by T. Stanfill Benns | Apr 28, 2020 | New Blog
+St. Louis Grignion de Montfort+
This site has never ceased to promote obedience to the Roman Pontiffs, a love for the papacy and obedience to the Sacred Canons. Careful study of the articles available here will yield a complete understanding of how and why the Church forbids Catholics today to receive the Sacraments at the hands of Traditionalists. Yet some, it seems, have not fully completed this study, and continue to be ensnared by the sophists rampant among Traditionalists. Traditionalist pushback appeared over the past several weeks following the articles posted in our ongoing blog series, and the errors in their presentations are comprehensively refuted here, once again. Our series details papal prohibitions regarding the inability of those who have received orders from the hands of schismatics to function validly.
Despite these explanations, based almost entirely on papal and conciliar documents and Canon Law, reportedly some are now confused after listening to a recent Internet interview regarding supplied jurisdiction. This interview was posted shortly after the blog series began running in March. The individual giving this interview (we shall call him Theodotus) mistakenly informs his listeners there is papal and conciliar support for the supplied jurisdiction Traditionalists claim to possess. The recent betrayedcatholics blog series answers all but a few of the issues addressed in the interview, but certain things must be clarified and reiterated to clear up any misconceptions.
- Can Traditionalists possibly possess supplied jurisdiction?
In a word, no. This pretention presumes they are able to possess it, i.e., are validly ordained/consecrated and are able to exercise said jurisdiction, when these two premises have not been proven. In fact, they have been disproven by papal and ecumenical council decrees and approved theologians enacted before the death of Pope Pius XII. Here we return to the fallacious argument known as petitio princippii, or begging the question: Assuming as true that which has yet to be proved, and a fallacious argument, according to the rules of scholastic philosophy, cannot be used as evidence in any truly Catholic forum.
Traditionalists have yet to prove their validity. And in fact there is no way they can prove it unless and until a true pope returns to determine whether Orders received during an interregnum in violation of Pope Pius XII’s election law are valid, need to be repeated conditionally or need to be repeated entirely. Only a sitting pope can supply jurisdiction; no other entity, not even Christ, can be said to so supply, as was explained in a previous blog. These men purportedly possessing such orders exist in the limbo known as doubt regarding their true status. This is why they cannot convey the Sacraments and the faithful must avoid them. And it may well be that bishops objecting to Vatican 2 made no effort to elect a true pope because they feared he might rein in the hierarchy and void all of the Vatican 2 “reforms,” some of which they actually favored. In that case we were better off without them.
- Does employing a valid form in Holy Orders really constitute a right intention?
Theodotus maintains the validity of those calling themselves priests and bishops must be presumed, and cannot be questioned, even if they are heretics or schismatics, provided that they possessed the proper intention, (Can. 951). He repeatedly refers to the deviousness and treachery of those who infiltrated the Church, warning listeners not to underestimate their ability to deceive. And yet he upholds the proper intention hence the validity of the orders administered by Lefebvre, Thuc and Alfredo Mendez-Gonzalez. This even though so many indicators point to grave doubts regarding their intentions, (in Lefebvre’s case, his own ordination and Masonic affiliations, and in the case of Thuc, his sanity. Mendez was consecrated under John 23rd). The Church does not teach this regarding intention in Holy Orders, however, and Theodotus errs in not elaborating on this principle for his hearers.
Theodotus asserts that the only thing the Church requires as necessary to confirm a right intention exists is the correct external performance of the rite of ordination/consecration. But in his constitution on Anglican orders, Apostolicae Curae, Pope Leo XIII separates form from intention, observing that those bishops not validly and lawfully ordained — Anglicans promoted to the episcopate and other orders “not according to the accustomed form of the Church… the form AND intention of the Church” — were the ones who could not be considered to have been validly (ordained or) consecrated. So intention is something separate from the form and is required in addition to it. This is broken down into part acts by Rev. Bernard Leeming, S.J., in his Principles of Sacramental Theology:
“[In the case of the Sacraments] common sense indeed presumes… that the minister intends to do a religious act, to do it in accord with the meaning of the rite which he uses and in accord with the mind of the religious body of which he is a minister…” (And P. Pourrat, in his Theology of the Sacraments, 1910, agrees with Leeming stating that: “The intention of the minister is that of the church he represents”). Leeming continues: “The mind of the Church is clear that it is possible for a minister to have the intention of not doing what the Church does, and that if such is the case, the sacrament is invalid. This teaching is universally accepted by modern theologians [and hence it is binding on the faithful] who agree that a sacrament is invalidated even by a secret intention of the minister contrary to the substantial nature of the sacrament… The concept of the commission given by Christ seems to demand more than the physical performance of the rite…In orders the bishop gives a man the recognized standing of a minister in the united body… Priests and bishops… are entrusted by Christ with His flock and in no wise fulfill that trust if there is a will positively to exclude what the Church of Christ does for the flock…
“There is always a presumption that a man intends to do what he actually does; nevertheless, a presumption is always liable to be overthrown by clear evidence… It is clearly contrary to common sense to say that the spoken word inevitably reflects the inward mind,” and here he gives the example of those who lie or those who swear false oaths. So much for the contentions of Theodotus, since Rev. Leeming, a professor of dogmatic theology writing in 1955, enjoyed the approval of the Church under Pope Pius XII, something Theodotus could never claim. Leeming is eminently credible; Theodotus is not.
Rev. Leeming further explains that there is really little difference in actual invalidity and “a practical legal invalidity.” In examining “re-ordinations” from previous ages, he writes: “The practical effect is the same whether orders are declared invalid or whether the recipient is refused all permission to exercise them. In theory the difference is very great; but in practice there is very little difference, and, because of the practical effects,” it is easy to confuse the two. Leeming continues: “Various expressions which seem at first sight to indicate invalidity of orders means in fact a practical legal invalidity, in the sense that the Church to which the bishop or priest was consecrated owed him no support or obedience and his acts had no legal effect.”
This is the type of invalidity that has been observed in the blog pieces regarding Traditionalists, a legal invalidity now imposed by Pope Pius XII’s infallible Vacantis Apostolica Sedis (VAS). Theodotus keeps repeating that we live in perilous times and the current laws cannot be applied. That is because there is a law written specifically for interregnums that DOES apply, and no Traditionalist will acknowledge that. The actual validity of the Orders received by those claiming to have been ordained and consecrated cannot be determined until a true pope exists to judge them. But the legal validity of their acts in light of VAS, which has declared them null and void — invalid, according to Pope Leo XIII’s definition in Apostolicae Curae — cannot be questioned, coming as it does from a binding papal document. This presents exactly the situation that is described in the blog on epikeia, one of doubt; for no one can presume to know what a future pope might decide.
The actual form used by Thuc to consecrate Guerard des Lauriers was even called into question by the two principle witnesses of the consecration, Mssrs. Hiller and Heller. Did Thuc or Lefebvre really have the intention to conform to “the mind of the religious body of which he is a minister”? Either both men were members of the Novus Ordo Church or they were acting outside of the Church and her laws. By virtue of his “consecration, Mendez was a member of the Novus Ordo church. Either way, they could not be described as being affiliated with the Catholic Church or comprising ministers “of the united body.” Since when would anyone ever dream of describing Traditionalists as “united”?! That is a contradiction in terms. The only true unity envisioned by Leeming when making this statement was that of the hierarchy in communion with the Roman Pontiff, something we know was not the case.
- False Western Schism analogy
To support his supplied jurisdiction scenario, which he confusedly refers to as “ordinary,” Theodotus resorts to the (false) analogy of the Western Schism. A false analogy is yet another fallacious argument in scholastic philosophy, and therefore, it has no standing.
The reason the interview hinges on supplied jurisdiction is that orders in and of itself is not sufficient to establish apostolicity. The one ordained, illicitly or not, must also somehow possess jurisdiction in order to establish true descent from the Apostles (see Apostolicity) and administer the Sacraments. In Theodotus’ references to supplied jurisdiction he seems to imply that perhaps a secret pope is supplying it, so it can be assumed as supplied in the same manner jurisdiction was, according to him, supplied during the time of the Western Schism: it was simply out there. The Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes the schism below.
“From this brief summary it will be readily concluded that this schism did not at all resemble that of the East, that it was something unique, and that it has remained so in history. It was not a schism properly so called, being in reality a deplorable misunderstanding concerning a question of fact, an historical complication which lasted forty years. In the West there was no revolt against papal authority in general, no scorn of the sovereign power of which St. Peter was the representative. Faith in the necessary unity never wavered a particle; no one wished voluntarily to separate from the head of the Church. Now this intention alone is the characteristic mark of the schismatic spirit (Summa, II-II, Q. xxxix, a. 1).” As explained in our last blog post, the failure of any remaining “faithful” bishops to gather together and elect a true pope screamed their intention not to be ruled by a Sovereign Pontiff and not to perpetuate the papacy. This contrary intention speaks volumes regarding those they ordained and consecrated, men who were not created as ministers existing in a “united body.”
So no, the Western Schism cannot be said to be analogous to our times because there is no one at all who even appears to be a true pope reigning today. And no “free-floating” jurisdiction existed then to justify the acts of the antipopes and their clergy, either. A true pope existed the entire time who could secretly have supplied jurisdiction, although from all indications, the Council of Constance under Gregory XII supplied whatever was lacking to the people in their depositions of the two antipopes. After condemning John XXIII as a simoniac, fomenter of schism, and notoriously incorrigible, the council declared: “The said holy synod does now remove, deprive and depose him. It declares each and every Christian, of whatever state, dignity or condition, to be absolved from obedience, fidelity and oaths to him. It forbids all Christians henceforth to recognize him as pope, now that as mentioned he has been deposed from the papacy, or to call him pope, or to adhere to or in any way to obey him as pope. The said holy synod, moreover, from certain knowledge and its fullness of power, supplies for all and singular defects that may have occurred in the above-mentioned procedures or in any one of them.” (See link below.)
Antipope Benedict XIII was condemned as “a perjurer, a cause of scandal to the universal church, a promoter and breeder of the ancient schism, that long established fission and division in God’s holy church, an obstructer of the peace and unity of the said church, a schismatic disturber and a heretic… [He is] deprived of all benefices, dignities and ecclesiastical or secular honours, and under other penalties of the law, even if the dignity is that of a bishop, a patriarch, a cardinal, a king or the emperor. If they act contrary to this prohibition, they are by this very fact deprived of these things, on the authority of this decree and sentence, and they incur the other penalties of the law. This holy synod, moreover, declares and decrees that all and singular prohibitions and all processes, sentences, constitutions, censures and any other things whatsoever that were issued by him and might impede the aforesaid, are without effect; and it invalidates, revokes and annuls them; saving always the other penalties which the law decrees for the above cases” (http://www.dailycatholic.org/history/16ecume1.htm). This is but a precursor of Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, for having identified Benedict XIII as a heretic only claiming to be pope, they then simply declare that anything he attempted to do had no effect.
In the deposition of John XXIII, deposed in May 1415, it appears Gregory XII supplied jurisdiction for the acts of all those in that “obedience” since he did not resign until July 4, 1415. The wording is different for those who were in the obedience of Benedict XIII, since there was no longer even a claimant to the papacy heading the council to supply. But in both instances, all the “papal” acts are revoked. Gregory XII was later determined to be the true pope, so we can assume all those following him were covered validity wise. And no doubt Pope Martin V provided for those who had been under obedience to Benedict XIII; we do not have all his decrees, but this is only is only right and just.
- Ad Evitanda Scandala is not what it appears to be
Theodotus points to Pope Martin V’s Ad Evitanda Scandala, 1417, as proof that regardless of any excommunication for whatever reason, excommunicated clergy could function and validly dispense the Sacraments. (Again, first prove unquestionable validity, then this matter can be considered.) Ad Evitanda basically states that “No one henceforth shall be bound to abstain from communion with anyone in the administration or reception of the sacraments or in any other religious or non-religious acts whatsoever, nor to avoid anyone nor to observe any ecclesiastical interdict, on pretext of any ecclesiastical sentence or censure…” And Theodotus says this removes any censures incurred by those under the antipopes during the schism. But over 125 years or so after the close of the Council of Constance, St. Robert Bellarmine clarified, per Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio (1559), who precisely was included in Pope Martin V’s decree as follows:
“There is no basis for that which some respond to this: that these Fathers based themselves on ancient law, while nowadays, by decree of the Council of Constance, they alone lose their jurisdiction who are excommunicated by name or who assault clerics. This argument, I say, has no value at all, for those Fathers, in affirming that heretics lose jurisdiction, did not cite any human law, which furthermore perhaps did not exist in relation to the matter, but argued on the basis of the very nature of heresy. The Council of Constance only deals with the excommunicated, that is, those who have lost jurisdiction by sentence of the Church, while heretics already before being excommunicated are outside the Church and deprived of all jurisdiction. For they have already been condemned by their own sentence, as the Apostle teaches (Tit. 3:10-11), that is, they have been cut off from the body of the Church without excommunication, as St. Jerome affirms… All the ancient Fathers…teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and outstandingly that of St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2) who speaks as follows of Novatian, who was Pope [i.e. antipope] in the schism which occurred during the pontificate of St. Cornelius: “He would not be able to retain the episcopate [i.e. of Rome], and, if he was made bishop before, he separated himself from the body of those who were, like him, bishops, and from the unity of the Church.’” — St. Robert Bellarmine, An Extract from St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30, (http://www.cmri.org/02-bellarmine-roman-pontiff.html .This link is placed merely for purposes of attribution; no endorsement of this site is hereby intended.)
The above gives the lie to Theodotus’ belief that no one has ever challenged Ad Evitanda Scandala. Furthermore, St. Robert Bellarmine, in de Romano Pontifice, Bk. 2, Chapter 40 taught: “The Holy Fathers teach unanimously not only that heretics are outside of the Church, but also that they are ipso facto deprived of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity …Saint Nicholas I (epist. Ad Michael) repeats and confirms the same. Finally, Saint Thomas also teaches (II-II, Q39, A3) that schismatics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and that anything they try to do on the basis of any jurisdiction will be null.” Bellarmine could scarcely say otherwise, since already Pope Paul IV in Cum ex Apostolatus Officio had infallibly decreed that:
“Further, if ever at any time it becomes clear that any Bishop, even one conducting himself as an Archbishop, Patriarch, or primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, even as mentioned, a Legate; or likewise any Roman Pontiff before his promotion or elevation as a Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, [has strayed from the Catholic Faith or] fallen into some heresy, [or has incurred schism] …his promotion or elevation shall be null, invalid and void. It cannot be declared valid or become valid through his acceptance of the office, his consecration, subsequent possession or seeming possession of government and administration…The persons themselves so promoted and elevated shall, ipso facto and without need for any further declaration, be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power…” (Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, 1559). This Bull is the basis and foundation stone for nearly every canon on heresy, apostasy and schism contained in the 1917 Code of Canon Law; the old law from which all the others spring.
- Canon 2261 §2: Does it give Traditionalists carte blanche?
Ad Evitanda Scandala is the old law on which Can. 2261 §2 is based (Gasparri in his Fontes). In his 1928 Catholic University of America dissertation, Excommunication, Rev. Francis E. Hyland, agrees with Bellarmine’s assessment regarding those excommunicated for heresy, apostasy and schism, commenting on this subject: “Tanquerey remarks that… the Church is wont to declare as vitandi only notorious heretics and schismatics. From these remarks it is clear that those excommunicates under consideration in this canon [2261 §2] ARE NOT THOSE EXCOMMUNICATED FOR HERESY AND SCHISM, for these are already outside the Church, as Rev. Tanquerey observes.” Tanquerey’s manuals on dogma were in common use in seminaries in the last century and as Msgr. Joseph Fenton observes, one cannot call his teaching into question without also questioning the Church’s proper training of Her seminarians.
Again, Hyland far and away trumps Theodotus. But here we do not even need to worry about Can. 2261 §2; first those claiming this privilege must prove themselves to be clerics validly ordained and consecrated, for this canon applies to clerics only! All the rest depends on this proof and until a true pope can make this determination there is no certainty whatsoever; only doubt. Once they are cleared of heresy, apostasy and schism and their status is declared, then we can ask for an authentic interpretation of Canon 2261 §2.
- The Decree of the Fourth Lateran Council, Chap. 26
This is cited by Theodotus to prove that those who have been elected bishops can wait for papal approval (the papal mandate) indefinitely and still function. “There is nothing more harmful to God’s church than for unworthy prelates to be entrusted with the government of souls. Wishing therefore to provide the necessary remedy for this disease, we decree by this irrevocable constitution that when anyone has been entrusted with the government of souls, then he who holds the right to confirm him should diligently examine both the process of the election and the character of the person elected, so that when everything is in order he may confirm him… Bishops too, if they wish to avoid canonical punishment, should take care to promote to holy orders and to ecclesiastical dignities men who will be able to discharge worthily the office entrusted to them.
“Those who are immediately subject to the Roman pontiff shall, to obtain confirmation of their office, present themselves personally to him, if this can conveniently be done, or send suitable persons through whom a careful inquiry can be made about the process of the election and the persons elected. In this way, on the strength of the pontiff’s informed judgment, they may finally enter into the fullness of their office, when there is no impediment in canon law. For a time, however, those who are in very distant parts, namely outside Italy, if they were elected peaceably, may by dispensation, on account of the needs and benefit of the churches, administer in things spiritual and temporal, but in such a way that they alienate nothing whatever of the church’s goods. They may receive the customary consecration or blessing” (http://www.dailycatholic.org/history/12ecume3.htm, no. 26).
Sorry to keep repeating myself, but this is referring only to unquestionably validly ordained priests peaceably elected as bishops by certainly qualified electors under a true pope. It does not apply to those whose ordinations or elections are in question during an interregnum. And notice that this is only allowed “for a time.” It is not very likely that the council fathers meant this to last for 800 years. Since then we have the 1917 Code which adjusts all these matters. Also, as noted in the blog on the heresy of Antiquarianism, prior arrangements now obsolete are no longer valid, and there is no indication whatsoever that this decision of the Lateran Council XIV could have survived into our own day, even as a precedent.
- Antiquarianism and Ad Apostolorum Principis
This subject has been well addressed in a previous blog but the contents of the post obviously bear repeating. Theodotus claims the mere mention of a past practice of the Church justifies its adaptation and use by Traditionalists. They cite paragraph 43 of the pope’s constitution which reads:
“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…”
Theodotus seizes only on the phrase “a usage which prevailed in ages past,” and flies past the part where the pope declares such usages no longer valid. Pius XII’s decisive words mean nothing once Traditionalists think they have found the long-lost loophole they need to establish their “case.” To do this, he ignores Pope Pius XII’s infallible teaching in Mediator Dei: 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.” And there it is in black and white; no Catholic in his right senses can do such a thing. That tells us all we need to know about Traditionalists.
- Pope Innocent II and the Antipope Anacletus — Deliberate Disinformation?
Theodotus tells his listeners that those who in the past elected antipopes and served under them were eventually readmitted to the clergy. He cites the case of Pope Innocent II, championed by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and he says Pope Innocent readmitted all of Anacletus’ clergy to the Church following the antipope’s deposition. Ailbe J. Luddy, O. Cist., in his 1950 work, The Life and Teaching of St. Bernard, records the following:
“[Innocent II] pronounced sentence of deposition against all who had been ordained or consecrated or promoted to any ecclesiastical rank or dignity by Anacletus or Gerard of Angouleme, not excepting such as had freely and early renounced the schism.” At the General Council of the Lateran held in 1139, Innocent II, according to the historian Baronius pronounced the following: “Whatsoever he [Anacletus] has established I annul; whomsoever he has exalted, I depose; whomsoever he has consecrated, I suspend and degrade.” This hardly agrees with what was reported by Theodotus. And it was not the last time that a council voided dignities received by the clergy from antipopes.
From the Third Lateran Council, Canon 2: Renewing the decision taken by our predecessor of happy memory, Innocent, we decree that the ordinances made by the heresiarchs Octavian and Guido, and also by John of Strumawho followed them [antipopes Victor IV (1159-1164), Paschal III (1164–1168) and Callistus III (1168–1178)] and by those ordained by them, are void; and furthermore that if any have received ecclesiastical dignities or benefices through the foresaid schismatics, they are to be deprived of them. Moreover alienations or seizures of ecclesiastical property, which have been made by these schismatics or by lay persons, are to lack all validity and are to return to the church without any burden to it. If anyone presumes to act against this, let him know that he is excommunicated. We decree that those who of their own accord have taken an oath to remain in schism are suspended from sacred orders and dignities” (http://www.dailycatholic.org/history/11ecume1.htm).
(The following is from the Council of Florence held in Florence, Italy from 1438-1447. The Council was a continuation of the Council of Ferrara, and that council in turn was a continuation of the Council of Basel, in Switzerland. It was convoked in 1431 by Pope Martin V. Following Martin’s death, his successor Blessed Pope Eugene IV opened it and met open resistance from many of the bishops. Therefore he dissolved the Council, moving to Ferrara, Italy in 1438 because of the schismatic bishops who elected the antipope Felix V. Felix attempted to depose Eugene IV. These are the condemnations aimed at Felix and his followers who did not repent and return to the Church.)
“May he and all the aforesaid be cast out like an antichrist and an invader and a destroyer of the whole of Christianity. Let no appeal in this matter ever be allowed to him or to them. Let them and their posterity and successors be deprived without appeal of every ecclesiastical or secular rank and dignity whatsoever. Let all of them be condemned by a perpetual anathema and excommunication and may they be counted among the wicked who will not rise at the judgment.” (17th Council of Florence, 1431-1445; part 10).
Then of course there is Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio in 1559, quoted above, regarding such an antipope and those appointed by him: “…his promotion or elevation shall be null, invalid and void. It cannot be declared valid or become valid through his acceptance of the office, his consecration, subsequent possession or seeming possession of government and administration…The persons themselves so promoted and elevated shall, ipso facto and without need for any further declaration be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power…”
9. St. Vincent Ferrar didn’t need jurisdiction
This subject is somewhat amusing since it proves a point I am sure Traditionalists never intended to make. One pro-Trad jurisdiction tract in particular uses the case of St. Vincent Ferrar to almost singlehandedly demonstrate that jurisdiction existed during the time of the Western Schism. They allege that the antipope Benedict XIII, who St. Vincent then believed was the true pope, was able to grant him jurisdiction to preach and hear confessions. Well curiously, there is a very obvious answer to this particular jurisdiction question that needs to be pointed out. The following quote is taken from St. Francis de Sales Catholic Controversy, where he rebukes the Protestants.
“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, 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?” Well needless to say, St. Vincent Ferrar worked many notable miracles, and hence no jurisdiction was ever necessary.
And no, this argument, then, cannot be used to say that since St. Vincent did not have an office under the anti-pope, neither do Traditionalists need an office. He was given the gift of miracles and that was his office of preacher complete with jurisdiction. Traditionalists can scarcely claim the same.
10. Other issues
Theodotus seems to believe that it is a matter of opinion only that the popes following Pope Pius XII are heretics. Traditionalists, of course, do not believe in the necessity of certitude before proceeding to act as the Church teaches, so this is not surprising. He encourages those listening to his interview to let the moderator know their opinions on the matter, as if the Church had ever allowed anyone at any time to opine on the validity of the Sacraments and the veracity of papal decisions. Nothing like a nice Novus Ordo-style dialogue to determine how best to violate papal jurisdiction, right? Or are they taking their cues from the “pope” they seem to be alluding to in the interview…! Who knows what they will eventually trot out — at this stage of the game all bets are off. If readers had not requested a review of the errors exposed here, this, like so many other fantastical Traditional presentations would have passed unnoticed and unworthy of comment.
In an attempt to smooth the ruffled feathers of stay-at-home Catholics, Theodotus concedes that those who believe they must remain at home and not receive the Sacraments are not committing mortal sin. Thanks for that, Theodotus. But it is not much consolation when you and so many others refuse to admit staying at home is not merely an option, but an obligation, and many of those not availing themselves of it ARE committing mortal sin. It is these unacknowledged sins that are the underlying cause of the discord among all Traditionalists vying to compete in the “Catholic restoration” efforts. As one reader in touch with certain Traditional factions noted recently, “There’s no way there will be ‘union among the clans’ as they call it. They hate each other BITTERLY… How they treat each other… they’re like demons. It is horrible.” Sadly, I cannot help but agree. “Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you” (Luke 6: 27-36). That is all we can do.
(Pease see my commentary below, as well.)
by T. Stanfill Benns | Apr 23, 2020 | New Blog
+St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen+
Addressing some concerns
A reader informed me of a Traditionalist piece circulating on the Internet, warning against homealoners who accuse Traditionalist clergy of violating not only canon law, but divine law. The article states that making such accusations requires specialized training in moral theology, canon law, sacramental law, and dogmatic theology, something available only by enrolling in courses at a Catholic seminary or university. It concludes by noting that none of these unnamed homealoners can boast such a background or realize the extent of their vast ignorance regarding these topics. Well please wipe off your shoes, Mr. Traditionalist, because now you have really stepped in it.
Everything on this site comes from the popes themselves and credible and approved theological sources writing before the death of Pope Pius XII. These are the Church’s finest examples of scholarship, men Traditionalists cannot even begin to compete with. The majority of papal decrees available on the Internet are in English and were written by the popes for all the faithful, not just the “illumined” Traditional “hierarchy.” We are assured by Pope St. Pius X that these teachings of the popes on Divine revelation have been “accommodated to the intelligence of all ages and men, even to these times,” (Oath Against the Errors of Modernism, DZ 2145). Not surprisingly, this article did not even bother to list papal sources in its references.
The theological sources these Traditionalists prefer are often taken out of context by their so-called clergy or never brought to the attention of those who follow them. Comically the author lists his “superior sources” at the end of his article, and many of these same sources have been quoted on this website for nearly two decades. He also tries to confuse jurisdiction with “deputation,” a term not even listed in canon law manuals and dictionaries or found in other theological works. As for his “superior knowledge,” imbibed at the knees of St. Pius X Society gurus operating a “seminary” without papal permission, please forgive me while I guffaw into my hanky. Such sophistry is used for one reason only: to confuse and keep in line followers asking serious questions. The author then launches into a pious tirade promoting the devotion of Trad “priests” to their faithful and defending their right to minister to these poor, needy souls.
After falsely accusing homealoners of arguing beside the point in the opening paragraphs, the article proceeds to demonstrate a perfect case of the fallacious argument Petitio principii or begging the question: Assuming as true that which has yet to be proved. Five pages follow that assume all Traditional priests and bishops are validly ordained and consecrated; that they represent the true Church of Christ referred to by the theologians quoted in the article to prove the case and that they possess he jurisdiction necessary to function. This without ever offering one scintilla of proof regarding their validity. Proof of their invalidity has been offered in abundance on this website, papal proofs that cannot be refuted even by pre-V2 theologians. And now the burden of proof rests with them. The proofs presented represent the highest proofs available — those taken from the Roman Pontiffs — establishing a presumption in law. “He who has a presumption of law in his favor is freed from the burden of proof, which is shifted to his opponent; if the latter cannot PROVE that the presumption failed in the case, the judge must render sentence in favor of the one on whose side the presumption stands.” Canon 1812 tells us that acts issuing from the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Curia during the exercise of their office and entered as proof in ecclesiastical courts “prove the facts asserted,” (Can. 1816), and force the judge to pronounce in favor of the party producing the document, (commentary by Revs. Woywod-Smith).
As was made perfectly clear in the blog post on epikeia, Bd. Pope Innocent XI (DZ 1151) forbids the use of probable opinions in the reception of the Sacraments. Rev. Dominic Prummer writes: “A doubtful law has no binding force whenever the doubt concerns the lawfulness of an act AND NOT ITS VALIDITY… All modern theologians are agreed this principle cannot be applied regarding:” the validity of the Sacraments, something which is absolutely necessary for salvation or the established right of a third party. This would include the Sacrament of Orders and Penance. Traditionalists can scarcely range themselves against the unanimous opinion of theologians, quoting them as they do. And should they attempt this, they must deal not with homealoners, but with Pope Pius IX:
“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” (Tuas Libentur, 1863: DZ 1684). Having addressed this once again, we now move on to this week’s topic.
Are true bishops out there?
Can valid and licit bishops still be alive who could elect a true pope and restore the Church? It’s possible, but not likely. In some of the early articles on this site, I assumed there were such bishops, but as the years go by it is less and less likely they are still alive, if they ever indeed did exist. Those who insist there must still be valid clergy alive do so on the premise that the Church as it was constituted by Christ must last until the consummation. To deny this, they maintain, is to deny the Church’s indefectibility.
Christ “wished the pastors and Doctors to be ‘even unto the consummation’” (DZ 1821), but He also gave man free will and the hierarchy failed miserably in its duty to the flock. When Pope Pius XII taught that the bishops can receive their jurisdiction only through his hands, and do not possess it as a direct grant from Christ, it appears that he likewise resolved this controversy about whether the bishops could retain their powers “unto the consummation” without being in communion with the pope. For the prior teaching held by the Gallicanists was fashioned after their belief that the bishops were necessary somehow to the pope in declaring infallible pronouncements. (In truth the early Gallicanists believed the bishops were, as a body, the pope’s superiors, since, in democratic fashion, they represented the entire body of the faithful.) And in the final analysis, those who claim Traditionalist bishops are the fulfillment of this teaching are making a laughingstock of themselves, for Christ constituted the Church with Peter as its head and we have no pope!
Those attending the Vatican Council in 1869 expressed this belief (that the Church as Christ constituted it would last unto the consummation) in council documents on the Constitution of the Church which were never discussed or voted upon. It appears that in many works prior to Vatican 2, theologians relied on this unofficial and unadopted teaching of the Church to determine the nature of indefectibility. The unofficial Vatican Council document states that “Christ’s Church can never lose its properties and qualities, its sacred teaching authority, priestly office or governing body…” (The Church Teaches, Jesuits of St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s Kansas, 1955). Surely Henry Cardinal Manning would not have agreed, since he wrote before the council that St. Paul’s “He who withholdeth” (2 Thess. 2: 6-7) is the Pope, and he would be “taken out of the way” during the time of Antichrist. In defining the true nature of the authority received by the bishops, Pope Pius XII made it clear that without a true pope, they essentially cannot claim to function. To believe otherwise is a Gallicanist heresy. Catholic prophecy suggests there could still be true bishops alive, but Catholic prophecy is not equal to the teaching of the Church.
Even if bishops were ordained as infants in Russia, as some historians have asserted, or were secretly consecrated using extraordinary faculties, how would this ever be able to be proven with the necessary degree of certainty? Those consecrated as infants might not even know it themselves. Even if they had been given perpetual extraordinary faculties — and Pope Pius XII’s infallible papal election constitution, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS), does not withdraw such faculties during an interregnum — how would one ever prove that those claiming to possess them actually did possess them, when such documents, especially today, could so easily be forged (as it appears was the case with Abp. Thuc)? We must trust in God to provide these proofs and if they surface, He will either see to it that these credentials are undeniably authenticated, or will gift their bearers with miracles, as St. Francis de Sales requires. We cannot assume these hidden clerics even exist, far less supply anything when we cannot verify their certain existence or confirm these facts. As Abp. Cicognani was quoted in a previous post, “Epikeia has no place in invalidating laws, for the common good demands certitude concerning the validity of acts.” The safer course means just that; one does not assume the extraordinary and errs on the side of caution.
What happens in problematic interregna
The hierarchy is a whole, with the pope at its head. Without the pope it cannot do much, as St. Robert Bellarmine teaches. If such bishops and senior priests physically exist, their only function would be to elect a true pope.Concerning the duty of bishops to elect a true pope in such circumstances, Bellarmine writes: “If he [the pope] refuses to resign, it becomes the duty of the bishops to adjust the matter, for although the bishops without the pope cannot define dogmas nor make laws for the universal Church, they can and ought to decide, when occasion demands, who is the legitimate pope; and if the matter be doubtful, they should provide for the Church by having a legitimate and undoubted pastor elected. That is what the Council of Constance rightly did,” (Fr. Berry, The Church of Christ, De concilio, ii, 19). And in another part of his work Bellarmine wrote: “In no case can a true and perfect council be convoked to define matters of faith without the authority of a Sovereign Pontiff. But in both cases (of an heretical or insane pope) an imperfect council can be convened to give the Church a Chief, but without a Chief, many matters cannot possibly be defined,” (De Concilis, L. I., C. 14). The Council of Constance determined that all three popes were doubtful, clearing the way for the cardinals to elect. In our case, there are no cardinals OR known bishops presiding. Only a miracle could make them known to us and secure their apostolicity.
Theologians, writing on the various possibilities that might face the Church, say that when the regular electors are not available, the devolution principle comes into play under Canon 178. This means that the right to election falls on various bodies in descending order. The theologian Sylvester Ferraris believed that in the event of the Cardinals all being dead, the election of a pope would devolve upon a general council. Cardinal Cajetan believed that the task fell to the clergy of the universal Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia says that it could not fall upon a general council, but would fall to the remaining clergy of Rome, agreeing with what St. Bellarmine says above regarding the inability to call a true and perfect council. Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis also teaches that during an interregnum, the cardinals have no authority to change Church laws or teaching, but must refer all matters save a set few governing the election to a future pope.
Rev. Anscar Parsons, in his dissertation, Canonical Elections (Catholic University of America Press, 1939) notes that papal election law is based on the canon laws governing ecclesiastical elections. Whenever there seems to be no law governing a certain matter, Canon 18 refers those seeking answers to parallel passages of the Code and the mind of the lawgiver. Canon 160 governs papal elections. Parallel passages of the Code on ecclesiastical elections, which must be consulted when the law is not clear, require that an election can only be delayed when over half of the electors are impeded from electing, which is the case in this situation, and in such a case: “The election can be indefinitely prolonged… [However] The impediments to action must be extraordinary, such as war, or pestilence” (Parsons). Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis allows only 18 days to complete a papal election following the death of the pope. In ecclesiastical elections, only three months is granted to complete the election, and if those who are obligated to hold the election do not act within that time, then they lose the right to elect. “If the three months expire without action…all right to election is lost and the appointment devolves” Parsons writes. This would apply to the cardinals, but the election could only devolve as far as the bishops of the universal Church, for no one but certainly valid and licit clergy currently have the right under law to elect.
In his The Origins of the Great Western Schism, Walter Ullmann relates that Cardinal Zabarella, writing at the time of the Western Schism proposed that in the event of two claimants to the papal see, only a Council composed of the most capable and senior in position can decide who is truly pope. In trying to resolve the Western Schism, Zabarella deplored the “incalculable damage…inflicted upon the Faith and the Church if the latter were in the hands of an heretical pope,” something we have witnessed in our day. Ullmann reports that Zabarella favored the calling of a Council by the Emperor and presumed that “good clerics and loyal believers and followers of the Church” would support such a council; and they did. Indeed the Emperor Sigismund insisted on the calling of Constance, following Zabarella’s reasoned line of thinking. Cardinal Zabarella further wrote: “It is the people themselves who have to summon the neighboring bishops for special purposes if the properly instituted bishop neglects his duty of summoning his colleagues,” (Ibid. Ullmann; emph. mine). In a case such as ours, Zabarella says, “good clerics and loyal believers and followers of the Church” would need to resolve the situation, and God would have to intervene,since the Church, ‘cannot not be.’”
So it was the bishops who failed the faithful, for how could the people compel them to vote when they refused to even consider the See of Rome vacant?! Some hold that after the death of a pope bishops do not lose jurisdiction, but how is this possible when they follow a false pope? This would constitute schism and schism results in excommunication and loss of jurisdiction. Yes, such a bishop, not compromised in the manner of Lefebvre and Thuc, could validly consecrate priests, but this has already been discussed in previous website articles and blog pieces. Bishops receive jurisdiction directly from the Roman Pontiff prior to their consecration; this is what the papal mandate is based upon. This is called ordinary jurisdiction, exercised from a specific office, and it can be directly exercised only on subjects in a certain area. Bishops following Vatican 2 lost their offices as proven below in Pope Paul IV’s bull. And because bishops following the death of Pope Pius XII acknowledged a false pope, they could not be abjured from their schism nor exercise any jurisdiction once received.
Situation in the 1960s and Cum ex Apostolatus Officio
According to an article in the New York Times Nov. 23, 1970, Paul 6 forbade Cardinals over 80 years of age to participate in the election of a new Pope. The prohibition went into effect Jan. 1, 1971. The article notes: “The reform… increases the chances for the next Pope to be non‐Italian and, possibly, a progressive. A total of 25 cardinals who were 80 years of age by Jan. 1, 1971 were eliminated from the College of Cardinals by the new rule. Eleven of them were Italians, and the article states: “Most of these and of the 14 non‐Italian Cardinals in the group are noted conservatives” (https://www.nytimes.com/1970/11/24/archives/voting-for-popes-is-barred-to-cardinals-over-80-prelates-over-80.html). They remained members of the Sacred College of Cardinals, but generally it was understood they would not be candidates for papal election.
Those cardinals over 80 furloughed by Paul 6 in 1970 could have gathered together, decided he and Roncalli were invalidly elected and elected a true pope, but this did not happen. After three months of having been officially cut loose and supposedly better able to protest the last two “papacies,” the false V2 council and the NOM, they also lost any right to elect. The bishops who did not agree with Vatican 2 and saw what was happening in the Church and that these cardinals, even after being disrespected by Paul 6 refused to act, were then obligated to gather and elect a true pope, but this did not happen either; all of them were corrupt.
In the previous blog on doubtful papal elections, the Bull of Pope Paul IV, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio was quoted to show that there is no time limit for departing from false popes and disavowing their elections. This bull falls under Can. 6 §4, which governs the entire code regarding doubts of law. It reads: “In case of doubt whether some provision of the Canons differs from the old law, one must adhere to the old law.” In this case the doubt regards heresy in one appearing to be pope, a case never encountered since the definition of the Vatican Council on infallibility in 1870. The last anti-pope recorded in Church history reigned in the 15th century. The Vatican Council forever defined that a true pope could never be a heretic and only barely conceded he could possible fall into heresy as a private person (although this has never occurred in Church history). Cum ex… is the only known document that deals with both heresy in general and the case of a pope appearing to be a heretic as pope in particular. It also is the parent law of nearly all the laws regarding heresy that are cited in the Code. Traditionalists and others insist this bull was abrogated by the 1917 Code but this claim was long ago refuted in the site article Cum ex…, Infallible and Retained in the Code.
There is no record anywhere of any abrogation of Cum ex…, most certainly not in the 1917 Code. The Latin version of the Code, Codex Iuris Canonici by Peter Cardinal Gasparri (Newman Press, 1957) makes several references to Cum ex… in the footnotes. He lists not only Can. 188 §4 but also several other Canons, including Can.167 §3, 2198, 2209 no. 7, 2264, 2314, 2316 and 2317 — all of which deal with heresy, apostasy and schism — and there may be others, (actual photographic copies of this listing are available upon request). Rev. Amleto Cicognani comments: “Under the canons are placed footnotes or notes…first from the ‘Codicis Iuris Canonici,’ the Constitutions of Popes, from the Sacred Congregations, and from Liturgical Books…In the Code there are nearly 26,000 citations of the old law. Of these, 8,400 are from Gratian’s Decretum; about 1,200 from Ecumenical Councils; about 4,000 from Papal Constitutions and about 11,200 from the Sacred Congregations and 800 from liturgical books.” Cicognani further notes that Cardinal Gasparri had already prepared some six volumes of the footnotes under the title Codicis Iuris Canonici Fontes and more volumes were in preparation.
“Surely this is a very eloquent reply to those who think that since the Code the old laws of the Church have lost all utility, and the history of their sources is become meaningless …Outside the Code there still remains in force…the old written law, contained (at least implicitly) in the Code,” along with several other laws, customs and privileges listed by Cicognani. He continues: “In a commentary on the Canons the footnotes must never be neglected, lest that occur of which Quintilian spoke: ‘the pediments are viewed, the foundations are hidden,’” (Canon Law, Dolphin Press 1935). Rev. Nicholas Neuberger comments in his Canon 6 dissertation: “When it is doubtful whether the prescription of a Canon disagrees with the old, the latter must be upheld. In doubt, the presumption is in favor of the former legislation. The presumption is merely in favor of a more seasoned (or “certain”) rule of interpretation.” And whether it is the old law, Cum ex…, or the new, the results are the same: the Vatican 2 era bishops cannot escape censure.
Bishops excommunicated under Cum ex… and the 1917 Code
The bishops who failed to fulfill their duties following Vatican 2, conceding to the celebration of the “new mass” and acknowledging John 23rd and Paul 6 as true popes, incurred communicatio in sacris and infamy of law along with the censure for heresy and/or schism under Can. 2314. Canon 2314 reads:
“All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic incur the following penalties: (1) ipso facto excommunication; (2) If they have been admonished and do not repent, they shall be deprived of any benefice, dignity, pension, office or other position which they may hold in the Church; they shall be declared infamous and, if they are clerics, they shall, after renewed admonition, be deposed; (3) If they have joined a non-Catholic sect or have publicly adhered to it, they incur INFAMY ipso facto, and, if they are clerics and the admonition to repent has been fruitless, they shall be degraded,” (and here is made reference to Can. 188§4). Lay persons also can incur infamy of law. There is also Can. 2264 to consider, a canon which has Cum ex… as a footnote: “Acts of jurisdiction by an excommunicated person are illicit and if a condemnatory or declaratory sentence has been issued against him, his acts of jurisdiction are invalid, without prejudice to the rule of Can. 2261 §2. Nor Can. 2261 §2 mention notorious heresy, apostasy or schism, which are not considered under this canon. Can. 2265 also says that those who are excommunicated — for any reason, not just apostasy, heresy or schism — cannot be ordained.
If the old law, Cum ex…, is referenced regarding whether these declarations must be made in order to “activate” the excommunications, Pope Paul IV teaches: “…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. The persons themselves so promoted and elevated shall, ipso facto and without need for any further declaration, be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power…” The old law is now the law governing their actions, because there is no other law that adequately covers this complicated situation. Canon 6 §4 states “in doubt… one must adhere to the old law.” Revs. Woywod-Smith lay out the effects of infamy of law under Can. 2294 §1:
“A person who has incurred infamy of law is not only irregular, as declared by Can. 984 n. 5, but in addition, he is incapacitated from obtaining ecclesiastical benefices, pensions, offices and dignities, from performing legal ecclesiastical acts, from discharging any ecclesiastical right or duty, and must be restrained from the exercise of sacred functions of the ministry.” The authors continue: “The person who has incurred…an infamy of law…cannot validly obtain ecclesiastical benefices, pensions, offices and dignities, nor can he validly exercise the rights connected with the same, nor perform a valid, legal ecclesiastical act,” (all emph. within quotes in this article is the author’s). When imposed in the form of a penalty attached to law, this sentence takes place immediately. Infamy is an additional penalty separate from excommunication.
As explained in Rev. Eric Mackenzie’s’ The Delict of Heresy (Catholic University of America,1932 ; pgs. 69 and 72): “The joining of the non-Catholic sect may follow after the externalization of heretical error as a consequence, or may itself be the first internal act which manifests the internal sin of heresy…As a penalty for his aggravated delict, he incurs juridical infamy ipso facto. This is quite independent of infamy of fact and may be incurred without the loss of reputation in the judgment of the general public.” Revs. Woywod-Smith comment on Can. 731: “All canonists and moralists agree that those who are heretics or schismatics and know they are wrong cannot be given the Sacraments of the Church unless they renounce their errors and are reconciled with the Church. Numerous decrees of the Holy Office put this point beyond controversy.”
So did these bishops KNOW they were wrong? Ignorance of the laws (and teachings) of the Church is no excuse for those expected to be the successors of the apostles. If say only five bishops, or 10 worldwide had gathered at an incomplete or imperfect council together with a few senior priests, after seeing the default of the cardinals, an election could have been held. All were summoned by some of the faithful in 1989-90 and none responded. Many of them by that time were dead, but surely some were still alive. The vast majority of the bishops at Vatican 2, including Lefebvre and Thuc, signed all the false council documents. Only a handful were left who could have credibly separated themselves and held such an election. This is confirmed by the vote tally obtained from the Vatican Secret Archives, although those providing this tally admit it may not be accurate. Still, even if the opposing votes are reduced to one-third of what was reported, plenty of bishops remained who could have posited such an election.
If the same bishops consistently voted against the V2 propositions, how could it be said they didn’t know the council was wrong or at the very least, fatally flawed? If lay people with limited resources could discover the alternative in such a case, what excuse could they possibly offer that would justify their actions? Cum ex Apostolatus Officio was first unearthed in the mid-1970s but was roundly ignored and is still demonized as an archaic, non-infallible document to this day; had it been acknowledged and followed it would have resolved everything. How have these bishops answered to God for betraying the sheep entrusted to them? We cannot fool ourselves into thinking there were bishops who opposed V2 and fulfilled their obligations when these same men turned around and, in the end, remained within the V2 church. Force or fear could not excuse them, nor could ignorance of Church law and teaching excuse them. If they were so cowardly as to desert the flock entrusted to them they were nothing but wolves posing as shepherds. They had one duty to perform and they failed to carry it out: the canonical election of a Roman Pontiff.
If certain bishops still had extraordinary faculties to consecrate other bishops without the papal mandate they could have done this, but only in order to create just enough bishops to accomplish a papal election. The fact is, none of them with such faculties stepped up to fulfill their obligations and declare the See vacant after the false V2 council ended. Some will say Thuc did this, but then he signed himself in his declaration as the Bishop of Bulla Regiae and this was a title granted him by Paul 6! It easily demonstrates he did not understand the dynamics of the crisis in the Church or the consequences of what he was declaring. These bishops with extraordinary faculties would not have been justified in trying to operate on their own without electing a true pope because this is an explicit denial of the necessity of the papacy and constitutes heresy. As St. Robert Bellarmine and Cardinal Zabarella explained above, an imperfect council could have been convened by valid bishops and domestic prelates (monsignors) to elect a true pope; it was not. The faithful should have risen up and demanded action; they did not. Instead they made excuses for the very pastors who deserted them, and some maintain these men can be excused on the grounds of force and fear. This will be treated below.
Force and fear in the commission of delicts
In 1944, Rev. Alan McCoy O.F.M., J.C.L. wrote a dissertation, “Force and Fear in Relation to Delictual Imputability and Penal Responsibility,” (Catholic University of America). Under the general heading of “Delictual Acts Interdicted by Divine Authority,” he writes: “When an act is intrinsically evil, or involves contempt of the faith or of ecclesiastical authority, or works to the detriment of souls…imputability is not taken away in such cases since in these instances the observance of the law still urges under the pain of sin, even though the most severe personal hardship or danger, or also the greatest private harm might come from such observance. And the reason for this is that some spiritual good, either of God or of the Church or of individual souls is involved…There is consequently always grave guilt in the deliberate transgression of such a law.”
As Rev. William Conway also notes in his Problems in Canon Law, grave inconvenience which excuses from the observance of a law applies only to ecclesiastical laws; McCoy speaks here of violations of Divine law. And McCoy duly notes that not even the gravest personal hardship or greatest private harm excuses from observing the law. Here we find ourselves back at the absolute obligation to follow the safer course where Divine law is concerned. In the violation of the Divine law, positive or natural, only grave fear externally manifested to witnesses would excuse from incurring the censure attached to the violation of such laws, (1937 decision by the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code). Most authors agree it does not excuse from the sin, however, and in our case there is no indication that there was ever a question of grave fear in these cases; so the censure still binds. While it applies to delictual acts that are intrinsically evil, it does not excuse from those acts which, “involve contempt of the Faith or work to the public harm of souls,” (Ibid).
On page 92 McCoy discusses what the Code considers to be acts involving contempt of the faith. He identifies the titles in the Code containing these acts as XI and XII of the fifth book, concerning “Delicts Against the Faith and Unity of the Church and Delicts Against Religion.” These include heresy, apostasy and schism; communication in sacred rites with heretics; usurpation of priestly functions and sacrilege, also any recourse to the civil power from the acts of the Apostolic See and interference with the liberty and rights of the Church, among others. These last two offenses must be considered because both Pope Pius XII’s papal election law and the Church’s rights have been ignored. As mentioned elsewhere, Catholics are bound by Can. 1325 to profess their faith in the face of persecution, and this means they are never to resort to silence, subterfuge or indicate by their manner of acting that they are denying their faith. The above acts in bold outline precisely the delicts committed by Vatican 2 bishops. These acts show a particular contempt for the laws and rights of the papacy as well as the faithful. This undeniably works to the public harm of every soul on earth.
On page 97, under the heading “Acts that Work to the Detriment of Souls,” McCoy writes: “These are all acts which draw people away from the faith or from the practice of Christian morals and thus expose them to the danger of eternal damnation…Those acts which, by their nature, work to the detriment of souls are listed particularly in Titles XVI and XVII of the fifth book of the Code…bearing the headings: ‘Offenses Committed in the Administration or Reception of Orders or the Other Sacraments’ and ‘Offenses Against the Obligations Proper to the Clerical and Religious State.’” Among the offenses McCoy lists that work TO THE DETRIMENT OF SOULS are: “…the administration of Sacraments to those who are forbidden to receive them…the consecration of a bishop without a papal mandate…the reception of Orders from unworthy prelates…the negligence of a pastor in the care of souls.” So in these last two paragraphs we have covered both the excommunications of Vatican 2 bishops and all Traditionalist wannabe clerics. So much for Traditionalists’ solicitous concern for souls.
Canon 2229 §3, (3) states: “Grave fear does not exempt from penalties latae sententiae if the offense entails contempt of the faith, or of ecclesiastical authority, or public injury to souls.” Both NO and Traditionalist “bishops” are guilty of this contempt as well as detriment to the souls they involve in sacrilege and cooperation in sin. How can these times in which we live be anything but the Great Apostasy foretold by St. Paul? Strike the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered,” (Zach. 13:7). Without the pope, there IS no Church.
by T. Stanfill Benns | Apr 17, 2020 | New Blog
+Pope St. Anicetus+
What was said in our last blog — that as all theologians teaching before the death of Pope Pius XII unanimously taught — matters regarding the validity of the Sacraments and eternal salvation do not fall under the category of doubtful laws. This is because “A doubtful law has no binding force whenever the doubt concerns the lawfulness of an act and not its validity” (Rev. Dominic Prummer) and “…The common good demands certitude concerning the validity of acts,” (Abp. Amleto Cicognani). When the doubt concerns something which is absolutely necessary for salvation, (for example, the necessity of obedience to the Roman Pontiff), then a probable opinion (probability) cannot be relied upon to determine validity. One must know the man elected is a certainly valid pope before rendering obedience. That it is the validity of the one elected and not lawfulness per se is proven in the following from Fr. E. Sylvester Berry in his The Church of Christ.
- “If the Church could fail in any of its essentials, even for a time, it would lose all authority to teach and govern, because the faithful could never be certain at any time that it had not failed — that it had not ceased to be the Church of Christ, thereby losing all authority. But an authority that may be justly doubted at all times is no authority; it commands neither obedience or respect…” (p. 55-56) “Jurisdiction can be conferred only by a lawful superior…and may be revoked at any time. [It] can neither be obtained nor held against the will of her supreme authority; its transmission depends entirely on legitimate succession…” And on p. 402: “When there is a prudent doubt about the validity of an election to any official position, there is also a similar doubt whether the person so elected really has authority or not. In such a case, no one is bound to obey him, for it is an axiom that a doubtful law [the duty to obey one doubted to be a true pope] begets no obligation — a doubtful law does not oblige. But a superior whom no one is bound to obey is, in reality, no superior at all. Hence the saying of Bellarmine: a doubtful pope is no pope.”
- “A doubtful pope may be really invested with the requisite power, but he has not practically in the Church the same right as a certain pope — he is not entitled to be acknowledged as Head of the Church, and may be legitimately compelled to desist from his claim,” (The Relations of the Church to Society — Theological Essays, Rev. Edmund James O’Reilly, S.J.). The statement regarding desisting from his claim can only be a reference to Pope Paul IV’s bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio.
- This teaching is reflected in the opinions of six different notable theologians (Reiffenstuel, Schmalzgrueber, Ferraris, Vecchiotti, Vermeersch-Creusen), satisfying the moral prerequisites for establishing true probability, “There is no schism involved…if one refuses obedience [to a pope] inasmuch as one suspects the person of the Pope or the validity of his election…” (The Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, Rev. Ignatius J. Szal, A.B., J.C.L.). Still, no positive doubts regarding the validity of a papal election can be entertained without presenting at least oneserious and compelling reason for such doubts. Below are listed seven areas of doubt regarding the election of Angelo Roncalli, John 23rd, following the death of Pope Pius XII, and not all doubts may have been covered in this list.
Questions regarding John 23rd’s election
- Were the electors of John 23rd competent to elect? (Because they were not acting in harmony with the sacred canons and in retrospect were doubtful Catholics they were not competent electors according to Can. 147, Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS). Their heresy may have been occult at the time but was later unquestionably manifested during the false Vatican 2 council.)
- Did a two-thirds plus one majority elect? (This majority is necessary for validity per VAS and cannot be omitted without voiding the election.)
- Was the one elected certainly a member of the Catholic Church on election? (The one elected must certainly be a Catholic for validity according to the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine. Roncalli’s Communist and liberal leanings, also his liturgical renewal sympathies and Masonic affiliations pose grave doubts regarding his Catholicity.)
- Was the one elected qualified for election under VAS? (Grave doubts exist as to whether the candidate was able to be elected because he campaigned for election prior to the death of Pius XII and was subject to excommunication reserved to a future pope. Many reports also suggest there was lay interference during the conclave, forbidden by VAS.)
- “The Pope, having full authority in the government of the Church, may establish laws which would render a papal election null and void unless the prescribed conditions be fulfilled. It is true the laws made by one pope do not bind his successors, but they can and do bind the one to be elected” (Berry, p. 399). See also https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/1-what-constitutes-the-papacy/apostolic-constitution-vacantis-apostolicae-sedis/.
- Were those who accepted Roncalli’s election truly Catholic? Certainly by 1969 it was clear who was and who was not siding with the Novus Ordo church. No claim can be made that an election is validated by the acceptance of the faithful if those accepting are not faithful CATHOLICS, uncontested members of Christ’s Mystical Body. Most of the bishops were no longer Catholic as proven at Vatican 2; many of the faithful were certainly not Catholic after John 23rd’s election, either, because the majority accepted Vatican 2 and the new mass. And those who exited the Vatican 2 church following Paul 6’s promulgation of the NOM certainly can be said to have doubts regarding the authority demanding such a promulgation or they would never have left.
- In Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, Pope Paul IV teaches in paragraph seven: “It shall be lawful for all and sundry who would have been subject to persons so promoted and elevated, had these not first strayed from the Faith or been heretics, or incurred or incited or committed schism; for clerics, secular or regular, and for laymen; likewise for Cardinals, even for those who participated in the election of one straying from the Faith, or of a heretic or schismatic to the Papacy, or who otherwise presented and pledged him obedience and paid him homage… to depart with impunity at any time from obedience and allegiance to said promoted and elevated persons and to shun them as sorcerers, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs… Nor shall they be liable to reprisal through any censure or penalty, as renders of the Lord’s robe, for departing…”
John 23rd’s papacy was short, just a little over four and a half years. Not many major changes were made, and the average Catholic had little reason for alarm. But when the false Vatican council ended in 1965, the rites of the Sacraments were changed in 1968 and the Novus Ordo Missae issued in 1969, true Catholics realized something was very wrong and began exiting the Church. Some estimate up to 40 percent of all Catholics left at that time, but most of them remained only nominally Catholic. The rest affiliated with the Traditionalist movements, which wasted no time in organizing. Had it not been for the questionable character of John 23, and proofs which emerged only much later that his election was not held according to Pope Pius XII’s election constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS), we might be able to say he was validly elected. Knowing today that he was only a “transition pope,” something said at the time he was elected but not fully understood, in and of itself suggests that a plan was in place to elect not only Roncalli, but a specific person after his reign ended. This alone voided Montini’s election, since it was a second prearranged plan in violation of VAS.
From Rev. Francis Connell we read: “What certainty have we that the reigning Pontiff is actually the primate of the universal Church – that is, that he became a member of the Church through valid baptism, and that he was validly elected Pope? We have human moral certainty that the reigning Pontiff was validly elected in conclave and accepted the office of Bishop of Rome, thus becoming head of the universal Church. The unanimous consensus of a large group of Cardinals composing the electoral body gave us this assurance… For if we did not have infallible assurance that the ruling Pontiff is truly in the eyes of God the chief teacher of the Church of Christ, how could we accept as infallibly true his solemn pronouncements?” This is but an echo of Fr. Berry above, who provides the answer. Louis Cardinal Billot, Rev. Charles Journet and others are of the same opinion as Connell, agreeing the acceptance of the Church cures defects in election.
But they are presuming that the man elected was indeed a Catholic, when this fact cannot be certainly known given the evidence of Cardinal Roncalli’s activities and statements pre-election. They also are assuming there was no question that the cardinals electing were Catholic. The papal bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, retained in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, declares that any man who was a heretic, apostate or schismatic prior to his election as pope, or appointment as a cardinal or bishop, never assumes the position in question and has no power to command whatsoever. The pope cannot become a heretic as pope: this must occur before his election. But cardinals and bishops can definitely become heretics and schismatics while seeming to retain their positions, as later happened following Vatican 2. Paul IV’s bull gives Catholics, even cardinals and bishops, time to figure out a man falsely elected was never pope without incurring censure. But the liturgical renewal crowd who happily accepted John 23rd’s election still accepted him and Paul 6 as undoubted popes even after Vatican 2 and the introduction of the NOM. This despite the doubts raised by Traditionalists regarding their Catholicity. So in the end, were those who accepted these two men as “popes” even Catholic themselves?
Those cardinals electing John 23 are condemned by the words of Pope Pius XII as follows, “We command those individuals to whom it pertains and will pertain for the time being to vote, that the ordinances must be respectively and inviolably observed by them, and if anyone should happen to try otherwise relative to these things, by whatever authority, knowingly or unknowingly, the attempt is null and void.” Yet despite this the cardinals elected a man many of them knew to be unworthy, a man who promoted his own election contrary to Pope Pius XII’s specific ordinance and therefore was not capable of being elected according to the law. Numerous examples of Roncalli’s and Montini’s dalliances with socialism and Communism, also Freemasonry, are documented in the book The Phantom Church in Rome, available on this website. The statements they made pre-election as well as their actions both before and after their “elections” would create grave doubt even among the simplest of Catholics. And that is just one doubt, which is all that is needed to call an election into question.
Summary of doubts about John 23rd’s election
- Roncalli’s own heresy and Masonic affiliations, which amount to apostasy
- His violation of the provisions of Vacantis Apostolica Sedis, which subsequently voided the election, consisting in:a) allowing himself to be promoted for election prior to the death of Pius XII; b) agreeing to act as a “transition pope” to usher in the false Vatican 2 Council and c) in order to make Giovanni Montini, Paul 6 a cardinal; d) this to enable Montini, a candidate favored by the secular powers that influenced the election, capable of election at the next conclave; and e) despite the four different latae sententiae excommunications attached to these violations, Roncalli allowed himself to be selected as a grossly unworthy candidate incapable of accepting the election.
- The questionable Catholicity of several of the Cardinal-bishops based on statements made prior to the conclave (most of whom later participated in Vatican 2 and helped implement the changes it dictated). Their collaboration with those promoting Roncalli voided the election, It furthermore called into question the two-thirds plus one majority of cardinals mandated by Pius XII to elect the pope, something that is strictly required for validity.
- In retrospect, the Catholicity of those “accepting” John 23rd’s election, clergy and laity alike, seeing that most of them later also accepted the V2 changes and NOM mass. Under Paul IV’s bull, they were allowed ample time to assess the situation and separate themselves from it but did not even consider this possibility when doubts were later raised.
How many different ways would one wish to see an election voided? None of those writing about the acceptance of a papal election ever anticipated these circimstances. There are clear proofs from several sources that Roncalli promoted himself for election. His own words show he associated with Communists, and historians and journalists have chronicled his associations with Freemasons. Once again, all this is documented in The Phantom Church in Rome and was initially documented in part long before that in this author’s first self-published work. In addition, according to Can. 2391, “A college which knowingly elects an unworthy person is automatically deprived, for that particular election, of the right to hold a new election.” This would automatically void the “election” of Paul 6. While this canon may be said by some not to apply to a papal election, the law does not specifically exclude such application, either.
Still, strictly speaking, the canon is not needed since it applies to ecclesiastical elections and laws. The matters we have addressed here pertain to divine law because the pope canonically elected receives jurisdiction from God, not the electors, upon acceptance of the election; but only if the election is canonical. This is a matter of faith. And canonical means it must be carried out in full compliance with Pope Pius XII’s 1945 election law. It is plain to see, however, that the provisions of this law were not followed in Roncalli’s election. That election was therefore voided according to the infallible command of Pope Pius XII. Obedience upon which one’s salvation depends cannot be rendered to a doubtful authority; this is an absurd proposition, as Fr. Berry notes above. The safer course — keeping the faith at home — protects all Catholics from sacrilege, idolatry and the false teachings of thieves and hirelings, including those of a false pope. This was clearly the intention of the popes and Ecumenical Councils in their laws and teachings condemning antipopes and those who falsely claimed the offices of bishops without papal approval.
Pope Paul IV taught that these usurpers can never be considered as quasi-legitimate and all of their actions, including appointments or promotions to Holy Orders, are null and void. But Traditionalists and their followers resort instead to “recognize and resist,” a thoroughly unCatholic principle, or use the lack of bishops and priests to justify creating their own hierarchy, as with sedevacantists. Only recognition of the extent of the damage done to the Church will result in a true reconciliation of these groups, but it seems God did not intend this to be. Therefore we must trudge forward and accept His will, knowing that while we may be persecuted for following our conscience, we are protecting God’s rights and safeguarding our immortal souls.
by T. Stanfill Benns | Apr 12, 2020 | New Blog
HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!
Wishing all my readers a blessed Easter and spiritual and physical health in these difficult times. May you be granted all the graces you need to save your souls.
Before beginning this piece, a few reminders are in order. First of all, the minds of the popes have been clearly and forcefully represented in this series of blog posts and, for many years running, in articles on this website. Traditionalists may brandish canon laws on publishing to squelch the theological works of their opponents, but we long ago posted this article at https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/1-credentials/where-is-your-imprimatur/citing the documents of several popes who encourage Catholics to defend the faith, especially in times such as these. (Please note the comment posted to the Palm Sunday blog on “ignorance” for important exceptions to this obligation). As we have noted in nearly every article posted to this website, the authority of the popes, the Sacred Congregations, the Ecumenical Councils and the unanimous opinions of theologians is superior to anything that can possibly be produced by Traditionalists on their own authority, whether they quote a specific theologian or point to the canons. They betray their ignorance of the Catholic faith whenever they pretend that these inferior sources could ever provide them with the proofs of validity and liceity they are obligated to produce (Can. 200) to continue their ministrations, ministrations which the Roman Pontiffs have utterly voided.
Catholics are obliged to heed all papal decrees as well as obey the canons, which the Church tells us are negatively infallible (The Catholic Encyclopedia). This means they cannot teach anything contrary to doctrine, nor can these decrees be twisted around to make it appear they are doing so. We are to obey only the popes, Christ’s Vicars, NOT Traditionalists peddling their interpretations of papal decrees and Canon Law; they are not our lawful pastors as previous blogposts and website articles have repeatedly demonstrated. Nor can anyone object to laypersons who point out the teachings of Canon Law according to the very rules laid down for its interpretation (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/articles/a-catholics-course-of-study/canon-law/who-interprets-the-law/) And while Traditionalists try to make it seem that Canon Law can somehow be used to circumvent papal teaching, they have it backwards. This error is pointed out and circumscribed by Pope Pius IX in Quartus Supra, quoted in our blog piece on the necessity of the papal mandate:
“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.”
Concerning Canon Law’s constitution, Rev. Francis J. Schaeffer writes in this volume: “The ultimate source of Canon Law is God, whose will is manifested either by the very nature of things (natural Divine law) or by Revelation (positive Divine law) …To attain its sublime end, the Church, endowed by its Founder with legislative power, makes laws in conformity with natural and Divine law. The sources or authors of this positive ecclesiastical law are essentially the episcopate and its head, the pope, the successors of the Apostolic College and its divinely appointed head, St. Peter. They are, properly speaking, the active sources of Canon Law. Their activity is exercised in its most solemn form by the ecumenical councils…(these) councils, especially…Trent, hold an exceptional place in ecclesiastical law… The sovereign pontiff is the most fruitful source of Canon Law: …From the earliest ages the letters of the Roman Pontiffs constitute, with the canons of the Councils, the principal element of Canon Law; … they are everywhere relied upon and collected, and the ancient canonical compilations contain a large number of these precious decretals.”
The Roman Pontiff has the last say on Canon Law; not vice versa. Owing to his supremacy of jurisdiction. The pope is bound by the laws he enacts, to set an example for the community. But according to Abp. Amleto Cicognani in his Canon Law (1935), he is still able to change those same laws and clarify them if any questions should arise. When it comes to interpretation, the mind of the lawgiver is the only trustworthy guarantee of what the Church teaches regarding any given canon of the 1917 Code, and this brings us to the considerations below.
Doubts of law
- THE EXCEPTIONS TO CAN. 15 BELOW EXCLUDES THOSE DOUBTS REGARDING THE VALIDITY OF THE SACRAMENTS, ETERNAL SALVATION AND THE RIGHTS OF A THIRD PARTY. NEITHER DOUBTS OF LAW NOR EPIKEIA CAN BE INVOKED TO VALIDATE TRADITIONALIST OPERATIONS.
In the scheme of things, Can. 6§4 regarding doubts of law must be followed before the other canons (Can. 18 or 20) can even be consulted, but Traditionalists do not even attempt to obey this canon. Revs. Woywod-Smith write in their Canon Law commentary: “The student of Canon Law must keep in mind the rules of Can. 6 throughout the whole course of study of the Code, for these rules are the key to the correct interpretation of all the laws of the Code.” As Abp. Cicognani points out: “Correction of the law is essentially odious,” and Pope Pius XII has infallibly enshrined this statement in his Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. Canon 6§4 instructs the canonists: “In case of doubt, whether some provision of the Canons differs from the old law, the old law must be followed.” Canon 18 tells readers that when they encounter doubts regarding ecclesiastical law, they must consult the end and circumstances of the law, the mind of the lawgiver and parallel passages of the Code.
So now we jump to Can. 18 to find the provisions of the old law listed under that canon, which number only two. The footnote admonishes canonists: “Our words are interpreted by others according to their intended meaning. The intention ought not to be subservient to the words, but the words to the intention. The first footnote source, the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide, Cochin, China,1827, explains: “Human law does not oblige, nor does it operate beyond the expressed intention of the legislator.” The second and primary source, Pope Eugenius IV’s letter Fide Digna, (July 8, 1440) teaches: “We say explicitly that it was not the intention of the lawgiver to expose the souls of the faithful to the danger of mortal sin in communicating… For the intention rather than the sound of words is to be carefully considered.” So much for the CMRI claim that Pope Pius XII would not wish his laws to bind because they are injurious to souls. Any rational person reading these words would automatically know that this intention could never countenance the clear lack of confessional jurisdiction Traditionalists falsely claim to possess and the Sacrament of the Eucharist they sacrilegiously administer. This is proven below.
Those wishing to question or term as doubtful any laws regarding the nature, possession or application of jurisdiction will first have to reject the infallible papal election law of Pope Pius XII, written specifically for these times. This law, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/1-what-constitutes-the-papacy/apostolic-constitution-vacantis-apostolicae-sedis/), forbids anyone to usurp anything regarding papal jurisdiction or to change the laws or disregard them during an interregnum. Furthermore, there is Pope Pius XII’s related authentic interpretation of Can. 147 with its ipso facto excommunication especially reserved to the Holy Seefor: “1) those who contrive against legitimate ecclesiastical authorities or attempt in any way to subvert their authority; 2) anyone who without a canonical investiture or provision made according to the sacred canons occupies an ecclesiastical office, benefice or dignity, or allows anyone to be unlawfully intruded into the same, or who retains the same; 3) those who have any part directly or indirectly in the crimes mentioned in one (1) and two (2).” Canon 2345 also declares an ipso facto excommunication especially reserved to the Holy See for “usurpation and retention of the goods and rights of the Papacy.”
Canons 15 and 16
Abp. Amleto Cicognani discusses Canon 15, which states: “All laws, including invalidating and inhabilitating laws, lose their binding force in a doubt of law.” And Can. 16 states that no ignorance of invalidating or disqualifying laws excuse from their observance unless the law so states. Can. 15 is the canon most Traditionalists cite to justify dismissing a doubtful law as non-binding, allowing them to proceed to celebrate the Mass and administer the Sacraments. They ignore Can. 16. Cicognani explains Can.15 as follows: “The present Canon is not concerned with doubts about the divine law or those regarding the matter and form of the Sacraments. These points we leave to Moral Theology, particularly to that part which treats of Probabilism, which teaches that system is tenable though requiring caution in its use…The inscription of this title of the Code is ‘Ecclesiastical Laws’ and of these alone, therefore, do we speak.” Both Cicognani and Revs. Woywod-Smith, in their Canon Law commentary, (also Revs. McHugh and Callan in their Moral Theology, A Complete Course, #678) list the following exceptions to Can. 15, which are enumerated below by Reverend Dominic Prummer, O.P., (Handbook of Moral Theology):
“A doubtful law has no binding force whenever the doubt concerns the lawfulness of an act AND NOT ITS VALIDITY. Whatever may be said about the truth of this principle, which is fiercely attacked by some theologians, all modern theologians are agreed that it cannot be applied in the following cases:
“a) When the doubt concerns the validity of the Sacraments;
“b) When the doubt concerns something which is absolutely necessary for salvation” (for example, the necessity of obedience to the Roman Pontiff) or
“c) When the question involves the established right of a third party” (end of Prummer quote). Canon 682 documents the rights of the laity to receive the spiritual goods and especially the necessary means of salvation from theclergy, (but first PROVE that Traditionalists have received tonsure and are members of the clergy.) And this must be done “according to the rules of ecclesiastical discipline.”
In his The History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology, Catholic University of America Press, (1948), Rev. Lawrence Joseph Riley concurs with the above, writing on pages 344 and 347: “Those elements which are necessary to the validity of the Sacraments remain so EVEN IN THE FACE OF EXTREME DIFFICULTY OR IMPOSSIBILITY — much more so in the presence of a situation where the difficulty is not so grave. The Sacraments exist according to the institution of Christ or they don’t exist at all. In short, it may be concluded that IN REGARD TO MATTERS WHICH TOUCH THE ESSENCE OF THE SACRAMENTS, THE USE OF EPIKEIA IS ALWAYS EXCLUDED…In regard to the essence of these Sacraments, what has been explained above of all the Sacraments is applicable to them – viz., that epikeia is never licit.”
Traditionalists claim Rev. Riley’s work grants them the specific capacity to act, but they do not factor in the papal teaching which supersedes Riley’s work, the above teachings by canonists and theologians and the fact that this teaching cannot be merrily gainsaid since it is shown to be the unanimous opinion of the theologians. The higher law always prevails, but Traditionalists know no law. A thorough reading of Riley’s work will prove their allegations are baseless.
These exceptions to Can. 15 are founded on Bd. Pope Innocent XI’s teaching (DZ 1151), which forbids the use of probable opinions in the reception of the Sacraments. Prummer, agreeing with other Catholic canonists and theologians, explains that no one is allowed to perform an act while in a state of positive, practical doubt. When in doubt about whether an action is lawful, one must refrain from acting or remove the doubt. This is done directly by searching for the truth, and when that truth can be proven from the laws and teachings of the Church Herself, then there is no longer any doubt.
Since what Prummer presents on sacramental validity and eternal salvation is the unanimous opinion of theologians, it binds all Catholics as a truth of faith (see the blog post on religious assent). Pope Pius IX teaches in Tuas Libentur,(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” (DZ 1684). Catholics have no choice but to obey.
Why Traditionalists are not serving the faithful
For a moment it will be useful to return to Pope St. Pius X and Acerbo Nimis, where this saintly pope emphasizes the necessity of teaching over that of administering the Sacraments as a means of salvation. Instead, Traditionalistswithhold necessary teachings of the Church from their followers to retain membership in whatever sect they operate, and essentially intellectually deprive them of the ability to inform their consciences and secure the state of their souls. While the canonists include especially the “necessary sacraments” among those means, these cannot be administered outside “the rules for ecclesiastical discipline,” (see Can. 682), and they certainly cannot be administered when there is any doubt regarding their validity, as demonstrated above. Moreover, only the sacrament of Baptism and Holy Orders are truly Sacraments necessary for salvation, and Holy Orders only when it is conferred in the manner prescribed by the Church. The preceding blogs have amply demonstrated just how far outside the rules of all ecclesiastical discipline Traditionalists operate, and how many different popes declare their actions null, void and invalid.
Very serious reasons sufficient to remove ALL doubt that Traditionalists could possibly be valid have been advanced from the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs and office of the Holy See in questioning their validity. The following is only a brief summary of why any right-thinking Catholic should hold the sacraments dispensed by Traditionalists as doubtfully valid, based on those proofs.
- All those Traditional priests now consecrated as bishops were ordained by Marcel Lefebvre and/or Peter Ngo dinh Thuc, (or one of their “successors”) during an interregnum despite the notorious nature of their affiliation with the Roman usurpers. Recognize and resist, practiced by both men, involves Catholics cooperating in sin with individuals St. Bernard and the ecumenical councils call antichrists.
- Both Thuc and Lefebvre recognized John 23 and Paul 6 and their successors as true popes, said the Novus Ordo Missae, and signed Vatican 2 documents, incurring communicatio in sacris, schism and infamy of law, (Canons 2314 §3 and 188 no. 4). Infamy of law alone invalidates their ecclesiastical acts, including ordinations and consecrations (Can. 2294 §2). Their creation of any so-called clerics never happened.
- Such public and external acts detailed above should be more than enough to convince a reasonable person that these men could not have acted with the intention to create truly Catholic priests and bishops loyal to the Roman Pontiff even if they had been able to do so validly.
- None of the above possessed the required papal mandate before performing their consecrations and were excommunicated ipso facto per Pope Pius XII’s Ad Apostolorum Principis. Furthermore, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis also nullified even their attempted acts because we live during an interregnum.
- None of these men received valid tonsure, (an act of jurisdiction, not orders), because Lefebvre and Thuc could not validly administer it since they possessed no jurisdiction. Without valid tonsure they are not considered clerics. “Those who have been assigned to the divine ministry at least by the first tonsure are called clerics” (Can. 108), and Cicognani says this canon originates from divine law. “By reception of the first tonsure, a cleric is ascribed to — or incardinated in — the diocese for the service of which he was promoted.” (Can. 111). What diocese?
- None of those ordained or consecrated by anyone claiming to be a bishop attended papally erected and approved seminaries.
- Few if any of their teachers were validly ordained before Pope Pius XII’s death, so the validity of their instruction in Catholic theology is gravely in question.
- And the list goes on, and on…
Just as a doubtful law is no law and a doubtful pope is no pope, likewise doubtful sacraments are no sacraments. This is a universal principal of Canon Law now endorsed unanimously by moral theologians in this instance. It is not just the consecrations that are in question but the ordinations of those consecrated as well. And as both Pope Pius VI and Pope Pius XII teach infallibly, acts performed by those so consecrated outside the Church, and the acts of those they “ordain,” are null and void SIMPLY BECAUSE THE POPES SAY THEY ARE NULL AND VOID. These same popes also teach that we are bound to obey their edicts as a condition of eternal salvation, per (b) above in Rev. Prummer’s quote. This obedience to the laws regarding the sacraments IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION; receiving doubtfully valid Sacraments is a sacrilege, and sacrilege is a mortal sin. Therefore, these laws must be obeyed, if the safer course is to be followed, and indeed it must be followed regardless.
Furthermore, regarding the cessation of law, we read from the moral theologians: “If no serious reasons can be found to prove or directly disprove that a certain law has ceased or been abrogated, the principle to be followed is: ‘In doubt, decide for that which has the presumption.’ In this case the presumption is for the continuance of the law, since it was certainly made, and there is no probability for its non-continuance,” (St. Alphonsus Liguori as quoted by Revs. McHugh and Callan under the rules of conscience in their Moral Theology: A Complete Course). What better “presumption” than the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs that bind us in conscience?! Regarding these laws governing the canonical assessment of doubt, we have amply demonstrated in the preceding blog pieces that the Roman Pontiffs themselves provide the grounds for regarding both the consecration of Traditional bishops as well as the men these “bishops” subsequently “ordain” as null, void and invalid. This is the highest form of proof, for the pope and his successors hold the primacy of jurisdiction and are the supreme legislators in the Church, (The Vatican Council, DZ 1823, 1831).
Canon 1812 tells us that acts issuing from the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Curia during the exercise of their office and entered as proof (in ecclesiastical courts) “prove the facts asserted,” (Can. 1816), and force the judge to pronounce in favor of the party producing the document, (commentary by Revs. Woywod-Smith). “Proof to the contrary is not admitted against Letters of the Roman Pontiff bearing his signature,” (Cicognani, ibid. p. 626, ft. note). Documents entered into the Acta Apostolic Sedis do not need to be submitted in the original or be an authenticated copy, (Can. 1819). “In doubt, facts cannot be presumed, but must be proved. When in doubt one must stand by presumption and presumption must yield to truth. There is no argument against the evidence. No argument or conclusion contrary to the evident facts is valid, (Rev. Bernard Wuellner, S. J., Summary of Scholastic Principles,1956). Therefore, no proof can be offered against these documents. These operating principles of the Roman Curia are one of the rules Canon Law requires those proceeding on the premise of doubt to consult, (see Can. 20).
Epikeia and Canons 16, 18, 20 and 21
- Epikeia is also excluded from use in invalidating laws, in the interests of the common good and in reference to Can. 15.
Epikeia is considered only a moderating influence in the application of the law. Abp. Cicognani tells us under Can. 16, which explains that ignorance cannot be used to excuse oneself from invalidating and disqualifying laws: “EPIKEIA HAS NO PLACE IN INVALIDATING LAWS, for the common good demands certitude concerning the validity of acts” (Canon Law). He makes an exception for those things where the law, sacramental validity and matters involving eternal salvation, also the rights of third parties, are excluded from consideration in doubts of law. This is true because these exceptions concern validity, not lawfulness, as Prummer points out. So now we know that Traditionalists cannot claim they are serving the common good whenever these three principles are in question. The common good “demands certitude” in this regard, as Rev. Riley also states, and we have already seen such certitude cannot and does not exist.
Rev. Riley also states on p. 387 of his work already cited above: “At most, epikeia can excuse the individual from the precept, but it can never confer the capacity to act. Epikeia cannot bestow upon him the power which he does not now possess, nor can epikeia restore the power which the law has withdrawn. For such bestowal or restoration of power a positive act is required.” The Roman Pontiffs who have voided these acts cannot be consulted concerning a decision on the matter, but they have left copious works to us which indicate their intention in no uncertain terms. Rev. Riley rightly states that “The lawful use of epikeia demands on the part of the subject a prudent judgment that the legislator excluded from his law the case in question,” and such a judgment Traditionalists cannot provide.
- Canons 18 and 21 won’t save them.
In their rush to justify their actions, Traditionalists appeal to Can. 20, disregarding the method provided by Canon Law to resolve doubts. Since there really is no doubt that can be resolved in their case, considering the Sacraments are excluded from consideration, their appeal is only an exercise in futility. Abp. Cicognani says about Canon 18: “If there is a law covering this case, this rule (Can. 20) is not to be applied according to the meaning of Can. 18.” In a doubt of law, Canon 18 refers readers to parallel passages of the Code, the end and circumstances of the law and the mind of the legislator. As seen above, the supreme legislators, the Roman Pontiffs, have given the faithful abundant indications of their intentions both in their non-infallible and infallible pronouncements — end of story. As Abp. Cicognani and Rev. Charles Augustine both point out, Canon 21 would temper Canon 20 anyway, even though Traditionalists are not allowed to bypass Can. 18 to appeal to that canon.
Canon 21: “Laws made for the purpose of safeguarding the public against a common danger bind, even though in a particular case there is no danger.” Under Can. 19, Can. 21 must be interpreted strictly, because, as Abp. Cicognani stated, “This principle establishes an exception…[to] the cessation of ecclesiastical law… The matter is closely connected with the doctrine on presumption, ‘A probable conjecture about an uncertain affair,’ that is, a deduction… Objectively considered, a presumption is termed…of private, or personal danger, or of common danger, when the law presumes that in certain circumstances there exists…for all individuals the danger of sin or fraud, deception or perversion.” But Cicognani has already told us that doubts regarding divine law and the matter and form of the Sacraments cannot be covered under the heading of ecclesiastical law. A probable conjecture (probability) cannot be used in regard to the Sacraments. But because Traditionalists misinterpret the terms of Can. 21 to suit themselves, this canon will be examined below.
What Traditionalists dispute here is the definition of common danger. They present this common danger as the absence of Mass and Sacraments, the ordinary means of grace, because they tell their followers this is the only possible way to save their souls. But the Church provides other channels of grace and substitutes for this loss (Act of Perfect Contrition, Spiritual Communion, St. John’s Mass), means which Traditionalists denigrate and even denounce. What might their motives be? Suffice it to say that money and power are only two possibilities that come to mind. But the REAL common danger, mentioned above by Cicognani, is “the danger of sin or fraud, deception or perversion.” Sin, being the sacrileges Traditionalists commit and induce others to commit in dispensing and receiving the “sacraments,” which cannot fall under the title of ecclesiastical laws. Fraud and deception meaning the misrepresentation of the true means of grace, the infallible teachings of the Church, the very nature of that infallibility and the true status of the “clergy” — those simulating Mass and Sacraments. Perversion? Well that is a story all in itself, and it is not limited to Novus Ordo clergy by any means.
Reverends Cicoganni, Bouscaren-Ellis, Woywod-Smith, Francis Miaskiewicz, Raymond Kearney, Lawrence Joseph Riley, McHugh and Callan — all these canonists and theologians also warn in their works of the great caution that must be used in applying epikeia, and the many dangers of abuse in attempting this application even if limited, as it must be, to ecclesiastical law; but matters concerning the Sacraments and eternal salvation do not fall under ecclesiastical laws (1). Abp. Cicognani clearly states it is NOT to be applied to invalidating laws (2) and they must adhere to laws governing doubts under Can. 18 that would consult the circumstance of the law and the intention of the lawgiver (3). So that is three strikes you’re out for Traditionalists.
Epikeia cannot be said to overturn the unanimous opinion of theologians, far less papal decrees. These are documented expressions of the mind of the lawgiver binding on the consciences of the faithful and cannot be dismissed. The intention of the lawgiver can never be construed to approve anything that would amount to an abuse of the Sacraments. The lawfulness of Traditionalist acts is not what is being questioned here as Prummer observes. It is the very validity of their acts, and at no time can that validity ever be in doubt when it involves the Sacrament of Orders and jurisdiction necessary for the Sacrament of Penance, the Eucharistic consecration or a question involving eternal salvation. Obedience to the lawgivers, the Roman Pontiffs, alone is the overriding interpreter of Canon Law and they have spoken frequently and eloquently on the nullity and invalidity of Traditionalist acts. The choice is to obey either the Continual Magisterium or Traditionalists, and Catholics who hear the voice of their Shepherd know who they must choose to follow. “He who is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me, scatters” (Matt. 12:30).
by T. Stanfill Benns | Apr 5, 2020 | New Blog
It has come to my attention that many Traditionalists are under the impression they are not “allowed” to judge the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, the Ecumenical Councils or approved theologians and must instead rely solely on whatever is fed to them by their so-called priests and bishops. Some may think these deluded souls can be excused owing to invincible ignorance, but unfortunately it seems most of them will not fall into that category.
Of all the theologians writing on invincible ignorance, the Scottish Bishop George Hay provides one of the best descriptions of this unfortunate state available. Hay is commended by Henry Cardinal Manning as “one of the most energetic and learned…Vicars Apostolic of Scotland in the last century,” (from Manning’s Miscellanies, 1870, “The Bishop of Rome.”). To quote Hay at length is not necessary. He states quite clearly in his The Sincere Christian that no one — not Turks, heathens or Jews; not sincere Protestants living where there are no Catholics and especially not non-Catholics living amongst Catholics (which describes Traditionalists with access to these and other articles, and most importantly, papal encyclicals) can plead invincible ignorance and expect to be saved. The reason is simple: God died for all men although all did not take advantage of the graces He made available to them, (Council of Trent, Sess. 6, Ch. 3). No one who is truly invincibly ignorant will be condemned for his ignorance per se, but the question is more complicated than just this one consideration.
“Although this invincible ignorance will certainly save a man from sin, in wanting that of which he is invincibly ignorant, yet it is plainly impossible and childish to suppose that this invincible ignorance in one point will make up for the want of all the other conditions required,” Hay wrote. Even validly baptized, sincere Protestant adults having no acquaintance with Catholics cannot retain their baptismal innocence without Confession and therefore cannot be saved unless they manage to make a Perfect Act of Contrition or its equivalent before death, Hay explains, (although their children dying before the age of reason can gain heaven). Owing to the absence of the Church today as a visible juridic Body, and the many deliberate obfuscations and misrepresentations of the faith by Her enemies, this author prays that God is more lenient in this regard than in the past, especially in certain cases. Nevertheless, Bp. Hay comments, “For invincible ignorance to exist, three things are necessarily required:
1) “That a person has a real and sincere desire of knowing the truth. For if he be cold and indifferent about an affair of so great concern as his eternal salvation; if he be careless whether he be in the right way or not; if being enslaved to this present life, he takes no care about the next, it is manifest that an ignorance arising from this disposition is a voluntary ignorance and therefore highly culpable in the sight of God…
2) “For one to be in invincible ignorance it is required that he be sincerely resolved to embrace the truth wherever he may find it and whatever it may cost him. For if he be not fully resolved to follow the will of God, wherever it shall appear to him, in all things necessary to salvation; if on the contrary, he be so disposed that he would rather neglect his duty and hazard his soul than correct an ill custom, or disoblige his friends, or expose himself to some temporal loss or disadvantage…Such a disposition must be highly displeasing to God and an ignorance arising from it can never excuse him before his Creator…(all emphasis in bold throughout this work is the author’s unless stated otherwise).
3) “He must sincerely use his best endeavors to know his duty, and particularly that he recommend that matter earnestly to Almighty God, and pray for light and direction.
For whatever desire he may pretend of knowing the truth, if he do not use the proper means for finding it, it is manifest that his ignorance is not invincible but voluntary; for ignorance is only invincible when one has a sincere desire to know the truth with a full resolution to embrace it, but either has no possible means of knowing it or, after using his best endeavors to know it, yet cannot find it.” (Nor does a formal doubt excuse, for all are expected to resolve such doubts.) “A person brought up in a false faith, which the Scripture calls sects of perdition, doctrines of devils, perverse things, lies and hypocrisy; and who has heard of the true Church of Christ, which condemns all these sects, and sees the divisions and dissensions which they constantly have among themselves, has always before his eyes the most cogent reasons to doubt of the way he is in.” And the dissension among Traditionalists who claim the name Catholic but deny truths of the Catholic faith should be a red flag for all.
Bp. Hay goes on to remind his readers that many are called and few are chosen, and that broad is the path to destruction and narrow is the way to salvation. When asked if he is saying that none who are in heresy and invincible ignorance can be saved, he answers, “God forbid that we should say so! All the above reasons only prove that if they live and die in that state they will not be saved…No man knows or can know what may have passed between God and the soul in his last minutes.” Many attempt to appeal to the various exceptions cited in Canon Law to justify their ignorance in matters of faith. But Canon Law does not generally excuse one from observing the law for reasons of ignorance, the general rule being “Ignorance of the law is no excuse…”
Those now in Traditionalists sects should be advised that Can. 16 tells us NO ONE can plead ignorance when it comes to invalidating and incapacitating laws. In other words, followers of Traditionalist “priests,” once the question has been raised concerning their validity or (even their liceity) cannot neglect or refuse to investigate the matter. The law clearly states that a mere doubt regarding sacramental validity or the validity of any given ordination or consecration is sufficient to absent themselves from all contact with Traditionalists. (This will be addressed fully in the next blog on epikeia.) Affected or pretended ignorance “is never admitted as an excuse from latae sentenetiaecensures” (Can. 2229), and this sort of ignorance is often the kind exhibited by Traditionalists. Referring to this canon, Abp. Amleto Cicognani writes under Can. 16: “In law, affected ignorance is held equivalent to fraud, so much so that it does not excuse from any penalty.” It should be further noted that grave fear does not exempt from latae sententiaepenalties either, whenever a specific act would constitute contempt of faith or of ecclesiastic authority, or public injury to souls (Can. 2229 §3).
Traditionalists are instructed by their “clergy” that they are to obey without question and cannot make any judgments regarding what they are “taught” by these men. They also are warned against even the casual reading of any literature that questions their leaders’ authority or the correctness of what they teach. This might have some traction were these men truly priests and bishops educated in papally approved Catholic seminaries, but we know this is not the case. As bishop Hay warns above, no one can claim even invincible ignorance if they do not make such inquiry and the necessary judgments that inquiry requires! Any sect operating on the premise that such inquiry is forbidden or even strongly discouraged is operating as a cult, not a sect.
Michael de la Bedoyere commented on this tendency to blind obedience in his Christianity in the Marketplace, noting that the training necessary to execute the high standards of Catholic existence was available to Catholics then (the 1940s), and by extension it is still available to Catholics today in all the papal documents online. Bedoyere nailed the real problem to the wall when he wrote: “What too often is lacking is the interest and training in APPLYING those standards and knowledge to every circumstance in life. The man of the world HAS to think for himself if he wants to act intelligently at all, for there is no one to think for him; THE CHRISTIAN IS IN DANGER OF NEVER THINKING FOR HIMSELF BECAUSE HE EXPECTS ALL HIS THINKING TO BE DONE FOR HIM…” (The ideal of action) “is not to act just BECAUSE someone else tells one to, but to act for oneself BECAUSE ONE SEES FOR ONESELF, in the light of God’s will and the teaching of the Church or one’s lawful superior [who today can only be past popes], that the action IS right…”
Peter Michaels also states, in his work This Perverse Generation (1949): “If all Catholics have a moral duty to understand the faith at their level of secular education, few of us are going to be saved… How much longer are Catholics going to pretend that if our hearts are in the right place, we can safely continue to live in an intellectual void?” Traditionalists may obey their (unlawful) “superiors” and refrain from making the required judgments, but they do not and cannot escape the Church’s latae sententiae, ipso facto censures for heresy, schism, and communicatio in sacris. That is something they will never hear from their erstwhile “clergy,” but it is the absolute reality that constitutes the Catholic Church. And so these unfortunates, who willfully choose not to educate themselves, will go to the end thinking they are members of the Church, only to find at their private judgment they left Her long ago, and God expected them to put forth far more effort to discover the truth than they were willing to expend. It is a terrifying thought, one not many will be willing to entertain. But it is not just a thought or an opinion — it is Church teaching, Church law, and they are bound by it. In fact the Church condemns this practice of Traditionalists under the titles of Fideism and Traditionalism.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states that Fideism teaches there is no need of intellectual assent based on objective evidence and the only thing expected of Catholics is to make an act of faith. The article explains that Fideists falsely teach: “The supreme criterion of certitude is authority…,” noting that, “An act of faith cannot be the primary form of human knowledge. Authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge but logically ruins faith itself… As to the opinion of those who maintain that our supernatural assent is prepared for by motives of credibility merely probable, it is evident that it logically destroys the certitude of such an assent. This opinion was condemned by Bd. Innocent XI in the decree of 2 March 1679 (DZ 1171), and by Pope St. Pius X in the Lamentabili sane.”
And here we see mirrored the very assent the followers of these Traditionalists are expected to give contrary to the teachings of these holy popes and the unanimous opinion of theologians: acceptance of the orders and the sacraments these self-appointed “clerics” dispense as valid. Not only are their claims based on the thinnest possible evidence, which cannot even be said to amount to a probable opinion, their teachings and actions have been proven over and over again to be in direct contradiction of the constant teachings of the continual magisterium.
Pascal Parente and other authors define Traditionalism as: “A philosophico-religious system, which depreciates human reason and establishes the tradition of mankind, which is bound up with language, as the criterion of truth and certainty,” (Dictionary of Theology; many Traditionalists experience this as the teachings offered them on the “sensus catholicus”). This error was condemned by Pope Pius IX in Qui pluribus and by the Sacred Congregation in 1855 (DZ 1649) So it must be understood, as explained elsewhere, that the choice of the name Traditionalism was not a random one. Those selecting this name for their sect in the 1970s following the cessation of the Latin Mass, did not necessarily intend for it to reflect the Traditions of faith as most Traditionalists innocently assume. For true Tradition is bound up with the deposit of faith Christ entrusted to His Apostles and the transmission of that same deposit by the Roman Pontiffs, unchanged, throughout the centuries. This is definitely something not transmitted by Traditionalists.
By leading those wishing to be Catholic away from the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs and exerting a false authority they insist must be obeyed, Traditionalist “clergy” falsify the Catholic faith and drag souls with them into hell. Those who prefer lies to truth should be scrambling to discover what it really means to be a Catholic or be prepared to give an accounting to Truth itself when they leave this world.