Why epikeia and human law arguments don’t apply to VAS

Why epikeia and human law arguments don’t apply to VAS

+St. Catherine of Siena+

Prayer Society Intentions for May, Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Oh great Queen of Heaven, Bride of the Holy Ghost, do thou cover me with the mantle of thy protection.” (The Raccolta)

First Friday and Saturday this week

We keep receiving correspondence from readers trying to answer those STILL inquiring about topics that have been explained in detail now for decades, but which need to be re-addressed because those new to LibTrad groups continue to believe the errors taught by their pseudo-clergy. We wrote last week that no one ordained or consecrated after Oct. 9, 1958,  could ever be considered valid, and therefore nothing they teach can possibly be believed as coming from the Church. It is as one online commentator put it: “The real Church is a visible institution governed by laws; the sedevacantist “church” is an invisible idea governed by circular arguments.” And that is all they can offer.

LibTrads claim that by invoking epikeia they can bypass the necessity for jurisdiction — but wait. They FIRST must prove they even have a right to jurisdiction, i.e., that they were validly ordained or consecrated and validly appointed by proper ecclesiastical authority. This is a prime example of circular argument – presuming that which has yet to be proved. For they can scarcely claim any right to minister to the faithful if they are not even members of the clergy: they must prove they were validly ordained and consecrated and all the evidence presented on this site — mainly in way of Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, (VAS) — proves they are not. And so LibTrads falsely accuse those of drawing attention to these proofs of privately interpreting the laws and teaching s of the Church. Once again, they act as though this has been categorically established by them according to the Church’s time-honored method of Scholasticism, when no such proofs have ever been produced.

Yet what LibTrads REALLY object to is not the fact that papal teachings and canon law have been “privately interpreted” by others, but that they have been outed by those quoting approved authors writing prior to the death of Pope Pius XII who do not agree with THEIR misinterpretation of the canons and papal teaching. They condemn those objecting to their violation of these laws and teachings for demanding they FOLLOW what the Church taught pre-1959. They are the ones interpreting canon law and papal teaching, not those citing these sources and demanding that they proceed according to the approved interpretations.

Therefore, we do not listen to or accept what comes out of the mouth of these LibTrads and their pseudo-clergy.  We obey the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, the Ecumenical Councils and the approved theologians and canonists loyal to the magisterium. Even though the “illicit only” sects quote selected texts from approved theologians to justify their errors, they fail to inform readers of the full scope of what is documented in these sources and the inevitable conclusions that must be drawn from them. This of course results in readers arriving at false conclusions and creates much confusion. For that reason we will examine the comprehensive teachings of these authors on epikeia and their bearing on VAS, to dispel any false notions about this principle.

Fr. Riley on epikeia

The “illicit only” group quotes the author below but does not make any distinctions in his work nor explain the full meaning of what he is saying. To do this one must examine the definitions, citations and final conclusions of the authors and then learn what led them to these conclusions. We quote The History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology, by Father Lawrence Joseph Riley, Copyright 1948, (The Catholic University of America Press, INC.  Imprimatur: + Richardus Jacobus Cushing.  D.D.):

Epikeia may be defined as follows: “A CORRECTION OR EMENDATION of a law which in its expression is deficient by reason of its universality; a correction made by a subject who deviates from the clear words of the law, basing his action upon the presumption, at least probable, that the legislator intended not to include in his law the case at hand.(Presumption is defined by canonists as a “probable conjecture about an uncertain thing.”)

— It may be used only with the greatest discretion; in the internal forum it may be applied to affirmative precepts and to negative precepts (ecclesiastical and civil), but very infrequently with regard to affirmative precepts, because the latter, binding semper but not pro semper, are more susceptible of interpretation than of epikeia.

— Epikeia is not to be identified with interpretation, dispensation, presumed permission, excusing cause, or popular acceptance of human law.

— Epikeia is a lawful institute of Moral Theology, based ultimately on the intention of the legislator to exclude from his law a particular case, and hence the presumed intention of the legislator is of the highest import in regard to epikeia.

— The intention of the legislator not to include a particular case in his law is not a merely interpretative intention, but exists in the mind of the legislator at least virtually though perhaps only implicitly… In a case where the evidence regarding this presumed intention of the legislator is so unsubstantial that the subject cannot even hesitatingly assent that he is free, epikeia may not be used…

Epikeia may not be applied to precepts of the natural law, nor to precepts of the divine positive law of the New Testament. (“Thou art Peter…whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth.”)

— It seems probable that the use of epikeia was not permissible in reference to precepts of the divine positive law of the Old Testament.

— Human invalidating laws sometimes cease to bind; but epikeia may not be applied to human invalidating laws, and VAS is an invalidating law.  (End of Riley quotes.)

Abp. Amleto Cicognani states that epikeia is not to be applied to the interpretation of the law itself, but rather the mind of the lawgiver, in this case Pope Pius XII. LibTrads, however, entirely overlook this important fact.

Invalidating laws and who can rightly exercise epikeia

The purpose of invalidating and incapacitating laws are better explained by the following: A prohibitory law of its very nature admits the excuse of ignorance or moral incapacity and on this basis will frequently cease in its cogent force. Not so an invalidating law. Invalidation is not premised on an obligation but is derived from the WILL OF THE LEGISLATOR who seeks to protect the common good of society and wishes to safeguard it more compellingly FROM FRAUD, INJURY AND DANGER. THE INVIOLABLE OBSERVANCE OF INVALIDATING LAWS IS CONSTANTLY URGENT BECAUSE THEIR TRANSGRESSION PRESENTS A FAR GRAVER DANGER TO SOCIETY ITSELF” (Doubt in Canon Law, Rev. Roger Viau, S.T.L, J.C.L., 1954, pg. 69; Catholic University of America dissertation).

Abp. Amleto Cicognani, Revs. Bouscaren-Ellis, Woywod-Smith, Francis Miaskiewicz, Raymond Kearney, McHugh and Callan — all these canonists and theologians warn of the great caution that must be used in applying epikeia, and the many dangers of abuse in attempting this application. So this easily amounts to a common opinion, if not a unanimous one. Revs. Bouscaren-Ellis also note that: “The general and habitual interpretation of a law contrary to its clear terms is not epikeia, but an evident abuse,” (Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, 1946, pgs. 33-34). The above authors agree it is to be used only in specific cases, not generally. And yet this is what LibTrads have consistently done.

Riley comments: “[Pope Benedict XIV] cautions that dispensations from a papal law, granted without urgent and just cause by an inferior authority resorting to the use of epikeia, are illicit and invalid (p. 79). … It should be noted that in each of the above-cited passages the implication is that the mitigation of the rigor of the law is made by some ecclesiastical authority. Insofar as can be ascertained, nowhere does the Pope mention epikeia as exercised by a private subject of the law” (p. 96). As we read in last week’s blog, none of the LibTrads possess ANY authority. Given what Pope Benedict XIV says, even in matters NOT involving invalidating and incapacitating laws, even an unquestionably valid cleric possessing the usual authority would not be able to use epikeia to challenge a papal law. If you are upholding the Catholic Church as She existed prior to the death of Pope Pius XII, wouldn’t it only be logical to consult the best possible expert available during that time period, educated in some of the Church’s finest institutions? So why were they not able to locate, study and follow Rev. Riley’s work and obey Pope Benedict XIV, given the utmost seriousness of the situation?

Epikeia and probable opinions

 Skipping the issue of sacramental validity entirely, LibTrads rushed to use epikeia as a substitute for jurisdiction. Now some are desperately attempting to preserve their claim to validity by resorting to epikeia to dismiss Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, but they are devoid of any proofs. Their ignorance and gross negligence in these matters is just one indicator of their true orientation and motives. Traditionalists did not even follow the basic rules that govern the application of epikeiabefore establishing their very existence on this shaky principle. They went directly to the laws on the very things that epikeia could never be applied to — the Sacraments. Had they truly understood the teachings of the Catholic Church on the nature and administration of the Sacraments, had they received any true education in the places they dubbed as “seminaries,” they would have known.

Again. Rev. Riley’s very definition of epikeia above tells those praying at home all they need to know about LibTrads’ application of this principle to the Sacraments. Epikeia is “A CORRECTION OR EMENDATION of a law which in its expression is deficient by reason of its universality; a correction made by a subject who deviates from the clear words of the law, basing his action upon the presumption, AT LEAST PROBABLE, that the legislator intended not to include in his law the case at hand. (Presumption is defined by canonists as a “probable conjecture about an uncertain thing.”) The use of epikeia itself is nearly always the product of a probable opinion, as the entire bulk of Rev. Riley’s work shows. And the very reason we pray at home is because the Church forbids the use of probable opinions when conferring the Sacraments. The answer should have been clear. But it was not clear because they insisted on denying the very essence of Christ’s constitution of the Church with Peter as its indispensable head. The only possible way the Church could have been rebuilt was by retracing Christ’s own steps and starting at the beginning, by restoring a head to the Church.

Of course this was never their intent. But had they been sincere in truly glorifying God and working to obey His will to save souls, this would have been their first recourse: to restore the papacy, because then the Mass would logically have followed. There was a canon that covered this situation and could have led them to Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. It at least would have posed the question: IS there a law already governing this affair?

Canon Law and the invocation of epikeia

We read from Canon 20:

“If there is no explicit provision concerning some affair either in the general or in the particular law a norm of action is to be taken from:

(a) laws given in similar cases,

(b) from the general principles of Canon Law based on equity,

(c) from the methods and practices of the Roman Court [Curia] or from the

(d) common and constant teaching of approved canonists.” Because equity is included in (b), it seems Traditionalists, while never mentioning Can. 20 specifically, at least referred to it implicitly. (And LibTrads entirely ignore the canon that follows, which states: “Laws made for the purpose of safeguarding the public against a common danger bind even though in a particular case there is no danger.”)

(1) To invoke this law, LibTrads had to entirely ignore the fact that an “explicit provision” in this affair  already existed in a general law. In his work Canon Law, Abp. Amleto Cicognani states: “If there is a law covering the case, this rule [Can. 20] is not to be applied according to the meaning of Can. 18…” (p. 621). This, then, immediately disqualified any appeal to Can. 20. The law we are referring to happens to be an infallible law that has direct bearing on what can and cannot be done during an interregnum. It is Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, (VAS), Pope Pius XII’s 1945 papal election law. This constitution is a rewrite of the codification of all election laws enacted by Pope St. Pius X. Several things would have been clarified by consulting this one law. First of all, in the very first paragraph, the pope teaches that when a pope dies, nothing can be done by the College of Cardinals until a new pope is elected. If the Cardinals (in reality only bishops) attempt to usurp any act of papal jurisdiction, that attempt is null and void. This would include the appointment of bishops and the establishment of dioceses, as well as other acts.

Secondly, in paragraph two, VAS reads: “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.” We refer once again to Rev. Lawrence Riley’s definition of epikeia above. Obviously Pope Pius XII did not wish VAS to be tampered with in any way, clearly showing his mind in the matter for he states: “In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, BY OUR SUPREME AUTHORITY, to be null and void.” This is an undeniable indication of an infallible document. So right off the bat, there is no possible way epikeia could be used to correct VAS, which forbids any changes whatsoever to this constitution. This also rules out the use of equity in (b) above, since in a conflict of law, the higher law prevails. And epikeia is not even a law; it is only a principle which may be applied to law in certain cases.

(2) There is also a question of using epikeia to correct or interpret penalties or even abolish them, in the case of Traditionalists.  Canon 20 rules that it cannot apply to penalties, and VAS teaches there will be no changes to canon laws during an interregnum. “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. This prohibition is especially applicable in the case of Pontifical Constitutions issued to regulate the business of the election of the Roman Pontiff” (VAS, para. 3).

(3) No attempt has ever been made to follow the remaining guidelines of this canon as required in order to justify the use of epikeia. The reasons why seem clear enough: Traditionalists were afraid that someone would point to the fact they could not invoke it at all, since it amounted to correcting the law and interpreting penalties.

Determining the intention of the lawgiver

But there is more. In Rev. Riley’s conclusions listed above, we see that the presumed intention of the legislator, to exclude from his law a particular case, is of the highest import in regard to epikeia. And there was a process that needed to be followed here in order to determine what exactly the mind of Pope Pius XII was even before validly ordained Traditionalists could proceed to exercise their orders. “Bp.” Robert McKenna and Fr. Noel Barbara, among others —in various letters and publications — admit that they “presume” Pope Pius XII would have wished Lefebvre and Thuc to consecrate bishops for the good of the Church and the faithful. No proof whatsoever is presented to support this bold presumption. Guerard des Lauriers, supposedly a trained theologian, could waste time confabulating his material-formal nonsense, but could not be bothered to justify his own “consecration” by a mental incompetent, even though it is reported in the German publication Einsicht that he hesitated because a papal mandate could not be obtained! And Pope Pius XII would have wanted this?!! Or orders rendered by Lefebvre, a suspected Freemason himself, whose own ordination and consecration was suspect?

No proof was forthcoming because it did not exist, and these men had to know that, if they had any knowledge at all of what was taught in Pius XII’s papal encyclicals. Not to mention the censures levied for violation of canon laws regarding failure to seek orders from competent authority and consecration without the papal mandate.  Notice Riley says above that at LEAST a probable opinion must exist regarding the legislator’s intent and that means five or more examples from approved authors/reliable documents verifying the (at least) implicit permission to proceed. These opinions do not exist because epikeia was never intended to be applied to invalidating and incapacitating laws. The word incapacitated means “deprived of capacity or natural power : made incapable of or unfit for normal functioning.” If that deprivation is infallibly issued by a sitting pope, it is unquestionably binding.

But given the weight, expressed intent, invalidating clauses and infallible nature of VAS, there can be NO DOUBT that such an intent to allow such things to take place during an interregnum is lacking. The Pope is clear; during an interregnum, all stands just as it did upon the Pope’s death and if anyone dares to make innovations, the attempt is null, void and invalid. As Rev. Roger Viau explains above, no legislator could ever wish to revoke a law crafted specifically to protect “the common good of society…  to safeguard it more compellingly FROM FRAUD, INJURY AND DANGER. THE INVIOLABLE OBSERVANCE OF INVALIDATING LAWS IS CONSTANTLY URGENT BECAUSE THEIR TRANSGRESSION PRESENTS A FAR GRAVER DANGER TO SOCIETY ITSELF. ” What everyone is missing here is that in all truth, this law was first enacted by Pope St. Pius X Dec. 25, 1904 (Vacante Sede Apostolica) when surely this saintly pope had already witnessed the inroads of Modernism and realized its grave danger to the Church. Not only did he then set out to issue a new election law, but as Pope Pius XII explained in the preamble to VAS, with “judicious advice” he summarized and updated all previous election laws, to better suit current conditions.  In The Catholic Encyclopedia Dictionary, 1941,we read:  “All previous legislation concerning the conclave was codified and renewed by Pius X’s bull, Vacante Sede Apostolica (Dec. 25, 1904). The bull of Pius X is rather a codification than a reform.”


Pope Pius XII writes in the VAS preamble: “SURE OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND THE PLENITUDE OF OUR APOSTOLIC POWER, We have undertaken to publish and promulgate this Constitution, which is the same as that given by Pius X, of holy memory, but reformed throughout, “which,” to use the words of the same Predecessor of Ours, “The Sacred College of Cardinals shall solely use during the vacancy of the Apostolic See and in electing the Roman Pontiff.” The two notable things added in VAS by Pope Pius XII was the two-thirds PLUS ONE vote, to exclude candidates from voting for themselves and also the addition, at the end of paragraph three, of the following sentence, regarding any usurpation of papal jurisdiction or changes in papal or canon law: “In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, BY OUR SUPREME AUTHORITY, to be null and void.”

As noted elsewhere, interregnums were intended to last for only just under a month. But the popes both knew that the intent of the Modernists was to hijack the Church. It appears that they both decided that should an attempt be made to delay the election then the hierarchy, whose duty it was to elect, could live with the consequences — everything would be suspended until reviewed by the future pope. It was a brilliant move, made by saintly geniuses sworn to do everything necessary to preserve and protect the Divine Deposit — and they did.

Nothing declares more forcefully than VAS that without the pope there can be NO CHURCH, as Pope Pius IX taught. Issued as it was two years AFTER Mystici Corporis Christi proclaimed that the bishops did not receive their powers from Christ directly, but only through the Roman Pontiff, it based the prohibitions made on the teachings of Mystici Corporis and expanded papal power accordingly — and this is why LibTrads hate VAS. Instead of whining about the loss of Mass and Sacraments, Catholics should be on their knees thanking God that these Pope St. Pius  and Pope Pius XII had the faith and the foresight to see that Christ’s promise remained intact — that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church founded on the rock that was St. Peter. And LibTrads should never forget this solemn warning, reiterated by Henry Cardinal Manning in his works on the papacy:

Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matt. 21:44).

Does the “illicit only” crowd mirror the Old Catholic heresy?

Does the “illicit only” crowd mirror the Old Catholic heresy?

+Third Sunday after Easter+

(St. Anselm, Abp.)

In way of a reminder, or for those who are new to the idea of praying at home, I am going to repeat and highlight a binding Church teaching here that has practically been the foundation stone for this site since it first appeared on the Internet. Long before Pope Pius XII wrote Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, (VAS), negating acts contrary to Canon Law or usurping papal jurisdiction that were attempted during an interregnum, the Council of Trent condemned the idea that those acting without out jurisdiction, who were “neither rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority “ (DZ 967) could ever be considered true ministers of the Church. This concept is best expressed as follows:

“A Christian society whose bishops go back to the apostles only through the power of order, and not also through the power of jurisdiction, cannot claim to be Apostolic, and consequently cannot be the Church of Christ,” Revs. Devivier and Sasia, Christian Apologetics, Vol. II), 1924. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Church also  states in part: “Apostolicity of mission consists in the power of holy orders and the power of jurisdiction derived by legitimate transmission from the Apostles. Any religious organization whose ministers do not possess these two powers is not accredited to preach the Gospel of Christ. For ‘How can they preach,’ asks the Apostle, ‘unless they be sent?’ (Rom. 10:15).”

In 1950, Pope Pius XII issued a binding decree (AAS 42-601) on the true interpretation of Can. 147, stating that those never canonically appointed to such offices but 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’” (DZ 960). Pius XII then issued three ipso facto excommunications for violating this law, all of them reserved in a special manner to the Holy See, which included anyone assisting such individuals in their efforts. Without the necessary jurisdiction and appointment to an office by competent ecclesiastical authority according to the sacred canons, THEY ARE NOT APOSTOLIC MINISTERS; THEY CANNOT FUNCTION VALIDLY (Can. 147). Their ability to function validlydepends on the possession of an office, regardless of their alleged reception of orders.

One might be considered validly ordained if it could once be proven that the ordaining or consecrating prelate used the proper matter and form and possessed the proper intention. But this can be determined only by the pope, as we have pointed out repeatedly. The presumption, however, also repeatedly stated, What is important to understand here is what is expressed in the following: “Commentary in Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: “The council [of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] declared absolute ordinations, that is, sine titulo, invalid. Though it used the words (null, void), it is very probable that it had in mind “void of effect through permanent suspension,” (pg. 96;   See Mansi, VII, 901, 945.) This is the very principle evidenced in Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS) regarding acts not authorized by the Holy See personally or permitted under Canon Law.

As the Holy Office decreed Nov. 18, 1931: “A lapsed Catholic who receives orders from a schismatic bishop can be received back into the Church only on the understanding that such ordinations, even if valid, will be completely disregarded, (Dr. Leslie Rumble, Homiletic and Pastoral Review: “Are Liberal Catholic Orders Valid,” 1958). Lefebvre  and Thuc were schismatics and those they ordained and consecrated were lapsed Catholics, one-time members of the Novus Ordo and Traditionalist organizations who were never validly absolved, abjured by the Holy Office, did not do penance or publicly condemn the schismatic prelate consecrating or ordaining.  This is what Canon Law requires of them. And as  VAS states, during an interregnum, any violation of Canon Law or presumption of papal jurisdiction (abjuration of heresy) is considered null and void.

As related in his Principles of Sacramental Theology, (1955), Rev. Bernard Leeming wrote that Pope Innocent IV, as a private doctor, opined that ”…the Pope could set up diriment impediments in the case of all the sacraments and could take away a bishop’s power to confirm. He supports this by the text,’ Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven,’ and adds that “obedience must be given to the Pope” in all things not contrary to faith or specially forbidden. Rev. J. Tixeront, in his Holy Orders and Ordination, (1928), cites the same opinion by Innocent IV, but quotes Louis Saltet (a Catholic historian who contributed to the Catholic Encyclopedia) to the effect that, “This theory tells volumes about the development given to the idea of pontifical authority.”  We must remember that Pope St. Pius X, in his previous election, law also had declared null, void and invalid all these same acts. All that Pope Pius XII added to this is to declare that part of VAS binding during an interregnum by virtue of  his Supreme Authority. Without a true Roman Pontiff, NOTHING can be presumed to be valid, most especially the conferral of Orders.

Pope Innocent IV wrote in 1254, but what these authors call his opinion or theory was, as Saltet said, the kernel sown which later blossomed into the fullness of the pope’s supreme jurisdiction. The ”development” of the idea of papal authority came full circle with the Vatican Council. Unfortunately those opposing the definition of infallibility not only left the Church but reorganized, to more effectively dismantle and oppose Her. Henry Cardinal Manning believed that this effort 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, which translates today, even in the writer William Strojie’s opinion, to Traditionalists, especially those of the SSPX variety. 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 hatched even before the Council convened, writing: “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 being used by LibTrads and Protestants  to cast Pope Pius XII in the role of Honorius in the 20th century. What we see in the persistent opposition against VAS by those claiming these me to be only illicit , and by their refusal to accept other other papal teaching is only the continuing flow of that same Gallicanist/Old Catholic/Modernist current. Strojie, Peter Anson and  others have warned us of the Old Catholic invasion in our times, but no one is listening.

One of the first LibTrad pseudo-bishops, Francis Schuckhardt, was “consecrated” by an Old Catholic bishop, Daniel Q. Brown. Several of these so-called bishops have been consecrators of certain LibTrads, especially among independents. And one of the men Schuckhardt “ordained” became involved with a rigorist Jansenist sect and went on to become one of the first proponents of the “illicit only” theory now being promoted by himself and others. We have spoken of the Jansenists and their rigorist beliefs in our last several blogs and now we will discover where it is those beliefs originated, how they have filtered down to various sects today and how they have misinterpreted papal teaching to make it appear that the Church still considers those lacking both an office and jurisdiction to be the teaching body of Christ’s Church.

Jansenist/Old Catholic ideology and LibTrads

Many years ago I ran across a very good piece on Old Catholics, entitled The Jansenist Heresy: Old Catholicism is Born.  Its author, listed by way of initials, states: “I am indebted to one of the seminarians of the Society of St. Pius X at Ridgefield, Connecticut whose research made this article possible — A.C.” After offering a summary of anti-papal and other Old Catholic teaching, A.C. comments: “The Old Catholic movement was a liberal and modernist movement. Indeed most contemporary modernists would have little difficulty accepting most of their tenets.” Under the heading Old Catholic Sects: General Observations, he describes the behavior of Old Catholic clergy, sadly failing to see they correspond almost identically with that of the SSPX and LibTrads in general. These are listed as follows:

“1.The first thing one notices when one begins to study these sects is that there are indeed a large number of sects calling themselves Old Catholic. It seems that there are about as many as there are Old Catholic bishops… (T. Benns: Just as with the LibTrads.)

“2. This phenomenon is joined to the fact that the Old Catholics foment what seems to be a never-ending series of schisms among themselves. This is explained by the fact that they began in schism. It is understandable, therefore, that they should have so many schisms among themselves. (T. Benns: The never-ending schisms is the dead giveaway.)

“3. Old Catholic clergy are inclined to excommunicate each otheat the slightest provocation. (At the drop of a miter?) This is borne out by Peter Anson’s book on their forebears, Bishops at Large, and by studying some of their more recent activities. (T. Benns: Their internecine squabbling on these things is almost as never-ending as their schisms and is what foments them.)

“4. A typical fiction which an Old Catholic will try to promote is a denial that his group is schismatic or heretical. Invariably, such a person will point to another group, supposedly distinct from his own, and say that it is schismatic or heretical. For instance, an Old Catholic may tell you “We are not Old Catholics, but Old Roman Catholics. There is a difference. The other group is schismatic and heretical. We are legitimate.” Such talk is nonsense. There are no real differences among all these groups, no matter what name they go by. They all originate, in some tenuous way or another, in the Jansenist heresy and schism. Common sense tells us that if something was hatched from a duck’s egg, if it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, and if it quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. (T. Benns: Projection is a psychological ploy intended to deflect blame. There are no real differences in these groups as the author says, and all tend to exhibit Jansenist tendencies to one degree or another.)

“5. Most of these groups distort history in an attempt to prove their claims. A quick reading of some of the literature they publish demonstrates this. They distort the Jansenist controversy and avoid giving an honest account of the outrageous activities of Mathew and Vilatte. (T. Benns: One is reminded of all the stories defending Thuc from accusations of dementia and returning to the Novus Ordo; or to the defense of LibTrad pseudo-clergy and “seminarians” accused of homosexual tendencies and sexual abuse, when these accusations were well-documented.)

“7. For the most part, these sects are presided over by clergymen who are ignorant in matters of religion. Some are trained for a short period of time by ignorant superiors, others “study on their own for a while, others grant themselves degrees from non-existent universities, while still others are simply ordained without any pretense of an education at all. (T. Benns: This ignorance is what has cost the faithful so much and has resulted in the denial of so many truths.)

“9. In most casesit is impossible to prove that an ordination or consecration performed by an Old Catholic bishop in this country is unquestionably valid. In Europe, the question is less complicated, since the Jansenist sects enjoy a certain amount of stability. In this country, however, there exists a multitude of different Old Catholic sects. Consequently, no one has a centralized and comprehensive body of certified documentation which keeps track of the lines of the ordinations and consecrations performed in all these splinter groups. This casts some doubt upon the validity of the orders they claim to possess. Since the Catholic Church teaches that one cannot act if there is a positive doubt regarding the validity of a sacrament, one is obliged to treat their clergymen as though they were invalidly ordained. 

(T. Benns: WHY must Catholics consider them invalid? Because Pope Pius XII teaches that during an interregnum, they cannot be considered valid. This for two reasons: 1) Because consecrations and ordinations without the mandate usurp papal authority and violate the canons and 2) Until declared valid and their cases resolved, there can be no presumption of such validity. I know the LibTrads quote Leeming to the effect that “The minister of a sacrament is presumed to intend what the rite means…” [even in cases where the minister is wicked or a heretic]. “This principle is affirmed as certain theological doctrine, taught by the Church, to deny which would be at least theologically rash.” Principles of Sacramental Theology, 476, 482.) What they will not tell you is that reflex principles cited by moral theologians also declare that presumption must yield to truth. That truth is it must yield to an infallible papal ruling that regardless of the intention or the state of the minister, during an interregnum, all must be considered invalid, void of effect. For only a true pope canonically elected could settle the case. The Old Catholic commentator ends with Pope St. Pius X’s excommunication of the Old Catholic “bishop” Arnold Harris Mathew and those he attempted to consecrate below.

Pope St. Pius X’s condemns the pseudo-bishops

“We have learned that priests of your country, namely Herbert Ignatius Beale and Arthur William Howarth, of the clergy of Nottingham, seeking their own glory rather than that of Jesus Christ, and being carried away by the fire of ambition, having attempted on various occasions to be elevated to the episcopal dignity by non-Catholics, have recently proceeded with such temerity that, having obtained their wish, they have arrogantly announced unto Us that they have procured episcopal consecration. Nor does their announcement lack authentic testimony; for he who was the principal author of this sacrilegious crime, the pseudo-bishop Arnold Harris Mathew, has not feared openly to confirm this deed, having transmitted to Us letters swollen with pride. And, moreover, he has not hesitated to arrogate unto himself the title of “Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of London.”

“Turning Our thoughts and Our solicitude first of all to you, Beloved Sons, of whose constant and devoted good will we have ever received such illustrious testimony, We vigorously exhort you to guard zealously against their frauds and snares.

“Furthermore, lest We should appear to betray Our office, being faithful to the examples of Our Predecessors, We hereby proclaim the aforesaid consecration to have been illegitimate and sacrilegious, and to have been performed in a manner wholly contrary to the mandates of this Holy See and the sanction of the Sacred Canons.

“The above-named priests, therefore, namely Arnold Harris Mathew, Herbert Ignatius Beale, and Arthur William Howarth, and all others who lent aid, counsel or consent to this nefarious crime, by the authority of Almighty God, we hereby excommunicate, anathematize, and solemnly command and declare to be separated from the communion of the Church and to be held for schismatics, and to be avoided by all Catholics and especially by yourselves.

“Given at Rome, at Saint Peter’s, under the Ring of the Fisherman, the eleventh day of February 1911, in the eighth year of Our Pontificate.” (The foregoing was translated by Father William Jenkins (SSPX) from the official Latin edition of Acta Apostolicae Sedis, year III, vol. III, no. 2, February 15, 1911.)

Meaning of the prefix ”pseudo”

Thuc and Lefebvre were not Catholics at the time they ATTEMPTED (note this wording appears in Pope Pius XII’s VAS) to ordain and consecrate men of the various LibTrad sects. Pseudo is defined online as meaning sham; false; spurious; pretended; counterfeit. (Merriam-Webster). It corresponds to Can. 104 which states that “error annuls an action” whenever a certain condition is required for its proper fulfillment. The canonists Bouscaren-Ellis write: “Error of law or a fact, if it is substantial, renders an act null and void. The same is true if the error, though not substantial by nature, is made so by a condition.”  It was always a condition, from the time of the Council of Trent, that bishops could receive an office or approval for an office only from the pope. It is a condition, based on ancient practice and dating to the time of the Gallicanist heresy, that during an interregnum nothing can be decided involving the rights usually exercised by the pope or against canon law or papal law.  We see the word spurious, or false, used by Pope Pius VI in Charitas below:

“Furthermore, We declare specifically that the elections of the said Expilly… [et al], are unlawful, sacrilegious, and utterly void. We rescind, efface, and abrogate them, as well as the recent creation of the so-called dioceses of Moulins, Chateauroux, and others. We similarly declare and decree that their consecrations were sinful, and are illicit, unlawful, sacrilegious, and at variance with the regulations of the sacred canons; since they were rashly and wrongfully elected, they lack all ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction for the guidance of souls and have been suspended from all exercise of the episcopal office.

“We prohibit severely both those who have been or are to be elected as bishops from rashly accepting episcopal consecration from any metropolitan or bishop as well as the SPURIOUS bishops and their sacrilegious consecrators and all other archbishops and bishops from daring to consecrate on any pretext those who have been or are to be wrongfully elected. Furthermore, We command those who have been or are to be elected, to behave in no way as archbishops, bishops, parish priests, or vicars nor to call themselves by the name of any cathedral or parochial church, nor to assume any jurisdiction, authority, or faculty for the care of souls under the penalty of suspension and invalidity.”

Pseudo-bishop is also found in refence to an Old Catholic bishop in Pope Pius IX ‘s Etsi Multa: “[The Old Catholics] have chosen and set up a PSEUDO-BISHOP, a certain notorious apostate from the Catholic faith, Joseph Hubert Reinkens. So that nothing be lacking in their impudence, for his consecration they have had refuge to those very Jansenists of Utrecht, whom they themselves, before they separated from the Church, considered as heretics and schismatics, as do all other Catholics. However, this Joseph Hubert dares to say that he is a bishop, and, what passes belief, he is recognized… [by]  all his subjects as a lawful bishop… The holy martyr Cyprian, writing about schism, denied to the pseudo-bishop Novatian even the title of Christian, on the grounds that he was cut off and separated from the Church of Christ… We declare the election of the said Joseph Hubert Reinkens, performed against the sanctions of the holy canons to be illicit, null, and void.

And as we noted in a previous blog, Pope Pius XII taught: “Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid as long as the consecration conferred on them was valid, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious” (Ad Apostolorum Principis).I believe that it was St. Robert Bellarmine who taught that a man who was not even a Catholic could not validly be elected pope. Likewise one cannot consider men consecrated by schismatics, specifically to head schismatic sects, to be valid, either.

And for proof of this we can return to Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, which clearly states that: “Further, if ever at any time it becomes clear that any Bishop, even one conducting himself as an Archbishop, Patriarch, or primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church… or likewise any Roman Pontiff before his promotion or elevation as a Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has strayed from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy, then his promotion or elevation shall be NULL, INVALID AND VOID.” Those claiming that these men are “only illicit” who dare to quote this bull need to draw out is FULL implications.

As the Old Catholic commentator notes above, “One is obliged to treat their clergymen as though they were invalidly ordained.” The Church Herself declares that their promotions could never be valid, even when a reigning pontiff existed! The commentator indicates that the validity of the Old Catholics cannot be presumed, just as no one can presume LibTrads were validly ordained by Lefebvre and Thuc. This cannot be the case with US, however, because of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS);  the pope clearly declares their ATTEMPTED acts of no effect, reflecting the private teaching of Pope Innocent IV and later Clement II. Pope Pius XII cites Clement II in VAS as stating that no one may exercise the power belonging solely to the pope during an interregnum. The Council of Chalcedon was held in 451, so the principle “void of effect “was already at work in the early days of the Church. No one can claim it was a novelty that was introduced by Pope Pius XII.


Since the establishment of Traditionalism, these men calling themselves bishops and priests have resorted to Canon Law to try and prove their legitimacy. This is truly absurd when one considers that, as Pope Pius VI taught in Charitas, no trumped up “necessity” could justify their activities. Since canon law (Can. 147) pointedly declares they are not valid unless they are appointed by legitimate authority according to the sacred canons, these laws do not even apply to them in the clerical realm. They apply to them only as (lay) heretics and schismatics simulating the Sacraments. That is the true meaning of “pseudo” and “spurious” here. The term “illicit only” presumes their Orders and sacraments to be valid when this is clearly contrary to the Council of Trent and papal teaching. But most importantly it is a denial of the only law now governing us, VAS, and the Church’s right to determine who are members of the hierarchy. TRUE bishops no longer exist because the Church proclaims that not only were these men considered false bishops when a true pontiff reigned, there can be no valid conveying of Orders at all during an interregnum!

Interregnums were intended to last at the most for only less than a month according to VAS. The longest interregnum in the Church’s history lasted less than three years. So VAS, and prior to its issuance Pope St. Pius X’s election law, was intended as a stopgap measure only, to make certain nothing was done to usurp papal jurisdiction or violate canon law during the vacancy of the Holy See. LibTrads often point to the “colored title” theory, pretending that their “orders” alone are sufficient to claim that they possess rights and privileges in the Church. They quote Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz’s  work on Can. 209 (supplied jurisdiction) and the canonists Wernz-Vidal as follows: “There is no jurisdiction without a title. And where, by mandate of the Church or her rightful representatives, jurisdiction is required for the validity of a certain act, there, if the minister acts without the proper jurisdiction, he acts fruitlessly because invalidly.” They thus ASSUME there is a validly ordained and/or consecrated minister who COULD possess the title, a sophism called “presuming that which is yet to be proven.” This when the Council of Trent and Pope Pius XII commenting on Trent’s anathema both teach infallibly that they are “not to be regarded AS MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH (see above).

This is so very confusing for readers because at the same time they admit that “None of the faithful believe the illicit bishops have a papal mandate to do what they are doing.” But it has nothing to do with what the faithful believe, only with what the Church teaches — for as just stated in our last blog: THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE BOUND TO BELIEVE. How about the FACT that they cannot possibly possess the mandate because there was no pope to issue one?! And that the Church says during an interregnum, no valid ordinations and consecrations can even take place if they usurp papal rights and violate canon law, which they most certainly do?

I consider myself an Ultramontane as did St. Anthony Mary Claret, Henry Cardinal Manning, Fr. Frederick Faber, Wilfred Ward, Louis Veuillot, William Peter Allies, Donoso Cortes and Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton. The Vatican Council should have resolved all the questions regarding the pope’s supremacy of jurisdiction, but sadly, as can be easily seen from the above, it did not. Ranged on the opposite side, following John Henry Cardinal Newman, Bp. Ullathorne, Dom Cuthburt Butler and a host of others who believed the definition of infallibility would only harm reunion efforts with schismatics.  Newman, especially, was quite cozy with the Anglicans and Old Catholics. He and his followers gave lip service to the definition but continued to travel the road to Modernism and ecumenism. That is where ignoring the integral teachings of the popes leads.

We see all the indicators here of Old Catholic influence:

— The attempt to “foment a schism” among those who pray at home;

— The “excommunication” of those who point out to others that “illicit only” is not Catholic;

— The tendency to Jansenistic rigorism, Liberal charity, quietism, Americanism, anti-Semitism;

— Their denial of the Vatican Council teaching on the pope’s supreme jurisdiction;

— Considering as “valid” men educated in heresy by heretics and schismatics;

— Their distortion of self-evident truths and dogmatic facts to shore up their claims, and

— Since the Catholic Church teaches that one cannot act if there is a positive doubt regarding the validity of a sacrament, [LibTrad ordinations and consecrations], one is obliged to treat their clergymen as though they were invalidly ordained.

And in our case, the absolute necessity of acknowledging the infallible truth that they could not have been ordained and consecrated during an interregnum. Instead they treat these men as valid and insist that others do the same. We cannot and will not let these errors stand. Readers deserve to know when they are being misled and to be able to fully access the truth, and we are obligated to provide it. This according to today’s epistle:  “For such is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2).

Lay passive infallibility is key to the Church’s very existence

Lay passive infallibility is key to the Church’s very existence

+St. Hermenegild, Martyr+

Read HERE of how St. Hermenegild. chose martyrdom rather than receive the Sacraments from the hands of heretics!

Well the solar eclipse has come and gone and here we all are, waiting for the media to exploit the next celestial event on the horizon. Christ told us we could expect signs — in the sun, the moon, and the stars — and we have seen them. He told us that one of these would be given to an evil and adulterous generation, and it would be only a sign, (not a notable event), involving Jonah and the whale. This of course points to Nineveh; in other words, one last chance to repent. If some expected His second coming based on this sign, they have forgotten that He will come as a thief. We continue to pray and watch, do penance for our sins, and pray for the conversion of sinners.

Below we will address a subject that has received little attention in these times in order to explain why it is so important for all to understand the necessity of obeying the teaching of the Continual Magisterium, the popes and ecumenical councils — not those who break the laws of the Church and question the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiffs by demanding belief in absurd propositions.

The necessity of passive infallibility

1911 Catholic Encyclopedia, Infallibility — “When we speak of the Church’s infallibility we mean, at least primarily and principally, what is sometimes called active as distinguished from passive infallibility. We mean in other words that the Church is infallible in her objective, definitive teaching regarding faith and morals, not that believers are infallible in their subjective interpretation of her teaching. This is obvious in the case of individuals, any one of whom may err in his understanding of the Church’s teaching; nor is the general or even unanimous consent of the faithful in believing a distinct and independent organ of infallibility. Such consent indeed, WHEN IT CAN BE VERIFIED AS APART, is of the highest value as a proof of what has been, or may be, defined by the teaching authority, but, except in so far as it is thus the subjective counterpart and complement of objective authoritative teaching, it cannot be said to possess an absolutely decisive dogmatic value.”

Fr. E. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ, 1927 — “Thesis: The body of the faithful infallibly accept the truths of revelation proposed to them by the teaching authority of the Church. The Church is infallible in believing, i.e., the faithful, as a body, are preserved from error in accepting and professing the doctrines taught by the Church. Individuals may err; whole provinces, and even nations may fall away from the faith, as history testifies; but those professing the true faith must always remain sufficient in number and in distribution throughout the world to preserve the Church truly Catholic in the unity of faith and worship.

“PROOFS. I. From Reason. Passive infallibility, in the sense just explained, IS A NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE OF THE INDEFECTIBLE UNITY OF FAITH and the perpetual Catholicity of the Church. Since the Church is immutably one in the profession of faith, the faithful as a body must be free from error, otherwise the faith would not be one, but many. Moreover, the profession of a false faith constitutes manifest heresy and excludes one from membership in the Church. Consequently, if the faithful as a body could fall into error in the profession of faith, the Church would immediately cease to be Catholic and would therefore cease to be the Church of Christ. It is evident, then, that the faithful as a body must be infallible or free from error, at least in the profession of faith.

“Passive infallibility, bestowed upon the Church primarily for the purpose of preserving unity of faith, also furnishes a rule of faith, since any doctrine professed by the whole Church must be a revealed truth. Practically, however, such a rule of faith is not sufficient for the needs of the faithful, because it requires long and diligent research to discover whether any particular doctrine is held by the universal Church, and also whether it is held as a revealed truth or merely as a pious belief.

“The value of Tradition as proof for revealed doctrine rests principally upon the active and passive infallibility of the Church. Whenever there are sufficient witnesses to prove that a certain doctrine is accepted by the whole Church as a revealed truth, or that it is taught as such by a majority of the bishops, it is immediately evident that the doctrine is infallibly true and could be defined as a dogma of faith, IF NOT ALREADY SO DEFINED. When appealing to tradition in this sense, it matters not what age of the Church be selected, since truth does not change with the centuries. The truth of a doctrine is established just as securely by proving its universal acceptance today, as by showing that it was universally accepted in any past age of the Church. 

Henry Cardinal Manning, Petri Privilegium, Three Pastoral Letters to the Clergy of the Diocese, 1870 — “Passive infallibility… is, the Divine security which sustains the whole Church in its faith: so that it is impossible for the whole Church to err in believing, because the pastors of the Church, WITH THEIR HEAD, cannot err in teaching.But it is manifest that, according to this doctrine, the fountain of infallible teaching is the Divine Head in heaven, through the organ of the visible head of the Church on earth… It is also a matter of faith that not only no separation of communion, but even no disunion of doctrine and faith between the Head and the Body, that is, between the ecclesia docens and the ecclesia discens can ever exist. Both are infallible, the one actively, in teaching, the other passively, in believing; and both are therefore inseparable, because necessarily united in one faith.

“And lastly, that though the consent of the Episcopate or the Church be not required, as a condition, to the intrinsic value of the infallible definitions of the Roman Pontiff, nevertheless, it cannot without heresy be said or conceived that the consent of the Episcopate and of the Church can ever be absent. For if the Pontiff be divinely assisted, both the active and the passive infallibility of the Church exclude such a supposition as heretical. To deny such infallible assistance now after the definition, is heresy. And even before the definition, to deny it was proximate to heresy, because it was a revealed truth, and a Divine fact, on which the unity of the Church has depended upon from the beginning…

“Now, before the definition of the Vatican Council, the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff was a doctrine revealed by God, delivered by the universal and constant tradition of the Church, recognised in (Ecumenical Councils, pre-supposed in the acts of the Pontiffs in all ages, taught by all the Saints, defended by every religious Order, and by every theological school except one, and in that one disputed only by a minority in number, and during one period of its history; believed, at least implicitly, by all the faithful, and therefore attested by the passive infallibility of the Church in all ages and lands, with the partial and transient limitations already expressed. The doctrine was therefore already objectively de fide, and also subjectively binding in conscience upon all who knew it to be revealed.”

Phantom bishops and other fantasies

All the quotes above are not obscure passages taken at random from certain works, but the common teaching of the Church as found expressed in the same exact way in both catechisms and other works of theology. We bring this topic to the attention of readers today because we are engaged in an ongoing war with those who falsely hold that passive infallibility is not important. They presume to continue to inform those praying at home that LibTrad bishops are only “illicit,” not invalid,  even after incontestable proof has been carefully researched and presented clearly showing that Pope Pius XII teaches it is impossible, during an interregnum, for such men to ever become priests or bishops.

According to the heretical teaching of certain LibTrads rejecting Pope Pius XII‘s teaching in VAS,  the indefectibility of the Church depends on the existence of mysterious bishops still in hiding or incognito “somewhere,” even without the Roman Pontiff ruling as one of these phantom bishops. Those insisting on this theological absurdity never so much as mention the necessity of the pope to their existence. Why is such a teaching heretical? Because, as the Church has always taught and Pope Pius XII later officially confirmed, unless they are under the direction of the Roman Pontiff and in communion with him, bishops may have orders (if consecrated prior to Pope Pius XII’s death) but they have no power; their jurisdiction comes not directly from Christ but only through his Vicar (Mystici Corporis Christi, Ad Sinarum Gentum). The contention of those insisting there must always be bishops is that “the episcopal order of the hierarchy consisting of Catholic bishops with the power of Orders and the power of jurisdiction” can never cease to exist. They claim that to state otherwise is to commit heresy.

The absurdity of such a statement lies in the denial of the necessity of a HEAD BISHOP, the pope, who alone can grant the necessary approval for consecration of those priests selected to be promoted as bishops. Unless this approval is granted, episcopal consecration cannot be validly received during an interregnum because the papal approval/mandate is lacking. This is no interpretation of a papal document; it is the clear, unmistakable and infallible teaching of Pope Pius XII in Vacantis Apostiolicae Sedis. In Pope Pius XII’s Ad Apostolorum Principis  the pope taught: “No authority whatsoever, save that which is proper to the Supreme Pastor, can render void the canonical appointment granted to any bishop…” And in VAS, during an interregnum. Pope Pius XII does so use his supreme authority to declare that the consecrations of any men as bishops, performed without papal approval, are a usurpation of papal jurisdiction and such consecrations are to be considered null, void, and invalid.

What Pope Innocent III tells us in his profession of faith proposed to the Waldenses (DZ 424) about the consecration of the Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass also pertains to this topic. He taught that the Eucharist is not validly consecrated by just any priest, “…however honest, religious, holy and prudent [he] may be…Unless he be a priest, regularly ordained by a visible and perceptible bishop.” Pope Innocent III defines such a priest as one who is “established by a bishop for that office…And so we firmly believe and declare that whosever without the preceding episcopal ordination believes and contends that he can offer the Sacrifice of the Eucharist is a heretic and is a participant and companion of the perdition of Core and his followers and he must be segregated from the entire holy Roman Church.” What is of interest here is that we are talking about a “visible and perceptible bishop” and priests established by such a bishop to function as priests. So where are these visible and perceptible bishops? Do these people now believe in an “invisible Church,” a heresy condemned by Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis Christi?  Do they also believe in fairies and leprechauns?!

It is interesting to note that in attempting to sidestep the invalidity issue those claiming these pseudo-clerics are only illicit resort to the same defense used by the late Daniel Dolan (CMRI) to defend his validity. Dolan also cites Ad apostolorum principis as declaring illicit but valid orders conferred by those not possessing the mandate, quoting the following from Pius XII’s encyclical: Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid AS LONG AS THE CONSECRATION CONFERRED ON THEM WAS VALID, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious.”  But here Dolan commits a fallacy in logic known as “begging the question,” assuming as true that which has yet to be proved. Did Lefebvre or Thuc validly consecrate? Not without the mandate! Did the pope refer to consecrations performed during an interregnum in Ad apostolorum principis? Obviously not, since he was still alive.


Those pushing the “bishops must yet exist” heresy claim they do so to counter the “heresy” held by this author and those who frequent this site — that the laity can effectively constitute the hierarchy, that the Church as Christ constituted it is not indefectible and that five of the seven Sacraments no longer exist. No one has ever said that these five Sacraments (excluding Baptism and Marriage) have ceased to exist; being instituted by Christ they will always exist. We simply no longer have access to them thanks to the wholesale apostasy of the hierarchy and the commands of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, which we must accept with a firm and irrevocable assent. This is God’s will for us, and these deniers of papal supremacy would be more honest if they simply proved Pope Pius XII was a heretic and VAS was therefore a non-binding decision. As for the indefectibility of the Church, Rev. E. S. Berry and Henry Edward Cardinal Manning are quite clear in what is quoted above:

Passive infallibility, in the sense just explained, IS A NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE OF THE INDEFECTIBLE UNITY OF FAITH and the perpetual Catholicity of the Church. Since the Church is immutably one in the profession of faith, the faithful as a body must be free from error, otherwise the faith would not be one, but many. Moreover, the profession of a false faith constitutes manifest heresy and excludes one from membership in the Church.” (Rev. Berry) And from Cardinal Manning: “It is also a MATTER OF FAITH that not only no separation of communion, but even no disunion of doctrine and faith between the Head and the Body, that is, between the ecclesia docens and the ecclesia discens can ever exist. Both are infallible, the one actively, in teaching, the other passively, in believing; and both are therefore inseparable, because necessarily united in one faith.”

It is the ones promoting the necessary existence of bishops who deny indefectibility and the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff, not only in his ability to declare such bishops could never be appointed and consecrated without him, but in his grant to the faithful of the responsibility to carry on in their absence. This is treated below.

1911 Catholic Encyclopedia, Laity — “The laity… may be appointed to give doctrinal instruction more or less officially, or may even become the defenders of Catholic truth. Thus they give excellent help to the clergy in teaching catechism, the lay masters in our schools give religious instruction, and some laymen have received a missio canonica, or due ecclesiastical authorization, to teach the religious sciences in universities and seminaries; the important point in this, as in other matters, is for them to be submissive to the legitimate teaching authority… The principle is that the laity as such have no share in the spiritual jurisdiction and government of the Church; but they may be commissioned or delegated by ecclesiastical authority to exercise certain rights, especially when there is no question of strictly spiritual jurisdiction…”

And this is what we have received from Pope Pius XII, a missio canonica which is devoid of any spiritual (sacramental or other) jurisdiction; it must be strictly confined to the preservation of all the Church taught prior to Pope Pius XII’s death.  For as Pope Pius XII instructed, Catholics must take up all the responsibilities of the hierarchy in their absence, but only if it involves nothing opposed to faith and morals, the implicit or explicit will of the Church or anything contrary to ecclesiastical discipline (Mission of the Catholic Woman, September 29, 1957; entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis). Faith and morals demand that we accept the teaching of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. The will of the Church is clearly expressed by Pius XII in this infallible constitution. And in that constitution, he declares null, void, and invalid anything that violates papal law or Canon Law.

It is the most ludicrous of all contentions to hold that bishops could still exist on this earth minus their head bishop, a canonically elected pope, as the identical hierarchy established by Christ with all the rights He acceded to the Apostolic College. THAT is the denial of the Roman Pontiff’s supremacy of jurisdiction; THAT is the Gallicanist heresy. And worse than that: it is the occult Gnosticism that still prevails among the LibTrads generally, as explained HERE. One of the main proponents of this Gnostic “catholicism” once wrote to me:  “It is heretical to state that the Catholic Church can be in existence without the episcopal order of the hierarchy consisting of Catholic bishops with the power of Orders and the power of jurisdiction… You deny the dogma that there is a perpetual, living, and infallible magisterium in the Catholic Church.”

The above statement is pathetically devoid of any true understanding of integral Catholic truth. And what is most alarming is that it is cunningly phrased to appear to those not well-instructed in the faith to be a legitimate statement. For the “episcopal order of the hierarchy” MUST include the head bishop, the Pope — Peter is the Rock on which Christ established His entire Church, not the bishops. His faith alone is indefectible, as Rev. Berry notes. And that it is a lie to say that I deny the “perpetual, living, and infallible magisterium” when all I do is insist it be upheld should be apparent to anyone reading what is presented on this site.

The perpetual, living and infallible magisterium is found in all the infallible writings of the popes. Exclude belief in one and you are done. If the pope says bishops can no longer exist during an interregnum, then they do not exist. If the laws of the Church tell us they become heretics and can no longer elect a true pope if they violate the terms of a papal law or Canon Law, then they are unable to do so. And if said cardinals and bishops lose their offices by joining a false sect — as ALL did at Vatican 2 — they are no longer cardinals and bishops!!! WHAT bishops??? Please tell me, if you, dear friends, truly believe in the perpetual, living, and infallible magisterium, which lives on in the Deposit of Faith even without the presence of the Roman Pontiff, how true bishops could ever exist without him?

There cannot be two Catholic churches, one believing LibTrad pseudo-clergy are only illicit and others believing they are invalid. This cannot be when the Roman Pontiff has infallibly taught otherwise. The Catholic Church either lasts until the consummation teaching ALL that Christ’s Vicars have taught, as they have taught it and in its entirety, or it does not exist at all. Those reading this have a choice to make: they can be numbered among the members of the invisible Gnostic “catholic” church praying at home or they can choose to obey ALL the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. It is as simple as that. What they cannot do is pretend that given the infallible nature of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, they are members of the Catholic Church if they believe LibTrad pseudo-clergy to be only illicit.

Urgent solar eclipse warning and recusant site regurg

Urgent solar eclipse warning and recusant site regurg


+St. Vincent Ferrer, Confessor+

Solar eclipse April 8: America’s last chance for repentance?

Prayer Society Intention for April, Month of the Holy Ghost

“O Holy Ghost… by Thy love and grace, renew the spirit of Thy servants whom Thus has anointed that they might glorify  the Father and His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Raccolta)

+First Friday and Saturday+

(The following was submitted by a reader for consideration and provides much food for thought. It will be interesting to see if anything unusual results from this event. My thanks to the author for collecting these observations.)

— Matthew 12:39: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but THE SIGN OF JONAS THE PROPHET.”

— The eclipse begins off the coast of Mexico, on islands named Maria Madre, Maria Magdalena, and San Juan: Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and St. John at the foot of the Cross. The North American path of the eclipse ends over the island of St. Pierre (Peter) and Newfoundland’s capital, St. Johns.

https://www.google.com/maps/@21.882884,-106.59289,10z/data=!5m1!1e4?hl=en-US&entry=ttu; https://nso.edu/for-public/eclipse-map-2024/

— When it enters the United States, the eclipse passes through the city of Jonah, and then passes over all seven towns called Nineveh in the United States, and the only city called Nineveh in Canada.

— Monday, April 8, the day of the eclipse, is the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord.

— Jonah said that 40 days more and Nineveh would be destroyed.

— Forty days from April 8 is Saturday, May 18, the Vigil of Pentecost, when fire from Heaven descended upon man.

— When Jonah preached in 700 BC and when he came out of the whale, there was a total eclipse over the city of Nineveh.

— Some interesting aspects on the eclipse: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/eclipse-coming-with-some-interesting-aspects.8293966/

— Jonah, Nineveh, and the Solar Eclipse Over North America

Sensus Fidelium, March 16, 2024 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvtFmWBER3c

— “A rare green ‘devil’ comet, matching wormwood in the Bible in the end times prophecy, is about to crash into the sun during a rare ‘666’ eclipse.” https://www.businessinsider.com/devil-comet-visible-during-total-solar-eclipse-how-see-2024-4

— Jews just announced the first red heifer in 2000 years has been found and will be sacrificed this month. This in preparation for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlFDFdX-zco (WARNING: THIS IS A MORMON VIDEO and while much of the information is accurate, there are inappropriate images and false interpretations of Scripture. (For a Catholic explanation of the Temple rebuild, see the article at https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Final-Chapter-for-web.pdf, pg. 19)

— The San Gabriel River runs through Jonah, Texas.

— The eclipse passes through Temple, Texas.

— The eclipse of 8-21-2017 went from east to west, and the eclipse of 4-8-2024 goes from south to north. It creates a great cross over the United States. In the center of that cross is a town called Palestine.

— Also in that center area is the largest cross in North America at 198 feet tall, along with a large station of the 10 Commandments: https://crossusa.org/

— CERN is reactivating their collider on April 8. (WARNING: this site is loaded with bad images and text) https://boards.4chan.org/pol/thread/463336718

The unnamed threat almost NO ONE is talking about

T. Benns Comment on reader’s post

What may well be the real concern of states activating Homeland Security and National Guard troops for this event is not the eclipse itself but something that could be truly devastating and might possibly be activated or exacerbated by CERN. The New Madrid fault line matches almost exactly the path the eclipse will take. And it has been experiencing an unusual spate of activity since November of last year. An eclipse can trigger earthquakes as explained below, and this is a total eclipse: https://temblor.net/earthquake-insights/1417-1417/; https://sciencenotes.org/can-a-solar-eclipse-trigger-an-earthquake/#google_vignette

Since Nov. 13, 2023, there has been a significant increase in earthquake activity being reported along the New Madrid Fault. “While there is no immediate cause for alarm, the pattern of these quakes is being closely monitored. In geological terms, such swarms of small earthquakes can sometimes act as precursors to larger seismic events. However, they more frequently result in a gradual dissipation of energy along fault lines, eventually settling without leading to a major quake.” https://laketribune.com/2023/11/new-madrin-swarm-of-earthquakes-could-be-precursor-to-larger-seismic-event-seismologists-say/

In the past month, there have been 11 instances of seismic activity along the New Madrid fault, ranging from a 1.5 temblor to a 2.5 quake, reported April 2, and now a 1.9 quake, reported just today, April 5: https://earthquaketrack.com/us-mo-new-madrid/recent#google_vignette. Also, just this morning, (April 5), a 4.8 earthquake hit the New York/New Jersey/Boston area: https://apnews.com/article/east-coast-earthquake-7d03f7a44a6c1a1ea877820515808bee. This is significant if one considers that in December, 1812, when the New Madrid earthquake occurred following three months of seismic activity, “The effects of these earthquakes were felt as far away as New York City and Boston, Massachusetts, causing church bells to ring” https://iemaohs.illinois.gov/preparedness/earthquake-newmadrid.html. Four major earthquakes over 6.0 have occurred this week alone in Japan, Taiwan and near Saipan. So prospects overall are not looking good for April 8 if the ring of fire is already flaming.

See here for a summary of all the above: https://theaquariusbus.com/5-eerie-events-surrounding-the-coming-solar-eclipse-of-2024/ These events are not just a series of unrelated coincidences. This eclipse is a pointed message from God and we’d better not ignore it. But then the book of Apocalypse says in three separate places that men will blame God for these punishments and will not repent. Nevertheless, pray that America becomes another Nineveh as God obviously desires for her by sending this sign, and repents of her many sins, before it is too late. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of America, pray for us! St. Americus, pray for us! Lord save us, we perish!

Recusant site taken down, then reposted

People keep trying to reinvent the wheel by dumbing down information available in essays, books and on the web for over 50 years. We are all well aware of the various organizations and their many offshoots that have dominated the American Traditionalist scene since Vatican 2. The claims made by the pseudo-clerics belonging to these organizations — that they possessed a direct or supplied jurisdiction — remained largely unchallenged until the early 1980s, although Catholic writers such as William Strojie and Mary Lejeune did warn Catholics they were better off praying at home. Beginning in 1977-78, all the necessary information needed to determine with certitude that the Papal See was indeed vacant and these men were conferring illicit sacraments was presented.

We have demonstrated before that LibTrads KNEW that proofs existed showing these men were illicit and ignored them. This was a matter of published record all Traditionalists had access to beginning in the late 1970s. Hugo Maria Kellner first published this assessment of Traditionalists in his Letter 72, Lefebvre — the Final Unmasking. A Latin edition of Pope Paul IV’s 1559 bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio was published in1978 by Carlos Disandro and was later translated by Prof. Benjamin Dryden into English. David Bawden released one article on LibTrads’ lack of jurisdiction in 1983, and then in 1985 issued Jurisdiction During the Great Apostasy, showing these men were all functioning illicitly outside the laws of the Catholic Church. This was followed on 1990 by the Benns-Bawden book Will the Catholic Church Survive the Twentieth Century?,  sent (often gratis) to Traditionalist pseudo-clergy all over the world. The book went to great lengths explaining the invalidity of Traditionalist sacraments, citing extensive quotes from Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz’s Canon Law dissertation Supplied Jurisdiction According to Canon 209 and other related pre-Vatican 2 dissertations then generally unknown. It also went to great lengths to explain the various canons on this issue.

The book condemned the use of epikeia, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas. The need to arrive at certitude on jurisdiction matters was discussed at length. A full history of Cum ex Apostolatus Officio was given and proofs provided showing it was still in force, something disputed by LibTrads even today. (See the link HERE.)  Pope Leo XIII’s vision was covered and the long St. Michael’s Prayer cited to show the incursions of the infiltrators into the Vatican. For the first time, proofs necessary to show that Angelo Roncalli could never have been validly elected and that those electing him were disqualified to hold any further election (under canon law) were presented. Because Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis was then thought to be “only an ecclesiastical law,” the actual invalidity of these pseudo-clerics was not yet realized. Further research over the years proved, however, that this constitution was indeed an infallible document treating of Divine — not ecclesiastical —  law, which clearly made it impossible for anyone to function validly during an interregnum if usurping papal jurisdiction or violating Canon Law.

Nothing exists without a foundation

The material provided by certain others on jurisdiction, after the release of Will the Catholic Church Survive…  was primarily based on the research provided in the book, later posted by Bawden and myself on the Internet. To the best of my knowledge, no other detailed assay of these subjects existed at that time, with the exception of an article printed by one British publication (which more clearly stated the same principles. If one examines the early works of those currently “teaching” on these topics via internet, podcasts, and videos it can be easily verified by dating the material presented on these other sites, nearly always articles or essays written and posted after 1990. These authors cite the conclusions arrived at by those who went before them without ever crediting the source, as we have noted before. And not only have they used these conclusions on which to base their own work, they have added falsehoods to them to make it appear as though Church teaching is not clear on various issues, or they pretend it can be viewed in a different way.

Citing the conclusions of others without ever crediting them and then presenting these conclusions as coming from upstanding Catholics, with years dedicated to educating and helping people find and preserve the faith, is not only dishonest — it is a lie. A true Catholic does not present material not entirely his or her own, without crediting the source. If you say that John 23 and all who followed him are not true popes, you must prove it, or point to someone who hasproven it inconclusively because it is such a serious accusation. If it is a self-evident fact now, it is only because others have exhaustively researched it for years to confirm this! The scholastic method of the Church demands that certitude must be acquired in these matters using logic, and sacred theology insists that the scholastics cite the popes and councils in determining the meaning and sources of sacred theology. The popes demand the use of the scholastic method in presenting the faith.

Although those behaving this way consider themselves true Catholics, free of any blame, they are not following the popes, even though they quote their teachings when it suits them. They do not give their readers the privilege of checking the actual facts uncovered and sources for themselves to better arrive at the necessary certitude. They don’t even inform them they NEED to arrive at certitude. They do not proceed, as is required in all scholastic disputation, in the form of defender and objector, as scholastic form requires. (And Rev. A.C. Cotter, in his ABC of Scholastic Philosophy carefully differentiates such disputation from debate, commenting: “The thesis assigned is not debatable.”)

Fallacies of logic and misquoting the popes

These latecomers are simply objectors, and the defender is never named or allowed to answer their “objections.” They simply say, “I disagree” (with the defender) and pretend that this suffices to dismiss even infallible papal commands. By not naming the defender or even at times clearly identifying the disagreements between the two parties, just simply presenting what readers will perceive as an acceptable alternative view, they are never required to prove the truth of their assertions or objections as the Church intended. In addition, they constantly resort to the “cherry-picking” fallacy (a logical fallacy that occurs when someone focuses only on evidence that supports their stance, while ignoring evidence that contradicts it). The Church forbids this type of disputation among Catholics, which entirely discredits the argument of the person resorting to this deceptive practice. We have tagged members of this same group before here for this and other fallacies.

Examples of this error in logic  are the admission of papal or other teachings on a subject which is in favor of their “view”, while omitting anything from the same papal or other document that supports the defender’s position. This is a favorite ploy of LibTrads and their Liberal, later Modernist forerunners, and when seen among those claiming to hold the pray-at-home position, it can only indicate they are still contaminated by Traditionalist errors. We recently witnessed this deceptive practice regarding the discussion on modesty. We are now seeing it again in the reposted recusant site material. It states as fact, without any reference to a fully sufficient explanation or proof, that LibTrad pseudo-clerics are illicit. It also states that: “They may or may not have valid orders (but are at the least very dubious since they came from the modernists Thuc, Lefebvre, and Mendez), but they are certainly illicit since they have no jurisdiction or mission from God or His pope” (emphasis mine). This tell readers there is no way to prove they are invalidly ordained and consecrated or develop certitude regarding this fact.

So while admitting papal documents prove these fakers are schismatic and illicit, they omit the one papal document proving them invalid on all counts Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS). And they give readers no indication this infallible constitution even exists. They do the same sort of thing in quoting Pope Pius VI’s Charitas, cited for over 15 years on this site. For they quote the part that says these men are illicit (the bishops) but fail to quote the following: “24. We therefore severely forbid the said Expilly and the other wickedly elected and illicitly consecrated men, under this punishment of suspension, to assume episcopal jurisdiction or any other authority for the guidance of souls since they have never received it. They must not grant dimissorial letters for ordinations. Nor must they appoint, depute, or confirm pastors, vicars, missionaries, helpers, functionaries, ministers, or others, whatever their title, for the care of souls and the administration of the Sacraments under any pretext of necessity whatsoeverFor We declare and proclaim publicly that all their dimissorial letters and deputations or confirmations, past and future, as well as all their rash proceedings and their consequences, are utterly void and without force. Furthermore, We command those who have been or are to be elected, to behave in no way as archbishops, bishops, parish priests, or vicars nor to call themselves by the name of any cathedral or parochial church, nor to assume any jurisdiction, authority, or faculty for the care of souls under the penalty of suspension and invalidity.

Lefebvre and Thuc, Mendez, et al all lost their jurisdiction by accepting positions under the usurpers and celebrating the Novus Ordo Missae. They not only could not assume or resume it, they simply no longer possessed it. These men in Pope Pius VI’s time were only suspended from their episcopal office as Charitas also states; they did not tacitly resigntheir office. And none of this happened during an interregnum.  But the recusant site is telling you that you can consider some of these men valid if illicit when the pope, whom they refuse to quote in full, is telling us that even their dimissorial letters — far less any ordinations — are null and void! You cannot be ordained without dimissorial letters guaranteeing you are a fit candidate for the priesthood just as you cannot be validly consecrated without the papal mandate. The language is much the same as in VAS.

Could a pope and bishops still exist?

“So, do we have a pope? No, not to our knowledge” which once again, could easily be answered by Cum ex… and VAS, as could the following: “None of the faithful believe the illicit bishops have a papal mandate to do what they are doing… these illicit clergy have no right of leading God’s people astray with their illicit sacraments and orders.” Well they would have absolutely NO STANDING WHATSOEVER if it ever was once conceded that Vacantis Apostolicae Sedisdismisses them all and they are only excommunicated laity! While trying to convince one LibTrad that the validity issue had to be resolved because the moral theologians state we cannot remain in doubt about such things, I was told it was impossible to do because I could not overcome the fact that even Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis had to yield to epikeia  because it was “only an ecclesiastical law.” And yet VAS is undeniably infallible and is unquestionably treating of the Divine law regarding papal jurisdiction. How, then, can it be an ecclesiastical law, particularly in its first three paragraphs, written with the pope’s Supreme Apostolic authority?!

The recusant site is frequented by those who believe there could still be true bishops and they would allow that a pope could just “pop up” from somewhere after all these years of utter chaos and be considered credible. Just as we have shown through numerous articles on VAS and the impossibility that true bishops still exist, so too these objectors must come clean and produce CREDIBLE evidence that VAS does not exclude all possibility of any certainly validly consecrated bishops still existing and hence of any election of a true pope. Yes, a layman could be elected pope, but a true bishop or bishops would need to ordain and consecrate him after determining he is fit for ordination in order for him to be Bishop of Rome. The refusal to admit the invalidity of these LibTrad pseudo-clergy is a clever way to leave open the door to a future claimant to the papacy and/or mysterious bishops who suddenly appear on the horizon.


Just as Lefebvre led all through the back door of Traditionalism only to remain aligned with the Novus Ordo usurpers in the end, so too this seems a clandestine way to leave the door cracked open just wide enough to admit a bishop and a priest or two eventually, possibly after some sort of catastrophic event or upheaval, to “restore all things” and “carry on.” And those who think they are working in the dark to bring this about are far more transparent than they realize; their actions have been noted and followed for many years whether they choose to believe this or not. No certainty could ever be had in this matter unless confirmed by miracles. An evil and adulterous generation has asked for a sign, and they may well soon receive it. But it will not be the “miracle” they are planning for. To write as a Catholic, to truly defend and uphold the faith one must follow ALL the rules laid down by approved theologians and in Canon Law. Therefore, the gauntlet is here thrown down on this matter:

Publicly demonstrate with the same level of proofs used to vindicate Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis HERE that this infallible constitution does not declare that, DURING AN INTERREGNUM, ALL THESE MEN MUST BE CONSIDERED INVALID, NOT JUST ILLICIT.  You owe this to all faithful Catholics and to Pope Pius XII himself. 

If they truly wish to make praying at home more acceptable to their readers and easier to understand, VAS is the best way to accomplish that. Once Cum ex… is fully applied and VAS is understood as infallible, there is no need to explain supplied jurisdiction, epikeia, or necessity. All we need to know is that during an interregnum, none of these things can exist. Only the canonical election of a true Roman Pontiff, now made impossible by the apostasy of all cardinals and bishops, would clarify this situation. And that the hierarchy cannot and does not exist tells us we have entered the last days of Antichrist’s reign by decree of the pope himself. All we can do is obey the Pope, who has dictated to us God’s signified will in this matter.

Unity, not diversity of belief, is what is required of all members of the Mystical Body. Only by honestly addressing the issues that arise and are posed to divide us can we ever hope to obtain as much unity as is possible today without the pope. And only by obeying all the Roman Pontiffs have commanded can we hope to achieve that unity. Prideful aloofness and refusal to acknowledge or address the truth cannot accomplish that unity. As Henry Cardinal Manning wrote: “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. Unity of communion is the effect of unity of faith” (The True Story of the Vatican Council, 1870). And as St. Paul wrote: “One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:4).