A  peaceful and joyous Easter Season to all our readers

A peaceful and joyous Easter Season to all our readers

He is Risen — Alleluia!

“AND in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you” (Matt. 28: 1-7).

The sanctuary of God alone and filling up what is wanting

The sanctuary of God alone and filling up what is wanting

+Good Friday+

Many have had questions about the “recusant Catholics” presenting as “homealone” because it seems this group has no intention of accepting papal teaching on a number of topics. I have attempted to answer most of these questions here over the past several weeks but must now move on to more spiritually productive conversations. In summary, however, the following points need to be firmly taken away from this troubling experience.

  1. We have never said that the Church teaches invincible ignorance alone will suffice to secure eternal salvation. Several articles on this site have definitely stated this is not the case and those articles were published nearly a decade ago. Maybe people should do their research before falsely accusing someone of heresy.
  1. No matter how educated someone pretends to be, they are not equipped nor approved by the Church to engage in debate or public discourse regarding the faith. We have devoted two blogs to explaining the Church’s teaching on this so there should be no further questions. It is forbidden entirely to the laity and clerics can engage in it only with permission from the Holy See.
  1. The word forum itself is defined as “open discussion; expression of ideas.” We do not discuss truths of faith or express our ideas concerning them. We accept them with a firm and sincere assent, whether we fully understand them or not, or we cannot call ourselves Catholic. The definition of dialogue, a distinctly Novus Ordo method of dogmatic perversion, is “an exchange of ideas and opinions… aimed at resolution.” This clearly shows the intent of some LibTrads to use discussion forums to compromise the faith — what such ”discussion” is intended to accomplish.
  1. As lay Catholics surviving without the hierarchy, there are certain things we can and must do and certain things we are forbidden to do. One of those things is public teaching on Holy Scripture, whether done vocally or by means of videos. The bishops alone, as successors of the Apostles, are commissioned to teach about Holy Scripture or they may delegate priests subject to them to teach. And such priests must be educated in teaching Holy Scripture in “seminaries and colleges of religious” by professors “who are, in all respects, qualified to teach properly on this subject, which is holy and sublime above all others… He should be equipped with the requisite knowledge of biblical matters which is acquired by serious study and must be conserved and augmented” (Biblical Commission Instruction, 1950; AAS 42-495).

Holy Scripture is the word of God and only the Church has the right and the necessary power to determine who is fit to expound on it. No one qualified today exists to conduct such instruction. Only those validly ordained to the priesthood are allowed to teach the faithful the meaning of Holy Scripture, for this teaching is an act of jurisdiction. NO lay person could ever be permitted to substitute for the clergy in this undertaking.

  1. The modesty issue has been discussed at length in the blogs and in the comments section. No papal directive exists that forbids the wearing of pants that are not immodest in themselves, although there is no doubt that the Church favors women wearing long skirts and dresses. Pope Pius XII, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, taught in his address to the Young Women of Catholic Action, May 22, 1941: “Feminine adornment may be a meritorious act of virtue when it is in conformity with custom, with a woman’s place in the world and chosen with good intention and when women wear ornaments in keeping with their station and dignity and are moderate in adapting themselves to current fashion.” This is all we need to know.
  1. Concerning the secrecy resorted to by Freemasons to evade detection as enemies of the Faith, Pope Pius IX taught: “A society which thus avoids the light of day must surely be impious and criminal. ‘He who does ill,’ says the apostle, ‘hates the light.’ How different from such an association are the pious societies of the faithful which flourish in the Catholic Church! With them there is no reticence, no obscurity. The law which governs them is clear to all, also, are the works of charity practiced according to the gospel doctrine” (Sept. 25, 1865, condemnation of Freemasonry).

Groups which conduct their discussions in semi-secrecy, bind others to rules which may or may not be Catholic and expel those at will who dare to disagree with them come dangerously close to fitting the description provided by Pope Pius IX above. Catholics should view membership in such associations as a danger to their faith.

  1. The accusation of slander has been levied against certain parties but the use of this term is based on a misunderstanding of what those who present as genuinely Catholic owe to those they are presenting to. Those praying at home who believe that what they are hearing and seeing is truly Catholic have the inherent right to know whether those informing them are faithful Catholics themselves and whether they are abiding by the teachings of the Church.

“Calumny (slander) injures reputation by stories that are untrue Detraction is the revealing of real faults or defects of another. Revealing what is known privately is necessary if otherwise an individual would be seriously injured, spiritually or physically, or honor is attacked; or if a third party would be so injured were the information not revealedSo revealing what is public record is not sinful if done to prevent spiritual harm. (Summarized from McHugh and Callan’s work on Moral Theology.)

I wish no one any ill will. But we all have the duty in fraternal charity to correct those in error, lest they mislead others and for their own sake. It is very sad to see people so eager to associate with other pray-at-home Catholics only to find they are not loyal to the papacy, but this is the havoc the Traditionalists have wrought. I pray that all involved in such groups will reconsider and realize that without obedience to the Roman Pontiffs and what they have taught we will drown in this flood of impiety now engulfing us. I know many are lonely and long to be in touch with other like-minded Catholics who pray at home. But God has provided us helps to endure in these times, which amount to martyrdom of the spirit, and the words of Fr. Frederick Faber from his Foot of the Cross, or the Sorrows of Mary, (1857) below will tell us much about grief and loneliness and how we can best use it for our spiritual benefit.

The sanctuary of “God alone”

“There is no darkness like the darkness of a world without Jesus such as Mary’s world was on that fearful night [following Christ’s death on the Cross.] It is darker than the darkness of Calvary, for that is a darkness which cheers, refreshes and inspires. Jesus is there. He is the very heart of that darkness. He is felt more plainly than if he were seen. He is heard more distinctly because all is so dark about him and other sounds are hushed by the gloom. It is like being in the cloud with God as tried souls often are. It is truly a darkness and brings with it the pain of darkness; yet there is hardly a loving soul on earth to whom such darkness would not be more welcome for than light. But the darkness of the absence of Jesus is, as it were, a participation in the most grievous pain of hell.

“If it is by our own fault then it is the greatest of sorrows. If it is a trial from God, then it is the greatest of sufferings. In either case, we must not let the light of the world tempt us out of the darkness. In such a gloom it is indeed dreadful to abide, but the consequences of leaving it by our own self-will are more dreadful still. it is not safe there to think of creatures. We must think of God only. It is the sanctuary of ‘God alone,’ the motto of the Saints and of the saintly. We must deal only with the supernatural and leave Him who brought us there, whether for chastisement or fervour, to take us out when it shall be His will. Meanwhile we should unite ourselves to the disposition in which Mary endured her seventh dolor, and this will bring us into closer union with God. She did her work in the world as it were with all her heart and yet her heart was not there, but in the tomb with Jesus.

“This is the grand work which sorrow does for all of us. It entombs us in the will of God. It buries our love together with our sorrow. Sorrow is, as it were, the missionary of the divine will. It is the Prince of the apostles; the Church is built upon it. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Our Lord is with us always to the end. It is sorrow that digs the grave of itself and blesses it, and burns incense in it, and buries self therein, and fills it up, and makes the flowers grow upon the tomb. The great secret of holiness is never to have our hearts in our own breasts but living and beating in the heart of Jesus and this can rarely be accomplished except through the operation of sanctified sorrow. Happy therefore is he who has a sorrow at all hours to sanctify.

“Mary’s dolors are Mary’s self. Her last 15 years commencing with the descent of the Holy Ghost were the maturity of her dolors. During them her sea of sorrow settled till it became a clear, profound, translucent depth of commingled love, whose last act of taking the tranquil plenitude of possession of its glorious victim was the dislodging of her soul from her body by the most marvelous and beautiful death which creature ever could ever die. Such an edifice of sorrow as the Divine Motherhood was to bring along with it could not rest on foundations less broad and deep than the immeasurable graces of her first 15 years. What then must have been the grandeur of the graces which came upon that edifice when it was completed and were its domes and towers and pinnacles?

“We have often wondered what could be done to Mary in the way of sanctification at the descent of the Holy Ghost. What was left to do and what direction was she to grow? The mere fact of the delaying of the Assumption meant something and what could it have meant — the increase of holiness and multiplication of graces? If she was kept on earth to nurse the Infant Church as she had nursed the Infant Saviour, to be herself a living Bethlehem, with the Blessed Sacrament forever in her and her queenship of the apostles and external ministry of Bethlehem to the childhood of the Church, still, untold and incalculable, augmentation of grace and merit are implied in the very office, as well as in the fact that it was God’s mother who fulfilled the office.

“It was her dolors which opened out in her soul fresh abysses for eager grace to fill. It was the dolors which rendered her capable of that other new creation of grace and the descent of the Holy Ghost. His graces are absolutely inexhaustible; her capacities of grace are practically inexhaustible, to or limited comprehension. The grace which prepared her for the Divine Maternity prepared her also for her singular and lifelong martyrdom. The martyrdom prepared her for those ineffable augmentations of grace and merit which were compressed into her last 15 years. Thus her dolors are, as it were, the center of her holiness. They reveal Mary to us as she was in herself more than any other of her mysteries. Indeed they are hardly to be called mysteries. They are more than that: they are her life, herself, her maternity. They enable us to understand her holiness.

Sorrow is a sanctuary so long as self is kept outside. Self is the desecrating principle. If a time of sorrow is not the harvest time of grace, it is sure to be the harvest time of self. Hence when we find people indulging in the sentimentality of their sorrow, we are almost certain to find them inconsiderate towards others. They are the centers around which everything is to move… But a Christian mourner smiles through his tears, takes the sorrow carefully out of the tone of his voice and makes others almost gay while his own heart is broken. A saint’s sorrow is never in the way. To others it is softness, a sweetness, a gentleness, a beauty. It is a cross only to himself. We must be careful also not to demand sympathy from others and if possible, not even to crave it for ourselves. What is it worth if it comes when we have demanded it?

“Surely the preciousness of sympathy is in its being spontaneous. There is no balm in it when it is paid as a tax. Not that it is wrong to hunger for sympathy when we are in sorrow. We are not speaking so much of right and wrong… The more consolation from creatures, the less from God. This is the invariable rule. God is shy; He loves to come to lonely hearts which other loves do not fill. This is why bereaved hearts outraged hearts, hearts misunderstood, hearts that have broken with kith and kin and native place, on the grave of father and mother, are the hearts of His predilection. Human sympathy is a dear bargain let it cost us ever so little. God waits outside till our company is gone. Perhaps he cannot wait so long for visits to mourners are apt to be very long and he goes away not angrily but sadly and then how much we have missed.

“The whole theology of sorrow may be compressed into a kind of syllogism: Everything is given for sanctification and sorrow above all other things; but selfish sorrow is sorrow unsanctified, therefore unselfishness is grace’s product out of sorrow. There must be in our grief a total absence of realizing the unkindness or neglect of human agents. Nobody is in fault but God and God cannot be in fault therefore there is no fault at all there is only the divine will. Faith must see nothing else. It must ignore secondary causes. It takes its crosses only from Jesus and straight from him. It sees, hears, feels, recognizes no one but God. All these are hard lessons and sorrow, if it is not peculiarly teachable, is the most unteachable of all things. Yet we could hardly expect Mary’s lessons to be easy ones, least of all when she gives them from the top of Calvary. Let us gaze at her once more as she swathes the Body in the winding sheet how like a priest she seems! How like a mother! And are not all mothers priests? For lightly considered all maternities are priesthoods. Ah, Mary! thy maternity was such a priesthood as the world had never seen before!” (End of Fr. Faber quotes)


Christ lays in his tomb, and like His Blessed Mother, we are lonely and sorrowful. If we would read Chapter 12 of the Apocalypase, we would know that, as Rev. H.B. Kramer writes in his The Book of Destiny: “The meaning of the word wilderness is probably contained in the prophets…The prophets by these poetic figures named the gentiles the wilderness for they are devoid of God’s benefits and are a spiritual desert. Osee calls the captivity among the heathen Babylonians a dwelling in the wilderness: “Behold I will allure her and will lead her into the wilderness and will speak to her heart” (Ch.2, v. 4). Ezekiel speaks of the captivity in the same figurative language: “And I will bring you into the wilderness of people and there will I plead with you face to face” (Ch.20 v. 35).  Rev. Haydock tells us of Apoc. 12:6: “The Christians we’re accustomed to fly during the times of persecution into the deserts to avoid the fury of the pagans. This was done by the greatest saints. Saint Jerome remarks that it was this which gave rise to the hermetical state of life.

Commenting on verse 14, Rev. Haydock notes that by the two wings of the great eagle taking the woman to the desert some understand “…the love of God and the fear of offending Him; others piety, prudence etcetera. The Church, on account of the severe pressure of the persecution obtained from the almighty a special protection and assistance.” Still others see in the wings of the eagle the assistance of the Holy Ghost. Well the Church has gone into the desert but she enters that desert  in the arms of the Blessed Mother; She isn’t there alone. Who better to comfort us in our sorrows than the Mother of Sorrows herself. Who better to help us learn of Her Son and listen to His voice.

I’ve noted before that many who leave the Traditionalist movement and other sects go through a period of grieving, and psychologists teach there are five to seven stages of grief. These stages of grief are described above by Fr. Faber in a way that makes us understand that we’re grieving because we’ve lost our Church; we’re grieving intensely because we are sorry for our sins. And we are also grieving because we are alone. But all of this is the will of God, and we can’t benefit from it if we don’t accept it as His will and if we don’t stop pretending that we can still re-create the Church in some way in our lives without Him and without His Vicar. The only thing that we can do is to accept what He has sent us and keep Him company by turning FROM creatures, not TO creatures; by asking our Blessed Mother to intercede for us and to join with her in filling up what is wanting to the Passion of Christ — to carry our Cross with Him and for Him.

You can’t do that by constantly running around visiting with fellow Catholics, spending hours on the Internet watching videos or arguing with others on forbidden “discussion forums” (see above). The best way you can comfort our Lord and commune with Him is to simply do what Fr. Faber is describing. In our grief we have to continue performing our daily duties, make the best of this great trial and try not to worry or seek sympathy from others; we must bury our sorrow in Christ. Of course we’re going to have friends and associate with like-minded Catholics, but all in moderation. We are here for a reason — to expiate our sins and to fill up the cup of His Passion, and if we are preoccupied with creatures, that can’t happen.

So this little excerpt from Fr. Faber is my Lenten offering to you.  May God grant you all a holy Good Friday and a joyous Easter.

The Jansenist heresy and false teaching on female attire

The Jansenist heresy and false teaching on female attire

+ Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary+

Offering to Appease the Divine Justice

In order to appease Thy divine justice we offer Thee, O Lord, the merits acquired by Mary, Thy mother and ours, when she stood at the foot of the Cross. If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord who can stand?


There has been much confusion regarding the issue of modesty recently among various LibTrads, who are condemning those who dare to dress in slacks as violating the teachings of the Church. They do this even though there is not one papal pronouncement they can point to that specifically condemns the wearing of pants by women, and as quoted here before, there is even a papal statement that reads: “We consider what you asked about pants (femoralia) to be irrelevant; for we do not wish the exterior style of your clothing to be changed, but rather the behavior of the inner man within you, nor do we desire to know what you are wearing except Christ… For whether you or your women wear or do not wear pants (femoralia) neither impedes your salvation nor leads to any increase of your virtue” (Pope St. Nicholas I, who reigned from 858-867). This pope  addressed 115 questions posed to him by the Bulgarians, one of which was the wearing of pants by women in the 9th century! And even then, he declared that WHATEVER these people wore (long dresses, pants or gunnysacks) it would not hinder salvation or increase virtue.

The most recent decision on this matter came from the Sacred Congregation of the Council, Aug. 15, 1954, and its wording clearly indicates the type of clothing the Council was referring to.

“An unworthy and immodest style of dress has come into vogue not only at the seaside and in vacation camps but nearly everywhere, even in the streets of city and village, in private and public places and not infrequently in the very House of God. This exposes especially the souls of young people who are easily tempted to evil to the gravest danger of losing that innocence which is the greatest and loveliest ornament of mind and body. Womanly adornment, if it can be called such, and women’s clothing, if that can be called clothing which offers nothing by way of protection for the body or of safeguard for modesty, are sometimes of such a nature as to seem to favor immodesty rather than modesty… Most appropriately did a very ancient poet say on this subject: ‘To bare the body in public is the starting point of shameful crime…” (Pius XII, Jan. 1, 1954 — AAS 46-548, Canon Law Digest IV, Revs. O’Connor and Bouscaren).

Nowhere are women in pants mentioned. At least pants cover the entire lower body. Certainly it cannot be said women ever wore pants to church in that era. Rather what is obviously meant is bathing apparel, shorts, scanty, sleeveless tops, halters, shorts, backless sundresses, etc. Even Pope Pius XI, in another address on modesty, tells us: “It is possible to dress with ladylike decorum without imitating monastic severity” (Sex Education and Training in Chastity, Rev. Felix. M. Kirsch, 1930).

Also what was intended, — and is mentioned by Rev. Francis J. Connell in his work, Fr. Connell Answers Moral Questions (1959) — are girls scantily clad in costumes for participating in sports, band majorettes and those participating in beauty contests. Fr. Connell writes: “I would not hesitate to tell a girl who is planning to enter a bathing beauty contest that if she does so she will be guilty of mortal sin. Nor can I see how an easier judgment can be passed on a majorette… the case of a girl in a short skirt who marches before a band, twirling baton and exhibiting a considerable amount of her anatomy, with gyrations and high-stepping for its main purpose, is unquestionably to call to the physical attractiveness of the girl, at least when the band [and audience] is composed of men or boys.” More from the theologians follows.

What moral theology teaches

Below we will visit the theologians McHugh and Callan, in their Moral Theology, a Complete Course (based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the best modern authors; 1958).

  1. It is not always easy to determine in particular cases when a thing is obscene from its very nature, but the following general rules can be given:

(b) Female dress or adornment is lascivious when there is a notable display of the person through abbreviated skirts, necks, and sleeves; or a suggestiveness expressed in transparency of material or a closeness of fit that brings out the lines and curves of the figure; or in an extremity of fashion whose striking color or design will make the wearer conspicuous and direct special attention to her physical charms.

  1. (b) The obscenity of dress is largely dependent on its novelty, for things that are usual cease to excite special attention. This we can see from the fact that styles that are conservative today would have been extreme ten years ago. And so the scanty attire of hot countries, the dress of the bathing beach, and the moderate decollete tolerated in private gatherings are not obscene in their own proper times and places.

1458. Modesty should control not only the internal passions for excellence and learning, but also the external movements of the body (modesty of bearing) and the external use of corporal things (modesty of living).

(a) Thus, modesty of bearing moderates the bodily actions, both in serious things (modest behavior) and in things playful (modest relaxation).

(b) Modesty of living makes one temperate in the use of the externals that serve life (modesty in style) and of the clothing one wears (modesty in dress).

  1. Modest Behavior or Decorum

(a) The Virtue.–The movements and gestures of the body should be regulated by reason, both because they are indications of one’s own character and disposition, and because they express one’s disposition towards those with whom one lives. Hence, they are not a matter of indifference, but reason demands that they be suitable both to oneself (i.e., to one’s sex, age, position, etc.) and to one’s neighbor (i.e., to the requirements of good social usage in each business or affair of life). Thus, virtuous decorum employs both sincerity, which makes one honestly respectful in act (2403), and affability, which makes one agreeable in the company of others (2421). That this is an important virtue for individuals and society is declared both by sacred and human authority. Ecclesiasticus (xix. 26, 27) calls attention to the importance for himself of a man’s looks, laughter and gait; St. Augustine says that there should be nothing offensive to others in one’s movements; and Aristotle mentions among the qualities of the high-minded man that he is sedate and dignified in demeanor.

(c) The Sin of Defect.–This is committed when one’s mode of life is not up to the reasonable standard of one’s community, especially if this is due to negligence or itch for notoriety or disregard for decency. Examples are those who through carelessness go about unwashed or unshaven, who keep their quarters in a filthy and disorderly state, or who wear their clothing untidily; also females who dress in male attire, nudists who appear undressed in public places, etc.

  1. Morality of Self-Beautification.–Is it wrong to beautify oneself in order to improve one’s looks or to win admiration?

(a) In itself there is no harm, especially for females, in using means to improve one’s looks, such as remedies for deformities, facial paints, powders and cosmetics, hair waves and dyes, and the like. But accidentally there could be sin (e.g., deception). A poor man would be a deceiver if he lived in great style to make a woman believe he was wealthy, and likewise a woman would be a deceiver if she used an artificial beauty to deceive a man about her age (see 2404).

(b) In itself also it is not sinful to desire that others approve one’s appearance and dress. Thus, a wife should strive to be attractive to her husband (I Cor., vii. 34), and modest ornamentation may be used to win a suitor (I Tim., ii. 9). It is mortally sinful, however, to attire oneself with the purpose or in a manner to arouse carnal temptation or to awaken sinful desire in others–for example, if one wishes to capture the sex love of others without marriage (Prov., vii. 10); it is venially sinful to groom oneself well from mere vanity, that is, from a silly ambition to be regarded as handsome and fashionable.

Comments on McHugh and Callan

The Church’s view of modesty has developed over time according to custom and circumstances. And as the authors note above, Catholic modesty is not just expressed by what we wear. Catholic modesty is the humility to admit one has erred and correct the error; this corresponds with honesty and sincerity. It is the regulation of the senses, to not listen to those who teach error but only to the popes and the approved theologians following them; custody of the eyes, in not watching or reading things not approved by the Church in way of books, articles, videos and movies; of the extremities, in not touching those things we are forbidden to touch. It is regulated speech and proper comportment; modulated movements and reactions. It is so much more than just our attire.

As to females who dress in male attire, mentioned above, let’s use some common sense in determining exactly what this means for us today. Please point me to a male, even a cross-dresser, who decks himself out in a frilly or flowered top or sweater set, loose-fitting tailored slacks, shoes with heels and jewelry to match. Seen any of those lately? No; cross-dressers generally present in dresses, usually of the lascivious type above, and sometimes even long dresses. Normal men would never think of dressing in women’s slacks and feminine-style tops. So by wearing slacks and outfits as just described here, how can Catholic women possibly be violating the Church’s teachings on modesty?! Nowhere is there any obscenity of dress in what has just been described. A woman dressing as a man is readily understood today of those identifying as other than heterosexual who wear men’s hairstyles, pants, tops and outerwear. Or the business type who wears a woman’s pantsuit complete with tie as a man would wear one.

We don’t have to worry about going to the beach today because of the scandal involved. Obviously some leeway in dress was given to those living in very hot climes. And it does not appear that women were forbidden to wear Bermuda shorts at home, while gardening for example, as long as they didn’t scandalize anyone, according to other literature on this topic. So if this was the case, then why do some consider it sinful to wear pants in public? One answer would be that scandal would be given, but to whom? Even those who know of a person’s status as a pray-at-home Catholic do not expect to see them in long skirts, or would ever think it inappropriate for them to dress in modest slacks and a feminine blouse. The only ones taking scandal, if they even knew of any “violations,” would be those at a distance who truly believe that not wearing long skirts is a sin. Rev. Connell calls this “pharisaic” scandal, “arising from the malicious will of those scandalized” (Ibid.). But even here we are talking about an act that could be termed truly scandalous — scandal as it normally interpreted — when the Church has never condemned women wearing pants. More on this below.

Jansenism and probabilism

As one “Traditional” website author noted in 2019: “Dressing in such a radical manner that instead of drawing people to Christ, you garner attention for being a spectacle is immodest, scrupulous and a vice of singularity, which is rooted in pride [as McHugh and Callan also note]. One is free to believe whatever one likes, but one is not free to believe whatever one likes and call it Catholicism. While you are free to dress however you like, you are not free to dress however you like and call it Catholic or Christian modesty. So you are free to dress like a Muslim if you like. Or like an Orthodox Jewish woman, a Fundamental Mormon, or like an Amish woman. But dressing in these manners and claiming [them] to be Catholic is a sin of hypocrisy and simulation.”

Why is this true? Because scrupulous persons see sin where the Church says sin does not exist, or it may not exist in certain cases. Insisting that it is sinful for women to wear slacks when the popes have never condemned it, and theologians were allowed to profess varying opinions on it, is Jansenistic rigorism. And Jansenism of course is a heresy. In Rev. Sabetti and Barrett’s 1940s adaptation of Rev. Pierre Gury S.J.’s Compendium of Moral Theology (1890) we read: “St. Gregory Nazianus said to an opponent regarding doubtful matters: ‘What evidence have you to prove this? Either show that this is the fact or if you cannot, do not condemn. But if the fact is doubtful, let gentleness and kindness prevail’… [The theologian] Dominic Soto taught, ‘When there are probable opinions among authoritative doctors, whichever one you follow your conscience will be safe.’”

Rev. Gury continues: “In case of doubt, favors are to be extended and burdens restricted. This is rule 15 of canon law in Sexto and means that in doubt the milder course should be preferred [except when it involves eternal salvation or the validity of the Sacraments]. A favor or that which is favorable is considered to be anything that permits freedom or grants a favor without detriment to private parties or the community or the law itself. When the true meaning of a law or statute is not certain and after inquiry it cannot be determined, either by the nature of the thing or by the context of the words or BY THE CUSTOM OF THE PLACE or any other circumstance, the less onerous interpretation or the one more lenient to liberty must be admitted. The reason for this is that the legislator is not deemed to be willing to bind any beyond that which is clearly expressed in the law. Absolute tutiorism requires absolute certitude that a law either never existed or has already fully ceased before it will allow anything to liberty and therefore, even if the most probable opinion be adduced in favor of liberty, one is bound to follow the law… But this system must be clearly rejected, for it was condemned by Pope Alexander VIII (DZ 1293, the errors of the Jansenists).

What does Canon Law say about custom?

This concurs with what the Traditionalist site explains above. Here again, we are referring to development of doctrine. It is true that St. Thomas Aquinas taught: “It is in itself sinful for a woman to wear man’s clothes, or vice-versa; especially since this may be the cause of sensuous pleasure; and it is expressly forbidden in the Law (Deut. 22) …. Nevertheless, this may be done at times on account of some necessity, either in order to hide oneself from enemies, or through lack of other clothes, or for some other such reason” (Summa Theologiae II, II, question 169, article 2, reply to objection 3). And Rev. Gury above cites custom as a reason. So even the Angelic Doctor does not condemn this out of hand, and he wrote long before the manner of women’s dress changed over the centuries. It should also be noted, as one reader long ago pointed out, that Deuteronomy 22:5 does not forbid women from wearing pants, because  what pertained to a man at the time this verse was written didn’t refer to pants. Men in the Middle East through the history of both the Old and the New Testaments generally wore long robes, such as Christ and the Apostles wore. So what was really forbidden in this verse was transvestism and cross-dressing.

The following canons state regarding custom: (Can. 26): “A community which is capable of receiving a law can introduce a custom which can obtain the force of law;” (Can. 27): “In order that a custom may have the power to change an ecclesiastical law, it must be reasonable and lawfully prescribed by a continuous and uninterrupted usage of 40 years;” (Can. 28): “A custom outside the law which has been knowingly introduced by a community with the intention of binding itself obtains the force of law if it is reasonable and legitimately prescribed by having been observed for a full 40 successive years;” (Can. 29): “Custom is the best interpreter of the law;” (Can. 30): “Customs against law and customs outside of law are revoked by contrary custom or by a contrary law. The ordinary universal custom of 40 years standing is considered to have the same force as a common law and it can be revoked in the same manner as common laws are revoked, by contrary custom or by a contrary law.” The canonists Woywod- Smith comment:  “The Supreme Authority of the Church… has granted that under certain conditions it will give its consent to the customs introduced by the people and it is by this consent that the customs obtain the force of law.”

But there is no set ecclesiastical law that is being changed here, no ecclesiastical authorities to consult as required in Can. 25. And women wearing pants in this country dates back much further than 40 years. As Pope Nicholas I taught over 1200 years ago, the question is really irrelevant. It is the inner man that we must struggle to change; we must put on Christ, develop the interior life, and that change will then be reflected in our modest actions and attire.


We have noted before that there is a definite tendency to the errors of Jansenism among LibTrads. This especially manifests itself in their beliefs regarding grace (particularly the Feeney crowd), their rejection of papal authority and adherence to the Gallicanist heresy, the rejection by some of the Church’s teaching on the efficacy of the Perfect Act of Contrition, their tendency to Quietism, their belief that the fewness of the saved is a Catholic fact rather than an unsettled question and their insistence that the practice of external religion is the ultimate yardstick to judge Catholicity. The Jansenists taught, as M.L. Cozens notes in his work A Handbook of Heresies,(1928), that “God, the All-Merciful, condemns men for sins which it was impossible for them to avoid, lacking grace which it was impossible for them to obtain. Many a soul, meanwhile, wholly unable to appreciate the theological subtleties involved, was discouraged and driven back by the rigorism which those harsh views engendered in preachers and directors” before the popes formally condemned this heresy. The Jesuits saved the day by spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart, emphasizing Jesus’ great compassion for humanity.

Rigorist sects pervaded the Traditional movement from its inception. Feeneyism is only one example of the type of despair concerning eternal salvation that such sects spread today, when we are without the hierarchy and must fend for ourselves. The most severe view, i. e., the supposed prohibition against pants, is not even stated in the law and yet these new Jansenists insist on it. This even though we can determine with certitude that there is no specific law against it and a custom exists in the civil community allowing the wearing of pants by women. In way of an ecclesiastical law, Woywod-Smith’s commentary on Can. 1262 cites only the 1930 instruction (AAS 46-18) delivered by Pope Pius XI, which states only that: “A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper.” If applied to feminine tops worn with pants, the papal directive is satisfied. These new Jansenists are reading an actual law into a papal directive where it doesn’t exist.

Given the above, LibTrads cannot forbid Catholic women to wear pants unless they wish to defy the teaching of Pope Alexander VIII. Nor should those who dress modestly in slacks and feminine tops complying with the directives of Pope Pius XI, criticize those who choose to dress in skirts and dresses (which those who sometimes wear slacks also wear on any religious occasion!). We no longer can attend the Holy Sacrifice, where we would be bound to wear long dresses or skirts, as well as three-quarter length sleeves and our mantillas. So why are some still pretending these laws, set mainly for Church and school attendance when the Church yet existed, still apply to us? Those advocating this position have presented no proofs whatsoever, as St. Gregory and others advise, to justify this false assumption, an assumption which is actually a rash judgment on their part. “If the fact is doubtful, let gentleness and kindness prevail.” Then why is this gentleness and kindness so noticeably absent even among those praying at home?

The answer lies in the rigoristic mean-spiritedness and harshness that governs Jansenistic sects/cults. Fear is a powerful motivator and an effective slave master. For many years, while trapped in a conclavist sect, I doubted that the man elected was truly Pope. I remained in that sect only because I feared that if I left and was somehow mistaken, I would lose my soul. God was merciful and helped me find the information I needed to arrive at certitude in that matter and escape. Rigorous sects instill fear in their members by fostering scrupulosity — fear of sin where there is none. Using classic cult techniques, they attempt to isolate members and keep them from outside influences, frightening them with the prospect of sinning mortally if they leave or being branded and shunned as pariahs. The Jansenists returned to the discipline and teaching of the early Church to frighten their members into submission, when the Church had long ago softened her position regarding the necessary means to salvation. By doing this they effectively divided Catholics, making it appear that those who were actually devout were lax in their beliefs and headed to hell.

The Enemy’s methods never change. After Vatican 2, Gnostics and Old Catholic heretics, many linked to Jansenist and Gallicanist sects, gathered like vultures to prey on those exiting the Novus Ordo church in order to populate their own ranks. Fear of losing the Mass and Sacraments, of losing the graces they transmit (so typical of Jansenism), keeps most Trads in these sects, and they will not even consider that the Mass and the hierarchy no longer exists because of this pervading fear. Now fear of being “home alone” after leaving Trad sects — isolated and disconnected from other true Catholics — is what currently attracts some who are praying at home to the commune idea and inclusion in a private, elitist forum that censors any who disagree with their “Catholic” beliefs. The leaders of these groups succeed in presenting what they teach as Catholic because they know their members are “wholly unable to appreciate the theological subtleties involved,” just like the Jansenists. That is why I have tried for nearly 35 years to present the true teaching of the Church on these subtleties, taken from the best possible sources available.

Our membership in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church militant, suffering and triumphant — made possible only by rejecting all heresies and desiring with all of our might and effort to be members — is the only membership that will ever save our souls. No human simulation of that membership could ever suffice. “Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world… Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God… Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth, is not perfected in charity. Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us. If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not? And this commandment we have from God, that he, who loveth God, love also his brother. (1 John 4, vs. 1, 7, 18-21). Condemning others for sins they never committed is not charity. Try the spirits and discern the truth, then love for truth — the only true charity — will cast out fear and allow us to love each other as God intended.

“In things essential, unity; in doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity.”  Thomas a’ Kempis

Other types of ignorance and more on religious debates

Other types of ignorance and more on religious debates

+Passion Week+

Last week we spoke of invincible ignorance, but there is much more to the ignorance equation that we need to understand before we are done with this topic. What follows below is taken from Revs. John A. McHugh and Charles J. Callan’s work: Moral Theology: A Complete Course Based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Best Modern Authorities (1958).  It explains not only invincible ignorance but vincible and affected ignorance, which must be better understood to know and appreciate the faith.

“27.With reference to the responsibility of the person who is ignorant, there are two kinds of ignorance.

(a) Ignorance is invincible when it cannot be removed, even by the use of all the care that ordinarily prudent and conscientious persons would use in the circumstances. Thus, a person who has no suspicions of his ignorance, or who has tried in vain to acquire instruction about his duties, is invincibly ignorant.

(b) Ignorance is vincible when it can be removed by the exercise of ordinary care. There are various degrees of this species of ignorance: first, it is merely vincible, when some diligence has been exercised, but not enough; secondly, it is crass or supine, when hardly any diligence has been used; thirdly, it is affected, when a person deliberately aims to continue in ignorance.

“29. Effects of Invincible and Vincible Ignorance

(a) Invincible ignorance, even of what pertains to the natural law, makes an act involuntary, since nothing is willed except what is understood. Hence, no matter how wrong an act is in itself, the agent is not guilty of formal sin (see 249), if he is invincibly ignorant of the malice involved.

(b) Vincible ignorance does not make an act involuntary, since the ignorance itself is voluntary; hence, it does not excuse from sin. It does not even make an act less voluntary and less sinful, if the ignorance is affected in order that one may have an excuse; for such a state of mind shows that the person would act the same way, even though he had knowledge.

“31. Vincible ignorance makes an act less voluntary and less sinful:

(a) when the ignorance is not affected, for the voluntariness is measured by the knowledge, and knowledge here is lacking;

(b) when the ignorance, though affected, was fostered only through fear that knowledge might compel a stricter way of life; for such a state of mind seems to show that one would not act the same way if one had knowledge.

“490. Ignorance of ecclesiastical law or of a penalty attached to the law has the following effects determined in the law:

(a) No kind of ignorance excuses from irritating or inhabilitating laws, unless the contrary is expressly provided for in the law itself (Canon 16, Sec. 1). Thus a person who contracts marriage, while ignorant that he and the other person are first cousins, is invalidly married. (b) Affected ignorance of ecclesiastical law or of the penalty alone does not excuse from any penalties latae sententiae (or ipso facto; Canon 2229, Sec.1).

(c) If the law contains the following words: praesumpserit, ausus fuerit, scienter, studiose, temerarie, consulto egerit, or others similar to them which require full knowledge and deliberation, any diminution of imputability on the part of either the intellect or the will exempts the delinquent from penalties latae sententiae (Canon 2229, Sec.2). (d) If the law does not contain such words as crass or supine, ignorance of the law or even of only the penalty does not exempt from any penalty latae sententiae; ignorance that is not crass or supine exempts from medicinal penalties, but not from vindicative penalties latae sententiae (Canon 2229, Sec.3, 1).

“833. Various penalties and inhabilities are incurred through heresy, for example, excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Pope (Canon 2314), loss of the power of suffrage (Canon 167, Sec.1, n.4), irregularity, (Canon 984, n. 5; 985)… etc.

“834. (d) If the heresy was public and notorious (i.e., if the party joined officially an heretical sect), absolution is regularly to be given in both the external and internal forums. The case should be submitted first to the Ordinary, unless there is urgency (Cfr. Canon 2254), or the confessor has special powers from Rome. The Ordinary can absolve in the external forum. Afterwards, the heretic can be absolved by any confessor in the forum of conscience (see Canon 2314, Sec.2.)

“905. Ignorance (as explained in 28 and 249) is a cause of sin — of material sin, if the ignorance is antecedent, of formal sin, if the ignorance is consequent. But ignorance is also a sin itself, in the sense now to be explained.

(a) Ignorance may be considered in itself (i.e., precisely as it is the absence of knowledge), and in this sense it is not called a sin, since under this aspect it is not opposed to moral virtue, but to knowledge, the perfection of the intellect.

(b) Ignorance may be considered in relation to the will (i.e., precisely as it is a voluntary defect), and in this sense it is a sin, since under this aspect it is opposed to the moral virtue of studiosity (i.e., the part of temperance which moderates the desire of learning and keeps the golden mean between curiosity and negligence). This sin of ignorance pertains to neglect, and is twofold; it is called affected ignorance, if the will is strongly desirous of the lack of due knowledge, and is called careless ignorance, if the will is remiss in desiring due knowledge. Affected ignorance is a sin of commission, careless ignorance a sin of omission.

(c) Ignorance may be considered in relation to obligatory acts (i.e., precisely as it makes one voluntarily incapable of fulfilling one’s duties), and in this sense it partakes of various kinds of sinfulness, inasmuch as he who is voluntarily ignorant of his duty is responsible for the mistakes he will make. Thus, he who is sinfully ignorant in matters of faith, will fail against the precepts of that virtue; he who does not know what his state of life as judge, lawyer, physician, etc., requires, will fail against justice; he who does not know what charity demands of him, will sin against charity.

“906. The malice of the sin of ignorance in matters of faith is as follows: (a) Vincible ignorance of the truths one is obliged to know, whether the obligation be of means or of precept (see 360, 786 sqq.), is a grave sin, for faith in these truths is commanded under pain of losing salvation (Mark, xvi. 15, 16). (b) The sin committed is but one sin, regardless of length of time, and is incurred at the time one omits due diligence in acquiring knowledge, as is the case with other sins of omission. Hence, he who remains in culpable ignorance of Christian doctrine for a year commits one sin, but the length of time is an aggravating circumstance” (end of McHugh and Callan quotes).

Comments on the above

Point One: “Ignorance is vincible when it can be removed by the exercise of ordinary care.” So what constitutes ordinary care? In these times only extraordinary effort will suffice for “ordinary care,” since we have no access to the hierarchy and cannot receive the Sacraments. Some are unable to understand the technical points necessary to know the truth and feel that they will only be able to remain Catholic by staying where they are. God will have mercy on them if they are truly unable to make the necessary effort owing to their circumstances. But those with a college education and hence the ability to study and understand, and even those without one who possess this ability are bound to make that effort in order to save their souls and defend the Church! Have we forgotten the early martyrs?

Point 2: “Ignorance: first, it is merely vincible, when some diligence has been exercised, but not enough; secondly, it is crass or supine, when hardly any diligence has been used; thirdly, it is affected, when a person deliberately aims to continue in ignorance.” How many have simply dismissed all need to study and understand in order to tale for granted the propaganda spread by LibTrad clergy, who they assume are valid and have no desire to consider them otherwise?

Point 3: Nothing is willed except what is understood.” Have those reading the articles on this site and otherwise studying their faith prayed to the Holy Ghost for the gift of understanding?  Have they confirmed for themselves that what has been written is actually the truth? Have they read and followed the rules listed for study by St. Thomas Aquinas and others?

Point 4: “NO KIND OF IGNORANCE excuses from irritating or inhabilitating laws…” McHugh and Callan explain these laws as follows:

“451. An irritant or inhabilitating law is one that expressly or equivalently declares that certain defects make an act void or voidable, or a person incapable. SUCH LAWS ARE JUST, EVEN WHEN MADE BY HUMAN AUTHORITY, SINCE IT IS THE COMMON GOOD THAT MAKES THEM NECESSARY, AND THE NATURAL LAW ITSELF REQUIRES THAT THE COMMON GOOD BE PROMOTED.

And yet we read EVEN FROM THOSE AMONG THE WELL-EDUCATED, WHO CLAIM TO BE CATHOLICS KEEPING THE FAITH AT HOME, that such laws are not infallible, not binding, since they are only ”human laws.” They question their binding nature and just application to the present situation and thereby impugn the supreme jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiffs as well as the necessity of the common good and its promotion under the natural law. Among such laws can be counted Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, Pius II’s Execrabilis, Pope St. Pius V’s Quo Primum, Pope Pius VI’s Charitas, Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolica curae and Pope St. Pius X’s Vacante Sede Apostolica, revised and updated by Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, which now prevails. Be warned by the above then and recant your errors, for “NO KIND OF IGNORANCE excuses from irritating or inhabilitating laws…”

Point 5:Affected ignorance of ecclesiastical law or of the penalty alone does not excuse from any penalties latae sententiae (ipso facto). Various penalties and inhabilities are incurred through heresy, for example, excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Pope (Canon 2314)… If the heresy was public and notorious (i.e., if the party joined officially a heretical sect), absolution is regularly to be given in both the external and internal forums. The case should be submitted first to the Ordinary, unless there is urgency (Cfr. Canon 2254), or the confessor has special powers from Rome. The Ordinary can absolve in the external forum. Afterwards, the heretic can be absolved by any confessor in the forum of conscience (see Canon 2314, Sec.2.)

Anyone who has engaged in the services of the Novus Ordo church or those of Traditionalists has incurred this latae sententiae censure. We have no true bishops to absolve us from any such penalties. And no one but the Roman Pontiff can lift the vindicative penalty attached to Can. 2314 §1, n. 3. The only way to prepare ourselves as best as possible for the forgiveness of these censures and penalties before death is to follow the method explained here.

Point 6: “This sin of ignorance pertains to neglect, and is twofold; it is called affected ignorance, if the will is strongly desirous of the lack of due knowledge, and is called careless ignorance, if the will is remiss in desiring due knowledge…” Whether careless or affected, ignorance in and of itself is mortally sinful, for: “Vincible ignorance of the truths one is obliged to know, whether the obligation be of means or of precept (see 360, 786 sqq.) is a grave sin, for faith in these truths is commanded under pain of losing salvation (Mark, xvi. 15, 16).” Failing to exercise due diligence in learning truths of faith can only lead to eternal damnation.

And now we proceed to another topic already covered at length before but which appears to be insufficiently understood, for it is still being flaunted and ignored.

Religious Discussions (CONFERENCES, DISPUTATIONS, DEBATES) 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia


“Religious discussions, as contradistinguished from polemical writings, designate oral dialectical duels, more or less formal and public, between champions of divergent religious beliefs. For the most part, the more celebrated of these discussions have been held at the instigation of the civil authorities; for the Church has rarely shown favour to this method of ventilating revealed truth. This attitude of opposition on the part of the Church is wise and intelligible. A champion of orthodoxy, possessed of all the qualifications essential to a public debater, is not easily to be found. Moreover, it seems highly improper to give the antagonists of the truth an opportunity to assail mysteries and institutions which should be spoken of with reverence. The fact that the Catholic party to the controversy is nearly always obliged to be on the defensive places him at a disadvantage before the public, who, as Demosthenes remarks, “listen eagerly to revilings and accusations”. At any rate, the Church, as custodian of Revelation, cannot abdicate her office and permit a jury of more or less competent individuals to decide upon the truths committed to her care.

“St. Thomas (II-II, Q. x, a. 7) holds that it is lawful to dispute publicly with unbelievers, under certain conditions. To discuss as doubting the truth of the faith, is a sin; to discuss for the purpose of refuting error, is praiseworthy. At the same time the character of the audience must be considered. If they are well instructed and firm in their belief, there is no danger; if they are simple-minded then, where they are solicited by unbelievers to abandon their faith, a public defence is needful, provided it can be undertaken by competent parties. But where the faithful are not exposed to such perverting influences, discussions of the sort are dangerous. It is not, then, surprising that the question of disputations with heretics has been made the subject of ecclesiastical legislation. By a decree of Alexander IV (1254-1261) inserted in “Sextus Decretalium”, Lib. V, c. ii, and still in force, all laymen are forbidden, under threat of excommunication, to dispute publicly or privately with heretics on the Catholic Faith.

“The text reads: “Inhibemus quoque, ne cuiquam laicæ personæ liceat publice vel privatim de fide catholicâ disputare. Qui vero contra fecerit, excommunicationis laqueo innodetur.” (We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.) This law, like all penal laws, must be very narrowly construed. The terms Catholic Faith and dispute have a technical signification. The former term refers to questions purely theological; the latter to disputations more or less formal and engrossing the attention of the public. There are numerous questions, somewhat connected with theology, which many laymen who have received no scientific theological training can treat more intelligently than a priest. In modern life, it frequently happens that an O’Connell or a Montalembert must stand forward as a defender of Catholic interests upon occasions when a theologian would be out of place. But when there is a question of dogmatic or moral theology, every intelligent layman will concede the propriety of leaving the exposition and defence of it to the clergy.

“But the clergy are not free to engage in public disputes on religion without due authorization. In the Collectanea S. Cong. de Prop. Fide” (p. 102, n. 294) we find the following decree, issued 8 March 1625: “The Sacred Congregation has ordered that public discussions shall not be held with heretics, because for the most part, either owing to their loquacity or audacity or to the applause of the audience, error prevails and the truth is crushed. But should it happen that such a discussion is unavoidable, notice must first be given to the S. Congregation, which, after weighing the circumstances of time and persons, will prescribe in detail what is to be done. The Sacred Congregation enforced this decree with such vigour, that the custom of holding public disputes with heretics wellnigh fell into desuetude. [See the decree of 1631 regarding the missionaries in Constantinople; also the decrees of 1645 and 1662, the latter forbidding the General of the Capuchins to authorize such disputes (Collectanea, 1674, n. 302).]

“That this legislation is still in force appears from the letter addressed to the bishops of Italy by Cardinal Rampolla in the name of the Cong. for Ecclesiastical Affairs (27 Jan., 1902) in which it is declared that discussions with Socialists are subject to the decrees of the Holy See regarding public disputes with heretics; and, in accordance with the decree of Propaganda, 7 Feb., 1645, such public disputations are not to be permitted unless there is hope of producing greater good and unless the conditions prescribed by theologians are fulfilled. The Holy See, it is added, considering that these discussions often produce no result at all or even result in harm, has frequently forbidden them and ordered ecclesiastical superiors to prevent them; where this cannot be done, care must be taken that the discussions are not held without the authorization of the Apostolic See; and that only those who are well qualified to secure the triumph of Christian truth shall take part therein.

It is evident, then, that no Catholic priest is ever permitted to become the aggressor or to issue a challenge to such a debate. If he receives from the other party to the controversy a public challenge under circumstances which make a non-acceptance appear morally impossible, he must refer the case to his canonical superiors and be guided by their counsel. We thus reconcile two apparently contradictory utterances of the Apostles: for according to St. Peter (1 Peter 3:15) you should be “ready always to satisfy everyone that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you”, while St. Paul admonishes Timothy (2 Timothy 2:14), “Contend not in words, for it is to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers”. So the ability to debate at all was restricted to the clergy.”

Under Can. 1325, the canonists Revs. Woywod-Smith note that an 1864 decree forbidding Catholics to participate in the discussions of a certain London group was ordered to be reissued by Pope Benedict XV in 1919 and was then entered into the AAS, (Acta Apostolica Sedis; XI, 309). A similar July 8, 1927, Holy Office decision forbade Catholics to participate in the Lausanne Conference on Christian Unity (AAS XIX, 278). So there can be no doubt that these prohibitions were only further reinforced.

And what do we learn from the above?

  1. Those truly qualified to defend the truths of faith in debates with non-Catholics are a rare breed and certainly cannot be found among Catholics today. One presuming to possess such skills when only the Roman Pontiff could determine this is vain and presumptuous, to say the least.
  2. Such debates are a grave danger to the faith and not conducive to deterring souls from error.
  3. Laymen were long ago forbidden to engage in such debates under pain of excommunication.
  4. Even priests cannot enter into such debates without special permission, in urgent cases, from their bishops, and in non-urgent cases, the Holy Office itself.
  5. What is envisioned above were debates of a local nature, not video events available to the entire world with all the resulting scandal and harm to souls. And those who view or promote such events contrary to the orders of the Holy See are just as guilty as the one(s) debating.

This is the third or fourth time I have addressed this issue. It applies to forums and podcasts on the Internet and those existing on “Catholic forums” every bit as much as to the video debates themselves. It is not coming from me but straight from the Church. Truth is not up for debate. Orders of the popes are to be obeyed, not questioned and analyzed. And I have an observation to offer on the refusal of those who know the truths of faith and what is expected of them yet fail to adjust their thinking and behavior accordingly.

A relative trained as a counselor noted recently that when a counselor is treating a patient, if three or four months go by and the patient shows little or no progress in recovery, then it is the counselor’s job and duty to sever the relationship with the client. If the counselor DOESN’T do this, s/he faces removal by the state, and can no longer practice. Why? Because the counselor  is enabling the client, or in Church terms, s/he becomes a cooperator in his errors and sins by not refusing to tolerate the client’s behavior. This is similar to the priest whose penitent continues to confess the same mortal sins each week and does not make any progress in rooting them out. The priest is then obligated to refuse him absolution. Holy Scripture tells us that after the first or second admonition, a brother who is erring should be avoided and referred to the Church. And Our Lord told his Apostles to shake the dust from their sandals and move on when those to whom they were preaching showed no signs of repentance and conversion.

Those not obeying the binding teachings of the Church cannot be considered Catholic even though they may be praying at home. Obedience regardless of the cost is the only thing that will save our souls. When online forums warn members not to read the presentation by others of Catholic truth, they stray inro the realm of “Catholic” cults. Allowing those believing themselves to be Catholic to “debate” the truth and viewing or attendance at debates forbidden by the Church is offensive to God. We tell Him in the Act of Faith that we “believe ALL the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because Thou has revealed them” — but do we? We aver in our Act of Contrition that we detest our sins and will amend our lives — but do we really mean it? This is not a game and I am not the master of ceremonies here. It is now Passion Week, and if we do not do penance for our sins and truly convert, all of us shall perish.

Church teaching on  invincible ignorance and implicit desire

Church teaching on invincible ignorance and implicit desire

Prayer Society Intention for March, Month of St. Joseph

“Oh blessed Joseph… most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blighted error and corruption. Mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness.” (Raccolta)

+St. Thomas Aquinas, Confessor+

“It is charity I want, not learning. I have a great dread of learning, and a boundless love for charity. God grant that learning be not a source of division amongst us! God grant that charity may edify and unite us all in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom alone be all honour and glory forever.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Letters 242.)


It is the purpose of this blog to try and clarify the many misconceptions yet surrounding invincible ignorance and the true meaning of the term “implicit desire.”

The popes speak of individuals who are invincibly ignorant as non-members of the Church. We know those guilty of heresy and schism and or communicatio in sacris, whether Novus Ordo, LibTrads or members of some other non-Catholic sect, are at least material heretics. In other words they are to be considered outside the Church for reasons of external acts of heresy or schism until a true bishop or pope determines otherwise (Canon 2200). This is explained HERE. We judge them only in the external and not the internal forum. Despite their status however we cannot as Pope Pius IX teaches in Singulari quadam and his other encyclicals make any decision on whether they are formally guilty or excused for various reasons. That is to be determined by the Church. It is enough that, sadly, they have lost Church membership and cannot be considered members of the Mystical Body. Their actual guilt before the eyes of God is something He alone can judge.

Many have become confused about the Church’s actual teaching on these matters for two reasons: 1) The Feeney heresy and its fanatical supporters who falsely claim that popes the Holy Office’s teachings in Suprema haec sacra, the Holy Office being headed by Pope Pius XII himself, deny the dogma of no salvation outside the Church and 2) the Novus Ordo sect teachings, which openly declare that a person can be saved with some vague, ineffective act of the will, which was never the intention of the Church. Not only that, but the Novus Ordo teaches that man has an inherent right to choose his own religion and the Catholic Church has no inherent right to teach She is the one, true Church, outside of which no one can be saved. All this in the name of “freedom of religion,” thanks to the efforts of the Jesuit heretic John Courtney Murray and his supporters. These are the men who worked for two decades to engineer what later became Vatican 2 as explained at length in The Phantom Church in Rome.

We cite and obey Can. 2200 not to condemn others; this they do themselves by their own external acts. We simply obey this law in order to protect ourselves and the Church from any least tendency to heresy and from all the teachings of heretics and schismatics. This the Vatican Council ordered us to do in DZ 1820, where it taught: “But since it is not sufficient to shun heretical iniquity unless these errors also are shunned which come more or less close to it,we remind all of the duty of observing also the constitutions and decrees by which base opinions of this sort which are not enumerated explicitly here have been prescribed and prohibited by this Holy See.” This same teaching can be found in Can. 1324, which precedes the actual canon defining heresy, apostasy and schism. We believe, without making the actual judgment, that only by God’s mercy alone and the operation of grace in the individual soul that those outside the Church could be saved, but we do not presume such is the case. Pope Pius XII himself taught in Mystici Corporis that it is a difficult thing to be saved without being in the Church, narrowing the field to a chosen number of souls.

In our times, given the terrible confusion that prevails, the deliberate suppression of the truth and the lack of hierarchy to condemn the many sects that seem to pop up overnight, we do have reason to hope. I think that God, in His infinite mercy, will have pity on souls who really do try their best to know and understand the truth, to lead a Godly life, yet fall short. We cannot forget that the Jews considered themselves superior to the Gentiles and saved by their birthright alone. Yet in the end it was the Gentiles primarily who converted to Christianity. The name Catholic will not save us; only obedience to all that Christ taught, as relayed to us by His Vicars will guarantee our salvation. Those still trapped in non-Catholic sects are hampered mostly by their prejudices and lack of knowledge about how these sects actually came to be.

We can warn them that resisting the known truth, when they find it, is a sin against the Holy Ghost. But God alone can give them the grace to accept it and it is a pure gift from the Holy Ghost to understand it. As explained in our last blog, knowing is one thing; it is understanding and putting into practice what we know and understand that is most important. We must constantly pray for the gifts to know the truth, to understand it and to act accordingly. It takes a great deal more effort today to discern the truth without the Pope to guide us. That is why we must limit our inquiries to papal teachings and the teaching of ecumenical councils, also the precepts of Canon Law, most of which come to us from the ecumenical councils (particularly Trent) and the teachings of the popes themselves.

This is why the 1917 Code is determined to be negatively infallible and the popes have always referred to these laws as the Sacred Cannons. And when the teachings of the Church seem different, difficult or questionable to us then we resort to this explanation of a select few theologians of the past 150 years, especially among them such greats as Henry Cardinal Manning, Rev. E. Sylvester Barry, Louis Cardinal Billot, Msgr. Van Noort, Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, Rev. Jean Marie Herve and others, including Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton and Rev. Francis J. Connell. These were the theologians most loyal to the magisterium. We invest more trust in them because already in the 1800s, as Pope Gregory XVI noted, evil forces were aligning to topple the papacy and the remaining monarchies.

Invincible ignorance as explained by Fr. Michael Muller

It is not for a lack of searching for the truth on these matters that those truly seeking it have been led astray; it is the misinformation or incomplete explanation of the faith provided them by false guides. Many became derailed in this search when they encountered varying opinions among trustworthy theologians writing before 1950. In that year, by issuing Humani generis, Pope Pius XII laid to rest all these concerns when he directed theologians and all the faithful to the binding decisions recorded in the Acta Apostolica Sedis. But still there were those in Pius XII’s time who chose to ignore his teachings, just as there are those today who dismiss or omit these decisions, choosing to believe as they please and not as the Church teaches. Even renowned catechists taught, in the early 1900s, that we must not consider all those outside the Church as lost. Fr. Michael Muller, C.S.S.R., wrote as follows on that topic: “

The Catholic Dogma, pp. 217-218, 1888:

Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Savior, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. ‘Invincible ignorance,’ says St. Thomas, ‘is a punishment for sin.’ (De, Infid. Q. x., art. 1). “It is, then, a curse, but not a blessing or a means of salvation… Hence Pius IX said ‘that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in his infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord who knows the heart and the thoughts of man will, in his infinite goodness, not suffer anyone to be lost forever without his own fault.’ Almighty God, who is just condemns no one without his fault, puts, therefore, such souls as are in invincible ignorance of the truths of salvation, in the way of salvation, either by natural or supernatural means.”

Fr. Michael Müller also wrote a catechism titled Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine. He writes:

Q. What are we to think of the salvation of those who are out of the pale of the Church without any fault of theirs, and who never had any opportunity of knowing better?

A. Their inculpable ignorance will not save them; but if they fear God and live up to their conscience, God, in His infinite mercy, will furnish them with the necessary means of salvation, even so as to send, if needed, an angel to instruct them in the Catholic faith, rather than let them perish through inculpable ignorance.

Q. Is it then right for us to say that one who was not received into the Church before his death, is damned?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. Because we cannot know for certain what takes place between God and the soul at the awful moment of death.

Q. What do you mean by this?

A. I mean that God, in His infinite mercy, may enlighten, at the hour of death, one who is not yet a Catholic, so that he may see the truth of the Catholic faith, be truly sorry for his sins, and sincerely desire to die a good Catholic.

Q. What do we say of those who receive such an extraordinary grace, and die in this manner?

A. We say of them that they die united, at least, to the soul of the Catholic Church, and are saved.

Q. What, then, awaits all those who are out of the Catholic Church, and die without having received such an extraordinary grace at the hour of death?

A. Eternal damnation. https://cathexcerpts.blogspot.com/2020/02/fr-muller-on-invincible-ignorance-and.html

The reference by Fr. Muller above to “the soul of the Church,” however, is a term that can no longer be used since the issuance of Mystici Corporis and  Suprema haec sacra. This is yet another example of why catechisms alone are not sufficient to know what the Church teaches. Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton explains why this term should no longer be used below:

“The most important and the most widely employed of all the inadequate explanations of the Church’s necessity for salvation was the one that centered around a distinction between the ” body” and the ” soul ” of the Catholic Church. The individual who tried to explain the dogma in this fashion generally designated the visible Church itself as the ” body ” of the Church and applied the term ” soul of the Church ” either to grace and the supernatural virtues or to some fancied ” invisible Church.” Prior to the appearance of the encyclical Mystici Corporis there were several books and articles claiming that, while the “soul” of the Church was in some way not separated from the “body,” it was actually more extensive than this “body.” Explanations of the Church’s necessity drawn up in terms of this distinction were at best inadequate and confusing and all too frequently infected with serious error. When the expression “soul of the Church” was applied to sanctifying grace and the organism of supernatural virtues that accompany it, the explanation was confusing in that it stressed the fact that a man must be in the state of grace, and that he must have faith and charity if he is to attain to eternal salvation, but it tended to obscure the truth that a man must in some manner be ” within ” the true and visible Catholic Church at the moment of his death if he is ever to reach the Beatific Vision. When, on the other hand, some imaginary ” invisible Church,” some assembly of all the good people in the world, was designated as the ” soul of the Church,” these explanations lapsed into doctrinal inaccuracy” (The Catholic Church and Salvation, pgs. 126-127, nos. 3 and 4).

Meaning of implicit desire

Where people also become confused is the term “implicit desire,” which Msgr. Fenton explains in his book as follows:

“The Catholic Church and its theologians had likewise taught that a sincere desire to enter and to remain within the Church could be effective for the attainment of eternal salvation even when that desire was merely implicit, that is, not based on a clear and distinct notion of the Church itselfIt is absolutely imperative to remember that being “within” the Church is not exactly the same thing as being a member of this social unit. A man is a member of the Church when he is baptized, and when he has neither publicly renounced his baptismal profession of the true faith nor withdrawn from the fellowship of the Church, and when he has not been expelled from the company of the disciples by having received the fullness of excommunication. But a man is “within” the Church to the extent that he can be saved ” within ” it when he is a member or even when he sincerely, albeit perhaps only implicitly, desires to enter it. The condition requisite for profiting from the reception of the sacraments or from the performance of acts which should be salutary is being “within” the Church.

“Now, while it is possible to have a desire to be within the Church, and, indeed even to be a member of the Church, without having the love of charity for God, it is quite impossible to have charity without being within the true Church, at least by an implicit desire to dwell in it. The love of charity is, by its very nature, a sovereign affection. It is definable in terms of intention rather than of mere velleity; and it necessarily embodies an intention, rather than a mere velleity, to do what Our Lord actually wills we should do. And Our Lord wills that all men should enter and remain within the one society of Mis disciples, His Kingdom and His Mystical Body in this world” (pgs. 25, 39). And Msgr. Fenton continues:

“(8b) The Suprema haec sacra then brings out the fact that, in the merciful designs of God’s providence, such realities as the Church itself and the sacraments of baptism and penance can, under certain circumstances, bring about the effects which they are meant to produce as means necessary for the attainment or eternal salvation when a man possesses them only in the sense that he desires or intends or wills to have or to use them. Obviously the text cannot be understood unless we realize what the ” certain circumstances” mentioned in the text really are.

Basic among these circumstances is the genuine impossibility or receiving the sacraments of baptism or of penance or of entering the Church as a member. It is quite clear that if it is possible for a man to be baptized, to go to confession and to receive sacramental absolution, or really to become a member or the true Church, the man for whom this is possible will not attain to eternal salvation unless he actually avails himself of these means. But, on the other hand, should the actual employment or these means be genuinely impossible, then the man can attain to eternal life by a will or desire to employ them.

“Here, of course, we must distinguish sedulously between the order of intention and the order of mere velleity. What is required here is an effective desire, an effective act of the will, as distinct from a mere complacency or approval. A non-member of the Church can be saved if he genuinely wants or desires to enter the Church. With that genuine and active desire or intention, he will really become a member of the Church if this is at all possible. If it is not possible, then the force of his intention or desire will bring him ” within ” the Church in such a way that he can attain eternal salvation in this company. An inherently ineffective act of the will, a mere velleity, will definitely not sufficefor the attainment of eternal salvation” (p. 111).

Where error crept in

How many poor people today, seeing the disarray in the church in Rome and in general among the entire “Christian” denominations, really want to be a member of Christ’s true Church — or believe they are such a member and truly love and serve Him —  but either don’t know where to turn or truly doubt that the church they think is Catholic today could be the true Church? And they are right in doubting this! Does anyone really think that God, in His infinite mercy, would visit this punishment on the Church and the world in general then throw them to the wolves?!

Summarizing a passage from De Ecclesia Christi by Louis Cardinal Billot, Rome, 1921, Msgr. Charles Journet, in his 1952 work The Church of the Word Incarnate, writes:

“THEOLOGICAL FAITH IS MORE NECESSARY STILL THAN THE SACRAMENTS, SINCE NOTHING CAN REPLACE IT, WHEREAS THOSE WHO POSSESS IT IN CHARITY ALREADY POSSESS THE SACRAMENTS AS BY DESIRE, VOTO. If then the Sacraments can in some sense be had ‘outside’ the Church, to those who receive them in uprightness of heart, it is still more necessary that a sufficient proposal of the faith should be made outside the Church, and that true believers in the true faith should be found even amongst those whose ecclesiastical rulers hold doctrines that are contrary to orthodoxy or erroneous…The way of justification remains open ‘outside’ the Church to men of good will, who are ready at heart to believe all that God has revealed. It can even be opened to them by the message proposed by schismatics and heretics, provided, of course, that this message still contains that minimum of truth without which no adult in any event can be saved — namely the supernatural mystery of the existence and providence of God. So that the sects separated from the legitimate Bride of Christ see, in these circumstances, to become Her servants to aid her to engender new children to grace, not solely by the ministration of the Sacraments but also by proposing a doctrine, tainted with error though it may be.”

WE cannot countenance error; we are members of the Church by our Baptism and Profession of Faith. Those not born into the faith and now genuinely struggling to seek the truth will be saved if they genuinely wish to be members of the Church and love God with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength; we simply are not allowed to presume who they may be. In Traditionalist circles, much sway is given to works such as The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved by St. Leonard of Port Maurice, and certainly works by the saints should be read and respected. But few realize that this is one of the matters on which the Church has never officially rendered an opinion, one of those areas where later decisions of the Holy See such as Mystici Corporis and Suprema haec sacra have a direct bearing. In other words, it is the development of dogma that forces us to view this in a different light, now that the Church has clarified certain points of doctrine.

One Jesuit advocate of the milder opinion, Rev. Nicholas Walsh S.J., in his 1908 work, The Saved and the Lost,describes it as a swinging pendulum, at first resting in favor of the stricter view and then later swinging to the opposite side, in favor of the milder opinion. As all devices of this nature, when it comes to rest, it stops halfway between the two unless dialed back altogether by the Holy See.

According to Rev. Walsh, “Whether there be few or many that are saved [is] an open question… There is no authoritative decision of the Church or unanimous opinion of her Fathers or theologians: [it is therefore] an open question about which we may speculate as a ‘doubtful law’ (St. Augustine).” Walsh’s work is available for free download HERE.  So the insistence by some that we must consider the majority lost is not accurate in light of Pope Pius XII’s later decisions. For the truth is, as Rev. Walsh states, that: “If the upholders of the severe rigorous opinions ask me in what way God weaves his ‘web of love’ about every soul He has created, even about souls which look to the human eye outcast, I answer at once: ‘It is his secret; I do not know.’ But if they ask me why I believe He does I answer without fear: Because His character as Creator of all men clearly revealed in Scripture and formulated by eminent theologians obliges me to think so.

“I would then be tempted to ask them what reasons they have for thinking and saying plainly, ‘All infidels are damned on account of their infidelity. The great majority of mankind is lost because infidels heretics etc. always made the majority.’ That in a word the Creator as well as Judge will say, ‘Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire.’ to the whole mass of unbelievers — as well, as according to some, the majority of Catholics. I can only find two reasons. Some text types are parables of Scripture which do not in any way prove their most dismal views and the external bad aspect of the world which is at best misleading and which certainly cannot limit or interfere with the universal secret action of God by grace in the souls which He has created. ‘We may depend upon it, writes Fr. [Frederick] Faber, that in 1,000 spots which look desert, waste, fire-blackened, God’s mercy is finding pasture for His glory.” While I do not agree with Rev. Walsh that the majority of mankind will be saved, I do not necessarily disagree with him, either. For as he said, God alone knows, and it is not something any of us can determine.


It is my firm belief, both from personal experience and the testimony of theologians, that the Jansenist heresy and its rigorism — a rigorism which extends to teaching that only a limited number will be saved — is responsible for much of the confusion regarding the salvation of those not officially members of the Church, but who are “within it” in a way only God understands. We must adjust our Catholic beliefs according to the documents of the magisterium whenever it overrides the writing of the saints or theologians and their opinions. And this regardless of the strident insistence of those who may presume to claim otherwise and even threaten those not adopting their rigorist stance with eternal damnation.  I cannot repeat often enough that we must flee from all those who will not adhere to papal teaching and refuse to allow them to lead or instruct us. For these are the very hirelings and false shepherds, the wolves in sheepskins, Christ warned us to avoid.

(P.S. And BTW, those who complain about the length of these blogs and the articles referenced here and the time it takes to read them, but who dedicate endless hours to viewing “Catholic” videos, are not being sincere in discerning the truth or obedient to the popes and ecumenical councils.)