+St. Rose of Lima+
Because the three new articles on the front page (on epikeia, Intention in Traditionalist orders and Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis) are lengthy and yet essential to understanding the situation among Traditionalists today, an attempt will be made here to summarize all three articles and point out the basic underlying principles they share in common.
A reader asked recently, “Who decided for all Catholics that episcopal consecrations had to happen and that epikeia could be applied? Was it (Lefebvre or) Thuc? Was it the priests who were to be consecrated?” It appears that it was Marcel Lefebvre’s Society of St. Pius X that first began to appeal to this principle in the 1970s, according to various articles by the SSPX and others on the Internet. Their approach was later adopted by Sedevacantists and other Traditionalist sects. What they claimed then and yet claim today is that the laws they are exempting themselves from a) are human laws that Pope Pius XII (or in the case of the SSPX, John 23) enacted or kept in force but b) which Pope Pius XII (and John 23) would not wish to bind the faithful to in the present situation. As explained in both the new site articles on epikeia and VAS, however, a general assumption or presumption that Pope Pius XII and his predecessors would wish these laws to no longer apply simply cannot and will not suffice to justify invoking this principle, which is not even a law, but only a vehicle for amending the law in certain cases.
Epikeia in a nutshell
To properly justify using the epikeia principle, two things would first need to be proven. One, it would need to be clearly demonstrated that there is no other law that would apply in this case per Canons 20 and 17 (Abp. Amleto Cicognani, Canon. Law, 1935), for epikeia comes into play in a case where there is no specific law covering a situation, as explained under Can. 20. Two, under this same canon, those invoking epikeia would have to prove, from at least five different sources that would establish at least a probable opinion that the legislator would wish for his law to be disregarded. This Rev. Joseph Riley states in his 1948 CUA dissertation on epikeia. And no, Traditionalist pseudo-clergy and their apologists may not determine how and when this principle is to be applied when there is dissertation by a fully approved and qualified theologian to consult.
It is not surprising that neither the SSPX nor the Thucites and other Sedevacantists omitted this process to prove their case. For had they followed the dictates of Can. 20 it would soon have become clear that they could not obtain the proofs they needed. They failed to consult the one law that would have provided all the necessary answers, and having carefully considered that law, their hands would have been tied. That law is Pope Pius XII’s infallible papal election law, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS), governing interregnums.
As explained in the epikeia and VAS articles, Rev. Riley defines epikeia as “a correction or an emendation of the law,” and this definition is taken from several older approved authors. Paragraph three of VAS clearly forbids interpreting, correcting or dispensing oneself from papal or Canon Laws during an interregnum. This has been pointed out many times before. Not only that, but it also renders null, void and invalid any attempt to correct or amend these laws, and this infallibly with the Pope’s “supreme authority.” Likewise in paragraph one, any attempt to usurp papal authority is rendered invalid. This would include presuming to consecrate bishops without papal approval of episcopal candidates, and any acts by such men so presuming would also be invalid. This totally dismantles any claim Traditionalists have to epikeia and supplied jurisdiction. For throughout the history of the Church, the only supplying force for such jurisdiction is the Roman Pontiff, and in his absence that power does not exist even in the Cardinals, as VAS states. Proofs for this are provided in the epikeia article.
What is important to note here is that Traditionalists, who pass themselves off as the only ones educated in Canon Law and therefore able to “interpret” and apply it, made no attempt whatsoever to follow the law, verify their claims, and provide the proofs necessary to support their “mission.” These proofs of jurisdiction they were obligated to provide under Can. 200. These men failed to exercise any due diligence whatsoever and not only that: they presented their pretensions to the world as the sole continuation of the Catholic Church on earth. They dared to treat the laws and infallible teachings of the Roman Pontiffs regarding jurisdiction as mere human laws, when it was glaringly evident this was not the case at all. Epikeia only suspends human law in unforeseen circumstances. But the entire scope of jurisdiction is not human law, but divine law, and epikeia cannot be applied to divine law, as Rev. Riley and many others point out. Canonical mission can proceed only from God himself, through the proper channels, as Ludwig Cardinal Billot explains:
“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). And if no physical or moral person can intervene, neither can a pseudo-legal principle such as epikeia.
This is why Pope Pius XII’s decision on the jurisdiction of bishops proceeding only from the Roman Pontiff was so important. That decision cannot be questioned in any way and must be firmly and irrevocably accepted as certain or true by all Catholics. It seals the chain of command issuing from God the Father to His Son, and from His Son to St. Peter and his successors. Disrupt this Divine transmission of sacred power by one iota and the entire establishment of Christ’s Church on earth unravels. It is the glue that holds together the entire Church and Divine chain of command. And without even the possibility of obtaining any such jurisdiction in the Church, as VAS seems to indicate, all attempts to procure it are null, void and invalid. This brings us to the article on why intention is lacking in Traditionalist orders.
Traditionalist pretensions to validity shot down
Apostolic succession — Divine and canonical mission — depend on two things: Certainly valid ordination and consecration received from competent authority (and administered to those free of diriment impediments and other irregularities), conferred according to the Sacred Canons, with the proper jurisdiction conveyed by receiving an office in the Church. This definition alone, given in an authentic interpretation of Can. 147 approved by Pope Pius XII, should prove to anyone believing themselves Catholic that Traditionalists are not capable of validly exercising any putative orders. This follows from what was said above on jurisdiction and VAS. Moreover, Traditionalists totally disregarded VAS, and proceeded to ordain and consecrate despite its warnings of invalidity.
Some maintain that VAS may have only nullified any acts proceeding from such orders. But it is clear from Pius XII’s decision on Can. 147, Pope Pius VI’s Charitas, and papal documents dating from the 5th century, that it has always been the practice of the Church to consider such Orders invalid until normalized by the Holy See. Proofs of this are provided in the intention article. Invalidating laws such as VAS are to be interpreted strictly (Can. 19) and to proceed to consecration without a papal mandate would nullifies the effects of any episcopal orders if the strict interpretation is observed as it should be.
Invalidating laws are to be interpreted strictly because they protect the common good, something Traditionalists claim they are protecting. But their work for the salvation of souls could never be validly exercised because such a mission issues from jurisdiction alone (Council of Trent catechism), a jurisdiction they cannot and do not possess. In fact, as one canonist points out in his dissertation cited in both the works on epikeia and intention, all Traditionalists have done point to their “contempt for the faith;” and the acts they have perpetrated are “intrinsically evil.”
Their lack of intention in receiving consecration was invalid for the same reason their fallacious claim to jurisdiction is invalid: it violates the very essence of canonical mission in the Church. Every instance of those in the Thucite and especially the CMRI sect pretending to receive episcopal orders is accompanied by some doubt or expressed reservation from other Traditionalists, either about the ceremony itself, the consecrator, or the worthiness of the one receiving consecration. These sects have been battling over this for more than two decades. Then there are the secret consecrations that have taken place, or consecrations that cannot be completely verified as valid in matter and form.
Among these are Thuc’s consecrations of Guerard des Lauriers, a consecration predicated on des Lauriers part, on the fact that des Lauriers promised to hold the Sedevacantist position strictly. He later reverted to his previous sedeprivationism, (the material-formal position), following the consecration. Some say he never really retracted it; others say he did, or at least Thuc believed he did. Either way, des Lauriers intention in receiving orders and Thuc’s intention in conveying them, one or both, were affected because no conditions are to be placed on the reception of orders by either the consecrator or the one consecrated/ordained. And if they are, the orders received are invalid.
And here is the real reason that Traditionalists, beginning with the Orders conveyed by Lefebvre and Thuc, could never have received valid consecration. All theologians consulted on the validity of intention agree that if one places a condition on their intention, then the Orders received are invalid. So what condition did Traditionalists place on their reception of episcopal consecration?
Well we have two sets of things going on here. First, the consecration formula itself explicitly declares that the bishop is not to proceed without the papal mandate, so the entire ceremony is prefaced with an act of papal disobedience. This nullifies the following attempt to consecrate per VAS. The reason for this is that no ceremony can be considered a true act of Christ, His Vicar and His Apostles without the necessary link to the canonical mission Christ instituted. And during an interregnum, when the Church is without a Roman Pontiff who alone can approve bishops, that link is missing.
Second, as noted in the article on epikeia, “all spiritual power of the sacerdotal character is given together with a certain consecration, and therefore the keys are given with the order… [So] before he has jurisdiction [he] has the keys, but has not the ACT of using them” (Wm. Allies). But here we have NO certain consecration, so these men did not even RECEIVE the keys, far less the ability to be able to activate their use. This is the important component that is missing in all this: There is no certainty the keys were ever transmitted in the first place. You cannot activate something when you don’t even possess it. In the third place, men being consecrated must swear obedience and submission to the Roman Pontiff “…according to canonical authority.” Yet it is impossible, given the situation today, to do this without swearing obedience to some future pope, and without implicitly agreeing the Church can exist without one indefinitely.
This is called a condition concerning the future, because no obedience could possibly be owed to a current pope but would need to be deferred to a future one. All the theologians consulted agree that any intention contingent on a future event, even one considered necessary, as a pope is necessary to the Church, invalidates the intention. And Rev. Bernard J. Leeming writes: “It is possible for a minister to have the intention of not doing what the Church does, and if such is the case the Sacrament is invalid. THIS TEACHING IS UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED BY MODERN THEOLOGIANS.”
And given that these men “ordained and consecrated” willingly attempted to receive orders, knowing a pope is necessary to the Church but willfully flying in the face of papal decrees and obedience to these decrees, they could not have possessed the proper intention to do what the Church does. This is especially true because they were presenting themselves not as a schismatic sect, but as THE true continuation of the Catholic Church, and were therefore bound by all Her laws and teachings.
What is so egregious about this is that in assuming they become members of the Apostolic College, Traditionalists exclude from that college the one person who alone can assure its unity and doctrinal apostolicity, its connection with the Divine — the Roman Pontiff. They therefore become just one more church established by man, joining the Novus Ordo and the Protestant sects. That they have managed to pull this off for decades is a travesty. This despite numerous objections and proofs which first became available in the 1980s.
People worry that if their cover is blown now that many will leave to re-join the Novus Ordo, or join the Orthodox, a Protestant sect or simply lose their faith. That is on them, however, not those making these facts known. Had they studied their faith in the first place before making these decisions, there would not be anything to discuss here. If they refuse to do it when they finally realize they have been scammed, then they don’t really love their faith, they only love the idea of it and the religious externals which accompany it.
I hope this will help those struggling to understand these complicated subjects to see how they are interrelated and prove the case at hand. Sometimes the real story gets lost in all the proofs that must be presented to document the case. But that shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow what can more easily be explained. Some have said that epikeiacannot be disproven; they are sadly mistaken. If Catholic teaching is taken in its totality, not compartmentalized for personal convenience, the facts shine out with super-bright clarity. Such is the case with the truths regarding canonical mission, which are only a reflection of the Divine light above.
What in the World…
Since the 1970s I have been monitoring earthquakes and other disasters worldwide which seem to have increased over the years. In the 1980s, after writing a piece on earthquakes and researching the three days of darkness, I began reading about what type of catastrophe might trigger these phenomena and was surprised at what I found. I ran across a strange map that said it depicted how the U.S. would look following a pole shift, and up until that time I had never heard of such a thing. Later talk about Planet X and 2012 was pooh-poohed and this seemed to downplay the likelihood of such an occurrence. But then hype about global warming (a smokescreen to throw everyone off) ramped up and the geomagnetic poles began to drift. Not wishing to be a reactionary, I just kept watching. Now it seems that a geomagnetic pole shift is inevitable, and no one is really sure what that will mean for planet Earth.
Some, however, who have studied it for decades, seem convinced that it does not bode well for earth’s population; and this is true for the most part no matter where you live. What is not known is exactly when it will happen, how severe such an occurrence will be, how long it will last, who exactly will and will not survive, and how — IF — life will go on afterwards. All we have to base any of our conjectures on are the descriptions in private prophecy of the three days, which perfectly tally with the effects of a pole shift. What is interesting is how so much of what may be coming can be related to Holy Scripture. And indeed, it even seems that pole shifts or similar events are described in the Old Testament. So if you haven’t heard of a pole shift, or if you have and would like to see how it may be mentioned in the Book of Apocalypse, check the Catacombs section of the site in the next week or so for an article on this topic.
+St. John Eudes+
Site revision nearly complete!
The website revision begun a few months ago is nearing completion and hopefully readers are better able to navigate the site and find the articles they are looking for. Please note that we have three new “position paper” articles on the front page that express the results of further research into Traditionalist claims to possess valid orders and to be able to invoke epikeia to serve as a substitute for jurisdiction. This research easily demonstrates that according to the teachings of the Church, there is NO substitute for jurisdiction during an interregnum. It also examines the types of intention required to validly administer and receive episcopal orders and reveals a fatal flaw among those receiving them from Traditional pseudo-bishops without the papal mandate. This effectively puts an end to all Traditionalist pretensions to possess any connection whatsoever with the Church as She existed under Pope Pius XII.
As promised last week, we will now explain how the doctrinal minimalism that downplayed the authority of encyclicals and other papal documents for decades first took shape in the Church. This malaise, which first developed between the end of the Vatican Council and the death of Pope Pius XII, is explained below.
From the top
If readers wonder why Traditionalist pseudo-clergy pretend to be the continuation of Christ’s Church minus Her head and how such an outrageous imposture could ever be foisted on those calling themselves Catholics, there is an answer. This divergence in the Church began long ago with the Gallicanists, beginning in the 14th century during the Western Schism. This group, advocating for “reform,” attempted to reduce the pope to an equal member of the apostolic college, acting as only a ministerial head, and teaching that an ecumenical council of bishops was superior to the pope. Other heretics during the same time period (the Western Schism) advocated for a democratic Church (John of Paris), and Hus and Wycliffe also were condemned by the Church for anti-papal heresies. This later resulted in a broader-based Conciliar theory, which held the cardinals superior to the Pope during a doubtful election and, according to some more radical Conciliarists, that the Church could even exist without him.
According to one work published by Sheed and Ward in 1963, based on an Anglican work printed in 1913: “Anglicans have claimed that their own ecclesiology… lies fully in the tradition of the Conciliar movement, ‘…[on] the principles set out in the 15th century at Constance and at Basle… Roughly speaking, the ideas of [the Catholic theologian Jean] Gerson and his congeners were those of a reformed Episcopal communion’ (Figgis).” (Adrian Hastings, One and Apostolic, p. 187-88). One modern Protestant author has also written that “…Luther was familiar with the writings of the conciliarists (Gallicanists) Pierre d’Ailly, Jean Gerson, and Wessel Gansfort, and …Luther takes up some of the major themes of these writers into his own theology,” (Tim Enloe, Martin Luther and the Quest for Conciliar Reform of the Church). D’Ailly and Gerson were the ones who held that the bishops receive their jurisdiction immediately from Our Lord, and all bishops, therefore, are equal in power to the Roman Pontiff.
Henry Cardinal Manning in his The True Story of the Vatican Council, lists as one of the reasons for calling the council as the clarification of the decrees of the Council of Florence on the papacy, which were then being “…Misinterpreted by Gallicans and by Anglicans.” So if anyone really wishes to know the history of Gallicanism as “a Protestant heresy,” there it is. For Cardinal Manning’s summary of Gallicanism up to the time of the Vatican Council, read my previous blog here https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/gallicanism-protestantism-and-immediate-jurisdiction/. Its development after the Vatican Council, however, is what is interesting. Below I have excerpted pages from a longer article to provide some background.
Gallicanism and the Vatican Council
The current that fed the beliefs predominating after Vatican 2 issued directly from the one and only Vatican Council which ended in 1870. Henry Cardinal Manning believed that “current” began with an actual conspiracy hatched by Gallicanist sympathizers and the Old Catholics. He describes this conspiracy in his work written after the close of the Council, (The Vatican Decrees and Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance, p. 11, 115-116) as the “Old Catholic” conspiracy, clearly seen today among Traditionalists. He also identifies it as “The Protestant church… [which] has become a political agent, a tool of the state…in the hands of Liberals, to fight Catholicism” (p. 115). He then goes on to explain how this conspiracy was planned out, even before the Council convened. “Before the Vatican Council assembled, there was an opposition systematically organized to resist it [by the Old Catholics]…” Stanley Jaki, in his 1996 introduction for the release of an exact reproduction of Manning’s The True Story of the Vatican Council, relates that Cardinal Manning, although he could not include it in his work, believed that circumstances surrounding the Vatican Council amounted to “a plain conspiracy to make Pius IX the [Pope] Honorius of the 19th century.” Today these same tactics are used to cast Pope Pius XII in the role of Honorius in the 20th century.
In 1870, 533 bishops voted to approve the definition of infallibility; only two opposed it, and they later accepted the definition following the vote at the feet of Pope Pius IX. Earlier, 60 left to avoid voting on the definition at all. Many of them would later accept the definition. A total of 1,000 bishops had been summoned but only about 686 bishops attended at one time or another during the council. Another 56 participating in the voting included cardinals and superiors of religious orders. However, doubts were raised following the council on the actual meaning of the interpretation and application of the terms surrounding the definition. This occurred because both sides emerged from the convocation claiming vindication, according to Jaki. On one side ranged the inopportunists opposed to the definition (Gallicanists and others), and on the other the opportunists (Ultramontanes) led by Manning, who favored it. One of the council’s primary goals was to extinguish the last vestiges of Gallicanism, which continued to be taught, particularly at the Old Sorbonne in Paris, even after Pope Alexander VIII voided the four Gallican Articles in 1690 (DZ 1322-1326).
A good number of bishops still holding this error or sympathizing with it came to the council. The main fear among both churchmen and those in government positions was that the definition would not be politically expedient and would spark fears the pope’s infallibility would extend to the temporal power. Opponents of the definition pretended the papal prerogative could then be used to depose government officials. Cardinal Manning’s work Civil Allegiance… actually was a response to Prime Minister Gladstone of Great Britain on this very issue. The cardinal handily demonstrated that there was no possibility Pope Pius IX or any of his successors could use the pope’s temporal claims in this way, unless the world would once again convert to Catholicism.
Manning quoted the following from Pope Pius IX’s discourse of July 20, 1871 to a literary society in Rome to quell his opponents:
“Among all other errors, that is malicious above all which would attribute (to the infallibility of the pope) the right of deposing sovereigns, and of absolving people from the obligation of allegiance… But altogether different are the conditions of the present time from the conditions of those ages; and malice alone can confound things so diverse, that is to say, the infallible judgement in respect to truths of Divine Revelation with the right which the Popes exercised in virtue of their common authority when the common good demanded it….Some would have me interpret and explain even more fully the definition of the Council. I will not do it. It is clear in itself and has no need of other comments and explanations. Whosoever reads that Decree with a dispassionate mind has its true sense easily and obviously before him.”
But that was only one of several “doubts” the Council definition supposedly left unanswered. The rest would be revealed in a work by a Benedictine writing a history of the Vatican Council 60 years later.
In his work The Vatican Council, Dom Cuthburt Butler, writing in 1930, raises several other “doubts” regarding the Council definitions First, he acknowledges Ultramontanism officially became “Catholic” with the definition of infallibility. But then he differentiates from the Ultramontane doctrine of Bellarmine, which he says was upheld by the definition, and the “new Ultramontanism,” advocated by the English convert Wilfrid Ward, Henry Cardinal Manning, Louis Veuillot, Father Frederick Faber, and also Monsignor J.C. Fenton and Father Ronald Knox (in the 20th century), as well as others. Secondly, he proceeds to paint Manning’s party as going “…far beyond the positions laid down by Bellarmine, which had become the accepted theses of the Ultramontane theological schools as to what were to be accepted as infallible pronouncements of the pope or infallible writings of the Church” (p. 73, Vol. I). He also writes that Ward, though a “man of great intellectual power and a profound thinker,” was “prone to adopt positions of extreme intransigence” (p. 72-73, 75). He had little use for Veuillot, styling him as “a journalist without theological training [who] strained the idea of the pope’s infallibility beyond all theological bounds” (p. 75). So the enemy’s tactics have not changed one iota; they are still trying to discredit journalists to this day!
But what was the difference between the two Ultramontanist schools? Namely this, that Bellarmine wrote long before the council convened, and the dogma of infallibility had developed considerably during that time. According to Butler, Bellarmine’s teaching on infallibility ran as follows:
- The government of the Church is not a democracy or an aristocracy, but a monarchy.
- Christ made St. Peter the monarchical head of the Church and the Roman Bishop has succeeded not only to the See, but to the primacy and prerogatives of Peter, and this by divine ordinance — iure divino, not merely iure ecclesiastico.
- Christ is the Supreme Head of the Church; the Roman Pontiff the ministerial Head under Him on earth.
- The Keys signify supreme power over the whole Church, so the Pope has absolute power to rule the Church and can promulgate laws binding in conscience.
Butler also lists the teachings of Bellarmine on calling a General Council stating that a pope is above the council, the council is not authoritative unless the pope approves its acts, and no one including a general council can preside as judge over the pope. This could easily have been demonstrated merely by publishing Pope Pius II’s Execrabili, superior in every way to Bellarmine’s observations. But Butler’s sympathies “lay with those…who sided very much with the inopportunists” (Jaki’s introduction to the 1996 reprint of Manning’s True Story…, p. xi). And Jaki identifies these mainly as the British aristocracy and Henry Cardinal Newman, who felt the definition was ill-advised and ill-timed. Butler also quotes Bellarmine’s teaching that should a pope become a formal heretic he would, by that very fact, cease to be Pope and could be judged and declared deposed by the Church, (since he automatically resigns from any and all offices per Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, the Fontes for Canon 188 no. 4).
The “new” Ultramontanism
But infallibility was not yet defined when Bellarmine made this statement; he would need to have explained that his application of formal heresy could apply only to one who was a heretic prior to election and therefore was never validly elected. Such a heresy would be already present in some identifiable form but would only become manifest following ascension to the papal throne. Pope Paul IV upholds papal infallibility as understood today in his Cum ex Apostolatus Officio when he mentions the heresy as being incurred prior to election, even though it “becomes clear” only following said election. The necessity of canonical election as expressed in Denzinger’s (DZ 674) is an infallible teaching, as is Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. This can mean only that without such canonical process, no true pontiff can presume to be validly elected.
Of what does Butler’s “new” Ultramontanism consist? It is mainly taken from Wilfred Ward, who held that:
- encyclicals and other papal documents can be considered infallible and are binding in conscience;
- documents of the pontifical congregations, if published on papal authority, are likewise binding; • ex cathedra pronouncements are not rare but are frequent;
- no restrictions should be placed by theologians on what constitutes an ex cathedra pronouncement;
- that such a pronouncement need not comply with any formula dictated by theologians and any man of good will and ordinary intelligence can discern when a teaching of the popes’ is infallible.
And every one of these points above was confirmed as doctrinal teaching by Pope Pius XII in Humani generis.
By the time the council adjourned, a host of other questions remained unanswered, including the question of discipline listed as infallible along with faith and morals in the council documents (DZ 1831). Following the Council, Pope Pius IX left no doubt regarding the infallibility of disciplinary decrees. This came in a letter addressed to the universal Church and amounted to a decision regarding the questions surrounding disciplinary acts; so there can be no doubt that it was to be taken as an infallible pronouncement, despite the restricted view of the Vatican Council definition held by Butler and his friends.
And some of those friends included the Secretary General of the Council, Bishop Josef Fessler of Austria, (favored by Butler’s friend Bishop Ullathorne, an inopportunist, p. 91, Vol. I); also Council consultant, Professor Joseph Hergenrother, later named a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. Fessler held Bellarmine-style Ultramontane “tendencies” according to Butler. Hergenrother was an Ultramontane of the Bellarmine school, not a “new” Ultramontane such as Manning. It would be these two men who initially declared Cum ex… only a disciplinary decree, denying the infallibility of past bulls and decrees of the popes. (More about Fessler and Hergenrother below.) Pope Pius IX and his successors may have exercised their infallibility to strike down the errors surrounding the Vatican Council definitions, but that would not deter those wishing to carry Gallicanism and Liberalism into the 20th century.
Butler’s objections countered by the popes
Quartus Supra, dealing with the Armenians:
“As Our predecessor Pius VI warned in his Apostolic letter condemning the civil constitution of the clergy in France, discipline is often so closely related to doctrine and has such a great influence on its preservation and its purity, that the sacred councils have not hesitated to cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed its discipline… But the neo-schismatics have gone further, since ‘every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church.’ Indeed, they have even accused this Apostolic See as well, as if We had exceeded the limits of Our power in commanding that certain points of discipline were to be observed…Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Now such teaching is not only heretical after the definitions and declarations of the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican on the nature and reasons for the primacy of the Sovereign Pontiff, but it has always been considered to be such and has been abhorred by the Catholic Church. It is for this reason that the bishops of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, openly declared the supreme authority of the Apostolic See in their proceedings; then they humbly requested Our predecessor, St. Leo, to sanction and confirm their decrees, even those which concerned discipline.”
Three years after writing Quartus Supra, we also hear the following from Pope Pius IX in Quae in patriarchatu: “In fact, Venerable Brothers and beloved Sons, it is a question of recognizing the power (of this See), even over your churches, not merely in what pertains to faith, but also in what concerns discipline. He who would deny this is a heretic; he who recognizes this and obstinately refuses to obey is worthy of anathema.
Already in 1863, six years prior to the council, Pope Pius IX had resolved the issue of the pontifical congregations, writing in Tuas Libentur that Catholics must: “…subject themselves to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations and also those forms of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions, so certain that opinions opposed to these same forms of doctrine, although they cannot be called heretical, nevertheless deserve some theological censure, (DZ 1684, Canon 1324).
And Cardinal Manning reports in his True Story… that in signing the petition to call the council, the bishops had asked that it be determined whether past acts were infallible as well (p. 113). And he affirms in his Civil Allegiance… that these were indeed so affirmed. So we can discount Butler’s allegations they had no intention of determining past acts infallible. Fortunately, Pope Pius XII cleared away the seeds of dissension sown by Butler and others dissatisfied with the definition. This occurred first in his encyclicals Mystici Coproris and Ad sinarum gentum. There he laid to rest a long-running controversy about the nature of the jurisdiction of bishops. The Gallicanists taught, as related by Butler, quoting the Maurist Benedictine Dom Jamin who wrote in 1768 (p. 30-31), that:
“Infallibility in dogmatic judgments has been given only to the body of bishops. No particular bishop, even the bishop of Rome, may attribute to himself this glorious privilege. Jesus Christ spoke to all the Apostles in common, and in their persons to all the bishops, the promise “I am with you all days, even to the consummation…” To maintain that the right of judging causes which concern the faith appertains only to the Pope or to the Holy See, and that they ought to be carried there in the first instance, is a pretension unknown to all antiquity and contrary to the practice of the Church. Six years after the close of the Vatican Council Hergenrother wrote, in his The Catholic Church and Christian State (1876):
“The doctrine of the power of the bishops needed no definition, being previously doubted by no one,” (p. 32). And yet Henry Cardinal Manning, Hergenrother’s contemporary, had already written his work The Pastoral Office, very carefully examining, from the best theological minds of the times, the arguments pro, for bishops as subject to the pope, and con, as possessing ordinary jurisdiction directly from Christ, with the former winning out even then. Bishop Joseph Fessler in his work The True and False Infallibility of the Popes (1875) likewise defends the rights of bishops against the assertions of the Old Catholic Dr. Schulte. Their beliefs even then were contrary to the Vatican Council teaching, which clearly states that “to Peter alone, before the other Apostles, whether individually or all together, was confided the true and proper primacy of jurisdiction by Christ” (DZ 1822). Of course no papal decision was denied here, as Pope Pius XII did not end the controversy until the 1940s, when he taught:
“Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church …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, 1943). And in Ad sinarum gentum (1954): “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.”
Nevertheless, until a decision was made on this teaching, many theologians seemed to believe that the bishops possessed ordinary jurisdiction directly from Our Lord. Why else would Pope Pius XII have addressed it? And even after the definition on the bishops, Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton notes that the tendency of such theologians was to behave as though the definition could be revised in the future. He describes this error as doctrinal minimalism, condemned in Humani Generis. So clearly Gallicanism survived even the Vatican Council, intended from its inception to stomp out its traces forever. And in 1950, Humani generis would firmly establish as Catholic doctrine the “neo-Ultramontane” stance denigrated by Butler. But Traditionalists, the new Gallicanists, pointedly ignore Humani generis and papal teaching in general, just as their predecessors once did.
Where we are today
So where is all of this today? Well it appears we are seeing the survival of the Old Catholic heresy expressed in Traditionalism, (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/traditionalisms-true-orientation-explained/). Butler’s “old” Ultramontanes put the reform principles of the Gallicanists to work and founded Modernism, setting up a figurehead “pope” in the Vatican we know to be the Antichrist. The collegiality articles approved at the false Vatican 2 council were the work of Yves Congar, who actively lobbied for increased lay involvement on the Church long before Roncalli threw open the council windows. The following information comes from a reader who found it on a Traditionalist website:
“Many progressivist theologians [believe] the very essence of the Papacy is collegial, that is, not coming from only one man as the successor of Peter, but rather from the College of Bishops as a successor of the College of Apostles. Following the council, Congar wrote a book in which he states: “There is the thesis that affirms the power in the Church, even the power of the Pope, would always be collegial. The Pope would always act as ‘head of the College.’ He could not act by his own power as ‘Vicar of Christ’ (I place the last words between quotation marks because I am not comfortable with this expression, which I personally avoid using)…” !!!
An English Novus Ordo author, Paul Lash, observes: “Only 37 years after the promulgation of Lumen gentium, the Church would be far more rigorously and monolithically controlled by Pope and Curia than at any time in its history. The Church has paid a heavy price for John Paul II’s lack of interest in administration.” In noting this he suggests that collegiality be expanded. A Novus Ordo bishop, BC Butler relates that the false pope Francis is considering a greater collegiality and expanded role for NO bishops. So the reign of the bishops over the pope has been a long time aborning. Soon even the idea that the false church needs a pope will disappear into the mist of history with the advent of the coming world church.
In the meantime, this poor contingent of pray-at-home Catholics supporting Cardinal Manning’s version of Ultramontanism, the only genuine brand which received the blessing of Pope Pius IX, will continue to promote obedience and reverence for the Roman Pontiffs placed over Christ’s Church as the sole possessor of the primacy and all jurisdiction, honoring their teachings and decrees until the very end.
Today we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the issuance of Humani generis. This infallible papal encyclical addressed many of the errors circulating not long after the end of World War II. Among them were some of those very errors and heresies which still plague us today, several which readers will find familiar. That these teachings yet are contested after seven decades proves that those claiming to continue the true Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII are doing nothing of the sort. Here we will enumerate those errors and in next week’s blog we will explain the nature of the division in the Church that existed long before the false Vatican 2 council. This dichotomy eventually led to the rejection of papal teaching, particularly certain decisions issued by Pope Pius XII.
Errors condemned by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis
- Eirenicism (i.e., ecumenism, which would allow Catholic doctrine to be distorted or perverted) (paras. 11, 12, 43);
- Theologians can authentically interpret the Divine deposit, (para. 21);
- The pope is unable to permanently end theological discussions and disputes, (para. 19, 20);
- What is taught in official papal documents is not binding, (para. 20);
- Hypotheses and conjectural notions can be legitimately employed in theological argument, (paras. 35, 37);
- False teachings on Scholasticism and true certitude (pragmatism, necessity of scholastic method — paras. 3, 17, 18, 31, 32, 34);
- Ex cathedra pronouncements are rare, (para. 21);
- Restrictions can be placed by theologians on what constitutes an ex cathedra pronouncement and theologians may dictate a formula for the actual wording of the pronouncement, (para. 21);
- Encyclicals and other papal documents are not infallible or binding in conscience, (para. 20);
- The pope binds the faithful in obedience only when condemning teachings or acts as heretical, (para. 18);
- Ordinary magisterium pronouncements are not binding in conscience, only the extraordinary (ex cathedra) variety, (paras. 18, 20);
- Minimalism — watering down papal teaching to make it appear it is not applicable or binding (paras. 14, 16, 43);
- In conclusion, Pope Pius XII commands teachers to accept and observe his teachings, (paras. 42, 43).
This encyclical was issued seven years after Mystici Corporis Christi and reinforces the teaching of that encyclical. In Humani generis, Pope Pius XII admonishes those who do not accept the definition of the Church as synonymous with Christ’s Mystical Body in Mystici Corporis. He also includes in Humani generis the paragraph below, addressing encyclical letters in general and how they are to be accepted by all the faithful as documents of 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 listens to you, listens to 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 same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.”
In his article “Humani Generis and the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium” (American Ecclesiastical Review, 1951), Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton explains how this paragraph is to be understood by the faithful. He touches on some very important points below which I hope will help readers better understand some of the subject matter discussed recently on this blog.
“Each sentence of this paragraph [from Humani generis above] contains an important theological truth. The first expresses a sometimes obscured fact about the Holy Father’s teaching activity. The second sentence brings out a truth which has not hitherto been set down very frequently in that section of theological writing dealing with the Holy Father’s teaching power. It constitutes a striking contribution to theological literature. The third stands as a necessary inference from the first and the second sentences. It has definite and intensely practical implications for present day theologians.
“The first statement of this paragraph condemns any minimizing of the authority of papal encyclicals which might be based on the subterfuge that the Holy Father does not use the fullness of his doctrinal power in such documents. The teaching of the encyclicals postulates an assensum per se, an acceptance by Catholics precisely because it is the teaching of the supreme doctrinal authority within the universal Church of Jesus Christ on earth. It demands such acceptance even when the Holy Father does not use supremam sui Magisterii potestatem. In other words, Catholics are bound to tender, not merely a courteous acknowledgment, but a genuine and sincere inward acceptance, to teachings which the Holy Father sets forth with a note or qualification LESS than de fide or even doctrina certa…
“Catholics are obliged in conscience to accept these condemnations, and to reject the proscribed propositions inwardly and sincerely. In the last analysis, this process involves the command to adopt an opinion, since the Church, in designating a proposition merely as something rash or ill-sounding (to mention only two of these doctrinal censures inferior to those of heresy and error), has not given a definition or completely definitive judgment on the matter in question. This irrevocable decision is to be found only in the definitions properly so called, THE DESIGNATION OF SOME PROPOSITION AS DE FIDE OR AS CERTAIN.
“It is impossible to see the full meaning of this teaching without having an accurate understanding of what constitutes the suprema magisterii potestas of the Roman Pontiff… It is perfectly certain that this same magisterium ordinarium et universale can also be the vehicle or the organ of a definition within the field of the Church’s secondary object of infallible teaching. The encyclicals of the Holy Father can be and actually are statements of this magisterium. Hence they may be documents in which a dogma is defined or a certain truth of Catholic doctrine (which, however, is not presented precisely as revealed) is brought to the people of God on earth…The Humani generis likewise adverts to the fact that, when a person hearkens to the authoritative teaching of the ecclesia docens, that person is actually hearkening to the voice of Our Lord Himself. Once again, it takes this means to remind us that the Church does not teach in this world other than as the instrument and the body of Jesus Christ. The man who quibbles about the Church’s doctrinal authority is finding fault, in the last analysis, with the means by which Our Lord brings His divine truth to the children of men.
“An example of this procedure is to be found in the treatment of the question about the immediate source of episcopal jurisdiction in the Holy Father’s encyclical Mystici corporis. Prior to the appearance of that document there had been many excellent theologians who had contended that the residential bishops of the Catholic Church receive their jurisdictional authority immediately from Our Lord. A greater number of theologians, (and writers de iure publico ecclesiastico) held, on the contrary, that these men received their powers from Our Lord through the Roman Pontiff, in such a way that they came immediately from the Holy Father. In the Mystici corporis, the Pope spoke of the residential bishops’ ordinary power of jurisdiction as something ‘immediate sibi ab eodem Pontifice Summa impertita.’ That phrase was rightly taken as an indication that the controversy had been settled, once and for all. Where before the teaching that the bishops received their power of jurisdiction immediately from the Roman Pontiff had been qualified as ‘communis,’ it now became known as ‘doctrina certa.’
“The fact that the Sovereign Pontiff had, as it were ‘gone out of his way;’ or ‘taken the trouble;’ to speak out on a question which had hitherto been regarded as controversial, was taken as an indication that he wished to put an end to the discussion… The fact that a question is thus treated by the Roman Pontiff is, according to the Humani generis, an indication that the Holy Father intends that this subject should no longer be considered as a question open to free debate among theologians… If the decision is irrevocable, but only in the sense that the Holy Father has placed this teaching within the category of doctrina certa (but not doctrina de fide) then the theologian is free to argue about the possibility of a de fide or dogmatic definition of this point, BUT HE IS DEFINITELY NOT FREE TO TEACH OR TO HOLD THAT THE DOCTRINE SET FORTH BY THE HOLY FATHER CAN BE REJECTED OR MODIFIED AT ALL. No teaching is set forth as certain unless it has been defined as true, unless there is no possibility, no fear or danger, that the opposite may turn out to be true.”
READERS MUST BE PERFECTLY CLEAR ABOUT THE ABOVE DECISION ON THE BISHOPS, BECAUSE TODAY SO MANY TRADITIONALISTS HAVE CLAIMED THAT THEY POSSESS THEIR EPISCOPAL POWERS DIRECTLY FROM CHRIST, WHEN THIS IS THE CONTRADICTION OF A PAPAL TEACHING THEY MUST HOLD FIRMLY AND IRREVOCABLY. There is no possibility that this decision will ever be reformed. All the above is important to keep in mind to be better able to know when certain teachings of the popes must be obeyed firmly and irrevocably. In teaching theology to the laity at the Catholic University of America, Msgr. Fenton and Rev. Edmund Burke were careful to first educate their students in the different grades of doctrinal certainty to better assist them in knowing not how to practice only the minimal degree of obedience owed to these teachings, but to instruct them in determining “the full significance of the magisterium.” (AER, December 1957). Because we have no true pope, true unity is not possible. The closest we can come to such unity is what Henry Cardinal Manning describes in his The True Story of the Vatican Council:
“Unity of faith generates unity of mind, unity of heart, unity of will. Truth goes before unity. Where truth is divided, unity cannot be. Unity before truth is deception. Unity without truth is indifference or unbelief. Truth before unity is the law and principle and safeguard of unity.” This is why I try to stay as close as possible to all the Roman Pontiffs teach, regardless of what that may be, or the grade of doctrinal certainty attached to it. It is the only guarantee of truth, and the closest thing to unity that we can find. No number of bishops or theologians teaching prior to Vatican 2 could possibly equal or supersede the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. And those who believe that avoiding the lesser censures for error saves them from sanctions are sadly mistaken.
The consequences of teaching condemned propositions
It is the common teaching and practice of Traditionalists that one may teach anything as long as it is not formally heretical. In fact, in cases of heresy, they often appeal against a decree of a Council or an infallible teaching of a pope, because the actual import of what they are appealing against is unclear to them (when it would be clear to any reasonable person). The Church has condemned numerous errors, not as heretical, but as being false. Are we permitted to teach something which the Church condemns as merely being untrue? Does error have rights, as long as it is not heresy?
Canon 2242, paragraph 1 provides that: “Only offenses which are grave are punished with censures.” A grave offense is a mortal sin. Therefore, only mortal sins are punished with censures. Canon 2257 states: “Excommunication is a censure by which one is excluded from the communion of the faithful with the consequences enumerated in the following Canons, which consequences are inseparable. It is also called anathema especially when inflicted with the solemnities described in the Pontificale Romanum.” For many centuries, before the codification of Canon Law, the censure of excommunication was inflicted ipso facto, whenever one publicly or privately defended or taught a condemned proposition, no matter what type of condemnation may have been attached to the proposition. Therefore, the Church presumed that such is a mortal sin. Because so many today do not understand with what authority the Church condemns propositions, this matter needs to be addressed and it must be understood: we are bound under pain of mortal sin to condemn all that the Holy Catholic Church condemns.
Some propositions are condemned with a censure attached. For instance, the Church might have said that anyone who teaches a certain proposition is excommunicated. Now, Can. 6, para. 5 provides that no censure of excommunication suspension, or interdict exists, unless it is restated in the Code of Canon Law. This law is to simplify matters and refer people to one list of censures, which Woywod-Smith provide in the back of their commentary. However, Canon 2317 provides that: “Persons who stubbornly teach or defend, either publicly or privately, a doctrine which has been condemned by the Apostolic See or by an Ecumenical Council not, however, as formally heretical, shall be barred from the ministry of preaching the Word of God and of hearing sacramental confessions, and from every other office of teaching, without prejudice to other penalties which the sentence of condemnation of the doctrine may perhaps have decreed….”
And this is a restatement of a papal law written some 350 years before the issuance of the 1917 Code, listed in the Fontesto this canon.
“Further, whoever knowingly presumes in any way to receive anew [heretics, apostates or schismatics] so apprehended, confessed [and this includes notorious heresy or schism under canon law] or convicted, or to favor them, believe them, or teach their doctrines shall ipso facto incur excommunication, and, become infamous.” This is taken from Pope Paul IV’s 1559 bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. So Canon 2317 apparently revokes the general provision of Canon 6, paragraph 5 in virtue of this older law and retains in force each and every penalty attached to a particular condemned proposition in the bull of condemnation. Therefore, a censure may very well be attached to a condemned proposition, and as such, may be inflicted ipso facto, by the teaching of the proposition. And when in doubt about the application of this law to the laity, one is instructed under Can. 6 no. 4 to abide by the old law (Pipe Paul IV’s bull) which states “…Both they and laymen appointed as aforesaid…”
In comparing Canon 2317 and the Constitution Apostolica Sedis of Pius IX, Rev. Leech, J.C.L., writes: “The new law (Can. 2317) has a wider extension in this case than the Constitution. By the latter, it was forbidden under penalty to defend or teach not every condemned proposition, but only those condemned under pain of excommunication; the new law comprehends in the present instance every condemned proposition that is not formally heretical, without regard to penalties attached to the condemnation.” (Teaching a heretical proposition is already covered under Canon 2314, which provides for an ipso facto excommunication). “It must be noted that those penalties, even of excommunication, which the Holy See or a General Council, when condemning a proposition attached to the teaching of such propositions, are still in force and are incurred according to the conditions set down in the particular sentence of condemnation.”
Reverend Charles Augustine, in his A Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, lists the following decrees, found in Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, which come under the provision of Canon 2317:
- Errors of Wycliff and Hus, censured in Inter cunctas, by Martin V;
- Errors of Luther, which are not heretical, condemned in Exsurge Domine, by Leo X;
- The proposition condemned by Clement VIII, stating that confession and absolution can be made by letter or message;
- The 45 propositions condemned by the Holy Office in decrees dated September 24, 1665 and March 18, 1666;
- The 65 propositions condemned by the Holy Office on March 4, 1679;
- The 68 propositions of Michael de Molinos, condemned in Coelestis Pater, by Innocent XI. (Quietism);
- The 32 propositions condemned by Alexander VIII on August 24 and December 7, 1690. (Jansenism)
- The 101 propositions of Quesnel, condemned in the Bull Unigenitus and Pastoralis Official, by Clement XI. (Jansenism);Five proposition condemned in Destestabilem, by Benedict XIV
- Eighty-five propositions condemned in Auctorem Fidei, by Pius VI. (These are the propositions of the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia, which have raised their ugly head at Vatican II and among Traditionalists.
- Finally, the errors of the Modernists, which are not formally heretical (although Pope St. Pius X called this system “the synthesis of ALL heresies”); and
- The censures contained in Lamentabili and Pius X’s Syllabus of Errors, if the specific proposition is to be censured.
Rev. Augustine explains that “The penalties attached to the transgression of this law, for clergymen, consists in the withdrawal of their faculties. Laymen guilty of this delinquency must be removed from [any] teaching office.” Remember that those propositions condemned as formally heretical are covered under Canon 2314. The balance in the above decrees, if taught, render the teacher excommunicated by the act of teaching them. This applies even if the delinquent is in good faith, as Can. 2200 states. And it also applies to any layperson teaching such doctrines on the behalf of others. Those who wish to retain their membership in the Church and avoid the shipwreck of their faith need to fully familiarize themselves with the strict obligation to accept even the opinions of the Roman Pontiffs as binding. If all believe he speaks for Christ on earth, and this is a de fide truth of faith, they cannot fail to hearken to everything that he teaches.
+Feast of the Transfiguration+
Twice in one week now we have seen certain bloggers, presenting themselves as reliable sources of Catholic information, promoting the work of Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, as the end all, be all of theological sources. But this is far from the truth, which is why you will not find him quoted on this site. Ott is not a trustworthy source of theology and should not be used, certainly, in defending truths of faith. In the January 1956 issue of the American Ecclesiastical Review, we find a book review on Dr. Ott’s work written by John J. King, O.M.I. He states:
“The publication of this volume by Dr. Ott should bolster the argumentation of those who protested the use of the‘digest’ approach to the study of sacred theology. Dr. Ott has attempted to compress the entire field of dogmatic theology (including fundamental, special and Sacramental dogma) into a single volume of 519 pages. The editor of the English edition calls this book ‘the most remarkable work of compression of its kind that I have encountered.’ This may well be; but for all its remarkable qualities, it is not without serious defect. In the process of condensation great care must be taken to avoid all distortion. The formidable task of a work of this sort is to affect not only brevity but also clarity. Dr. Ott has had remarkable success in attaining the first; he has experienced something less than success in his quest for the second. Very often in the scientific exposition of the dogmas of the Church conciseness can be attained only at the expense of clarity and accuracy…
“This has been the case in several sections of Dr. Ott’s book and this despite the obvious scholarship which he brings to his work. The author tells us that his work is intended primarily to meet the needs of students; indeed to be used as a textbook for seminarians. As such it is clearly inadequate. For it is merely a conspectus of theology. Its treatment is positive throughout with only an occasional brief elaboration of the speculative aspect of dogma. Frequent references are given to Denzinger, Sacred Scripture and Journel, but there are few direct quotations from the statements of the magisterium, Scripture and Tradition. Because of its brevity this volume could readily confuse and mislead seminarians. They may well gather enough information to pass an examination, but they certainly would not be schooled in theology according to the mind of the Church. Doctor Ott’s book may be useful on occasion as a quick reference, provided that the inquirer does not expect to receive a complete treatment of any given point; and provided also that he later seeks clarification and amplification in a more detailed source.” (Copies of this review are available on request.)
So it seems that those who are trying to shoot down what is written on this site need to substantially step up their game if they want to be considered credible writers. And what is more important, they need to stop telling people that they can rely on the opinions of theologians versus those of the magisterium, which is exactly what King criticizes Ott for doing. Now you see why so much is quoted from the magisterium here, and from Holy Scripture. And oh, by the way, if you’re going to take my writings out of context, try to properly attribute the quote about this very subject to its proper source (Msgr. Fenton and the theologians Pohle and Preuss), instead of making it appear it is my personal opinion:
“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” (Msgr. J.C. Fenton,“The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals, Pt. II” Sept. 1949, AER). 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.” Why would anyone choose to believe theologians over the Roman Pontiff, Christ’s voice on earth? Do they not believe that “He who hears you, hears Me”?
Cardinal Ottaviani and Msgr. Fenton no match for Ott
Msgr. Fenton’s diaries reveal that he and Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani were good friends; he knew the man fairly well. When the decision in Mystici Corporis Christi on the jurisdiction of the bishops proceeding not from God directly but from the Roman Pontiffs was issued, Cardinal Ottaviani later published an important address about it. (Msgr. Fenton reports this in his article just quoted above.) Since Cardinal Ottaviani certainly had the pope’s ear, and was doubtless aware of his intent, we surely can trust what he said in his Institutiones iuris publici ecclesiastici in 1947, as reported by Fenton. Msgr. Fenton notes in his article: “[Ottaviani] tells us [that] up until the present time this thesis had been considered as more probable and even as sententia communis [common opinion of theologians] but that from now on it is to be held as entirely certain by reason of the words of the present Holy Father…
“Monsignor Ottaviani assumes rightly that the authoritative statement of this thesis in the papal letter raises this teaching from the status of a more probable doctrine to that of a perfectly certain proposition. This observation on the part of Monsignor Ottaviani constitutes a valuable, practical corrective to a certain tendency towards oversimplification and MINIMALISM which had begun to invade some recent judgments on the doctrinal authority of the… encyclical letters.”
Yet in Ott’s work, we find it still listed as only a more probable opinion “(Sent. probabilior).” Already in the late 1800s, Henry Cardinal Manning, in his The Pastoral Office, demonstrated that it was then a common opinion, as Msgr. Fenton notes above.
It seems to be a very clear choice to believe the words of Cardinal Ottaviani, confidante of Pope Pius XII, and Ottaviani’s friend, Msgr. Fenton, over anything a theologian such as Ott, who obviously exhibits minimalist tendencies, might claim. Pope Pius XII’s decision is sententia certa (theologically certain) — implicit in Scripture and Tradition, as this teaching truly is — not probabilior. To deny this is censured as a theological error and constitutes a mortal sin against ecclesiastical faith (Cartechini’s Theological Notes, 1951). Pope Pius XII settled a matter that had been disputed for centuries, and when Rome speaks, the case is closed. Here is an example of Sententia Probabilis, taken from the Internet:
Sententia Probabilis – probable teaching – a teaching that is well founded on good authority yet is open to question. Pious beliefs and tolerated opinions also fall under this note and have the lowest degree of certainty.
- Example: Judas received Holy Communion at the last supper
- Denial of any of these teachings is licit provided piety is given to legitimate authority.
Dr. Ludwig Ott’s continued reference to Pope Pius XII’s decision on the bishops’ reception of jurisdiction as only probable clearly reveals his minimalist orientation. On pg. 9-10 of his work we read: “A teaching which is theologically certain is a doctrine on which the teaching authority of the Church has not yet finally pronounced but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation.” But this could be true only when it is not a decision on a controverted matter that settles the question, as Pope Pius XII did with the bishops. Ott’s work was written years after the release of Humani generis and Pope Pius XII’s teaching on the ordinary magisterium and the possibility of infallible statements in encyclicals. Yet still Ott taught in his work that: “Only those …doctrinal teachings of the Church… which emanate from general councils representing the whole episcopate and the papal decisions ex cathedra [are infallible]. The ordinary and usual form of the papal teaching activity is not infallible.” This contradicts papal teaching.
No wonder Rev. King above warns Catholics that his work has serious defects and cannot be trusted. And now we know why Traditionalists venerate him as their theologian extraordinaire! When a pope has gone to the trouble of making a decision on a certain matter, how can it then still be considered as a probable opinion?
According to Rev. Francis J. Connell, this would be the case only if the subject at issue is expressed by the pope or the Holy Office as something that “…cannot be safely taught… There are many doctrines not contained in the Deposit of Faith but so intimately connected with it that the authority to teach revealed truth infallibly would be rendered in great measure ineffective unless the infallible magisterium extended to them also. On this account it is held as certain by theologians that such doctrines constitute a genuine object of infallibility though indirect or secondary. And when there has been a definitive and official pronouncement on such a doctrine by the infallible magisterium THIS DOCTRINE TOO IS UNCHANGEABLE FOR ALL TIME” (“Does Catholic Doctrine Change,” November, 1947, AER). And here Rev. Connell refers to Pope Leo XIII’s decision on Anglican Orders (DZ 1966) where the pope pronounces that he declares them “invalid and entirely void: in light of the teachings of his predecessors and on Our authority, Our own inspiration and certain knowledge…”
Msgr. Fenton writes in yet another article: “Those who on their own initiative presume to question or to contradict a doctrinal statement proposed authoritatively in a papal encyclical, even in cases where the Holy Father does not make a definitive decision, may well be said to be striving for something MANIFESTLY BEYOND THEIR COMPETENCE. No individual and for that matter no group of individuals within the ecclesia discens can be said to have the competence to dispute with the visible head of the Church militant on a matter connected with the Church’s deposit of divine revelation. At least in an indirect manner, however, every rejection of an authoritative doctrinal pronouncement contained in a papal encyclical is opposed to the theological virtue of faith” (“The Religious Assent Due to the Teaching of Papal Encyclicals,” July, 1950, AER). This tells us who is TRULY competent in presenting the teachings of the Church and who is not.
We would like to close this section with a quote from Pope St. Pius X:
“When we love the Pope we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well. Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the Pope who is commanding but someone in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy, for where there is holiness there cannot be disagreement with the Pope” (Allocution, to the members of the Apostolic Union on their 50th anniversary, Nov. 18, 1912).So who loves the pope? Sadly, it would seem that very few at all truly love him today, for very few obey him without question.
What follows is directly connected to the Divine constitution continuum established in the papacy which was meant to be perpetuated in an unbroken chain for the Church to exist.
Jurisdiction, supplied and otherwise
The Vatican Council has defined that the pope possesses the fullness of jurisdiction in the Church, yet it seems that we always find those who quibble with what the pope teaches also in the company of those who question the Church’s teaching on jurisdiction. Accept the faith as it has always been taught and there are no worries; but no one seems able to do that. What we are supposed to believe regarding the Church’s mission on earth and jurisdiction is very clear. It is a de fide teaching of the Church Traditionalists refuse to accept. One of their favorite theologians, Louis Cardinal Billot has summed it up quite nicely:
“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 quote comes directly from Cardinal Billot, not some other source; it doesn’t get any simpler than that. Interrupt that chain and all contact with the divine is lost. This Church is a Divine, not a human institution and any meddling with its Divine constitution reduces it to just one more non-Catholic Church, as Rev. Joseph Riley notes below:
“The Church as it was constituted by Christ (Pope, bishops, priests) was established forever as a hierarchico-monarchical society… to remain unchanged until the end of time… NOWHERE IN REVELATION IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE OF ANY INTENTIONS TO PERMIT EXCEPTIONS TO — OR CHANGES IN — THIS CONSTITUTION IN FUTURE HISTORY BY THE USE OF EPIKEIA OR ON ANY OTHER BASIS. MEN ARE FREE OF COURSE TO FOUND OTHER CHURCHES, DIFFERING IN CONSTITUTION AND NATURE… BUT SUCH CHURCHES ARE NOT CHRIST’S… To maintain that Christ had some intention for the future, contrary to that made manifest in the actual establishment of His Church is a refusal to believe in the efficacy of the divine promise that Christ would be with the Church unto the consummation of the world; it is a denial of the [four marks] and indefectibility of this divinely established institution” (The History, Nature and Use of EPIKEIA in Moral Theology, Rev. Lawrence Joseph Riley, A.B., S.T.L., a dissertation submitted to the faculty of the School of Sacred Theology of the Catholic University of America, 1948, p. 330-31).
It is true that the Church must remain unchanged, but it was changed the day Pope Pius XII died and all the cardinals elected a heretic to office, accepted by all the bishops who later formally apostatized from the faith at the false Vatican 2 Council. THAT was the great apostasy, the stars (bishops) falling from heaven (the Church) in the Apocalypse. Without the election of a true pope the Church as Christ constituted it ceased to exist. Because everyone focused on the lack of Mass and Sacraments and refused to address the one element most necessary to the preservation of unity and stability in the Church, the window of time to elect a true pope slowly closed and now cannot be reopened; only a miracle can restore the papacy. This is the truth Traditionalists deny: the necessity of the papacy for the Church to exist at all.
What does Holy Scripture have to say about supplied jurisdiction? A reader recently checked this out and found the following commentary on St. Paul which led to further commentary on the same topic.
Rev. Leo Haydock’s Douay-Rheims Bible commentary
Romans 10:15: “And how can they preach, unless they be sent?” Haydock: Unless they be sent. Here is an evident proof against all new teachers, who have all usurped to themselves the ministry, without any lawful mission, derived by succession from the apostles, to whom Christ said, (John xx. 21.) As my Father hath sent me, I also send you. (Challoner) — The Almighty sends people to preach two different ways. The one is extraordinary by internal inspiration, as was that of John the Baptist, and all the other prophets; in which case, however, extraordinary proofs must be given that they are sent by God; and the other is ordinary, which is derived from Christ, and from the apostles and their successors, whom he has appointed to be his vicegerents on earth. (Estius).
John 10: 1 — “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep…” Haydock: In this parable the fold is the Church: the Good Shepherd, and also the door is Christ: the thieves and robbers are false guides; the hirelings, such ministers as seek their own profit and gain, and a good living, as they call it; the wolves, heretics…
John 10: 7-8 — “I am the door of the sheep. All others, as many as have come, are thieves and robbers: and the sheep heard them not.” Haydock: All they who came are thieves, meaning those who came of their own accord, without being sent: not so the prophets, who had their mission from God.”
The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, Ch. 4:
”In the ordination of bishops, priests and of other orders… the consent or call or authority of the people or of any secular power or magistrate is not so required for the validity of the ordination but rather [this Holy Synod] decrees that those who are called and instituted only by the people or by the civil power or magistrate and proceed to exercise these offices and that those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves are not ministers of the Church but are to be regarded as ‘thieves and robbers who have not entered by the door’ (Jn. !0:1)” (DZ 960).
“If anyone says that the bishops are not superior to priests… or that orders conferred by them without the consent or call of the people or of the secular power are invalid; or that those who have been neither rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority but come from a different source are lawful ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments, let him be anathema (DZ 967).
Authentic interpretation of Can. 147
“An ecclesiastical office is not validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons.” Traditionalists never received an office, for neither Marcel Lefebvre or Bp. Ngo dinh Thuc themselves possessed or could possess an office after resigning their offices from Pope Pius XII and participating in communicatio in sacris with the Novus Ordo church. Certainly heretics are not competent ecclesiastical authorities and the sacred canons requiring the papal mandate and assignment of dioceses for the erection of seminaries all were ignored. The decision of the Sacred Congregation issued June 29, 1950 gives an authentic interpretation of this law, citing the text of DZ 967 above and yet another version of DZ 960, varying slightly from the Denzinger translation:
“Those who undertake to exercise these offices merely at the behest of and upon appointment by the people or secular power and authority, and those who assume the same upon their own authority, are all to be regarded not as ministers of the Church but as thieves and robbers who have entered not by the door…His holiness Pope Pius XII…in order to preserve more inviolate these same sacred principles and at the same time forestall abuses in a matter of such great importance…deigned to provide as follows…” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J., 1953; AAS 42-601) And here censures are levied against those who violate this law, reserved in a special manner to the Holy See. So in promoting the heresy of jurisdiction outside the proper ecclesiastical channels, Traditionalists deny the teachings of St. Paul and our Lord in Holy Scripture, the de fide teaching of the Council of Trent, and Pope Pius XII’s teaching on Canon 147, entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis and binding on all Catholics. (And no, the usurper Francis in Rome and his false and frequent entries into this source do not diminish the weight it enjoyed under Pius XII.)
All Canon Laws remain in force
The wording in all these documents is the same; they all refer to those illicitly (most likely invalidly) ordained and consecrated by those not possessing papal authority to execute these actions, and therefore incapable of obtaining jurisdiction. How many Traditionalists daring to call themselves clergy sin gravely in ignoring the censures for heresy and other censures attached to the various canons, forbidding them to exercise any orders received, if indeed they even received them! And no, Canon Law does not “develop” during an interregnum to exclude these censures, when no true pope or the Sacred Congregations of the Holy Office are able to address questions regarding the law. In their Canon Law Digest commentary on Can. 17, Vol. 5 (1963), the canonists Bouscaren and O’Connor write the following:
“His eminence, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Canons of the Code, Maximus Cardinal Massimi, declared shortly before his death… that it was his personal opinion he no longer preferred to give authentic replies since all the canons were already sufficiently clear in their obvious meaning. It is interesting to observe that no officially promulgated replies have since been given for the Code of the Latin church since his death [in 1954].” So this very experienced cardinal, the last of his kind, believed that the Code should be taken exactly as it stood, supplemented by the authentic interpretations already given for over 35 years. In an eerie way it almost anticipates the death of Pope Pius XII four years later and seems to echo the very language both he and his predecessor, Pope St. Pius X, employed in their nearly identical papal election constitutions:
“The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws or any part of them” (Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis). The canonists Woywod-Smith and Bouscaren- Ellis all confirm that this means the cardinals “…cannot make any changes in the laws of the Church or dispense from them.” This is based on an ancient law dating back to the 13th century, according to the footnotes of Pius XII’s constitution. So who do we believe, Pope Pius XII or the bloggers who tell us that such laws no longer apply, or can be ignored or minimalized? Pope St. Pius X’s election law was a codification of ALL papal election law, so are objectors also going to nullify the laws governing papal elections throughout history?
Documents in this author’s possession show that Sedevacantists, at least, knew they should elect a pope and were actually discussing it just before the Thuc consecrations. Plans by Thuc bishops and their supporters to hold an “incomplete council” were in the works as late as 1989. They decided instead to remain a headless band of mini-popes, continually dividing and subdividing over financial and doctrinal issues. These men are not just individuals who might be able to convey the Sacraments during an extended interregnum and therefore can be resorted to safely; they are men who regardless of their true status, must be considered outside the Church and therefore as non-Catholics until a true pope decides otherwise (Canon 2200).
There has not been one scintilla of evidence from a true pope or an ecumenical council that has ever been produced by Traditionalists proving that (a) The pope teaches jurisdiction comes directly from God Himself: (b) It can be supplied to them by anyone other than the pope and (c) They can operate outside the Divine constitution Christ established for His Church during an interregnum. Their few entirely inadequate attempts to justify their use of epikeiaand appeal to supplied jurisdiction, also to discredit papal teaching, will be addressed in position papers currently in progress and soon to be posted to the website.
As shown above, all these teachings are in direct contradiction of papal decrees and the de fide teaching of the Council of Trent. So no, thank you, we will not join you, but will follow St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote on this topic:
“Such persons as are separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication, can indeed consecrate the Eucharist..; but they act wrongly, and sin by doing so; and in consequence they do not receive the fruit of the sacrifice, which is a spiritual sacrifice” (Article 7). And further, “But because he is severed from the unity of the Church, HIS PRAYERS HAVE NO EFFICACY” (reply to objection 3 of article 7). “And therefore whoever hears their mass or receives the sacraments from them, commits sin… By refusing to hear the masses of such priests, or to receive Communion from them, WE ARE NOT SHUNNING GOD’S SACRAMENTS; ON THE CONTRARY, BY SO DOING WE ARE GIVING THEM HONOR: BUT WHAT WE SHUN IS THE SIN OF UNWORTHY MINISTERS” (reply, objection 1). That says it all and should be sufficient in silencing these people; but of course it won’t.
Finally we leave you with one more quote on the authority of bishops from Pope Pius VI, Post tibi factum addressed to the Archbishop of Trier in 1782:
“Even in the case where the episcopal authority would come directly from God, as certain doctors claim, nevertheless it must be held for certain and firmly maintained that this authority does not extend of its own right to the faculty of dispensing from the general laws of the Church without the express or at least tacit permission of the superior power which has established these laws. IT IS IN FACT A DOGMA OF FAITH THAT the authority of the bishops, even admitting that it stems directly from Christ, remains dependent on the authority of the Roman Pontiff. Whence it follows that the bishops must ever remain subject to the decrees of the Apostolic See and to the venerable prescriptions of the canons under penalty, if it should happen, that one of them infringed these prescriptions and canons, of being refused the concession in the future. For the same reason it is not less certain that the authority of the bishops can itself be restricted and reduced within certain limits as to its exercise and its use by the superior hierarchical authority.”
THE POPES SPEAK WITH CHRIST’S VOICE; THE BISHOPS DO NOT. AND CERTAINLY DISGRACED AND DISOBEDIENT MEN, NOT EVEN CERTAINLY BISHOPS OR PRIESTS, NEVER COULD BE SAID TO SPEAK FOR HIM.
Please join us here in praying for our enemies: https://biblehub.com/drbc/psalms/35.htm
+St. Peter in Chains+
Prayer Society Intention for the Month of August
May God instill in us a true love of the papacy and may the Holy Ghost grant us the graces needed to appreciate and understand papal teachings.
In every era of Catholic history, the laity has been forced to adapt itself to the conditions and circumstances of the times in which they live, according to the Church’s own direction and teaching regarding the errors and needs of that specific time. There can be no doubt that the time in which we presently live is the most difficult time in the history of the Church. The popes knew these times were approaching and for this reason encouraged Catholics, beginning at the Vatican Council, to assist the hierarchy in spreading the faith. This eventually led to the founding of Catholic Action and the development of the lay apostolate, which while related are actually two separate entities, as Pope Pius XII explains. Since Catholic Action is mainly conducted under the direction of the hierarchy, which no longer exists today, it is the lay apostolate which will be addressed in this article. Pope Pius XII tells us: “This initiative of the lay apostolate is perfectly justified even without a prior explicit mission from the hierarchy” (The Mission of the Catholic Woman, Sept. 29, 1957).
Pope Pius XII speaks further on the apostolate below:
“The lay apostle must always remain within the limits of ORTHODOXY and must not oppose itself to the LEGITIMATE prescriptions of COMPETENT ecclesiastical authorities…The rule which applies to the lay apostolate in general [hierarchical approval], which We have just recalled, is naturally valid, and even more so for “lay theologian[s].” But if he wishes to publish writings on theological matters, the layman also needs the explicit approval of the ecclesiastical authority. The activity of the Catholic layman is especially necessary in the fields in which theological research borders on that of the secular sciences… On the other hand, to acquire the necessary competence, it is obviously necessary to make the effort demanded by serious training.” The Pope continues:
“Such training, whose necessity for teachers no one doubts, is just as necessary for every lay apostle… The Catholic newspaperman who exercises his profession in a spirit of faith is quite naturally a lay apostle… In certain countries where Communism is in power, it has been reported that religious life was able to continue underground thanks to the work of lay apostles, even after the arrest of the priests” (Guiding Principles of the Lay Apostolate, Six ans se sont, Oct. 5, 1957, https://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12LAYAP.htm). In a summary made by those attending this Congress of the Lay Apostolate, the following observations were made regarding what is needed to undertake such work:
- “Greater knowledge of the faith. In this respect, laymen are too often illiterate. There is danger of a lack of balance between a temporal culture which is ever more highly developed and a religious culture which would remain childish.
- “A knowledge of the world and of its needs. This means that we must have religious surveys, study centers and research institutes. Good will alone is not enough. It must be supported by real technical competence, professional, civic and social.
But already the pope had said earlier that year to the 14th Congress of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, in an address given the week before: “Personal initiative plays a great part in protecting the faith in Catholic life especially in countries where contacts with the hierarchy are difficult or practically impossible. In such circumstances the Christians upon whom this task falls MUST, with God’s grace, assume all their responsibilities. It is clear however that — even so — nothing can be undertaken against the explicit and implicit will of the Church or contrary in any way to the rules of faith or morals or to ecclesiastical discipline” (Sept. 29, 1957; both of these addresses to the laity were entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis.). We have quoted this many times, calling it our marching orders, our canonical mission. Now we will comment on the points made above by Pope Pius XII and how they apply to the present situation in which we find ourselves.
The dilemma facing lay Catholics today
What we have been tasked to determine today is whether or not those presenting themselves as hierarchy and the actual continuation of the Catholic Church are truly successors of the Apostles, duly sent by Our Lord through His Vicar. For if this is not the case, they have no right to teach and command us, being unable to issue legitimate prescriptions which can only be enforced by competent ecclesiastical authority. Such a determination must be made before any other activity can be commenced upon, for otherwise we cannot be certain that we are able to invoke the canonical mission granted to us by Pius XII, since this can be done only when there IS no hierarchy. Logic has an order, and this order must be observed.
Evidence to prove that Traditionalists, whether posing as clergy or officious laity, do not have the right to command our obedience and teach us must be presented if we are to be able to arrive at anything in way of certitude about the matter. We are ordered to remain within the limits of orthodoxy as Pope Pius XII recognized them in his time, so we can only use the teachings of the Church Herself and those of the pre-October 1958 approved theologians. Even then, given the already advanced infiltration in the Church, only those most loyal to the papacy and most conservative among these men should be consulted, if orthodoxy is to be maintained as the pope commands. The Church orders us to make such determinations using only the method of philosophy taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, Scholasticism. And Scholastic philosophy teaches that: “Every judgment must be based on proof. In doubt, facts cannot be presumed, but must be proved” (Bernard Wuellner, S.J., Summary of Scholastic Principles,1956).
Lay theologians can teach, but only under the direction of the hierarchy. However, moral theology teaches that when something becomes impossible to obtain or observe, the obligation to obey the law ceases. “No law can bind a subject to do the impossible or anything morally evil,” (Wuellner; also Revs. McHugh and Callan). “In a conflict of law, the higher law prevails” (Wuellner). Now the faithful are bound under pain of heresy to profess their faith “…whenever silence, subterfuge or manner of acting” could be interpreted as a denial of faith (Can. 1325). Not to defend the faith in these times when it is assailed on every side by the enemy would be an evil which no law can command us to commit. Defending the faith is the higher law, and fulfilling a canonical mission in the absence of the hierarchy, assigned to us by Christ’s Vicar, is a law one is bound to obey. The very survival of the Church Christ founded depends on it.
I have been accused by some of functioning in the exercise of my canonical mission without the necessary competence. Yet not only do I have a wealth of experience most of these critics lack, learning firsthand the evils of Traditionalism, I also have the benefit of receiving the last of what passed for a Catholic education in the late 1950s, early 1960s, something most of them, sadly, were unable to enjoy. Furthermore, I was baptized by a domestic prelate, Msgr. Daniel M. Reidy, and confirmed in 1961 by Bishop Leo C. Byrne, ordained a bishop in 1954 during the reign of Pope Pius XII. Was it valid? Since it happened before the false V2 council convened and not long after Pius XII’s death, it was valid if illicit, and within that timeframe it could have been licit; but only a true pope could determine this. Cardinal Gracias told the Lay Apostolate Congress: “The duty (of the Lay Apostolate) arises from the fact of Baptism and Confirmation, according to the inspiration of grace and state of life and exterior circumstances” (Catherine Buehler, delegate to the first Lay Apostolate Congress, 1954).
I have my own theological library sporting some 3,000 plus volumes, culled mainly from a seminary library, and have studied some of the best theological works available from it since 1981, often clocking in hours of study per day for decades. My friends and family can testify to this, and I don’t believe that is something most can claim to have done. This is not a boast; the fruits of study can only be judged by God. But I have done my best to “make the effortdemanded by serious training” as best I could, since there were no Catholic teachers. I also worked for 25 years as a community newspaper reporter for publications owned by (older) Novus Ordo “Catholics,” who thankfully gave me free rein to include religious articles and points of view as well as a fact-based, conservative presentation of the news. This could be easily confirmed by consulting the archived articles I have written or by speaking to my publishers. And as Pius XII says above, “The Catholic newspaperman who exercises his profession in a spirit of faith is quite naturally a lay apostle.” Of course reference to myself as competent will be interpreted as further proofs of “pride.” But as St. Teresa of Avila said, “Humility is truth.” I cannot very well lie about who I am. Readers have a right to know my credentials and critics are obligated to document and prove their assertions. Not to do so is a sin.
Those exiting the Novus Ordo and Traditionalist sects should spend at least three years doing penance and re-educating themselves in the truths of Faith before attempting to defend the faith publicly according to Canon Law. I did my “time” between 1985-1989. (I did write a few things for publication, though, since I wasn’t aware of this law until 1988-89). They then should proceed cautiously, which I failed to do; I have been catching up ever since. But as my own experience proves, not proceeding cautiously usually ends in disaster, since false zeal so easily misleads. As those attending the Congress noted above, a greater knowledge of the faith is required to undertake this mission and Catholics are too often illiterate in these matters.
Canonical mission explained
In his The Role of the Laity in the Church, (written in 1954 by the Chair of dogmatic theology at Louvain University), Msgr. Gerard Philips, S.T.D., et M., has this to say about such a mission. “The Code of Canon Law clearly admits a‘canonical mission’ for laymen in the field of religious instruction (Can. 1333). The concept is not therefore contrary to juridic principle… The bishops’ conference held at Paris in 1946 declared the mandate of Catholic Action” is conferred on the faithful by the virtue of their baptism. “The mandate itself is a designation for the apostolate, it is a very serious matter. It is not a privilege but a call to duty… Fr. Koester is of the opinion that a ‘mission’ can only be granted to laymen in necessity, when no one else is available” (pgs. 128-29). And Pope Pius XII has confirmed this, specifying how it must be carried out.
Msgr. Philips continues: “To a certain extent, …bishops can share their role as ‘witness’ and ‘one sent’ with those who have received only the initial consecration of Baptism and Confirmation… Laymen…can also receive a special mission, a canonical designation or mandate that is a type of official recognition for a more determined ecclesiastical task” (pg. 171). And this we have received not from just any bishop, but from the Roman Pontiff himself, head bishop and Christ’s Vicar on earth. But that is not good enough or sufficiently compelling for some people. Msgr. Philips emphasizes that: “Anyone who would have a vital and victorious faith must pay the required price of effort and study. No sincere intellectual will be content with a grammar school acquaintance of the vital questions nor will anyone expect encyclopedic knowledge from him. The intelligence of a truly adult Christian is all that is required. It is impossible for him to solve problems of the moral order without the dogmatic premises on which they depend. To suppose otherwise is blind pragmatism.” And pragmatism is an error condemned by the Church.
And in another work from 1957, A Call to the Laity, Abp. Richard Cushing writes: “The hour has come for us to cease to expect a child’s study of a child’s catechism to give adults an appreciation of an essentially intellectual religion. The effort to attain the intellectual vision, the clear thinking and the moral integrity for which the Holy Father calls can be based only on a systematic study by the laity of the principles of justice and charity as they apply to modern problems of life and thought “(pg. 28). In other words, you don’t take a knife to a gunfight, and this is a battle of major proportions, not High Noon.
There are good reasons why study of the faith should not be limited to the Kinkead Baltimore Catechism, generally preferred by Traditionalists. Written in the 1880s. this catechism cannot possibly cover the major doctrinal issues addressed by Pope Leo XIII and his successors. It especially omits the many addresses by the popes on the importance of the lay apostolate and how to deal with the modern-day heresies of our times, particularly Modernism and its various offshoots. This is true even of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which for all its importance is still incomplete. Those who believe the Church can be run by questionably valid bishops only might be fine with this, since these bishops despise the teachings of Pope Pius XII on the necessity of an office for valid jurisdiction and the decision that bishops do not receive their powers directly from Our Lord by Divine right. But those who accept and exercise their canonical mission from Pope Pius XII know how crucial to their understanding of the faith papal teaching in its entirety truly is.\
Authority and canonical mission
In the absence of the hierarchy, people have been confused about who they should obey and what is most authoritative. It is only common sense to rely on the documents and organs approved by the magisterium, and these include the lesser catechisms, to instruct ourselves. However, as noted above, the catechism simply will not suffice. Had Traditionalists opened catechetical centers and refrained from what they could not do, fulfilling the canonical mission already available to them, we would not be in this predicament. But pride, lust for power and greed entered in — how profitable could such centers, run with help from laity properly trained, have been? And how could they exercise any power by reducing themselves to the state of the laity? There would be no need to go to great lengths to present and defend the truth if they had simply done what God willed them to do. But no; they could not lower themselves to do that. And so those obligated to expose their errors had to go higher – to the Roman Pontiffs themselves, the General Councils, the Sacred Congregations, to warn others they were not authorized to do what they pretended to do.
These sources cannot be contradicted, which is exactly why they must be consulted; once a document of the Roman Pontiff is presented in ecclesiastical court by the faithful — who are allowed to object to Traditionalists’ claims under Canon Law — the judge must rule in favor of the one presenting the document. But these are laws Traditionalists curl their lips at and consistently ignore. Having been given a canonical mission by a true pope, NO ONE can prevent those receiving it from exercising such a mission. And that includes rank newbies on the scene who think they have all the answers, can’t be certain they were validly baptized and have never been validly confirmed. This is not to say that lack of Confirmation prevents anyone of good will from engaging in the apostolate, but first they must prove they are truly Catholic and serve their three years of probation. And too often that proof of Catholicity is woefully lacking.
The laity are encouraged to study the encyclicals
Some insist we cannot understand the encyclicals; only the bishops could understand them and explain them to us. We are not smart enough wah, wah, wah. So read up on them from the theologians and learn, okay? That was their job, as Msgr. Fenton tells us: to explain them, and he does. And the fact that they are written in Latin does not matter; if translations to English are somehow inaccurate, then I am sure that God will forgive us if we happen to err.
That is why we rely on trustworthy theologians. It is entirely untrue that the faithful were not expected to read and even study them; examine the picture on page one and the one below, taken from two different works, and you will see that they came with Discussion Club outlines. Notice that the page here on Mediator Dei gives printed instructions on exactly how to conduct such discussions, indicating that a priest was not required to lead them.
I have several encyclicals of every kind, all with these Discussion Club outlines provided for the laity. Fr. Charles Hugo Doyle, in his little work Let Us Know the Pope, mentions that: “Every effort on the part of the laity must be made to pass on to others, in the discussion clubs and in the home, the life and work of the Vicar of Christ on earth.” He concluded his pamphlet by pleading that “… a definite course of study on the life and work of the pope be systematically taught in our Catholic institutions of learning.” We have a job to do, and that job demands more of us than some are able to give. Let them be satisfied then with the catechism. But no one is free from sin who misrepresents the practice of the Church prior to Pope Pius XII’s death as a pretext to discredit others who desire to render a higher level of service. Truly their motives are suspect. And given the presence of a papal mission, it could even be styled as contradicting papal teaching.
Today is the feast of St. Peter in Chains. Tragically, he is still in chains in our century, imprisoned by men who have usurped his authority and banished him from the earth, and here I mean both the Novus Ordo usurpers and Traditionalist pseudo-bishops, who falsely claim to continue the true Church without him. Then there are others as well, who while professing to accept and follow him, reduce the magisterium to an unintelligible oracle of yesteryear, dictating to others that they are incapable of comprehending Christ’s very own voice on earth. To all of them I repeat the warning of Henry Cardinal Manning: “The faithful read in the ruin of all who lay hands on the Vicar of Christ the warning of the Psalmist, ‘Nolite tangere Christos meos ‘; and of our Lord Himself, ‘Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder’ (Matt. 21:44).’” (The Vatican Council Decrees, 1887)
What in the world…
A word here about the growing number of nasty little traddie trolls. Whether they call themselves Traditionalists, sedevacantists or some other variation of “Catholic” — their names are legion — the Church instructs us that we are not allowed to wrangle with non-Catholics (Can. 1325). Once their real agenda becomes apparent, regardless of any self-righteous invective delivered under the guise of piety, we are to simply ignore them since they thrive on attention. What they are speaks so loudly we cannot hear what they are saying anyway. People who are truly Catholic will avoid them. It is a sad fact that today they seem to be multiplying and adding to the chaos and insanity spreading worldwide. We should neither be disturbed nor surprised. We must pray that God will somehow bring them to their knees, regardless of what that might cost them. And we must also pray that we ourselves do not fall into the pit but may persevere in the faith until the very end.
To read up on troll behavior, see hater trolls at https://crgsoft.com/trolls-on-the-internet-the-types-of-trolling-that-you-will-find-on-the-network/ We must remember that it was the very ones meant to be members of Christ’s kingdom on earth who hated the truth so much they nailed Him to the Cross. And then their precious Temple, emptied of the Holy Ghost, the Shekinah, was destroyed…