by T. Stanfill Benns | Jul 26, 2022 | New Blog
I constantly field the accusation that what is presented on this site is only my opinion on what has happened to the Church. But facts, and especially the laws and teachings of the Church, are not opinions, and I try my best to base everything here on those laws and teachings. I have an OBLIGATION to do this work to the best of my ability; it is not an option. I am creating a record that will be archived and will stand as the presentation of truths taught by the Church Herself, right up to the end, so that the Deposit of Faith will be defended on this earth for as long as I live. That is what I believe my mission to be and what God requires from me. It is not the business of others to tell me how to conduct my spiritual life or fulfill what I perceive to be my mission and vocation.
On exposes and treatises
As one dear friend summed it up, I am only a presenter and facilitator of the teachings of the Church as they existed before the death of Pope Pius XII. I make available the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, the Holy Office and Sacred Congregations, the ecumenical councils, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, also the teachings of approved theologians and Canon Law, which itself is negatively infallible. These are not opinions. They constitute, in varying degrees, truths of faith Catholics must believe to be saved. Once these truths have been presented, I then proceed to facilitate, meaning I try to make it possible or easier for those reading what I present to relate what they are reading to what exists today. I bridge this gap using the Church’s own methods and laws to try to explain how the Church views the situation we find ourselves in today, and what we must do to remain members of Christ’s Mystical Body and preserve the faith.
Since I began writing for the Church in 1979, various Traditionalists have tried to steer me into the field of devotional articles only, or into a more neutral field where all is presented as potentially true, and readers would be allowed to sort things out for themselves, (modern-day journalism). Some would like people to stop reading what I write altogether, because it is “too hard to understand” or “too lengthy to devote any time to.” Guess it depends on what your priorities are. How much time do you spend on the Internet browsing Trad and other websites, or watching videos on various topics? But you don’t have time to read something about the faith that would at most take up an hour of your time?
All I have tried to do is provide what answers I know here, taken from the pre-1959 works I possess. No one has to read what I write; I don’t collect followers and since what I try to present are usually truths of faith they are not up for debate. I don’t know everything, I am not the last word or even a degreed professional, but it does not take a degreed professional to accurately quote the teachings of others. I can tell you I have devoted my life to studying the truths of faith, but I leave it to God to determine the value of that study.
Am I here to convert people? As St. Bernadette of Soubirous said: “My job is to inform, not to convince.” Nearly all of what I have written has been to defend the faith against the errors of Traditionalists and other enemies of the faith, because that is what the Church orders me to do. I can try to do my best, but God alone can provide the graces necessary for true conversion. Owing to the strength of the delusions predominating in these times and the knowledge that the remnant will be a scant few and Christ will scarcely find faith on earth when He returns, few will probably save their souls in these days; the Bible clearly teaches that people will not repent. Rev. Leo Haydock tells us that those remaining faithful in the end times will be so diminished that they will be able to fill only one church or temple (Apoc. 11: 1 commentary). I can only hope that I will be one of those few in that church and that others will join me there.
Pride and correction
Several have accused me of pride, of not knowing my place, of overstepping my bounds. Anyone can fall into this sin, and I am no exception. But those writing on the spiritual life explain that it is false humility to hide one’s light under a bushel, and not pleasing to God. We are commanded by God to shine our light and to use our talents, whatever those talents may be. To give undue consideration to what others think of us for doing this is to fall victim to human respect. We must obey God and serve Him, not bow before the criticism and disapproval of men. As far as accepting correction from others goes, regarding the immediate jurisdiction business and the pride issue, the following is recommended by theologians:
“One should not attempt to correct a fault, unless one is morally sure that a fault has been committed… Slight sins or transgressions of rules should… be corrected, when they are the occasion of grave scandal or disorder in a community. Slight sins or transgressions should not be corrected in ordinary cases, for these faults are so numerous that, if one had to correct them, an intolerable burden would be laid on everyone, Persons who scold and lecture over every trifling misdeed are regarded as pests and do more harm than good… One should enlist the services of one or two others to assist in making the brotherly correction… [This] should arouse the culprit to the need of correcting himself, before his case is brought before the superior [in this case the public] for correction. Since fraternal correction is given for the purpose of converting a sinner from the evil of his ways, it is not called for when one’s neighbor is not a sinner, strictly speaking, or has already reformed.” (McHugh and Callan’s Moral Theology; it obviously takes more than the catechism to figure this one out.)
- Stating a known and provable fact is not a fault, far less a sin. Stating it without sufficient explanation would be a fault if not corrected.
- If a fault is slight, and the only ones objecting to it are those in the Traditionalist camp or harboring Traditionalist sympathies, these do not count as objectors but only as instigators. It is scandal taken, not given.
- No one else objected to the supposed sin; only one person claimed it existed.
- An attempt was made on this site to clarify the statement in question but was rejected by some as insufficient.
Catholic self defense
Some believe the basic catechism is an adequate defense against what we are battling today. But to maintain it is all that is needed to save our souls and that someone else supporting and promoting higher studies is expecting too much and is overstepping their bounds is unreasonable. Yet this is something I have heard from the more hateful type of Traditionalists for years. I am criticized for citing Canon Law and theology but all I do is take it from those well-trained in it prior to 1958 and apply it to what we are experiencing today. Why is that objectionable? If we draw out all the consequences of such a stance, we surrender any rights to defend ourselves. Are we really supposed to let the enemy teach error and not fight back? Is that what saving our souls is really all about?? Rev. Sarda wrote in his book on Liberalism that we are allowed to ridicule the enemies of Christ, discredit their person, drag their names into the mire, poke fun at them and even wound or kill them, if they threaten our own person. And it is all considered to be charity, because it is done in defense of the faith.
Even a civilian who is not properly “trained” in combat techniques can defend himself from an enemy when attacked or jump into action when other citizens are being maimed or gunned down. Armed citizens often patrol their own neighborhoods, especially in these times, but I guess because they aren’t trained, they should go home and let the thugs attack their families and their neighbors. It is the liberals who advise you to curl up in a ball and not defend yourself, as they once did my nephew who was being bullied at a public school. And certainly one may defend oneself in court versus hiring an attorney, and special concessions must be given to such defendants by the judge, even to the extent, sometimes, of detriment to the plaintiff. As a reporter I sat in on several of these court cases. But we should not use common sense when it comes to defending the faith?
Traditionalist pseudo-clerics today only think they are trained in theology and Canon Law; no one authorized by the continual magisterium has ever taught them, no one with any kind of jurisdiction necessary for their validity even approved them as candidates for the priesthood. They are the perfect example of false authority, and no one owes them any respect or obedience whatsoever. They are/were taught by men who deny the necessity of the papacy and either ignore Canon Law, or twist it to suit their own purposes; God only knows what they do with theology. Canon Law is quoted whole and entire here, as are the theologians and the Roman Pontiffs. The necessity of the papacy, papal jurisdiction and the full weight of papal decisions all are upheld here. Given the heresies taught by Traditionalists, if a true pope ever reigned again he would most likely either reduce these men to the laity or totally disregard their putative orders. This was the practice of the Holy See prior to the death of Pope Pius XII in similar cases; these decisions are presented in articles on this site.
So no one is supposed to point out the fact that these men are pretending to possess authority in the Church they do not possess? No one is justified in providing detailed information based on Church teaching, proving they are imposters and not the true pastors Christ sent to guide the flock, but hirelings who will starve and mislead the sheep? They are to be allowed to spread error unchecked and crucify Christ anew? To desecrate the Sacraments, tear apart families, scandalize the little ones, drive those caught in their snares to despair, all while living high on the hog and passing themselves off as celebrities? Most of the people who come to this site are tired of their lies and being treated like dirt; they are in great spiritual pain and only want the truth. They may not know exactly how to explain what has happened to their Church, but they want answers, and they want peace. This is something that can never be found in Traditionalist sects because they deliberately suppress the truth and silence those who dare to question them.
Praying at home helps them find that peace; knowing the truth sets them free. Telling them that the catechism will provide the answers to the many questions they feel they must resolve is an insult to their intelligence, as one reader recently noted. Moreover, it is the equivalent to dismissing all that they have learned from hard experience about the lack of true Catholicity in these sects and the sufferings they have endured. Many of those exiting from cults experience the same angst — fear, sense of loss, depression, alienation, scrupulosity, confusion, anger, guilt and much more. It takes a long time to heal from these wounds, and re-education is key to helping make sense of it all. That is why there is information on this site about cults. I have had my own experiences with them; I was in the thick of the Traditionalist movement and its many grotesque manifestations in the 1980s, early 1990s. I know how that pain feels and the damage done by these sects. That is why I am trying to alleviate it.
If people would like to study upper grades catechisms, by all means do so; they are fairly self-explanatory. But this cannot replace the obligation to advise oneself of papal teaching and obey papal directives. I think we know why this site is so objectionable to others — somewhere out there a nerve has been struck and they are trying their best to do damage control by discrediting what is written here. Maybe more people are beginning to ask questions and are not satisfied with the answers. One can only hope. But whatever it is, the attacks on this site that began many years ago have not stopped and will not stop. These latest attacks are not the first and certainly won’t be the last. We weather them as best we can, knowing that God often withdraws those from us that are not of good will, then allows them to attack us so that we may suffer for His honor and glory. As He wills, for as long as He wills.
A heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported me through this and allowed me to explain myself. May God reward you with many blessings.
Some of the statements made in the initial post above have been expanded upon and rephrased. I am posting nothing more on this topic as the answers to most of the accusations made by my opponents can be found on my website. I will be happy to direct readers to specific articles if they have any questions.
To assure readers that papal teaching and documents are indeed intended for the faithful, I offer the excerpt below from Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton (Infallibility in the Encyclicals, AER, March 1953). Msgr. Fenton and his colleague Rev. Francis J. Connell received commendations from Pope Pius XII for defending the papacy in the American Ecclesiastical Review. Msgr. Fenton received the papal medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1954, was appointed a papal chamberlain, and also belonged to the Pontifical Roman Theological Academy. Msgr. Fenton and Rev. Connell openly opposed Vatican 2 until their respective deaths in 1969 and 1967. I am privileged to quote them often in my writings.
In his last will and testament, Pope Pius XII left all the writings generated during his pontificate, without exception, “…to all who wish to become acquainted with them” (His Humble Servant, Sr. Pasqualina Lehnert). Sadly, there are few who value this inestimable legacy.
by T. Stanfill Benns | Jul 21, 2022 | New Blog
+St. Lawrence of Brindisi+
I am not willing to devote any more time to these baseless allegations that are floating around about my last blog on immediate jurisdiction. Nor do I believe any of my readers are really interested in hearing more about them either, since several of them say they fully understand the point I was trying to make. However, there is an issue that does need to be addressed and it is no trifling matter. It is something very difficult to pin down but yet it is essential for all to understand it in order to protect themselves from its stealthy penetration into their thought processes. Because it is so subtle, it is an error many will deny they advance, and that is why it must be nipped in the bud if at all possible.
In the 19th century an error was condemned by Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus; its name was liberalism. It took many forms and wore various masks. One of these was the mask of the liberal Catholic, which in its extreme form manifested in the 20th century as the Novus Ordo church. In its most diluted variation, it presented as a seemingly attractive and Catholic attempt to practice charity, but the reality was far different. For this variety of Liberals excused the inexcusable, gave the benefit of the doubt where it was not due, tolerated the intolerable, questioned the unquestionable, and essentially made it possible to live comfortably and in peace with its very enemies. That this is something the Church not only condemned as a heresy but looked at in horror was explained by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany, in a little book written in 1886, Liberalism is a Sin. This book was specifically approved and recommended by the Sacred Congregation of the Index. We will comment from this book at length and recommend that all purchase a copy.
The appearance of good can be deceiving
In his opening pages, Fr. Sarda explains how “…Appearances may be fair and the devil may present himself as an angel of light. The danger is the greater as the outward show is more seductive. Heresy has never been so insidious as under its present form of liberalism. Its most fatal shaft is its plea for liberality of mind. This in its own eyes is its cardinal virtue. Intellectual freedom from dogmatism is its boast, a boast in reality the mask of IGNORANCE AND PRIDE… Foes in the midst of battle cannot well be friends. Where the pressure of conflicting forces is most intense, there is little opportunity of reconciliation. Yet this absurdity and contradiction we find in the odious and repulsive attempt to unite liberalism with Catholicism.” And here attention must be paid especially to the word seductive. Because Liberalism can present itself as a tendency or a simple “difference of opinion” in matters where no such thing is allowed to the Catholic. And this is especially true when it comes to accepting the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs precisely for what they are.
Before continuing with Rev. Sarda’s comments, it needs to be pointed out that the entire purpose of praying at home is not to create yet another sect, but to honor the Sacraments by abstaining from them and diametrically oppose Traditionalism in all its many forms. We pray at home to escape the evil of mortal sin, the mortal sin committed by those daring to offer the Latin Mass and confer the Sacraments despite excommunications for schism, heresy, communicatio in sacris and infamy of law; excommunications that render Traditionalist pseudo-clergy the equivalent of vitandus. We are not simply “sheltering in place,” resigning ourselves to the Quietistic existence Traditionalists would love to assign us so they may continue their mission of deceiving souls — not saving them — undisturbed. No; we are not allowed to stand by idly and watch while those we love and who should be our brethren labor under such an intolerable deception. Nor are we allowed, in this day and age where such deception continues to present daily in new forms, to fail to condemn it every time it opens its mouth.
Some would have us believe that if there could just be a little bit of compromise and a little more respect for the enemy; a little less insistence on absolute obedience to papal decrees and a little more cooperation; also the abandonment of the idea that we need to study hard to know our faith which discourages so many, souls could be won over to the pray-at-home position. Well that is all fine and good, but this attitude was condemned by Pope Leo XIII in his dogmatic letter to Cardinal Gibbons and Americans in general, Testem Benevolentiae. There he wrote:
“On account of our apostolic office, having to guard the integrity of the faith and the security of the faithful, [We] are desirous of writing to you … [regarding the errors of Isaac Hecker]. The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.
“It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. The Vatican Council says concerning this point: ‘For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.’” (end of Pope Leo quote). This is clearly the condemnation of all the Novus Ordo ever was and is, so it is undeniably dogmatic. Msgr. J.C. Fenton notes that Pope Pius XII condemned it as doctrinal minimism in Humani Generis. But it doesn’t apply to us today? Listen to what Rev. Sarda has to tell us on this topic:
“The liberal subjects God’s authority to the scrutiny of his reason and not his reason to God’s authority. He accepts revelation not on account of the infallible revealer but because of the infallible receiver. With him the individual judgment is the rule of faith; he believes in the independence of reason. It is true he accepts the magisterium of the Church, but he does not accept it as the sole authorized expounder of divine truth. He reserves as a coefficient factor in the determination of that truth his own private judgment. The true sense of revealed doctrine is not always certain, he thinks, and human reason has something to say in the matter, as for instance the limits of the Church’s infallibility, which may be determined by human science. He is intellectually free to accept or reject, but he is intellectually bound to no one. Liberal Catholics are deluded into the notion that incredulity is a virtue rather than a vice. Any chastisement of errors shocks their tender susceptibilities, and they detest any Catholic legislation in the direction of what they are pleased to call intolerance. The Ultramontane interpretation is violent and extreme and does much more harm than good by driving back the well-disposed at such a show of ill-liberality. Thus they erect into a dogma what is called the principle of toleration.” So if these shoes fit on certain feet, then wear them.
All the above succinctly describes Traditionalists and all who sympathize with them. They may be considered ultra-conservatives politically, but they are Catholic liberals of the moderate and tainted variety, as Rev. Sarda describes them. An Ultramontane my entire life, a totally unabashed defender of the papacy, of course I can expect only attacks from such people. But try as they might, they cannot change the FACT that when Pope Pius XII defined as certain that bishops can only receive their jurisdiction through the pope, those dissenting from that decision discreetly began to organize. Following the false Vatican 2 council, these men established a series of groups called Traditionalists who claimed, through various subterfuges, that they received jurisdiction directly from Christ. So from the release of Mystici Corporis in 1943 to the first establishment of these groups, the only ones claiming and practicing immediate jurisdiction were the Protestants, an undeniable fact.
What is stated above is the conclusion Traditionalists wish no one to fully understand, and will go to any lengths to suppress. So much so that Anthony Cekada even misstated the wording of the Council of Trent to deny this was the case. I don’t think it is too outrageous to claim that they do not want anyone to connect the dots and especially want to keep any possible affiliations with Gallicanism under wraps. This at least until it is time for their “great king and holy pope” of prophecy fame to appear and “unite the clans.” But try as they might, they cannot hide the fact that what they are doing contradicts Church teaching on so many levels.
Employing a condemned error to condemn an “error”
The irony is that what these critics are peddling as erroneous involves an error itself. The real objection to the original statement made by this author, that immediate jurisdiction is a Protestant heresy, is that it could not be said to proceed as a logical conclusion from the other facts provided. Yet the only way this statement could be true is if it is somehow believed that Pope Pius XII’s decision was not binding, (and that observation was made by a reader, not me). Yet it certainly IS binding, since Mystici Corporis is entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis. Actually the implication that such a conclusion cannot be made is a philosophical error condemned by the Church. ‘Ah, but it is only an error, not a heresy, so that is OK; we still remain within the Church.’ And that is exactly what liberals, the anti-infallbilists and the Modernists who followed them were condemned for teaching.
The errors advanced by Nicholas d’Autrecourt regarding conclusions and evidence, condemned by Pope Clement VI, reads: “…From one matter another matter cannot be inferred or concluded; or from the non-existence of one, the non-existence of another” (DZ 554).; “That the certainty of evidence does not have degrees” (DZ 556); “That it cannot be shown clearly that in truth all things which are apparent are true” (DZ 567). These teachings were condemned as erroneous, false and presumptuous. Now the interesting part here is that if one looks up Nicholas of Autrecourt on the Internet, it refers you to a Catholic Encyclopedia article on Fideism, a topic we have touched on many times in various articles. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains under this head:
“It is not surprising, therefore, that the Church has condemned such doctrines. In 1348, the Holy See proscribed certain fideistic propositions of Nicholas d’Autrecourt (cf. Denzinger, Enchiridion, 10th ed., nn. 553-570). In his two Encyclicals, one of September, 1832, and the other of July, 1834, Gregory XVI condemned the political and philosophical ideas of Lamenais. On 8 September, 1840, Bautain was required to subscribe to several propositions directly opposed to Fideism, the first and the fifth of which read as follows: “Human reason is able to prove with certitude the existence of God; faith, a heavenly gift, is posterior to revelation, and therefore cannot be properly used against the atheist to prove the existence of God”; and “The use of reason precedes faith and, with the help of revelation and grace, leads to it.” The same proposition were subscribed to by Bonnetty on 11 June, 1855.”
Lammenais and de Bonald were the main propagators of Fideism’s sister system Traditionalism. Their errors were condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and 1834. This pope also condemned Bautain, who was made to correct one of his errors by stating: “We do not have the right to expect from an unbeliever that he admit the resurrection of our divine Savior before we shall have proposed definite proofs to him and these proofs are deduced by reason from the same tradition” (DZ 1623). So in other words, proofs from Revelation, also Christ’s vicars, must be presented before one can expect anyone to believe. (Lammenais is mentioned repeatedly by Rev. Sarda in his work on Liberalism.)
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Traditionalism as: “A philosophical system which makes TRADITION the supreme criterion and rule of certitude.” Fideism is a bit more complicated but is very similar in its tenets. “Fideism (Lat. fides, faith), [is] a philosophical term meaning a system of philosophy or an attitude of mind, which, denying the power of unaided human reason to reach certitude, affirms that the fundamental act of human knowledge consists in an act of faith, and the supreme criterion of certitude is authority.” And it is precisely erroneous thinking regarding the understanding of certitude that Traditionalists have spread all these years.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on certitude, “Many truths, indeed, have to be accepted on authority; but then it has to be made evident that SUCH AUTHORITY IS LEGITIMATE, is capable of knowing the truth, and is qualified to teach in the particular department in which it is accepted.” And surrounded on all sides as we are today, only the Roman Pontiffs and those approved pre-1959 theologians respectfully commenting on what they teach can be trusted. As Rev. A.C. Cotter S.J. teaches in his The ABC of Scholastic Philosophy, (p. 284): “Authority clothed with the necessary conditions is true authority. False authority makes the same claims although it lacks these conditions.” Cotter comments that those following self-styled teachers of any philosophic system have the “duty to investigate for themselves. Authority is not the last criterion of truth or motive of certitude.”
In other words, faith or intuition in itself is some kind of proof or evidence without any need for external evidence; it is in fact even superior to external evidence. It is no coincidence that these errors emphasize Tradition in a non-Catholic sense. And it is no coincidence, either, that what passes as the continuation of the Church following the death of Pope Pius XII calls itself Traditionalist. Material-formal alone teaches that arriving at formal certitude is an impossibility because human reason cannot fully know the truth; “Catholics are not to seek things above themselves,” and on whose all-knowing judgment is this statement made? But these are words we have heard for decades. They want us to believe evidence is useless in attempting to arrive at the true; truths cannot be deduced by resorting to the reasoning process but by obedience to “authority,” legitimate or not. Isn’t that what has kept Traditionalists in business all these years?
Rules of Engagement: Give the enemy no quarter
My mentor, teacher and father, God rest his soul, instilled in me the operating principle that you never insult your readers by talking down to them, or fail to challenge them with things they can test for themselves. I have always tried to follow his advice. While the Baltimore Catechism is a starting point intended for children and teens and should be studied by all of us for starters, Pope St. Pius X expected priests and bishops to instruct the faithful from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, a much more advanced work (see Acerbo Nimis). And Catholics today will find much in these lesser catechisms dedicated to Mass and Sacraments, taking up fully half of the 1943 Baltimore memorial edition of the Kinkead version I consulted. Baptism and Marriage, of course, should be studied, and one should have a general knowledge of the Mass and all the other Sacraments. But we are ADULTS here, at least I hope so, and capable of learning so much more. Consider what one author had to say about this:
“Good will is not held in a vacuum and ignorance is often culpably sinful. If all Catholics have a moral duty to understand their faith AT THEIR LEVEL OF SECULAR EDUCATION, few of us are going to be saved… Pope Pius XI said: ‘In our day and age, unenlightened heroism is not enough.’ How much longer are we Catholics going to pretend that if our hearts are in the right place, we can safely continue to live in an intellectual void?” Peter Michaels, This Perverse Generation, (Sheed and Ward, 1949).
And from Pope St. Pius X: “I admit and recognize the external arguments of revelation that is divine facts and especially miracles and prophecies as very certain signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that the same arguments have been especially accommodated to the intelligence of all ages and men, even of these times” (Oath Against Modernism, DZ 2145). This same pope also wrote: “A Christian… should humbly seek the reason, insofar as he can, of how [what the Church teaches] is so. If he can understand, let him give thanks to God; if he cannot, let him not push his horns to the struggle but submit in all veneration” (1 Mach. 7:4-6; DZ 2120). In other words, some must simply believe and obey whatever they cannot understand.
I have subtitled this section the rules of engagement because Rev. Sarda very pointedly lays out these rules. I have always cited them and adhered to them. First of all, this entire issue really arose when I denied the actual validity of Traditionalist orders; then the objections began. Secondly, it was insinuated that it would not be possible to prove such invalidity and until then Trads retain the title to it because no one can disprove they cannot use epikeia to claim it, but that is a falsehood. Thirdly, the infallibility of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis has been challenged on the basis that “null and void” in this constitution should not be taken literally. And on whose venerated authority is this advanced? We can believe only the pre-October 1958 Church, Her popes and councils and Her approved theologians. Rev. Sarda explains that:
“It is a rule of sound exegesis that any passage in Holy Scripture should always be interpreted according to the letter unless such meaning be in opposition to the context. We can only have recourse to a free or figurative interpretation when this opposition is obvious. This rule applies also to the interpretation of Pontifical documents.” Please demonstrate, then, why Pope Pius XII’s infallible document nullifying Traditionalist acts should not be taken literally. And do not speciously object that null and void does not mean invalid when Pope Leo XIII and Pope Clement VI both teach that these words mean just that. Every excuse is being made to regard these Traditionalist pseudo-clerics in a more sympathetic light and give them the benefit of the doubt. Rev. Sarda puts the kabosh to that.
“To treat as a liar the man who propagates false ideas, in the eyes of the [liberal theologian], is to sin against the Holy Ghost. To him the falsifier is simply misguided; it is not the poor fellow’s fault. He has, simple soul, been misled. We ought neither to resist nor combat him. We must strive, [instead], to attract him by soft words and pretty compliments. How the devil must chuckle over the mushy charity held out as bait to abet his own cause!” And there we have it all. I owe NOTHING to traditore Traditionalists; no use of “Fr.” before their name, no publicly expressed RIP when they pass (although we may pray for them privately); no “respect” for the garbage they spew out as theological discourse and weekly tales about their cats. And most emphatically, no lip service to their great work for the “salvation of souls” when such work can truly be termed only the damnation of souls. They are the sworn enemies of my Lord Jesus Christ, my Church and my beloved popes and here they will always be treated as such. “Give the enemy no quarter!” Rev. Sarda shouts, and this I have always practiced.
Traditionalist followers deceived by these men I leave for God to sort out, but many of them fall into the category of tainted Liberals as well, and that is heresy. I cannot fail to say what the Congregation of the Sacred Index has confirmed. I pray for them to see the truth and try to provide it for them, but only God can grant them the grace to accept it. God alone knows the consciences of men and tainted liberals may not realize that their approach is the administration of a deadly poison offensive to God. That unfortunately cannot be taken into consideration when the error is disseminated publicly, no matter what personal feelings may dictate.
I end with more of Fr. Sarda’s pithy statements, which I adopt for my own.
“By use of their reason the faithful are enabled to suspect and measure the orthodoxy of any new doctrine presented to them by comparing it with a doctrine already defined. If it be not in accord they can combat it as bad and justly stigmatize as bad the book or journal which sustains it. They cannot of course define it as ex cathedra but they can lawfully hold it as perverse and declare it such, warn others against it, raise the cry of alarm and strike the first blow against it. The faithful layman can do all this and has done it at all times with the applause of the Church; it behooves watch dogs to bark. Faith possesses a power of its own which it communicates to its friends and defenders. It is not they who give the truth power, but truth which charges them with its own vigor. This on the condition that they use that power in its defense…
“Instead of augmenting our forces, it would paralyze and nullify the vigor of those who would be able, if alone, to do something for the defense of the truth… The kind of soldiers we need go into the deadly breach and never flinch. No compromising, no minimizing with them. They plant their banner on the topmost height and form a solid, invincible phalanx around it that not all the legions of earth and hell combined can budge a single inch. They make no alliance, no compromise with a foe whose single aim, disguised or open, is the destruction of the truth. They know the enemy by nature is implacable, and his flag of truce but a cunning device of treachery… There is then no sin against charity in calling evil, EVIL, its authors, abettors and disciples, BAD; all its acts, words and writings INIQUITOUS, WICKED, MALICIOUS. In short, the wolf has always been called the wolf, and in so calling it no one ever believed that wrong was done to the flock and to the shepherd.”
“Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.” ~ St. Peter Canisius
by T. Stanfill Benns | Jul 15, 2022 | New Blog
+St. Henry II+
In treating the recent rash of papal bashing by the anti-Fatima crowd, the seriousness of appreciating what the Roman Pontiffs teach and how these various teachings must not be taken as isolated and disjointed proclamations was once more brought to the forefront. The remedy for this is the practice of integralism as emphasized by Msgr. Fenton, something this author has stressed and attempted to practice. Whether this has always been accomplished remains to be seen, but at least the effort has been made. Gallicanism is a subject that has been treated often on this blogspot. Likewise the actual sort of jurisdiction possessed by bishops, how it is possessed, and how it can and cannot be exercised. Because questions have been raised regarding these topics, their actual interrelation needs to be explained.
What is Gallicanism?
Gallicanism is an error that surfaced at the time of the Western Schism. There were two types of Gallicanism: political (favoring monarchical interests in France) and ecclesiastical. It was confined almost entirely to France when it first made its appearance, but later spread to England and Germany. As M.L. Cozens, in his 1928 A Handbook of Heresies, explains: “The Gallican school held 1) that the Pope’s definitions were not infallible in themselves but only after acceptance by the Universal Church and 2) that a general council’s authority was above that of a Pope. Some French ecclesiastics also claimed that the king had the right to forbid the publication in France of papal bulls that no act done by the king’s agent on his authority could involve excommunication and that the king could prevent any bishops recourse to Rome even if the Pope commanded his presence.”
One of Gallicanism’s most enthusiastic proponents during the Western Schism era, the theologian Jean Gerson taught: “The decision of the Pope alone, in matters which are of faith, does not as such bind (anyone) to believe; Bishops in the primitive Church were of the same power as the Pope; The Roman Church, the head of which is believed to be the Pope …may err, and deceive and be deceived, and be in schism and heresy, and fail to exist.” (Henry Cardinal Manning, The Ecumenical Council and the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff: a Letter to the Clergy, 1869). And here is recognized the very same teachings which the Anglicans and Luther used to justify their separation from Rome at the time of the Protestant Reformation.
This we find also from Cuthbert Butler’s summary of Gallicanist teachings in his work The Vatican Council, Vol. 1, 1930: “As the common father of Christians, the Pope can make new laws and propose them to the Church. But they have not the force of general laws except by the acceptance of his colleagues in the episcopate. The bishops are bishops by divine right; THEY HOLD THEIR POWER IMMEDIATELY FROM JESUS CHRIST and not from the Sovereign Pontiff WHOSE EQUALS THEY ARE except in the primacy which was established by Christ only to show forth unity (Cyprian). They judge with him in matters of faith and of discipline but their jurisdiction is limited by their diocese, whereas that of the Pope has no limits other than those of the Christian world” (pg. 29). So this demonstrates that the Gallicanists did indeed hold the theory of immediate jurisdiction, and because they held all the bishops in council superior to the pope, they even held themselves, AS A BODY, above him.
Gallicanism, the reformers and jurisdiction
During the Protestant Reformation, the ideas promoted by the Gallicanists were put into practice by Protestant ministers, many of them still possessing valid Orders. They declared their independence from Rome and, as St. Francis de Sales explains mediate and immediate mission or jurisdiction in his The Catholic Controversy (Ch. 2-3), a work sent to Catholics deceived by the Calvinists. He writes:
“To be legates and ambassadors… of Christ …they should have been sent; they should have had letters of credit from him whom they boasted of being sent by. Now you cannot be ignorant that they neither had nor have in any way at all this mission. For if our Lord had sent them it would have been either mediately or immediately. We say mission is given mediately when we are sent by one who has from God the power of sending according to the order which he has appointed in his Church… Immediate mission is when God himself commands and gives a charge without the interposition of the ordinary authority which he has placed in the prelates and pastors of the church such as Saint Peter and the apostles were sent receiving, from our Lord’s own mouth this commandment… But neither in the one or in the other way have your ministers any mission. How then have they undertaken to preach, how shall they preach, says the apostle, unless they be sent?“
While Traditionalists and others seem to distinguish mission from jurisdiction, theologians do not. Devivier and Sasa, in the index to their work Christian Apologetics, lists mission, canonical, which then references the reader to page 589 “on the power of jurisdiction… conferred by canonical institution.” One would think that a Doctor of the Church would be trusted to know what heresy is when he sees it and thendedicates 13 chapters to explaining it, however some question his testimony as insufficient.
The Protestants differed from the Gallicanists only in the fact that they decided to work outside the Church for reform rather than from within. The Gallican articles themselves were not addressed by the popes until 1690, when Alexander VIII declared them null, void and invalid (DZ 1322). Pope Pius VI later declared them rash and scandalous in Auctorem Fidei in 1794. (Manning in his Civil Allegiance states that the definition of infallibility “…by retrospective action makes all Pontifical acts infallible… such as Unam Sanctam, Unigenitus, and the bull Auctorem Fidei and by prospective action will make all similar acts in future binding upon the conscience.”)
To the above errors should be added those of Febronianism, first advocated by the German bishop of Trier, Johann Nickolaus von Hontheim, (using the pseudonym Febronius), in 1763. Hontheim taught that Christ did not give “…the power of the keys to Peter but to the whole Church; that the pope’s power, as head of the whole Church… is of an administrative and unifying character, rather than a power of jurisdiction;” that the appointment of bishops and the establishment of dioceses should be left to provincial synods and metropolitans and even the determination of matters of faith should be left to these same authorities. “Hontheim advanced along the same lines, in spite of many inconsistencies, to a radicalism far outstripping traditional Gallicanism” (Catholic Encyclopedia). In 1786, Pope Pius VI wrote Super Soliditate, condemning Febronianism, Regalism and Josephism:
“All the more must be deplored that blind and rash temerity of the man [Eybel] who was eager to renew in his unfortunate book errors which had been condemned by so many decrees; who has said and insinuated indiscriminately by many ambiguities that every Bishop no less than the Pope was called by God to govern the Church and was endowed with no less power; that Christ gave the same power Himself to all the apostles and that whatever some people believe is obtained and granted only by the pope, that very thing, whether it depends on consecration or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, can be obtained just as well from any bishop …” (DZ 1500). Some of these propositions were condemned as leading to schism and schismatic, also leading to heresy and heretical. Despite the fact that it also was condemned by so many other decrees, as Pope Pius VI notes, it was still being taught as an acceptable opinion because the brief did not condemn everything Eybel taught as heresy. Its propagators then used this as an excuse to escape censure, allowing it to continue to be taught in some form or other.
The Vatican Council and Gallicanism
And so it remained until the mid-1800s and the plans to convene the Vatican Council. During the Council preparations Cardinal Manning, then only an archbishop, worked within a commission comprised of five cardinal presidents, eight bishops, a secretary and dozens of other members of the clergy. This commission drew up a list of reasons why it was opportune to call the council, and enumerated on that list were the following, found in Manning’s The Vatican Council Decrees and their Bearing on Civil Allegiance (1875):
“5. Now, if the next General Council meet and separate without taking any notice of this denial [of infallibility], one of two inferences may perhaps be drawn. It may be said that Gallicanism has obtained its place among tolerated opinions; or, at least, that it may be held with impunity.
“15. Because the full and final declaration of the divine authority of the Head of the Church is needed to exclude from the minds of pastors and faithful the political influences which have generated Gallicanism, Imperialism, Regalism, and Nationalism, the perennial sources of error, contention, and schism.
“For these, and for many more reasons which it is impossible now to detail, many believe that a definition or declaration which would terminate this long and pernicious question would be opportune; and that it might forever be set at rest by the condemnation of the propositions following:
“1. That the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs in matter of faith and morals do not oblige the con- science unless they be made in a General Council, or before they obtain at least the tacit consent of the Church.
“2. That the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks in matters of faith and morals, as the universal Doctor and Teacher of the Church, may err.
And here we see the very errors expressed above by Gerson, who, Manning relates, later “…himself confessed that he was maintaining an opinion which was so much at variance with the Tradition of the Church before the Council of Constance that anyone who held it would be branded as a heretic.” Cardinal Manning then explains in his The Ecumenical Council and the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, a Letter to the Clergy, 1869, (written shortly before the opening of the Vatican Council):
“English nationalism became the Anglican schism. French nationalism checked itself at the Gallican Articles. The Anglican Reformation has no perils for the Catholic Church; it is external to it, in open heresy and schism. Gallicanism is within its unity and is neither schism nor heresy. It is a very seductive form of national Catholicism, which, without breaking unity, or positively violating faith, soothes the pride to which all great nations are tempted, and encourages the civil power to patronise the local Church by a tutelage fatal to its liberty. It is therefore certain that Gallicanism is more dangerous to Catholics than Anglicanism. The latter is a plague of which we are not susceptible; the former is a disease which may easily be taken.
“Gallicanism has caused a divergence, which Protestants think or pretend to be a contradiction in faith. The combined action of Gallicanism within the Church and of Protestants without it, has given to this erroneous opinion a notoriety in the last two centuries, and especially in France and England, which takes it out of the category of imperfect and innocuous errors which may be left as a vapor to be absorbed. It has inscribed itself in the history of the Church, and will live on until, by the Church, it is finally condemned.” Manning would later remark in his work on Civil Allegiance: “Gallicanism was the only formal interruption of the universal belief of the Church in the Infallibility of its Head. The Vatican Council extinguished this modern error.”
So as with many other teachings proposed by those appearing to hold a tenable opinion within the Church, prior to its condemnation Gallicanism was condemned only as an error, or so the proponents of this position claimed. But once the Vatican Council concluded, its teachings could only be classified as heresy, which Gerson rightly agrees with above. Manning explains that a century before the Gallican Articles appeared, Gallicanist supporters debated this opinion at the Council of Trent, asking the Council to decide whether bishops receive their powers directly from Our Lord, or rather indirectly, from Christ but only through the Roman Pontiff. The Council refused to take up the question, and this question remained unsettled for over 300 years. Finally it was answered by the Vatican Council in 1869-70:
“I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” And it was upon Simon alone that Jesus, after His resurrection, bestowed the jurisdiction of Chief Pastor and Ruler over all His fold in the words, “Feed My lambs, feed My sheep.” At open variance with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture, as it has ever been understood by the Catholic Church, are the perverse opinions of those who, while they distort the form of government established by Christ the Lord in His Church, deny that Peter in his simple person preferably to all the other Apostles, whether taken separately or together, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction; or of those who assert that the same primacy was not bestowed IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY upon Blessed Peter himself, BUT UPON THE CHURCH, and through the Church [clergy and faithful] on Peter as Her minister.
(Canon) If anyone, therefore, shall say that Blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church Militant, or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of honour only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction; let him be anathema” (DZ 1822, condemnation of Gallicanism).
As Manning demonstrated above, Protestantism worked hand in hand with Gallicanism, and of the two, Gallicanism was by far the greater worry. The entire thrust of this united effort was to either eliminate the papacy or reduce the popes to mere ministerial heads, with the bishops as equals; the Vatican Council ended that. But then came Liberal Catholicism and Modernism, and as Msgr. Fenton explains, “Liberal Catholicism shares with Jansenism and with Modernism (and this last was preeminently an expression of the liberal Catholic teaching itself) the unhappy distinction of being a movement whose leaders fought to keep active within the Church after its principles had been directly condemned by competent ecclesiastical authority.
“Ultimately theological minimalism was a device employed by liberal Catholics to make the rejection of authoritative papal teaching on any point appear to be good Catholic practice. Sometimes it took the crass form of a claim that Catholics are obligated to accept and to hold only those things which had been defined by the explicit decrees of the ecumenical councils or of the Holy See. This attitude…was condemned by Pope Pius IX in his letter Tuas Libenter (DZ 1683). Another crass form of minimalism was the opposition to the Vatican Council definition of papal infallibility. The men who expressed that opposition sometimes claimed to hold the doctrine of papal infallibility as a theological opinion but they showed a furious hostility to the definition which proposed that doctrine as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith” (“The Components of Liberal Catholicism,” The American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1958).
This is what Pope Pius XII faced during his pontificate. And in order to make certain all the vestiges of Gallicanism, and Liberalism then manifesting as Modernism, were entirely wiped out, he delivered his unwelcome decision on immediate jurisdiction.
Episcopal jurisdiction decision ends Gallicanist contentions
In writing his encyclicals Mystici Corporis Christi in 1943 and Ad Sinarum Gentum in 1954, Pope Pius XII settled the final remaining question not answered by the Council of Trent — the last nail in the coffin of Gallicanism — by teaching what was already held as the common opinion by the theological schools:
“Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church, for they are united by a very special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body and so are rightly called ‘principal parts of the members of the Lord’; moreover, as far as his own diocese is concerned, each one as a true Shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of Christ. Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff” (Mystici Corporis Christi). And in Ad Sinarum Gentum: “But the power of jurisdiction, which is conferred upon the Supreme Pontiff directly by divine rights, flows to the Bishops by the same right, but only through the Successor of St. Peter, to whom not only the simple faithful, but even all the Bishops must be constantly subject, and to whom they must be bound by obedience and with the bond of unity.”
This should have settled the question, but the minimalists then existing in the Church challenged the fact that infallible statements could be issued in an encyclical. Pope Pius XII answered this question by writing Humani Generis (1950),teaching that anything entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis is to be considered as issuing from the ordinary magisterium.
“Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who hears you Hears Me,”: and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.”
And this only confirmed what Msgr. Fenton had already written in 1949: “Where a question of grave moment has been disputed among Catholics, and when the Holy Father intervenes to settle this question once and for all, there is clearly a definition, a decision which all Catholics are bound to accept always as true, even though no solemn terminology be employed.” (“The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals,” Sept. 1949, AER).
In this same article, Msgr. Fenton also noted: “The private theologian is obligated and privileged to study these documents, to arrive at an understanding of what the Holy Father actually teaches, and then to aid in the task of bringing this body of truth to the people. The Holy Father, however, not the private theologian, remains the doctrinal authority. The theologian is expected to bring out the content of the Pope’s actual teaching, not to subject that teaching to the type of criticism he would have a right to impose on the writings of another private theologian.” As Revs. Pohle-Preuss write in The Sacraments, Vol. IV: “It matters not what the private opinions of…theologians [are]. It is not the private opinions of theologians but the official decisions of the Church by which we must be guided.” Yet always, Traditionalists favor the opinions of these theologians even over the clear teaching of the Church.
Minimalism and immediate jurisdiction
A friend recently shared the following quote from Cardinal Billot with me, and while it was not objectionable at the time Billot wrote it, prior to the issuance of Mystici Corporis, it is not something that remains true following Pius XII’s definition on the origin of episcopal jurisdiction.
“Whether episcopal jurisdiction is immediately from God, or immediately from the Roman Pontiff, was bitterly disputed in the Council of Trent, and nothing was defined at that time. In the Vatican Council, the question was not even proposed, chiefly because in practice, it is nearly indifferent, whether one or the other opinion is accepted. For even those theologians who hold that episcopal jurisdiction is derived immediately from God, also say that without a doubt it is conferred by God with a true and full dependency on the Supreme Pontiff.“
Obviously, in the face of Modernist inroads, Pope Pius XII did not think this was a matter “indifferent” in practice, and a survey of his related works on the subject demonstrates this. Cardinal Billot could scarcely know what Pope Pius XII would have to face during his pontificate. He also may have been hoodwinked by Modernists wishing to de-emphasize the importance of this question and leave it unanswered, for we know they only showed their true colors toward the very end. Bishops ruling 30 years later certainly did not reflect what Billot thought these theologians believed, as later proven by the false Vatican 2 council.
And most importantly, despite his comment above, Billot himself seemed to hold the common opinion, cited by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, that the jurisdictional power of bishops comes only through the Pope: “For authority [in the Church] comes directly from God through Christ, and from Christ to his Vicar, and from the Vicar of Christ it descends to the remaining prelates without the intervention of any other physical or moral person” (Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J., Tractatus De Ecclesia Christi (Rome: Aedes Universitatis Gregorianae, 1927), Vol. 1. p. 524). This information is necessary to place his first statement in its proper perspective, for without it one could be led to believe Billot was either undecided or held the opposite opinion.
Cardinal Billot, then, would have considered the matter settled with Pope Pius XII’s definition, and would have adjusted his thinking on its “indifference” accordingly, just as Cardinal Ottaviani did. Humani generis settled the question on encyclicals and papal decisions made within them, forever closing any further discussion of his decision on the true nature of how bishops receive their powers: from Christ, yes, but only through the Roman Pontiff. Msgr. Fenton, in his articles on Doctrinal Authority, also Infallibility states:
“Thus it would seem that some teachings whose main claim to acceptance on the part of Catholics is to be found in the fact that they are stated in papal encyclicals would actually demand an assent higher than that which must be accorded to the content of the Church’s authentic but non-infallible magisterium. Such truths would demand the kind of assent usually designated in theology under the title of FIDES ECCLESIASTICA… (Doctrinal Authority in the Encyclicals, Pt. II, AER, 1949). “If that supreme power is exercised within the field of dogma itself, that is, by declaring that some particular truth has been revealed by God and is to be accepted by all men as a part of revelation,” Fenton continues, “then the assent called for by the definition is that of divine faith itself. If on the other hand, the Holy Father, using his supreme apostolic authority, does not propose his teaching as a dogma, but merely as completely certain, then the faithful are bound to accept his teaching as absolutely certain. They are, in either case, obliged in conscience to give an unconditional and absolutely irrevocable assent to any proposition defined in this way” (“Infallibility in the Encyclicals,” (AER, March 1953). And Ottaviani and Fenton both agree the teaching on the jurisdiction of bishops is certain. Humani Generis closes all discussion on such issues.
Yet, again, some argue it would be only temerarious to question this teaching and would not involve loss of membership in the Church, as would denying an article contrary to ecclesiastical faith. This appears to be minimism of another sort, and one that is very concerning. It presents as a reluctance to accept the full import of this decision and a desire to leave a crack open in this door, however imperceptible it might be, for whatever reason. This then would be a conditional, not an unconditional assent — an incomplete obedience — when such a decision requires irrevocable assent. Theological pygmies all of us are, who even dare venture into these things. Therefore, it seems that it is far more preferrable to prefer the safest course, as we have in praying at home, especially one recommended by a papally approved theologian. This is true especially since we have no one to consult in such matters.
Immediate mission outside the papacy a Protestant heresy
Gallicanism was an error that became even more dangerous than external heresies, as Cardinal Manning explains, because like Modernism it worked from within, not outside, the Church. It was basically a parasite that weakened the authority of the Roman Pontiff in order to placate the state and counteract the effects of Ultramontism. There are definite indications that those advocating it worked in tandem with secret societies to undermine the influence of the Church. It eventually was absorbed by Modernism. Gallicanism promoted the theory of immediate jurisdiction — that episcopal authority came by Divine right directly from Christ, but within the framework of the papacy. Protestants proposed the theory of immediate or extra-ordinary jurisdiction outside the Church, having rejected the papacy. It was their rejection of the papacy that necessitated resorting to Christ as the ultimate source of their authority. For them, this was part and parcel of their heresy.
Immediate mission could be held by bishops within the Church as an opinion, until the decision issued by Pope Pius XII that their jurisdiction was mediate, (through the pope, not immediately from Christ). Any direct appeal to Christ for such jurisdiction after that decision amounts to a denial of the necessity and supremacy of the papacy who alone can exercise it in regard to bishops. No matter how much they protest, or claim to still support the papacy, during an interregnum Traditionalists operate by appealing directly to Christ Himself, and this is the same sort of jurisdiction or mission claimed by Protetstants.
The Vatican Council condemned the tenets of the Gallicanists by defining infallibility. Pope Pius XII ruled that the theory of immediate jurisdiction could no longer be held because all jurisdiction comes from Christ to the Roman Pontiff, then to the bishops, a by-product of the Vatican Council definition. Catholics must hold this teaching with a firm and irrevocable assent. Today we see immediate jurisdiction claimed by Traditionalists. Even if they professed immediate jurisdiction under a pope-elect opposed to Rome, they would be in grave error at the very least. But that is not what they are doing. They are claiming to possess immediate jurisdiction during an interregnum in violation not only of Pope Pius XII’s decision on episcopal jurisdiction, but his infallible papal election law Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS), written several years after that decision was handed down. For this law teaches that during an interregnum, the acts of anyone attempting to exercise papal jurisdiction or who violate papal law are invalid. As Msgr. Fenton comments at the end of his article on episcopal jurisdiction, “[This decision] signifies that any bishop not in union with the Holy Father has no authority in the Church.”
Exercising jurisdiction reserved only to the pope by consecrating bishops, in defiance of VAS and in violation of a host of papal laws, is the full-blown version of the Protestant heresy of immediate mission or jurisdiction. This sort of mission, authority received directly from Christ, is claimed by Sedevancantists; “Those whom Our Lord has bound by divine law to confer sacraments, then, simultaneously receive from Him the legitimate deputation and the apostolic mission to confer them” (Anthony Cekada, Traditional Priests, Legitimate Sacraments, 2003). Other Traditionalists claim it implicitly by appealing to Can. 2261 §2 providing supplied jurisdiction, which can come only from a true pope. Since they claim it during an interregnum it can be assumed that they appeal then directly to Christ.
Anglicans believe their mission comes directly from God and from the community — mission Dei; this is extraordinary mission. Various Traditionalists also have stated the people have called them and that therefore they are bound to administer the sacraments to them, since technically they have a right to request them. (This is true, however, only when.such a request can be legitimately fulfilled.) This error, related to Gallicanism and Protestantism, was condemned as heretical at the Council of Trent (DZ 960, 967; Can. 147) to combat precisely what St. Francis de Sales was fighting in trying to free those from error who were following the Calvinists. Certainly jurisdiction was very much an issue then, and so it remains.
It is hoped that by providing a brief history of the origins and progression of the Gallicanist error (basically a denial of the full exercise of papal jurisdiction, condemned at the Vatican Council); and its relation to the theory of immediate jurisdiction (a Protestant heresy which has since been revived by Traditionalists), that those confused on this subject will now understand. For those who still feel that this question has not been settled and immediate jurisdiction as it remains today is not a Protestant heresy, it would be interesting to know: What else should we call it in light of the Trent anathema and Pope Pius XII’s decision? Of course the question answers itself, and the answer explains the incredulity of those denying it is a heresy in the first place.
This topic has always been about the papacy. It is at the core of the extended interregnum we have experienced for nearly 64 years. Is it possible for bishops only to rule the Church, can sitting pope err, does the episcopacy minus its head bishop constitute the Church, can bishops without the pope rule as Christ-assigned teachers if they have not received their mission from a true pope (and cannot even be certain of their own ordination and consecration)? The Church long ago answered “no” to all these questions, but liberals, Modernists and Gallicanists that they are, Traditionalists behave as though these condemnations do not exist and can be easily explained away.
Since today they practice immediate jurisdiction without the pope, Traditionalists now join the Protestants, despite all claims to hold extraneous jurisdiction in various forms. They can possess no authority without the pope. Any objection otherwise is only one more denial of the papacy to add to their long and growing list. I don’t feel obligated to apologize for those objecting to the fact that stripped of their immediate mission/jurisdiction garb, Traditionalist emperors now appear in their birthday suits.
by T. Stanfill Benns | Jul 3, 2022 | New Blog
+God Have Mercy on Our Nation+
Prayer Society Intention for July
“Eternal Father, I offer thee the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, the merits, love and sufferings of the Sacred Heart, the tears and Sorrows of His Immaculate Mother, for the return of those now opening Thy Son’s precious wounds anew by evil publications.”
My apologies for a late posting of the Prayer Society Intention. It has already been an incredibly busy month. I also would like to wish everyone a happy Independence Day, understood in the spirit of Pope Leo XIII, so greatly calumniated recently as a false pope, who wrote: “We are bound to love dearly the country whence we have received the means of enjoyment this mortal life affords, but we have a much more urgent obligation to love with ardent soul the Church to which we owe the life of the soul, a life that will endure forever.” Please see Robert Robbins latest at https://catholiceclipsed.com/2022/07/03/thoughts-on-the-fourth-of-july/ for a wonderful commentary on true patriotism today.
It is difficult to address the broad scope of what all the denial of papal supremacy entails, but one thing is certain: it begins with the tendency to question or criticize the actions and decisions of the popes, to favor and tolerate critical accounts of them written in secular works and in the press, to allow doubts to creep in, perhaps even without realizing it, about their legitimacy or orthodoxy, or the belief that one can put limits on what they may or may not say or do in disciplinary matters. If not immediately resolved or rejected, (if one is not able to satisfactorily answer them), they then become doubts of faith in the perpetuity of the Apostolic Succession.
Those accusing Pope Leo and the other popes of heresy committed while in office — an impossibility condemned as heresy at the Vatican Council — have produced nothing even approaching real evidence to prove their miserable case. And it must be remembered: in pointing out the invalidity of Roncalli’s election on this site, he is not being judged AS A POPE. What was being judged was his pre-election disposition — whether or not he was even a Catholic, and thus qualified for election. Public statements and his behavior pre-election prove he was not a Catholic, and as St. Robert Bellarmine teaches — and all Catholics know this to be true — a man not a Catholic could never be validly elected pope. Some of those accusing Pope Leo XIII, Pope St. Pius X et al. now have even turned their venom against Pope Pius IX (oh how they would love to wipe out the Vatican Council). And this was where they were headed all along.
The individuals first beginning the campaign to defame Pope Leo XIII, an (ex?)-Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) couple living in St. Mary’s, Kansas, founded their movement by launching what appeared to be a Catholic website several years back. Some good information, interesting articles and downloads, an appealing design, but hiding beneath all that were various layers of poison. (This website no longer seems to be online although some report it is operating under a different domain name, so beware.) And forgive me if I am somewhat suspicious of the origins of this group, given its location. There could be more here than meets the eye, depending on who these “anonymous” people may be working with and what their real agenda is. They later issued a salacious and defamatory book on Fatima, mentioned in our last blog. This poison has now seeped into the minds of fringe-element Catholics praying at home, who already disbelieved in Fatima and harbored doubts about the legitimacy of various popes.
We must remember that the SSPX itself reported on its own website that its founder, Marcel Lefebvre, was the Grandmaster of the Priory of Sion, whose subtitle is the “Independent and Traditionalist Union.” Is a there yet a connection between this SSPX couple and this ideology? The Priory claims an ancient history and is known for its monarchical restoration aspirations. These aspirations could afford us a sinister reason why those defaming these popes are attempting to deceive the faithful, a reason not even yet considered. These people may be merely advance men, so to speak, sent to test the water to see what floats. The realization of this strategy explains many things and puts us on full alert about what may really be evolving among the Traditionalist sects. It has been developing for awhile, but is now showing itself for what it really is. It may be only a tendency.
A frightening scenario
The Book of Job reminds us that life is a warfare, and it is definitely spiritual warfare which we are waging. It is one thing to have doubts about the validity of the Roman Pontiff, but only IF such doubts are serious and can be sufficiently proven to have existed pre-election. Then and only then can a doubtful pope not be any pope at all. Hard proofs would need to be gathered that show Leo XIII was definitely a heretic prior to his election as pope, because he could NOT have become one if validly elected, which he undoubtedly was; this is the teaching of the Vatican Council, Pope Paul IV in Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, St. Bellarmine and the theologian Capello. No proof of any sort to even suggest Cardinal Pecci was a heretic pre-election has ever been presented nor could be gathered today from anything but anti-papal sources. Has anyone bothered to draw out the logical consequences of what these defamers of Pope Leo XIII, Pope St. Pius X and now Pope Pius IX, are saying? This is not just about presenting all these venerable popes as mere heretics, thus moving forward the beginning of the Great Apostasy; far from it. Here is what we are REALLY being asked to believe:
- The re-interpretation of the Vatican Council and the redefining of papal supremacy and infallibility, already begun in the last century prior to Pope Pius XII‘s death;
- Lifting of the bans on Freemasonry, Americanism, definitions of the Christian state
- Pope St. Pius X ‘s condemnation of the Sillon and Modernism no longer exists.
- The 1917 Code of Canon Law was never promulgated, leaving the Sacred Canons in the hands of those who would like nothing better than to abolish and reinterpret them.
- Pope Pius XI’s encyclicals on marriage, Communism, racism and the social order;
- Pope Pius XII’s much hated infallible decrees such as his election constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, Mystici Corporis and Ad Sinarum Gentum on the authority of bishops, Mediator Dei, Humani Generis and Ad Apostolorum Principis, not to mention the hated Holy Week changes, would all be non-existent.
Perhaps this Catholic Restoration business is finally starting to make some sense! NOW we know where they are probably going with all of this, if all of them can ever agree on anything. The only way to discredit the claims made on this site is to take the axe to the root of the tree and destroy the sources from which they issue — the Roman Pontiffs. Is this their preliminary attempt to seduce pray-at-home Catholics? We believe it could well be, as we stand in the way of their success. They wish to leave no exits open for those who decide not to go along with their Great Monarch, Holy Pope, restored Gallican Church fantasy.
For this would be a dream come true for (the Independent Union of) Traditionalist and Gallicanist Monarchists wishing to completely refashion and take over the Church in yet another Vatican 2 style coup, forever redefining infallibility to suit their lust for power. This could well be what “uniting the clans” is all about — a pretended attempt to “restore all things in Christ,” while reconstructing the Church according to Gallicanist/Old Catholic plans long in the making. So what are these Pope Leo XIII defamers really up to and who else might they be working for or with? Dupes or send-ins? It may be that the Gallicanists of the 19th century, frustrated to the max at the definition of infallibility, decided to try and make an end run to establish themselves more securely in France, as they already had in Germany. Through their pre-established “Catholic” secret societies, aligned with the Monarchists, they hoped to gain papal favor and get a leg up in order to establish a more secure base for themselves, to work under the cover of papal approval. But Leo XIII was quite savvy when it came to these societies. He instead supported the Masonic-inspired government of the French Republic and ordered Catholics there to do the same. https://www.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_16021892_au-milieu-des-sollicitudes.html
French history lesson
France had gone through a century of torments, political and religious upheaval, persecution of the faithful, exile of her clergy, the martyrdoms of her monarchs, religious, and Catholic laity, fierce infighting between Catholic factions. The battle had long been waged to restore the monarchy, but Leo could see that there was little hope of doing this, and feared a Gallicanist might even possibly come to power. He didn’t cave-in to liberalism; he merely advised Catholics to make the best of a terrible situation which he could not change or control. And for this he is condemned? How dare common peasants, totally ignorant of not only of history, but of the perspicacity necessary to govern and the inner workings of the Church judge a mere man, not to mention a pope, who was superbly well-educated, skilled in diplomacy, unbelievably intelligent and fervent in his faith, kind-hearted and talented in so many other ways; a man beset by so many difficulties and weighed down with so many responsibilities and spiritual burdens! Read his biographies! They will give the lie to everything written in that disgusting Fatima book. But we will see below exactly why Pope Leo did what he did.
Those supporting the Monarchists questioned his decision and he rebuked them, reminding them that they owed him obedience whether they agreed with him or not, and of course some of them sincerely did, while others who were secret “Catholic Freemasons” did a nod-nod, wink-wink. We have in support of this assessment the following quote:
“These two parties [those supporting the Republic called Rallies and those supporting royalist interests] were poles apart in sentiment, in personal interest, in philosophy of life. They represented two distinct and hostile views of man and society, two mutually antagonistic civilizations. Too often it appeared that religion was employed for political purposes and politicians were more intent upon destroying the Church than upon building up the state. The Catholic side was encumbered by an aristocratic group, royalist and Gallican by conviction as well as by tradition. The Church was their church, as it had been the subservient tool of their ancestors in the old regime. The anticlerical camp was Masonic, Jacobin, Rosseauvian. It exalted it’s omnipotent omni-competent state to absurd heights under any name Republic… They thought only in terms of their own peculiar type of government, of a party state, of a state controlled by gangster methods in the interests of a clique.
“In such circumstances it was difficult for Leo to make his voice heard and the valiant Frenchman who did hear him had to meet discouraging odds in their fight for order, justice and liberty when Leo declared that forms of government were relatively unimportant, Monarchists pointed to the revolutionary origins of the Republic. When he insisted that all Catholics align themselves under the constitution to combat iniquitous laws, they still clung to the phantom of kingship and disdainfully sneered at democracy. Social Catholics might argue the futility of adhering to the fetish of monarchy… There were monarchists who were anti-liberal in both politics and economics. There were now Rallies opposed to economic liberalism and, in obedience to papal instructions, neutral in politics, as well as Rallies whose economic theories were in conflict with needed social legislation; there were Progressists sincerely devoted to the Republic, who hoped to inject the leaven of tolerance into law and administration. There were Christian Democrats more democratic than Christian. There was finally the formless, inert mass of the indifferent, too discouraged and/or too indolent to deserve more than a passing glance of contempt” (The Church in the 19th Century, Raymond Corrigan, S.J., Ph.D, 1938).
So that’s what Pope Leo XIII had to deal with; a convoluted mess long in the making that even would have defied resolution by the most skilled statesman ever born. Yet his decision that France must support their civil government, to at least attempt to enjoy some kind of political stability, is the very thing these defamers are pointing at to support their claims — that he was a liberal, that he overstepped his bounds, interfered in politics and even favored Freemasons. But no, clever man that he was, and inspired by the Holy Ghost, he decided to deal with the devil he at least knew, rather than admit seven devils worse than the first to the fray. The Gallicanists were up to no good and he knew it. They were the depository of the upper levels of Freemasonry — the Priory — and in the very time period that Pope Leo issued his decision on France, a group we have mentioned before was already moving forward with their plans.
What Pope Leo was trying to do
According to authors Lincoln, Leigh and Baigent, in their work Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Hieron du Val d’Or admitted the existence of a hidden pope and his entourage, which of course would include bishops, waiting in the wings to act either as a replacement for or an alternative to the current church in Rome: “The Hiéron’s agenda was the creation of a new Habsburg and Catholic Holy Roman Empire with a French temporal and spiritual head in the manner of the Grand Monarch, an association of Europeans bound by common law and dedicated to advancing the mission of Christ the King.” (Here they cite sources linked to the “Catholic” secret society Marcel Lefebvre reportedly belonged to, the Priory of Sion.) “They [the Hieron] claim the existence of a secret parallel Catholic tradition called l’Eglise d’Avignon (Church of Avignon), which they trace to the medieval Papacy installed in Avignon from 1309 to 1378. The claim is that it continued in secret with a Pope who represents the esoteric aspects of the Catholic Church. L’Eglise d’Avignon is said to serve as an intermediary between the Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox tradition.”
Pope Leo issued his encyclical Au milieu de solicitudes to the French in 1892. Wikipedia states the Hieron organization existed from 1873-1926, when it was doubtless absorbed into other groups. “It was allied to concepts of royalism and was culturally conservative; it sought to erect a Catholic hermetic freemasonry, contrary to the anti-clerical Freemasonry of Grand Orient de France and was particularly devoted to Christ the King.” Among contributors to a publication sponsored by the group was the traditionalist Rene Guenon, later supporting Muslim philosophy and one Le Coeur, author of The Age of Aquarius, promoting New Age beliefs. So Pope Leo was pro-Masonic in not supporting the Royalists who had been infiltrated by this bunch?! Pope Leo’s personal letter of correction to Cardinal Gibbons, addressing his participation in the interfaith conference and condemning Americanism was not enough for these people? In his work The Americanist Heresy in Roman Catholicism, 1895-1900, Thomas T. McAvoy, C.S.C, writes:
“If there was doubt about the meaning of the prohibition of congresses of religion, a chronicle of events in the United States that appeared in the Civilta Cattolica January 4, 1896 was sufficient warning that the triumph of the progressives had been short-lived and that with the shift of [Cardinal] Satolli, the conservatives were beginning to regain lost ground. This chronicle of the year 1895 in the United States claimed that year had ended a period of confusion thanks to the action of Sattoli. The evil tendencies in the United States which the chronicle says were checked by Sattolli was Pelagianism… and this has been checked by two actions: the condemnation of the secret societies and the action against the Congress of Religions. It is the second of these that the chronicle emphasized… Continuing, the chronicle said that a third element in the American scene which had grown up from a wrong interpretation of American political traditions was a kind of Gallicanism, a lack of sympathy for the Pope in his efforts to regain his temporal power. But under the leadership of Sattolli, the American Catholics had clearly demonstrated their loyalty to the pontiff in a series of public demonstrations of loyalty on September 20,1895” (page 84-85).
So Gallicanism was making its rounds in America as well, and eventually this heresy first revealed itself in the Liturgical Movement, which began in Germany. Rev. Albert Kaiser observed in his December 1953 article for The American Ecclesiastical Review: “The Gallican and Febronian pretension of limiting Papal jurisdiction in favor of episcopal equality was more or less a cover-up for an underground movement to nationalize the Church. The ‘Free from Rome’ movement in a sense dove-tailed with the Nazi political movement. As the French Revolution’s disastrous effects helped bring the dissident clergy back to the Pope, so Hitler’s providential defeat contributed to help the Pope reclaim the ‘German nationalists.’” And it is no coincidence that at the same time the Priory of Sion’s existence was revealed, by a professed neo-Nazi, a secret society affiliated with the Priory was founded in the U.S. by a friend of the Priory’s modern-day historian (Pierre Plantard) also reported to be aligned with neo-Nazi factions. Doesn’t this sound suspiciously like the Sedevacantists and other Traditionalists, many of whom are blatantly anti-Semitic and block any effort to restore the papacy?
But the antics of Traditionalists are relevant only insofar as we know their agenda and stay far away from any of their sects. What needs to be addressed here is what caused this unfortunate break with the faith in the first place and how it can be prevented in the future. The answer to this is the absolute prohibition of the Church to read anything on religious topics written by non-Catholics, especially in this day and age. Likewise the use of social media regarding religious topics or discussions and unrestricted Internet surfing for videos and articles that touch on matters of faith. There are certain sites that are relatively safe; I have listed some of these on the articles page. Traditionalists sites are to be avoided as a general rule, although they sometimes contain pertinent information. But they also can be very dangerous; the authors of the anti-Fatima book initially appeared to operate a legitimate Catholic site. Even videos that are primarily about political matters often contain defamatory and erroneous information about the Church and Her role in the worldwide conspiracy.
Because they failed to investigate the information they were being fed and reconcile what was being presented to them with beliefs of faith, they were led astray. This is how many Catholics have succumbed to error, and below an Irish priest, a beloved theologian and catechist in his own country, tells us why.
From Our Greatest Treasure by Rev. John Kearney, 1942
“Beware of false prophets,” says Christ, “they come to you in sheep’s clothing.” This is a solemn warning. A prophet is a teacher. A book is a teacher. A bad book may be attractive — the charm of the style is the sheep’s clothing. The warning of Christ applies in our days especially to books.
To realize the danger of indiscriminate reading consider the following:
- Your limited knowledge of religion. A medical man has five years professional study. A priest has at least six years professional study.
- The power of a clever barrister to present a bad case to an ignorant juryman. [Lawyers have 4-6 years of study].You are not experts in theology while many of the enemies of the Church are clever and the devil helps them.
- The natural law which binds us to preserve our faith is supported by a law of the Church which forbids the reading of dangerous books.
- Compare the Church’s law with the following: the law limiting the sale of poisons to qualified persons; the appointment of a public analyst to secure pure food and pure water; the locking up in an asylum of all who attempt suicide.
General warning against indiscriminate reading
It is a fact that cannot be denied that very many literary works are prejudicial to the faith. Their tendency is to weaken it imperceptibly. The naturalistic philosophy, irreligious views and materialistic outlook contained in them is so subtle as not to be noticed. It is like a poison that is imbibed in very small doses. But its presence in the mind of the readers are such works which will be detected later on, when a situation arises for them to which they should simply apply the truths of the faith e.g., on the occasion of a tempting offer of worldly gain, through a mixed marriage, a cleverly concealed dishonest financial transaction, an illicit friendship, etc. It will be seen that owing to false teaching assimilated through indiscriminate reading the Pearl of Great Price will be sacrificed for mere temporal advantage. And the result like unto Hymaneus and Alexander of old, they run serious risk of making shipwreck concerning the faith.
The law of the Church and dangers to face from indiscriminate reading
From what has been said it should be obvious to any loyal Catholic that the Church and her restrictive legislation concerning certain books acts as a wise mother. With maternal solicitude She warns her children against two dangerous classes of publications: those that are subversive of faith and those that are opposed to Catholic teaching regarding good morals, which teaching is based upon the faith and upon the law of God. It is a grave duty for every Catholic to obey the laws of the Church forbidding the reading of certain kinds of books (Canons 1384 and 1399). Apart from these enactments of positive law binding on all, it is the bounden duty of every Catholic to avoid all reading that would constitute a danger for the individual in question. Even though a person may feel himself firmly established in the faith it is not lawful to take risks. And such risks are inevitable. The reading, especially when habitual, of books that either by subtle suggestion, ridicule, or positive erroneous pleading advocate principles opposed to the faith cannot failed to saturate the mind so assimilative of ideas with the seeds of unbelief. Our Lord issued a solemn warning against false prophets: “Beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15).
Who are they in our days? They are legion in number. They are to be met with in the cinema, on the stage, on the radio, in factories and workshops, but above all in books and newspapers. These ravening wolves come very often in the clothing of sheep. They do not directly and openly attack the Catholic faith and morals but they do so indirectly in a very effective way…. In this matter of safeguarding our Catholic faith and morals no one should presume to say that his faith is so strong and his morals so firmly established as to be proof against all attack, no matter how subtly or systematically directed. Neither good intentions nor experience in life can render anyone absolutely immune to painful surprises. it may be taken as a practical rule of guidance that indulgence and evil reading will end in spiritual disaster. This is what usually happens owing to the inherent weakness of human nature. Temptations are sure to rise. Moral lapses will follow. Then the false ideas and ideals that have been imperceptibly absorbed in the reading will be appealed to in order to justify or palliate the lapses.
A person who wishes to ask you for information on teachings of the Church and honestly desires to know should be answered and you should be able to answer. But you are not required to prove the doctrine from Scripture. A person who wishes to discuss religion simply for the sake of argument or for the purpose of confounding you should not be answered. All these discussions do no good. The code of Church law forbids public discussions without permission [and] you perhaps have not made the studies required for defending your religion. It is one thing to be able to know the teaching of the Church and another to be able to defend it. The danger of discussion for those whose opportunities have not permitted them to make a very profound study of their religion, is due to the fact they may find themselves in the hands of a very clever man who misrepresents things and whose errors their limited knowledge is not able to detect. Look what a clever barrister can do when he has a bad case to defend; how he can put interpretations on the facts, misrepresent their different importances and in the end completely persuade those that are ignorant. The illustrations we have given show clearly the imprudence and the disloyalty to Our Lord manifested by indiscriminate reading and discussion. From this follows the diminution of the actual graces which we need to exercise our faith.
Faults that alienate our hearts and wills
In the second place are the sins which tend to draw the heart, the will, to earth and away from God. The most deadly of these senses is the sin of pride. Pride leads many to the loss of faith. We have spoken of pride as an obstacle to the grace of faith for those outside the Church. We must now show its danger for those who have the faith. It is our will that commands our intellect to believe. We believe because we wish to believe and we wish to believe because we wish to honor God by submitting to His Word. Hence anything that turns our will away from God makes our act of faith more difficult. On the act of faith we believe a doctrine which we do not see and which we cannot prove, simply because God says it is true. This involves humility. We bend down our mind before the authority of God. We pay God the homage of our understanding. We acknowledge we are creatures and that therefore we are limited. We acknowledge that we are children of our Father in Heaven and we wish to please Him. This is humility.
Pride is the obvious opposite of humility. The proud man trusts his own mental powers and in an inordinate way he forgets his own mental limitations. He is inclined to accept only what he can see and what he can prove. He easily shuts his eyes to the evidence that God is speaking through the Church. Hence pride leads easily to the loss of faith. The loss of faith through pride appears especially in those who criticize the Church, who criticize Her laws, who criticize the actions and words of those appointed to speak and act in Her name. Many lose the faith through this sin of criticizing. In this sin they make themselves the judges of the words of the Bride of Christ. Like to the sin of criticism of the Church is the sin committed by marked want of reverence for sacred things. These sins in addition to their own malice generally involve the sin of scandal and scandal of a serious kind. It is easy to see that complacency in our superiority — pride — is at the root of all these sins. The loss of grace through pride follows frequently from positive disregard of the laws of the Church… These sins easily lead to the loss of Faith. In all this it is our will that is wrong. We do not want to submit. Submission means accepting our inferiority or dependence. Our pride resists this.
In the third place, culpable ignorance is a cause of the loss of faith. This is a special kind of disloyalty to God because man’s first duty is to know God. Ignorance evidently impedes the correct judgment of the intelligence especially when our imagination or picture making power is impressed by a difficulty. Ignorance is culpable when it is due to indolence and not acquiring knowledge when we can and should. It shows a want of esteem for the gift of Faith and this is a disloyalty to God who has given us the faith. Hence it leads to a diminution of grace. Culpable ignorance, which may injure our faith, is of various kinds:
- ignorance of the motive of credibility i.e. the proofs that God has testified to the divine authority of the church;
- ignorance which does not distinguish in dogma what one must believe and what one may believe;
- ignorance which confounds what is essential and what is accessory in worship. Prayer is essential; certain prayers are accessory. Devotion is essential; certain devotions are accessory.
- In moral matters, likewise ignorance confounds interior personal reform, which is essential, with certain external works which are only a means unless commanded explicitly.
Faith once lost is seldom regained
The gift of faith may be lost. This is an undoubted fact. It is also a fact that once lost, the gift of faith is seldom regained. God gives it once easily. It is most precious. If we lose it no doubt it may be got again but the dispositions of heart that prepare the soul for this new grace are not easily acquired. Hence it is that faith is seldom regained. Saint Paul puts this very clearly. “It is impossible,” he says, “for those who were once illuminated (the gift of faith) have tasted also the heavenly gift (the most Holy Sacrament) and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost (Confirmation and grace) have moreover tasted the good word of God (instruction) and the powers of the world become (Heaven and Hell), and are fallen away to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God and making Him a mockery” (Heb. 6:4-6). Impossible here means very difficult, morally impossible, impossible without a miracle of grace.
To help us understand better these words of Saint Paul we shall keep it in mind that faith is always a gift of God, but it is a gift that God gives a second time to those only who ask it with humility and perseverance. Here indeed is the difficulty of recovering a lost faith. Humble and persevering petition is not easy for those who have lost the faith. We can say it is almost impossible for them because humble and persevering petition means going back on and reversing their own pride and independence of mind which independence was the cause of the refusal to submit to God and believe His Word. In other words, this new act of faith, this new paying to God the homage of their understanding, means acknowledging that the little Catholic child was right while they were wrong. All this is difficult. It needs an extraordinary grace of childlike humility through which they cast themselves that God meet and recognize their absolute dependence on him for their present life and continued existence” (end of Rev. Kearney quotes).
Fr. Kearney called the faith “Our Pearl of Great Price.” But do we really think every time we reach for our phones or surf the Internet that something just a click away could rob us of this precious jewel? Do we use due discretion in using these communication tools? Or do we fall into the sin of curiosity and read or listen to things that could easily endanger our faith? In the end will we allow the Modernist hype on social media and the Internet to claim our faith after all we have done to preserve it?