+St. John Damascene+
Antiquarianism, condemned by Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei, (DZ 1533) originated at the Jansenistic Council of Pistoia in the 1700s. It resurfaced again in the late 1800s. Pope Pius XII officially condemned this resurgent heresy, the teaching that ancient practices can be reverted to despite later teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. This error was condemned in Mediator Dei (1947), regarding the liturgy, after the liberals once again began promoting it in the name of liturgical renewal. In his work The Vatican Council Decrees and their Bearing on Civil Allegiance, Henry Cardinal Manning tells us that the Vatican Council retroactively made Auctorem Fidei infallible, hence the condemnation of this error then was as infallible as it is today. Since the Novus Ordo Missae under the guise of Catholic liturgy incarnated this error, it certainly must be considered an even more dangerous heresy. Traditionalists have revived this heresy in claiming they have no need for a papal mandate since there is no pope and can proceed on their own since their bishops have jurisdiction directly from Christ, (a notion discounted by Pope Pius XII).
They base their claims to be able to proceed without papal approval on the “precedents” of the consecrations performed during a three-year interregnum between the death of Pope Clement IV (November 29, 1268) and the election of Pope Gregory X (September 1, 1271); also jurisdiction as it was exercised during the Western Schism. Precedents, however, are operating principles in common law, not Canon Law, and can be traced back to the heresy of Gallicanism. Traditionalists are not even remaining within the Church’s own legal system to try and justify their actions. Canon Law is primarily based on the laws of Popes and Councils, not just any law. Follow the trail of Traditionalists — they will circumvent the continual magisterium and attempt to misinterpret and manipulate Canon Law to accomplish this every time. Understanding the reasons why these precedents will not hold water and what really happened during these two time periods is important to understanding what follows.
“To some, the system followed by the Catholic Church seems antiquated and secretive. However, the real difficulty from a common law perspective may be the lack of understanding of the Church’s law and the lack of understanding of how canon law is applied. “While both common law and canon law have their roots in the ancient law systems of the world, they developed along different lines. Common law developed more along the lines of Germanic and English law while canon law developed more along the lines of Roman law. The common law system is generally based on a judge applying precedent while the canon law system is generally based on an individual judge applying the law to the specific case. In common law, most interpretation of law is provided by the judicial system. In canon law, interpretation is provided by the legislator. Both systems work, or do not work, based on how well they are applied,” (“Canon Law and Common Law,” www.canonlawprofessionals.com/).
This common law system of precedents is referred to as “stare decisis.” According to the U.S. History Encyclopedia: “Stare Decisis is the principle of deciding judicial controversies on the basis of precedent. It is a principle of the common-law legal systems that distinguishes them from civil-law systems. Adherence to precedent, following the decision rules and reasoning set out in earlier similar cases, is frequently cited as an attribute that gives consistency and predictability to the law and that ensures political stability. However, assumptions concerning the significance and impact of adherence to stare decisis have been subjected to serious logical and empirical challenges…” The use of precedents can be traced to another source, and this is where we find the true identity of Traditionalists advocating their use. Those so advocating betray their Gallicanist mindset, for as A. Degert notes in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Gallicanism was based on: “a revival of the most ancient traditions of Christianity; a persistence of the common law,” made up of early councils, canons of general and local councils and the decretals, ancient and modern.
Then we have the case of the Western Schism, which also has been presented as a precedent but is really used by Traditionalists more in the way of an analogy. They try to compare it to our own time, but the circumstances existing today are not the same as those existing in the 14th and early 15th centuries. What results, then, is a false analogy which is rejected by scholastic theologians as an illogical and invalid argument. In his work Logic (1940), Rev. Joseph Walsh identifies such analogies as “drawn from another subject which only in appearance resembles the subject in question.” During the Western Schism, a true pope reigned all along but those living then did not know which of the three popes was the true pope. (For a complete history, see the Catholic Encyclopedia online under Western Schism.) Today NO true pope has reigned for over 60 years and no Catholic cardinals or bishops exist to elect a true pope. Ergo, the two situations are not analogous. Because only the scholastic method of determination is to be used according to Church teaching, those things determined to be fallacies under this system cannot be used as the basis for any argument hoping to arrive at the truth.
Not only do we find references to antiquarianism in Mediator Dei; we find them also in Ad Apostolorum Principis as well. There Pope Pius XII condemned antiquarianism because the Chinese bishops had used it to justify deviation from the very form of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They had done this by allowing themselves to be elected bishops by the clergy and laity and receiving consecration without papal mandate, a requirement written into the Catholic episcopal rite itself. This is precisely what Traditionalist bishops do today, some being elected by fellow “clergy,” others simply materializing onto the Traditionalist stage. All lack the papal mandate. They excuse the need for this by pointing to customs and practices allowed hundreds of years ago, and as seen below this is the very thing condemned by Pope Pius XII in two separate papal documents. We must note that this involves two errors. One, it uses the excuse of previous usage to justify the action. Two, it then involves the actual deviation from the sacramental form in omitting the papal mandate, something Pope Pius XII tells the faithful is defined by the Vatican Council as belonging to the powers of the Roman Pontiff alone.
So read what is said by Pius XII below with this in mind.
Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII, Nov. 9, 1947:
“Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. NO MORE CAN ANY CATHOLIC IN HIS RIGHT SENSES REPUDIATE EXISTING LEGISLATION OF THE CHURCH TO REVERT TO PRESCRIPTIONS BASED ON THE EARLIEST SOURCES OF CANON LAW. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.
“This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn. For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.”
Ad Apostolorum Principis, Pope Pius XII, June 29, 1958:
“… For those who profess themselves most interested in the welfare of their country have for some considerable time been striving to disseminate among the people the position, devoid of all truth, that Catholics have the power of directly electing their bishops. To excuse this kind of election they allege a need to look after the good souls with all possible speed…
“For it has been clearly and expressly laid down in the canons that it pertains to the one Apostolic See to judge whether a person is fit for the dignity and burden of the episcopacy and that complete freedom in the nomination of bishops is the right of the Roman Pontiff. But if, as happens at times, some persons or groups are permitted to participate in the selection of an episcopal candidate, this is lawful only if the Apostolic See has allowed it in express terms and in each particular case for clearly defined persons or groups, the conditions and circumstances being very plainly determined.
“Granted this exception, it follows that 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.’
“And when We later addressed to you the letter Ad Sinarum Gentem, We again referred to this teaching in these words: ‘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.
“To such conduct the warning words of the Divine Teacher fittingly apply: ‘He who enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber.” The sheep indeed know the true shepherd’s voice. ‘But a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.’
“We are aware that those who belittle obedience in order to justify themselves with regard to those functions which they have unrighteously assumed defend their position by recalling a usage which prevailed in ages past. Yet everyone sees that all ecclesiastical discipline is overthrown if it is in any way lawful for one to restore arrangements which are no longer valid because the supreme authority of the Church long ago decreed otherwise. In no sense do they excuse their way of acting by appealing to another custom, and they indisputably prove that they follow this line deliberately in order to escape from the discipline which now prevails and which they ought to be obeying…
“…The faithful are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience not only in matters which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church.”
“From what We have said, it follows that no authority whatsoever, save that which is proper to the Supreme Pastor, can render void the canonical appointment granted to any bishop; that no person or group, whether of priests or of laymen, can claim the right of nominating bishops; that no one can lawfully confer episcopal consecration unless he has received the mandate of the Apostolic See.
“Consequently, if consecration of this kind is being done contrary to all right and law, and by this crime the unity of the Church is being seriously attacked, an excommunication reserved specialissimo modo to the Apostolic See has been established which is automatically incurred by the consecrator and by anyone who has received consecration irresponsibly conferred.”
And so Traditionalists, believing themselves to be validly ordained and consecrated when they are not, argue, “Well the pope didn’t say not invalid, only unlawful, so we can still function, and our acts will be valid.” Note, however, that Pope Pius XII also says that those consecrating must have been validly consecrated themselves in order for such lawfulness to be presumed, and we have every reason to believe these Traditional consecrations were all, at the very least, doubtfully valid. And even the lawfulness of such consecrations and ordinations is refuted by the Council of Trent: “In the ordination of bishops, priests and of other orders …those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as ‘thieves, robbers who have not entered by the door’” (The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 960). Notice that Pope Pius XII repeats this very language in paragraph 42 of his constitution above. (One conclavist contended that Trent was written only for the Protestants. However, the same teaching is cited by Pope Pius XII under Can. 147, which will be treated in the next blog post). Also 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.” (Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 967, Can. 7; also DZ 424). By their actions, these Traditionalists present both as lawful and valid ministers; yet in reality, they most likely are only laymen; and as such, Pius XII’s excommunication reserved only to clerics does not apply. What does apply, however, are the excommunications reserved in a special manner to the Apostolic See for “pretending to say Mass or hear Sacramental Confessions by one who is not an ordained priest (Can. 2322 §1) and “for the usurpation and retention of goods and rights of the papacy” (Can. 2345). The sending power here, the grantor of jurisdiction necessary to possess apostolic succession, is the Roman Pontiff himself. He would never approve those men seeking ordination and consecration today from doubtfully consecrated bishops who were ordained themselves by notoriously schismatic bishops (Lefebvre, Thuc, et al). As will be explained in the article on epikeia, even being only doubtfully (not certainly) valid prevents any of these men from dispensing the Sacraments and their followers from receiving them.
Auctorem Fidei, Pope Pius VI, Aug. 28, 1791
The following is condemned in Pope Pius VI’s Auctorem Fidei, referenced above: (Errors regarding the proper order of the liturgy) “by recalling it to a greater simplicity of rites, by expressing it in the vernacular language, by uttering it in a loud voice” (DZ 1533). Also, “The proposition which states ‘that power has been given by God to the Church, that it might be communicated to the pastors who are its ministers for the salvation of souls’; if thus understood that the power of ecclesiastical ministry and of rule is derived from the COMMUNITY of the faithful to the pastors, — heretical” (DZ 1502). And so how can Traditional “priests”— with at least the implicit approval of the Traditional community (the “faithful”) — elect or appoint Traditional “bishops” without a papal mandate and not become heretics?!
Charitas, Pope Pius VI, April 13, 1791
And from Charitas, by Pope Pius VI, written in reference to those who were appointed as constitutional bishops by the state in France, not the Pope, and were therefore acting outside the Pope’s jurisdiction:
“Love, which is patient and kindly, as the Apostle Paul says, supports and endures all things as long as a hope remains that mildness will prevent the growth of incipient errors. But if errors increase daily and reach the point of creating schism, the laws of love itself, together with Our duty, demand that We reveal to the erring their horrible sin and the heavy canonical penalties which they have incurred. For this sternness will lead those who are wandering from the way of truth to recover their senses, reject their errors, and come back to the Church, which opens its arms like a kind mother and embraces them on their return. The rest of the faithful in this way will be quickly delivered from the deceits of false pastors who enter the fold by ways other than the door, and whose only aim is theft, slaughter, and destruction…
“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…”
“At length We beseech you all, beloved Catholic children, in the kingdom of France; as you recall the religion and faith of your fathers, We urge you lovingly not to abandon it. For it is the one true religion which both confers eternal life and makes safe and thriving civil societies. Carefully beware of lending your ears to the treacherous speech of the philosophy of this age which leads to death. Keep away from all intruders, whether called archbishops, bishops, or parish priests; do not hold communion with them especially in divine worship. Listen carefully to the message of your lawful pastors who are still living, and who will be put in charge of you later, according to the canons. Finally, in one word, stay close to Us. For no one can be in the Church of Christ without being in unity with its visible head and founded on the See of Peter.”
And in Artaud de Montor’s The Lives and Times of the Popes, Vol. VIII, Catholic Publication Society 1911, we find 266 pages devoted to Pope Pius VII, including several of Cardinal Consalvi’s verbatim communications to Napoleon on behalf of the pope. One of these addressed Napoleon’s nomination of 15 constitutional bishops for the pope’s approval to take possession of the newly created sees, a right guaranteed to him in the concordance signed with Pope Pius VII. Cardinal Consalvi wrote to the emperor on behalf of Pope Pius VII as follows:
- “The case of the constitutional bishops is already decided by the Apostolic See, in the dogmatic brief of Pius VI beginning ‘Charitas.’ THAT DOGMATIC DEFINITION CANNOT BE REFORMED. His Holiness may mitigate the penalties therein inflicted on the said bishops, but the judgment of his predecessor is irrefragable.
- “The Catholic Church and the whole episcopal body has received and respected this judgment of the Holy See… The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was condemned by the same dogmatic judgment of Pius VI, as containing errors against the deposit of faith… His Holiness observes that, as his predecessor found it impossible to yield to the request made… it is equally impossible for him to admit to his communion and invest with canonical constitution the constitutionals, who, contrary to the dogmatic decision contained in said briefs, persist in maintaining the error condemned in them, refuse to acknowledge their illegitimate character, and to adhere and submit to the judgment pronounced by the Holy See.
- “A matter of faith is in question. His Holiness observes that, according to the rules of faith, it belongs to him, and to no other, to judge what the constitutional bishops have done… by pronouncing the profession of faith and the oath, and to confer institution if they are nominated… The rules and constant practice of the Church have always required that none should be received into its bosom, much less assigned as pastors, who have left any heresy or schism, unless they avow expressly that they condemn especially their errors.”
Thus is ended the contention of certain Traditionalists who hold Charitas was never a dogmatic decree, or was later qualified or rescinded. Please note above that Pope Pius VI says nothing about a lack of validity on the part of these bishops but addresses only jurisdiction, just as Pope Pius XII does in Ad Apostolorum Principis. On this basis he declares that without said jurisdiction, which only he could grant, all the future acts of these bishops are null and void. And they cannot use the pretext of necessity to justify their actions. This is all very interesting, because in the last paragraph he tells the faithful to listen to their true bishops in exile and warns them not to resort to the ministrations of the constitutional bishops lacking jurisdiction. This resulted in a “home alone” like situation where these Catholics were without Sacraments and Mass for quite some time, yet the pope did not see this as justification in any way to allow them to seek out the bishops he sanctioned.
We have the popes, clearly telling us over and over, that these men have no jurisdiction and precisely why they have no jurisdiction. Pope Pius XII, in deciding that the bishops receive their power from the Roman Pontiff, not directly from Our Lord, squashes every possibility such jurisdiction could ever be granted by Christ. And to those Traditionalists who attempt to quote previous arrangements and canons in support of their consecrations without the papal mandate, we quote the following from Pope Pius IX’s Quartus Supra:
“28. However, some resent and bemoan both Our declaration that this Apostolic See has the right and power to elect a bishop either from the three names recommended or apart from them and Our prohibition against the enthronement of an elected Patriarch without Our prior confirmation. They call Our attention to the customs and canons of their churches as if We had abandoned the provisions of the sacred canons. We might respond to these men in the same way Our predecessor St. Gelasius did when the Acacian schismatics brought the same false accusation against him: ‘They cite the canons against Us without knowing what they are saying since they show that they are themselves in opposition to the canons by the very fact that they deny obedience to the first See although its advice is sound and correct.’ For these are the very canons which recognize the full, divine authority of blessed Peter over the whole Church. Indeed, they proclaim that he lives and exercises judgment in his successors to the present time and forever, as the Council of Ephesus affirmed.”
And forever means even now, even though he who withholdeth, who Henry Cardinal Manning tells us is the Roman Pontiff, has been taken out of the way for a time.
+St. Benedict, Abbot+
Now that everyone, for the time being, is forced to say their Sunday prayers at home, those with time on their hands can perhaps study their faith and re-evaluate their reason for remaining with the Traditionalist sect. Catholics who have practiced their faith at home all these years have developed a set routine of prayers and Sunday devotions and for them, nothing will change. But it may be difficult for those used to depending on others to direct and regulate their spirituality. Whether they like the comparison or not, it is much like a co-dependency situation, where Traditionalists feel lost and abandoned when they cannot interact with Traditionalist clergy and receive their sacraments. Over time, all of us learned to adapt, but only because we were determined to obey the Church and cease displeasing God. If you have been following this latest series of articles, you will notice that all the reasons why Traditionalist “clergy” cannot function are being treated in each post. But before the remaining installments are posted, some distinctions must be made to clarify the following questions raised by readers.
There has been a keen interest among readers to know what teachings of the Roman Pontiffs in their encyclicals are declared as infallible and what teachings must be accepted only as certain, or as pontifical opinion. It is not always clear which is which, but in the long run, it does not matter. In the first case, that of infallibility, Catholics are bound to accept what is taught with a firm and absolutely irrevocable assent. In the second place, Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton says those things which are taught non-infallibly must be given a “definite internal religious assent.” The theologian Lercher notes that this assent is due “until the Church might choose to modify the teaching previously presented or until a proportionately serious reason for abandoning the non-infallible teaching contained in a pontifical document might appear” (“The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals,” Pt. 1; The American Ecclesiastical Review, August, 1949). Fenton explains that “Any reason which would justify the relinquishing of a position taken in a pontifical statement would have to be very serious indeed.” Rev. Francis Connell, also on the staff of The American Ecclesiastical Review, agrees with Msgr. Fenton on this point in a separate article.
In the present situation, Catholics today are in no position to quibble with what the popes have taught, or even to try and sort out what degree of obedience is owed to any given proposition. Certainly those things infallibly taught are to be held with an irrevocable assent and should be known, but these are usually presented as such by the theologians or designated as heretical propositions in Denzingers. We are to accept these non-infallible teachings as a matter of obedience, and to fail to do so, Msgr. Fenton states in another article, would be considered worthy of a censure at least temerarious, which one scholastic defines as “a proposition stating as certain something that cannot be effectively demonstrated either by reason or from authority” (“The Religious Assent Due to the Papal Encyclicals,” The American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1950).
While this may seem a mild censure compared to that for heresy, there are some misunderstandings here regarding what such a censure really entails. Msgr. Fenton explains in this article:
“Contradiction of a doctrinal statement contained in a papal encyclical in a non-infallible manner, but asserted authoritatively only in an encyclical, is something that could be qualified with at least the censure of error. Obviously this applies to doctrinal statements alone.” When some topic in an encyclical is deals with things dogmatic “it is perfectly clear that these statements deal at least with matters connected with the faith, and that the authority by which they are proposed is at least on a par with that of the common consent of the Fathers or of the scholastics. By reason of these characteristics, all doctrinal statements contained in the encyclicals must be accepted with a firm and sincere inward assent. For this same reason a denial of these doctrinal propositions may be qualified or censured as at least temerarious.”
“At least in an indirect manner, every rejection of an authoritative doctrinal pronouncement contained in a papal encyclical is opposed to the theological virtue of faith itself. That virtue empowers a man to accept with complete certitude and on God’s own authority the body of truth which the Church proposes as having been revealed by God as his public communication to mankind… We lay ourselves open to very serious misunderstandings when we fail to appreciate the fact that the teaching of the Church must be taken as a unit.” And here Msgr. Fenton references integral truth, so sadly lacking in Traditionalist’s neo-Modernist version of theology. Msgr. Fenton notes that those who fail to accept these teachings once they are censured, even as only erroneous, or temerarious, and pertinaciously adhere to them regardless of the censure, have been condemned in the past for heresy. This is what those holding onto such teachings while claiming they are not infallible fail to understand.
The true violation here is the denial of the Roman Pontiff’s ability to censure them at all, or to forbid them to teach what has been proscribed by the Apostolic See. In the end they excommunicate themselves for the denial of the Vatican Council teachings, that the pope is supreme in jurisdiction and authority and is to be obeyed in all things, even those things which only approach “heretical wickedness.” Msgr. Fenton quotes Carmelite theologians who hold the temerarious classification as an offense against the rule of studiousness, a part of the virtue of ecclesiastical modesty. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that men who seek to know the truth beyond their own range of competences are guilty of this infraction (Summa II-II, q. 160, art. 1). Fenton comments:
“Those who on their own initiative presume to question or contradict a doctrinal statement proposed authoritatively in a papal encyclical, even in cases where the Holy Father does not make a definitive decision, may well be said to be striving for something manifestly beyond their competence. No individual, and for that matter, no group of individuals within the ecclesia discins, (those taught by the Church), can be said to have the competence to dispute with the visible head of the Church militant on a matter connected with the Church’s deposit of Divine Revelation. At least in an indirect manner, however, every rejection of an authoritative doctrinal pronouncement contained in a papal encyclical is opposed to the theological virtue of faith itself…
“When an individual or group of individuals presume on their own initiative to deny or to ignore the authoritative doctrinal statements of papal encyclicals, they are at least placed in the position of rejecting divinely authorized guidance in the direction of the purity and well-being of the faith.” Both infallible and non-infallible statements, he continues, “enter in to the effective carrying out of the Petrine mission to confirm the faith of the brethren.” This is why the author of betrayedcatholics insists on strict adherence to all papal decrees, which are our only guarantee of safe guidance in matters of faith. It is why those wishing to remain faithful Catholics must be urged repeatedly to depart from the Traditionalists, all of whom violate these papal teachings. These men have consistently denied the Church’s teaching regarding the nature of jurisdiction for at least four decades and have multiplied into dozens of sects and independent operators who hold the same fateful error.
Only by presuming Pope Pius XII would not wish his law to apply during an extended interregnum can they appear to justify their position. But the fact that this is definitely not his mind as the lawgiver is expressed in several papal documents, and cannot be ignored. The very scholastic principles Traditionalists pretend to use to their advantage actually uphold the right of the lawgiver to invalidate their acts. “Laws justly declaring an incapacity to act or to receive benefits invalidate the attempted act or reception even if they [the laws] are inculpably unknown or facts pertaining to their application is unknown” (Rev. Bernard Wuellner, S.J., Summary of Scholastic Principles, 1956). This applies to the laws enacted by the Roman Pontiffs declaring that the acts of those men who present themselves as bishops without first receiving papal approval are null and void, (Pius VI, Charitas: Pope Pius IX, Etsi multa and Graves ac diuturnae; Pope Pius XII in Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis). As we have just seen above, no one may question these papal determinations as having ceased to apply or as unjust without incurring some form of censure.
It is the heighth of hypocrisy to hold that the Church as Christ constituted it must last unto the consummation, carried on by Traditional “bishops,” when Christ appointed Peter as head of the Church, there is no successor to St. Peter today, and his Vicars teach the Church cannot exist without him. The Church’s stated mission is the salvation of souls. In Acerbo Nimis, Pope St. Pius X states the first duty of the bishops and priests are to teach the people and only then to baptize and convey the other Sacraments. In this same encyclical, Pope Pius X lamented that:
“It is a common complaint, unfortunately too well founded, that there are large numbers of Christians in our own time who are entirely ignorant of those truths necessary for salvation. And when we mention Christians, We refer not only to the masses or to those in the lower walks of life — for these find some excuse for their ignorance in the fact that the demands of their harsh employers hardly leave them time to take care of themselves or of their dear ones — but We refer to those especially who do not lack culture or talents and, indeed, are possessed of abundant knowledge regarding things of the world but live rashly and imprudently with regard to religion… Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: “We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.”
So these Traditionalists cannot claim they had no obligation to educate, if things were already this bad in Pope St. Pius X’s times. Especially given the confusion arising from Vatican 2, they had an even greater obligation to do so. It was unquestionably the mission of those lawful pastors validly ordained under Pope Pius XII to teach the faithful those means necessary to salvation following Vatican 2, but the faithful kept demanding the Mass and Sacraments and insisting on their right to receive them. Out of human respect, and a desire, in many cases, to see to their own support, these pastors gave into their demands. This even though their jurisdiction, in most cases, had expired and they were ipso facto excommunicated and declared infamous for celebrating the Novus Ordo Missae, when the penalty of infamy forbids them to posit valid acts, (Can. 2294, §1 and § 2). No such mission, however, existed for those who were consecrated without papal approval and/or ordained by such pseudo-bishops, as Pope Pius IX calls them, who subsequently consecrated priests. Such Traditionalists in the same circumstances might be able to educate, but only as laymen; and then only if they had ceased functioning as clerics, renounced their errors, and publicly retracted them. To the best of this author’s knowledge, no Traditionalist cleric has ever broken ranks and done this.
The necessity of the papacy and obedience to the Roman Pontiff are definitely truths those following Traditionalists do not understand and accept. Traditionalists who maintain they are providing their followers the necessary means of salvation are actually placing those in their care at risk of losing the very thing they treasure most. To repent and do penance for this loathsome sin and lead their people into the desert of prayer and contemplation of eternal truths is not something these clerics so-called would even consider. Only those who beg God for the grace to see the truth and save their souls will have hope of receiving these graces. Now that many people are forced to stay at home rather than attend Traditionalist services, they would be wise to use this time allotted them to study their faith and reassess their understanding of what is required to attain eternal salvation. A novena to the Holy Ghost for the light of truth would be a good way to begin.
+Feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church+
Some remarks on last week’s blog regarding obedience to the pope need to be addressed before proceeding to this week’s installment.
With God, with the Holy Father, we are supposed to behave as little children who love their parents and will believe whatever they teach them and do whatever they ask of them. But since the era of the false popes, Catholics have become bitter, antagonistic toward all authority and have even set themselves up as judges of legitimate popes. They believe they can disagree with what the popes say and decide for themselves what to accept or reject. Unquestioning obedience is something totally foreign and repulsive to them, (except when it comes to Traditionalist clergy delivering the goods) because liberalism has warped the framework of their Catholic Faith. When some Traditionalist “priest” tells his followers that that they cannot marry validly unless he marries them, or cannot baptize their newborn themselves because only the priest may baptize him/her, these followers are docile enough, and never question him; they believe him and are eager to obey, while disobeying the Church. For what he is telling them is utterly false.
Pope Benedict XIV taught that Catholics could only receive the Sacraments from tolerated heretics when “(1) A most grave and urgent cause compels a Catholic to do so; (2) The heretics and schismatics who are to administer the Sacraments are validly ordained; (3) No external profession of false doctrine is involved; (4) No scandal is given.” In his Communication in Religious Worship with Non-Catholics (Catholic University of America Press, Sacred Theology Dissertation, 1943), Rev. John Bancroft, C.S.S.R., J.C.B, S.T.L then notes that, “Some theologians have been liberal in applying the constitution Ad Evitanda,” adding, however, that: “All took care not to allow any violation of the divine law.” He quotes Abp. Kenrick as follows: “It is not allowed to communicate in divinis with heretics or schismatics; for although some theologians, interpreting the constitution of Martin V generously, taught it was licit at times, all admit it is wrong whenever it carries with it the profession of a false dogma, or the recognition of a usurped office: which generally happens.” Both apply to Traditionalists, who have, indeed, violated divine law.
All baptisms by Catholic adults when no priest is available are valid as long as the intention to baptize the child into the Catholic Church exists and the proper form is used. This is a matter of Catholic teaching and Canon Law and has been for centuries. According to Bancroft, the approved theologian Lemkuhl believes that heretic, apostate and schismatic priests are the equivalent of vitandi, and Bancroft quotes a decision of the Holy See that seems to indicate that even when there is a question of Baptism by either lay Catholics or even lay non-Catholics versus a non-Catholic priest, the lay Catholics or non-Catholics are to be preferred! He concludes: “What has been said has referred to the administration of Baptism by a [valdily ordained] non-Catholic priest. The doctrine applies a fortiori to a non-Catholic [non-ordained] minister. He has no consecration to act as a minister of the Sacraments [so is] really only a layman.”
As for marriage, today the emergency laws instituted for China apply to us who have no priests, a law that no Traditionalist of any stripe has ever dared mention to the faithful. This despite the Church’s express intent that the faithful be made aware of it in emergency situations. This law was enacted in January 1949 by the Holy Office and it lifted all the previous dispensations needed for marriage: “The faithful are freed not only from the impediments of nonage and disparity of cult, but from all impediments of ecclesiastical law and from all canonical form.” And canonical form means any need of a priest to witness the marriage, (which is primarily a contract between the two parties) as Can. 1098 explains. Only “the impediment of sacred order of the priesthood and the impediment of affinity in the direct line when the marriage was consummated” were retained. The only caution given was that those marrying non-Catholics and pagans had to be morally certain that the children would be raised Catholic. The instruction ended with this caveat: “All these matters should be brought to the attention of the faithful so that they may provide for the validity of marriages and be freed from anxiety of consciences,” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. III; Can. 1067).
The Sacred Congregation clarified the status of this instruction in December 1949, stating the following: “The Decree of the Holy Office of 27 Jan., 1949, has the nature of a declarative interpretation and hence can be applied retroactively and in other territories only to the extent that it deals with prescriptions of positive law [the laws of the popes and the laws of God as applied to certain cases], which, in view of extraordinary circumstances in the territory, cannot be observed…” And Catholics, Pope Pius IX teaches in Tuas Libentur, are bound to obey the Sacred Congregations — NOT Traditionalists with questionably valid orders. In the decree Lamentabili, Pope St. Pius X also condemned this proposition: “They are to be considered free of all blame who consider of no account the reprobations published by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by other Sacred Roman Congregations,” (DZ 2008; Can. 7). Traditionalists pretend to have unlimited power over their followers, but they cannot and do not possess jurisdiction outside the approval of a canonically elected pope or by any grant of Our Lord, as they claim.
All those bishops who remained in the Vatican 2 church following Pope Pius XII’s death abandoned their faith and lostall jurisdiction, including Thuc, Lefebvre and any and all other bishops issuing from them or from some other pretended source. For these last two celebrated the Novus Ordo Missae, recognized the false popes and signed Vatican 2 documents, thereby committing schism and communicatio in sacris and forfeiting all jurisdiction. And no, bishops CANNOT act independently of the pope — even in an emergency situation, as will be seen below — precisely because they DO NOT receive their jurisdiction immediately from Christ, but only through the Roman Pontiff. Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton explained the necessity of obedience even to non-infallible decrees for salvation in the last blog post, also previous ones. He addresses the issue of episcopal jurisdiction below.
Pope Pius XII decided the matter, once and for all, regarding how bishops receive their jurisdiction. Msgr. Fenton writes in a 1949 issue of AER that up until the time of the issuance of Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis Christi: “[The] judgment about the … doctrinal status of the thesis that the residential bishops of the Catholic Church receive their power of jurisdiction directly from the Roman Pontiff rather than immediately from Our Lord… [was] considered as more probable and even as a [common opinion].” But in 1947 Msgr. Alfredo Ottaviani published a document which stated that, “From now on it is to be held as entirely certain by reason of the words of the present Holy Father… in the encyclical Mystici Corporis… Msgr. Ottaviani assumes rightly that the authoritative statement of this thesis in the papal letter raised this teaching from the status of a more probable doctrine to that of a perfectly certain proposition.” In other words, Pope Pius XII decided this issue definitively and all debate on it is now closed. Fenton continues: “Where a question of grave moment has been disputed among Catholics and where the Holy Father intervenes to settle this question once and for all, there is clearly a definition, a decision which all Catholics are bound to accept as always true even though no solemn terminology be employed” (American Ecclesiastical Review, September 1949, “The Doctrinal Authority of the Papal Encyclicals, Pt. II”).
The basis for this commentary is found in Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis Christi, written in 1943: “Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church, for they are united by a very special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body and so are rightly called ‘principal parts of the members of the Lord’; moreover, as far as his own diocese is concerned, each one 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.” This is reaffirmed in Pope Pius XII’s Ad sinarum gentum, 1954: “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.” And this clarifies and strengthens the utterance by the Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, for it leaves no doubt whatsoever that whatever jurisdiction bishops possess comes only through the Roman Pontiff.
St. Francis de Sales taught against the Protestants in his Catholic Controversy: “Your party have taken ground elsewhere than in the ordinary mission, and have said that they were sent extraordinarily by God because the ordinary mission has been ruined and abolished, with the true Church itself, under the tyranny of Antichrist. This is their most safe refuge, which since it is common to all sorts of heretics…First I say that no one should allege an extraordinary mission unless he prove it by miracles…Where should we be if this extraordinary mission was to be accepted without proof? Would it not be a cloak for all sorts of reveries? Arius, Marcion, Montanus, Messalius — could they not be received into this dignity of reformers, by swearing the same oath? Never was anyone extraordinarily sent unless he brought this letter of credit from the divine Majesty. “Moses was sent immediately by God to govern the people of Israel…He asked for signs and patents of his commission; God found this request good [and] gave him three sorts of prodigies and marvels…If they then allege extraordinary mission, let them show us some extraordinary works, otherwise we are not obliged to believe them…The mission of St. John the Baptist…was it not authenticated by his conception, his nativity and by that miraculous life of his, to which Our Lord gave such excellent testimony?
“But as to the Apostles — who does not know the miracles they did and the great number of them? Never must an extraordinary mission be received when disowned by the ordinary authority which is in the Church of Our Lord. For (1) we are obliged to obey our ordinary pastors under pain of being heathens and publicans, (Matt. 18:17); how then can we place ourselves under other discipline than theirs? Extraordinaries would come in vain, since we should be obliged to refuse to listen to them, in the case that they were, as I have said, disowned by the ordinaries. (2) God is not the author of dissension, but of union and peace, (1Cor. 14:33), principally among His disciples and Church ministers, as Our Lord clearly shows in the holy prayer He made to His Father in the last days of His mortal life, (John 17). “How then should he authorize two sorts of pastors, the one extraordinary the other ordinary? …There would then be two different churches, which is contrary to the most pure word of Our Lord, who has but one spouse, one sole dove …Therefore to try and make in the Church this division of ordinary and extraordinary is to ruin and destroy it…An extraordinary vocation is never legitimate where it is disproved of by the ordinary…Where will you ever show me a legitimate extraordinary vocation which has not been received by the ordinary authority? …The vocation of pastors and Church rulers must be made visibly” (end of St. Francis de Sales quote). And there is no visible Roman Pontiff at this time to make them.
Pope Leo XIII taught in Satis Cognitum: “Holy Writ teaches that the keys to the kingdom of Heaven were given to Peter alone. There is nothing to show that the Apostles received Supreme jurisdiction without Peter and against Peter. Such power they certainly did not receive from Jesus Christ.” Rev. E. S. Berry reiterates Pope Leo’s teaching on page 19 of his The Church of Christ: “THERE IS NOT THE SLIGHTEST INTIMATION IN SCRIPTURE OR TRADITION THAT CHRIST EVER PROMISED TO CONFER AUTHORITY DIRECTLY UPON THE MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH…” and Berry’s work was written in the early 20th century, before Pope Pius XII even reigned.
In his Christ’s Kingdom on Earth (1891), Rev. Joseph Meagher wrote: “While any bishop can administer Holy Orders, only the head of the Church can allow the exercise of these orders…The orders given by the bishops of the schismatic Greeks and Orientals, who reject the authority of the Pope, are valid but forbidden…Those bishops not in union with the Vicar of Christ are not the right bishops. Even if they have received valid episcopal consecration, the people must not receive the sacraments from their hands, for they do not belong to the body of Christ. Only in the regular way, and according to the laws, Christ saves souls, for as the soul works only by and through the organs of the body, thus Christ saves only by the organs of the Church in his mystic body. At the consecration of a bishop, the letters of the Bishop of Rome are read before the bishops impose their hands on the candidate.”
To this author’s knowledge, there has never been an attempt by any so-called Traditionalist “bishops” or their apologists to explain their functions under any purported jurisdiction granted them directly by Christ Himself. The reason for this is that in light of the above they cannot in any way justify functioning independent of the Roman Pontiff and still recognize Pope Pius XII as a true pope. They quote as proofs for their stance De Ecclesia Christi, by Rev. Timothy Zapelena, S.J., who teaches that even if all the Western Schism popes had been antipopes, God would have supplied directly as much as was necessary, but this is only a baseless conjecture on Zapalena’s part; he fails to supply any proofs for his statement. The date for his work is also not listed anywhere on the Internet, so it is not known if he wrote before the issuance of Mystici Corporis Christi. Likewise William Strojie, writing in the 1980s stated as follows: “Certainly those acts of a pope which deviate from Catholic traditional teachings and liturgy cannot be validated. But St. Robert Bellarmine, writing not long after Pope Paul IV issued his Bull on this subject, taught that Christ, the invisible head of the Church, might supply for the jurisdiction of even a notorious heretical pope until deposed from office — this to maintain the juridical order necessary for the Church’s existence. I do not see how it could be otherwise, unless we have come near the end of the Church’s existence.”
No source for the quote is given and no papal proofs were ever offered to support it. Strojie fails to explain how one could grant a man never elected pope in the first place, according to Pope Paul IV’s teaching, and who, Paul IV says, has no power to appoint offices or possesses even quasi legitimacy, such jurisdiction. Paul IV’s bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio further states regarding such a man never elected to office: “Each and every one of their statements, deeds, enactments, and administrative acts, of any kind, and any result thereof whatsoever, shall be without force and shall confer no legality or right on anyone.” And certainly Pope Paul IV’s bull is above and beyond anything Bellarmine later taught. So Strojie believes Our Lord is going to supply jurisdiction to such a man and thereby override the teaching of Pope Paul IV, to whom He gave the power to bind and loose?! Pope Pius XII forbade the use of such conjectures mentioned by Zapalena and Strojie in his infallible encyclical Humani Generis. Their writings are now a moot point, given his papal decision.
This is nothing less than a revival of the Gallicanist and Old Catholic heresies. The 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia states that according to the Gallicanists, “…the papal primacy was limited, first, by the temporal power of princes, which, by the Divine will, was inviolable; secondly by the authority of the general council and that of the bishops, who alone could, by their assent, give to his decrees that infallible authority which, of themselves, they lacked; lastly, by the canons and customs of particular Churches, which the pope was bound to take into account when he exercised his authority.” One of the proponents of the Gallicanist heresy, Marsilius of Padua wrote the following:
“As to the Church, it has no visible head. St. Peter, he goes on, received no more power or authority than the other Apostles, and it is uncertain that he ever came to Rome. The pope has only the power of convoking an ecumenical council which is superior to him. His decrees are not binding; he can impose on the people only what the general council has decided and interpreted… This is clearly the crudest concept of the pagan empire, an heretical assault on the Church’s constitution, and a shameless denial of the rights of the sovereign pontiff” (Catholic Encyclopedia under Marsilius of Padua). Here we clearly see the power of the bishops held as supreme over that of the Roman Pontiff. While Traditionalists may not teach outright that their bishops are superior to the pope, their manner of acting speaks so loudly there is no need for them to actually teach it. They hold his decrees binding only in certain rare ex cathedra pronouncements, or when it suits them. They behave as though no visible head is necessary for the Church and proceed without him.
The Old Catholic heresy was born when bishops who voted against the Vatican Council definition on infallibility refused to accept it and accepted authority instead from their German rulers. This was exposed and condemned by Pope Pius IX in Graves ac diurtunae and Etsi Multa, and by his predecessors Pope Pius VI and Pope Pius VII during a similar period in France. Henry Cardinal Manning in his work The Vatican Decrees and Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance describes a situation in Germany very much like that we experienced in this country following Vatican 2. There it was the government (here it was Masonic forces aided by the government) who imported foreign priests and recruited apostates and those expelled from the priesthood to replace the true priests they forced from their dioceses. In one region, the Bernese Jura, more than 60,0000 Catholics were deprived of “all religious help,” Manning reported. “The Catholics of Jura, being deprived of their pastors, met in farms or outhouses [outbuildings] for common worship and yet even this liberty is not always conceded to them. It is only in profound secret they can receive the Sacraments or hear Mass, and they even bury their own dead without the assistance of a priest.”
The fact that many of those early Traditional “priests” could not be found in the Official Catholic Directory should have warned Catholics that their origins were other than what they presented to their followers. And it is very telling that Traditionalists will not mention these previous episodes of a similar nature, such as those in Germany and other countries where Catholics refused to follow so-called Catholic clergy, not sent by the Pope, in explaining our current situation. Not even in the face of papal decisions to the contrary will they desist from posing as true clergy able to validly offer Mass and Sacraments. It therefore falls on Catholics to ask themselves: “Am I endangering my salvation by following these priests and bishops in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs? Do I really wish to save my soul? Is it possible we are beginning to see the plagues and other heavenly punishments predicted for the end of days, and might I not perish suddenly? Am I really certain that what I believe today is what the Church has always taught, and that if I should die, I will die within the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church?!
The answer to this question is yes, you are endangering your salvation, for none of these men teach in the name of Jesus Christ if they do not follow the teachings of the successors of St. Peter, Christ’s Vicar on earth. These Trad priests and bishops maintain they must function to guarantee the salvation of souls, but instead they are guaranteeing only their damnation! One cannot obey both the popes of the past and Traditionalists, who invalidly function outside of the required communion with a true Roman Pontiff. What do Catholics think is meant when the Popes use the term “We” in their documents? They are speaking in the name of Christ, hence the capitalization! The continual function of Traditionalists outside the direction of a true Pontiff and the total lack of respect and reverence for even true popes that has come into play over the past 75 years has destroyed any inclination Catholics ever had to obey and not question. Read the above-mentioned documents of Pope Pius IX. Obey Divine Revelation, Christ’s true vicars, the ecumenical councils approved by the popes, the decisions handed down by the Sacred Congregations and the Holy Office, also Canon Law. Because nothing is as important as your salvation and those who do not do God’s signified will shall perish.
In our next installment we shall see how another Gallicanist trait is exhibited by Traditionalists in their preference of ancient customs over the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs.
+St. Louise de Marillac+
(This blog begins a continuing series that will be divided into several parts in order to present a condensed version of why we owe obedience only to the Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils, the Holy Office and Sacred Congregations, the unanimous opinions of the Early Church Fathers regarding Holy Scripture, Canon Law and the unanimous opinions of the theologians. Catholics struggling to sort out issues on these matters need to set their affairs in order, as our time on this earth may be short. We see the plagues that God threatened to send as punishment to a wicked and disobedient people descending upon us. “And we helping do exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation,” (2 Cor. 1-2). Therefore, “Let him who reads, understand” Matt. 24:15.)
It is the solemn duty of every baptized Catholic to save their God-given souls and rightly inform their intellects regarding the necessary means they must take to accomplish this task. That is the earthly mission God has entrusted to us as members of Christ’s Mystical Body. Ordinarily, the hierarchy would assist us in this endeavor. But who today qualifies as valid and licit bishops and priests and how can we make this determination? This is the dilemma that faced Catholics exiting Vatican 2. The various bishops and priests offering their services to the faithful repeatedly emphasized that their very salvation was at stake — Catholics could not save their souls without attending a Latin Mass and receiving the sacraments. And they presented themselves as the vessels of election designated to deliver this salvation, for how often have you heard these men say they must function in order to guarantee the salvation of souls?
Unfortunately, our salvation not only depends on the reception of the Sacraments and attending Holy Mass. These are definitely precepts we must follow, in normal times, provided the necessary precautions are taken to assure their validity and liceity. But first we have a higher obligation, and that is to ensure that regardless of what we do, we obey God’s Holy Will. Rev. Aldolphe Tanquerey, that great master of the spiritual life, wrote: “Now to conform our wills to that of God is assuredly to cease to do evil, and to learn to do good. Is not this the meaning of that oft repeated text: ‘FOR OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICES’ (1 Kings XV, 22; Osee VI, 6; Matt IX, 3 also XII, 7) In the New Law, Our Lord declares from the very moment of His entry into the world that it is with obedience that He will replace the sacrifices of the Ancient Law: ‘Holocausts for sin did not please Thee. Then I said: Behold I come … that I should do Thy will, O God.’ (Hebrews X, 6-7; Phil 11, 8; Phil, IV, 3). And in truth, it is by obedience unto the immolation of self that He has redeemed us: ‘He was made obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.’ (John 4, 34) In the same way, it is through obedience and through the acceptance of God-ordained trials in union with Christ that we shall atone for our sins and cleanse our soul.” (The Spiritual Life, pages 240-241).
We must remember these words well. Christ forever gave us perfect example in these matters by fulfilling every point of His Father’s will. He enjoined our imitation of Him in this practice of perfection when he told us: “For whosoever shall do the will of My Father that is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother … not everyone that saith to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom …but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter … heaven.” (Matt 12, 50; Matt 7, 21). St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, explains further that there are TWO parts to the will of God; the will of signification and the will of good pleasure. St. Francis lists the following four parts belonging to God’s will of signification as:
- the commandments of God and of His Church,
- the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, obedience),
- divine inspiration, and
- those duties peculiar to our chosen vocation…,” (Holy Abandonment, Rt. Rev. Dom Vital Lehody O.C.R., p. 9).
Commenting further, St. Francis writes: “Obedience to the Commandments, both divine and ecclesiastical, is of obligation for all, because there is question here of THE ABSOLUTE WILL OF GOD WHO HAS MADE SUBMISSION TO THESE ORDINANCES A CONDITION OF SALVATION.” Notice that first of all, we must obey the commandments of God and of His Church. It might surprise some Catholics that the same Roman Pontiff who expected us, in better times, to attend Mass at least weekly and receive the Sacraments, also made subjection to him in ALL things a condition for salvation.
Unam Sanctam, Pope Boniface VIII, Nov. 18, 1302
“We declare, say, define and proclaim to every human creature that they, by necessity for salvation, are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff,” (DZ 469).
The Vatican Council, Pope Pius IX, 1869
“…The faithful… are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, not only in those things which pertain to faith and morals, BUT ALSO THOSE WHICH PERTAIN TO THE DISCIPLINE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH, so that the Church of Christ, protected not only by the Roman Pontiff, but by the unity of communion as well as the profession of the same faith, is one flock under one highest shepherd. THIS IS THE DOCTRINE OF CATHOLIC TRUTH FROM WHICH NO ONE CAN DEVIATE AND KEEP HIS FAITH AND SALVATION.” (DZ 1827).
Immortale Dei, Pope Leo XIII, Nov. 1, 1885
“As regards opinion, whatever the Roman Pontiffs have taught or shall hereafter teach must be held with a firm grasp of mind and, as often as occasion requires, must be OPENLY PROFESSED. Especially in regards to the liberties so-called, which are sought after in these days — all must stand by the judgment of the Apostolic See AND THINK AS SHE DOES…and let the past be redeemed by a special submission of all to the Apostolic See.”
And regarding all these things in which we must be subject to the Roman Pontiff, we are told by a sainted pope:
Acerbo Nimis, Pope St. Pius X, April 15, 1905
“Pastors of souls… are certainly obliged by the precept of Christ to know and to nourish the sheep confided to them; now to nourish is first of all to teach. “I will give you,” God promises by the mouth of the Prophet Jeremias, ‘pastors according to my own heart, and they will feed you with knowledge and doctrine.’ And so the Apostle said, ‘Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel,’ indicating thus that the first office of those who are set up in any way for the government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in sacred doctrine.” After all, in conveying jurisdiction to the Apostles, Christ said “Go ye therefore and teach all nations…”: Baptizing came second. So why did those Traditional priests and bishops rounding up Catholics post-V2 fail to educate them first, and provide the Sacraments and Mass (IF they were unquestionably validly ordained and still possessed jurisdiction) only later, if at all? And when and if they did educate them regarding the higher truths (outside the basic catechism), why was it primarily those things taught by theologians, and not teaching issuing directly from the lips of the Roman Pontiffs?!
Oath Against Modernism, Pope St. Pius X, Sept. 1, 1910
And if this pontiff is not visibly with us, it is even more important to understand and obey those teachings they left us, teachings of the living or continual magisterium “the doctrine of faith transmitted from the apostles through the orthodox fathers, always in the same sense and interpretation, even to us…”
Nor are Catholics only to obey with a firm assent those teachings of the extraordinary of ordinary magisterium.
Tuas Libentur, Pope Pius IX, 1863: “It is not sufficient for learned Catholics to accept and revere the aforesaid dogmas of the Church…It is also necessary to subject themselves to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations, and also to those forms of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions, so certain that opinions opposed to these same forms of doctrine, although they cannot be called heretical, nevertheless deserve some other censure,” and the Pope adds that the theologians he is speaking to are bound in conscience to accept these teachings (DZ 1684).
We learn more about this from Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton in the August 1949 issue of the American Ecclesiastical Review (AER) — “The Doctrinal Authority of the Papal Encyclicals, Pt. I”: “Even when the Holy Father does not propose [doctrinal and disciplinary teachings] as part of his infallible magisterium… God has given [him] a kind of infallibility distinct from the charism of doctrinal infallibility in the strict sense. He has so constructed and ordered the Church that those who follow the directives given to the entire kingdom of God on earth will never be brought into the position of ruining themselves spiritually through this obedience. Our Lord dwells within His Church in such a way that those who obey the disciplinary and doctrinal directives of this society can never find themselves displeasing God through their adherence to the teachings and commands given to the universal Church militant. Hence there can be no valid reason to discountenance even the non-infallible teaching authority of Christ’s Vicar on earth.” In support of this, Msgr. Fenton cites the Vatican Council teaching that the faithful are to give a continuing assent to those papal documents which proscribe and forbid those errors the council determines are closely related to “heretical wickedness” (DZ 1820; Can. 1324).
Remember: There can be no visible, juridic Church, contrary to Traditionalist claims, without the Pope. It is the pope alone who can teach infallibly and command the faithful; it is he alone we are to obey regarding matters of faith, morals and discipline NOT Traditionalists.
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.”
The Vatican Council, referring to John 21:15, decreed: “To this teaching of Sacred Scripture, so manifest as it has always been understood by the Catholic Church, are opposed openly the vicious opinions of those who perversely deny that the form of government in His Church was established by Christ the Lord; that to Peter alone, before the other apostles, whether individually or all together, was confided the true and proper primacy of jurisdiction by Christ…” (DZ 1822).
Then we have Pope Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum, who taught: “Above all things the need of union between the bishops and the successors of St. Peter is clear and undeniable. This bond once broken, Christians would be separated and scattered, AND WOULD IN NO WISE FORM ONE BODY AND ONE FLOCK. ‘The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms as there are priests’ (St. Hieronymus, contra Luciferianos, n. 9). It is necessary, therefore, to bear this in mind, viz., that nothing was conferred on the apostles apart from Peter, but that several things were conferred upon Peter apart from the apostles… Hence the teaching of Cyprian that heresies and schism arise and are begotten from the fact that due obedience is refused to the supreme authority… Christ the Lord, as we have quite sufficiently shown, made Peter and his successors His vicars (emph. Leo’s). to exercise forever in the Church the power which He exercised during His mortal life. Can the Apostolic College be said to have been above its master in authority?”
Revs. Devivier and Sasia wrote the following: “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.”
Pope Pius XII confirmed this truth for our times in Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, when he wrote infallibly that:
“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)… If anything contrary to this prescript occurs or is by chance attempted, we declare it by Our Supreme authority to be null and void.” And if the cardinals couldn’t even exercise it, certainly questionable bishops cannot!
We could be asked to render an accounting of our lives before the Divine Judge at any moment. He will inquire whether we obeyed all those decrees of his Vicars and the laws of His Church. He will demand an accounting of the use of our time: How much of it was spent in studying our faith to learn the dogmas we are bound to believe, what time was spent in prayer to preserve our faith and to honor and adore Him. What will we say? How will we explain resorting to men who we could not even verify as lawful pastors? For not learning our faith as we ought? For not defending it to others for reasons of human respect or fear of reprisal? We owe nothing to Traditionalists but everything to our own souls. This is our entire purpose in life. Without a true pope there is no Church, so we need not worry we are erring in this matter. Most of those reading this blog know why we are to keep the faith at home in these times, just as so many other Catholics in England, Japan, Russia and other places have in times past. But reasons for this will once again be presented in a future blog revisiting the use of epikeia.
+Sts. Adrian and Eubulus+
Integral truth is ever the sole objective of what is written on this site. And by that I mean presenting the truths of faith as taught in divine revelation, confirmed as taught in divine revelation by the popes and councils, further confirmed by the testimony of the Fathers, Doctors and Scholastic theologians, and understood always in that sense in which it has been defined by the Church. As Pope Pius XII taught in the infallible encyclical Humani generis, “Together with the sources of positive theology, God has given to His Church a living Teaching Authority to elucidate and explain what is contained in the Deposit of Faith only obscurely and implicitly. This Deposit of Faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church.” This is why the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils are the primary sources on this site, and only those theologians in strict conformity to these teachings are quoted. With this in mind, we move on to the subject at hand.
The charge has been made by certain parties that false accusations of Feeneyism have been leveled at the website truecatholics and a disservice done to those operating it and to the faithful. One would need to be schizophrenic to accept at one and the same time what the truecatholics site advances as their beliefs and what the Catholic Church teaches regarding baptism of desire and invincible ignorance. Truecatholics claims to accept Pius XII as the last true pope. But one cannot accept one as a true pope and at the same time deny or question what that pope (and his predecessors) have taught. And this according to the Vatican Council as pointed out in the blogpost for Feb. 28. If we intend to adhere to Canon Law — and we must, especially in this case — we are bound to follow the dictates of Canon 1325 regarding heresy. This canon reads: “The faithful are bound to profess their faith publicly whenever silence, subterfuge or their manner of acting would otherwise entail an implicit denial of their faith, contempt for religion, an insult to God or scandal to their neighbor.”
In this case we are dealing with an implicit denial of faith and scandal to the neighbor. The word implicit means implied, not directly denied. If I were to appear to accept or even just ignore the public statements below or fail to publicly denounce them, when I have been asked to address them, this would amount to silence and imply that I believe them to be correct. The statements themselves, which directly contradict papal teaching, hold that those not adhering to what they say are outside the Church. These false doctrines being promoted on truecatholics are the same ones held by many Feenyites, in varying degrees; in reality it is only a modified form of Feeneyism. For while those running this site do not come out and embrace Feeney himself, or openly pronounce Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII heretics, they do so by implication. They offer as proofs incomplete and out-of-context quotes from the popes, doctors of the Church, theologians and some saints and clergy, just as the Feeneyites do and on the same topics — Feeney doctrines without connection to Feeney. But this is not how Catholics are expected to determine matters of faith, as seen above.
We also have been accused of creating division by drawing attention to these issues, but we cannot fulfill our duty to profess the faith and limit as far as possible any scandal to our neighbors if we do not present the truth on this matter. The following is only a partial list of some of the errors found at the truecatholics site.
“Water baptism only forgives sins”
There is no forgiveness of sins and hence no possibility of salvation without a correct and proper Baptism of Water and a correct and proper Profession of Faith” (https://truecatholics.org/catholicism/baptism-is-necessary-for-salvation/)
Benns comment: Pope St. Pius V condemned the following errors of Michael du Bay: “Perfect and sincere charity, which is from ‘a pure heart and a good conscience and a faith not feigned’ [I Tim. 1:5], can be in catechumens as well as in penitents without the remission of sins” (DZ 1031). And also: “A catechumen lives justly and rightly and holily, and observes the commandments of God, and fulfills the law through charity, which is only received in the laver of Baptism before the remission of sins has been observed” (DZ 1033).
“There is no such thing as Invincible ignorance”
Ignorance has never been a means of salvation. (Fr. Goffine, 1687) Today, there are many wicked heresies like invincible ignorance, which have fooled people into believing ideas condemned by Christ and His Catholic Church. They cause unthinking, deceived people to fall into heresy and fall outside the pale of the Church. No heretic shall be worthy of eternal life.” Pope Eugene IV, ex Cathedra, Cantate domino, 1441. (https://truecatholics.org/?s=Invincible+ignorance).
Benns Comment (From Suprema haec sacra, approved by Pope Pius XII): “Therefore, in order that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is required that at least he be united to it by intention and desire. However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but, when a person is involved in invincible ignorance, God accepts also an implicit intention (votum) which is so called because it is included in that good disposition of the soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God. These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, “On the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.” For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are really (in re) incorporated into the Church as members and those who are joined to it only in intention (in voto)” (emph. in bold throughout this document is the editor’s unless otherwise noted).
The Holy Office itself classifies this papal teaching on invincible ignorance as part of a dogmatic letter, meaning the entire letter addresses dogmatic issues. This is not even to mention what Pope Pius IX teaches on invincible ignorance in Singulari quadam: “Certainly we must hold it as of faith that no one can be saved outside the apostolic Roman Church, that this is the only Ark of salvation, and that the one who does not enter it is going to perish in the deluge. But, nevertheless, we must likewise hold it as certain that those who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if that [ignorance] be invincible, will never be charged with any guilt on this account before the eyes of the Lord. Now, who is there who would arrogate to himself the power to indicate the extent of such [invincible] ignorance according to the nature and the variety of peoples, regions, talents, and so many other things? For really when, loosed from these bodily bonds, we see God as He is, we shall certainly understand with what intimate and beautiful a connection the divine mercy and justice are joined together.”
And from Pope Pius IX’s Quanto conficiamur moerore: “It is known to Us and to you that those who labor in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, and who, carefully observing the natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and who, being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life, can, through the working of the divine light and grace, attain eternal life, since God, who clearly sees, inspects, and knows the minds, the intentions, the thoughts, and the habits of all, will, by reason of His goodness and kindness, never allow anyone who has not the guilt of willful sin to be punished by eternal sufferings. But it is a perfectly well known Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who are contumacious against the authority of that same Church, and who are pertinaciously separated from the unity of that Church and from Peter’s successor, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the custody of the vineyard has been entrusted by the Saviour, cannot obtain eternal salvation.” In other words, no slack is given to those accept the Church as instituted by Christ yet who deliberately ignore the clear teachings and infallible pronouncements of the Holy See.
Msgr. Fenton comments on Singulari quadam in his The Catholic Church and Salvation: “The dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church is in no way opposed to the truth that God is all-merciful and all-just… Invincible ignorance, of the true Church or of anything else, is not considered by God as a sin. The dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church in no way implies that invincible ignorance is sinful… It is not within the field cither of our competence or of our rights lo search out the way in which God’s mercy and His justice operate in any given case of a person ignorant of the true Church or of the true religion. We shall see how these divine attributes have operated in the light of the Beatific Vision itself… God is never outdone in generosity. The person who tries to come to Him will never be forsaken. As a matter of fact, the movement toward God, like all good things, originates from God Himself.”
“Heretics won’t go to heaven”
It is true. Heretics cannot go to heaven. This is Church dogma. Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV, ex Cathedra, Cantate domino, 1441: “The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, and heretics, and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire “which was prepared for the devil, and his angels,” (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her…”
Benns Comment: In the absence of anyone to abjure their heresy and absolve them, heretics can be joined to the Church by desire if they repent before death.
“Only stay-at-home Catholics will save their souls”
Only true Catholics who stay at home on Sunday (i.e. don’t attend any “masses”) are in the true Catholic Church” (https://truecatholics.org/catholicism/stay-at-home-catholic-overview/).
Benns Comment: Those who are invincibly ignorant do not have to be actual Church members to be saved, and this does NOT contradict outside the Church no salvation, as our last blog piece explained. As written, the last statement above by truecatholics is at least ambiguous and misleading. And I have news for those teaching in this manner: The only way that anyone can be considered to be in the true Catholic Church after having attended NO and Traditional “masses” is by a desire to do penance and return to the Church in which they were baptized. Those who have excommunicated themselves by such attendance are outside the Church, as schismatics, and are no longer members. This according to Canon Law and the penalties for communicatio in sacris. So welcome to the club of those aspiring to be saved without membership in the Church!
Public adherence to a non-Catholic sect is all that is required under Can. 2314 to ipso facto incur infamy of law, and unless or until we see a true pope again, there is no way to reverse it. Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, whose theological texts were used worldwide to train priests and theologians, points out that, “All theologians teach that publicly known heretics, those who belong to a heterodox sect through public profession, or those who refuse the infallible teaching of the authority of the Church, are excluded from the body of the Church, even if their heresy is only material heresy,” (Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II). This means that although there is often no sin involved, the excommunication still binds.
For many different reasons it could be argued that the full rigor of the law would not be applied to the laity in this case who were participating in false worship which they thought at the time was the true liturgy of the Church. Therefore a dismissal of the penalty by the Roman Pontiff would not be strictly required, especially when a true pope is not available. But it most likely would apply to those posing as clergy who provided the services, for they were self-appointed leaders and as such were bound to a greater degree of knowledge. Even so, the material heresy would remain in lay persons. This, however, could be resolved by following Canon 18 regarding doubts about certain laws and their application. This canon refers those in doubt to parallel passages of the code and the mind of the lawgiver. One Canon that would apply to this situation prescribes a three-year probationary period for religious who have been dismissed. Here we are not talking religious or those in major orders, but the laity. It seems a rule can be deduced from this canon that would fit the situation of stay-at-home Catholics, but this is a topic for another time.
Is baptism of desire really only fidei sententiae proxima?
Theologians use the term Fidei sententiae proxima to identify doctrines as truths of revelation which have not been finally promulgated by the Church. The identification of baptism of desire as Fidei sententiae proxima has led some to believe that the teaching on this doctrine is not binding on Catholics because it wasn’t “infallibly decreed.” They cite as their source for this belief Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, (which I never use as a source; the reason for this will be treated below.) They say it can be held as an opinion, which some future Pontiff might reverse. Yet Pius XII’s teaching on the subject is found in Mystici corporis Christi, which Suprema haec sacra (see above) identifies as a “dogmatic letter.” But those wishing to dismiss baptism of desire as a permitted opinion only do not reference that encyclical and they dismiss Suprema haec sacra as not binding on them in way of assent. Their difficulties could be resolved by reading Pope Pius XII’s infallible encyclical Humani generis, but this is not something they see the need to do either. The best way to explain why baptism of desire is not just an opinion to be tolerated is found in Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton’s The Catholic Church and Salvation below.
In Pt. I, p. 1 of his work, Msgr. Fenton lists the documents he will examine in the course of his demonstration of the salvation dogma as follows: A profession of the Catholic faith issued by the Fourth Lateran Council, the twelfth in the series of Oecumenical Councils, in 1215, during the pontificate of Pope Innocent III; the Bull Unam sanctam; the decree for the Jacobites, the Bull Cantate Domino; Pope Pius IX’s Singulars quadam and Quanto conficiamur moerore; Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis Christi, Suprema haec sacra and Humani generis.
He then comments: “As authoritative statements of the teaching Church, all of these pronouncements of the Holy See and of Oecumenical Councils must be accepted with true internal consent by all Catholics. What they teach on the subject or this dogma is what all Catholics arc bound in conscience to hold. It is definitely not enough for Catholics to receive these declarations with what has been called ” respectful silence.” It is not sufficient that they merely refrain from overt statements rejecting what has been taught in these authoritative documents of the ecclesia docens. Every Catholic is strictly bound in conscience to make what the Church has taught in this way his own view, his own conviction, on this subject. And, as a result, it is objectively wrong for any Catholic to hold an explanation of the Church’s necessity for salvation which is in any way incompatible with what the Church has taught authoritatively about this dogma… The first three of these pronouncements are contained in documents of the Church’s solemn teaching activity. THE OTHER FIVE BELONG TO THE ORDINARY MAGISTERIUM OF THE HOLY SEE. THE HOLY OFFICE LETTER SUPREMA HAEC SACRA IS AN ACT OF A ROMAN CONGREGATION. THUS, ACCORDING TO THE RULE SET FORTH IN CANON 7 OF THE CODEX IURIS CANONICI, IT MUST LIKEWISE BE CONSIDERED AND DESCRIBED AS AN ACT OF THE HOLY SEE.
“In Tuas Libentur, Pope Pius IX taught: “…It is not enough… to receive and to venerate the… dogmas of the Church, but it is also necessary that they [German theologians attending a convention the Pope was addressing] subject themselves to the doctrinal decisions of the Pontifical Congregations and to those points of doctrine that are considered by the common and constant agreement of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions which are so certain that opinions opposed to these points of doctrine still merit some other theological censure, even though they may not be designated as heretical” (end of Msgr. Fenton quotes. See also the Vatican Council, DZ 1820, Canon 1324.)
Furthermore, Humani generis, released two years prior to Suprema haec sacra, teaches infallibly that the pope has the power to permanently end theological discussions and disputes, and in Suprema haec sacra, also Feeney’s later excommunication, there can be no doubt that this is exactly what Pope Pius XII and the Holy Office intended to do. From Humani generis: “If the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents propose to pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and the will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.”
As stated in the last blog, there was much misunderstanding and misrepresentation regarding the teaching on baptism of desire and outside the Church no salvation as it developed over time. Pope Pius XII knew this and cut through the confusion to give a clear explanation of how this teaching of the Church was to be understood. Rome, therefore, has spoken and the discussion has ended. And this teaching by Pope Pius XII is only a reiteration of what was taught by Pope St. Gelasius in 493 A.D. (DZ 161). To assist readers in further dispelling this confusion, there is one other topic that must be addressed.
Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
In an effort to sort out the many perplexing theological issues of the day, Catholics have often turned to this condensed work as a ready and reliable reference. However its reliability, especially regarding church membership, has been questioned by at least one theologian, a professor of theology at the Oblate College in Washington, D.C. (1955), In a January 1956 book review for the American Ecclesiastical Review, John J. King, O.M.I. points to the dangers in compressing Sacred Theology into one “digest.” He admits that Ott succeeded in accomplishing brevity in his work but credits him with “something less than success” in achieving clarity… This lack of uniform clarity makes this a somewhat dangerous book to use.”
He commends the “obvious scholarship” Ott brings to his work but says nowhere does “his exposition of dogma suffer so much from the process of compression as in the treatment of the axiom [‘outside the Church no salvation’].” He challenges Ott’s statement that, “In view of the necessity of membership in the Church for salvation, it is understandable that the possibility of salvation for those outside the Church is mentioned only hesitantly.” (p. 310, 311). “At the very least, this wording is confusing,” Rev. King comments. “It is, in fact, a distortion of the Catholic teaching. For the statements of the magisterium insist upon the absolute necessity of the Church, and not the necessity of membership of the Church” (emph. King’s). This statement is key to rightly understanding the proper context of the teaching on baptism of desire. Ott’s statement, he continues, “throws doubt upon the essential point if the dogma; for outside the Church no one at all is saved… It is one thing to be outside the Church and quite another to be without membership in the Church. One who is outside the Church cannot obtain salvation. One who is not a member of the Church can, in certain circumstances, attain salvation.”
He also challenges Ott’s use of “membership in the Church by desire,” calling it out of harmony with Mystici Corporis Christi. He cites Ott’s “confusing terminology,” noting that it is too close to that concept of an invisible or “other’ Church condemned in the encyclical. But he does note that Ott’s work was released before the publication of Suprema haec sacra. In his conclusion, Rev. King states that although the book is intended for use by students and seminarians, it is clearly inadequate for this purpose and “could readily confuse and mislead seminarians.” He also notes there are few quotes from the magisterium, Scripture or Tradition. His final paragraph reads: “Dr. Ott’s book may be useful on occasion as a quick reference; provided that the inquirer does not expect to receive a complete treatment of any given point; and provided also that he later seeks clarification and amplification of a more detailed source.” So certainly, if this would be confusing to seminarians, it would not be suitable as a reference for the laity. And it accounts for much of the confusion on this topic and many others.
Traditionalists wish to receive simple and brief answers to their doctrinal questions, but scholastic theologians would not have toiled for years and written voluminous explanations of dogma if such explanations were easily had and could be readily reduced to a simple formula. Here papal documents are our surest bet, especially those which are most recent, for generally speaking they are succinct, not unduly lengthy and to the point. And as Pope St. Pius X teaches us in the Oath against Modernism, concerning the external arguments of revelation, or divine facts, “These same arguments have been especially accommodated to the intelligence of all ages and men, even of these times.” Pope Pius IX, commenting on the plea of certain individuals to more fully explain the Vatican Council decrees, wrote: “I will not do it. It is clear in itself and has no need of other comments and explanations. Whosoever reads that Decree with a dispassionate mind has its true sense easily and obviously before him” (Discourse given by Pius IX on July 20,1871; quoted by Henry Cardinal Manning).
In conclusion, the teachings of truecatholics are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church whether they accept Leonard Feeney as their leader or not. They attempt to revisit a matter settled by Pope Pius XII long ago and pretend one can still hold an opinion diametrically opposed to what the pope taught. This misunderstanding of how the continual magisterium actually functions and how we are to believe what the popes have taught are divisive and are dangerous to the faith of Catholics. And we would be considered as heretics ourselves if we did not point this out to the faithful.