Holy Scripture tells us there is nothing new under the sun, and Catholics would do well to ponder the wisdom of this passage:
“What is it that hath been? the same thing that shall be. What is it that hath been done? the same that shall be done. Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us. There is no remembrance of former things: nor indeed of those things which hereafter are to come, shall there be any remembrance with them that shall be in the latter end” (Ecclesiastes I: 9-11).
This is a stunning condemnation of “Progressivism” and a pointed reminder to us in these times that regardless of all the knowledge we think we have accumulated, we have not perceived the instruments of our own destruction being wielded against us, nor have we formulated any clear idea of the origin of such instruments or a truly workable plan to escape these evils that have plagued mankind from the beginning. That the very same blueprint for the seduction of God’s people goes back to the beginning of time would be an idea scoffed at even by those considering themselves spiritually minded and yet given the above, and the many warnings of Our Lord, His Vicars, the Saints and holy people, it cannot be denied. Of course all know that the devil roams the earth, seeking whom he may devour, but exactly what agents and means he employs and the cloaks these agents and their minions garb themselves in is largely unknown and unappreciated. What is even more frightening is that the destruction continues before our eyes and we cannot quite comprehend its source in order to marshal our defenses against it.
Ever since Lucifer fell from his place of honor in heaven, the demons at work among us have been busy trying to regain what their master lost. It is their sole mission on earth. What they cannot successfully destroy they set out to imitate in such a cunning way that the majority of men will be deceived and will take their diabolical fabrication for the genuine article. Their greatest asset in accomplishing this work is the lack of piety and ignorance of those they prey upon, making them unable to successfully connect the dots in order to detect their deceits. What follows below is an attempt to at least give a bare outline of their plan and to alert the faithful to Satan’s many triumphs in the 20th century and today. This content first appeared in the book Imposter Popes and Idol Altars © 2004; revised 2007 by T. Stanfill-Benns; some text has been added to the original. This series will be presented in three parts for the next several weeks. It seems to be a necessary follow-up to the discussion regarding Antichrist, since many are not convinced that Paul 6 fulfilled that scriptural role. That is because so many fail to fully absorb the extent of the evil he perpetrated and its true source, explained below.
False Gods Spell Destruction
Ba-al proper was the storm god of heaven; his father’s name was El, or Al, the Phoenician nature god. Man’s Religion, by John B. Noss, defined El as a “superhuman being or divinity” used to address “major and minor divinities alike. It also was applied to demons,” or fallen angels. The Mason Pike falsely claimed that the el-al endings were used in the names of the archangels to commemorate the Al god, (the Gnostics name seven archangels, but the Church officially recognizes only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.) In Muslim belief, Al refers to the three daughters of Allah — Al-Lat, Al-Manah and Al-Uzzah. The Catholic Bible Dictionary, by Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, ranked Baal as “identical to the sun” and synonymous with Bel. Other works identify the god with the symbol of a bull, and connect him to Bel, Belial, Baal-Zebub, Baal-Amun, Baal-Tsaphun, Baal-Peor, Moloch, the Persian Mithra and other gods. In Greek and Roman mythology, numerous gods can be linked to “parent” gods, primarily Baal, who also can be linked to Jupiter. In Scripture this is demonstrated by the use of the plural ‘baalim,’ referring to the multitude of gods Baal can represent.
In Canaan, where the cult first gained popularity, baals were farm gods unique to each region; the pagans believed these idols lent fertility to the land, their animals and themselves. The Bible confirms this, describing the unfaithful Israelites’ false belief that Baal, not the true God, gave them their “bread, water, wool, flax and drink,” (Osee 2:5). They worshipped these gods on hills, in groves of trees and ideally near bodies of water. In his Idol Worship of the World, Frank S. Dobbins explained that temples to Baal were referred to as high places, strongholds, “fortresses,” where the money left by the god’s devotees was worshipped along with the god. This can be referred to the prophet Daniel’s description of the priests of Bel and their coffers. Baal worship has the dubious distinction of being the first crude form of secular humanism — its devotees were said to kiss their own hands to worship their god, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. This same article stated that anything and anyone could be worshipped as a Baal. In Semitic etymology the word Baal means “to possess sexually,” giving some idea of the depravity involved in the god’s cult. Scripture relates the self-abuse, self-mutilation and homosexuality that accompanied Moloch and Baal worship, reminding the Israelites of the punishments associated with these crimes.
Rev. Martin Scott, S.J., in his Credentials of Christianity related that the pagans in Christ’s time evidenced secular humanism in the worship of their idols, dating this heresy to pre-Christian times. “Paganism flattered man and gratified the passions,” Scott wrote. “Generations of self-indulgence, living only for self, for pleasure, for every gratification within reach had made man a god unto himself.” Scott credited the degradation occasioned by idolatry as the source of pagan cruelty to women and children, noting that children were “offered as victims to Baal…and many other idols like the frightful idol Moloch, who had a man’s body and a bull’s head.” Both Plato and Aristotle advocated laws to compel women past their prime to practice birth control in order to prevent the birth of defective children. Today the depravity of those times is considered an inalienable right!
The first reference to the actual worship of Baal is made in Leviticus 18:21, where he is referred to as Moloch, one of his many names: for as we shall see, they are legion. The first reference to Baal by name is found in Judges 3:7, where the Israelites are described as engaging in forbidden marriages with pagans and worshipping their gods, “Baalim and Ashteroth.” (Ashtereth, Asherah, Ashtorah, Ishtar, Astarte all refer to the goddess-mother of Baal, often symbolized by a tree trunk.) Another reference to Baal is found in 3 Kings 14:24, where King Solomon is chastised for offering worship to Moloch and Astarte, often identified with Anath, Baal’s wife. This infidelity God the Father attributes to Solomon’s intermarriage with pagan wives, who demanded their gods be worshipped after the same fashion as the true God was worshipped in Solomon’s Temple. Solomon’s sins, so grievous in the eyes of God, hastened his death. His son, Rehoboam, installed an Asherah in the Jerusalem Temple, despite the warnings given to his father. Later King Ahab and his infamous wife Jezebel established Baal and the tree-trunk symbol of Asherah in a temple in Samaria. For this sacrilege Elias the prophet confronted the king, inviting Baal’s priests to the contest on Mt. Carmel. Elias condemned and confounded the Baal priests, (3 Kings 18:30-40), ordering their death. In restoring the purity of worship in his day, King Josias destroyed all these same idols in Jerusalem, but their worship was later reintroduced after his death. Dobbins stated that idolatry continued in Israel until the time of Samuel.
Eager to win the souls of those Israelites not subjected to idol worship, the Devil first removed them from their own land to other nations. He then preyed upon their carnal appetites to make the daughters of their Gentile captors more appealing as wives than the limited choices available among those of their own faith. With wives who did not accept or understand the ways of Israel, the faith then became easy enough to water down. During the Babylonian Captivity, the Jews feasted on the democratic doctrines of Hellenism and reveled in the pleasure principal. Shortly thereafter, the sacrifice ceased during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. This Jewish version of the Antichrist was opposed by one family, that of Judas Machabeus. The descendants of this family waged many battles against Antiochus, eventually defeating him. But one battle was lost because certain soldiers had concealed miniature Baals beneath their cloaks. The cult of the stones was yet alive.
Rev. Bernard Kelly, in his work God, Man and Satan, acknowledged the relationship between Jewish mixed marriages and idolatry prior to Israel’s downfall. “The temptation to idolatry (and) impurity…were often linked by Satan in view of their common purpose, for he found in impure love a powerful incentive to the abandoning of the austere religion of the true God.” Before the death of the saintly little Fatima seer, Jacinta Marto, Our Lady revealed to her that more souls go to hell for sins of impurity than any other sin. Mixed marriage, licentiousness and the hatred of women promoted in advertising, pornography, birth control — all spelled the Church’s doom long before the fateful 1960s. Always Satan has known that the seduction of women guarantees the ruin of mankind. This may be why he approached Eve, not Adam. Paraphrasing Ven. Mary of Agreda, Kelly remarked: “The Old Testament is the story of Satan’s attempt to pervert the Chosen People that the woman and her seed would never come into existence.” Satan lives in daily fear of the Genesis promise that the Woman will crush his head. Forever inspired to a hatred of all women by this fear, he projects his hatred on those who might also bring forth Christ mystically — devout women raising God-fearing children. His plan, however, did not succeed with the Chosen People who accepted Christianity, and it will not succeed now. But Baal and Ashtorah are yet with us in ways we cannot fully comprehend.
The “evil and adulterous generation” we are forced to view each day was systematically paganized and perverted by Kabbalistic, Masonic propaganda for decades. We agonize over the death of innocence, not realizing that our philosophy and thinking, our community and family life are but reflections of an anti-God system still celebrating the rites of Moloch. As a goddess, Ashtorah may be relatively unknown. But in principal, she rules from more hearths today than at any time in the past. In reality, we as a society have been impenetrated by pagan beliefs to such an extent that we are blind to our own seduction, thanks to the film and music industry, television and the secular media. Our ignorance of the serpent’s perverse ways fulfills the words of Scripture, “For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light,” (Luke 16:8). The Devil has succeeded in destroying belief in the Holy Trinity while establishing acceptance of an accursed false “quatrinity” fashioned after his own evil likeness, just as Wisdom prophesied. The Fathers taught that this denial of the Trinity would be the primary predicator of Antichrist’s reign. What has never, to our knowledge, been addressed before are the terrible blasphemies that would likewise be leveled against the Most Holy Mother of God, destined to crush the serpent’s head. St. John Eudes has revealed that because Our Lady’s own heartbeat for Her Son’s in the womb, the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary constitute ONE Heart. How, then, can this cruel denial of the Trinity not affect Our Blessed Lord and His holy Mother profoundly?
To finalize their triumph, the neo-pagans must not only pervert and defile womanhood — they must destroy the model on which it was created. Our Lady’s demotion to one of the many “mother goddesses” must be revived and appreciated anew, that today’s moderns may be worshipped as their own gods and goddesses without feeling the slightest discomfort. A new paganism more virulent, even, than that known in Roman times plagues us today, and we must learn to identify the resurgence of this ancient heresy in our own environment. It is the “current of black paganism,” which Pope Pius XII defined as hedonism, immodesty, individualism and rationalism. Another author, Msgr. L. Cristiani, pointed out that this “black” paganism is really quite different than the type of paganism practiced by those living before the time of Christ. Then at least, pagans recognized powers superior to themselves and assumed an inferior position to these powers, preparing the way for acceptance of Christianity after a fashion. Although all idol worship is defined by St. Paul as the worship of demons, an opinion unanimously held by the early Fathers, Cristiani makes the distinction between those who worship Satan unknowingly, such as the early pagans, and those who worship themselves as possessing magical powers attributed to Satan. And making such fine distinctions and identifying these themes and patterns is crucial to understanding the neo-paganism that reigns triumphant in society today.
In his June 26 radio address to the people of Minneapolis, Minn. Pope Pius XII wrote: “Early explorers record in their relations their utter amazement at the mighty current that sweeps down the Mississippi River. There is a stronger current of black paganism sweeping over peoples today, carrying along in its onward rush newspapers, magazines, moving pictures, breaking the barriers of self-respect and decency, undermining the foundations of Christian culture and education.” No less than the New York Times ran this headline on the front page that day, covering the Pope’s speech: “Pope Pius warns ‘black paganism’ is world menace; its flood engulfs newspapers, magazines, films, he tells eucharistic congress Christianity endangered [and] calls for self-sacrifice to combat evil.”
Earlier in Divini Redemptoris, 1937, Pope Pius XI taught: “At the same time the State must allow the Church full liberty to fulfill her divine and spiritual mission, and this in itself will be an effectual contribution to the rescue of nations from the dread torment of the present hour. Everywhere today there is an anxious appeal to moral and spiritual forces; and rightly so, for the evil we must combat is at its origin primarily an evil of the spiritual order. From this polluted source the monstrous emanations of the communistic system flow with satanic logic. Now, the Catholic Church is undoubtedly preeminent among the moral and religious forces of today. Therefore the very good of humanity demands that her work be allowed to proceed unhindered.
“Those who act otherwise, and at the same time fondly pretend to attain their objective with purely political or economic means, are in the grip of a dangerous error. When religion is banished from the school, from education and from public life, when the representatives of Christianity and its sacred rites are held up to ridicule, are we not really fostering the materialism which is the fertile soil of Communism.? Neither force, however well-organized it be, nor earthly ideals however lofty or noble, can control a movement whose roots lie in the excessive esteem for the goods of this world. With eyes lifted on high, our Faith sees the new heavens and the new earth described by Our first Predecessor, St. Peter. While the promises of the false prophets of this earth melt away in blood and tears, the great apocalyptic prophecy of the Redeemer shines forth in heavenly splendor: ‘Behold, I make all things new.‘ Venerable Brethren, nothing remains but to raise Our paternal hands to call down upon you, upon your clergy and people, upon the whole Catholic family, the Apostolic Benediction.”
God alone, not man, can truly make all things new. Next, we will examine how Baal worship was established in the very heart of what many believed to be the Catholic Church.
+St. Robert Bellarmine+
This post will examine why the commentaries on Antichrist in Daniel and the Apocalypse are not always as helpful as they could or should be. Most of the theologians who commented on the Apocalypse were forced to address issues owing to the Protestant heresy that the Popes individually and the papacy as a whole constitutes Antichrist and his system. Among the commentators most devoted to this fight, the refutation of the papal antichrist heresy bled over into practically all of their commentary, sometimes to the extent that it prevented them from considering many things that might have helped us today.
This is especially true in the case of St. Robert Bellarmine, who of course lived during the heighth of the Reformation and was most involved in combatting those heresies. Bellarmine could not have known what we know today or have learned over the course of the past nearly 500 years how the Church’s teaching on various subjects would develop. While Protestants eventually gave up the papal Antichrist theory for a time, it has resurfaced with renewed vigor over the past several decades since the usurpers in Rome have become increasingly more liberal. This is especially true given the sex scandals that have rocked the Novus Ordo church. Although statistics show Protestant churches are just as plagued by these scandals as the Novus Ordo; they simply are more successful in keeping it quiet, since these incidents happen in numerous Protestant sects and are not attributed to Protestantism as a whole.
What is perplexing to us today is why Bellarmine did not make use of Pope Paul IV’s bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio to quell the papal antichrist heresy, since this bull seems to have been especially written to refute it. True, he was only a teenager when the bull was written, but in his later career it seems that given his work on heresy, he might have had occasion to refer to it. If such a reference exists in his works, it is not known to us. But a consideration of the possible consequences of using this argument might explain why it was never put forth. To begin with, Paul IV, who was an avid reformer, was not a popular pope. As a cardinal he had advised Pope Paul III to call the Roman Inquisition and when it convened he was placed in charge of it. As a pope he set out to reform clerical and religious life and even the Roman Curia, something not appreciated by the cardinals, who he considered untrustworthy (Philip Hughes, A Popular History of the Catholic Church, p. 176). Hughes relates that he managed to reform clerical life in Rome to such an extent that even into the 20th century “Rome bears…something of the appearance of a monastery… [after] worldliness had dulled the achievement even of good popes.” Pope Paul IV “broke and broke forever… all the long tradition in which worldliness in the highly placed cleric was taken as rather in the nature of things” (Ibid., p. 173).
When Paul IV died, a Roman mob tore down the statute they had erected to him earlier and rioted for 12 days. But as Hughes notes, despite his rigidity and austerity — also his failings in not ridding himself soon enough of his nephews who damaged relations with the Papal States Paul IV had entrusted to them — his accomplishments in banishing worldliness stood. His campaign against heresy was no less ruthless as Cum ex… reveals. And it was one of his own cardinals, accused of promoting himself as a future pope and of sympathizing with Lutheran heretics, that prompted him to write Cum ex… But given the inroads already made by Luther and the other Reformers, it came too late. According to the bull, it was issued specifically to correct a false interpretation of Holy Scripture, which the papal antichrist heresy certainly was. It reads:
“The Apostle’s office entrusted, to Us by God, though beyond any merit of Ours, lays upon Us the general care of theLord’s flock. Hence We are bound, to watch over the flock assiduously, as a vigilant shepherd, with faithful protection and wholesome guidance. We must see attentively to driving away from Christ’s fold those who, in Our time more consciously and balefully than usual, driven by malice and trusting in their own wisdom, rebel against the rule of right Faith and strive to rend the Lord’s seamless robe by corrupting the sense of the Holy Scriptures with cunning inventions. We must not allow those to continue as teachers of error who disdain to be taught… And lest it befall Us to see in the holy place the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, We wish, as much as possible with God’s help, in line with our pastoral duty, to trap the foxes that are busily ravaging the Lord’s vineyard and to drivethe wolves from the sheepfolds.”
What better corrupts the sense of Holy Scripture than the heresy of Luther and other Protestant sects who pretend the popes are Antichrist? That was the prevailing heresy that consumed the commentators of that time and centuries afterward, even into the 1800s. And how could one more effectively explain the nuances of this outrageous claim than by simply pointing out the truth of how it could APPEAR to occur, and how it might be in danger of appearing to occur, if Paul IV’s bull was not issued? The Catholic Encyclopedia, in its article on Antichrist, makes the same distinction made by Pope Paul IV in the following:
“The defenders of the Papal-Antichrist theory have made several signal blunders in their arguments; they cite St. Bernard as identifying the Beast of the Apocalypse with the Pope, though St. Bernard speaks in the passage of the Antipope; they appeal to the Abbot Joachim as believing that Antichrist will be elevated to the Apostolic See, while the Abbot really believes that Antichrist will overthrow the Pope and usurp his See; finally, they appeal to Pope Gregory the Great as asserting that whoever claims to be Universal Bishop is Antichrist, whereas the great Doctor really speaks of the Forerunner of Antichrist who was, in the language of his day, nothing but a token of an impending great evil.”
In several councils the Church herself has called antipopes antichrists just as St. Bernard called the antipope Anacletus antichrist, so this is nothing new. Joachim of Fiore had the right idea because this is exactly what Pope Paul IV explained in defining a usurper pope as the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place. As for the universal bishop quote, that could be compared to the schismatic Coptic and Russian Orthodox sects who indeed have set their own popes and patriarchs up against the true popes as “universal bishops.” In any case, these are the answers to the “blunders” in the papal antichrist theory and it was Pope Paul IV who explained that the only way such a person could appear to be pope and actually teach heresy (when Protestants were saying a duly elected pope was guilty of teaching error ex cathedra) is if he were actually a heretic pre-election. But there seems to be little appreciation for what Pope Paul IV actually did.
Not only did he explain how a heretic could insinuate himself into the papacy, but he also outlined in great detail how such a person would be invalid from the start, would have no power whatsoever, would be incapable of effecting any valid or licit acts of any kind, spiritual or temporal, and need only be gotten rid of even if this required the aid of the temporal power. Such an abomination could ascend but could NEVER be a valid pope. Therefore no one could ever say that such a one was ever a true pope in any way, meaning no canonically elected pope could ever become Antichrist. Only if an invalidly elected individual succeeded in being accepted as legitimate and no attempt was made to cast him out could it only APPEAR that one teaching error from that seat was a true pope. The very dissemination of such error, Pope Paul IV teaches, either before or after any pretended assumption of office results in “ipso facto[excommunication]… Without need for any further declaration, [they shall] be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power.”
What might have happened if St. Bellarmine had invoked Cum ex… and had actually used it as a weapon to disprove the papal antichrist heresy? First it would have provided the Protestants with a new axe to wield for they would first claim Paul IV to be no authority in the matter and secondly, they would claim that he had admitted that what they were proposing could actually happen. The distinctions made above in the Catholic Encyclopedia article would be easily swept away, although we wish these distinctions had been addressed by St. Bellarmine in his works on Antichrist for our edification. But had he pushed the point that only a heretic invalidly elected and appearing to be pope could qualify as Antichrist then another argument would have erupted, since the papal election laws were issued by the popes themselves and the Protestants do not and will not recognize him. It was a no-win situation and trying to prove it would only have complicated matters.
It is possible that the early Christians knew quite well that Antichrist would be a false pope, and this can be surmised from 2 Thess. 2: 5-8. After reminding his flock that a revolt would come first before the Man of Sin was revealed, St. Paul added: “Remember you not that when I was with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth that he may be revealed in his time. For the Mystery of Iniquity already worketh; only now that he who now holdeth do hold until he be taken out of the way. And then the wicked one shall be revealed…” Henry Cardinal Manning interprets this what withholdeth as the papacy and the who withholdeth as the pope, and other commentators have considered it a possibility. It may be that what St. Paul refers to was an oral Tradition not written down because of the possibility of scandal to the weak and to catechumens. By the Mystery of Iniquity he may have been referring to Simon Magus who already had attempted to purchase the papacy and to the Gnostics and Judaizers who then threatened the early Church. Protestants may have somehow divined that he who withholdeth was the papacy and deliberately distorted it to suit their own purposes. Pope Paul IV tried to set the record straight but by that time the heresies of the Reformation were too far advanced to allow a correction by theologians, even doctors like St. Bellarmine.
Although the prophetic nature of the bull was not appreciated nor remembered, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio became the basis for nearly all the laws written into the 1917 Code of Canon Law on heresy. As such it retained its status as a law under the new code (see the Archives section of the site for these articles). Try as they might to pretend it was abrogated by the Code and no longer is applicable to us today, those eager to dismiss its significance for us in these times have failed to produce one scintilla of evidence that Cum ex… is not an infallible bull that continues to bind us all. In his The Question Box, Rev. Bertrand Conway differentiates as follows between a disciplinary decree and an infallible one. “A disciplinary decree prescribes what one must DO, and not what one must BELIEVE…” Conway notes that in infallible decrees, there is clearly “an intention to propose a doctrine to be held by the universal Church,” adding from another source that the pope must “speak in person” for a definition to be considered infallible. Clearly Pope Paul IV speaks in person in his bull, and there can be no doubt that he is speaking infallibly, given the quote from Cum ex… below:
“Upon advice and consent concerning such as these, through this Our Constitution, which is to remainforever effective, in hatred of such a crime the greatest and deadliest that can exist in God’s Church, Wesanction, establish, decree and DEFINE, THROUGH THE FULLNESS OF OUR APOSTOLIC POWER [that those] who in the past have, as mentioned above, strayed or fallen into heresy or have been apprehended, have confessed or been convicted of incurring, inciting or committing schism …or who, in the future, shall stray or fall into heresy or shall incur, incite or commit schism or shall be apprehended, confess or be convicted of straying or falling into heresy or of incurring, inciting or committing schism, …[are] also automatically and without any recourse to law or action, completely and entirely, forever deprived of, and furthermore disqualified from and incapacitated, for their rank …” Clearly Pope Paul IV is teaching what one must believe in such matters in a solemn bull issued in his own name. This appears in paragraph three of the bull, having been preceded by the statement in paragraph one regarding Pope Paul IV’s definition of the abomination of desolation in Holy Scripture as capable of penetrating the “Holy Place.” This he later defines as meaning even the Holy See, by stating that the Roman Pontiff also could become a heretic pre-election. So by not believing that two men who clearly intended to create an entirely new church were incapacitated for office and therefore could never be what they appeared to be, the hierarchy and educated laity disobeyed an infallible papal bull and failed to provide the Church with a true pontiff. It is as simple as that.
We have been over this same ground many times before, but not necessarily in relation to the coming of Antichrist. Although it is assumed above that Cum ex… was not a disciplinary decree, even had it been entirely disciplinary, to deny that it binds Catholics would be heretical, according to Pope Pius IX. The argument against Cum ex… revived in the 1800s when one bishop proclaimed in a celebrated work, refuting the contentions of the Old Catholics, that disciplinary decrees are not infallible, (Bishop Fessler against the Old Catholic Dr. Schulte). The case against the bull hinged on the Old Catholic claim that the anathemas issued by Paul IV against heads of state were an attempt to assert power over civil officials and excommunicate them. Of course in the 1500s, the majority of the monarchies in the world were Catholic so this is something the Church could legitimately claim to do, Both Bp. Fessler and Henry Cardinal Manning, answering accusations by British Prime Minister Gladstone, refuted this argument, explaining that today, since there are no Catholic monarchs subject to the Church, all jurisdiction to excommunicate them and seize their possessions no longer exists. So this was a black eye given the bull to further discredit it, following the definition of infallibility and revived claims that Rome intended to take over the world. This made it even more unlikely to gain any credence in the future or shed its reputation as a mere disciplinary decree.
But Pope Pius IX, in a seeming response to the general dismissal of disciplinary decrees, wrote the following in Quartus Supra after Fessler’s book was published: “Discipline is often closely related to doctrine and has a great influence in preserving its purity. In fact, in many instances, the holy Councils have unhesitatingly cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed its discipline… Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Teaching of this kind is heretical, and not just since the definition of the power and nature of the papal primacy was determined by the ecumenical Vatican Council: the Catholic Church has always considered it such and abhorred it.” (On the Church in Armenia,1873).
And in Quae in patriarchatu: “In fact, Venerable Brothers and beloved Sons, it is a question of recognizing the power (of this See), even over your churches, not merely in what pertains to faith, but also in what concerns discipline. He who would deny this is a heretic; he who recognizes this and obstinately refuses to obey is worthy of anathema” (Pope Pius IX, September 1, 1876, to the clergy and faithful of the Chaldean Rite). Both of these documents were written after Fessler died in 1872; Fessler was not saying that anyone should deny that the bull had its effect; he merely said it was not a teaching on faith or morals, but this was even then debated by others. Since that time a greater development of the doctrine of infallibility has clarified much — all documents issued by the Roman Pontiff now are considered binding if recorded in the Acta Apostolica Sedis. Certainly a bull as solemn as Cum ex…would merit inclusion in the Acta. Especially given the subject matter and its undeniable application to our own situation, it seems the bull deserves a more elevated rank than ever before. Manning, in his work The Vatican Decrees and their Bearing on Civil Allegiance wrote on much the same topic as Fessler, but five years after Fessler’s work. He fully holds, with Pope Pius IX, that the Vatican Council included disciplinary decrees within the scope of infallibility. He also defends certain bulls as infallible as well, even though Cum ex… is not named among them.
So what is the point of this blog? The point is that had more thought been given by the commentators to the actual mission and character of Antichrist rather than the claims of the Protestants; if Catholics in the 1800s had followed the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs and actually comprehended what Paul IV was trying to explain to the people — instead of going on the defensive and worrying about what the general population thought about the rights of the nobility — faithful cardinals and/or bishops might have been able to reverse this situation and elect a true pope in the 1960s. But the theologians valued their own opinions and arguments as superior to the popes’ and minimized papal authority. They also let prejudice regarding Pope Paul IV blind them to the true value of Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. When that bull is taken in its full context, given the circumstances that prompted its publication and in light of what we have encountered in our lifetime, no other conclusion could be drawn. We were given a great grace and we squandered it. And this is why now we have no idea what the future holds for the Church. Obviously it was God’s will that all this should happen, but it was never His will that we ignore the commands of His Vicar. We know only that wherever all this is going, either the Church will triumph briefly on earth, or Christ will reign with the Saints as king in Heaven following the Final Judgment. His will be done.