 1951, recalled Korec, ‘I was consecrated as a clandestine bishop. Bishop Hnilica had to leave the country and I took up my duties …The police had known since 1951 that I had been secretly consecrated and that, along with other activities, I was ordaining priests. I had already received the instruction direct from Rome that there should always be two bishops – uno nascosto, uno attivo’ [one hidden, one active].” (Religion, State and Society Vol. 21, No. 2, 1993, “The Secret Clergy in Communist Czechoslovakia,” by Felix Corley). This narrative of course cannot be entirely trusted because of its source. And it is not known how anyone could possibly sort things out following the hostile takeover of the Vatican.
Perhaps the faculties granted in 1949 to Msgr. Gennaro Verolino mentioned above differed little from those of Msgr. Michel d’Herbigny, S.J. in 1926, granted by Pope Pius XI and drafted by his Secretary of State, Eugenio Pacelli, before d’Herbigny was secretly sent into Russia. In d’Herbigny’s case, Pope Pius XI conceded “all the appropriate and necessary powers, for purposes known to us,” (Fr. Paul Lesourd, “Le Jesuite clandestine,” as reported in “Introduction to the Life of Archbishop Thuc”). Lesourd continues: “Orally, the Holy Father first enumerated in detail all the powers which he conferred, including the selection of priests to be ordained and to confer on them the episcopate without the need for them to have pontifical bulls [mandates] nor therefore to give their signatures, inviting them to act accordingly on the strength of the oath.” Lesourd adds that basically this gave Patriarchal or pontifical powers to d’Herbigny, which Pope Pius XII solemnly summed up as follows: “In one word, we grant to you all the pontifical powers of the pope himself which are not of incommunicable divine right.” Here again, this source cannot be entirely trusted, since Lesourd is a promoter of Bp. Thuc. Thuc himself was said to possess extraordinary faculties, but Fr. George Paront of New York, in the 1980s, offered convincing proof that these faculties were highly questionable at best, and therefore not to be trusted. In his work, “The Sacred and the Profane,” Clarence Kelley calls Thuc a “scandalous” bishop and says that it cannot be known with any certainty whether or not he was in his right mind. Therefore any pretensions to extraordinary faculties on his part could not be trusted, and certainly no “official “ documents have ever been produced in support of this.
To return to the subject at hand, this of course does not mean that in reality, Verolino did or could communicate these powers to the bishops he created, or even a select few of them, but given the nature of the powers that seemingly were accorded those engaged in this process, it does not say he did not communicate such powers either. If his mission was truly to establish “a substitute and underground hierarchy,” who might not be able to contact Rome, why would he not communicate them to at least a few? And given the times in which we live, and what has happened since the death of Pope Pius XII — something that would appear more sinister by far to those who lived it — we cannot say for certain that they were or were not communicated. This is something that in the end only God knows, and in order for Catholics to sort things out it may well require a miracle. We do, however, know the Church’s mind in this case, as demonstrated below. And it indicates that while these bishops were indeed valid, and were validly appointed, they still did not have the necessary jurisdiction to function as bishops (or priests delegated by such bishops) during an interregnum, anymore than Botsian had the same jurisdiction under Pope Benedict XV when the see was occupied.
According to Pope Pius XII’s papal election law, Vacantis Apostolica Sedis (VAS), while these bishops may be validly consecrated and appointed, (unlike Traditionalists), during an interregnum they still are unable to function as bishops until the election of a true pope, once the deadline for such an election has passed. “During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, regarding those things that pertained to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff while he lived, the Sacred College of Cardinals shall have absolutely no power or jurisdiction of rendering neither a favor nor justice or of carrying out a favor or justice rendered by the deceased Pontiff; rather, let the College be obliged to reserve all these things to the future Pontiff.1 Therefore, We declare invalid and void any power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff in his lifetime, which the assembly of Cardinals might decide to exercise (while the Church is without a Pope), except to the extent to which it be expressly permitted in this Our Constitution…,” (and the cardinals are only allowed to decide things strictly pertaining to the election)… But if anything contrary to this prescript occurs or is by chance attempted, we declare it by Our Supreme authority to be null and void,” (paras.1- 3, Ch. 1, 1945; Acta Apostolica Sedis, Vol. XXXVIII, 1946, n. 3; pp. 65-99). Paragraph 109 of VAS repeats these same warnings, but applies them to anyone making an attempt to interfere with the election, changing of laws, violation of jurisdiction and Church rights, not just the cardinals.
It also must be remembered that in order to claim apostolic succession, the minister must possess both orders AND jurisdiction, (see /free-content/reference-links/1-what-constitutes-the-papacy/apostolic-succession-are-schismatic-clergy-and-laymen/ Below we continue with the convoluted tale of the underground clergy, taken from a history of the Ukraine found online. This work deals with yet other matters concerning Czechoslovakia, Slypyj and Velychkovsky.
Slypyj’s attempt to revive his church
“In 1968, the Uniate Church in Czechoslovakia was restored. This worried the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate. In West Ukraine there was another spate of searches, fines, beatings, arrests and imprisonment of Ukrainian Catholic clergy and laymen, among them Bishop Vasyl Velychkowsky of Lutsk, (consecrated as his episcopal successor by Metropolitan Slypyj prior to departing for Rome). Metropolitan Slypyj in Rome, although isolated, was becoming very vocal on behalf of his Church, for he saw that in the late 1960s and early 1970s the Vatican’s relations with the Moscow Patriarchate seemed to indicate that the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine was to be abandoned by Rome for the sake of ecumenical unity. From 1968 onwards Slypyj increasingly escaped from the silence to which the Vatican would have liked to condemn him. He assumed the role of an articulate church leader. Without Paul VI’s permission, he consecrated three new bishops. Despite criticism from many Vatican quarters, he ‘launched a great plan of revival’ of his Church. The plan involved drawing attention to the plight of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and putting it fully on the Christian map as a ‘Sister Church’ to the Roman Latin-rite Church, with its own Patriarch. Slypyj’s well-publicized activities found considerable support in the North American diaspora and in other quarters too, and were embarrassing for the Vatican,” (“To Pray Again as a Catholic: The Renewal of Catholicism in Western Ukraine,” by Stella Hryniuk, History and Ukrainian Studies University of Manitoba).
Late in life, Cardinal Slypyj frequently signed himself as ‘Patriarch,’ and was addressed as such by many Ukrainian Catholics, who lobbied for his appointment to the position. The significance for Slypyj of the title “patriarch” and the implications thereof for the Ukrainian Catholic Church were missed at that time by Western Catholics, but not the Eastern Church. Only now can we see how different things might have been had Slypyj achieved this title and addressed the serious problems he pointed out at the false Vatican 2 (V2) council with the full weight of that authority. Slypyj died in Rome on September 7, 1984. While he may not have been a fan of the V2 reforms or Paul 6, on Nov. 12, 1979 Slypyj assisted John Paul II as co-consecrator of Miroslav Liubachivsky as bishop in the Sistine Chapel, an episcopal selection made by John Paul II that was not agreeable to a great many Uniates. Some 1,500 Ukrainian faithful attended the ceremony.
What happened to those Slypyj consecrated in 1977? We find this note in Wikipedia on the three bishops: “In 1977 Slypyj consecrated Ivan Choma, Stepan Czmil and Lubomyr Husar as bishops without approval of the pope in an act of exposition of patriarchal aspirations. These consecrations caused much annoyance to the Roman Curia as episcopal consecrations without papal permission are considered illicit in Roman Canon Law but not Eastern Canon Law.” Obviously this was not the opinion of Pope Benedict XV, or for that matter Pope Pius XII in Ad Apostolorum Principis. While the three consecrated by Slypyj were valid, they were not permitted to function as bishops for a time, i.e., they were not granted jurisdiction. So even the anti-Church put up a token resistance to their appointment without papal approval. Choma served as Secretary to Patriarch Josyf Slypyj for many years and was one of his biographers. He also served as Lecturer of Church History at Ukrainian Catholic University of Rome from 1985 till 2001, then served as its Rector. In addition, he was named as Titular bishop of Patara. He died Feb. 3, 2006.
Bp. Czmil died shortly after his consecration. Husar, now 82, went on to be “elected by the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Church as exarch of the archiepiscopal exarchy of Kiev and Vyshhorod in 1995, confirmed by the Pope the following year… In December 2000, Pope John Paul II named Husar apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian Greek Major-Archeparchy of Lviv, and in January 2001 the Ukrainian Greek synod elected him Major Archbishop… He is acclaimed by his followers as Patriarch of Kiev-Galicia, a title not recognized by the Holy See,” (Wikipedia). John Paul II later named him a cardinal. He resigned his position as archbishop in 2011 owing to failing health and at age 80 (2013) lost any ability to vote in a conclave. So with the exception of Czmil, Husar and Choma were loyal servants of apostate Rome.
Given all the above, the following comments are in order.
Sorting the pepper from the flyspeck
The powers initially granted to Sheptytsky “included the right to ordain and install bishops, in special circumstances.” All political considerations aside, Pope Benedict XV obviously did not (a) see the vacancy of Sheptytsky’s see as the special circumstances intended by Pope St. Pius X, or (b) believe that Pope St. Pius X ever intended the faculties granted to be used outside his final approval of these bishops. No mention of automatic papal approval is made in St. Pius X’s initial grant, as it is reported; it only refers to the consecration and installation of bishops, NOT the grant of jurisdiction from the pope. This is why Pope Benedict XV confirmed their validity but withheld jurisdiction. His reaction is similar to what Pope Pius VI did during the constitutional crisis in France: he declared that the bishops made by heretics/schismatics were not valid or licit. In Sheptytsky’s case the bishops were not created by heretics or schismatics so were considered valid; they simply were not approved by the Holy See, and therefore did not possess jurisdiction. This is a very important distinction. For it indicates they possessed no office granted or at least approved by the pope as granted to minster to the Greek Catholics. Botsian later won a partial victory in his appointment as auxiliary Bishop of Lviv, but died shortly thereafter. Sheptytsky’s second appointment of a bishop during Pope Pius XII’s reign, invoking this same privilege granted by St. Pius X was rendered moot by the bishop’s death shortly after his appointment.
One of the men made a bishop by Botsian, Redemptorist Vasyl Velychkovsky, was clandestinely named exarch of Lutsk by Sheptytsky’s successor, Metropolitan Josyf Slypyj. But Slypyj was unable to consecrate him until 1963, right before he left Russia for Rome. Was his consecration valid during an interregnum? It could have been, had Slypyj not later joined forces with JP2.
A matter of infallible teaching
How was what Pope Benedict XV did any different from what the popes decided previously concerning the Gallican Liberties? In that case the Catholic Encyclopedia reports, the church of France declared in 1682 that the popes have no power over the civil and temporal domain and cannot breach or qualify any previous laws and customs or agreements made with the Gallican Church existing in the common law, (see http://www.catholicity.com/encyclopedia/g/gallicanism.html, Gallican article 3). How, then, does the Union of Brest grant to Oriental Catholics differ in any way from what certain French bishops said the Church granted to them? Yes, the Ukrainan Greek Catholics could nominate, consecrate and appoint their own bishops. But this is an entirely different thing than the pope’s approval of their appointments to the episcopacy and his subsequent grant of jurisdiction. To hold that such approval is not necessary assumes that bishops receive their power directly from Christ apart from any “interference” with such power by the pope, and this is nothing more than a restatement of the Gallicanist heresy that prevailed during the Western Schism: “The superiority of the council to the pope, and the fallibility of the latter,” (see Catholic Encyclopedia link above). The bishops in council, the Gallicanists held, were superior to the pope, and any bishop was his equal. Throughout the entire Traditionalist ordeal, one of the most glaring heresies taught by Traditional sects has been the assumption that a) a bishop validly ordained is may exercise his orders without papal permission, contrary to all that has ever been taught concerning apostolicity, (see link at bottom of p. 7 above); and b) this is true because the bishop receives his jurisdiction directly from Christ upon consecration, just as Christ conferred it on the Apostles before His Ascension.
NOT SO says the Church: the Apostles alone received jurisdiction in this fashion, but none following them. In Mystici Corporis and Ad Sinarum Gentum, theologians teach that Pope Pius XII infallibly defined that the bishops received the authority to use their powers not from Christ, but from the Pope. For it was to Peter that Christ gave the fullness of jurisdiction, per the teaching of the Vatican Council. In reading the words below, how was Pope Benedict XV acting politically or in any way other than a Catholic in refusing Botsian jurisdiction? Even though this article of faith was not defined until Pope Pius XII’s issuance of Mystici Corporis June 29, 1943, already Cardinal Manning had gathered and presented the proofs of theologians defending this position in his 1883 work “The Pastoral Office,” where he wrote: “This episcopal jurisdiction is Divine in its origin and essence, and inherent in the Episcopate; but its actual use is dependent on the Divine and supreme jurisdiction of the successor of Peter, who alone has power to assign subjects, to designate dioceses, and to restrict the extent and exercise of episcopal jurisdiction… Further, as the designation of subjects of this or of that diocese or province, which was given to Patriarchs, Exarchs, or Metropolitans, does not depend on Divine right, because Christ did not institute any partition or designation of the kind, but belongs to ecclesiastical institution; . . . so the episcopal jurisdiction, in its origin, though it is of Divine right, yet in respect to the designation of subjects and dioceses, and to the actual use of the jurisdiction itself and of episcopal faculties, is to be referred to ecclesiastical institution.”
Further, he says: “But if we consider the Bishops singly, as the rulers of particular Churches, they have received no jurisdiction immediately from Christ. All such jurisdiction arises immediately from the Church, which distributes dioceses, in which each Bishop singly is to exercise jurisdiction, and assigns to him certain subjects whom he is to govern.’ But it may even be granted and conceded that the jurisdiction, not only of the whole College of Bishops, but even of each singly, proceeds immediately from God Himself. For to the fountain we must return. A distinction is to be drawn between the jurisdiction itself and the act and use of it in exercise. The jurisdiction, indeed, may be derived immediately from God; but all act and use of it is from the Church, which gives the use of it (i.e. the right of using it) to each Bishop, when it assigns to him his subjects, on whom he may exercise this jurisdiction, which is itself of Divine right; but so long as it has no subjects it remains an otiose [useless] jurisdiction. So in ordination a priest receives the power of forgiving sins; but unless he have subjects assigned to him by the Church he cannot use it. This power of the Bishops detracts nothing from the monarchy (of the Pontiff); for though it be not precarious, but proper and native, yet, as it depends on the Supreme Pontiff, his monarchical power is certainly not diminished by their power.
“It will be enough if to these two be added the words of Ferrante, whose work is used as the textbook in the Roman Seminary at this time. He says: ‘Whether the Bishop has the power of jurisdiction (jure divino) by Divine right, that is immediately from God, or by human right, that is from the Supreme Pontiff, was a question agitated in the Council of Trent, but not defined; for which cause the Council, defining that Bishops are superior to priests, and inflicting anathema on those who deny it, purposely abstained from using the words jure divino, which many of the Bishops asked as an addition.
“’But though any one may embrace either opinion in this question [prior to Pope Pius XII’s definition], yet he who defends the opinion that the power of jurisdiction is of Divine right must be convinced that it is so, subject to the Roman Pontiff; who by his own right can, for a just cause, either wholly take away from the Bishops or suspend that power, or restrain it within certain limits of places or persons or faculties. For that is necessarily required by the primacy of jurisdiction over the Universal Church which by Divine right belongs to the Roman Pontiff. And he who affirms that the episcopal power of jurisdiction is derived immediately from the Roman Pontiff (which opinion indeed is not only more conformable to the reasons which prove the primacy of the Pope over the Church, but also to the testimonies of the Scriptures and of tradition) must not think that it is lawful for the Roman Pontiff to abolish the order of’ Bishops in the Church; for, as we have before seen, the order of Bishops is of Divine institution, and must exist in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.’”
And so we read in Pius XII’s Ad Apostolorum Principis, “Bishops who have been neither named nor confirmed by the Apostolic See, but who, on the contrary, have been elected and consecrated in defiance of its express orders, enjoy no powers of teaching or of jurisdiction since jurisdiction passes to bishops only through the Roman Pontiff as We admonished in the Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis in the following words: ‘. . . As far as his own diocese is concerned each (bishop) feeds the flock entrusted to him as a true shepherd and rules it in the name of Christ. Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.’ The power of jurisdiction which is conferred directly by divine right on the Supreme Pontiff comes to bishops by that same right, but only through the successor of Peter, to whom not only the faithful but also all bishops are bound to be constantly subject and to adhere both by the reverence of obedience and by the bond of unity. Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid as long as the consecration conferred on them was valid, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious.” The Oriental code does not excuse Uniates from irrevocably accepting and following these papal definitions.
Was Slypyj possibly an impersonator?
Was the man released from Siberia really Slypyj? Some would consider this an impertinent question, but 18 years had elapsed since his imprisonment. What prevented the Russian government from cleverly inserting a Russian Orthodox substitute who closely resembled Slypyj and releasing him to Rome? What precautions were taken to confirm that it was indeed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Josyf Slypyj? Is this a task anyone is willing to entrust to the judgment of an antipope? Many are convinced that Fatima seer Lucia dos Santos was either hidden away or done away with, to be replaced by an imposter, (and this occurred in about the same time period). So why not Slypyj? Even if the man released truly was Slypyj, who is to say that he was not totally brainwashed by his captors, as was very nearly the case with Cardinal Mindszenty? Certainly his acceptance of the antipopes as true popes and his concelebration with John Paul II compromised his Catholicity. This leads into the next question.
Some have opined that the Russian Orthodox church, acting in concert with Moscow, was complicit in the infiltration of the Catholic Church from the very beginning. According to one Fatima
website, Mr. Manning Johnson, a former official of the Communist Party in America, gave the following testimony in 1953 to the House Un-American Activities Committee:
“Once the tactic of infiltration of religious organizations was set by the Kremlin… the communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through the infiltration of the Church by communists operating within the Church itself. The communist leadership in the United States realized that the infiltration tactic in this country would have to adapt itself to American conditions and the religious makeup peculiar to this country. In the earliest stages it was determined that with only small forces available to them, it would be necessary to concentrate communist agents in the seminaries. The practical conclusion drawn by the Red leaders was that these institutions would make it possible for a small communist minority to influence the ideology of future clergymen in the paths conducive to communist purposes… The policy of infiltrating seminaries was successful beyond even our communist expectations.”
“Albert Vassart, a former member of the French communist party, revealed in 1955 that Moscow had issued a 1936 order that carefully selected members of communist youth to enter seminaries and, after training, receive ordination as priests. Some of these were to infiltrate religious orders, particularly the Dominicans (In his essay, “Satan at Work,” the great Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand reported that the French Dominicans had become so communistic in their “evangelization” that in 1953, the Order barely escaped dissolution by the order of Pope Pius XII.)
“Anatoliy Golitsyn was a high-ranking KGB official involved in espionage and counter-espionage who defected to the Unites States in 1961…In 1985, Golitsyn reported that Russian Orthodox priests are controlled and directed by the KGB in order to promote cooperation between Soviet churches and Western Catholics and Protestants to help establish a united front for disarmament (peace and justice movements?) and convergence.” Former Communist and converted Catholic Bella Dodd also warned of such an infiltration. In an article that appeared in Christian Order magazine (November 2000), written from a speech given in the 1950s, Dodd revealed that prior to WWII, Communist leaders issued a directive throughout the world that the Catholic Church must be infiltrated. “In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within,” she told her audience. Dodd warned that these men, “now…are in the highest places in the Church.” In her book, “School of Darkness,” Dodd explains exactly how the political side of Communism would be introduced to Americans: “Trachtenberg once said to me that when communism came to America it would come, ‘in labels acceptable to the American people.’”
UGCC crocodile tears concerning autonomy
While it may appear that the Greek Catholic Church wishes to preserve its autonomous nature regarding the underground bishops, it is curious that when given a unique opportunity to profess their faith and seize the abandoned helm of the Church, they preferred to continue seeking recognition of their patriarchate from apostate Rome. As it was with the Novus Ordo bishops, so with the Uniates. It was never about the teachings of the faith, only about political and cultural matters and personal aggrandizement. The staged “end” of Communism with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the emergence of the Iron Curtain clergy from the underground in 1989 was a well choreographed melodrama intended to identify as many men hidden way in the catacombs as possible, and receive them “back” into the bosom of the Church. Did some underground bishops refuse to emerge? It is possible. And it is possible they are still operating in the catacombs, knowing they don’t stand a chance above ground.
But if the Uniates were so orthodox in their faith, and were really sincere in their objections to the modernization of the Church, why didn’t they seize the opportunity to break away, declare the Roman imposters antipopes and elect a true pope? In actuality they were both obligated and qualified to do so under the Latin Code and conciliar decree. By virtue of Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, they would not have been censured for any delay in this. But after all, it was not their liturgy and traditions that were being destroyed. It was not the Latin Rite Church they were concerned about, or for that matter the papacy, as long as their liturgical rites and ability to function were left intact. The long struggle to keep those rites and the animosity that had built up over “latinization” and the forced reforms sometimes imposed upon them, although never with Rome’s approval, had left a bitter taste in their mouths. At the time, they had the possibility of succeeding and might have been able to sufficiently establish the validity/liciety of their bishops. But now, too much time has elapsed. Had they acted then they would have done so with the blessing of the Church, which long ago accorded the Patriarch of Constantinople, a title later bestowed on the Greek Church, the rite of succession following the Bishop of Rome. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1911):
“That the Eastern Catholics are comparatively small bodies is the unfortunate result of the fact that the majority of their countrymen prefer schism. Our missionaries would willingly make them larger ones. But, juridically, they stand exactly where all the East once stood, before the Greek schism, or during the short-lived union of Florence (1439-53). And they have as much right to exist and be respected as have Latins, or the great Catholic bishops in the East had during the first centuries. The idea of latinizing all Eastern Catholics, sometimes defended by people on our side whose zeal for uniformity is greater than their knowledge of the historical and juridical situation, is diametrically opposed to antiquity, to the Catholic system of ecclesiastical organization, and to the policy of all popes. Nor has it any hope of success. The East may become Catholic again; it will never be what it never has been — Latin.
“But the greatest change, the one that met most opposition, was the rise of Constantinople to patriarchal rank. Because Constantine had made Byzantium “New Rome”, its bishop, once the humble suffragan of Heraclea, thought that he should become second only, if not almost equal, to the Bishop of Old Rome. For many centuries the popes opposed this ambition, not because any one thought of disputing their first place, but because they were unwilling to change the old order of the hierarchy. In 381 the Council of Constantinople declared that: “The Bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honour after the Bishop of Rome, because it is New Rome,” (can. iii). The popes (Damasus, Gregory the Great) refused to confirm this canon…It was not until the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was allowed this place; in 1439 the Council of Florence gave it to the Greek patriarch.
“Nevertheless in the East the emperor’s wish was powerful enough to obtain recognition for his patriarch; from Chalcedon we must count Constantinople as practically, if not legally, the second patriarchate (ibid., 28-47). So we have the new order of five patriarchs — Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem — that seemed, to Eastern theologians especially, an essential element of the constitution of the Church [see (ibid., 46-47, the letter of Peter III of Antioch, c. 1054].” It is quite interesting that B16 dropped the title “Patriarch of the West” in the 2006 edition of the Annuario Pontificio, (http://ruskij-sion.blogspot.com/2008/12/dropping-of-title-of-patriarch-of-west.html). It is almost as if apostate Rome knows that some challenge to its papal claim lies ahead based on this title and is seeking to defuse it. If this order was so important to Eastern theologians then, and Uniates are so fond of citing the early councils, then why was it not seized upon to re-establish the papacy when the Uniates first realized the Vatican 2 council was false, or even just irregular (in their eyes)? For all their talk of wishing to be self-governing, they chose to ignore their own history and role as shepherds to the flock of Christ. The following paragraphs explain why such a privilege would be accorded them, and why they were actually guilty of injuring the rights of the Church in not taking advantage of this privilege.
Devolution and papal election
Cardinal Cajetan, quoted by Rev. Charles Journet in his “The Church of the Word Incarnate” answers the question, “In whom does the power to elect the Pope reside?” as follows: “The Pope can settle who the electors shall be, and change and limit in this way the mode of election.” Journet, in summarizing Cajetan’s arguments writes: “In a case where the settled conditions of validity have become inapplicable, the task of determining new ones falls to the Church by devolution, this last word being taken, as Cajetan notes (Apologia, Chap. xiii, No. 745), not in the strict sense (devolution is strictly to the higher authority in case of default in the lower), but in the wide sense, signifying all transmission, even to an inferior. (p. 480.) This is the teaching of Can. 178 concerning ecclesiastical elections, which reads: “If the election was not completed within the prescribed period, or if the body of voters has been punished with deprivation of the right to elect, the free appointment to the office devolves on the superior who would have had the right to confirm the election, or on him who succeeds to the rights of the voters to fill the office.”
Journet tells us that it was during the course of the disputes concerning papal authority versus the authority of an Ecumenical Council in the 15th and 16th centuries, that questions of who was invested with the power to elect the pope were brought up. He records Cajetan’s thinking on this subject as follows: “…the power to elect the Pope, resides in his predecessors eminently, regularly, and principally … the Church, in her widowhood, [is] unable to determine a new mode of election, save ‘in casu,’ unless forced by sheer necessity… During a vacancy of the Apostolic See, neither the Church nor the Council can contravene the provisions already laid down to determine the valid mode of election. However … if the Pope has provided nothing against it, or in case of ambiguity (for example, if it is unknown who the true cardinals are, or who the true Pope is…), the power ‘of applying the papacy to such and such a person’ devolves on the universal Church, the Church of God.” (Cajetan: De Comnarata, Cap. xiii, No. 202204; also, Apologia, Cap. xiii, No. 736.) But the laity themselves can never elect a pope. The popes have forbidden any lay participation in their election constitutions, which teach that only the (remaining) clergy can validly elect.
“…When the provisions of canon law cannot be fulfilled [Pope Pius XII’s election constitution is referred to under Can. 160], the right to elect will belong to certain members of the Church of Rome. In default of the Roman clergy, the right will belong to the Church universal, of which the Pope is to be bishop…” No mention is made of the Eastern Church, but certainly it is included in the Church universal as the next elective body. Because the Uniates chose to affiliate themselves to Rome, recognizing successive antipopes rather than exercising this right, they lost this privilege by returning to their original state of schism. Had obedience to the papacy really been the focus of their conversion, they would have championed it at all costs. One of the most important rights of the Church is Her unrestricted freedom to provide herself with a head and the government necessary to function as a divinely established society. Without that head, there IS no Church, as the popes themselves infallibly decreed. So what strange church are these straying Catholics pledging allegiance to? Certainly not a Church headed by an unquestionably canonical pope, proven so from infallible sources.
In his “ABC of Scholastic Philosophy,” Rev. A. C. Cotter explains, “We may understand a truth more fully and completely as we grow up, or a truth may come home to us on a special occasion…But that does not change the truth in itself, nor does it make our former cognition of it false…An individual…may lose his certitude and drift back or be forced back to doubt.” Cotter goes on to explain that certain types of certitude (subjective, practical, respective) can be true while they last, since they are based primarily on the human reasoning and judgment process. But only an infallible motive “can exclude the very possibility of error…Only that judgment is necessarily true which cannot err. Now only an infallible motive excludes the very possibility of error; every other motive, no matter how alluring or appealing, leaves the door open for error,” (pgs. 131, 142, 235-236). So what constitutes an infallible motive?
There are three degrees of formal certitude: moral, physical and metaphysical, with metaphysical being the highest and moral the lowest. Metaphysical or absolute certitude is a firm assent based on an absolutely infallible motive. (A certain sort of infallibility is also found in natural truths, such as mathematics, physics, etc…). Physical certitude is a firm assent based on the known laws of science. Moral certitude is a firm assent based on infallible moral motives, although the perversity of man could render such a judgment false, (parents generally love their children, but this is not always true). Both direct and reflex certitude are formal, direct certitude being knowledge of something from research and reflection; reflex certitude being the acceptance of some truth as pertaining to oneself on the reliable authority of others. Certitude may be either mathematical (conforming to the laws and truths of mathematics) or non-mathematical; necessary or free. Necessary means certitude based on a motive which makes all doubt impossible. Free is simply another term for moral certitude, which does not exclude imprudent doubt.
“Formal certitude is a firm assent (or dissent) based on motives which are in themselves infallible and are known to be infallible…Now only an infallible motive excludes the very possibility of error…Therefore only an infallible motive is a sufficient guarantee for the (logical) truth of a judgment…A guide is not called infallible because there is no special reason for doubting his knowledge or because it is highly improbable he will lead us astray…We call a motive or reason for judging infallible only when it cannot lead us into error,” (Cotter). Those accepting the Uniates as valid based on their supposed extraordinary faculties are obviously relying on moral certitude, which is man based. No one is able to prove that those faculties exist, or, if they existed at one time, continue in existence today. All true Catholics know that in a case of doubt regarding the validity of the Sacraments or one’s eternal salvation, the safer course is to be followed; this is a doctrine of the Church. Infallible teaching dictates that these men cannot be accepted as possessing jurisdiction unless it can be proven that they possessed it in the first place. The matter is a serious one, involving the grave sin of sacrilege, which necessarily occurs unless infallible motives are relied upon to guarantee truth. As Cotter states: “Authority clothed with the necessary conditions is true authority… Authority is not the last criterion of truth or motive for certitude.” Traditionalist and Uniate (Novus Ordo) “authority” has been demonstrated as existing in perpetual violation of infallible teaching. And no manner of pretended return at this late date to obedience to the Roman Pontiff under their direction can possibly remedy this situation, since the truth is not in them.
Uniate schismatics and Traditionalists hold the same heresies. They deny the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff. They deny that a man who is elected to the papacy must be a member of the Church to be validly elected. If, as some followers allege, many of the Uniates do not recognize the present pontiff as pope, but believe that such a person could repent and reinstate himself pope, they subscribe to the material/formal heresy. This heresy is entirely opposed to all the principles of Canon Law as well as logic and constant Church teaching on this subject. It stands in contradiction of Cum ex…, which must be accepted irrevocably and unconditionally by all Catholics as infallible (see /articles/bombshell-basis-for-the-material-pope-theory-why-traditionalists-never-left-the-novus-ordo-church/ Also of interest to readers are related articles 4. Heresy, G-J on the Free Content site.) They deny the unchanging nature of Church doctrine and practice. They refuse to believe that Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution is infallible and forbids them to function (if they had orders) during an interregnum. They cannot accept the fact, defined in Mystici Coproris and elsewhere, that bishops cannot act independently of the pope in exercising their orders. They also deny that one can rely on formal certitude to infallibly inform one’s conscience, as seen above. Yet it is heretical to believe one cannot arrive at such certitude, (DZ 553, 554). They refuse to acknowledge that the true mission of the Church, in saving souls, is not to rush to celebrate Mass and distribute sacraments but to teach the truths of faith; the Sacraments and Holy Mass could scarcely be efficacious without such instruction. For Pope St. Pius X wrote in Acerbo Nimis below:
It is as Pope Pius XII said above in Ad Apostolorum Principis: “Bishops who have been neither named nor confirmed by the Apostolic See, but who, on the contrary, have been elected and consecrated in defiance of its express orders, enjoy no powers of teaching or of jurisdiction since jurisdiction passes to bishops only through the Roman Pontiff.” Teaching and jurisdictional powers cannot even be exercised without the confirmation of the pope, far less the subsequent administration of the Sacraments.
This teaching in Acerbo Nimis is an instance of Divine Revelation defined by the Church, and who can gainsay it? It is interesting that over the past decade or so some Traditionalists have declared Pope Benedict XV, Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII excommunicated as heretics and antipopes, holding Pope St. Pius X as the last true pope. And some of these holding this opinion, such as Most Holy Family Monastery, frequent the Byzantine Rite. Certainly the Uniates would not be opposed to this, seeing that they appeal to the grant of Pope Pius X for their claim to possess faculties independent of the Holy See. Wouldn’t it be convenient to excommunicate Pope Pius XII, who forbade them to function during an interregnum, and Benedict XV, who impeded the exercise of their episcopal office without papal permission?
Their most predominant heresy also is found at the bottom of the Orthodox, Gallicanist, Protestant, schismatic Uniate and Old Catholic heresies, (Old Catholicism most closely resembling Traditionalism). That heresy is the denial of the Pope’s primacy of jurisdiction; the Supreme Pontiff’s right to reserve all grant of jurisdiction to bishops, or any restriction or suspension/revocation of such jurisdiction, to himself. Related to it is the definition by Pope Pius XII that the bishops do not receive their powers directly from Christ, but only through the pope. This is the common opinion of theologians, but was not defined until the 1940s, therefore was not considered by the Uniate bishop in his actions concerning Botsian. But regardless, in the end it all comes down to Christ’s grant of infallibility to Peter only, and the bishops only when they are in communion with him. They cannot be and are not in communion with him during an interregnum. So is it any wonder that we find the stars (bishops), described in Apocalypse as falling from Heaven (the Church) for uttering Satan’s infamous last words: “I will not serve!”